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February 1 - 5, 2009 ♫ On the road again ♫
quick post to catch up the last few days. If you've read our blog
for long, you'll recall that a couple of years ago I would do this.
I'd post frequently, even if it was just a note to say where we were,
and what we were doing. Then a few days later either Chris or I
would make a more detailed post, upload photos, etc. Well, now
that we're traveling again I'm going to attempt to get back on track
doing this so that we don't have 1-2 week gaps. Wish me luck. :-)
RV Maintenance: We were planning to leave Tampa last week, but
Camping World couldn't get our tires (4 Michelin's for the duals) and we
also wanted a new toilet and a repair on the water heater, so we stayed
another week. Wednesday we were at CW when they opened, and by
lunch time they had finished the job and we were on the road.
Wednesday afternoon we drove to Tallahassee and went to dinner with
friends Susan and Keith. We stayed that night at the Wal-Mart on
Apalachee Parkway. Thursday we worked our day jobs until afternoon
and got a very late start. I can usually work while Chris drives,
but she gets carsick if she tries to use the computer while in motion,
so when she has a lot of work we need to stay put. We decided to
not try and drive all the way to Biloxi, but to just do an hour or so,
and stopped at the Wal-Mart in Marianna, FL last night.
forecast to be down to 20 F here, so I set the built-in RV propane
heater on the coldest setting possible and let it come on during the
night to ensure the pipes didn't freeze. This morning (Friday)
we're up and working for a while, then we plan to head over to Biloxi.
Running the generator to charge up the batteries, and it's not liking
the cold weather. It won't smooth out but continues to surge every
few seconds. Will shut it down now that the sun is up and hitting
the solar panels. Hopefully it doesn't need any repairs!
Tuesday, February 3
called Camping World and our tires are in and our appointment for
tomorrow is verified. So weíre packing everything up to get ready
to roll. Nicole and Austin came over for a visit and we put them
to work too. Later in the evening we all met up with Aaron and had
dinner at Red Lobster. It is Aaronís birthday and thatís where he
wanted to go. Itís exciting to finally be getting back on the
Wednesday, February 4
We got up very early and finished getting the RV ready to roll.
Unhooked from electricity and away we drove to Camping World. We
were plenty early so we stopped at the Flying J and filled the RV with
gas and propane. While the RV was in being worked on I drove over
to see Nicole and Austin one last time before we left.
The RV was finished by lunch so after a quick lunch at Cracker Barrel we
hooked the car to the RV and headed out. We drove to Tallahassee
Wal-Mart store # 1077 to spend the night. Our friends Susan and
Keith drove over and picked us up for dinner. We went to Ruby
Tuesday and had a great time visiting.
It was very cold this night. I think it got down below the
forecasted low of 22 in Tallahassee. Even with the heater running
it seemed very cold. I think this is the coldest weather weíve
been in since we started full-timing. I donít care for this cold
weather. Get me out of here!
Thursday, February 5
Today we both had a lot of work at our day jobs. We didnít leave
Tallahassee until around 4:00. We drove to Marianna Florida and
stopped at Wal-Mart store # 1375. There are already several RVs
here when we parked to spend the night. Itís another cold night
with the low expected of about 20. Brrr, Iím cold and canít wait
to drive on to where itís warm. Hard to believe but Biloxi is
warmer than here.
Friday, February 6
We worked at our jobs for a couple of hours this morning. But we
finally headed out driving to warmer places. We drove to Pensacola
and picked up our mail. We then got back on the interstate and
drove to Biloxi. Weíve been peeling off layers of clothes as weíve
driven here. Itís great to be out of that cold weather. I
donít mind a chilly night but I donít like that freezing weather any
We parked at the Imperial Palace Casino. There are several RVs
here also. This is a great place to park; we have easy access to
the interstate and highway 90 is a straight drive from here down
Caillavet Street. Itís real easy to get around leaving from this
We set up the RV for our stay, unhooked the car and got ready to go out
for the evening. We drove to the Grand Casino and played for a
while. We then drove to the Beau Rivage and went to the Memphis Q
Restaurant. We love the ribs there and have to eat there at least
once a year when we drive through. The ribs were great as usual.
After dinner we drove back to the RV. Mac stayed at home and I
decided to go to the Imperial Palace and play for a while. I was
back home and in bed by 11. It is so great to not use the heater
tonight! We still have to use the blanket and quilt but we donít
have to wear socks and fleece to bed.
Saturday, February 7 Ė Wednesday, February 11:
werenít working at our day jobs, we visited the southern Mississippi
area. We drove from Ocean Springs all the way to Bay St. Louis
checking out what has been done in the area. There is still so
much to be done but slowly they are rebuilding.
We stayed 2 nights in the RV Park at Hollywood Casino Bay St. Louis.
We ate at their buffet twice and it was very good; plenty of good
southern cooking. We also ate one night at the Tuscany Steaks &
Seafood restaurant in the casino. I had received a coupon in the
mail for $100 of dining so Mac and I had a wonderful meal using the
coupon. We also had plenty of steak left for Mac to make steak
fajitas the next day for lunch. Mmmm, good.
When my parents lived here in this area my mom used to trade books at
The Book Bag in Gulfport. She had a lot of credit left there when
they had to relocate to Texas. She gave it to me and I stop in
when weíre in the area. I started saving books to use for trade
here because it seems so far to be the best place Iíve found for trading
books. Any books that werenít sent to my daughter Tina went into
the collection for trading so I had quite a few books collected. I
found several books that either I or my mom wanted to read and still had
plenty of credit left for the next visit to the area.
On our last night at the casino I hit a royal on the quarter machine for
$1,000. A great start to my year of gambling.
Wednesday before lunch we headed out towards Texas. It had started
raining and poor Mac had to hook the car up in the rain. He didnít
mind though since it meant more adventures awaiting us down the road.
It was pretty windy even after we drove out of all the rain. We
decided to stop for the night instead of pushing on to Livingston TX.
So we stopped for the night in Lake Charles LA at the Isle of Capri
Mac had wanted to check it out for his website,
We had dinner at their
Farradday Restaurant . It was very good food and quite
reasonable at only $25 each.
After dinner I of course decided to play a little video poker. And
I was so happy that I did because I hit another royal flush this night.
Boy, I hope this good luck keeps up for the rest of the year!
Thursday, February 12:
After working this morning we headed out about 10:30. We stopped
at the Atchafalaya Basin Visitor Center/Rest Area at MM 121 on I-10.
We like to stop here when we drive through this area. The visitor
center is quite nice and interesting to visit.
We also stopped at the welcome center when entering Texas. This is
another nice stop to visit and stretch the legs while traveling.
There are many brochures from various places of interest in Texas to
From Beaumont we headed north on highway 69. We stopped at a super
Wal-Mart on this highway and did some shopping. Now weíre stocked
up with some groceries for a few days and wonít need to run to the
grocery store real soon.
We arrived at our destination of the Escapee Park in Livingston Texas
around 3:30. Weíll be here for about 2 weeks visiting my mom and
helping her out with a few chores.
Wednesday February 25:
are you guys? I thought you were going to post more often?" Yes,
that's still the plan. We were in Livingston Texas for 12 days, staying at
the Escapees RV park Rainbow's End, and visiting Chris's mom at the Escapees
CARE Center. Chris and her mom enjoyed some good mother/daughter time.
We also had chores like putting up a shelf and curtain rod, selling my MIL's
golf cart, shampooing the carpet, etc. We're glad that we're able to do
this 2x a year, because otherwise she'd have to pay someone for the various
chores. We ate again at Manny's Shrimp Boat, and for the first time
at the Texas Pepper restaurant. TX Pepper was good, and it's on our list
of places to eat again. It's not just Mexican food (although that's what I
ate). They also have a good comfort food menu with fried catfish, chicken,
We left Livingston around 11:00 AM yesterday and spent the night at the
Wal-Mart in Kerrville, TX. This morning Chris got up early, around 5:30
AM. She said she couldn't sleep because the bed was too hard. We
have a Select Comfort Sleep Number Bed, and we love it, but it has to be
adjusted with any significant change in elevation, especially for the Princess.
:-) So Chris got her "day job" completed early and we left a little
before 10:00 AM. Tonight we're camped in Van Horn, TX.
Tomorrow it's on to Tucson, then Phoenix for the weekend and we need to be in
Long Beach by the 4th.
Internet access update: This is the
first time we've used both our Sprint and Verizon aircards with the Cradlepoint
1000 router "load balancing" between them. Van Horn is in a slow 1x area
for both providers, so by using both air cards at the same time we get quicker
access to page views, although download speeds are the same because downloading
a file is a single request, and uses a single air card. I'll post more
about this in the Tech section another day.
Thursday, February 26:
Trains 4, Mac 0, (we stopped keeping
score at 4). Last night we stayed in Van Horn, TX in the gravel lot
across from the Love's Truck Stop -- oh, and beside the railroad track.
:-) Chris must have been really tired because she fell right
asleep and slept through most of the trains. I wasn't so lucky.
We won't stop there again.
Dead battery. We aren't sure
how long the Honda's battery will survive in "towing mode" but we know
that we can't leave it overnight. Previously, with the old Civic,
when we were in an area that didn't feel 100% safe we would leave the
car "ready to tow" so we could leave easily and quickly if necessary.
We tried that last night with the new car, and woke up to a completely
dead battery. How dead was it? It was so dead our small
portable battery booster wouldn't even make the starter click.
Giant Roadrunner on I-10 just
outside Las Cruces, NM is a huge sculpture built from scrap. You
can see it on
www.RoadsideAmerica.com. We think it's a nice welcome to New
We'll be stopping for the night in Benson, AZ at the
Saguaro SKP park.
Friday February 27:
RV Club: Last
night we stayed at the Saguaro SKP RV park in
I just realized that I don't talk much about the
Escapees, except a brief mention
when we stay in one of the parks, or when we visit Chris's mom at the
Escapees CARE Center. We've been members since early 2004, and if we could only belong to one RV
club the Escapees would be the one! No other club offers so much:
RV Park system; 19 parks in 11 states from Florida to
California to Washington. The website is a little confusing because of
the division between
Rainbow parks, which are more like commercial parks, and
Co-Op parks, which are
private for Escapees only. All offer excellent value for short or long
stays. Overnight dry parking is $5, hookups are $11 to $20. There
are a variety of weekly and monthly rates as well depending on the park.
If you're looking for a "home base" most of the parks offer some type of
semi-permanent arrangement. You can buy into a co-op park and have a
lot there for the rest of your life or until you sell the lot back to the
co-op. Most have a long waiting list, so there's no problem if you
decide to sell the lot back. If you travel and use the parks system
you'll find some places will welcome you like family,
The Ranch in Lakewood NM is an
example. At the other end of the spectrum a couple of parks seem to be
inwardly focused and not as outgoing with travelers, but they're still OK
places to stop.
Escapees Mail Service; the largest and some would say the
best mail forwarding center in the USA. There's a fee for
this and it varies with the level of service you want, from simple
forwarding to customized handling of your mail and packages. They provide you with a legal street address
for Texas residency and can assist you with the process of becoming a Texan.
There's no state income tax in Texas, and that's one major draw for retirees
a nonprofit organization that provides assisted living for fulltime RVers
either on a short term or long term basis. For a fulltimer, it's a
very inexpensive way to receive a little help while maintaining your
independence and your RV lifestyle. Some use it during recovery from
injury or major surgery, and others as an effective way to delay or avoid
entering a nursing home.
Escapees Magazine; 6x a year, written by
and for RVers, I look forward to getting ours each time.
participate in the RV forum
without being a member, and it's a great place to learn more about the
RV lifestyle, get help with technical issues, exchange information about
places and routes, and to learn more about the Escapees club.
Escapees members are a special
group. Any sample of the population will have its bad
apples, but overall we've found that Escapees are an accepting group, ready
to welcome anyone who shares the common love for RV travel. They're
also a helpful bunch, willing to educate and even mentor new RVers and those who are making the big step of going fulltime. It may seem
at first that Escapees is all about fulltimers. Although that's not
true, I tell people that Escapees is a club for "serious RVers".
thinking about joining an RV club look closely at the Escapees.
The first year Escapees dues are $70 and after that they drop to $60.
Every few years they offer lifetime membership for a short time,
and we took advantage of that last year. If you decide to join because of our
recommendation our member number is 85423, remember us when you fill out
On to Phoenix AZ: We
worked a little this morning, then headed out around 10AM for Phoenix.
We're going to stay a couple of nights at
Harrah's Ak-Chin casino. It's our first time here, and we're
looking forward to our visit. While in the Phoenix area we
also have the opportunity to meet up with our grandson Ethan who's in
the Air Force at Luke AFB. You might be saying "now wait a minute,
you guys aren't old enough to have a grandkid in the AF". Well at
least I'm not! :-) Chris was young when Tina, her
first daughter, was born. Skip forward 20+ years and Tina married
a guy several years older than her who already had kids, and she adopted
them. Presto! Instant older grandkids. Anyway, Ethan is
a sharp young man and we're proud of him. We plan to see him once
more before he heads to Iraq in July.
Friday February 27 - Saturday, February 28:
Mac has done such a great job of keeping the blog updated Iíll just
finish out the month for him. We stayed 2 nights at
Harrah's Ak-Chin casino. I enjoyed playing video poker
but I didnít hit a royal though I tried very hard. I really
enjoyed the casino and the staff was very friendly.
The buffet was very good and quite reasonably priced. I think our
lunch buffet was about $3.99 paid with playerís card points.
Saturday night we again had the buffet. It was a seafood buffet
and we enjoyed it. I really loved the boiled shrimp and ate quite
a few. Mac ate salmon and had crab legs too. He said the
salmon was great. Weíre both trying to lose weight and eat
healthy. It was hard but we did a pretty good job of eating small
portions and picking the healthiest food on the buffet.
This casino has a quite large water feature with a huge saguaro cactus
with an eagle and various statues of Native American people gathering
fruit from the cactus. Also on top of the casino are many objects
sticking up. At first glance I thought they were just odd shaped
ornamental displays on top. On looking closer I realized that it
was agave plants that had the leaves cut back showing the heart of the
agave symbolizing the importance of the plant to the culture.
The section where RVs and trucks are allowed to park was nice with long
parking spots. There is also a huge dirt lot for overflow parking
when the marked spots are full. Short drive down the road about
3-5 miles to the town. Itís a growing town and there is a Wal-Mart
being built so you know itís really growing in the area. The only
thing we didnít enjoy was the cattle lot to the east a few miles.
If the wind blew from that direction it was a pretty gross smell.
Fortunately the wind didnít blow from that direction much during our
Garmin GPS I donít know if Mac has mentioned that
we finally bought a GPS navigating system. We bought a
265-WT just before Christmas and it has really been surprisingly
helpful. Weíve used it in our car and it has directed us to our
destinations with no problems. We used it in the RV on our trip
and it directed us around San Antonio using a route that we would not
have found ourselves. Also driving to see our grandson in Phoenix
she guided us around with no problems. We call it the ďChick in a
boxĒ since it is in a box and has a female voice. I really like
having one and donít know why we put it off for so long. I can see
many uses for her getting us around while on our adventures and helping
me while Iím on my shopping trips in new towns.
Continue reading -- March 2009
What did we do in February of years past? Click
below to see.