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May, 2007

 May 1 to Sunday May 6:

 ♫ On the road again ♫

Writing this on Sunday 5/6 and can't think of much to say about the first few days of may.  Friday 5/4 we left Keesler Famcamp and moved to the RV parking area at the IP Biloxi.  We ate dinner in the High Tide Cafe and checked our comp balance.. Chris wanted to play some (surprise surprise) and I decided to play a cash game.  Yes, I know, I said a month ago I was going to concentrate on tournament poker, but there's no tournament tonight ;-)  I played the 1/2 NL game, in for $300 out with $540.  Not a bad result and a lot of fun for a couple of hours.

Saturday was a travel day and we were lazy getting started.  We didn't leave the IP parking lot until close to 10 AM.  We stopped at the Flying-J in Gulfport for gas and propane.  Took us about an hour to accomplish this.  Their propane tank is on the left side as you drive up to the pumps.  That's the wrong side, so you have to wait until there's no line at the pump and back in heading the wrong way to get propane, then drive off, turn around, and enter the pumps for gas.  Obviously the guy designing this RV island has never owned an RV.

I-10 in Louisiana from around exit 115 west is awful. We knew it was under construction and horrible from Lake Charles west to Beaumont, so we had planned to turn north at Lake Charles exit 33 and take smaller roads to Livingston.  We decided we need to avoid I-10 from exit 115 west in the future.  We had thought the best idea may be to take 190.  But the next day we found out that's not a great choice either.  We took off towards Kinder and stayed the night at the Coushatta Casino

Our first priority was eating dinner, so Chris scouted the restaurants while I signed up for a players club card. Paying for food in a casino is a foreign concept to us, but since we just walked in the door we had no comps. We were pleasantly surprised that the restaurants and buffet were reasonably priced. Chris and I ate at the steakhouse, and it was very good.

After dinner we found some OK video poker, 8/5 Bonus Poker "Aces and Faces" which is a 99.26% game. Chris played video poker, while I visited the poker room. It's a large non-smoking room off the casino floor so you're insulated from most of the noise.  They had a large tournament going on this weekend, so there were many good players in town.  I found a 2/5 NL that wasn't too tough and played a couple hours escaping with a small profit

We had a good night's sleep and woke about 7:00 this morning, had coffee and I cooked eggs, then we headed out on US 190.  The hwy from Kinder to Ragley wasnít great, somewhat rough. The area around Ragley where construction is going on is awful, but hopefully that will be finished sometime.  Up the road towards DeRidder they are making it a 4 lane, so some stretches we had new pavement to drive on and some it was old and bumpy, the switch-overs were uneven and the RV rocked back and forth.  After we hit the TX line US 190 was a fairly good road the rest of the way to Livingston.

Sunday, May 13:

Happy Mother's Day to all you mom's out there. 

For the past week we've been in Livingston, TX at Rainbow's End RV Park, home of the Escapees RV Club www.escapees.com and also home of the Escapees CARE Center www.escapeescare.orgWhat is CARE? 

"Its mission is to provide a safe haven with professional assistance at affordable prices for members whose travels are permanently ended because of age or temporarily interrupted because of health problems.

CARE is a place where you will receive professional help for the things you may no longer be able to do. It is not a nursing home. Its goal is to delay or eliminate the need for a nursing home."

Chris' folks have lived at CARE since shortly after Katrina.  If you're a fulltimer, or want to be, check out the CARE program at the link above.  Also, when you plan charitable giving, consider a donation to CARE to ensure it's still around when you need it.  It's truly a one-of-a-kind operation. 

We stop in Livingston for a 1 to 2 week visit each spring and fall.  It's great to be able to see the family and catch up on things, and I usually have a list of handy-man chores to do around my in-law's RV.  I've always enjoyed fixing things.  Most of the projects are small, and not too difficult, but would cost them a lot to have them done by a professional, so I'm glad I can save them some money.  This trip the projects included a new sink and faucet in the bath, several lighting upgrades (RV's aren't known for great lighting), washing the RV, caulking around all the windows, cleaning the AC, hanging a closet organizer shelf, and a few other things.  Chris had some chores too.

I thought about taking the week off from my day job, but figured I'd work in the time for everything.  Well, lots of changes on the job and it's been a really hectic week, but hey at least it wasn't boring.  We'll probably be here until Tuesday, then head out west.  We plan to stop in Tucson to look at a new and larger swamp cooler for the RV, then on to Las Vegas.

Friday May 18

Weíre still in Livingston. We had planned to leave today and I stopped working about 10:00 to get the RV ready for a Noon departure. Two hours, thatís plenty of time right? Well, not today.

First I checked tire pressures and got out the air compressor to air up the one slow leak that we have. As I removed the cap from one of my dual extensions it greeted me with a hissssss. So I removed the extension, found my valve stem tool, removed, cleaned, and reseated the valve stem and re-installed the extension. Pumped up that tire and completed the others too.

While inspecting the tires I noticed one of my large battery cables that runs through the driver side front wheel well had been rubbed by the front tire and wire was showing! Very bad, so I got out a jack stand for safety (remember, never trust the hydraulic levelers with your life) and climbed under. I put on some cable sleeve, taped it up, and used a huge wire tie to hold it further back from the tire.

Of course, these seem like simple tasks but I didnít include all the looking around for correct tool or bit of hardware, scratching head for best solution, etc.

So weíll stay over and leave bright and early tomorrow morning. Iíd like to make it to Tucson this weekend, but we may not.  Now back to work to make some money, and then I think I'll lube the drive shaft, stow the awning, hook up the toad, etc.

Saturday May 26

Weíre in Tucson AZ and have been for about a week.  We made the trip in 2 days, leaving Livingston last Saturday morning and arriving in Tucson Sunday evening.  We'll do a more detailed update soon.  We're on Davis-Monthan AFB in the Famcamp and it's a very nice place.  Have bought a new larger swamp cooler and now need to install it.  What have we been up to?  Well, besides working we've been hitting the local casinos and enjoying the desert scenery.

Click on the photo for many more photos

Chris in the Saguaro National Park -- Who's that bald guy with her?!

 

Monday May 28

I havenít written lately for the blog so thought Iíd play catch up and write some regarding the month of May. While we were in Livingston Texas Mac had a long list of items to do for my parents. I also had lots to do to help them out. I drove my Mom to the doctor three times while we were there. I took her shopping in Livingston several times and up to Lufkin once. I also did spring cleaning for them including cleaning the carpet. So every day we were doing something to help them out and having a good visit too.

Itís hard to see your parentís getting so feeble. My Dad has really gotten so feeble now; itís hard for him to walk any distance. He also seems to need more sleep than he used to. My Mom is also feebler than she used to be. They both use a walker now to walk back and forth to the Care Center. My Momís hip and knee are in a great deal of pain so it makes it hard for her to walk. But they are both in good spirits and very much enjoy where they are at the Care Center.

As Mac has mentioned weíre currently in Tucson Arizona. We left Livingston on Saturday the 19th before 7:00 a.m. We drove long hours and stopped for the night at Wal-Mart store # 897 in Fort Stockton Texas. We got there right at dusk and we spent the night there with about 7 other RVers.

On Sunday morning we were again on the road by 7:00 a.m. We hoped to reach Tucson that day which we did. I think we got to Tucson late afternoon. We donít like to drive such long hours but we feel that we are about a month behind our plans for this year; so we played catch up this weekend and drove a long distance.

We did manage to stop and stretch our legs several times. We stopped at several very attractive rest areas in Texas along the way and we had a very nice stop at the Welcome Center for New Mexico. Weíd wanted to stop at the Welcome Center for Arizona but it was closed; donít know if itís because they were not done building it or if it was undergoing a major renovation. We really like the Welcome Centerís; they have so much information and they are usually quite attractive with plenty of parking.

As Mac has mentioned weíre currently at the RV Park/FamCamp on Davis-Monthan AFB. Famcamp Web Site  Itís a very attractive park with graveled sites and concrete patios. There are many varieties of cactus around to see and admire. Our only complaint has been that it is rather warm in the afternoon so we have to run the air-conditioner. But the mornings and evenings are great so we can leave the windows open. We had hoped to be here a month earlier than we are so we could avoid the hot weather but it couldnít be helped.

We went to Saguaro National Park http://www.nps.gov/sagu  Before coming to the area we didnít realize that there are two sections to the park, one on the east side and one on the west. We went to the east one named Rincon Mountain District; itís closet to the base. It was a nice drive through with several viewing places to stop along the way. There are also many hiking trails which we didnít do. (photos at link a few paragraphs down)

We went to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum http://www.desertmuseum.org. This was a great place to visit. Our favorite part was the walk-in bird aviary closely followed by the walk-in hummingbird aviary. We visited for about three hours and didnít see all of it. We plan on coming back here the next time weíre in the area. There was so much to see; we thoroughly enjoyed it. (photos at link a few paragraphs down)

Weíve been to two casinos here in the Tucson area; Mac played two tournaments and I played video poker. We ate dinner at The Casino Del Sol http://www.casinodelsol.com  in the Tequila Factory Restaurant. It was very good food, tasty and reasonably priced.

Weíve also eaten at the Great Wall Restaurant; it also was very tasty and reasonably priced. We hope to eat at Sakura http://www.sakuratucson.com  before we leave.

We hope to visit the Pima Air and Space Museum http://www.pimaair.org; but it may be too hot for us to visit this trip. The Air Force base here has huge fields of planes stored http://www.dm.af.mil/units/amarc.asp so in this area there are quite a lot of planes to see.

Iíve also hit a couple of thrift stores in the area and plan on shopping at a few more while here.

Where are the pictures!?  There were too many to put in the blog, follow the links below:

Saguaro National Park East - Click Here for photos.  Arizona Desert Museum Click Here for photos

 

And now, a few items related to Memorial Day

http://www.usmemorialday.org/observe.htm This web site will give you some information and ideas about observing the day

http://www.youtube.com/v/ervaMPt4Ha0&autoplay=1 A short video slideshow by Lizzie Palmer, a 15 year old who "gets it". 

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/ A privately operated web site about Arlington National Cemetery

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army


IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

 

Thursday May 31 - Monthly Camping Report

It's been a more expensive camping year on average, and the reason is clear; we've only spent 7 nights free so far in 2007.  This will be changing soon I promise, because our casino camping adventures in Nevada are just a few days away, when not comped a free FHU site we'll be dry camping for free.  Our new swamp cooler will be installed, and we'll be totally off-the-grid!   

Year to Date Avg $ per Nite # Dry # Elect # FHU # Free %Dry % Free
2007 $12.23 65 21 64 7 43% 5%
2006 $10.59 65 7 77 42 44% 28%
2005 $10.74 83 14 59 25 53% 16%

 

What did we do in May's past?  Take a look at:

 May 2006

May 2005

 

Continue reading to June 2007

 

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