Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
October, 2017 - Mexico

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Relaxing in Houston

We had a nice but quiet Christmas Day in Dallas. We went to the matinee showing of the new Hobbit movie and then Kevin grilled some delicious rib eye steaks for supper. We tried to Skype with our son Eric who was at my mom’s house for dinner, but his cell signal wasn’t good enough so we talked with everyone there and wished them all a Merry Christmas.

We were able to Skype with our son Korey and his wife Cathryn. They spent their first Christmas as husband and wife in Moorhead, Minnesota with Cathryn’s family with below zero temperatures. I’m hoping next year our entire family will be able to be together for Christmas again.

The campground office in Dallas had a list of outdoor Christmas light displays in the area. I talked Kevin into driving to the nearest one to our campground. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, but we certainly weren’t expecting to wait in a line of traffic for almost an hour just to get into the subdivision.

It was a subdivision where many of the residents had nice light displays. Some of the houses had nothing. It was pretty, but not worth waiting for an hour. I took some pictures, but most of them were blurry. Here’s the best one I got.

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Oh well, we didn’t really have anything else to do so it was fine.

The next day we left Dallas and headed to Houston. We are staying at Trader’s Village RV Park in Houston. They have three flea markets with campgrounds next door in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Both the campground in Dallas and Houston are nice enough with concrete roads and camping pads and very clean grounds. The hookups are good. However, I wouldn’t say either park is a destination kind of place, just a decent place to stay for a short stay in the area. The wi-fi is being upgraded at this park, so we haven’t been able to use it here in Houston. That’s a real disappointment. Good thing we have our mi-fi.

Also, the sites in both campgrounds were pretty tight. Not as bad as some places we’ve been at, but still a bit tight. To make things worse, lots of people have more than one vehicle and park in the road. As you can see in the picture, the people next to us on the left have two trucks, each one parked in the road on either side of their fifth wheel. They have a trailer behind the fifth wheel with a motorcycle, so their entire site is full of the camper and trailer.

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Yesterday we walked over to the flea market next door advertising 1,500 exhibitors. The grounds have many storage unit type buildings. Exhibitors rent a storage unit and leave their wares inside and just open the door each weekend. The parking lot was full by afternoon. There certainly is a lot of variety of items for sale.

You can buy a used car; live animals including puppies, birds and snakes; live plants, produce, cell phones, furniture, appliances and all kinds of junk wonderful stuff. I even saw two of the storage units that were outfitted as hair salons. We did buy some new socks for Kevin at a good price and some produce. The puppies were really cute, but we don’t want to be tied down. They sure were cute though!!

Today we’re expecting a visit from a friend we first met while working at Amazon three years ago. We worked with Carol for two years. Last year she got a job selling real estate at an RV park in Texas, so she didn’t come to Amazon this year. She was going to be in Houston while we’re hear, so she’s coming for dinner today. It will be great to get caught up.

Tomorrow we’re going to the Houston Space Center and on Tuesday we’re meeting some fellow bloggers for lunch. On Thursday we’ll be leaving for a week in Galveston. The weather has been pretty nice. Today the sun is shining and the high is supposed to be in the mid 60s. Kevin is happy to be wearing shorts again!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

We want to wish everyone a very

Merry Christmas!

Nativity

Kevin and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a new year filled with peace and joy!

This will be the first Christmas we will be away from all of our family members. I certainly miss everyone like crazy, but I’m handling it better than I thought I would. Most of that is due to the fact that I know our kids will be joining us in New Orleans in a month for a cruise. Also, we are planning to Skype with the kids tomorrow. That also helps a lot.

We made it out of Kansas yesterday morning around 10 am. It took some doing on Kevin’s part to get all of the ice off of the slides so they could be retracted properly, but he managed to get everything working without any casualties.

I was surprised how far we traveled before the icy landscape disappeared. We were almost to the Texas border before the ice was gone. Every once in a while the sun would peak out, and the scenery just sparkled.

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As it got warmer, pieces of ice started falling off of the truck. There were quite a few semis on the road that were also losing sheets of ice. Hopefully, no one behind us got hit by any flying ice! It was a long (for us) 6-1/2 hour drive to Grand Prairie, Texas, just south of Dallas, but we arrived without incident. Always a good thing! We’re staying at Trader’s Village RV Park. It’s a pretty nice place. They have some cute Christmas decorations in front of the office.

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There is a very unusual fifth wheel parked behind us. It has decals on it from Travel Units, Inc. and says Custom Designed. It looks to be well over 40 feet long with 3 axles, 8 slides and 3 air conditioners. It must weigh a ton. We’ve seen a few of these custom built units in our travels, but never one this big. What amazes me is how most of them don’t have many windows in them.

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Today we drove into Dallas to check out Dealey Plaza where President Kennedy was shot. As a first grader, I clearly remember the principal coming on the announcements that day and letting us know the sad news. My teacher cried, and we were sent home early. I also remember watching the funeral coverage on our black and white TV with my parents. That event left a very lasting memory on an impressionable six year old.

The former book depository where Oswald fired the fatal shots from has been turned into a private museum. I didn’t feel it was worth $16 each to go inside. I really just wanted to see the area. It looks just like the pictures we’ve all seen hundreds of times.

Here’s the view from down the hill looking up at the book depository (building on the far left). The window Oswald fired from is the second from the top on the right side of the building. There are two x’s in the road where the bullets hit Kennedy. The lady in the pink (in the middle of the road) is standing on the second x. I was amazed how many people ran out into the road with lots of traffic to take a picture.

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There are a number of plaques around the entire area describing the events of that horrible day. A very sad experience. This site was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1993. I’m really surprised it took so long to get that done. Fifty years later there are still people leaving flowers at the site.

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Dealey Plaza is named after a prominent businessman in Dallas history. There is a large statue of him in the plaza. The plaza is built on the site of the first home, post office and store in Dallas, and is considered the birthplace of Dallas.

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Across the street from the plaza is a beautiful old building called The Old Red Museum. It was completed in 1892 as the Dallas courthouse. It now houses a Dallas history museum.

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A couple of blocks from the actual location of the shooting is a John F. Kennedy memorial. It was dedicated in 1970 and represents an open tomb. It measures 30 feet high and 50 x 50 feet wide. Kevin is standing in front for some perspective on the enormous size of it. In the center is a granite stone with Kennedy’s name engraved on it.

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Dallas has an electric trolley car system that serves a large part of the metropolitan area. They trolleys were super long, kind of like three buses connected to each other.

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This was our first visit to Dallas. The downtown area was clean, and the buildings looked to be in good repair. Unfortunately, there were quite a few panhandlers around which made me feel somewhat unsafe. Also, we stopped in a McDonald’s a few blocks away to use the restroom. They had their own security guard next to the counter. That doesn’t make me feel very good about the area. Maybe I’m just not used to being in a large city, and that’s how I like it  :)

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Blog Milestone

I started writing this blog for several reasons: to keep family and friends up to date on where we were and what we were doing, as a travel journal for myself, and to maybe help others considering the full time RV lifestyle by reading about our experiences.

When I began writing it on February 20, 2010, never in a million years would I have thought I would reach this milestone: over 100,000 page views and 100 followers.

I am humbled and amazed that so many people are interested in what I have to say. We have met several new people through this blog including fellow full time RVers. Some have become friends. It’s an amazing tool to keep in touch with family and friends and to meet new people with similar interests.

Thanks to all of you who take a few minutes out of your day to share in our journey. And, know that the comments you leave mean a great deal to me. Without comments, I don’t know who is out there. So, keep them coming!!!

We are still stuck in Kansas. We had over an inch of ice by the end of the day yesterday. Today Kevin spent quite a bit of time outside knocking the ice off of our slide covers. I couldn’t believe how much was up there. Here are a few pictures to show you what I mean. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger. Just look at the chunks of ice on the ground that came off of the slides!

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Here’s what all of the grass looked like this morning.

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Walking out there was super slippery. The amazing thing about this ice storm was that the roads did not freeze. Traffic on the highway behind the campground has been flying by at the same pace as always. From what we saw on the news, there were some accidents on some secondary roads, but driving was not too much of a problem. In fact, the media really didn’t make a big deal about it at all. The inch of snow we got a few weeks ago freaked everyone out so much more.

We’ve lived in Wisconsin all of our lives, and we’ve experienced all kinds of winter weather. This was different than what we’ve ever experienced. I hope we never have to deal with it again!!

The plan is to leave tomorrow morning if the slides and jacks cooperate. It’s supposed to get even colder, so we want to get out of here. Just a few hundred miles south, the weather is much better. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

I forgot to mention in my last post another advantage of working at Amazon. Although we were only pickers for three weeks this year, so we didn’t do nearly as much walking as last year; we both still managed to use the Amazon experience as a weight loss camp. I lost five pounds and Kevin lost seven. Now, to keep them off. That will be a challenge on the seven day cruise we’re going on at the end of January. I’m dreaming of warm tropical weather :)

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

I’m a Winner….. Again!!!!

Miracle of miracles, I’ve won another gift card at Amazon!! I’ve definitely been on a winning streak. I’m thinking I need to hit a casino :)

During the peak season at Amazon, they have been handing out scratch off “treasure token” cards. Each card has a number under the scratch off from 1 to 50 representing Coffeyville dollars you can spend in the Amazon store. Cards were handed out for meeting performance goals and perfect attendance. Between us we accumulated 30 points.

On Thursday we stopped at the Amazon store and got three t-shirts and a shopping bag for our points. Of course, all of these items have Amazon advertising on them, but free is good.

On the back of each token was a place to write your name to be entered into a grand prize drawing. Prizes included a 50 inch flat screen TV, Kindles, power tools, and gift cards ranging from $500 to $50. I won a $50 VISA gift card. Awesome!!!

Our plan was to leave tomorrow. The weather is not cooperating with our plans. Last night when we got out of work there was a solid sheet of ice on the truck. Amazingly, the roads are not icy. We can see traffic on Hwy. 169 behind us, and the traffic is moving just fine. The metal steps into the RV are treacherous though.

They sure take freezing rain in stride around here. A few weeks ago they were totally freaked out by a few inches of snow. However, freezing rain doesn’t seem to be a big deal at all. We’d take snow over ice any day!!

This is what the truck looked like this morning. I think that’s about 1/4 of an inch of ice on it.

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Since the roads are fine, Kevin’s heading into town to fill up the fuel tank in case we are able to leave tomorrow, and to pick up some milk. He loves his milk. A true Wisconsin boy. Here he is scraping the ice off of the windows. Chunks were flying everywhere.

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I’m so glad to be done again at Amazon. The money is great, but the work is demanding. I’m glad to have another year behind us.

There were a few new items this year that made me laugh. They have a variety of fake gift boxes to put presents into. The idea is the person unwraps the gift and the box shows something really crazy. Some of the ones I saw included talking coffee mugs, slippers with speakers in them and a video game called extreme chores where you do things like rake leaves. Too funny.

There is also 3D gift wrap for someone who is too lazy to put a bow on the package. It comes with 3D glasses and a printed bow on the paper. With the glasses the bow looks real.

And then for the serious drinker, there is The Beer Belly. It is a sling you wrap around your body under your shirt making it look like you have a beer belly for a guy or are pregnant for a woman. It holds 80 ounces. There is a tube that you put in your mouth. It’s advertised as an inexpensive way to enjoy beers at sporting events, etc. Don’t you think it would get warm from the body heat, and the ushers might notice you have a tube in your mouth? Crazy stuff.

I’ve made reservations for our stops between here and New Orleans. I was surprised how many campgrounds are full or near full over Christmas. I thought most snowbirds don’t leave until after the holidays.

We are staying in Dallas for a few days, then Houston for a week, Galveston for a week, another week split between stops in Texas and Louisiana and then arrive in New Orleans on Jan. 17th. I’m looking forward to getting out and having some adventures again!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Shopping at Amazon

I’ve noticed over the last few years that some bloggers have links to Amazon on their website. They ask people to shop at Amazon through this link, and they get a small commission from it.

Since we like shopping at Amazon, I thought that some of my readers must also shop there. It’s especially convenient in this nomad full time RV lifestyle because you can have pretty much anything delivered to you wherever you may be.

So, I’ve added a search box on the right side of the blog just above our picture. If you search for your item through this box, it’s supposed to take you to my affiliate link. You can then search and order just like you would normally do on Amazon’s site.

Please consider using this search widget if you plan to buy something through Amazon anyway. It certainly won’t make us rich, but every little bit helps, right?

Thanks!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The End is Near!!!

As much as our bank account enjoys the funds it receives from us working at Amazon, I am always ready to be done!!! We have one week left, that’s four 10 hour shifts; and we’re out of here! Friday night is our last shift, so the plan is to leave Sunday morning.

The weather this year has been much colder than the previous two years. We had some water freezing issues, but everything seems to be back to normal. Kevin handled it all beautifully, and this week’s highs are supposed to be in the 60s and lows above freezing, so that will be a very good thing.

I was hoping we could spend a few days in the Dallas area after we leave here. I wanted to visit the book depository area where Kennedy was shot, but it looks like next weekend is supposed to bring another arctic cold blast to the south, so we will probably head further south to Houston.

This past Tuesday was Kevin’s birthday. We had to work, so no big celebrations. We had gone out the week before to a local Mexican restaurant to celebrate. The food was just okay, nothing to get excited about. I had planned to make him his favorite poppy seed cake from his mother’s recipe. Making it is very messy because you have to make the cake, a custard filling, and homemade cream cheese frosting. I pretty much use every cooking utensil I own to make it :) Because of our limited water, Kevin said to wait and make it when we have a regular water supply again. So, I bought him another of his favorites, cheesecake.

Unfortunately, he got a bit of a stomach flu on Wednesday night and didn’t eat for two days. He’s finally feeling better, and the cheesecake is now almost gone. Today I’m making lasagna for a belated birthday dinner.

With switching to the picking job two weeks ago comes more walking. I’ve worn a pedometer a few nights, and it seems we are averaging about 5 to 6 miles a shift. We’ve lost a few pounds again, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, my strange toes have gotten blisters both years I’ve done picking. I get blisters on the bottoms of both of my little toes. I’ve tried a couple of types of shoes, but nothing seems to help. I’ve been wrapping them with bandages, so that helps, but it’s still painful.

I’ve done some research, and there are tubes you can place over your toes that are supposed to help. Also, some people swear by socks with toes in them. I’ll be checking some of these options out for next year. Walking for 10 hours with blisters on your toes is no fun. Thank goodness for ibuprofen!

Our son Eric is on a mini vacation in Dallas this weekend with a couple of his friends. They will be at the Cowboys/Packers football game today. Hopefully, the Packers can pull off a miracle win.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Baby It’s Cold Outside!!!

The big news in southeastern Kansas the last few days has definitely been winter weather! The average highs around here this time of year are supposed to be in the 40s. So, when daytime highs stay below freezing for several days, nighttime temps fall into the single digits, and they get snow; it is a BIG deal!

Tulsa, Oklahoma is about an hour south of us. They had 5 inches of snow Friday. Schools were closed Thursday in anticipation of the snow and Friday when it actually snowed. Today there was a threat of a little snow and some freezing rain, and most churches cancelled services. We are definitely not in Wisconsin.

We had about an inch of snow on Friday. It was actually kind of pretty to see snow again. But that’s enough now :) 

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You can see our bikes are still out. On Monday and Tuesday we rode our bikes to work. By Friday it was snowing and very cold. The past two years when we have worked at Amazon we have dealt with the cold by filling our water tank and running the furnace to keep the underbelly warm. Both previous years we have had to do this for maybe a total of 10 days, and it never got this cold. The rest of the time was warm enough to have the hose out.

This year has definitely been colder than normal. Last Wednesday Kevin filled our water tank, and we ran the furnace again to keep the underbelly warm. However, when we got home from work on Friday night with a balmy 5 degrees outside, we had no water. Our fresh water tank is enclosed but near the back of the fifth wheel. Because it is enclosed, we’re not sure how insulated or heated it is in there. Either the water tank or the lines from it have frozen. The pump still works, but no water comes out. Hopefully, nothing is broken.

The water spigot here at the RV park is just below ground with a cover over it. Kevin had put insulation on it, so we still had water coming out of the ground. He hooked up the hose to the fifth wheel, and we have water again to shower and do dishes. He filled some water gallons for drinking water and using the toilet, and then he drains the hose and puts it away again. By the end of this week temperatures are supposed to be in the 40s again. So, that’s a good thing.

The valves on the grey and black water tanks are also frozen shut so we are being careful to not use too much water so our tanks don’t get too full. That would not be a good thing. We heard you should put some RV antifreeze in those tanks to keep them from freezing, so Kevin did that too.

Lots of people here at the park are having water problems. Even those who have heated hoses and insulated hoses, have had them freezing up. Kevin saw one guy yesterday with a huge chunk of ice where the hose meets the motor home. He was hacking at it with an ax. Ouch!!!

This morning there was a little snow again. Just enough to coat our truck’s window. Here’s the view out of our back window. We’re staying cozy warm inside enjoying our Christmas decorations and a Green Bay Packer win. This is the coldest weather we have been in since owning this fifth wheel. I must say I’m very impressed how warm it stays inside. The walls don’t feel cold at all. We keep the shades down because the windows do get cold. Our new one will have double pane windows, and I think that will help a lot with cold and heat.

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Amazon has informed us that our last work day will be Dec. 20th which means we’ll get off at 3:30 am the next morning. Our plan is to leave Dec. 22nd and head towards Dallas. Hopefully, the weather won’t be so cold that we can’t get our jacks up, etc. If it’s not too cold in Dallas, we’ll stay there for a few days. Otherwise, we’ll head towards Houston.

Korey and Cathryn WeddingKorey and Cathryn have finally gotten their wedding pictures from the photographer. They’re on a computer disc so Korey is making me a copy. They did post one of them on Facebook, so I’m sharing with my readers. Aren’t they just so cute!

 

 

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!