We arrived back here from our trip to the RGV and got right into the buzz of activities that accompany what I suppose is now becoming our home base here near Conroe. We weren't able to see the kids right away, as grandson Pryce was sick and contagious, but Sandy had a doctor's appointment, and I had to have another tire installed on our toad, Mae, that had picked up a nail in a location on the tire that couldn't be repaired.
If you've been reading this rag for a while, you know this has been quite a year for tire problems, starting with our debacle that plagued us between Indiana and Montana, where I had mistaken a leaking tire pressure sensor for a bad tire. This had resulted in my buying an extra new tire unnecessarily that I kept in our storage unit here near Thousand Trails. So, as luck would have it, that extra tire was available to replace the one that picked up the nail here in Conroe. Better yet, Discount Tire made the swap at no charge. This came on the heels of having a valve stem replaced on one of Phannie's steering tires while we were in Mission, so I'm hoping this was the last event of our year of tire problems.
After we left Aransas Pass on our last leg to get here a few days ago, we drove through Port Lavaca, mainly to see what kind of storm damage they had received at their location on the gulf 50 miles north of Rockport. The first thing we noticed was that every telephone pole along coastal highway 35 was new. (Sorry for the blurry photo; it wasn't a good idea to try to drive and snap the camera at the same time.):
I hadn't thought of the need to replace thousands of telephone poles within 50 miles of Harvey's landfall, but that's clearly what they did, and that alone must have been quite an undertaking.
Below is a photo of a boat storage building in Rockport. The other side of the building was facing the gulf, and all of the metal exterior had been blown away from that side, leaving dozens of boats imprisoned in the crazily bent steel framework:
Arriving in Port Lavaca, there were clearly damaged areas, but these weren't nearly as extensive as in Rockport and Port Aransas. Here are a couple of boats that had been blown ashore from their moorings, joining many others that we saw marooned on land, some quite a distance inland from their moorings on the coast:
On the third day after our arrival here, the day turned out to be beautiful with clear skies and a light breeze, following a cold front that blew through a couple of days earlier. This would be a great day to go flying, I thought! So that's what we did, renting a little Cessna from the nearby Huntsville airport. I had to re-establish my currency by making a three takeoffs and landings beforehand, and these went amazingly well, if I say so myself. Then I picked up Sandy for a flight down across Lake Conroe and over the kids' neighborhood about fifty miles to the south.
Below are a couple of photos taken on a previous flight day:
After the short flight down to the Woodlands, we flew over their house and saw the grandkids jumping up and down in their back yard, waving frantically. Naturally, I forgot to take a photo during this flight, but they loved it and, of course, so did we. They will certainly be insisting that they go along next time, and so they will.
I must say, getting back in the cockpit after so many years away from flying has been even more gratifying than I imagined. I was so pleased to find that the skill was still there--perhaps a bit rusty at first--but, after a couple of flights, it was as though the intervening years had never happened. I miss the power and performance of the jets I used to fly, but that is compensated by the freedom of flying a small airplane whenever and wherever I like, just for the fun of it, and especially when I can see the grandsons' excitement when they go along.
On the subject of what comes next for our travels, we've come to the realization that we have overstuffed our itinerary for the next several months. We were originally planning to make a trip to Quartzsite in January, but we have a commitment in Branson in March and an annual maintenance visit to Red Bay soon afterward. We also have a Hawaiian cruise booked in early summer, and we're planning to drive Phannie to California then, where we will catch a flight to Honolulu. Since we just returned from the west coast a few weeks ago, we don't think we have the desire or stamina go back and forth two more times in the span of the next few months. So, something has to give, and we've decided it will be Quartzsite. This is unfortunate, because we were going to meet a number of friends there, but we'll just have to see them another time. Our winter stay this year will probably be somewhere on the gulf coast.
In terms of the immediate future, we will be leaving in about ten days for our annual pilgrimage to Canton, Texas, where we're meeting good friends at an RV park near the unrestrained shopping orgy known as First Monday Trade Days. This blood sport will be held at what is probably one the world's largest flea markets. When they arrive, the female members of our group will embark on a feeding frenzy of sorts, discovering all kinds of things they had no idea they needed. I will make sure that Sandy and I have several discussions about the finite space in which we live and the fact that I have no intention of buying a trailer to pull behind Mae. But she will do fine; I think that for her, the thrill of the hunt is more exciting than actually buying something. At least that's what I'm telling myself today.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.
I had rather own little and see the world than to own the whole world and see little of it.