Yes, I know it has been a while since I posted something. We have been having so much fun with our friends here in the Valley that I've just sorta ignored the blog. Sorry about that! However, I've previously posted photos of some of our typical gatherings--usually at a restaurant (where else?), so posting more of these would become a little trite, don't you think?
We've made several trips over to Mexico with various groups of friends, and that's always fun. We also had a good time teaching the domino game '42' to Larry and Carolyn and Steve and Jackie. They're getting pretty good at it! We also had a brief visit with Bob and Janet of our contingent of friends in nearby Mission, and it was really good to see them again. Joy and Glenn were with us here for a while, but our time with them was way too short, too.
But these eight great friends have headed back north, and we are settling back into what has become a routine of sorts. I can hardly believe that I wondered, when I booked this park for a three-month stay, what in the world we would do with all of our spare time, since we wouldn't be traveling anywhere in Phannie. That worry has proven to be silly; we're busy all the time, it seems. When we aren't visiting with Ed and Marilyn, Denny and Jackie, Eddie and Jan, Mike and Marian and others, we try to take care of housekeeping chores as well as making trips to Wally World and H.E.B for supplies. But we usually have some time to relax, and we've gotten pretty good at that.
I also serve as pianist for the Sunday church service here at Victoria Palms. I was asked to serve by someone who happened by when I was playing the piano in the lobby just after we arrived, and I was delighted to accept. Sandy sings in the choir, so we are glad to be able to take part and serve in these ways.
I also have had a couple of issues that required visits to our site by outside service providers. One wasn't my fault--a windshield nick on Mae that was quickly fixed by Safelite. The other was a lot more expensive and embarrassing, but I might as well confess--maybe I'll feel better about it, but probably not.
Let's just say that if you find yourself driving a motorhome down a road with tree limbs overhead, it's a really good idea not to proceed if you're not absolutely certain there is plenty of clearance between the limbs and the roof of the coach. If you don't stop, get out and check with your own eyeballs, things can get expensive.
This bit of stupidity on my part occurred at an RV park in Rockport, where we stayed overnight during our trip here to the Valley. In order to maneuver Phannie past another RV that was taking up more of the road than it should, I drove too close to some overhanging tree limbs. From the driver's seat, the clearance appeared to be okay but, upon hearing an ominous crunch over my head, I knew that it obviously wasn't. The crunch was the dislodging of the left air horn from Phannie's roof. There was nothing to be salvaged from the disfigured remains of the horn, so it was relegated to the dumpster, and I set Phannie on her course toward the Rio Grande sans one of her air horns. These things are very effective, by the way. Since one of these 20-ton beasts won't stop on a dime, a blast on the air horn is pretty handy in getting the attention of a driver who is about to get run over.
I really didn't know what I was going to do about the missing horn when we arrived here, so I began an Internet search and--wonder of wonders--what would show up but "Air Horns of Texas!" Yes, friends, McAllen happens to be the home of probably the only shop anywhere dedicated entirely to the installation and repair of air horns. I couldn't believe my good fortune! I gave Jason, the owner, a call, and within a few weeks and with the parting of a few hundred dollars, Phannie's missing air horn was ordered and replaced after a temporary repair to the roof where the horn used to be:
This was a particularly irksome ordeal, as I fancy myself a pretty cautious driver. This lesson won't be soon forgotten, nor will the pain in my wallet. And I won't forget my luck in finding Jason, either.
We also managed to have a little extra time to do some flying. I was due for my required biennial flight review, so I went to the McAllen airport, snagged a flight instructor and rented a Cessna from McCreery Aviation to get this done. After a short flight, I suppose the instructor was satisfied that I sort of knew what I was doing, so that checkout ended pretty quickly. A few days later, during a nice day with calm wind and good visibility, Sandy and I rented the Cessna and flew over to Port Isabel, where we landed and checked out that sleepy little airport. Taking off again, we flew over the causeway to South Padre Island to see what it looked like from the air:
The view above is from about 1,000 feet. Sandy was amazed because the island looks so narrow from the air. She's holding my iPad, the device used by most pilots now for navigation and airport information. If only such a thing were available back when I had to lug around all those Jepp manuals in my flight bag.
She doesn't seem scared at all, does she?
I'm having a good time, too. These little airplanes are great for sightseeing--something that was nearly impossible in a jetliner. I'll see if some other friends want to fly around a bit before we all leave the Valley.
I've had some comments from some folks on Facebook about how active our lives seem to them--flying airplanes around and driving a motorhome all over the country as we do. (They are too tactful to add, "at your age," I suppose.) Well, first of all, we aren't really all that old; I'm barely into my seventies, and Sandy hasn't made it to that decade yet. We know quite a few much older folks out here in the RV world who seem to run circles around us.
I think part of it is just being willing to step out of what is routine, familiar and safe and embrace new adventures. But there is also a philosophy involved that I really hadn't thought of until we saw Clint Eastwood's recent movie, "The Mule." Clint, at age 88, was asked how he managed to do something like make a movie at such an advanced age. His response was, "I get up every morning and I just don't let the old man in." What a great line! Like Clint, we don't think of ourselves as being old, and I'm going to keep the old man out just as long as I can, Lord willin'.
Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life;
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.
You don't stop playing when you get old; you get old when you stop playing.