Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Sunrise, Sunset

 At home in Lindale, Texas...

This is going to be a difficult post, I'm afraid. After much thought, prayers and yes, gnashing of teeth, it now has become clear that Phannie and Mae must come to an end. It is almost like losing a member of the family after almost 20 years of posts about our RV journeys.  If you've had the fortitude to read through it all, you will have lived it as we did, learning from our mistakes and loving every bit of it. This will, sadly, be the last post.

We have been so fortunate to see in person so many wonders of our country that most people see only in photographs. And we will have this blog, which we will have printed, to remember it all. 

We are so honored to have reached officially more than a million pageviews. (They didn't start counting until we had written for the first five years.) We thought about our readers a great deal, and we are humbled that you followed us along from newbies to, well, needing to hang up the keys.

Let me hurry to explain that our decision is not based on any physical ailments that are taking us away from RVing. Well, there are a few annoyances that are common when one reaches elderly status, but we just know the time has come. It is much like when Sandy and I retired from our professions and became fulltimers. Sandy asked one of her retired schoolteacher friends how she would know when it's time to retire. "Don't worry; you'll know," came the answer. And so it was when I retired, and so it is with the end of our RVing journeys.

One of the hardest things to contemplate is the handoff of Phannie--and Mae--to someone else. Phannie was our home for eight years of fulltiming and 13 years of ownership. We've driven her more than a hundred thousand miles, and she has never been anything but dependable. Not a single breakdown, not a single failure to start the Cat engine with a few turns, not even a single "check engine" light in all that time. We know we were lucky to get one of the "good years" of Tiffin motorhomes, and we had the good sense to have her lovingly serviced all that time. That is probably the main reason she has been so faithful. There is also the fact that she's been driven fairly often instead of setting idle--something that is supposedly not good for big motorhomes. Sandy will definitely cry when Phannie leaves for the last time, and I can't promise that I won't.

We're getting her ready for sale now, and even that is saddening. It seems every personal thing we remove brings back a memory, and that slows down the progress. Moreover, I'm conflicted as to what kind of price is appropriate. It's so hard to put a value on something that is so much like a friend.

I do know that whoever gets Phannie will have an inexpensive, well-maintained coach fully set up for fulltiming. We added so many extras--a residential refrigerator (and door icemaker) with a new pure sine-wave inverter. In addition, we removed the old TVs and put flat screens in their places; it has a Trav'ler dish for Direct TV. We installed a third air conditioner (2006s only came with two). We had MCD powered shades installed in the cockpit and manual MCDs in the "parlor." We replaced the unreliable Atwood jacks with Bigfoot levelers--there are a number of other goodies like upgraded headlights, a powered reel for the electrical cord, fancy lighting under the main slide and under the awning...there are others, and I can't think of them all, but they cost tens of thousands of dollars. And there are the service records--every single one since NEW. And, painful as it was, financially, she has just had all her belts, hoses and airbags replaced, along with new Koni shocks. That was about six grand that the new owner will probably never have to pay. And, oh yes, you won't ever have to spend a penny on DEF; it's not required for these classic coaches. The Cat C7 diesel engine's average overhaul comes at around 500,000 miles, but I'll bet this one would go much longer. I even use a special additive that replaces the diesel fuel lubricant that was taken away by the EPA.

I'm giving you all this information, dear readers, because there may be someone out there or someone you know who would like to get an older classic Phaeton that may be the best-equipped in the country for a small fraction of her original $315,000 price tag. I'm seeing prices now in the 70s, and the lower end of that is what I'm initially thinking. Oh, yes, and Mae is for sale, too. A 2014 Honda CRV with 115,000 miles that has been equally well maintained. This would be a complete reliable fulltiming package for someone who doesn't want to spend much money--around 80k. Anyone interested can email me at mikemills159 at

It is incredibly difficult to say goodbye; let's just say, "See you later."

Thank you all for twenty wonderful years!


Monday, March 18, 2024

Our First Trip Of The Year and I May Be In Trouble With You-Know-Who

 At KOA Campground, Branson, Missouri...

It's a little embarrassing that I have allowed this blog to remain unattended for so long, but it has always been a travel blog and, well, we're not traveling that much any longer. Besides, getting resettled into a real part-timing situation has been a bit more time-consuming than I thought. Now I remember why we went full-timing: Keeping up a stick-and-brick house along with an RV requires some work! It's all coming back to me now. Besides that, we've had to write some very big checks--first to buy the house and then to refurbish and furnish it. The older I get, the more debt-averse I am, so we are curtailing our travels to allow our reserves to recover. We want our only bounced check to be the one to the undertaker.

That doesn't mean staying housebound forever, though, so we decided to meet friends Larry and Carolyn here in Branson--always a favorite place to go. Our plan was to be here a week, then head back home, but it didn't quite work out that way, as you'll see later. 

Getting Phannie's contents ready for travel after she had been idle for several months was not without its missteps. When we were beginning to inhabit the new house, we had agreed to avoid, as much as possible, stealing items from Phannie in the process, because that makes loading the coach for departure so much more difficult--especially when the old memory is not firing on all cylinders these days.

While we were partially successful in keeping the old girl ready for travel, it was inevitable at times that we would just walk out in the garage and purloin something we needed in the house. We didn't make a record of the thievery, of course, so it was no surprise that we found some missing essentials when we began departure prep and after we departed.

Sandy's biggest headache was clothing. Anyone who knows her is aware she thinks that, unlike a man, a woman can never have too many clothes because of all the different styles required for different occasions and the inevitable variables of weather. In all the years of our RVing, bless her heart, she was never really able to simplify her wardrobe adequately. I am being charitable here; she probably holds the record for carrying the most clothes while fulltiming. (If this blog suddenly goes dark, you'll know she read this.)

Her massive clothes collection was the reason the closet rod in Phannie collapsed soon after we began fulltiming. The clothing on my side of the closet took up about ten percent of the total space, while her wardrobe took up the rest, along with a substantial stash in the storage area under the bed. Realizing she probably wouldn't get the hang of simplifying her clothing, I replaced the rather flimsy closet rod with a steel one and added bracing that would probably support a small car. There would be no more collapsed closet rods after that.

When we bought our house recently, it contained, thankfully, a huge walk-in closet, so she decided that--to shut up my "suggestions" toward simplifying her wardrobe--she would remove all her clothing from Phannie and bring everything inside the house, so she could sort it out. This was no small task, as there were enough items to dress most of the women  in the nearby town. Naturally, I was involved in transporting the clothes inside, and I couldn't help but notice that a number of them still had the price tag attached. Once everything was hung up in the house closet, there was room enough in there for her to assess fully her wardrobe, and the winnowing process only got under way after she shooed me away. She found clothes she had forgotten about or were tightly obscured in Phannie's closet, and I was careful not to mention those items that still had the price tags attached. (She knows where the guns are kept.)

Since both of us have lost a great deal of weight over the past couple of years, she began trying on clothes to see which items no longer fit. This was an exhausting project, but she delighted in assembling an impressive pile of too-large clothes that were destined for a charity donation.

I thought this might bring about an epiphany for her in terms of the number of garments required for part-time RV travel and, to my amazement, it did! As a result of her bravery, she had whittled them down from 121 items (yes, you read that right) carried aboard Phannie while fulltiming to 29 now! To be fair, I counted my own garments now in Phannie's closet and came up with 14. I'm not sure what the average number of clothing items are for RV travel, but this reduction of hers was stunning. I praised her profusely, and I have an idea that even she was relieved at her monumental effort at downsizing. 

You will recall that I mentioned her large walk-in closet in the house, right? I don't think there's a woman alive who is comfortable with extra unused closet space. We'll see how that goes.

Another thing we didn't do very well involved food. When we parked Phannie in her attached RV garage after we bought the house, we cleaned out her refrigerator and turned it off. That will, of course, have to be standard procedure from now on between trips, for obvious reasons involving perishable food. (We also discovered some rather basic food items missing; remember the thievery I mentioned earlier?) Two days before our departure to Branson, I turned the refrigerator on again so it would cool down and the icemaker would begin operating. Besides having occasionally "borrowed" from Phannie's pantry, we didn't bring back enough food from the house and the house refrigerator, and we found that we had to go immediately to the grocery store upon our arrival in Branson. This seems like one of those things we will just never get right.

I may have written before about our increasing intolerance for overnights between our travel legs. Over the years, we have tried to limit our daily travel to 300 miles or less but, for some reason, the hassle of making and breaking camp for one night has become  an anathema, so we decided to drive the entire 500 miles to Branson in one day. This required, of course, the hilly, curvy part of the drive through the Ozark mountains to be done after nightfall. While it was do-able, it was totally exhausting to manage all the twists, climbs and descents, downshifting and upshifting incessantly to control the speed and save the brakes. We had contacted the park in Branson earlier in the day, and they had no problem with a late arrival, but I'm not sure the other RVers there appreciated Phannie's noisy diesel as we snaked our way to our parking site at 9:30 p.m. Would I do such a long leg again? Probably not in mountainous driving in the dark. However, if the road had been an interstate or a level one?  Definitely. Was it safe? Probably not so much on this trip, but I think it would have been, had it not been for the mountain roads. Because Phannie's front seats are so comfortable with lots of legroom, normal driving is pretty easy.

A few days after our arrival in Branson, we noticed the electrical part of our water heater had stopped working. After performing what little troubleshooting I could do, we called a mobile repairman, whose ability to communicate reliably was rather severely compromised because he didn't answer his cell phone most of the time, and he didn't use voice mail. He came out to our coach, though, and discovered the problem right away; then he announced that he would have to go get some parts and that he would be back, leaving the electrical part of the water heater disassembled. This was late on a Friday afternoon, so I wasn't expecting him back during the weekend, which turned out to be the case. That meant we had to extend our stay and hope we'll see him again on Monday. 

If you've had to use mobile RV techs, you're probably aware that you never really know what you're going to get. A few are really great, but most of them are very busy and may not be able to get to you for days. Besides that, more than a few obviously have not attended a Dale Carnegie course on how to win friends and influence people. Sizing up this guy, it was obvious that he would not handle well my pressuring him, so I decided to give him plenty of rein and see what happens on Monday. We could have buttoned up and left, relying on the propane part of the heater, but we already owed him for the service call, and I would hate to start over again after returning home.

That gave us a free weekend, which we used to see a show and do some sightseeing. Branson is different in many ways from our first visit some 20 years ago. The entertainers popular then and whom we enjoyed have now either retired or passed away. There used to be nostalgic shows about music of the '50s, but these have been replaced by the '60s, 70s, and 80s. We don't remember getting older; what happened? There are still good shows, though, and plenty of entertainment to be had.

Driving around, it was obvious that it was early spring in lower Missouri; tiny green leaves were just beginning to appear on the trees, and the redbuds were in full bloom:

We also enjoyed a sunset in the Ozarks; that's Branson's Lake Taneycomo in the photo below:

We also did some shopping--well, Sandy did the shopping; I did the driving. We couldn't leave without getting some stuff for the grands. There was also a shopping bag that had a Chico's emblem; I'm not sure that one was for the grands.

Well, I'm going to close this for now; that'll give me an opportunity for another post to disclose how all this turned out.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Monday, January 15, 2024

Part-Timers Now, For Sure, But It Hasn't Been Easy

 At Bass Lake Christian Retirement Community, Lindale, Texas...

    I've been reading back over several posts. (I have to do that to make sure I don't repeat myself--a sure sign the buzzards are circling overhead.) By now, you know that we have moved diagonally across Texas to a true part-timers' setup. The official transition was not complete until a few days ago, as we had been living in Phannie under the RV cover until the house was ready for occupancy. (You can see a photo of the place a couple of posts back.)

    After eight years of fulltiming, there were some things about making the transition for which we weren't mentally or physically prepared. Another way of putting it is that we had no clue what it would be like to prepare for living in a house again. Yes, I guess our memory had faded that much.

    We were also slowed by our two-week holiday visit with the kids--which we couldn't miss, of course. Thankfully, we are a couple of hours closer to them now. 

    Almost immediately after returning from the Houston area, Sandy and I became ill. I was the first to fall, with fever and all the lovely side effects of the flu. My immediate visit to the doctor confirmed influenza (even though we had both had flu shots), but instead of prescribing the usual Tamiflu medication, the doctor gave me a prescription for a single tablet (I can't remember the name of it, but I have no trouble remembering that the one pill cost $75.) However, it must be the new best thing, as I began to feel better fairly quickly, as the fever subsided. Sandy's symptoms were not as severe, but the coughing and sniffling have persisted to this day. 

    The problem with going to part time RVing and moving into a house is that we didn't have much of anything to take from Phannie  to the house. Since we'll still be traveling in Phannie, we must leave almost everything inside intact! That left us with the necessity of furnishing the house from scratch! 

    Well, we must admit to some luck here, in that the former owners of the house were moving into an apartment and were unable to take with them any of the kitchen or laundry appliances. They asked if we wanted them for free, and we, of course, said, "Yes!" We also had a sofa and two chairs from the Hondo cabin and a second sofa that we had kept from our previous house so, thankfully, we had a good head start. 

    We still had a good bit of furniture to buy, and it certainly had not gotten cheaper in eight years! I had to buy a new computer, of course, and it is amazing how these things have improved in the last eight years! 

    The big surprises came in the form of the little things. We had no cooking utensils, dinnerware, silverware, plus dozens of other gadgets that are required. Simple things, like clocks, wastebaskets, bathroom and cleaning supplies--even tiny things like envelopes and stamps--all these had to be purchased. Every day, it seemed, we discovered we didn't have some essential thing, and we were faced with the need to borrow it from Phannie, hoping to remember to replace it later. When we start our next trip, we will almost certainly be in the same situation; we'll travel somewhere and discover items missing from Phannie that we stole for the house.

    Then there was the dilemma of making the house feel like our own instead of someone else's. The decor had to reflect our taste, and that was a bit of a challenge, since the buyer of our previous house eight years ago had also bought almost all our furnishings that we had picked out after a lot of thought. 

    Now, in the new house, it took a while to choose just the right things, but one idea that I had turned out superbly: I chose several photographs I had taken at various landmarks on our travels and had them made into large canvas wall-hangings. They turned out spectacularly well, serving a dual purpose as a reminder every day of the places we've been and the sights we've seen on our marvelous eight-year odyssey. We found there were more photos than we could reasonably hang in the small house, but we plan to switch them out from time to time. Here is a sampling of the ones hanging now:


Old Mine Near Marble, Colorado

Top: Old Barn With The Grand Tetons in the Background; Bottom: The Grand Canyon

Sunset Near Yuma, Arizona

    Finally, upon completing this post today, we are in the deep freeze here in northeast Texas. We are so glad to have Phannie tucked away from the elements and not sucking down the propane and electricity to keep us warm. 

(I should have pulled Mae under cover, too, but I didn't know it was going to snow. Lesson learned.) 

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood


Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Southwestern Texas to Northeastern Texas--Another World and Another Lifestyle

 At Bass Lake Christian Retirement RV Community, Lindale, Texas

We have been a bit busy since the last post, having finally made the move from Ranchito Hondo to Bass Lake. Believe me when I tell you that it is like traveling to another world. Whereas the Hondo area is mostly barren, treeless and less than a visual delight, northeast Texas is, well...see for yourself:

    Sandy is standing at an overlook at Lookout Mountain and a beautiful view of heavily wooded east Texas. This area near Jacksonville is sort of like the east Texas version of the famed Texas Hill Country west of Austin. We are only a short distance from Tyler and nearby Lindale, our new residence. 

    I am already thrilled to be back in the land of my ancestors. I remember fondly my days as a young pilot when I would jump in a little two-seater Cessna 140 and fly very low over this hilly and forested landscape; I was in heaven.

    As I take the photo, Phannie is parked behind me, waiting patiently while I go down memory lane and look over both the familiar landscape and through time--my ancestors included soldiers and officers of the Confederate Army, preachers, farmers, tradesmen, and one of them was even mayor of my home town. I feel I can almost see them in the clouds. I'm doing my best to encourage Sandy to feel at home. She grew up in central Texas--more of a flatland farming area without the gorgeous trees--but we all feel at home where home was when we were young, don't we? She claims to be "all-in" for the area, but it is so like her to resort to obeisance if she knows it makes me happy. I try to be the same for her but, raised an only child, I have the misfortune of being accustomed to getting my way. I think she would say that I try hard to match her selflessness, but that's a tall order for me. However, I must have done enough to hold on to her for nearly 47 years, thank God.

    This last trip from Hondo to Lindale was an expensive one and, at least momentarily, hair-raising. As we were driving on a very crowded Loop 410 in San Antonio, a semi truck got a little too close to our lane and our mirrors struck, knocking Phannie's right mirror completely off its arm. Startled as we were, I failed to identify the truck, whose mirror appeared not to be damaged. After perhaps a few miles, I was able to pull off the freeway but, by that time, the truck was long gone. This was the result:

      If you look closely, you can see the loose wires that control from the cockpit the mirror movement and heat. You can also see that Phannie had reached her beautiful RV cover in Lindale in this condition, something I didn't know if I could accomplish from San Antonio because the driver's view of the right side of the bus was nil without that mirror. The potential for an accident was exponentially greater in this situation.

    I was debating what to do when I happened to take a look at the rear video screen on Phannie's dashboard. I noticed that the view of Mae was but a small part of the panorama of the rear camera. I could actually see vehicles in the right lane until they disappeared alongside Phannie, so I figured that if I watched the rear video closely and took less-traveled roads, I would probably be okay, and that's exactly what happened. To make double sure, I always kept Phannie in the far right lane whenever we were on a four-lane stretch of highway. The six-hour drive was a little nerve-wracking, but it worked better than I thought.

    Arriving at our Bass Lake abode, I called Tiffin immediately, with my fingers crossed in hopes they would have one of these older mirrors in stock. Much to my surprise, they did! When they quoted the price ($1,250 plus shipping), I gulped but ordered it anyway, not knowing where else I would find one. I also located a mobile RV technician after trying to install the mirror myself. I couldn't make sense of which of the five wires went where, and this guy got it on the first try. So, there was another $150 that flew out of my wallet. Figuring in the diesel fuel consumed, I probably could have chartered a jet more cheaply for this particular trip. That would hardly have worked, though, because Phannie was piled high with the last vestiges of our belongings and Sandy's clothes that she seems to collect as though someday they would cease to be made. I see I'm on thin ice here, so let's get back to the mirror. This is how Phannie looked with her new $1,400 mirror--yep, exactly the same:

      The one obvious difference here at Bass Lake from Hondo is that the old girl is comfortably tucked into her roomy garage, where she suffers neither rain, hail, snow nor blazing sun. It's so nice to walk from Phannie into the house during a downpour without worrying about getting drowned ourselves. If we're here in the summer, we will definitely have no need to run all three air conditioners as we did on hot days in the scorching Hondo sun. Oh, wait! We'll be in the house, where the air conditioning is almost overdone itself. I don't suppose Phannie will need any air conditioning at all, unless we use her for a guest house.

    I looked back a few posts, and I don't think I showed you my very cool pole mount for our Starlink antenna when we're away on a trip for a while:

    Carrying Starlink along is neat anyway, but being able to get the antenna extended beyond obstructions adds to how I attempt to justify the cost of the subscription. (Maybe that's a reach, but 24/7 lightning-fast Internet with no limits is not too shabby.) It's very easy to place the pole in its mounts, which Walt installed for me. Thanks, Walt.

    Perhaps the worst thing about moving is leaving the friends we've come to know in Hondo. However, we have RV friends scattered all over the country, and we stay in touch via social media and, when we're lucky, meet them on the road now and then.

    The painters finished repainting the interior of the Bass Lake house today, so we will finally be able to start unboxing things. We won't be sleeping in the house for a while, however; our bedroom furniture doesn't arrive for a few days yet.

    Thusly, we enter yet another phase of the RV life--eventually required, I suppose, by every one of us. I'm very satisfied with the way we've done it--slowly transitioning from the long trips requiring the stamina of younger years, then to semi-part time, where we had a cabin but still lived in the bus, and finally back to true part-timers, where we live in a small house--just what we wanted--and take a relatively modest trip now and then.

    The Lord has been good to us--more than 100,000 miles in Phannie (plus the previous tens of thousands of miles pulling our fifth wheels). We've seen just about all of the country we ever wanted to see, filling our bucket list along the way. Amazingly, Phannie still seems ready to go, having carried us safely all those miles over a dozen years, without a single hiccup from her dependable drive train. I think I love the Caterpillar diesel engine; I'm certain this one has another 400,000 miles in it, because of its meticulous maintenance. (And, I take no small amount of pride in the fact that we've never bought a drop of DEF.)

    As we mentioned in the last post, Phannie will take us to Conroe for Christmas through New Year's and to Branson in the spring. We'll figure out the rest later.

    You might notice that the pageview counter is getting close to a million. It actually should show quite a bit more than that, however, as the counter only began counting in 2010; by that time, we had been posting for five years. Nevertheless, it will be exciting to see it turn over a million, and we cannot thank you readers enough for traveling along with us. We love that and, hopefully, our adventures have been entertaining, inspiring or at least helpful in some way. I can tell you we feel incredibly blessed to have had this experience. Not everyone can truly say they've had no regrets in the travels we've had, the wonderful friends we've made and the lives we've lived. I'm not sure what we'll do when Phannie and Mae passes the million pageview number, but it'll have to be something significant. We'll have to think about that.


Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Friday, October 20, 2023

A Roundabout Journey to Hondo--and Something Unexpected

At Lone Star Corral Escapees Park, Hondo, Texas...

Coming back to Ranchito Hondo certainly had some enjoyable detours and something entirely unexpected that will turn out to be the surprise I mentioned in the previous post.

As we left the last of the mountains into New Mexico, I couldn't help but take a photo of this rock that reminded me a bit of the Sphinx in Egypt. It was a little sad that the beauty surrounding us all summer was coming to an end.

Our first overnight after leaving Colorado was the RV park at Cline's Corners, a well-known travel center on I-40, southeast of Santa Fe. They have opened a new RV park, and it is quite nice and reasonably priced for an overnight. They don't take reservations, but there's usually plenty of sites available.

From there, we overnighted at Bubba and LouAnn's home in Lockney, Texas (near Plainview). We moochdocked in their driveway, but not without a minor mishap when Bubba, who was directing my backing into his driveway, became distracted and failed to stop me before Phannie backed into his roof overhang. This bent Phannie's ladder and damaged some shingles on his roof. Naturally, he felt bad about it, and so did I, but stuff happens. The ladder has been replaced, and all is okay now. As usual, we enjoyed getting to spend a little more time with them and their family and the generosity of offering us overnight accommodations.

Our next stop was The Vineyards RV Park in Grapevine, Texas, where we took some time for an annual medical checkup and a visit with a close high school friend whom I hadn't seen in 50 years or so:

Danny, also a musician, roamed around with me a great deal in our high school years, and it was such a treat finally to see him and his lovely wife again.

After the doctor visits, which went fine, we motored down to my hometown, Nacogdoches, Texas, where we spent a few days visiting friends John and Pat and the publisher of my newspaper column, high school chum David. (You can see the nonsense I write monthly in, but you'll have to wade through a bunch of advertising to get to it. My column is usually between pages 18 and 32. There are quite a few columns, as I have been writing for the paper for over a year now.)

We hadn't been in Nacogdoches long until I received a call from the president of the Board of Directors at Bass Lake Christian RV Community near Tyler, Texas--a larger town not far from Nacogdoches. She told me a resident was selling, and that I might be interested in his place. We had been looking at this park for a number of years, but didn't find exactly what we wanted, so we jumped in the car and drove to Tyler, where we bought the new place on the spot!

The previous owners were very nice and left for us all the appliances and a substantial amount of other indoor and outdoor things at no additional cost!  So, for the moment, we find ourselves owning sites at Hondo and at Lindale--near Tyler, Texas. We will eventually sell Ranchito Hondo, of course, but this is the natural progression for us, we think, as we wind down the long trips in Phannie. The main attractions of this place in Lindale involve the large RV/Vehicle cover and the small house--about 1000 sq. ft.--that accompanies it. And so, the fulltiming to part timing cycle takes another turn. With this purchase, we will no longer be living fulltime in Phannie, but in the house. The great news is that Phannie will finally be under a cover again when unused--something we desperately missed because of the effects of the elements which, thankfully, appear to have been minimal. I've often written about what a marvelous motorhome that Tiffin built in the early 2000s, and I am more convinced of it than ever. To think she has come through eight years of fulltiming virtually unscathed, looking good and running perfectly--she is a wonderful lady. 

Even so, I think the long trips are over, as we are getting on up there in years. Besides, we have seen just about everything on our bucket list, all of which--thank God--we have recorded in this rag for the last 18 years. Of all the things we did, my beginning this blog on our first day of RV ownership was perhaps that for which we're most grateful. Our memories will fade, but there are about two million words and countless photos in this blog that will remind us of the adventures of a lifetime. We have also met some of our most cherished friends along the road--and they will remain so for the rest of our lifetimes. 

So, the new (to us) place in Lindale is the little surprise we teased you about in the last post; we will probably be moving in in November. This doesn't mean that RV travel is over for us, however. Our next RV trip will be to the Houston area, where we will spend Thanksgiving with our family. Phannie is perfect for trips like that now that we're older.

After purchasing our new digs at Bass Lake, we drove to visit RV friends Steve and Jackie, who have just finished building a magnificent RV barndominium northwest of Austin, Texas. The contrast between our modest little place and this palace couldn't be more stark. Take a look:

Built on two acres of land near the Texas Hill Country, the 2,000 sq. ft. beauty has everything. Notice the two large garage doors--one for their motorhome and the other for their two vehicles. Also notice they have added an RV pad with hookups for visiting RV friends. We were so honored to be the first! I wish I had taken photos inside, but we'll do that next time. With accommodations like this, who wouldn't want to visit? Here is a peek inside the garage, where you can see their motorhome, Jackie's car and Steve's pickup:

We loved this place and the quiet surroundings, and the weather was perfect for us to sit out on the porch and visit:

Look at the beautiful landscaping. There's a bubbling fountain in the center of the photo:

Not only did we enjoy a visit with Steve and Jackie (and pup Jill, of course), we finally got to meet and have dinner in San Antonio with Alan and Mary. I got hooked on Mary's blog, Reflections Around the Campfire ( years ago because it was so interesting and well written. As somewhat of a stickler for what I hope is good storytelling and especially accuracy in the mechanics of writing, I was impressed. I began to joke with Mary in my comments when I would find a very rare error in grammar, punctuation and the like. This was something I could never do with most bloggers or anyone else, for that matter, as they would be offended at my pointing out what is usually a plethora of errors. (Yes, it is an OCD thing of mine, but I try to control it in order to retain friends.) Mary was a good sport, however, and gave back as good as she got. However, such a dry revelry has a relatively short lifespan, so we now just enjoy each other's blogs without the good-natured harassment--well, most of the time

We met at the Fish City Grill, where we enjoyed a wonderful seafood dinner and much conversation and laughing. It's funny how it's really not so surprising to meet a longtime cyber friend; we felt as though we already knew each other!

Well, that's quite a lot to chew for one blog post, so I'll run along and admit that we will be quite busy for a while with the move from Hondo to Lindale. 

What do we have in the planning stage? Well, there will be Thanksgiving and Christmas with the kids, of course, then Branson in the spring, where we will be meeting up with more RVing friends. We're not sure about next summer but, in the fall, we will probably be doing the leaf-peeping thing in New England and up to Maine. That's the one place in the country we haven't really spent much time, but we'll fly there instead of driving Phannie.

So there you have it. As our friend Ed always says, "Life is Good."  

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Time to Head Towards Texas

 At The Views RV Park, Dolores, Colorado...

    After all the unexpected delays getting Phannie's annual service in Red Bay, our stay in Colorado this year was much shorter than we wished. We had actually planned to stay through September, but some exciting things await us in Texas. We are not looking forward to our departure to Texas next week, as the temperature there is still in triple digits after the worst heat wave on record.

    We have had a wonderful time here, especially with dear friends who have joined us from time to time. We feel for those who have suffered the heat back home but thankful we missed most of it. 

    While longtime friends Bubba and LouAnn were already here when we arrived, we were soon joined by Arkansas friends Carolyn and Larry, who rode the Durango-Silverton train and had time for us to give them a whirlwind tour of nearby Mesa Verde National Park and Durango, where we had lunch in the old saloon of the historic 19th-century Strater Hotel:

    No, Larry is not tipsy in the photo. Remember, I told you he's from Arkansas.  

    The old saloon as been restored, and they kept the original bar and even a piano player, whom you can see in the background. I wanted to play a duet with him, but the place was just too crowded.

    Our next entertainment venue was the Bar D Chuckwagon in Durango, where we were served barbeque and treated to a live western band. (They were quite good.)

    Our next visitors were BreAnn, daughter of Bubba and LouAnn, and longtime friends Mary Lou and Harvey. We all had a great time, and we have some photos, of course. Here's a lovely scene with BreAnn standing in front of Trout Lake, near Telluride, Colorado:

    Here's a photo of our last gathering around the campfire on the Animas river. In this photo are Jerry and Lori, some of LouAnn's relatives. BreAnn is standing next to Sandy. Notice we all have on our jackets (sorry, Texas friends):

    We had one final lunch at Serious Texas Barbeque (really good), as a goodbye gesture to Harvey and Mary Lou (far left):

    If you notice Harvey's impish grin, there's a reason. He is a cutup without equal, but Bubba and I pretty well hold our own. Much fun and laughter was had with all our visitors, and it was sad to see them go.

    And so, here we are, counting down the last few days before we head southward, knowing that September in Texas is not much different from August. It has been a fun time, but more excitement awaits us, and we will fill you in as we go.

   Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood


Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Cool Colorado--Finally!

 At The Views RV Resort, Dolores, Colorado...

This has certainly been a circuitous and expensive journey, compared to our usual fairly direct escape northward from the Texas heat for the summer. Our trip to Red Bay, then Branson, then back to Red Bay and finally to Colorado required the better part of 3,000 miles but, luckily, we had our friends, the Turleys and their family, who helped us pass the time. This was Phannie's lengthiest maintenance experience, but her long and faithful travels with us had reached a point where multiple preventive services needed to be done, in order to ensure she stays in top condition. When we reached Colorado, she got a terrific wash and wax job, so Sandy declared that Phannie has had her well-woman check and a spa day! She should feel pretty good about herself! 

Ain't she purty, all shined up in the photo below? For those of you who worry about buying an aging motorhome, you need to have a good knowledge of the care it has received. Properly maintained, they will run dependably for a very long time. We have every single record of any maintenance or service ever done. When the day comes that Phannie will have to find a new family--and who knows when that will be?--we may have to do interviews with potential buyers. She will not be able to cope--nor will we--with a new owner who doesn't treat her as family.

She now has new shocks, belts, coolant hoses, sway bar bushings, A/C drier, touched-up paint, and a new rubber slide gasket, not to mention her usual annual service on the engine and generator. No, it wasn't cheap, but mere pennies compared to the more than $400,000 for a new one that could join a host of other new ones that are already accumulating lots of problems and complaints. Properly maintained, Phannie should serve us faithfully as long as we are on the road. 

Since we were past the point in the dreadful summer heat where we would take our time and check out places along our daunting 1400-mile trip from Red Bay to Colorado, I tried to figure out how to make the trip as quickly as possible, especially since we would be crossing Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, parts of Texas, and New Mexico--all of which were cauldrons of the hellish July heat. Most legs were about 300 miles, with a 600-mile trek on one day from Oklahoma City to Albuquerque. That was the longest leg we've ever done in Phannie, but it was worth it to make good time across the superheated plains and desert.

We also found out something else: the roads in New Mexico are a mess! We will definitely avoid that state at all costs when we leave here. Added to all the cost of the service performed, diesel fuel ran us about $1500, but it was still worth it finally to reach the mountains and a climate manageable for humans. Here at The Views, it has been a little warm this week, with high temps in the 80s and nights in the 50s. We can't help but look at the 100-plus degrees daily back in Texas and be thankful we can escape.

Speaking of The Views, here is our view from the pavilion here in the park:


And here's a view of McPhee Reservoir, across the highway:

An evening walk or just sitting outside are so pleasant, and before long, you need to put on a jacket.

We had the great good fortune of meeting up with Dean and Ronda Dutton, fellow Lone Star Corral neighbors, so we enjoyed spending time with them in these terrific surroundings. Here we are at a local Dolores, Colorado restaurant, where it's actually very pleasant--almost coolish--to eat out on the patio:

We also had dinner with longtime friends, Bubba and LouAnn, who are camped at a park about 25 miles east of Dolores. Notice everyone is wearing a jacket:

At the Dolores farmer's market, we scored some ridiculously fresh veggies, including Olathe sweet corn (famous in these parts). So good!

Naturally, we had to do some sightseeing, so we took a drive to  nearby Telluride, where we toured this interesting residential neighborhood up at the 10,000-foot elevation. 

The scenery was spectacular, but there were few homes yet built, probably for a couple of reasons: There was nothing for sale up there under $5,000,000 and, at this elevation, the houses are probably a bit difficult to locate in the snowpack, so we're guessing these are the owners' summer homes. The area also had a view of the beautiful Dolores River to cross as you began your journey up the mountain:

So, if any of you are looking for a gorgeous summer home in the Colorado mountains, be sure and let me know; I know where to find it.

One of the good places to eat we've found up here is Bubba's, a cafe about four miles from our RV park. My friend Bubba especially likes it, because it bears his nickname:

We are so delighted that we are going to be joined by more friends in the weeks to come, and we will, of course, be posting about their visits. It is a wonderful summer in a delightful place, and we wish all our friends could enjoy it with us.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should every day.

We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing. 
 ---George Bernard Shaw

"I get up every morning, and I just don't let the old man in." ---Clint Eastwood