Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Thursday, December 29, 2005

New Braunfels to Belton

We cooked a huge Mexican omelet for breakfast today. It was plenty for two, taking two spatulas to remove it from the skillet. We knew we didn't have a long pull this day, as we were only going up I-35 as far as Belton, where we would stay overnight and then visit with Sandy's mom, who is in an assisted living center in Temple. With this in mind, we lounged around Homer all morning, then went to a nearby Camping World to pick up a few things, then to Oma's House for lunch. This is a German restaurant at the intersection of I-35 and S. H. 46 in New Braunfels, and we recalled having had a positive dining experience there on a previous occasion. Sandy had a Reuben sandwich/potato soup combination, and I had a weiner schnitzel with sauerkraut. The schnitzel was huge and quite tasty, and Sandy enjoyed her selections, as well. We will definitely return to this place.

After lunch, we stopped at Evergreen RV Center to scope out a new Coachmen 277DS fifth wheel they happened to have in stock. This is a great coach, one that we would certainly have bought if we had known about it before buying the Jayco Jayflight. Although not much longer than the current Homer, it is much more spacious inside, due higher ceilings and a much more efficient interior layout. There is even room for a king size bed, a larger bathroom and shower, and two lounge chairs in the rear! I am lusting after this rig mightily, and it could easily become the new Homer in the near future.

We went back to Canyon Trail to hook up Homer and alas! Our first mishap occurred! When I backed the Hornet's hitch onto Homer's kingpin, the extension and retraction of the locking handle appeared normal as the pin slid into place. For some reason, however, I was distracted and failed to make a visual check that the hitch's locking jaws were engaged behind the kingpin. I also failed to secure the safety latch that keeps the locking handle from moving. After retracting Homer's front legs, I began to pull the rig forward slightly to free up the wheel chocks. As soon as the truck moved, Homer's kingpin slipped out of the hitch, and the trailer fell with a loud noise onto the side rails of the pickup. I stopped immediately and got out to survey the damage. There was a slight indentation in each rail of the pickup bed and a corresponding indentation in the front edge of Homer's aluminum skin where the trailer impacted the side rails. Other than that, there appeared to be no significant damage, except to my ego. I extended Homer's front legs and then hitched up again, this time performing my customary safety check. I'm pretty sure I'll never forget this again, and I'm glad the lesson wasn't a costlier one.

Our pull up to Belton KOA was uneventful, but we weren't impressed with this park, either. The sites were gravel, it was too close to noisy I-35, and the TV cable was so bad, we had to fire up the satellite. The staff was friendly enough, but that didn't overcome the negatives for us. We had dinner at Fiddler's Catfish and Bar-B-Que in Temple. What a lousy restaurant! Everything was served buffet style, and the catfish and sides were inedible. The catfish had a disgustingly fishy taste and slimy consistency, indicating that it was frozen, not fresh. The only things I found otherwise acceptable for ingestion were the seafood gumbo and the barbecued ribs, both of which were actually quite good. Of the things Sandy chose, only the salad was passable for her. I was mystified that the owners were able to cook a really good gumbo—which requires more than a little skill, I have found—and fail so miserably with simpler things. They did have good homemade dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls which, I presume, were the main attractions for the goodly number of other customers. Otherwise, I would guess they were escapees from an asylum for the criminally indiscriminate. It would take a team of Clydesdales to drag me back to this place.

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