Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rally Wrap-Up and Back Home

Fort Worth - Our drive back from Kerrville was in good weather with a peppy tailwind, something that helped a little with Phannie's thirst for diesel fuel.  For a change of scenery, we chose to make a dogleg over to Johnson City and up U. S. 281 to U. S. 67 to I-35 and into Fort Worth.  We didn't like this as well as the much less traveled U. S. 84 that we followed on our way to the rally.  The problem with U. S. 281 in this part of Texas is that it is mostly only two lanes wide, and there was a great deal of traffic today.  This made for a lot of frustration, I'm sure, on the parts of drivers who lined up behind Phannie at her usual 60 mph gait.  I hugged the shoulder as much as possible to let them pass, but there were a lot of miles that I couldn't give them any room at all.  Drive faster than 60, you say?  Well, I don't think so.  Once you get past 60, the fuel mileage for Phannie is downright frightening; at 60, it's merely breathtaking. It must not have been too bad for the other drivers, though, as I didn't see anyone give me an obscene gesture as they passed.

Howard and Linda made arrangements with Buckhorn for a really deluxe catered meal for the rally attendees on Saturday evening and a nice breakfast at the Sunday morning farewell.  The meal last night included a monster grilled pork chop with all the trimmings that was delicious.  

We had the good fortune of meeting a great couple new to us, Mike and Marian.  They are newly retired and fulltiming, and we share the good fortune of having mutual friends in Ed and Marilyn of Happy Wanderers blog fame.  We had a lively chat during breakfast and expressed our hope that we might run into them again down the road.  Maybe in Colorado this summer, who knows?  Happy travels, you guys!

Mike, Marian, Sandy and Mike
We really enjoyed ourselves at Buckhorn this week, even though some of the presentations were geared more toward less experienced RVers.  Howard and Linda did a great job, and I would highly recommend this rally if you're new to RVing or thinking about jumping in.  You'll be glad you made the investment.  And the people you'll meet?  Priceless!

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Side Trip to Fredericksburg

Kerrville, Texas - We decided to spend the afternoon in Fredericksburg on this day.  We didn’t do much walking, as Sandy’s remaining original knee just won’t take much of that due to arthritis.  She had one knee replaced last year, and now it’s time for the other one.  That will be done this summer, for sure, along with my hip which, alas, has the same malady.  Doesn’t sound much like a fun summer, does it?

We had lunch at the Auslander German restaurant, where we ordered wiener schnitzel, fried chicken and sausage.  That sounds like a lot, but the schnitzel was in a sandwich and there was only one sausage link.  (I’m still trying to think of a way to make the fried chicken sound less gluttonous; let’s see...we didn’t have dessert!  That sounds much better.)  Anyway, the food was very good, and we definitely didn’t go away hungry.
Dooley's Has a Little of Everything

We took a tour through Dooley’s Five and Dime store on Main Street, a true throwback to an earlier time and very interesting.  They have a huge inventory of clever curiosities and long-forgotten gadgets that I’m sure I need but can’t figure out why.
We stumbled around through a few other shops and made note of the new building for the Pacific War Museum, which we had toured in its old location. We will return to see what’s new after we get our new bionic joints.
For dinner, we chose Mamacita’s, a large and very busy Mexican restaurant on the main drag.  Let me just say that we were underwhelmed, but then we admit to being awfully picky.
After dinner, we went to the RockBox Theater for a ‘50s-60s-70s live music review show.  When we made reservations for this earlier in the day, we were a little put off by the $42 ticket price, but we were very surprised at what a nice venue it was!  This theater could vie with many in Branson for its size, cleanliness and modern appointments.  

Barney Fife Lives!

The show, much to our surprise, was outstanding!  It more than justified the ticket price, and the musicians were just marvelous.  Highlights included a Barney Fife impersonator who was spot-on with his impression, and the singer who gave tribute to Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight was amazingly good. I still haven’t figured out how this little town of 10,000 is able to support such a great theater with this caliber of performers.

Performers Doing a Blues Brothers Tribute
We made the short drive back to Kerrville, ready for a good night’s sleep and fun days ahead at the rally.

Buckhorn RV Resort and Rally Review

Kerrville, Texas-The Buckhorn RV Resort will definitely go on our list of preferred camping locations.  Everything here is well planned and meticulously maintained.  The sites are all concrete and level and the interior roads are all asphalt with curbs.  There is a nice-sized swimming pool, a playground and a basketball court!  The huge barnlike meeting facility is perfect for large groups like the RV Dreams rally.

Entrance to Buckhorn

Park Office

RV Rally Headquarters

Main Traffic Circle at Buckhorn (Howard and Linda's Rig in the Background
Phannie and Mae Tucked Into Our Site

Upscale Private RV Community on the Property-Priced up to $500,000

Typical RV Pads at Buckhorn

A Fifth Wheel With a Built-In Patio!  Don't See This Every Day!

You may have gathered from this journal that we are not so much into “roughing it.”  If so, your inference would be entirely correct.  I suppose I admire those folks who enjoy boondocking and communing with nature, but we just find that the comfort and conveniences we enjoy win out over bugs, reptiles, varmints, dirt, heat, cold and wind.  As I sit here, watching our HD TV from a satellite receiver and using the Internet to post to this rag, I’m not entirely sure that I would be sufficiently challenged, intellectually, from an off-the-grid existence.  At the same time, there is the awful paradox of my being extremely appreciative, even reverential, of the beauty of God’s creation all around us.  It’s just that I would like to commune with it from my recliner with conditioned air blowing down my collar! 
And I can just hear the clucking sounds from the sinewy nature-hugging purists who think someone with such an attitude needs to be confined in a remote rehab facility for intense reprogramming.  That may be true, but until then, someone please top off my drink and add a little more ice from the icemaker.  Like I say, I admire these folks; I'm just not as tough as they are!
 I can see that I have digressed, so I’ll talk a bit about the rally. Howard and Linda put on a really fine event, but it seems to be tailored more for wannabe RVers or those who own RVs and are preparing to enter a full time RV lifestyle (meaning giving up their traditional home and living entirely in an RV.  We like the concept and the freedom of jettisoning the upkeep of a house, but we haven’t been able to reconcile the nomadic existence versus the roots represented by our current house and community).
So, having been RV owners for seven years, we have found these seminars to be somewhat elementary.  That doesn’t mean that we haven’t picked up a few pointers, but we have skipped quite a few events that involve subject matter that we don’t think would be all that useful.  The camaraderie is great, however, and Howard and Linda are talented presenters who keep things funny and moving along.  The group had a potluck dinner one evening followed by a game based on the old Newlyweds game show that was a hoot.
Visiting with Howard and Linda Payne

Howard Emcees a Newlyweds-Type Show

Sandy Cutting Veggies for Her Famous Bean Salad - Our Contribution to Potluck Dinner

Howard Presenting a Seminar

Seminar Audience (and Sweet Thang in the Foreground)

The best part is just being away from work, relaxing in beautiful surroundings and visiting with friendly RV folks.  We’re going to drive Mae over to Fredericksburg this afternoon to do a little sightseeing, so our next post will be about that adventure.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Rally in the Texas Hill Country

Kerrville, Texas - As April draws to a close, we realized we have not taken traveling advantage of one of the two months of the year when RV travel is sensible in Texas; the other month besides April, of course, is October.  From May through September, the distance between the sun and Texas shortens to roughly 300 miles, causing our freeways to melt and the Gulf of Mexico to evaporate.  From November through early March, the weather is utterly unpredictable, but it doesn’t matter, because all the vegetation is either brown or missing, and the landscape unfit for recreation--or even viewing, for that matter.  (One should not infer from this mini-rant that I do not love my native state; I certainly do, as can be discerned from earlier posts from, say, the Texas hill country or Big Bend.  However, had I been consulted by the Almighty during Creation, I would have suggested that He give it a climate something like, well, San Diego.  However, I do not question His purpose; we merely compensate by air conditioning everything, and I do mean everything.)
Before the approaching inferno of the summer months, we decided we would take Phannie and Mae down to the RV Dreams rally in Kerrville, located in the midst of the winsome Texas hill country.  We had not previously attended an RV rally, so we thought this would be a good one for an initiation, as we had been following the promoters, Howard and Linda Payne, on their website, RV-Dreams, for quite a long time. Besides that, we have some wonderful mutual friends, Ed and Marilyn.
The trip to Kerrville was almost uneventful.  On I-35 south of Fort Worth, we were following an eighteen-wheeler fairly closely when I suddenly spotted a huge chunk of tire tread lying in the middle of my lane.  I had perhaps three seconds to catch sight of the derelict piece of tread as it appeared instantly from underneath the truck in front of me and disappeared under Phannie. I was utterly powerless to take any evasive action.  I was pretty sure that Phannie’s axles would clear the jagged tread remnant but, in a flash, it occurred to me that Mae, blissfully unsuspecting as she followed Phannie via her Blue Ox towbar, would likely get creamed by the piece of tread, which may have weighed as much as 20-30 pounds.  As I suspected, the tread did indeed clear Phannie’s undercarriage, and then I spotted in the right rear view mirror the piece of tread, now airborne and careening toward the highway shoulder, obviously having been launched into the air by its collision with something, which I assumed was poor Mae.
The engine brake was already slowing Phannie as I steered her toward the shoulder and stopped to see what mauling might have been done to our faithful little toad.  I hadn’t noticed anything amiss via the rearview camera, but only the top portion of the car is visible on the dashboard TV monitor.  To my amazement as I approached the car, Mae was totally blemish free!  I couldn’t figure it out until, turning around, I noticed that the mud guard that stretches the entire width of the coach behind Phannie’s rear wheels was bent backward about 30 degrees on the curbside end.  Further inspection revealed that the metal stringer holding the rubber flap had been bent, skewing the piece of rubber and the chrome nameplate upon which “Phaeton” is inscribed.

Phannie's mud guard saves Mae from injury!

I was so happy to learn that the mud guard had done its job in protecting Mae by deflecting toward the highway shoulder the piece of rubber that would certainly have damaged the little red car.  I’ll get son-in-law Tyler to bend it back into shape next time he’s over at our house.
We pulled into our spot at Buckhorn RV Resort as the sun was setting and hurried over to the rally headquarters to check in late.  Howard and Linda raced over and gave us a big hug, as though they had known us for ages.  What a nice greeting!  There were about 75 other RVers in the meet-and-greet gathering, but we didn’t stick around since we hadn’t begun to get set up after our arrival.  After that was done, we made a quick trip to one of the H. E. B. grocery stores in Kerrville to purchase a few food items that we would need for the next few days.  (We do not load much food into Phannie for departure from home--only those things that might go bad if left behind.  The other things we need--or might crave--are always available at our destination, so we don’t bother to schlep a bunch of food out to Phannie before departure.)
The park is very upscale and in a beautiful setting west of Kerrville on I-10.  I’ll have some photos in the next post.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Fine Visit With RV Pals

I am often chided for my sometimes, uh, uneven posting schedule for this blog. The truth is, there is no schedule; I post something when I feel like it or when some significant event happens having to do with our travels—especially our RV travel.

Well, something significant DID happen last Sunday: A much-anticipated visit with longtime RV chums Ed and Marilyn and a first-time visit with their traveling partners, Bob and Janet. Ed and Marilyn enjoy somewhat of a celebrity status in the RV blog world, due at least partly to Ed’s dedication to their daily journal, “The Happy Wanderers.” The other reason for their popularity, of course, is Marilyn. Sorry, Ed, but I call ‘em like I see ‘em. (Grin)

Typical of many snowbirds, Ed and Marilyn established for several years a migration pattern that took them to the Rio Grande Valley in the fall and back northward in the spring. Located in Fort Worth, Sandy and I have the good fortune of sometimes being on or near their RGV arrival or departure route, and we prevail upon them for a little face time when we can catch up with them. Such was the case on Sunday, when they stopped at Mitchell’s Resort and RV Park near Perrin, Texas, not far from our current digs. We scurried out there for a little frivolity and immensely enjoyed meeting Bob and Janet, their longtime friends—a double treat! These two are relatively new to fulltiming, but they have chosen excellent mentors in Ed and Marilyn and have acquired what appears to be a twin of their friends' beautiful new Mobile Suites fiver.

Drays Bob Janet Bubba at Perrin
Janet, Sandy, Marilyn, Bob, Bubba and Ed 

After a few hugs, we piled into our car and motored up to Jacksboro, where we met our longtime friend and RVer, Bubba, at the Casa Grande Mexican restaurant. We all had a great time together, laughing hysterically over our misadventures and just enjoying the fellowship of friends old and new. The highlight of the evening was Marilyn’s sharing of what had to be the funniest—and easily most disgusting—practical joke we have ever heard. It involved new Canadian fulltimers Trent and Teresa during their recent stay in the RGV, and I can’t possibly disclose the details here. It is a story that can only be told in person for ultimate effectiveness, and Ed and Marilyn (and Bob and Janet, who were witnesses) retold it masterfully. What a wonderful bond we all enjoy among these members of this great community of RV vagabonds—they have to be some of the finest folks anywhere!

RVers at Jacksboro
Mike, Marilyn, Sandy, Ed, Janet and Bob at Casa Grande in Jacksboro

Afterward, we drove back to the park and took a tour of Ed and Marilyn’s and Bob’s and Janet’s new rigs, with Bubba (who’s looking for a new FW) drooling as the proud owners pointed out all the features of the high-end coaches.

RVguysLookingatRigs Perrin
Ed Shows Bubba and Bob Features of His New Mobile Suites

Bob, Janet and Marilyn Trading Stories

After much more laughter and talk about our current and future plans, we reluctantly parted, happy to have crossed paths once again with friends old and new.  Bob says Janet is getting ready to start a blog; we hope she does.  We'll be readers for sure.