Phannie

Phannie
Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Goodbye Arizona, Hello Texas

At Quiet Texas RV Park, Hondo, Texas...

After a such long sleep in Prescott Valley, Phannie's Caterpillar diesel engine came quickly to life on the cool morning of our departure for Texas. I don't know why the eagerness of the engine surprises me slightly, for it has been quick to fire up every time for a thousand starts during our ten years and 100,000 miles together. I get the feeling Phannie tires of long downtimes; she seems more than ready to get on the road!

 After maybe five revolutions, the engine starts and settles immediately into 700 RPMs, barely audible 40 feet behind me. Due to the lack of engine noise, I sometimes have to check the engine gauges and the absence of warning lights to confirm a successful start. More than once, I have, absent-mindedly, attempted to start the already-running engine after leaving the coach briefly, forgetting that I left it on.

After hooking up Mae, we turned eastbound out of the beautiful but lifeless campground, still having met none of the hunkered-down employees or guests in person. A few days later, we received an email from some disembodied person, thanking us for our stay.  The absence of the human element in all this was still unnerving, to a degree. What an isolation it was--more than six weeks in this local area that had few cases of the virus and no deaths, yet one would get the impression that a nuclear blast had occurred and everything in the park was radioactive. Such is the power of today's media and the fear that it is capable of provoking. 

Nevertheless, we are definitely in the vulnerable age group, so we have decided to avoid larger cities for a while and stay away from crowds at all costs. It occurs to us that traveling by RV is probably as safe as you can get--self contained as we are. It wasn't long until we sadly left the Arizona mountains behind as we slowly descended into the flatlands of New Mexico and the rising outside temperature.

After a brief overnight in Clovis, New Mexico, our first stop in Texas was in tiny Lockney, to visit longtime friends Bubba and LouAnn, as well as two of their daughters, their son-in-law and three grandsons. It was a great visit, and we were treated royally. It was so good actually to interact with people again--especially these good friends. Naturally, I forgot to take photos but, in my defense, I was out of practice since we hadn't been around people for so long! We also didn't pay any attention to social distancing; cases of the virus are almost unknown in these remote areas of the Texas panhandle. 

Our next stop was in equally tiny Spur, Texas, where we had a nice visit with Sandy's brother, Rick, and his wife, C. J.  Since they had recently relocated here in west Texas from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, we were eager to see their new manufactured home of the brand we may be considering when we exit fulltiming. You may be aware that Spur is a community known for welcoming tiny homes, offering inexpensive land and all the amenities of modern utilities. You couldn't really call Rick's and CJ's home a tiny home, though, as it occupies almost 900 square feet.  Here's a photo:



"Manufactured" housing almost always leaves the impression of a mobile home or park model on wheels, but that's not what this is. It has no wheels, but it arrives by truck from the factory and is set on a foundation that is installed beforehand to fit the structure. Rick and C. J. added a garage and a storage building. It has all the amenities found in a site-built home only, in our opinion, it is even better in many ways--for example, with foam insulation completely encapsulating it. The finish work is beautiful inside and outside, and we couldn't tell the difference from a site-built home.

There are several models of these offered and customizable at Leland's Cabins, built near the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We were so impressed that we have looked into the company ourselves. We are so done with the big houses we've owned in the past with all their upkeep and expense, and this might be an answer for us. The older we get and the more physical challenges we have, the more certain we are that we have more fulltiming days behind us than ahead of us.

Rick and C. J. gave us a nice tour of their town and the surrounding area, and I must mention their passion for photography, especially that of west Texas scenery. Having worked in the tech area and in education for many years, they are now free to pursue their talent for photography--even turning it into a side business, Texas Big Sky Photography. 

I thought I would include just a few of their west Texas photos here; there are many, many more available--scenes of Texas and other locations--on their website. It takes a degree of artistry to see through a camera lens certain things of beauty that may not be evident to many. These images were taken in Spur and nearby areas in west Texas and treat the viewer to the concept that those things that appear old and worn--even small, sleepy towns themselves--can be charming and beautiful, especially considering the stories of the past they could tell if they could only speak. In these cases, they are speaking through the artistry of the photographer:










I confess to being guilty myself of seeing things superficially and failing to behold the beauty and the essence thereof. I have taken hundreds of photos that appear in this blog, and I have to confess that the really good ones are mostly accidental. Not so with these.

Having had a great visit with Rick and C. J., we left for the San Antonio area, where we will find another small town to stay safely away from the masses of humanity and enjoy the feeling among the townfolk that life goes on as it always has. We are looking forward to remembering Covid-19 as a bitter episode in history after it is vanquished. We will also be more keenly disposed to appreciating life and looking for the hidden beauty in things that may not be evident at first glance.

Thank you, family and friends, for treating us so well.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I fail to appreciate it each day as I should.

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

36 comments:

  1. WELCOME HOME MY FRIENDS. I am isolated in Del Rio.

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    1. Thank you, Barney! I have been following your exploits (and your artistry) in Del Rio. A safe place, if there ever were one!

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    2. I visited Del Rio and I love it.

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    3. Veronica SaffoldMay 18, 2020 at 11:15 AM

      Looking fwd to doing the same. I love your life. Stay Blessed & Joyful!

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  2. Mike, I'll bet you and Sandy (and not just Phannie and Mae) are thrilled to be back on the road and "among the living" again. How goes the dining out situation down your way? I'll bet you've missed that quite a bit. Rick's and C.J.'s photos are gorgeous - what a rewarding second act for them!

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    1. Hi, Mary! Well, the restaurants are opening up, although not at full capacity. We can always find a good place to eat--for example, we had some fine Texas BBQ yesterday, something we have sorely missed. Yes, Rick and C. J. have always had a talented eye. I have an eye, but I think it is focused more on food, to the detriment of my waistline. It's good to be back in Texas!

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    2. I agree. Gorgeous photos.

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  3. My God keep you safe and healthy in your travels.

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    1. Thank you for your much-appreciated sentiment.

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  4. Welcome! May you experience true hospitality here and in all your travels.
    Peace, Love, Joy accompany you.

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    1. Thank you; I only wish your kindness could be offered without anonymity, for the sake of a personal touch.

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  5. Hondo! I'm sure by now you know how NOT to drive through it! (You've seen the sign, right?) I grew up in Uvalde but now live in Tucson. By the way, I'm a current airline pilot!

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    1. Greetings! Yes, we are careful driving down Highway 90; the signs give fair warning. We came through Uvalde on the way here and liked the looks of it, although we've never visited there. We must make it a stop one of these days. And congratulations on a career where we enjoyed going to work, didn't we? I hope you are faring well during the shutdown and that it will be short-lived.

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  6. Welcome (almost) home friends!

    Some spectacular photography for sure. . .you have talented folks in the fam.

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    1. Thanks, dear Janice; we are getting closer! Not sure when Mindy will let us come back; she's had some Covid-19 patients and is freaking out about our being near.

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  7. What a lovely article! Welcome to Texas!!!!

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  8. Welcome to Texas we are a few miles south of Hondo, Laredo

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    1. Thank you! Laredo is one of the few places in Texas we haven't visited. Must do that one of these days.

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  9. Welcome back to Texas. Be safe in your travels but continue to enjoy them as well !

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    1. Thank you, Patricia! We are taking all due precautions, but there's no place like Texas!

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  10. Welcome back to the grandest state of all. Give me a week or so notice before getting to our neck of the woods. I’ll get a brisket ordered.

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  11. Welcome to Texas 🤠🤠🤠🤠

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  12. Hello, from Arizona 😊 love your beautiful photos they are truly amazing.❤

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  13. A "Manufactured" home is one made on a iron frame with wheels, FKA a "Mobile Home". A "Modular" home is one built in a factory as well, however, they are not built on an iron frame, and are loaded on special trucks to be taken to the site, and sometimes craned onto the foundation which was built specifically for the home. A modular home is built so much better than a manufactured home. I would think your BIL & SIL have a "Modular" home, and they are very well built. Come back to Arizona anytime, Monte Vista Resort is a stones toss from us, and in fact, we know most all the winter visitors in the park. The husband used to do the security in the park until they hired outside company. Have a fund summer with the grands.

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    1. Thank you for setting me straight; I would much rather be right than wrong! We loved Arizona and hope to come back and enjoy the things we missed.

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  14. Being a native Texan, I like to think we are some of the friendliest around, so welcome to Texas. We are in El Paso, and we just had our offer accepted on an old Victorian home in Palestine, south of Tyler. A big change for us since we’ve been living in a 14’ x 40’ mobile home for a few years. We miss having more space, especially since we’ve adopted 7 stray cats. Our new place is just shy of 1700 sq. ft. and no carpet. This will be another new chapter for us, probably the last as we are in our early 70’s. I’m tired of big cities having lived most of my life in Houston. Now we will find out what small town living is like. I hope you both stay safe, healthy and well fed! Enjoy reading about your adventures. Take care and have fun!

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    1. Yes, we native Texans are the friendliest. We've been almost everywhere else, and I couldn't agree with you more. Your new purchase sounds like a dream come true; I hope you enjoy every minute. We, too, have had enough of big cities. Being an east Texan myself, I'm very familiar with Palestine, a great town with wonderful people. Congratulations!

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  15. Welcome home to your home state at least. I'm glad you enjoyed parts of Arizona although I would certainly agree how disconcerting and disconnected it must have felt. Parks are meant to meet people and enjoy each other's company. Even up here on our Ridge out in the country we have seen more people over the last two months than you have! Hopefully things change.
    Love the little Texas home. 900 sq. ft. would be perfect for the 'after fulltiming' life. :)

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    1. Thanks, Patsy. We loved Arizona; we just wish he had seen everything we wanted to see. We must go back, for sure. The little house was indeed, perfect; that's what we want when we hang up the keys.

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  16. I found the information on manufactured/modular homes to be very interesting. We are actually thinking about that for our future home as well. In fact we plan to visit two Kansas plants soon. One is not far from us in Southeast Kansas, and another is located in Northeastern Kansas. Stops at both will be part of a tour of our great State of Kansas, following the Memorial Day holiday. We do not plan to build until 2023, however plans change and we do not want to wait until the last minute to consider our choices.

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    1. We just fell in love with these houses. We would probably get a slightly larger model, but that's what we are looking for when we hang up the keys.

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  17. Welcome home to Texas and the heat (96 today).....back to the 80’s tomorrow! I see you all went through my home town Clovis, NM. That’s an area you either love or hate, but the sunsets are breathtaking. Hope Sandy is getting some relief with her orthopedics😩 Let us know where your headed, Austin is starting to open and we are ready to eat out! Be safe!

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    1. Hi, y'all! Well, it's good to be back--we can even tolerate the heat for a while! We are currently in Anahuac, Texas on a sorta secret mission. Will tell you more later. Going to be at TT Lake Conroe on May 26 for a couple of weeks, then heading to Red Bay for a little work. We need to do a meetup sometime!

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