Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

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