Texas to Florida – Loving Warm Weather

Texas to Florida – Loving Warm Weather

 

One of the main reasons we write these updates is the enjoyment from looking back and appreciating where we have been. It sort of solidifies the experiences. It is too easy to just keep on moving and put the past in the past!

Check out this google maps history of places we have used in maps in the last two years. That is so many miles and so many experiences!

For some reason, (maybe we did not use maps as much) but it really does not show our travels well from Florida back up into NW Oklahoma, back down through Galveston Bay and across to Florida again.

And that is where we pick up the story.

Last post we were heading east out of Texas towards south Florida again. Because it took longer to remodel and sell the boat I was working on in Texas, we had a deadline at Thanksgiving to meet. In New Orleans, a couple of hours was quite enough and it was nice to get some seafood and take it home to eat!

The damage remaining from Hurricane Michael to be seen just by driving across I-10 was unbelievable. They still had not cleaned up the trees down on sides of the interstate over a year later.

One of the best parts of traveling is the places we get to stay. Often we are only one of three or four RVs in the whole park!  In and set up by 130 or 2, go round up some firewood for the evening camp/cook fire, and sit back to watch the sky do it’s sunset and night star dance! Here is a slideshow of some of our favorites!

Thanksgiving was spent at Ian’s house in Valdosta Ga, where much fun was had by all with their virtual reality toys. Shelly really got into the music game. It is truly amazing how far gaming has come since the day of Pong! I hope this video can play for you. This is the first time I have tried inserting a video like this. What you see on the screen, Shelly is immersed in inside the virtual reality headset. It is awesome!

 

 

We pointed the RV south to Stuart Fl and back to the Hatteras motor yacht we had worked on in the Spring with a goal to get it in the water and moved to a marina. All went fairly well and we were able to get the bottom epoxied and painted, and in the water in just a couple of weeks.

Then Shelly flew off to Seattle for a conference with her work with Atlas Service Dogs while the owner, Goose and I worked on the engines and generator enough to take a nice day trip up the Intercoastal Waterway to Ft Pierce Fl.

It had been over 25 years since running a 60 ft yacht but it was like riding a bicycle!

Our rv spot in Ft Pierce was in the same place as the marina, right on a little causeway a mile from the beach. Awesome! That first week we started some projects and made sure the boat was happy being in the water and then hooked up and headed north for Christmas in North Carolina.

Three days (and three state parks) later we pulled up into the mother-in-law’s drive in-between rains. I came very close to getting very stuck in the grassy yard and spent much time trying to rake and shovel in the deep ruts. Then it started raining again!

On the way out of town, I had a VA appointment in Asheville, so we left a bit early to miss the next huge rain and spent the night down on the Broad River. When we arrived that afternoon, the river was 3 feet below the banks. It started raining – again. In the morning the river was coming up under the RV! We decided it might be time to hook and and leave!  You can see the water coming up behind our wheels. Scary.

I felt for all those permanent RV dwellers who seemed oblivious that the river was rising that fast – and if fact there was a video later in the day of a 5th wheel RV like ours floating down the Broad River!

Ft Pierce welcomed up back with sunny warm weather and lots of work to do. We got to a point in mid January where the boat was up for sale, and had been seen several times and it just did not seem financially feasible to put much more time and money into her. What to do next? Too cold to head north!

So – as seems to often happen – we got an invitation to head down to Islamorada in the Keys where there was another yacht needing some work and an open RV space for us to stay. Here we are back in the keys again! We even drove to Marathon and played softball for old times sake!

It looks like we will be here for at least a few months. But thoughts are already turning to Maine for the summer!

And finally we wanted to share this really cool drive through these tress on the way to the beach in Hobe Sound Fl!

Being Grateful

Being Grateful

A salt and pepper shaker combo on our table started a conversation you might find interesting.

Shelly and I have found that gratitude is amazing experience. Being grateful for everything you have creates more to be grateful for!

Our conversation turned to the people who have made such a difference to us, and have played their very crucial role to allow us to live a life we are so very blessed to enjoy. 

(As we are in Islamorada in the Florida Keys camped next to a banana tree on the ocean side watching the sun set in a balmy 71 degrees!)

One of the people who came to mind was Michael Moore in Atlanta. Without Michael, we might not have been able to financially finish building High Country Stables. Michael was so supportive and helpful in several endeavors during our time in Atlanta, as well as being almost an uncle to the boys as they became Eagle Scouts and young men. Thanks Michael!

Rick and Mary Grubb also played instrumental parts in our lives in Atlanta. Without Rick there might not have been a farm at all. He supplied all the slate and literally tons of chicken manure fertilizer to help make our rings, roads, stables, and pastures a reality. And he was a great friend. Thanks Rick and Mary! (And we sure hope you are spending time in HHI!)

David Bates has become a friend while helping us along our rv travels. We are praying for the best outcome with his health challenges. David introduced us to his brother Paul here in the Keys and we are super grateful for both of these wonderful people.

Tim and Liz Tate out in Red River New Mexico took us in and made us feel very welcome and wanted for our winter out there. We surely hope to see them soon.

David White came into our lives and has helped us in ways hard to understand. (But Dave does!)

And those shakers are the coolest thing. When we were sailing, salt always soaked up the salt air and required lots of rice to stay fresh. Our good friend Dr Angel Tribuno gifted us these cool shakers that have collapsible lids to keep moisture out. She was also there for us our whole time in Atlanta as our Chiropractor and medical guru as we were rising two boys. Friends like Angel are very hard to come by.

There are so many more like Wade and Nickie, Joe and Sue and so many more.  Including of course our boys who have made our life so fulfilling.

We are so very grateful to each and every one of you. Thank you!

And that is our update for today. Be grateful. It opens gates you would never believe possible.

We are working on our next travel update. Yes we are still traveling! 

Texas to Georgia – The Gulf Coast

Texas to Georgia – The Gulf Coast

We are done with the boat in Seabrook Texas and back to the grind!  😉

Up with the sunlight – 530 or 6. Tea or coffee depending on your lifetime habits. Give the dog a cookie. Browse the crap on the internet and get angry wishing you could get even. Drink one of Shelly’s awesome breakfast shakes (and a piece of toast if she has made bread lately! – yum!)

One of us takes the dog for a run (or walk or bike depending on the knee that day) while the other does yoga. (I love to watch her do yoga!)

Then pack up.  She is inside and I am outside. Trinkets down, clean up, cabinets latched, slides in. Outside the awning gets rolled up, chairs put away, truck backed up and hitched, electric, sewer and water lines off and stowed.

Get Goose into the truck and away we go!  A couple or three hours and find a state or national park that hopefully has some surprises like great trails or something historical.

It’s routine now. Just the way we live!

First day back on the road after an extended stay is always a treat. Three weeks in Seabrook getting the 37 foot donated boat running and sold seemed a long time, but really in the scheme of things? Probably not.

We did get the boat running fairly well and we did get her sold. Not for a lot – but enough to allow The FEW to help more warriors.  I know a lot more about 454 GM engines than before!

We did not get far the first day. After the morning of helping new owners of the boat with a little familiarity session, we drove about 30 miles north for a Chick Fil A lunch with Maureen and daughter Marley before rounding Galveston Bay to the north and east through Port Arthur to Sea Rim State Park.  They did not have an RV spot but we could stay on the beach for $10. OK!

Here is the wild part. If you have been with us you might remember a few years back where we almost lost Goose to wild pigs on an island off the Georgia coast?  Great reading story here if I say so myself.    Made myself cry all over again re-reading it.

Well, here we are on this beach all by ourselves and guess what comes out of the seagrass to say hello to Goose? Yep – a wild pig bigger than he was! He barked but decided he wanted nothing to do with that pig!  You have to wonder if (and what) he remembers. We certainly remember!

From Sea Rim, we wandered back roads through coastal Texas seeing old hurricane damage, very small villages still making a living from the sea, and every now and then a helicopter area providing oil rig deliveries with people and supplies.

As we passed the ports like Port Arthur, New Orleans and Mobile, the tankers, ships and tugs were everywhere. We also see this in the RV parks as many of the employees for these companies live with their families in RV’s like ours. Except they are more like mobile homes that never move. (And often a little bit trashy!)

Can you see in the mirror? I am passing a huge oil tanker in the right lane!

We did get a few hours in New Orleans and the French Quarter (which was plenty). It was different – loud, dirty, smelly, crowded (even in off season) – but still interesting. Good to visit but…

So we make our way towards Valdosta Ga and Thanksgiving with the boys.  It is an event to look forward to! Then on to Florida and the Hatteras again.

Then what? We don’t know! But I’ll tell you when we find out!    😉

 

 

 

 

Boats, Beaches, and Backing Up to Hook Up

Boats, Beaches, and Backing Up to Hook Up

On the wunderground weather site I can see the saved weather for the last couple of places we have “lived”. It is 18 in Red River, NM, 39 in Grove, Ok, 79 in Stuart, Fl and 78 here in Seabrook, TX.  I like 78!

I wonder how two weeks in one place can seem so long? We like it here for the most part. Texans are nice people, the area is a lot like the gulf shores of Fl, (except fairly crowded!), and we have enjoyed visiting Galveston Beach, and the Kemah boardwalk. But – it is just too many people for us.

Prices for RV spots are ridiculous with the Texas economy booming as it seems many oil workers live in their RVs and travel around to hot spots. RV spots in a crowded park are $50/day and $300 a week! Ouch!

We came here for The Foundation for Exceptional Warriors to get a 37 ft Silverton Yachtfish boat running and sold that had been donated by a Vietnam veteran to help the nonprofit. It took about a week to get Duchess engines going and another week to fix systems, wiring etc. We sea trialed yesterday and put the boat on the market at almost half the NADA value ($14,950) for a quick sale. She is a nice boat! (If you know anyone who wants a super deal on a boat check out the videos here.)

From here we head north and east along the gulf towards our boys in Georgia to spend Thanksgiving in Valdosta. Then it will be back to Stuart, Fl to put that 58′ Hatteras we worked on last spring in the water and maybe get it sold as well.

Our trip south to here from Grove was very enjoyable. We stayed in Oklahoma and Texas state parks each night and can tell you they have some amazingly beautiful properties!

 

Daddy Buck - Oklahoma
White Pelicans - Oklahoma
Creepy Visitor
Marshmallows!
Daddy Buck 2
Abandoned State Park Airstrip
Oklahoma Sunrise

We did not know that in Oklahoma the pelicans are white and do not dive into the water but swim and lunge at their food! That same park was like an animal sanctuary with egrets, Blue Herons, hawks, seagulls, and more. Then, just at dusk a doe and her young fawn came out of the woods followed closely by a proud dad who was watching very closely and herding the young guy exactly where he wanted him to go. There was no doubt the doe was in charge though! With the sunset and the sunrise, and having the whole place virtually to ourselves, this day was one of THE best ever in a campground.

At one site Shelly found a creepy new pet right outside our door while setting up and watched carefully all that evening for the little guy to come take our marshmallows!

 Houston and Galveston Bay are two places we have heard about but this is our first time here. It is kind of strange  as you are driving along surrounded by miles of gas and oil pipelines and refineries and concrete then almost immediately  the scenery is thousands of boats, harbors and tourist restaurants and clubs!

Shelly had some old friends drop by for lunch. Maureen and Marley who both took riding lessons for years at High Country Stables drove down from where they live in Texas. A good time was had by all!

It has been a long time since Goose was all excited about getting into a dinghy and going for a ride! (It used to be the only time he got off the boat!) He was a bit hesitant but quickly settled into his old spot.

 

 

Last week we bicycled down to the Kemah boardwalk to pass out The FEW brochures and wristbands at the Military and First Responder Appreciation Weekend.  After stopping for liquid refreshment, and a walk around the boardwalk, we had an enjoyable ride back at dusk to a restaurant for a high priced, way too much food supper and home.

We both agree as usual.

Time to back the truck up and hook to the RV and get down the road! We’ll see you there!

4 Days and a Wakeup! Exciting!

4 Days and a Wakeup! Exciting!

There is just something exciting about the shortening days before starting another adventure!

Final preparations making ready for being on the road again, completing all the projects to which you have committed, to making those last Amazon orders so you know you will get them in time, all add to fill those few quickly lessening remaining days until departure.

In addition to all that, Shelly is off to Memphis TN, (without me!) to attend a Assistance Dog training conference with the folks she has been helping at Atlas Service Dogs. She is off to the airport in Joplin Mo. Wednesday and back on Saturday. We leave Sunday morning!

Our 4 months here at Grand Lake Sailing Club in Grove OK have been super nice.  We have enjoyed this so much, we are actually seriously considering coming back next year!

Although we did not travel and explore as we would have liked – we did get a quick trip to Little Rock Ar to have dinner with Ian when the Air Force evacuated out of Michael’s way.

 

After the surgery on my knee started healing this week we took a trip to Natural Falls to hike 3 miles or so in the cool October weather. Goose loved it!

Last week we had a nice strong thunderstorm with 70+ mph winds that took down an old oak tree, narrowly missing 4 sailboats up on the hill on trailers!

We have become birdwatchers as Shelly has feeders and hummingbird feeders right outside our dining table window. It has been fun and interesting to watch and learn the different birds. My favorites were the yellow finches, tanagers, and the little woodpeckers. We also had a running battle with squirrels. Shelly would wait until they were close and then blast them with a hose hanging on the window. The squirrels learned to listen for the faintest noise of the screen sliding open as Shelly slowly reached for the hose nozzle! This proved to be quite entertaining and kept our neighborhood squirrels properly bathed! 

 

In the meantime – there are two projects to be done.  The FEW, a nonprofit group we help when we can, has been donated a 37′ Silverton motor yacht in Galveston Bay in Houston. We are headed south to see what is needed to get that boat operating and what is best for the organization.

The loose plans from Texas are a leisurely seafood engorging trip across the gulf coast back to Stuart Fl to see about getting a 58′ Hatteras motor yacht in the water after being up on the hard for 6 years.

Somewhere in there will be Thanksgiving and Christmas with family.

So look for more posts as we start new adventures!

 

 

Here We Go Again. But Where?

Here We Go Again. But Where?

Oklahoma is much different than I had thought it would be. (This happens all the time to me!)  Early October and it is still beautiful weather – warm sunny, breezy days and cool nights for sleeping – but not cold.

Since mid-July we have lived in a beautiful setting, up on a hill, surrounded by huge old oak trees, with tons of wildlife around us. We overlook the lake and the marina which is down the hill a few hundred yards. There is a large herd of deer that drive Goose nuts, the rabbit under the shed right next to us, and lots of little critters and birds.

Sometimes, on the weekends, there will be a few people on their boats but for the most part we get paid to sit here and make sure unused boats do not sink at the dock!

Shelly volunteered to help train some puppies at the local shelter and had a ball doing it. Thankfully she didn’t bring any home!

It is time to go. Our feet are awfully itchy to be moving! We have recruited another couple to take our place for the winter and early spring and left the door open to coming back if it all works out.

As usual we have been busy. There were several sailboats requiring attention, including an engine rebuild, lots of canvas work for Shelly as well as projects around the club grounds. We have met some awfully nice people and made new friends!

More importantly, and the main reason we came here, was the work done on the RV. We knew this site had a really nice steel cover that allowed me to do some major repairs.

The bedroom slideout had to removed completely out of the RV by disassembling the bed and all interior trim work, as well as the exterior trim and sealing pieces. Once the slideout was supported by legs, we were able to remove the old floor and install a new one.

The new floor was built prior to the removal of the slide-out and I was really hoping it would fit!


We were able to replace the old floor in a day, then replace carpet, bed, and interior trim so we could use the bed that night. The exterior trim had to be cleaned of all caulking and rusted screws and replaced.

Next was the job of replacing the two 4×6 pieces of painted steel skirt around the hitch that got bent when someone dropped the RV on the truck back in Atlanta. ;-). This one was worrying me until a call to Newmar notified us that not only did they have the two parts in stock but they would ship them to us free for only $140! I was floored.  When they arrived I had the old pieces off and had sanded, cleaned and re-insulated in the framework and was ready for installation.

It seemed easy enough to just use the old pieces as a template and cut the same pattern. Nope. The first piece was too short by almost 4 inches. Bummer. Luckily Newmar had another piece!  That job, though tedious, turned out to really look great!

Next up was a project I had been mulling over for a year. The basement doors on the outside were huge, heavy, vertically hung from the top with no support once they were opened over your head! There was a door on each side of the rv that allows access to the large storage space under the forward bedroom. These things were just wrong but I was not sure about how to fix them.

I finally just bit the bullet, removed them, sawed them in half and hung them horizontally. With some creative use of aluminum channel and lots of trials I have to admit to being a very proud papa of these doors.

Of course,  the sawing kinda  messed up the paint so I had to learn about acrylic paints and how to spray a metallic automotive paint with a compressor. It turned out pretty nice according to my biggest supporter! (After a few trials and lots of sanding!)

Next we tackled the old carpet inside. Once we ripped it out and removed all the layers of 10 years of dirt and grime underneath, a new hardwood replica (teak!) vinyl floor really spiffed up the living area. Shelly is happy!

Last week, knowing we are about to hit the road again, we invested in 6 really good tires for the truck and an oil change and we are good to go!

Tomorrow we head to Fayetteville Arkansas VA hospital for an outpatient meniscus surgery to clean up torn ligaments from skiing in Red River last year. Surgery probably means no skiing this year but we will see!

The loose plan is to head south into Texas and then east along the Gulf Coast. We might go back to Stuart Fl to put that Hatteras we worked on last spring in the water.  Christmas will probably be in Asheville NC.

Between here and there, who knows?   If we come back to Oklahoma, it will not be until March at least so we have lots of time to explore.

Any ideas?