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?

 

 

Summering on Grand Lake in Oklahoma!

Summering on Grand Lake in Oklahoma!

On a gorgeous, clear, warm morning in July, I look out over the Tennessee River from the Mississippi side and have to wonder: If you catch a fish from a boat on the Mississippi side of the river and you pull it across to the Tennessee side of the river – which state fishing license is required? I struggle with these thoughts for a bit before pushing it off for another day to decide.

And so goes another day out on the road!

Iuka, Mississippi has a fabulous state park that we call home for a day. Then we spend 15 minutes getting ready, (stow chairs and bamboo mat, roll up the awning and bring in the slides, lock the cabinets, put in our custom plexiglass panels in the fridge and pantry, and secure all loose items, back up the truck to the fifth wheel and lock it in, and finally disconnect and stow the power and water) to meander country back roads for an hour or three to the next park, winery, farm or wherever it is we might be going.

Between the ski slopes of Red River, New Mexico and Hobe Sound, Florida where we helped a friend remodel a 58’ Hatteras motor yacht we enjoyed a trip back through New Mexico (cool dinosaur tracks), Oklahoma (5 hours stuck in the mud), wineries in Oklahoma and Nashville with former world class musician owners, and parks flooded by spring rains where we the only campers. Awesome.

Passed through Asheville, NC to spend some time with the in-law, and Beaufort SC with the Cuz, over to Valdosta, Ga to see the boys and then on through Florida to walk the warm sunny beaches less than a month after being on the slopes teaching Texas kids how to ski! Amazing.

We both enjoyed the work on the boat. We have some previous experience on boats (ha!) so felt comfortable tearing out and modernizing a whole galley (kitchen) including floors, counters and appliances; as well as all new varnish, floors throughout and Shelly’s magical canvas work. Plus we got to walk the beaches as often as we liked.

South Florida in April has very strong thunderstorms and we came back to the RV one afternoon to find a 70 mile squall had come through, tore the anchors for the 21 foot awning out of the ground, ripped the supports out of the RV exterior wall, and thrown the 21 foot x 3 inch aluminum boom and awning up on the roof. All is well, as we were able to find replacement parts for repairs and sew a custom marine canvas awning in a very nice forest green to replace the old awning. This took much less work, effort and emotional toll than the 70 mile squall in Crisfield MD July 4th weekend 2016 where we almost lost our sailing home Yume!

From the east coast of Florida over to just north of Tarpon Springs on the west coast to have some window work done and visit the old sponge fishing port was a great start to the current travels. Straight up I75 for an interstate run that we rarely make to Valdosta to help Ryan pack for his impending move back to the same area of Atlanta where he was raised on a horse farm!

The following afternoon caught us in that horrible Atlanta traffic starting as far south of Macon and not ending until we were able to get out of Atlanta 4 days later 60 miles NW out of Stone Mountain. Yuk.

It was however, nice to see old friends and family.  The Williams were very kind to let us camp out in their rain forest 😉 with Kyle going the extra mile to ride on top of the RV to clear low branches down the driveway!

Momma got to help her youngest move into his first home, meet his new roommates and spend a little more time with her boys. (Not enough but is it ever enough?) A short but nice visit with family over in Stone Mountain while we camped for two days at Stone Mountain Park. (An interesting side note is that the park is privately owned so no matter what you read on social media or the news – the carving will always be there! And if you haven’t seen that ¼ mile high carving in the side of a mountain you are definitely missing out!)

Our last commitment this trip was three more days over Shelly’s birthday with her Mom in Marion, NC, then it was the beginning of this current meandering through the Great Smoky Mountains of NC especially Cherokee. We toured the Cherokee museum, attended the long running outdoor play “Unto These Hills” (the story of the Trail of Tears which has been playing since the 1950’s – go see it!)  then the Cherokee living village the next morning. I had not known how strong the Nation still was and we were both intrigued by their clan system and way of life.

It started raining in Cherokee, and kept raining for the next three or four days. In the magnificent forests of the Smoky Mountains the rain and the thunder are majestic. When the thunder starts, it rolls though the mountain for the longest time. The scary part is huge old trees falling due to saturated soil and erosion. In one camp on the Ocoee River, we pulled into a site surrounded by the debris of a very old, very large tree that had just missed the previous occupant! That stuff can keep me awake at night!

A day spent at Chickamauga National Park in Chattanooga, TN was incredibly interesting – and sobering. knowledge about war and suffering I am not sure I needed – but we all do. If you do not what these names mean – look it up and educate yourself! Lessons forgot will be learned again.

Travelling no more 120 miles a day, usually less, we meander from Tennessee, back into Huntsville, Al, up through Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and to the northeast corner of Oklahoma. Way back in December, our idea was to travel from Florida to Maine though the Mid – Atlantic States, then across the northern states and into Montana to look for a ski resort for next winter’s activities.

Our favorite parks are run by the Corps of Engineers and are usually on a dam, river or lake. They are well kept, on beautiful properties and only $11 a night with a senior pass!  This trip that included staying on the Tennessee, Ocoee, White, Norfolk Rivers. All beautiful places. Every now and then we stumble onto some awesome state parks like Sharon Johnson in Huntsville and Village Creek on Crowley’s Ridge in Arkansas. And no – we have never stayed at a Walmart parking lot!

Somehow we stumbled onto a request for a couple in an RV to stay on a hill under the trees on Grand Lake in Grove, OK and make sure the 100 or so sailboats in their sailing club do not sink at the docks while the owners work during the week. Sounded like a good gig to us and I guess we were supposed to be there as it all worked out. Sure is funny how we seem to be around boats even while in our RV!

On the last day of this trip we wake up to an achingly beautiful sunrise filtering through the cold mist floating off the Missouri White River below the Beaver Dam in the Corps of Engineers campground. There are just a few others here midweek and we are the first and only ones up. There is a magnificent Great Blue Heron watching me toss a lure into the river hoping not one huge rainbow trout decides to like it.

Time to stop for a month or two and get some projects done that have been put off for way too long, fill up the cruising kitty, and enjoy summer at the lake.  Somebody has to do it right?

Happy Birthday to Goose who turns 7!

So we continue to roam around the country and be absolutely amazed at the places and people we find. And we feel so very grateful!

Until next time…