Thursday, March 23, 2017

Finally Done

The last 5 1/2 weeks has been a whirlwind.
From Contract to sell the house...
to packed, closed, moved..

We left you in Livingston Texas where we had arrived to get our residency
set up, insurances changed etc.

Our continuing quest now had us leaving Livingston, Texas.
New Temporary licenses in our pockets...
and license plates on the vehicles.

We were back on the road  having accomplished everything,
about 40hrs after arriving.
We came, we saw, we licensed.
We were a blur!

Saturday morning we drove 400 miles west to The Buckhorn Lake Resort,
 nestled in the Texas Hill Country in Kerrville, Texas.

We really enjoy the area and this park is very nice.
Last year we spent a week here during our Fall westward migration.
They often have dinner theaters, and country western headliners.

Sunday morning we were back on the road west bound.
Today would be the day were we leave the humidity of the east behind and
enter the vast arid regions of the American west.

Notice the greenery in the photo below.

We had company on the highway this morning.
The Budweiser Clydesdale Trucks (3 semis)
came barreling by...

 followed by a chase van.

Notice how the landscape has turned color signifying that we are in the dryer region.
In just a hundred miles or so the climate changes. 

Up ahead you can see the Budweiser Gang.

Those of you who have watched The Shawshank Redemption a few hundred
times like me will recognize the road sign...

Fort Hancock Texas.
Where Andy Dufresne, and then Red, crossed the border to Mexico.

We spent the night in Van Horn, Texas at the old KOA, now private.
Its a dusty campground but not much else convenient in this area of west Texas,
and its easy on and off I-10, all pull thrus so no need to unhook the toad,
and a Pilot Truck Stop at the exit if you need to fill up.

We've been wasting no time heading west because this has been a very rainy season
and the spring wildflowers have been in what is known as a "SuperBloom"...
A once every couple of decades explosion of spring color.

Crossing New Mexico we got a taste of hopefully what will still be waiting when we 
get to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.

These tiny Poppies make the most of the past rains.

A 470 mile day brought us to Benson, Az and Kartchner Caverns State Park.
We normally come here in December to celebrate Kates birthday at the
German Cafe in Sierra Vista.
I would also get my CDL physical here.

This time it was a quick overnight and then a dash to
Casa Grande, Az as I had a conference call at work that I needed to get
settled in time to attend.

Casa Grande is the end of the beginning....
What started with the signing of the contract to sell the house,
ends here with the storeroom that we would unload our stuff into.

The cart is outside of my storage room.

Temperature controlled, each storage unit is also alarmed.
I have a lock on it, but if anyone tried to open it, the alarm goes off.
The facility has an on-site manager who lives there and all the corridors
have cameras so that they can see exactly what is going on 24/7

All of this was moved out of the bus and the pickup.

So as of this evening...   we have reached the end of the beginning.
We are done with the work of transitioning from the world we've known,
and are now full-time RV'ers.

Since we were usually on the road much of the year anyway, its less of a change
than one might think...  but it still feels very free.

To celebrate - I had a crew come and wash and wax the bus.
And then that very night....   it rained!

That tree behind us has beautiful fragrant flowers, and like all desert plants,
the seeds travel in the wind and cling to what ever they touch.

By morning the clean bus was covered with yellow flowers!

The Doodles have made the transition to full timing with no effort.

We'll spend a few more days here in Casa Grande.
We are going to run up to Phoenix (about 40 miles) to go to Ikea...
(Kate wants to start refilling the bus)
and then I've found what is supposed to be a great German Food Resturant.

I've been dieting since November and so far have lost over 70 lbs...
I think its time for a treat!

Next stop is Lake Pleasant where we will hook up with our good
friends Jim & Kristi.

See you there.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Back in Red Bay - and beyond

We are now in Red Bay Alabama, home of Tiffin Motorhomes.

Since we would be passing by (within a hundred miles or so) we decided to
swing by Red Bay to get some minor repairs done as well as to meet with
the vendor who makes the curtains and valances for the coaches.

Kate has some fabric that she'd like to recover the existing valances with
so I thought I could at least meet with the vendor, purchase an hour of their time,
 and get some instructions on how to remove and replace the fabric.

My list of repair items is almost embarrassing.   
Its all the type of stuff that I could do but since we are here...
and their price is very reasonable...
I might as well make a small contribution to the local economy before we
continue on westward to Texas.

Plus...  I've always wanted to get Kate here to visit the factory and some of the
other local sights.

Today we saw two of the highlights:
The Rattlesnake Saloon, and the Coon Dog Cemetery.

The Rattlesnake Saloon

Located in Tuscumbria Al,  out in the middle of nowhere, the real draw here is
the interesting location.   
The Saloon and outside table area and stage are built underneath a stone overhang.   
Its' sort of a modern countrified version of a red neck Mesa Verde.

Arriving at the parking area, we are picked up in a big diesel pickup truck.
Signs plastered about the inside of the truck encourage tipping.

Another family is welcome to sit inside with us but instead they pile into the bed of the
truck for the short ride down the hill.  
Mind you - its about 40° damp and raining.

Arriving at the bottom of the hill.
There is outside seating as well as a few tables inside.

We deliberately came early before the music started so as to avoid the crowds.
We sat inside the saloon due to the cool weather.

The menu features a varied assortment of Vegetables such as:
Fried Mushrooms, Fried Green Beans, Fried Mozzarella, Fried Pickles,
Fried Onion Rings, French Fries loaded with Bacon and Cheese.
Do you see where this is going?

Did I mention the Fried Peach Pie, Fried Apple Fritters, or Deep Fried Cheesecake?

Lastly...   A burger on the menu:
"The Gigantor  two pounds of Ground Beef on a huge bun with all the fixins, a pound of fries
and a half pound of Onion Rings and a pitcher of your favorite beverage to wash it all down."

Needless to say - Kate and I passed on the Gigantor and opted for a normal burger which we still
could not finish.

Walking up the hill after lunch
Afraid that merely inhaling inside the Saloon was hazardous to our Cholesterol levels,
we decided to walk back up the hill to the truck and try to ward off any lingering
calories that might have jumped onto us thru contact.

The Rattlesnake Saloon.
If you are in the area you have to see it once.
For the unique setting I give it a 10
The food... ok but nothing special.

I'd imagine that if you were there at music time the joint is hopping as
its usually standing room only.

The Coon Dog Cemetery

No visit to RB would be complete without stopping by the CDC.
No not the Center for Disease Control...

Established in 1937 by Key Underwood for his Coon Dog Troop,
other Coon Dog owners began (with permission) to bury their dogs there, and eventually
the cemetery grew to where there are now close to 200 dogs here from all over the USA.

Once asked if other types of dogs would be allowed here,
Mr Underwood replied:

"You must not know much about coon hunters and their dogs, if you think we would contaminate this burial place with poodles and lap dogs,"

I guess that means I'll have to keep looking for a spot for the Doodles 😀

Many of the head stones were quite interesting and we spent some time walking about.

Off to Texas

Our stay in Red Bay was brief.

Tiffin Service Center Red Bay, Alabama
We arrived Saturday and were in and out of a service bay - and back on the road by noon Tuesday.
I had hoped to take Kate on the factory tour and to the paint shop but we were 
done and had places down the road that we needed to be.

Our destination now was Livingston, Texas where we would establish residency
with help from the Escapees - an RV Support Group to which we belong
and who provides our mail service.

We took a scenic route down the Natchez Trace Parkway.
A National Park Service Parkway - sort of a flat land Blue Ridge Parkway.
The NTP follows an ancient Indian Trail, for about 450 miles between
Nashville, Tn and Natchez, Ms.

Our route would cover about 200 miles of the Parkway.

Early Spring on the Natchez Trace Parkway
We stopped for the night at Goshen Springs Campground outside of
Brandon, Ms.
Goshen Springs is run by the local reservoir authority and was a very nice place
to spend a night or three.
Full hookups, 50amp with large sites and first come first serve.

Goshen Springs Campground
Our next day dawned clear and the rest of the drive south on the parkway
was bright and colorful with the start of spring blooming about.

We spent the next night in Longview, Tx at Fernwood Park,
and then Thursday drove 2 hrs south to Livingston, and the Escapees
Rainbow Park.

We arrived about 1:30p and headed out to motor vehicle with a stack of pre-completed
paperwork and by 3pm we had registered both the bus and the F150.

Escapees Headquarters - Livingston, Tx
Then Friday morning I completed transfering our insurances to Tx and
we headed back to DPS to get our licenses.

Another stack of paperwork, passports, soc security cards, Tx registrations,
insurance documents etc etc...   boy they love paperwork!

By 1:30 Kate had her license and I had transferred my CDL and we were out the door.
We were now done with this part of the process and free range again.

Before heading out we took the dogs for a walk around the park

The Escapees have quite a large facility here.   2 RV parks, with RV homes mixed among
the facility, I was actually surprised and pleased how nice it was.

Here was an ice cream shack that is open afternoons.

The park even has its own medical clinic.

Our site in the Rainbow Park.

Escapees Rainbow Park Livingston, Tx
We will now get back on the road tomorrow (Saturday) and head 1,100 miles
further west to Casa Grande, Az where we will acquire a storage room to unload
the pickup and things from the bus.

We will use this storeroom as a "cache" where we will keep things that we will want
from time to time but do not have the room, or need to have them all the time.

Once we load up the storeroom, we will finally be done with the rat race that began
about 6 week ago when we signed the contract to sell the house.
And true free range chickens we will finally be.

Then it will be time to crack open a special bottle of wine.
A 1995 Chateau Margaux.