Saturday, November 16, 2013

Home Again

After leaving Charleston Friday morning we had a 5 hr drive back
to the shack.  It was a nice sunny day and the drive went quickly.

It's hard to believe that this quick trip started in September and included
visits with friends in Williamsburg, then the Rally in Goshen (which
Kate and I prefer to forget) and then almost a month of traveling
with Jim & Kristi thru Ohio, Gettysburg, the Blue Ridge followed
by a dash west to Phoenix - the purchase of the Dog House - a week in Tucson
and then 10 nights in the Dog House.

The Dog house house turned out to be an excellent addition to the RV Fleet.
Kate and I both find it a great travel vehicle - very comfortable - and we
are looking forward to further adventures in it and the Monty.

This morning was clean out the dog house day and give it and the truck a quick bath.
Ahh...  they are both clean again.


Soon we'll be hauling the boat behind but that is for another day...


After the wash it was time to take the dog house off of the truck.

First I lower the jacks and lift the camper up a couple of inches off of the truck bed.
Once the camper is clear of the truck bed I disconnect the power supply
that runs from the truck to the camper
(See it hanging just behind the cab)

I then pull forward very carefully till I am clear of the camper.




I'm now clear of the camper and can lower it down closer to the ground
in the storage position.


Here it is lowered.
This is the same configuration that it would be in if we were camping in
it but wanted to leave it at a campsite.

We would of course level it with the jacks....
Here the driveway slopes away from the house and I did not worry
about leveling it.   Each jack works independently so I have
full adjustment capabilities.


I am now in clean out the garage mode.
We want to consolidate and throw stuff out to get a head start in
case the house sells in the near future.

In any event - we are home till mid-December at which point we will turn
around and head back out to Tucson, pick up the Monty
and spend the winter like last year camping in the desert.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Festival of Lights - Charleston

Another 500 miles today and we are about 6 hours from home.
We stopped tonight at James Island County Park outside of
Charleston, SC.

Its a nice park and at this time of year it is decorated for the holidays with
the most amazing collection of lights.

It is hundreds of acres - with miles of roads and pathways.
Kate and I walked around for an hour or so and enjoyed
the cool night and the beautiful lights.

We decided to walk and see less up close rather than drive and see lots
from afar but experience less.



The reflections in the numerous ponds were really neat.



Here is a short video that we took





Tomorrow we drive about 6 hours and park it for a month or so.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Big Chill

We continue eastward.
Yesterday we departed Houston early due to a cold front that was moving
southward with high winds.  I wanted to get as far east as possible before the high
winds from the north created a cross wind and make driving more difficult.

We made it into Fountainebleu State Park about an hour before the cold
front and the winds hit in earnest.

We stayed here last spring when we visited New Orleans and found it was a
convenient stop along our eastward route.


The campsites were decorated with this whole Halloween thing.


Our main reason for the stop however was to make a return to Saia's Meat Market to pick
up more Boudin.
The link above will explain what it is, but not how delicious it is.
Our freezer in the Dog House is now filled with 18lbs that we purchased yesterday and
asked them to put into their freezer for us.
We stopped by this am at 0800 just as they opened...  I filled up our
freezer with these frozen yummies and we hit the road.

Kate gives the thumbs up of a mission accomplished.


Last night the winds howled and the temps dropped below freezing.
We were snug and comfy in the Dog House.
This morning dawned cold and frosty and I had only packed shorts for the trip
home so while everyone was bundled up in winter clothes I'm running
around in shorts and t shirts....  I must have been a sight!

We fought the cross winds today and moved another 350 miles east and now
are on the shore of Lake Seminole near Chattahoochie, Fl.

This is a great Army Corp Campground - we stayed here last spring and
have added it to our go to list for a great place to overnight.


Kate made a nice campfire and we warmed by the fire and had a couple of brews.
Then just as the sun was getting low in the sky it was time to take the doods for a walk
before dinner.


The view of our camper from across the campground.


There are only a few other campers here so its nice and peaceful.


The view out the back door.


Tomorrow we head to Charleston, SC.
We are going to stay at James Island County Park.
We stayed there when we traded the old Cougar for the Monty.
They are having their annual festival of lights right now so it should be an
interesting and beautiful evening.
I've also found what is supposed to be one of the best barbecue places in
the US that is located in Charleston so we are planning on stopping and getting some
carryout on the way to our park. 

I'll let you know our culinary opinion once consumed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Painted Churches

What an interesting day we had.
When we were in the area last spring I had wanted to find the time to visit some
of the Painted Churches of East Texas but time did not allow.

We put them on our list to return - and they have been high on my list because I knew
that Kate would find a special joy in them.

Today while traveling east thru Texas I had alloted a few hours to side track and
check a couple of them out.

Our first was St Marys Catholic Church
Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in High Hill, Tx.
Whew..  thats a mouthful for a guy like me.

St Marys is called The Queen of the Painted Churches.

All the churches are located in rural towns in the middle of nowhere.
They are in an area that was settled by German, Austrian, Swiss, and Eastern Europeans
in the mid 1800's.    Folks who were looking for a better way of life and the ability 
to practice their religion without fear of persecution.

We passed thru little towns with names like Schulenburg and Swiss Alp on our way to our
first stop. 

We parked in front of St. Marys on the Rural Road.
Hardly a car passed by while we were there.

This normal looking little church surrounded by farm fields.


When we entered however we were in another world.


Even for a person like me - its impossible not to feel a sense of comfort and awe.
To not be touched somehow when inside this building.
Good Church architecture is supposed to do this.
The large Cathedrals of Europe fill you with awe...  perhaps the fear of god.
The feeling here was more of warmth and comfort..  perhaps the love of god.

And this was built by simple people with limited means.


The smell was of an old but spotless building.
One that has seen and ministered to the hopes and dreams of generations over the years.

Those of you who have followed our blog for years know that I love stained glass.
These small churches had a nice assortment of beautiful windows.




Our next stop was St. John The Baptist Catholic Church in
Ammannsville, Tx.  It was about 10 miles away from St. Marys.

It was located off of a dirt road.



The interior was quite different from St. Marys but still quite impressive for
the level of detail.



The view towards the rear of the church looking at the loft where the choir would sing.


Even the stairs to the loft are painted with an incredible level of detail.


Back outside Kate visited the cemeteries outside of both churches which were decorated
for Veterans Day.


Our third and final stop on this whirlwind tour was
Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church in
Dubina, Tx.


This area was settled by Czech settlers in 1856 who stopped to seek shelter during a storm
 in a grove of large Oak Trees and never left. 
When the Civil War broke out most of the people did not want to serve in the
Southern Army as they did not believe in Slavery but were drafted and forced to serve.
It was during the service in the Army that many learned to speak english.

Unfortunately this church was locked and we were only able to enter into
the Vestibule, so all my shots were taken from there.



The beauty and varity of these 3 churches show me that my interest in visiting was 
well founded and that a return to see more of the 20+ churches is in order.

After our 3rd visit we worked our way thru Houston Traffic.
Due to the Veterans day holiday it was light and we only had 2 major
traffic jams to contend with.

We are now at a nice but quite noisy RV Park next to I-10
in Baytown, Tx.  For a place to crash however it is just fine.

Tomorrow we will move another several hundred miles east and
settle for the night on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain at
Fountainebleu State Park.

There we plan on some Cafe Du Monde Beignets and coffee,
plus stock the freezer with Boudin.
Yum!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Crossing Texas

Its Sunday night and we are currently in S Llano River State Park
just south of Junction Texas in the Central Texas Hill Country.

Today marked our crossing once again from the dry of the western
deserts into the greener and more humid climate zones of the East.

We entered Texas yesterday on I-10 just west of El Paso.
We drove for several hours and spent the night at
Balmorhea State Park - a very unique Oasis in the dry West Texas
Desert.   I posted a blog about it last trip.

You can access that post here.

After a delightfully cool and dark evening we woke up with the late sunrise and
continued east about another 300 miles to our current locale.

South Llano River State Park is another jewel that we've been fortunate to visit.


We are tucked into the trees in a very private site with 30a electric and water.

The park is a nature lovers paradise with abundant deer and wild turkeys.
In fact it is a prime wild turkey roosting area and there is a viewing blind where
you can watch them come to roost in the evening.


The campground is only about 1/3 full - more than I expected - I think some folks have
a long Veterans Day Weekend and have tomorrow off.

We headed off for our pre-dinner walk with the Doods.


Looking back at our site.


Later we complete the loop and get back to our site - #21


Our reward...  happy hour under the watchful eyes of Gracie.
(Ron aways spots her)


Tomorrow we'll continue our eastward migration thru Texas...
It is a big state.  Interstate 10 runs coast to coast - From San Diego, Ca to
Jacksonville, Fl and over 1/3 of that roadway is located in Texas...
Almost 900 miles.

It is our hope and intention to see a couple of the Painted Churches
of East Texas tomorrow and then stop in a KOA or some such
RV park in the area of the churches.

Some technical info for those who are interested:
My fuel milage difference between towing the Monty and hauling the Dog House.

Running around 65mph with the Monty I average about 10mpg.  My high is around 11.5
and my low (excluding headwinds which kill the mileage) is around 9.8.

With the Dog House I'm getting about 13mpg average
Today crossing in the dry air around Ft Stockton I was up to 14.5 over a 100 mile run.
As soon as I hit the humid air further east my mileage dropped to 12.7 over a 100 mile run.
My theory is that in humid air - water molecules displace oxygen molecules and you
get less efficient combustion...  hence less fuel mileage.

This change in mileage was running on flat land using the cruise control.
Nothing had changed other than the atmospheric conditions.
Altitude was within 500'

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Back at Rockhound

We've begun our dash back to the coast...
More like a crawl since we are planning on it taking 6 days but
"dash" sounds more dramatic.

Tonight we had planned on a return visit to City of Rocks State Park about
25 miles north of Deming, NM but before we got to Deming I told Kate that
I was getting saddle sore and looking to get out of the Cab of the truck, and considering
that tomorrow is almost 6 hrs we decided to stay at one of our favorites,
Rockhound State Park, just outside of Deming.

We are always treated to a great sunset here and tonight was no exception.


We had happy hour as the sun treated us to the finest of sunsets.

Tomorrow we are back on the road early and headed to Texas.

Meanwhile - I've been getting asked to continue our self portraits...
Once again I forgot tonight - so instead I'll leave you with this one.


It's been interesting watching the Doodles get used to the new camper.
The bed is much higher off of the floor and presents some challenges for them to get
up into it.
The outside door is much higher off the ground when loaded on the truck as well.

Lucy has been more tentative about jumping up whereas Gracie is the little acrobat.
Last night she leaped from the dinette seat into the bed.   It was pretty funny.  She looks
like a squirrel running an obstacle course.

We've set up a little spot for them to sleep by either window in the sleeper and 
slowly they are getting used to it.   It means a better sleep for mama and papa too since
the Dog House has a Queen Size bed whereas the Monty is King Size.

Slowly life in the Dog House is settling into a rhythm.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Downsized

Well since my last post we have been busy.
We moved the dog house down to Temp Storage in Casa Grande, Az.
Then moved the Monty down to Catalina State Park north of Tucson.
Then last night moved the Monty up to Casa Grande, transferred
all of our stuff (that will fit) into the Dog house...
Transferred the refrigerator contents from the Monty to the Dog House,
and as I write we have finally spent one night in the Camper - back here
at Catalina State Park.

Last night finishing up loading/unloading.
We shut down the Monty and left it till we return in December.


Our transition into the Dog House went just fine.
We have a bit of clutter of course but we've already thought of ways that
we will organize..  a hook or two here ...   a shelf there...

We'll learn to food shop lighter for instance.
We can carry a lot more in the Monty.  
In the Dog House we'll just shop more often.

The Doodles were a bit lost at first.
The bed is much higher off the floor but Gracie was jumping up and down
in almost no time.   Lucy was more timid and once up there she stayed put.

They are finding the best spots for looking out the windows and surveying the surroundings.


In the Queen Sized bed the 4 of us wrestled for position.
The Dogs won!

The new bed and mattress topper is a winner.
We both slept like rocks in the dark Tucson Skies.

This morning dawned cool and clear and I ran the heat.
Of course it had that new RV Heater Smell that needs to be burned off,
but the small size heats up nice and toasty in short order.


Today I got some needed parts and hooked up the Satellite TV.
I've tested all the systems and everything works just fine.

I've loaded and unloaded the Dog House off the truck a couple of times..
No problems there....

So - we are staged and ready to head east but will stay here for one more day and
enjoy a down day.   Seems like we have been so busy that this is our first time
to finally sit and enjoy the weather.

The doods don't care.
As long as they have somewhere to catch some ZZZZ's they are happy.


Friday we'll head back to City of Rocks in NM and be able to grab one of the smaller
 interesting sites.   Then Saturday and Sunday and Monday we'll work on getting
across Texas....  That's just one big ass state!

I've got a couple of interesting places that we are going to stop at along the way
home, and hope to visit a couple of the Painted Churches of East Texas when
passing thru there so stay tuned.


My rough itinerary home - (subject to instantaneous change on a whim)

Follow the Map Points



B   Friday                              City of Rocks SP  NM
C   Sat                                      Balmorhea SP Texas
D   Sunday                   South Llano River SP Texas
E  Mon     Schulenburg, Tx - Painted Church's Area
F  Tues                             Fontainbleu SP Louisiana
(Stopping there to restock with Boudin  google it - Yum!)
G  Weds                     Seminole Lake - Marianna, Fl
After than - perhaps another stop or two enroute home...  perhaps not.


Friday, November 1, 2013

The Dog House

Honey I shrunk the Monty!


Ok...   I've had a bunch of questions so it's time for some answers.

We are in the process of selling our house.   We had a contract but it fell thru
due to the buyers being unable to complete financing.
Regardless...  it will sell sooner or later.

So...    We need to move some stuff west and be ready for the day it does sell.
Plus
We are here now...
We are planning on a Winter Quartzsite trip.
We are planning on a spring Alaska Trip.
That's a lot of back and forth trips to the East Coast pulling the Monty.

So my diabolical mind comes up with Plan A.

Kate - why don't we get a Truck Camper for all the back and forth trips?
Lets leave the Monty in Arizona.

An thusly...  The Dog House is Born.


I've always wanted a TC.
It's what we were shopping for when we bought our first 5th Wheel.
But that damn salesman had to show Kate how big a 5th wheel could be....
It was all downhill from there.

But now I have mine!
Its about as big inside as my old sailboat... perhaps a tad smaller.

But it adds a whole new dimension to our travels.
The Monty is great for when we are spending lots of time in one place
and just chilling.   It's a full fledged home on wheels and luxury abounds.

The TC shines when we are traveling to lots of different places and doing lots of
sightseeing.   We can get into the smaller National Forest Type Campgrounds that
we prefer.  We can pull the boat behind it.  It is simple and easy.
We can get it into any place that I can get my pickup truck into.

It doesn't replace the Monty - it adds to it.
It creates options.

It has all the comforts that Monty Hall has...
Just in a more compact size.


We have hot and cold water, a bathroom and shower, Satellite TV and Microwave.
Stove, Oven, Refrigerator, Freezer, Air Conditioning, and built in Generator.


So...
the plan is to move it tomorrow into storage for a few days.
Then after that -  swap Monty Hall for the Dog House and head back
East.   Then in December head back west with the Dog House and Swap it
for Monty Hall and do the Winter Quartzsite thing.
Then Swap them again and head east.
Then come back in May and swap them for Alaska...
Are you getting dizzy yet?

And Shelly - We get our green beans from lots of places.
My favorite place is Sweet Marias.

I'm sure that soon we'll be enjoying expressos in the Dog House too!