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Showing posts from December, 2007

2007's a Wrap

Monday, December 31, 2007 -- Sandollar Resort near Rockport, TX

It's been a week since I last posted to this blog. Let's just chalk up the break to the "pause" I referred to in my last post. To be honest there's an element of laziness too. But it's time to update the blog with some thoughts and the events of the past few days.

Time passes so quickly and it's common to say "where'd the day go?" at this park. We have a great group of neighbors around us. I think I've written about this before, but most of them are here for the winter and most of them are from somewhere in the Midwest. Most of them have a home "up north" and are not fulltimers like us. Even though we're only here for a few weeks -- just passing through -- they've made us feel at home, as part of the group. We often attend the 4pm "happy hour" and we've gone out to lunch or dinner with some. We had a big Christmas pot-luck dinner together. Becau…

The Pause

Sunday, December 23, 2007 -- Sandollar Resort near Rockport, TX

One thing I've always liked about this time of year is the pause.

We've just gone through an entire year of our lives, largely running around and competing with others over jobs, ideas, sales, love, money, possessions, and recognition. Then, the frantic nature of the build-up to our commercialized Christmas and New Years saps more strength... the crowds, the traffic, shopping for the right gifts, the parties, getting the cards out, dealing with nasty weather, holiday travel, and more. It's all enough to give anyone a headache.

But then, it's over. At least briefly -- if you let it. There's a period of time that belongs to only you. If you recognize it, if you let it flow over you, there's a peace that accompanies the silence, the pause. Now it's just you and the loved ones that surround you. For just one day or, maybe, a few, you can take a breather... decide not to go anywhere... watch and enjoy …

Holiday Decorating

December 19, 2007 -- Sandollar Resort in Rockport, TX

The holidays just wouldn't be complete without Christmas lights and Holiday Decorations -- at least for Dar. For most of the years of our marriage, she was always the one who spent time, money, and personal effort (not to mention risking life and limb) to achieve the warm holiday look she wanted the house to have, both inside and out. She took great pleasure in doing most of it herself. It started years ago when she said something about putting up lights on the outside of our house, two stories up, and wondered if I'd do it. Perhaps I was in a bad mood that day... I certainly was not in the holiday spirit... or just preoccupied with another project -- I don't know. But I said something along the lines of "If you want lights on the roof, put 'em up yourself." To make a long story short, she did. And she did for many years thereafter. And she made sure ALL the neighbors saw her. She took great pride in making…

Settled for Christmas

Saturday, December 15, 2007 -- Sandollar RV Park in Rockport, TX

A few weeks ago, on a recommendation from someone we trust, we booked the Sandollar Resort in Rockport for three weeks during Christmas and New Years. Not knowing how fast things book up over the holidays -- or how booked they already might be -- we rolled the dice, made reservations, and despite never having laid eyes on the place we hoped it'd be that perfect "homey" place to be for Christmas.

We arrived in Rockport a few days early. Even though it may have been possible to move in at Sandollar early, we thought it'd be good to try another place for the experience. Based mostly on internet research we decided to try Drifters Resort. We arrived there Tuesday and found it to be an excellent RV park, only three years old, small but very well done. With both cabins and RV sites, it's a friendly place filled with genuine and outgoing people who didn't even wait for us to back into our site before com…

Breezy Day at the Gulf

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 -- Drifters RV Resort near Rockport, TX

There's a broad coastal plain that follows the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico stretching all the way from New Orleans, through Texas, to Mexico. This long arc of land is about the flattest land I've ever seen -- flatness that rivals parts of Illinois, Indiana, and the Canadian Great Plains. It's said that raindrops develop a severe case of indecisiveness when they don't know which direction to flow after hitting the ground. So they just sit there, evaporate, and make the air humid.

All this flatness can also make breezy days a challenge for driving an RV... like today. When the wind blows off the Gulf, there's nothing to stop it or slow it down. The last few days there's a big storm system in the central part of the country that's sucking humid air out of the Gulf. Since we've been in Victoria on Sunday, the winds have been howling.

The owner of the coach and I had a little "safety me…

In Shorts Again!

Saturday, December 8, 2007 -- Livingston, TX

In a surprising twist of nature, the weather gods have given us near record high temperatures here in east central Texas. It didn't get below 70f last night and was over 80f today. There's a weather front north of here, toying with us, and will keep the weather a little cloudier and hard to predict much of the rest of the week.

Let me bring you up to date on our bus problem. Remember, we found a small puddle of engine coolant under the bus while parked in Vicksburg on Wednesday. Spartan, our chassis maker, got us into a diesel shop in Shreveport to have it fixed, but they wouldn't be able to get us in until Friday morning. So we made the drive over to Shreveport on Thursday, checked in with the shop, and set a time for the next morning. Needing a place to stay Thursday night and wanting something close to the diesel shop, we settled on a nice parking spot in Harrah's at Louisiana Downs Racetrack and Casino. This is the first …

So We're Off to Shreveport

I had a few service chores to do on the bus today, the things that I'm supposed to check monthly or weekly. It's not too bad a deal but "a maintained coach is a happy coach" I've been told.

A few weeks ago we lost the chrome exhaust pipe extension that sticks out the back of the bus -- it just fell off on our way from Georgia to Alabama. It's not a critical component that prevents us from driving, but it does deflect the exhaust down and off to the side. Diesel exhaust can be a little sooty and the extension helps keep the back of the bus and the toad a bit cleaner.

After realizing it was gone, I called Spartan (the maker of our chassis) and they were very responsive and concerned about my issue. They immediately sent a new extension via next day express which we received while we were at Trace State Park near Tupelo. The same day, I got my old working duds on, my wrenches out, and proceeded to stick that thing on where it belonged. I was a little concerned, ho…

Vicksburg History

Wednesday, December 05, 2007 -- Vicksburg, MS

Vicksburg is packed with history. In a lot of ways, it's the real heart of the old South. It was the home of Jefferson Davis for many years and the seeds of the confederacy where sown here. It's location on the Mississippi River was important economically before the Civil War and strategically during the war. It was the successful Vicksburg Campaign that boosted the standing of Ulysses Grant with Lincoln, and was key to Grant being given complete military control of Federal forces during the last two years of the war. His success also translated into popularity with the people which translated into his being elected president in 1868.

The Vicksburg National Military Park is a huge crescent shaped park that encircles most of the city and was the area that contained the Confederate and Union lines during the 47 day siege. Here's more from Wikipedia:
The park includes 1,325 historic monuments and markers, 20 miles of historic trenche…

Back on the Trace

Monday, December 3, 2007 -- Ameristar RV Park in Vicksburg, MS

Things went off this morning pretty much as planned. The sun rose before 7am and I popped out of bed to a mere 56°f. in the camper. Yikes! That was some cold front that came through last night. It took less than 2 minutes for me to a) turn the heat up, b) load the coffee maker and turn it on, c) make sure the water heater was on, and d) jump back into bed until the heat and the coffee were done.

It may have been cold this morning, but at least it was windy too. Once coffee'd, showered, and dressed, I went out to tend to my assigned moving-day chores. Tire pressure -- check; Engine Oil level -- check; Engine coolant, hydraulic fluid level, transmission oil level -- check, check, check; Slides clear and ready for retraction -- check; load bikes onto bike carrier on car -- check; this is but a sampling, but maybe you get the idea. By the time I was done outside, I felt like I was back in Wisconsin, frozen fingers and all. D…

Laid Back Sunday

Sunday, December 2, 2007 -- Trace State Park near Tupelo, MS

Clouds, gusty winds, and intermittent rain accompanied the morning today. That was the prediction and they were right on. And so it went during the rest of the day. Definitely a day to stay in.

We're aiming to get up early (for us) Monday so we can be rolling by 9:30 or 10:00am. We decided that we'd head right to Vicksburg tomorrow where we've got a full hookup site reserved. Electric power makes good heat which will come in handy Tuesday a.m. when it's supposed to be near freezing here in central Mississippi. We'll be in Vicksburg until Thursday morning when we head west and more south in search of heat.

Reservations have been made to spend the holidays near the gulf coast of Texas, just north of Corpus Christi. Three weeks in one spot. The thought of soaking up some sun and warmth sounds pretty good right now.

Ok. That's the quick update for tonight. Gotta hit the sack and get some rest.

T

Oxford, Tupelo, Brice's Crossroads

Saturday, December 1, 2007 -- Trace State Park near Tupelo, MS

We extended our stay here for three more days, which will get us through the weekend. The bus leaves on Monday morning and we'll be on it. Both Dar and I like this place a lot, it's solitude, the setting, the "being in nature" aspects of the park... it's all so close to an ideal place to spend some time with your own thoughts, to get caught up on some reading, to organize some writing projects, to seek small adventures in nearby towns, to learn about the rich history of the area, to see the small shack were Elvis grew up... It's a good place for us right now.

One of the objectives of our sabbatical is to find that place we'd like to live after this vagabond stage is over. We think we'd like a small to medium sized town that's walkable for most of our needs, and one with energy and a vibrancy that comes from a college or an artistic community. For climate, we're just looking to take t…