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Midwest Journey - 2011
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Monday, February 14, 2011: Today was moving day from Roosevelt Lake. We enjoyed our time at Roosevelt Lake, it was comfortable, because it had a covered picnic table and was within hose length of the nearest water faucet plus a garbage bin within 100 feet. It was clean because the access and campground roads were paved and the campsite was graveled. It was relatively private with about 20 feet of space between sites. It was 12 miles from a relatively well stocked grocery store and 40 miles from the really nice town of Payson, AZ. It was also cheap, only $3 per day (although FREE is cheaper). However, the campers that use the Roosevelt Lake campgrounds are different that what we are use to. They are generally male fishermen who are away fishing during the day but return to their campsites in the evening and start up a contractor Our campsite east of Safford
Ralph gets to relax

generator. The contractor generator is inexpensive, lots of power, runs at full RPM no matter the load on the generator and VERY noisy. So on a busy weekend, it was stereo Briggs and Stratton engines from all directions in the campground without regard for the generator hours rule. We were fortunate and never had any right next to us. Our current plan is to return to Roosevelt Lake next year because our list of things we still want to do in the area if very long. We hope for the best with the noise.

Now we have moved to some BLM desert land about 2 miles west of the tiny town of Solomon near Safford, Arizona. The moon has welcomed us to our new campsite. Be sure to click the photo above to get a better view of the moon and YES, that IS laundry on our mat, we found the laundromat closed on Monday so the chore is postponed for another day. When we arrived,

I must begin setting up my satellite system, Ralph, on the other hand is ready to relax after only ten minutes of setup. What a lucky guy. He says I need to simplify. So here we are parked free on BLM land. We have no covered picnic table, no paved campground roads, no hose bib nearby, no garbage collection, and no graveled parking area. However, we are surrounded only by our solar friends (four fifth wheels). We ALL happen to own a generator but NONE are Ralph dumps his holding tanks before proceeding to our Solomon campsite
noisy contractor generators and they ALL run at an RPM needed to meet the current demand. (On that note, Ralph and I have not needed to run our generators for a month.) We are 8 miles from the nearest Super Walmart (as if Walmart is the measure of comfort or "normalness"), we are parked on dry, rocky ground only about 100 yards from the nearest pavement. This area is very quiet but only 1 mile from a major highway. Our nearest fresh water and garbage is at the Safford Chamber of Commerce, about 9 miles and the nearest holding tank dump is at the Safford Sanitary district plant about ten miles. There is no fee for either water, garbage or tank dump. The payoff for this inconvenience (distance to services) is a quiet, private area to park where we can open the door to our pets without the need for a leash. We are all generating our power from the sun although clouds are expected later this week but we all have the ability to continue our off-the-grid lifestyles with (relatively) quiet generators. Of course, this lifestyle has a learning curve and other equipment needed in addition to solar panels. Just ask those who are doing it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011: Before leaving Roosevelt Lake, Ralph took a day to explore in his kayak. He had no complaints about the water temperature in this shallow area but where the water was deeper, it was much colder. Click the photo for another view.

Today was laundry day. Since the Safford laundry is closed Sunday and Monday, Tuesday is a busy day. Gwen took up 8 washers and swore she would never wait so long again to do the laundry. Janet said the same and even said she wanted to rent a space in an RV park just to do the laundry in their facilities. Ralph and I washed our trucks, mailed post cards, got bottled water and bought items at the dollar store for Geocaching while the girls did laundry. Of course we helped fold and put it away after returning home.

Ralph explores Roosevelt Lake in his kayak
Impressing our traveling RV companions with all the power we have to burn Wednesday, February 16, 2011: Ralph and I came up with an idea to impress our traveling RV friends. Every day has been clear and with the days getting longer, we are always easily getting a full charge on our batteries. We both spotted the few branches left on this tiny tree between our trailers and I suggested we string Christmas lights on the tree. I already had a few lights and Ralph had a long enough extension cord to reach the tree. So, Ralph and Gwen strung the lights in the tree and then turned on the tree after dark. Our RV friends were amazed at the power we had to burn, all from our solar charging. Swing your pointer through the photo to see our decoration.
Friday, February 18, 2011: Today was predicted to be a stormy day but we waited all day for it to arrive. We did get lots of wind, then clouds started moving in around noon. Meanwhile, our friends, Dick and Mary Ellen moved on to central New Mexico today to visit friends and camp on pavement before the storm arrived. Ralph and Janet's Fifth wheel against the red sunset
Waiting for the pending storm Ralph, Morgan and I did some hiking in the afternoon. We were only in t-shirts and pants because it was still warm. We haven't really seen clouds since early January and not enough to slow our solar generation but today neither of us got to 100% due to the heavy cloud cover this afternoon. We are still waiting for the predicted rain. We are certainly enjoying the change in the weather and the awsome pictures created by the clouds. These photos were taken at dusk. Both can be enlarged by clicking on them.
Saturday, February 19, 2011: Well, today turned out to be pretty stormy with 40+ mph winds but yesterday was good enough for Ralph, Morgan and I to hike to a Geocache only 1.5 miles from our campsite. Actually there are two Geocaches within walking distance but Ralph and Gwen found one while I was riding Haekel Road. Morgan and I hiked to THAT Geocache before Ralph was ready. BUT, after returning from that 2 mile hike Morgan and I got Ralph to go with us to the other cache. After a short search we found the cache even though the coordinates were off by 45 feet. After recording our find in the log book, we hiked back to the San Simon Flood control dam only a sort distance from the cache. Ralph took the photo of Morgan and me. There wasn't a drop of water anywhere in the area but lots of evidence that water has been through this area before. So, the total hiking distance which Morgan and I did yesterday was five miles. That was a lot for both of us since we haven't been doing much hiking lately. Searching for a Geocache and finding the San Simon Flood control dam
Ralph's garbage bin goes flying

Sunday, Februray 20, 2011: The last couple of days we've experienced an "Arizona Storm". That's a storm which look threatening, generally lots of winds, some low hanging clouds which look like rain clouds, only peaks at the sun (through the clouds), BUT very little rain (in fact, nothing measurable) and temperatures have dropped by only 15 degrees. Yesterday we got hit by a large "dirt devil" which some call a mini tornado. It sure felt like much more than the 40+ mph winds we had been experiencing but it did not measure more than the 44.9 mph maximum wind I recorded yesterday. Anyway, it was enough to make me look outside to learn if Ralph's collapsable garbage can was still at his trailer. It wasn't so I went over to learn if he had moved it inside. He hadn't so we went looking for it. He told me he had put a large rock in it to hold it down. The photo to the left show where I found it, a half mile from the trailers. I colapsed it to keep it from flying away while I took the photo. I also found some cardboard under the garbage container. The garbage container was empty when I found it. I wonder how far the rock flew?

The wind was not quite as bad today. In fact I washed the outside of the windows because they had dusty rain spots on them. Gwen cleaned the inside of the trailer then we both relaxed the rest of the afternoon while the wind gusted to 28 mph.

Tomorrow is an early day. Morgan has an appointment for teeth cleaning at 8 am. Yike! We may be up before the sun tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011: We moved to Deming, New Mexico only for one night. This is the Escapees Dream Catcher RV Park. We need the one night park stay to flush our black water tanks, fill our fresh water tanks, do laundry (again), wash the vehicles and get prepared for our next adventure at City of Rocks State Park. The fee here is only $12 per night plus electricity. We did NOT set out our satellite dish so do not have our own Internet connection. That means we also must use our antennae which brought in digital TV and the best picture ever. This may ruin us for regular satellite television. One night at the noisy Dream Catcher RV Park in Deming, NM
A group of 3 at City of Rocks State Park Thursday, February 24, 2011: In less than an hour, Ralph, Janet, Gwen and I drove from Deming to City of Rocks State Park. In only a few hours, Dick and Mary Ellen joined us in space 2. We have formed in a triangle for protection from the wind, not the Indians. Our first meal together included hamburgers and a chocolate cake provided by Dick and Mary Ellen. We are working on our agenda while camped here. The Gila Cliff dwellings are nearby so I'm sure we'll include them in our agenda. Silver City is the closest town and an interesting place to visit. Hiking the "rocks" at City of Rocks is another interest. Click the photo to enlarge and click here for another view.
Friday, February 25, 2011: Our first day touring the area took us to Silver City, New Mexico. Our first stop was at an RV parts store so we could replace a few broken parts. Then on to Ace Hardware ... tomorrow is 20% off day. Unfortunately, none of us could find anything we wanted. No need to return tomorrow. Then on to downtown historic Silver City where the photo was taken. You can click the photo for another view. We found a tasty Mexican food restaurant for lunch in the historic district. After lunch we visited a craft store, toy store (where I found something for my grand daughter). Walking on, we found a bead store and quilt shop. It was fun shopping for beads as a gift for Gwen since she was not with us. There is a fine sports shop further down the street where I found some nice T-shirts and hats which I did not buy. Then on to the end of the street for the Gila Bike shop. Some nice things there too, but still no purchases. The last store I wanted to visit was a nice Co-op food store for granola. I found some at $3.29/lb but couldn't buy it. Winco Foods has ruined me. I just can't pay $3.29 for something which costs only $1.59 at Winco. So, our last stop before leaving town was at Wal-mart for a few grocery items. The talk of the town in almost every store is the "big storm" arriving on Sunday. We'll see how that goes. Walking historic Silver City, New Mexico
A hike into the City of Rocks Saturday, February 26, 2011: After a great breakfast cooked by Gwen, the men, with Gwen and Morgan, went for a hike into the City of Rocks. Ralph found this rock balanced on several tiny rocks and had to take a photo. This is the day before the "big storm" which has been predicted for several days. We thought we'd take our tour today while the sun was still shinning. The City of Rocks is a unique and surprising area, just a bunch of large rocks out in the middle of the east New Mexico desert.
Ralph finds a petroglyph on one of the rocks

I took Ralph, Dick, and Gwen to a few spots I learned of last year when exploring here. I showed them where to find a cute little Kokopelli hidden in the hole of one of the many rocks. Click the photo to see what Ralph found. We continued our walk and I was able to find another petroglyph hiding in the rocks.

Ralph took a photo here too. You can click the photo to see the bird he found. At least, I call it a bird.

During this hike, we found two Geocaches. As the day went on, the weather began to deteriorate. We are looking forward to a new adventure tomorrow.

Here is another find among the rocks
Monday, February 28, 2011: Today was moving day to Texas. We rolled out of City of Rocks at 8 am driving straight to Interstate 10 (Deming) and on to Los Cruces for breakfast at Cracker Barrel. From there we went to Hobby Lobby (I spared you a photo of ANOTHER Hobby Lobby). After our Los Cruces shopping it was a straight shot to Texas. The photo at the right Mostly what we saw of El Paso, Texas
You can do anything with a FORD

was our only view of El Paso, Texas. We didn't stop at Costco like we did last year. The parts of the city we saw from Interstate 10 made all of us just want to get out of town. Far too much traffic for us country folk from Oregon. While driving through town, Dick pointed out the pickup on a frontage road with this load. This driver is probably going to break down these pallets for firewood. We all thought it looked pretty funny. As we travel we are communicating with each other using CB radios so we always know what's happening with each other and are often pointing out something amusing that we see.

Ralph had already picked out a Passport America RV park where we planned to stay the night. So while Gwen and I sat in the Cracker Barrel parking lot waiting for the others to arrive, I called and became a member.

Ralph picked an RV park about 70 miles from El Paso in the tiny town of Sierra Blanca which turns out to be the county seat of Hudspeth county. There is no grocery store or bank, just a couple of gas stations, cafes and this RV park. The fee to stay here is $20/night but half that with PPA. For that you get electricity, water and sewer. They advertise free WiFi but none of us could get it. They also reported their cable TV connection do not work. Vista RV Park in Sierra Blanca, Texas
County Court house for Hudspeth County We are sandwiched between Interstate 10 and two active railroad tracks. Well, "What do you want for $10?", is what everyone is saying. We have EVERY electrical appliance running including our electric heaters. The Hudspeth County Courthouse is to the left.
This first night in Texas is interesting to me because it is the first night we have acted like a "normal" traveling RVer in using Passport America and an "overnight" RV park. I think we would normally be looking for a "dry camp" location, not because we don't want to pay the $10 overnight fee but because we normally are able to find a dry camp location which is quiet. This park is entirely gravel with 33 sites very close to each other. Each site does have working electricity, water and sewer connections which makes it nice and it is relatively clean for a gravel, dusty park. Perhaps that alone makes it work the overnight fee. But, we are 100 yards from busy Interstate 10 on one side and 100 yards from a busy railroad crossing on the other side. I can't imagine ear plugs working well enough for this much noise but we'll know soon. What is MOST surprising to me is that by 19:30 the park is full. Apparently this park survives BECAUSE OF Passport America. I can't imagine someone choosing this park from a directory for any reason than the member gets a 50% discount. So this is what the "normal" RV traveler does, traveling from one RV park to the next. I expect to use Passport America more as we travel east and I'll have a better idea of what "normal" is but if it is always like THIS, I would consider "hanging up my wheels". If you don't know the kind of travel we are use to, just check back through our archive.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011: You won't see THAT sign (photo on the right) in Oregon. I've never seen a speed limit that high but I've never driven in Texas before. Last year we entered New Mexico on March 1 but this year it's Texas. The ear plugs last night helped to drown out the Interstate but did nothing for the trains. I lost count at the number of trains but I knew when each on passed through our living room. Still, I slept fairly well considering. We were up early because we knew we needed a good start to make our destination of Big Bend National Park, Texas. The town of Alpine, Texas was the closest city of any size from our little RV park in Sierra Blanca. I've not seen a speed limit of 80mph before driving in Texas. I wonder if other states have a speed limit that high? You certainly won't see that in Oregon. Be sure to click the photos below for additional views. When we reached Alpine, Texas, we crossed into the Central Time Zone. You won't see THIS in Oregon!
At a west Texas picnic area Texas has many "picnic areas", at least along the road we were traveling. These have picnic tables but no restrooms (so not "rest areas" but "picnic areas"). We stopped here on the way to Alpine.
In this photo we are only about 30 miles from the Big Bend National Park border. The feeling we get as we drive further south is that we are driving into the middle of "no-where". Our little caravan of three fifth wheels stay in touch using CB radios. We arrived at the national park boundary at 15:00 hours but we were still 46 miles from the nearest campground. We learned at the entrance station we would fit into the Rio Grande Village Campground but the "full-hook-up" RV park was full. Good thing we weren't looking for "full-hook-ups". The fee to enter the park is $20 but our Senior Access passes got us entered for FREE. Our little caravan driving toward Big Bend National Park
Camped in Rio Grande Village Campground space #59 After driving around the campground a couple of times, we were all able to camp within close walking distance to each other. We are in space 59 with lots of open space around us, grass for Morgan. It was in the 80s when we arrived. We were told by two park employees that coyotes frequent the park so we should keep Annie (our cat) inside. We'll try, but Annie usually finds a way to do whatever she wants.

Friday, March 4, 2011: This was another busy day with cycling and hiking near the Rio Grande River. After the activities I scored student assignments and planned to bring this Webpage up-to-date but my computer overheated and would not work properly so I must wait for another day to post photos of Big Bend National Park. We are moving early tomorrow morning so hitching up must happen tonight. There's no time to fool with the Webpage.

While exploring the Chisos Basin, where the mountains are located, we dined at the only lodge in the park, the Chisos Basin Lodge. The waiter was kind enough to take our photo just before the food arrived. The lodge windows are facing "The Window" in the mountains so we enjoyed the view as well as the food.

Chisos Basin Lodge dining
Marathon Coffee in Marathon, Tx March 5, 2011: This was a moving day so I was not expecting to have time to set up the Internet but Ralph couldn't get his to work on Verizon so I took the time to set mine up. Our day began with a breakfast at the Marathon Coffee house in Marathon, Texas, 85 miles from our campsite in Big Bend. The waitress treated us well and told us about the little town of Marathon. A couple of large ranches provide jobs as well as tourism to the National Park helps keep the town going too. She must get asked questions all the time but was very good at answering as if we were the first to ask the questions. It was very cold this morning so we all had to change into warmer clothes when we arrived in Marathon.
As we drove east on Texas 90 we stopped in Langtry, Texas to visit the Judge Roy Bean museum and an official Texas visitor's center. We all picked up a bundle of brochures and booklets about the things to do in the cities we plan to visit in Texas. Our next goal is to get to Corpus Christi to stay a few days on the beach facing the gulf of Mexico. It sounds "romantic" but some have told us that the blowing sand can make it uncomfortable. I guess we'll have to experience it first hand. We didn't take the time to learn much about Judge Roy Bean, I guess we'll have to read up about him in Wikipedia. We ended our day at the Amistad National Recreation Area near Del Rio, Texas. We are right on the water. What a surprise to find this amount of water in DRY western Texas. There was a breeze when we arrived blowing right off the water into our campsite so it felt like camping on the ocean. We aren't disconnecting the truck and aren't even rolling out all three slides. We are just using this as a one-night stop over then on tomorrow to do laundry, grocery shopping and working our way toward Corpus Christi. Our conversations as we drove toward Del Rio centered around the dryness of the desert around us. The locals tell us they've had no rain since August and even Arizona and New Mexico did not look as dry as what we are seeing here. The towns are about 60 miles apart according to the locals because the early trains needed water about every 60 miles. We did see an Amtrak pass us so the tracks are still in use today. Tomorrow we expect to reach the Escapee park in Hondo, Texas.
Judge Roy Bean Museum in Langtry, TX Amistad National Recreation Area near Del Rio, TX
Sunday, March 6, 2011: This was another travel day but for short milage, about 100 miles. We arrived at the Lone Star Corral RV Park near Hondo, Texas right at noon. We chose to stop early to take care of grocery shopping, laundry, refueling and truck washing. Gwen and Dick are checking in for spaces. Dick and Ralph chose $15 spaces with full hook up while Gwen and I chose a $5 boondock site. This is an Escapee park so part of our club. After lunch, Gwen cleaned the trailer while I did the laundry. This park has front load washers which are far superior to top loaders. They use 1/3 the water and spin the clothes very dry so drying is faster also. Checking at at the Lone Star
Laundry Day Click either of the photos for a different view. This is a very nice park with friendly folks (as are most Escapee parks). Since this is Sunday, we were able to enjoy their 6 pm ice cream social for 50¢ per scoop. What a treat! After the ice cream social the folks enjoyed bingo using playing cards. We did not join in because we were all too tired and too much to do. Our plan is to leave early in the morning to complete our trip to Corpus Christi since it is only 200 miles to our campsite.
Monday, March 7, 2011: Moving day again. This time to our final destination on the Texas Gulf Coast. We drove through Corpus Christi then crossed the bridge to Padre Island. Instead of turning south toward South Padre Island National Park we turned north to Mustang Island for about 12 miles onto the Port Aransas City Beach. We watched the beach access road numbers count down until we reached "road 1" where we turned to meet our friends, Bob and Bobbie who where already parked here. Click the photo to see our access to the beach and our first view of the Gulf of Mexico. We drove onto the beach and in only a short distance, our friend's motor home came into view. This was far MORE than we were expecting. Crossing onto Padre Island
Camping on Port Aransas City Beach Walking Morgan in the surf
Gwen, Morgan and Ralph hiking in the surf We are only a few feet from the Gulf. More good news, the annual beach permit is only $12 so our campsite is virtually free. We have a full fresh water tank and empty holding tanks so we planned to stay about ten days but Gwen and the others like what they see and feel so they are talking about staying much longer. I'd say Morgan agrees with them. We finished the day by setting up then sitting in our lawn chairs enjoying the Gulf view. We even got out the binoculars to watch the shipping lanes. There was a fisherman and his wife just in front of us so we watched him pulling in fish from surf fishing. They weren't small fish. Gwen fixed a great pizza for dinner then we all took a hike down the beach in the dark. One nice thing, the surf is load enough to drown out any generators that might be working. After listening to trains all night last night, listening to the surf will be a fresh relief. Be sure to click each photo to see other beach scenes. We have much to do before we leave Corpus Christi.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011: Today was a gray day, solid overcast skies until 15:00. It was a day all of us needed to figure out our life on the beach. We drove into the island town of Port Aransas to purchase propane, find a UPS store and look for some hardware items. By the time we returned it was time for lunch... then the after lunch nap. Ralph and I drove back to a small kite shop I found so I could purchase a missing spar for one of my kites. That brought us nearly to "happy hour" where I found Janet giving Dick a haircut. The humidity was at 90% most of the day so we all feel damp and we've noticed a sheet of paper just "falls limp". The overcast should be less tomorrow with clear skies the last of the week. At least, we all hope so. Spring break seems to be a big event around here because all the businesses are advertising to draw the spring break crowd. We suspect this beach will be different next week. Haircut on the beach
Our first beach gear store Wednesday, March 9, 2011: What a great day on the ocean in Texas. We began the day by driving to downtown Port Aransas to visit a few of the beach gear shops. There are many of them and most seem to have the same inventory. That would be many T-shirt styles, all colors and prints, all beach gear like sand buckets, molds, spades and beads, charms, hats, plus lots of souvenirs. The first shop had an entrance through the mouth of a shark. Must be a photo opportunity. Be sure to click the photo for a close up. After a few hours of shopping we were hungry. We went looking for a restaurant with a view and found Fins on the Corpus Christi shipping canal. As it happens, Wednesday is all you can eat Catfish at Fins. Five out of six in our group has Catfish. After lunch we visited fishing shops looking for Fireline fishing line so the girls could use it for making jewelry. Now it was nap time so we came back to our campsite. However, while others relaxed, I got out one of my single line kites and staked it out with a couple of large spikes. Then out set up my two line stunt kite and flew it for a while.
Watching the ships in the channel during lunch Teaching Ralph how to fly a two line stunt kite

About this time, Ralph joined me and I taught him how to fly a stunt kite. The kite I was flying was my first kite to buy. It's a tough little beginner kite made for training the flyer. Ralph flew it for about 30 minutes and crashed it a few times too. The sand buffered the crash and this kite took it and was ready to fly again in seconds. I also got out by parafoil kite. It's a lot of fun to fly, especially in the kind of wind we had today. It gives the flyer a good workout with a heavy pull in a strong wind. Ralph's making good progress and he'll probably have to have a kite of his own soon.

Meanwhile, Gwen is enjoying the afternoon sun, drinking a diet soda, watching Ralph and I fly kites and reading her nook. No doubt she is enjoying this day as much as Ralph and I.

Be sure to click the photos for additional views.

Meanwhile, Gwen is  watching the kite action, drinking a diet soda and reading her nook.
Riding the free ferry to the mainland Thursday, March 10, 2011: We spent a special day touring the USS Lexington, a WWII aircraft carrier kept active until the early 90s. We traveled the free ferry between Port Aransas and Aransas Pass, only 1/4 mile but a bridge is impossible because the access would reach too far into Port Aransas. Take a look at the photo of the bridge tower. A Japanese flag is located on the right about half way. This is the location of a Kamikaze attack which killed 50 and injured more than 130 sailors. The tour began on the hanger deck under the flight deck. We followed the tour signs which led to the engine room far below the upper decks. This took us past the mess haul, dental, doctor, pharmacy, post office and finally to the engine room. Be sure to click the photos for additional views.
Our first view of the USS Lexington A great view of the bridge. Notice the Japanese flag on the right side of the bridge tower.
Gwen visits the on-board dental office Investigating the bridge
A view while on the bridge of the Lexington with Corpus Christi in the background A view of the tower bridge with the 5" guns in front
Dale tries out the quad 40mm anti-aircraft guns Part of the tour was the viewing of a large format movie. In this case, we viewed the exploration of Lewis and Clark, 1804 - 06. There were many exhibits plus hands-on activities like sitting at and aiming the quad 40 mm anti-aircraft guns in the photo to the left. Behind the photo of Gwen on the bridge above is a photo of the engine room controls. My father spent WWII in the engine room of the USS Amesbury, a destroyer escort so I thought the photo might be of interest to him. This exhibit is called the "Museum on the Bay" and gave me and the rest of us the chance to get the feeling of what it might be like to live aboard an aircraft carrier during WWII.
Friday, March 11, 2011: Knowing we were coming to Corpus Christi area I picked a small town from the map to have some General Delivery mail sent to us. I should have picked Port Aransas but not knowing the area, I picked Robstown. It turned out to be just the right size town with a nice post office but about an hour from our campsite on Port Aransas City Beach. Two of the three pieces of mail had arrived but NOT the third so I left a forwarding to General Delivery at Port Aransas. I hope that's not kite surfer in the bay between Corpus Christi and Mustang Island
the "kiss of death" for my third piece of mail. While traveling to find my mail I saw this kite surfer working in the Corpus Christi Bay. You saw that I like to fly a parafoil kite. Kite surfers also use parafoil kits for surfing. This one is probably 5 - 6 times larger than my kite so it would take expert handling. I have enough problems controlling a kite while standing on solid ground. I can't imagine controlling it while skimming the water on a surf board. This guy was obviously having a lot of fun and flying very fast over the surface of the water. He was able to move both with the wind and then back again using the kite as a tow. I'll bet there were times he was actually OFF the surface of the water during a wind gust. I'd have to learn to do this if I were 25 year younger. I'll stick to flying on the ground for now. Click the photo to enlarge. Today was the best the weather is predicted to be for the next week. We haven't run our generator yet and finally got a full charge today because we stayed OFF using power most of the day and evening. With clouds moving in, we may have to resort to the generator soon.
Capt Clarks Harbor Tours Saturday, March 12, 2011: Eight Escapee Chapter 37 members, Bob, Bobbie, Dick, Mary Ellen, Ralph, Janet, Gwen and Dale took the Capt. Clark Harbor Dusk Tour to see the Corpus Christi Harbor from the water. After departing, Capt. Clark took us near the USS Lexington which we toured a couple of days ago. It was impressive to see the Lexington from the water. We also got a special treat getting to see a coast guard patrol boat returning from duty. In a previous life, I created a Christmas Card for the coast guard headquarters. The photo they sent me to create the card was one of these boats in the ocean breakers just off the coast of Oregon where the Columbia River enters the Pacific. This area has some of the largest natural wave action on the Pacific coast. It was a great photo and a beautiful card for a special purpose. After viewing the Lexington, the Captain took us out into the bay, apparently to give us a skyline view of the city as the sun sets in the west.
Corpus Christi skyline as the harbor tour departs Coast Guard boat returning from harbor duty
After our harbor tour, we all tried Ichiban, a Japanese buffet with lots of high ratings on Yelp. We all enjoyed the buffet, lots of unusual food to try. Be sure to click each photo for another view. Corpus Christi sunset skyline
Dick from Iowa flying a sport kite

Sunday, March 13, 2011: A local kite club met today at Roberts Point Park. The newspaper described the meeting as educational and as an exhibit. As it turned out, there were about a dozen people flying kites but all the good kites were flown by one man, Dick from Iowa. In the photo, Dick is flying a two line sport kite with a tail that's about 150 feet long. Dick comes Iowa to get steady winds. Half the kites on the field belonged to Dick, and for sure, all the good ones. Dick let me fly this kite. It was good to compare the feel of this kite with my own kites. I've never flown a two line kite with any tail so it made the experience new to me. Dick was not afraid to rotate the kite quickly as many as 12 rotations and back again. I didn't have that kind of courage ... just a few rotations for me. Dick would count the rotations, then count them back again. "If I lose count, I just work it out." Dick explained.

Dick, Bob and Ralph came along to view the kites. We all got hungry at the same time so headed to Fins for their lunch special of shrimp enchiladas, mmm... good.

Click the photo to see an overview of the field.

On our way to lunch at Fins we passed a deep sea boat returning with its customers and catch. Apparently, the staff spreads the catch in front of the sign for photographs. I'm not sure why they hosed down the fish before the photos. A catch from a deep sea fishing trip just docking
Our beach looking toward the Gulf of Mexico Monday, March 14, 2011: This is a great photo Ralph took of our beach facing the Gulf of Mexico. Except for the noise of the surf, what a nice quiet location ... except during SPRING BREAK week. Starting last Saturday, the high school and college age kids showed up on the beach by the thousands. The local merchants have been counting the days until their arrival. The local newspaper published photos of the local grocery story increasing their beer inventory for the week. There are signs in the town welcoming the "Spring Breakers". For those of us camped on the beach, we must endure endless (mostly) pickup truck traffic with music amplified enough the whole trailer vibrates. The pickup bed is full of screaming kids. Fortunately, most of the
crowd is about a mile from us but it grows down the beach until it's directly across from us for at least part of the day. We keep saying it will stop at the end of the week, I hope we can wait that long. Click the photo to see what I'M TALKING ABOUT.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011: Today was a "utilities" day. When we moved here a week ago, I noticed one trailer tire was 10 lbs less in pressure than the other three for no reason that I knew of. I knew this because of my Pressure Pro tire pressure monitor system. After parking here for a week, I checked the pressure and the tire was continuing to lose air. I took the tire to Discount Tire today and they repaired it for free. There was a nail in the tread. While waiting for the tire repair, I did some shopping errands. I ended in a residential area and noticed better than half the houses had installed these metal shutters on the windows. Some where closed giving a flat, solid surface. My assumption is the Notice the metal shutters on this window
shutters were installed to protect against hurricane force winds and the debris which they pick up and throw between the houses. After returning from Discount Tire, having lunch, then installing the wheel, we took our laundry to the local laundromat and did not return until early evening. This is finals week at RCC so I will likely be scoring final exams tomorrow.
It's the worst yet, today. Wednesday, March 16, 2011: The weather improved so the beach filled. This photo was actually taken about 15:00 BEFORE the beach REALLY filled with bumper to bumper beach cruisers as well as double and triple parking on both sides of the cruisers. Try to imagine not only the noise of the surf but of horns, high engine RPM (spinning in the sand is popular with the cruisers) plus highly amplified music with super amplified base. Today, the crowd did not go "home" when the sun went
down. So why aren't we leaving. Well, I vote for leaving. Gwen, Ralph and Janet think we can outlast the beach party. I think the party will actually be worst tomorrow (predicted to be even warmer than today) and grow worse as the weekend approaches with the worst day to be Saturday. I'm not sure how it could be worse except for the beach cruisers coming to a complete halt. There are no portable toilets in our section of the beach so we continually have the beach party in the dunes behind our trailer to relieve themselves. We have already learned that the RVs parked on this side of the beach are virtually invisible to the beach party. They don't see us nor do they see anything around our RV (like my satellite wires leading to the satellite dish). Fortunately, the dish has not been disturbed yet but if tomorrow is worse, that could change. Click the photo to enlarge.
Thursday, March 17, 2011: For those who have never seen a spring break at the beach (like us), one of the biggest attractions for Spring Break at the beach is the use of Mardi Gras beads to reward young ladies for showing their boobs. That seems to be the primary purpose of cruising the beach. Cars and trucks hang Mardi Gras beads from rear view mirrors and swing them out the windows encouraging the ladies along the route to run to the car/truck, flash their boobs and receive the beads. It works. All the beer consumed at the beach helps. Click the photo to see a close up of the Mardi Gras beads. Beads for boobs
Lauguna Shore Village RV Park Friday, March 18, 2011: We've been driven from our beach front camping. We all looked at spring break as a challenge and swore we weren't going to let the "kids" drive us from the beach. After all, there is only two days left and we've lasted six days already. We've put up with bumper to bumper beach cruisers, loud (base amplified) rap music, screaming, horns, trash all over the beach every morning, spinning tires throwing sand everywhere, party time past midnight and more.
What finally drove us out was theft. It started on Wednesday night, someone took a case of bottled water we had stored under our trailer. We excused that $4 theft. But this morning Bob and Bobbie lost a patio chair (two were taken but we found one about 1/4 mile down the beach). There was also evidence that they had tried to get into their storage compartments. We found that the kids had rummaged through two of our storage rubbermaid bins and had taken all our wooden blocks we used to level our trailer (for firewood). We had already been told by the crew cleaning up the beach that the worst was to happen tonight and Saturday. Knowing that, Bob, Bobbie, Ralph, Janet, Gwen and I left the beach figuring the next thing might be damage to our trailer and/or tow vehicles. We did not go far, about 25 miles to the Laguna Shore Village RV Park in an area between Corpus Christi and Mustang Island (where we were) called Flour Bluff. We were ready to move anywhere to just get off the beach. Fortunately, Bobbie did all the work and found the RV Park for only $25/night for full hookups. It may actually take us a couple of days to clean all the sand out of everything and off both the trailer and truck. Beach camping was great for the first four days (although I'm not sure I would return due to the sand all over everything and everything of raw steel rusting). You definitely don't want to be on the beach during spring break. We celebrated by going to the Laguna Reef Restaurant less than a mile from our RV park, a local seafood restaurant.
Sunday, March 20, 2011: We had great plans for today, clipping Morgan, Morgan bath, wash the truck, shop for repair tool for the Anemometer, Hobby Lobby shopping and more. However, we got caught watching the BNP Parabas Tennis Tournament in Indian Wells, CA final. One of our favorite tennis stars was in the final, Rafael Nadal. Unfortunately Novak Djokovic beat him for to win the event. All the tennis greats were in Indian Wells, we even considered trying to attend next year. We had a special treat since we are using this RV park's cable TV connection. We are getting about 90 channels with 15 of those in HD (high definition). The clarity of the tennis match was outstanding. It made the viewing much more enjoyable. Anyway, Morgan DID get a trim and a shampoo. She needed to be cleaned as much as the trailer and truck. Rafael Nadal at the BNP Parabas
Watch for Snakes ... you don't see this sign in Oregon

Wednesday, March 23, 2011: Today was moving day from the Texas coast to San Antonio. Be sure to read Gwen's reflection on camping on the beach. It started out as "romantic" but soon turned awful when the spring break kids arrived. However, more than that, the salt spray has rusted everything. Gwen explains it well.

On the way to San Antonio, we stopped at a rest area and were greeted with two of these "snake warning signs". I had to take the photo because I've not seen them before. I'd expect them in the swamps of Lousiana but not 30 miles from San Antonio. The maintenance person told me they found three here last year.

We arrived at the Braunig Lake RV Resort a little after noon. I immediately plugged in and turned on the air conditioning. Then I set up my satellite dish even though the park has WIFI and cable TV. I couldn't make WIFI at the last park work for me so I needed to make sure I had contact this time. It worked. Be sure to click the photo to see our space at the resort.

Janet and Gwen decided they wanted to visit Costco. It was to be our first visit in a couple of months. We didn't need much but had our rebate check to cash.

Thursday, March 24, 2011: For the first time for all of us, we learned to use a Segway and joined a SegCity tour of downtown San Antonio. These are high tech transportation vehicles (and expensive). You lean forward to move forward, backward to stop, swing the arm in the direction you wish to turn. It's that simple except there is a short learning curve. We all did well. Joseph, our tour guide, took us to several historic sites in downtown San Antonio. He took photos along the way then posted them to the SegCity Facebook page. We saw the cathedral where memorials are located for the battle of the Alamo. The red, sandstone, Bexar County Courthouse was another destination. Joseph gave us a chance to really put the Segway to use. We spun around a courtyard, I took a photo of Gwen having fun and she took a photo of me. The last site we visited was the Tower of the Americas built for the 1968 World's Fair. It's the second highest tower in the US. Later, we returned to take advantage of a free ride to the top of the tower. Joseph told us to go to the bar at the top of the tower between 4 and 7 pm for happy hour. The ride to the top is free for happy hour. Once at the top, we got a great view of the city. I ordered a soft drink while Gwen ordered water so you don't have to spend a lot on drinks once you're at the top. This was a great end to a fun day in San Antonio. Be sure to click the photo for additional views. Ralph and Gwen learning to use the Segway for a tour of downtown San Antonio
In front of the cathedral, behind, in front of the courthouse Gwen on her Segway, behind, Dale enjoying the Segway
In front of the Tower of the Americas, behind, in front of the Alamo How to get a free ride to the top of the Tower
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