Westward HO, pt.3

We battled the freeway traffic around and through the western suburbs of Chicago to Hawthorne Woods and the home of niece Renee’ and this is where we will spend the next few days visiting family. They have a very large driveway and parking area next to their home so we were able to park the 5th wheel there. Renee’s husband, Joe, is the mayor of Hawthorne Woods and was able to get us a permit to park there. We also took them up on their invitation to stay with them so we did not have to worry about hook-ups for the RV for a few days. It was a bit of a challenge backing into the drive but we slowly got it done with no problems.

Those who know us are aware how much we enjoy major league baseball. Joe got tickets to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and the 4 of us made a day of it. Mary and I both have been to games at Wrigley many years ago and it is a favorite park for us. Great day with really nice people.

The following day I played golf with Joe & Renee’ at one of their favorite courses. Mary has an issue with her shoulder and couldn’t play, so she went with another niece, Kismet, to the hospital to meet Kismet’s new granddaughter. That evening we all got together for a fantastic dinner out and we finally met Michelle, Renee’s twin, and her husband, Carl. Beautiful ending to a super day.

Leaving the next day, we couldn’t help but marvel at how awesome are all four girls – Deanna, Kismet, Renee’, and Michelle. We are definitely looking forward to seeing them again as soon as possible.

We left Hawthorne Woods late morning heading west toward Wisconsin and South Dakota. We usually like to drive only 200-225 miles in a day so as not to get too tired out. Some RVers brag about how they drive 400+ miles in a day – not us. We try to plan ahead and with the help of RV trip planning software, we put together a loose route and schedule. This gets us where we are going and also gives us time along the way to “smell the roses”. That being said we pushed our schedule a bit and got to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, quickly so that Mary could renew her driver license. We obtained South Dakota residency when we first came out on the road almost 5 years (5 YEARS?) for tax reasons, and we have to return every 5 years for renewal. I will do mine next spring.

We headed south from Sioux Falls, through Nebraska and were shocked to see the flooding that has turned many farms into small oceans – water as far as you can see in many places. So sad! Farming is a crap-shoot anyway and to have to recoup from all this loss has to be devastating for these farmers. I hope there is some relief available from federal, state and local agencies.

We continued through Nebraska, and on into Kansas, staying in Liberal. We visited the Wizard of OZ museum, complete with Dorothy’s house, museum and gift shop. What might have once been a good idea is now run down and sadly in need of some TLC. The live Dorothy is native American and the museum/gift shop is largely pictures and testimony to the native American past.

The next day saw us stopping in Tucumcari, New Mexico, which is on the original Route 66, the Mother Road. Once again, the town has seen better days but if you use your imagination, the town’s hayday can almost be seen. There is a neat little Route 66 gift shop on the main drag, owned by a nice lady who has been there long enough to know what the town and Route 66 was like before the Interstates took over. She really does have everything you could imagine in the way of Route 66 memorabilia. Most of the other stores are focused on native American items. The town is pretty much dying but there are some there trying to hang on. Sad.

Leaving Tucumcari we headed for Albuquerque and the fabled home of Walter White (Breaking Bad). We didn’t bother driving past the house that was used in the show since the residents there get too much of that already. We did take a drive to the VLA site on the Plains of San Agustin. VLA stands for Very Large Array of radio telescopes. They have 27 huge dishes spread out along a Y shaped track, each arm being 23 miles long. This was a very interesting and impressive stop for us. They show a video of how the V LA was built and used, allow a self guided tour and have a nice gift shop where Mary could buy a hat pin. All in all well worth the drive out to it.

The next day we took the RailRunner train to Santa Fe to see the capitol. Their capitol building is known as the “Round House” and was filled with quite a lot of outstanding local artwork in addition to the government offices. As for Santa Fe itself, it seemed to be largely an expensive place for tourists, with a generous helping of street-people thrown in.

Traveling west from Albuquerque we set or sites on the town of Winslow, Arizona. Yep, the town made famous by the song “Takin’ it easy”. Actually, our objective was Meteor Crater, and we stayed at the Meteor Crater RV park, a few miles west of Winslow. The raised rim of the crater could be seen from the park, only a mile away. Meteor Crater was the destination of the alien in the movie “Starman” so I was anxious to see it. Tourists are permitted to walk around on the rim but not go down into the crater. Totally awe inspiring to see! They had a video which let viewers “fly” down into the crater. Of course they had a nice gift shop.

The next day we drove into Winslow to, of course, “stand on the corner”, take pictures and visit the souvenir shops. At lunchtime, surprisingly there was not much selection for a place to eat, so we walked to the La Posada Inn and were pleasantly surprised. This beautiful hotel was resurrected from an old train station and the owner, an artist, filled it with many of her works. They did a wonderful job and turned it into possibly the best reason to visit Winslow.

Continuing our trek, we spent the night in Wickenburg, Arizona, then on to Rio Bend Golf & RV Resort in El Centro, California, our home for the next 6 months. I will go into our stay at Rio Bend in another post but the next post will detail some of the problems we encountered on the trip from Cape Hatteras to El Centro.

Westward, Ho pt.2

The trip from Atlanta to Cleveland, Tennessee, was short and easy. This was major stop #2 for us to visit our long-time good friends Buck and Leslie.

We have known them ever since we were in the golf business and we always look forward to seeing them. We timed our visit for the weekend so they would both be free to visit.

On Saturday, Mary went with Leslie drove to Knoxville to attend the funeral for her half-brother. This gave them some “girl time” and also was an opportunity to see some old friends.

Buck and I took this time to play some golf at his course, the Cleveland Country Club. I have played here before and always enjoy the course and the great guys Buck finds to fill out our foursome. We didn’t exactly set the course on fire with our play but we did have a super time.

Sunday was a special treat for us when they took us for a boat ride on Lake Chickamauga. They keep it there at a marina so it was a pretty simple process for Captain Buck to get it in the water. We spent more than an hour up and down much of the lake, and it was truly a relaxing afternoon for us.

As much as we would have loved spending more time with our dear friends, we had to leave Cleveland to continue our trek westward. Next stop, Lexington, KY, home of horses, horses, and more horses. Pretty countryside, we used a couple days to regroup and relax. Traveling with the 5th wheel can be a bit of a tension builder, especially after almost 5 years on the road. Occasionally we use a stop for nothing more than a little R&R.

We stayed at a park designed around those folks who come to this area for the horses and while it was okay, it was without any of the normal amenities like tv, wifi, pool, etc. We did however get to tour the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort and got to see how bourbon is distilled. This is a very precise and detailed process that takes quite a bit of time to get a first-rate product.

Our next major stop will be near Chicago to visit family. Mary has 4 wonderful nieces who, through no fault of her own, she had lost contact with many years ago. Gradually reunions have taken place and while in the Chicago area we hope to get together with all of them at once. We are really excited!

Westward, Ho!

We left Camp Hatteras early the morning of August 31st and in hindsite, it was pretty good timing.  About 4 days later Hatteras and Okracoke Island were pretty much ground zero for hurricane Dorian. Talking with friends who stayed (they have a house there), both islands took a lot of wind and water.  There was a mandatory evacuation in force for visitors along with a recommended evac for residents.  Just prior to landfall all electricity was cut off to the islands and the bridges to the mainland were closed, so anyone remaining was completely shut off from leaving and on their own.  Scary stuff!  3 people died because of Dorian: one 61 year old man was caught in the storm-created rip current and drowned; one man fell off a ladder preparing for Dorian while a second died in a chainsaw accident, cleaning up afterwards.  Due to clear, advance planning, there were no other deaths, but lots of wind and water damage.  The island was without power and services for about a week and fortunately our friends made it through in good shape.

Four and a half months on Hatteras was long enough and we were ready to move on with our travels, the “Wander Gene” kicking in.  Leaving Hatteras before the chickens woke up, we stopped in Columbia, NC, for breakfast and a brief stroll downtown and along the river.  Cute little town. We try to do this as much as possible when we travel.  We also try to limit our daily mileage to around 250 miles or less.  On days we drive farther, we will spend 2 nights or more at our next destination to recharge.  Also we generally try to stop for a stretch break every couple hours and usually don’t go over 60 MPH on the highway.  Heck, what’s the rush?  We’re retired!

Our first night we stayed in a campground near Mebane, NC, then traveled on to Piedmont, SC, for a couple nights.  On the way we stopped in Belmont, NC, to visit their Daniel Stowe Botanical gardens. It was nice but we agreed we liked the gardens in Grand Rapids (Meijer Gardens) and Des Moines, IA better. The extra night allowed us to visit Greenville, SC, for the day.  Their downtown has been revitalized around Falls Park, a beautiful park overlooking a falls area on the Reedy river. Lunch in a French-style bistro overlooking the river, the falls and the Liberty Bridge, gave us the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Reaching Atlanta on September 3rd, we were warmly greeted by our nephew Mike and his wife, Meg.  It doesn’t seem possible that it has been some 30 years since we saw them last!  We could not find a decent RV park anywhere near them, however Mike arranged to allow us to park our rig in the little used parking lot of their HOA swimming pool. Perfect!  No hookups but they have a beautiful guest room that we stayed in, giving the RV a rest.

What a great time we had with them, catching up on family, and getting to meet their daughter, Kelly, her husband Nick, and their 2 really neat kids, Jacob & Katie.  Unfortunately, their son, Chris (the globetrotter!) was not in town while we were there so we will have to catch up with him on  the next trip.  Actually I have met Chris before, but he only weighed about 9 pounds so an update is in order.

Our 2 primary objectives in visiting Atlanta were to take in the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, and the much talked-about Georgia Aquarium.  Neither one of them disappointed us.

The Carter Library, like most of the other Presidential Museums we have visited (only 4 to go!) was very impressive.  I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan of Jimmy Carter when he was president, but seeing how good a person he was and is, plus the magnitude of great accomplishments he had while in office and how he continues to serve, makes me see him in a whole new light.  Every visit to both the official and un-official libraries has given Mary and me a stronger sense of our country’s history, and the immense challenge they must meet every day.

The aquarium was similar to others we have visited, but they have a large glass “tube” to walk through where sea animals like the huge whale shark, really large grouper and thousands of other fish of all shapes, sizes and colors swam over our heads and around us.  They also have a couple rooms with tall floor to ceiling glass, looking out at these beautiful creatures.  We both enjoyed the aquarium.

Our last night there, we went to dinner with Mike, Meg, Nick, Kelly, Jacob and Katie.  The most enjoyable night we have had in awhile and we look forward to seeing them again. 

Tomorrow we head for Tennessee.

Summer’s End

Well, here we go again.  We are getting toward the end of our summer and preparing to head out for new adventures.  Our summer on OBX has been very interesting – warm and windy, but interesting.

We finally made it to Hatteras Point, where the warm and cool currents meet.  The actual point was fenced off until later in the summer because it was being used as a seabird nesting area, but we could get close.  Pretty cool sight!

Last month we went up to Richmond for my annual VA physical.  As we try to do in many cities we took Uber into the city for dinner at a great NC barbecue restaurant and walked around the Riverwalk area.  They are trying to revive the downtown area like so many cities are doing lately, combining modern shops and restaurants with some of Richmond’s history.  All along the walk they displayed historical references to the once thriving canal trade and the slave trail.  This has been a recurring theme for us, all through the South.  This was an era that is thankfully in our past but needs to be remembered.

The next day we went to Petersburg, staying a a small hotel in an area of the city that also is in the throes of renovation.  It is still very much a work in progress but the city’s nightlife is starting to return.  Mary and I were able to walk a short distance to an Italian restaurant that had seating in an outdoor courtyard.  There we had a nice, quiet, romantic dinner, afterward walking around as the nightlife started to come alive.

When we first came to OBX we crossed a long bridge that passed through the northern end of Roanoke island.  We have gone back to Roanoke several times, the first time to have lunch and walk around the quaint downtown of Manteo.  On our return visit a few weeks later, we stopped at the Fort Raleigh National Historical Site.  This site tells the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, the inhabitants of which mysteriously disappeared without a trace sometime between 1587 & 1590.  There are plays depicting the mystery and much of the town of Manteo refers to it.

Our 3rd trip to Roanoke took us to the southern end of the island to the fishing village of Wanchese.  It is a very small village with not too much in the way of a “downtown” but the drive was scenic and we had about the best seafood lunch yet at a place called Oneal’s.  As a side note, Manteo and Wanchese were names of 2 native leaders who made the trip back to England and were greeted by Sir Walter Raleigh, thus being the first immigrants from the New World.

We are scheduled to leave Hatteras at the end of this month for our next trip.  For about 5 weeks we will travel to Atlanta, Cleveland, TN, Chicago, Mitchell, SD, Albuquerque, NM, Boulder City, NV, finally stopping for the winter in southern California.  Our anticipated plan is to stay out west for a year or so, seeing California, Oregon, Washington, and parts of western Canada.  We can hardly wait!

Life on a Sandbar

The Outer Banks stretches some 200 miles from northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore starting with Bodie (pronounced “body”) and extending about 70 miles to Ocracoke Island.  Its’ width varies from about 3.5 miles at Buxton to a couple hundred yards in places.  Cape Hatteras is served by a single, 2-lane highway, NC Hwy 12, which can be a challenge during high season from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Houses and most businesses are built on stilts to lift them above the water in times of flood.  The entire cape is really just a sandbar.  A water sports, fishing, sun-worshipping, kite-boarding, beach-walking paradise but on a really cool sandbar.

About half way down is the town of Rodanthe where we are spending the summer at Camp Hatteras.  Approximately 100 yards east of our RV is the Atlantic Ocean which we can hear almost constantly, while about the same distance to our west is Pamlico Sound.  The mainland of North Carolina is roughly 30 miles across the sound, so we don’t see land in either direction.  We do get beautiful sunrises and awesome sunsets on an almost daily basis.  The ocean has a lot of wave action owing to the tides so we see many surf-fishers and the catch seems to be pretty good.  The sound side is more protected and is much calmer.  Here we see dozens of kite-boarders making use of the never-ending breezes.  Definitely a water-lover’s playground.

Last week we drove to the southern end to the town of Hatteras Village to visit the Graveyard of the Atlantic museum.  The entire length of Cape Hatteras is the resting place of hundreds of shipwrecks, dating from as far back as our country’s early days until the present.  One of the first iron-clad warships, the Monitor, foundered and sank in a storm off the coast.  In WWII, German u-boats sank a large number of ships just of the coast. Since the water is only about 15-20 feet deep, the Hatteras coast is particularly treacherous.  There are several lighthouses standing vigil all up and down the cape, with some that the public are allowed to climb.

We stopped at the Hatteras light but did not climb it.  The museum nearby told the story of how the lighthouse was moved about 1,500 feet further inland when erosion threatened the original position.  Erosion is probably not a good word to use here.  Since Hatteras is a sandbar, the prevailing southwesterly wind tends to blow the sand westward, taking some from the eastern side and slowly moving it to the west.  They figure the new location of the lighthouse is safe in its’ new home for a long time to come.

Not far from the lighthouse is a really cool feature of nature on Hatteras Point.  This is where the cape is at its’ widest and it is shaped sort of like a dog-leg.  The waters off the point are where the cool Labrador Current flow from the north and the warmer Gulf Stream currents meet.  It’s possible to actually view where the 2 meet up and the fishing is supposed to be great here also.

So far we are enjoying our time here and will continue our story next time.

On to OBX 2

Vicksburg is a city that I would like to investigate a little deeper.  Site of a famous Civil War battlefield and steeped in history, there is a lot to see there.  Unfortunately we couldn’t get to the battlefield because of the rainy weather but we intend on coming back this way.  So we hunkered down, restocked some supplies. We also met some nice folks from Canada and were able to sit and have a beer with them.

We drove on to Heflin on the Georgia-Alabama line and stopped at a small park that was basically a gravel parking lot with rv hookups.  The real surprise, however, was the attached restaurant.  Great service and excellent food.  This leg of our trip was longer than usual at 352 miles.  We don’t usually go that far in a day, but we were trying to make up some lost time, so we were in bed early.

Off to Livingston, SC, the next day.  Nice park that was adjoining a flea market.  We walked over but they had decided to close early.  A couple booths were still set up and we hung around, looking at much the same stuff we see at the the other flea markets in Texas, Florida, etc.

One night in Livingston and we set out for Four Oaks, NC, our last stop before OBX.  We are really excited to return to the Outer Banks, Hatteras, Rodanthe and the rest of the area, but we wanted to take a couple days to decompress.  We lucked out and found the best Mexican restaurant we have been to in quite awhile.  The restaurants around Mercedes were good but El Sol of Four Oaks was exceptional!  Mary found out they had lengua (look it up) on the menu and they prepared fajitas using lengua and shrimp just for her!  A great way to end a day of relaxing.

Day 2 we went to Smithville, home of Ava Gardner, then checked out a local winery.  Got to give them an A for effort but the wines they had were not our taste.

Finally we arrived at Camp Hatteras, our home through the summer.  We spent a week here a couple years ago but it was late March, too early for most of the businesses.  We did go to the Wright Brothers museum and will make it a point to go back.  We intend to immerse ourselves in the local atmosphere, a combination of beach, fishing and history.  We are here and ready for summer.  Yeah, we miss our Minnesota friends a lot; the decision to come to Hatteras was difficult.  Our goal, however, is to travel more and get to the corners of this country we haven’t seen yet, while we still can.

Your homework is to watch (or rewatch) the movie “Nights in Rodanthe”.  FYI – pronounced RO-DAN-THE.

On to OBX

We rolled out of Mercedes on March 26th, heading for Waco with much anticipation about the Silos and Magnolia Market.  Magnolia is the creation of Joanna Gaines from the HG tv show, Fixer Upper. She and her husband, Chip, have done an incredible job of giving Waco a much needed shot in the arm economically.  Most people relate Waco with the tragedy that occurred with the Branch Dividians back in 1993, however lately most think of Fixer Upper or the Gaines’ when they think of Waco.

The store at the Silos was well done but we found it to be pretty expensive.  It was a beautiful store, well done but the merchandise was largely things you could buy elsewhere for a lot less.  Nothing really unique or that stated “I came from Magnolia”.  The experience of visiting it and the Silos was nice and I am glad we went there.

We also visited the Dr. Pepper plant and were amazed at the number of brands they own besides Dr. Pepper.  In addition, we toured a 111 year old beautiful Baptist church which was actually across the street from the Silos.  We were fortunate to find a docent named Roy, who gave us a private guided tour of the historic church.

We next went to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to visit cousins Deanna and Peter.  The last weekend in March was Peter’s birthday and Deanna went all out.  The festivities started at their house Friday night in Keller with a family get-together with their children and grandkids.  Deanna’s sister, Kismet and their step-mom, Patti.  Great family!

Saturday everyone met at Peter’s studio, Red Kitchen Foods, for a special evening of food, drink and charity.  Peter is a well-known gourmet chef and regularly does work for a local food bank.  The admission to the party was a shopping bag of food for the charity.  Great turn-out by all the family plus many of Peter’s friends.  A highlight of the evening for Mary was reuniting with another of Deanna’s sisters, Renee, whom she hasn’t seen in something like 50 years!  All the sisters are wonderful and have added a whole new dimension of life for Mary.  FYI – Peter’s company, Red Kitchen Foods, also produces and sells some of the best seasoning and condiments in Texas. Check them out!

Sunday morning, we went out for breakfast and when we were leaving the restaurant, our truck would not start.  We had it towed to a service garage where they diagnosed bad batteries (we have 2 in the truck).  After replacing the batteries and assuring us the charging system was working normally, we returned to our campground.  That afternoon Deanna had purchased a suite at the Rangers’ baseball stadium for act 3 of Peter’s birthday, so we joined the entire family for partying and baseball.  Unfortunately, the Cubs lost but it was a great game and the perfect end to the weekend.

The next day we headed east toward Atlanta and a planned several days with my nephew Mike and his wife Meg in Duluth, GA.  We got a far as Longview, TX, and the truck again broke down.  Fortunately we were able to get off the interstate before it shut down completely.  Since we were literally motionless on a 4 lane road, we first called 911 to get a police officer.  A few minutes later a patrolman showed up and got us towed to a Ford service garage.  Did I mention it was April 1st!  The garage determined our alternator was not working but would not be able to replace it until the next day, so we got a room and had dinner at Panera.  It was late the next day before we could get on the road again.  We made it as far as Monroe, LA, and found a campground.  Had a nice dinner and went to bed early, trying to put the stress behind us.  When we closed the living room slide we heard a brief grinding noise that turned out to be the slide cover binding, so the next day we found an RV service center close by and had the cover replaced. One more day of travel lost!

The lost travel days forced us to make some changes since we needed to be to the Outer Banks around the 10th, so we notified Mike & Meg that we would have to see them in the fall on our way west.  This was going to be one of our high points of the trip, to see them, visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and the Atlanta aquarium.  We hated to pass by but we will definitely stop in September.

The next morning we headed to Vicksburg, MS.

I will post more in a day or 2.

Heading East

We have had a pretty good winter, especially in comparison to the rest of the country.  A few nights in the 30s, some days in the 40s, but all in all it’s been pretty nice here in the Rio Grande Valley.  We aren’t completely sure we want to be “Winter Texans” permanently but there are definite advantages to the idea.  Between the cool weather, strong winds and an issue with Mary’s shoulder we were not able to play any golf.  We did get out to the  bay near Port Isabel for fishing and even though the fish were not biting, the boat trip was enjoyable.

In a little more than 2 weeks we will head out, this time to the outer banks (OBX) of North Carolina.  Mary and I were there a year and a half ago, and we want to return during nicer weather.  We plan to be there from about mid-April until after Labor Day which is the height of the tourist season.  The park we are going to be staying in has hired us to work reservations and at the front desk.  We are so looking forward to being on the water and some great seafood.

When we leave Mercedes our first stop will be Waco and a visit to Magnolia, the creation of Joanna Gaines of the Fixer Upper tv show.  Then off to Dallas to visit relatives for a couple days, continuing east through Atlanta and arriving at OBX around the middle of April.  The winter weather seems to be dragging on so we are hopeful of an uneventful trip.

Mercedes una mas tiempo

We arrived at Llano Grande RV Resort in Mercedes on October 28th and got settled in.  Our site is on the west end of the resort where it is nice and quiet.  The site is a bit small compared to where we were 3 years ago but we are making do.  I am again working in the I.T. department doing pretty much what I did before – helping residents with their cable TV and Internet problems.  The biggest difference this time is that I have fewer service calls each day.  This is due mainly to a change the park made in it’s I.T. manager.  The new manager, David, has worked in the Cable business for more than 38 years and he has done a super job of upgrading the quality of the entire system.  They offer each resident 115 tv channels, most of which are digital.  Llano Grande has always offered WiFi in a not so common way.  Most RV parks offer park-wide WiFi which usually is mediocre to poor in quality.  Here they give each resident their own cable modem which gives each one their own, private WiFi.  Quality is outstanding also with speeds of 50 to 75Mbps.  And every building has available WiFi, giving everyone Internet access wherever they are in the park.  We spend a great deal of our time replacing cables that were affected by the flood they had in June.  There were some 2 dozen homes destroyed by the water in one end of the park.  Rebuilding is painful but everyone is dealing with it and making good progress.

Mary is busy with making jewelry.  She has branched out to making chain maille pieces in addition to the beautiful bead pieces she has done for some time now.  She really has a great eye for colors and styles.  You can click this link to see some of what she has designed and made.  Maybe I am biased but I think they look beautiful!

We haven’t played any golf down here yet, in part due to the coolish weather we have been experiencing.  We hope to get out there soon though.

In a couple weeks we are planning to go to South Padre Island for some bay and/or gulf fishing.  The funky weather has kept the waters pretty stirred up but they are projecting that after the first of the year things will improve.

I will have another update in about a month.  In the meantime, everyone have a Merry Christmas and Best Wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Winter Texans Again

We finished our 3rd summer at Woodland Trails on September 16th, after a really nice 4 months. Mary’s diabetes seems to be at bay, due in part to her daily walks. She walks in the morning with Dawn and after dinner in the evening with Tom. Definitely helps. We will continue the walks when we get south.

We had a pretty good fishing year, though we still haven’t caught any walleye. Plenty of sunfish, bluegills, and some really big bass. They are all in the freezer for this winter. We didn’t do as much sight-seeing as usual this year but we had plenty of time to relax and visit with our friends.

We have decided to go back to Llano Grande Resort in Mercedes, Texas. We were there in 2015-16 where I worked in their I.T. department. They have so much to do their and we have friends there also so it seemed like a good choice for us. We don’t need to be there until October 28th so we made a few stops on the way.

We left Woodland Trails on 9/19 with driving rain, thunder, lightning and some heavy fog, all the way to Yankton, Nebraska. The next day,with a break in the weather, we stopped in Creston, Nebraska, to visit the grave of Mary’s great-grandmother. It was located in a tiny cemetery out among back roads and cornfields, much like her grandfather’s grave near Broken Bow that we visited last year. After paying our respects we continued on to Salina, Kansas, staying at a very nice KOA. Rain started again during the night and continued all the next day to Oklahoma City. We stayed again at the Roadrunner Rv Park. In 2015 it had been almost completely destroyed by tornadoes but they did a beautiful job of rebuilding and now it is one of the nicest we have stayed in. Rained all night again.

We arrived in Roanoke, Texas, still raining. We were there for a week, taking the opportunity to visit with Mary’s niece, Deanna, and her husband, Peter. He is an award-winning gourmet chef so you know we always eat well with them. Kismet, Deanna’s sister had flown in from Chicago so Mary was able to spend time with her also. The Dallas area has a public transportation train system much like the one we used in Minneapolis. We used it to go downtown to the Perot Science Museum. Nice museum but we have seen a few others like it so it’s hard to differentiate one from the other. We did have a very nice dinner at El Fenix (Mexican), then Uber back to the train station and home. Uber has been an excellent mode of transportation for us at many stops. It is not real easy to get around in a strange city with the truck but a quick entry on the Uber app and we go where we want, when we want, and in most cases for less money than driving.

While in the area, we also visited a Buddhist Temple complex, the Fort Worth arboretum, Fort Worth stockyard district, and had dinner at Babes in Roanoke. The day after we arrived, Peter fixed a killer brunch for us at his studio, then the night before we left had a fish fry (with Strawberry Lake fish!) that Peter also cooked. Really delicious!

We left Roanoke and traveled to LaGrange for a couple nights, visiting the local antique scene in nearby Warrenton and Round Top, then on to Rockport, Texas, for a month. Our friends from Woodland Trails, Ron & Nancy are right next door, while Sherry & Larry are right across the street. Nice to be near friends for awhile. The 3rd couple from WT, Wayne & Betty, won’t be down until the first of the year, so we will miss them. They have said they might come visit us down in the valley.

One of the high points so far in Rockport was the fish I caught. It was a red drum which measured 40″ and about 30lbs.

Lots of fun!