On to Houston

Current Location: Traders’ Village RV Park, Houston, Texas

We left Livingston about 8:30 AM this morning, even though there was no big hurry to do so. We arrived at Traders’ Village about 10:45, checked in and set up the trailer. By the time we were done setting up, the crowd coming in to the flea market had picked up substantially, so we did good by leaving when we did.

After getting set up, we headed out to run a few errands. First stop was lunch, as we were both hungry already. Panera Bread took care of the healthy fixins. From there, on to Camping World in Katy, Texas. The bicycle cover we purchased in New Branfels had a faulty zipper. We couldn’t zip the cover back up when we were packing up the trailer in Livingston, so back in the box it went. Swapping it out at Camping World (without a receipt) was no problem at all.

After Camping World, we stopped at Tractor Supply to get cat food. Malcolm was prohibited from buying anything horse-oriented, so we were in and out of there pretty quickly. On the way back from there, we stopped at Home Depot to get a new handle for the closet door that we modified the other day, as well as some wood filler to fill the holes leftover from the current handles and the hinges removed from the left-hand door.

After Home Depot, we stopped in to JoAnn Fabrics to get some scrapbooks and related supplies. We have two very old family cookbooks (Malcolm’s mother’s family) that are falling apart. We are going to put the individual pages into clear plastic pages to preserve them. The pages are a mix of handwritten recipes and newspaper clippings.

After all those stops, we got back to the trailer. Malcolm put the new bike cover over the bikes, then set himself to work on the closet door. The old handles were removed, holes drilled for the new one and the new handle was put in place. Various holes were filled with stain-able wood filler. After it has dried sufficiently, Malcolm will go back and sand them down a bit and hit them with some stain.

Old handles on our dusty doors

Old handles on our dusty doors

New handle

New handle

Filler

Filler

Filled

Filled

After dinner, we headed to the grocery store and picked up some groceries. Upon returning, our keyless entry keypad on the trailer was non-responsive. We figured the battery was getting low, as it had been acting up lately. Malcolm replaced the batteries in the door latch mechanism and it was operating noticeably faster. When he pulled the button cell battery out of the keypad, it came out wet.

Putting a new battery in allowed it to work somewhat, but it was making funny noises. Malcolm pulled it off the wall of the trailer and cleaned up all the sticky residue. The door handle part (with the keyfob remotes) still works fine – it is just the keypad that is broken. We’ll see if we can get it replaced under warranty.

 

Last Day in Livingston

Current Location: Rainbow’s End RV Park, Livingston, Texas

Yesterday, we decided to take an extended trip (nearly down to Houston) so that Val could go to JoAnn Fabrics and pick up some more yarn for a project she is working on. The only place in Livingston that might have stood a chance of having it was WalMart and it is poorly stocked.

We made a trip of it and wandered right up the road to a local mall. We had lunch at PF Chang’s and then decided not to wander the mall, but rather to head back to the trailer. Malcolm was expecting an overnight package and we needed to pick it up at the Escapees mail room before 4:00. We got there at 3:00 and Malcolm picked up his package.

We had chicken packets cooked on the grill for dinner. Since we had three chicken breasts, we made three packets and invited our next door neighbor over since her husband is out of town on a family emergency. We chatted over dinner and had a great time.

Today, we headed over to catch up on the laundry. It was a good time to catch up with other folks in the park that were doing the same. We mainly just relaxed this afternoon and did some of our pre-packing for moving tomorrow. We had hobo dinners cooked on the grill this evening. After dinner, we ran down to Dollar General to grab a few things. Afterwards, we cleaned the trailer a bit and settled down to relax for the evening.

 

Cleanup and Mods

Current Location: Rainbow’s End RV Park, Livingston, Texas

This morning we headed over to the Escapees office and set up our mail forwarding service, so we now have a Texas address. They were very helpful in discussing the requirements for becoming residents. We’ll need to have a few more things handy to get our drivers licenses than we have right now, and getting plates for the truck now but licenses in a couple months might incur fines or additional fees.

Their recommendation was to wait until we can come back with all the various things we’ll need and just take care of it all in one shot. For now, Escapees will be our mailing address, but Alabama will remain our physical address (for purposes of insurance, etc.).

With the mail thing taken care of, Malcolm decided to get the oily mess off the front cap of the trailer. Once done with that, he did the same with the truck, giving it a long-overdue bath. One thing led to another and Malcolm eventually ended up cleaning the whole outside of the trailer as well as the top side of the awning.

Oily, greasy, grimy mess

Oily, greasy, grimy mess

Sparkly clean

Sparkly clean

Shiny rigs

Shiny rigs

Malcolm finished our taillight mod (the lights mounted to the rear bumper) by using his fish tape to run the wires to the new lights out of the bottom of the trailer instead of having them taped to the back wall of the trailer. It looks much cleaner now.

Our main mod for the day was based on something we saw in newer units at the Tampa RV Show in January. Our washer/dryer closet has two doors on it, but the newer ones use on big door. We like the big door idea and were considering seeing if we could get one from the factory and staining it to match our interior. Val had a great idea today, though, so here’s what we did to convert our two doors into one big door.

We headed to Lowes and purchased a six-foot long 1×2 board and some 1 1/2″ wood screws. Back at the trailer, Malcolm removed the two doors from the wall and laid them face down on the picnic table outside. He cut the 1×2 into two lengths and stained them with some quick stain we have that pretty well matches our interior woodwork.

Ready to cut the wood

Ready to cut the wood

Doors laid side by side

Doors laid side by side

Wood strips stained

Wood strips stained

With the stain dried, Malcolm mounted the 1×2 boards across the joint where the two doors come together. A few screws driven in and the two doors are now joined together as one.

Screwed down strip

Screwed down strip

Back inside, the door was mounted using only the right-hand hinges (the left-hand ones were fully removed). We left the two handles as they were for continuity reasons and to keep from leaving two holes in the middle. The catches were all removed and one was replaced on the side of the door that opens (the left side). Here’s the final result both closed and open.

Single door, closed

Single door, closed

Single door, opened

Single door, opened

While we were out shopping for lumber and hardware, we also stopped and ate at Joe’s Italian Grill restaurant. We each brought home about half of our food. The portions were really large. Looks like Italian food tomorrow for lunch.

 

On to Livingston

Current Location: Rainbow’s End RV Park, Livingston, Texas

We hooked up this morning and headed out from San Antonio at almost 9:00 AM. The drive was pretty uneventful. We headed east on I-10 to Houston, then took the Sam Houston parkway around to the northeast side of town and picked up I-69, which eventually turns into US 59. That leads up to Livingston, Texas, where we are now.

The campground here is part of the Escapees RV Club facilities and is the main headquarters for the club. Our main purpose for this trip is to get our Texas residency underway. We’re not sure how much of this we can get done the next several days, but we’ll get all we can out of the way while we are here.

The first step is to get our new address via the mail service here. We’ll stop by the office and get that taken care of in the morning. We arrived and got set up a little too late to do it today. Once we have an address, we can start working on licensing the truck and trailer and getting Texas drivers licenses for ourselves.

The first step in the licensing portion is to have the truck and trailer inspected. One issue we’ve had for quite a while that would fail inspection is that two of our three clearance lights on the front cap of the trailer are no longer working. We’ve been debating fixing this for quite a while.

Malcolm bought lights, wire and other materials yesterday before we left San Antonio. As soon as we were set up here today, Malcolm got to work on fixing the lights. He had them all working just after dinner time. Unfortunately, he wasn’t aware that the side marker on the front of the unit was wired in with the front cap lights and now it was dead (from cutting the wires to the former front cap lights).

A brief inspection showed that a trim panel could be removed from our bedroom closet to gain access to the (non-working) off-door side light. The trim panel in our washer/dryer closet could be removed to gain access to the (working) door side light. Malcolm needed more wire, so we took a break and went shopping. Malcolm dropped Val off at the HEB grocery store and he walked next door to Lowe’s to get  more wire.

Once back at the trailer, Malcolm ran wire from the off-door side light along the baseboard of the closet to the opposite side and hooked it in to the other light. A quick test outdoors with a jumper wire showed that everything is working now. Yay! We loaded everything back into the closets and plopped down to relax.

Warm, Cold, Rain, Wind, Sun

Current Location: Alamo River Ranch Resort, Von Ormy (San Antonio), Texas

Today was quite a mixture of weather. The wind just started blowing all the sudden around the time we were getting out of bed. We had already decided yesterday we weren’t going to move from here to Livingston today due to the anticipated wind and weather. The outside temperature when we got up was in the low 70′s. By noon, it was 44. It did climb back up into the low 60′s by later in the afternoon.

We decided to head to Camping World to pick up a bicycle cover that we’ve been wanting to purchase. We headed across town to New Braunfels to the Camping World there. We kept driving along the interstate looking for Camping World and didn’t see it. The GPS in the truck didn’t want to locate it exactly, so we were guessing about where it was. Finally, we got off what turned out to be one exit early and stopped at a Buc-ee’s.

If you’ve never heard of Buc-ee’s, it is a Texas convenience store/gas station chain. Some of the stores are huge and the one we stopped at in New Braunfels is the largest one in the chain. 65,000 square foot store with 120 gas pumps. Just like everything else in Texas, it was huge. It was fun to walk through, as well.

Buc-ee's from afar.

Buc-ee’s from afar.

Inside the store.

Inside the store.

Trail mix, candy and other snacks line one whole wall, all Buc-ee's branded.

Trail mix, candy and other snacks line one whole wall, all Buc-ee’s branded.

After determining where Camping World was located, and paying for a few small items we purchased at Buc-ee’s, we headed on up to Camping World. We purchased our bike cover and decided to eat lunch at a nearby BJ’s Brewhouse. We had some light items from their lunch menu. After lunch, we stopped at a nearby Auto Zone trying to find some replacement clearance lights for the front of our trailer. We are going to have to have the trailer inspected soon for getting Texas plates and working clearance lights are one thing they look for.

Malcolm didn’t find anything that looked totally suitable at Auto Zone, so we headed to a nearby WalMart, where we found essentially the same selection. We fueled up the truck at WalMart since their diesel price was almost 30 cents lower than the prices on our side of town. After fueling up, we headed back to the trailer, where Malcolm installed the cover over the bikes.

Bikes covered

Bikes covered

After installing the bike cover, Malcolm headed up to the office to have an LP tank filled and got a roll of quarters for the laundry. He headed over to a nearby truck stop and picked up some clearance lights, pigtails and wiring. We’ll see if we can get them working once we are in Livingston, if not somewhat temporarily at least.

After dinner, we did laundry and started packing things up around the trailer in preparation for leaving tomorrow. Malcolm put all the sewer hoses and fittings away (the gray tanks are empty, the black tank nearly so) as well as our outdoor items.