West Texas Rally

We rolled into Alpine, Texas last Sunday, March 12th for the West Texas Heartland Owners Club rally. We had a great turnout. There were a couple rigs already in before Sunday, and others filtered in during the first part of the week.

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Our site at Lost Alaskan RV Park

We visited with those that arrived on or before Sunday, then relaxed outside during the evening hours. On Monday, Malcolm worked most of the day and Val worked on some of her sewing projects. On Tuesday, Malcolm worked up until lunchtime, then we headed to downtown Alpine to wander around town and to eat lunch.

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One of the many murals downtown

We had lunch at a restaurant called Reata. It was a little pricey, but good food. Early in the week, there wasn’t much else open downtown for lunch. We wandered through a few shops before heading back to the trailer.

On Wednesday, our Heartland neighbors across from us invited us and several others over to have hot dogs for lunch.

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Impromptu Hot Dog Lunch

On Wednesday evening, many of the club members loaded up in vehicles and headed up to the McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis. We didn’t get any reservations and Val didn’t feel too well, so we decided to stay back at the park. The others said it was a very good program.

On Thursday, Malcolm worked in the morning, then we headed north to visit Fort Davis (both the town and the National Historic Site). We had lunch at the Fort Davis Drugstore and Hotel. The food was really good. We ate our meal in relative quiet in the upstairs dining room.

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Downtown Fort Davis

After lunch we shopped for a bit at several of the stores along the main street, then we headed over to the Fort Davis National Historic Site.

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Fort Davis

We arrived just in time to see a demonstration on different firearms that would have been used in the 1800’s.

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Firearms Demonstration

After the demonstration, we wandered around the grounds and checked out some of the buildings. We also stopped and talked to this gentleman about the mounted cavalry and their lives.

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Mounted Cavalry

After visiting Fort Davis NHS, we stopped across the street and had some excellent ice cream treats from Herbert’s Caboose.

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Time for Ice Cream

On Thursday evening, several of the club members drove out to the Marfa Lights viewing area to see if we could see any of the Marfa Mystery Lights (see sign, below). We didn’t see any while we were there, but it was a nice outing.

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Marfa Mystery Lights Sign

We headed downtown to Alpine for a short while on Friday afternoon and did a little looking around. On Friday evening we had a rally meet-n-greet pitch-in and got to sit down with a lot of friends, both old and new.

On Saturday, we headed downtown to Alpine again. We stopped at the farmers’ market. There weren’t many fresh vegetables or fruits, but a lot of homemade items. We also stopped by a thrift store we had seen as well as walked through a couple more neat stores we missed the previous visits.

We ate lunch at the Holland Hotel in downtown Alpine. The actual restaurant is The Century Bar and Grill. They were only serving bar food for lunch, but it was great tasting food.

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The Holland Hotel

After lunch, we met a group of rally-goers at the Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross University in Alpine. There were many neat and informative exhibits about the area. One place we did not visit and probably should have was Big Bend National Park, about 100 miles south of Alpine.

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Museum of the Big Bend

After the museum visit, many of us traveled over to the other side of town to visit the Big Bend Brewing Company. We took a brewery tour and Malcolm sampled some of their beers. He said they were pretty tasty.

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Big Bend Brewing Company

After the brewery tour, it was back to the campground to get ready for a tasty dinner of smoked bar-b-que meats from the grill. The food was great. After the dinner, many prizes were given away or auctioned off. We won a big outdoor collapsible trash can. After all the food and prizes were spoken for, we headed back to the trailer. Malcolm had some emergency work (overtime!) he had to take care of and we made sure we had everything packed up to hit the road on Sunday (today).

We stopped by the rally hall and grabbed some breakfast pastries and visited with those that were there and said our goodbyes. We hit the road this morning and are stopped in Junction, Texas for the night tonight.

We had to change plans a couple days ago as Malcolm had a crown on one of his teeth pop off. It appears to be in good shape, so we put it in a baggie. We’re heading back to Wetumpka so that Malcolm can go to the dentist in Montgomery and have it put back on. We’ll head back out from Wetumpka next week to attend the Louisiana Chapter Heartland Owners Club rally.

Westward Ho

Current Location: Riverbend RV Park, Luling, Texas

Let’s see, at last count in the blog, we were getting ready to leave our lot in Florida. Today, we’re in Texas. Allow us to recount the last several days for you.

We left Florida on Sunday of this week and traveled the entire distance to Wetumpka to stay at Fort Toulouse. We ran errands there on Monday, including stopping by our storage unit and grabbing about eight totes and a shelving unit. We took those all back to the rig and packed them all into the basement of the trailer.

We will stop back through on the way back to Florida after this current trip and pick up more totes and another shelving unit. We’ll use one of our storage sheds in Florida to put them all in. We’ll eventually release the storage unit we’re renting in Alabama once we clear it out later this year.

We left Wetumpka on Wednesday, which was also our 31st wedding anniversary. Before hitching up the trailer to leave, we stopped by the local Dunkin’ Donuts to grab some breakfast.

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Anniversary Breakfast

As we were driving around Montgomery, Alabama, we were passed by a pickup truck carrying a bed full of junk. An aluminum screen door laying on top of the pile blew loose and headed straight for our truck. Malcolm swerved away as much as was safe, but the screen door hit the truck and flew underneath where we ran over it with all the left-hand truck and trailer tires.

We pulled over to assess any damage. The other pickup truck slowed, but went on up the road (they were actually going to the next intersection to turn back around and come back). We didn’t see any damage and headed on up the road, giving the pickup driver a thumbs up as we passed. We didn’t find the damage until we stopped for lunch. It’s pretty minor, just scratched paint on the front bumper. We’ll get some touch-up paint and fix it later on.

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Scratches on the Bumper

We stopped for the night in Biloxi, Mississippi. We took care of some laundry but otherwise just relaxed in the trailer for the evening. Malcolm took the truck around the corner and filled the fuel tank.

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Our un-scenic site in Biloxi

We left Biloxi on Thursday morning and headed to Westlake, Louisiana (near Lake Charles). On the way, the truck indicated it was time for an oil change and for new fuel filters. We stopped for the evening at Whispering Meadows RV Park, where our friends Andy and Joanna Grimes are currently staying. Andy brought their two dogs – Rowdy and Kaydee – down to our site to visit until Joanna got home from work.

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Malcolm’s Two Buddies

We invited Andy and Joanna to share our anniversary meal with us. They drove and picked a great restaurant for us. We had a great time.

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Whispering Meadows

This morning, Malcolm headed out early to the Ford dealer to get the oil changed and fuel filters changed. They had him in and out in about an hour. He headed back to the trailer and we hitched up and rolled out by 9:00 in the morning.

Today we drove from Westlake to Luling, Texas where we are currently staying for the night. We have two more days before we arrive in Alpine, Texas where we are meeting several friends for a rally sponsored by the West Texas Chapter of the Heartland Owners Club. We’ll be there all next week.

 

 

Daily Life at Home

Current Location: Our RV Lot

Things have been moving along here in Florida. We’ve slowly been officially becoming Florida residents the last couple of weeks as well as taking care of little things around our property. All in all, we’ve generally just been settling down here before our next trip out (tomorrow, as a matter of fact).

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Malcolm’s office view

Malcolm has been back to working, primarily in the trailer, but he did make a run to the Orlando office one morning to fix something they needed before customer testing started the next day. His view straight out the back window is of the side of our shed. The view out the side window is at least a little better (though it is looking out over the retention basin and our neighbor’s slightly neglected bushes and trees.

We made a trip over to the tax office (which we can see out the back of our lot) to try to take care of driver licenses and vehicle tags. We were about halfway successful, getting our Florida drivers licenses, our voter registrations and the tag for the car. The truck and trailer tags couldn’t be done because Florida needs the title in hand from the lender before it will issue tags. We sent off for our titles to be sent to Florida that afternoon.

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No more state-issued front license plate, so a substitute was purchased.

A week later (yesterday), Malcolm stopped by the tax office and inquired about the title status and found that they had received the truck title that morning, so he waited in line again to get a tag for the truck. An hour and a half later, he was done and now all we have left to get done is the trailer tag. We’ll have to wait on that one until we get back from our upcoming trip.

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Truck tag

Despite what I’m sure a lot of folks that follow us in Instagram and Facebook think, we don’t spend every day over at Disney World. We did take one afternoon and visited over at Epcot and having dinner at La Cellier, the restaurant in the Canadian area. It was good food.

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Sunset over the Canada Pavilion

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Topiary at Epcot

We also had a Sunday brunch at Raglan Road at Disney Springs last weekend. It was tasty food and they had some good Irish entertainment.

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Sunday Brunch

Malcolm made a few improvements around the lot. We had the cable company come in and hook up cable and our internet. While parked on our site, we’ll have internet that is not cell based. While we are away, we’ll leave it on for some other projects Malcolm has installed.

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Cable and Internet – check

Our lot has an irrigation system for the plants that a previous owner installed. It was controlled by an old and rather fragile looking RainBird controller. Malcolm looked for a newer controller at Lowes and actually found one that can be controlled and configured via the internet using an app on his phone. It was only $20 more than a standard controller, so we picked it up and got it installed.

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Watering in progress

We also picked up an outdoor security camera which Malcolm mounted today. It, too, interfaces with the internet and stores 10 days worth of video in the cloud. It also sends alerts when it sees a person in any areas that you select in the frame. We excluded the street so that it wouldn’t trigger on people walking by.

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Malcolm capturing a picture from the security camera.

We also finished cleaning out unwanted shelves and items from our white shed (the storage shed). On our upcoming trip, we’ll be bringing stuff back from our storage unit in Alabama and start storing it in our shed here, instead.

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Ready for shelves and storage boxes

We’ll be heading out to Texas this coming week. We have a rally in Alpine, Texas (western end of the state) followed by another rally in Louisiana a couple weeks after that. In between rallies, we’ll be visiting around the Louisiana and southern Alabama areas.

 

Visit From David

Current Location: Our RV Lot

When we last posted, we had finished cleaning out the brown shed on our lot. We had turned our focus on the white shed, which will store things including bikes, golf cart, etc. We spent a couple days before David arrived cleaning up in that shed and had it pretty well organized by early Sunday.

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The workshop end of the white shed

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The garage end of the white shed

We also picked up or ordered several items that all arrived by the end of the week. We decided to keep the two bicycles that the previous owners left behind. The tires and tubes were all dry-rotted, so Malcolm put new tires and tubes on them. We also ordered a new grill to replace our three-year-old Coleman red grill. It finally gave up on us while we were last in Fort Wilderness.

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Stuff to do

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The new (purple) grill

We also bought an inexpensive pressure washer from Lowe’s. Malcolm used it part of the day on Sunday scrubbing dirt off of part of our pad.

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Pressure washing the pad.

Aside from the bicycles, another item that we kept was a refrigerator that was left behind. Fortunately, the previous owners had propped the door open, so it wasn’t mildewed inside. We filled it with drinks and it works great.

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The fridge

David arrived on Sunday afternoon. After dropping his stuff in the trailer, we drove him out to Disney Springs and went to guest services so he could buy his Disney tickets using his military discount (5 days with park-hopper for about $240 with tax). We walked around there for a while before heading back to the trailer.

On Monday morning, we headed down to the post office to see about getting a key to our mailbox here at the park since we’ll be using it as our “regular” address. They told us we needed to bring in a copy of our deed. We did that on Tuesday morning and they got us set up to have a new lock put on the box (standard procedure). Unfortunately, they only put new locks on on Tuesdays and we had just missed the bus on that one. We will be able to access our mail next Tuesday.

We spent Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at various Disney parks. Malcolm and David rode the coasters and other fast rides. We all rode some of the slower rides and often we just walked around and traded Disney pins.

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All three of us at Epcot

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The Valentine’s couple

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Rollercoaster time

On Thursday, we headed into Orlando. We walked around the Mall at Millenia for a while, then headed to an indoor go-kart track where Malcolm and David drove go-karts for a while. They are electric carts and can travel up to 45 mph. Whee! Not many pictures from that event, as it was difficult to get any good photos.

On Saturday morning, we played a round of miniature golf on the “professional” course. It was challenging and fun. We brought our own putters (David bought one at the thrift store around the corner for $2).

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Fore!

David packed up this morning and headed back home. We all had a great time together this past week and we’ll miss him. We spent the rest of the day today finishing up some items around the lot such as pressure washing the rest of the slab, running our trash, recycling and yard waste over to the respective dumpsters and spraying the lot for weeds.

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Relaxing outside

Malcolm will be back to a regular work schedule this coming week. Meanwhile, it is back to relaxing outside the rig as the sun sets.

Settling In

Current Location: Our RV Lot

We’ve been busy the last couple of days just cleaning up the lot, sorting through the stuff in the sheds and generally tidying the place up. We’ve met a few of our neighbors and, through them, found out that the previous owners haven’t even been on the lot for three or four years. They did have someone generally keeping the place neat, though, so it wasn’t in bad shape by any means.

We cleaned up outside on Wednesday. We removed the various solar lights that were placed around the property as they were no longer working. We replaced them with new ones from Lowe’s. Malcolm spent some time trimming dead limbs from trees, and sawed down a couple of dead trees on the property. The community has a couple large roll-off dumpsters specifically for yard waste.

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New solar lights

Aside from a bunch of outdoor furniture the previous owners left behind, we also inherited a couple of bicycles and a golf cart. On Tuesday, Malcolm tinkered with the cart and got the charger to charge it up, or so we thought. We were excited that it was driving after sitting with dead batteries for several years. The newly charged batteries worked for about 3 minutes. We ended up replacing the batteries with new ones.

We have a cart of our own in Alabama, but won’t be bringing it down until later in the year, so we’ll use this one for now. We already have friends that are buying this one from us when they move in later this year. There is a pretty nice shopping center just outside the park where you are allowed to drive your cart. We took advantage of that today to stop by Family Dollar to pick up some light bulbs.

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Shopping in the golf cart

By the way, here are some more pictures from around our lot. These are our two sheds. Both are 10′ x 16′ sheds. The white one has double doors and will store most of our stuff and our golf cart when we are out traveling. We plan on finishing out the interior of the brown shed to use as an office, guest quarters, laundry and half bath (it is already plumbed for sewer and water is nearby).

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The two sheds

Here’s a glamour shot of some of our landscaping and the trailer in the background. The “grass” at the bottom-right corner of the picture is our neighbor’s.

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Our site from next door.

The area behind the brown shed is finished out nicely. We’re thinking of making it a sort of quiet getaway with possibly some chairs or maybe even a canopy. We’re not sure just yet.

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The “Back Yard”

Today we cleared out the brown shed and swept it out. It was mostly filled with outdoor furniture, most of which we didn’t care for. We debated trying to sell it locally, but had noticed a thrift shop in the shopping center right outside the entrance to the neighborhood. We stopped by and they said we could bring all of it over if we wanted to, so we did. The thrift shop proceeds benefit a local homeless shelter’s food bank, so we thought it would make sense to help them out with some nice outdoor stuff. They were excited to receive it all.

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The cleaned out brown shed.

With the brown shed cleaned out, we continued on to the white shed. We removed a bunch of homemade shelving and pulled out a bunch of old stuff left behind by previous owners. Malcolm loaded it all up in the truck and hauled it over to the park dumpsters. We’re going to keep the bikes and the small refrigerator that was left behind.

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Cleaning out the white shed

Aside from cleaning, sorting, yard work and general improvements, Malcolm has been able to get in some paying work. He’s found the outdoor office somewhat preferable in the afternoons.

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The Outdoor Office

With most of our cleaning and sorting out of the way, we’ll be settling down for a bit. Our son David is coming down to visit with us next week. We’ll be making a few runs over to Disney with him and generally visiting with him.