Sunday, March 29, 2009

Being Texans

About 6 months before we began our full-timing, we got an address in Texas, through The Escapees RV Club. Early in 2007, we actually got to Texas, and got drivers licenses, car & RV registrations, insurance, and got registered to vote. That made us official, we were no longer Coloradans. This year, 2009, is the longest we've actually been in our state, thanks in no part to my driving mishap. After leaving the Denton area, where our coach was repaired, we headed south to Willis, which is about 50 miles north of Houston. The RV park where we are staying is on Lake Conroe. Very pretty, but it seems that there are a lot of permanent residents here, and there are absolutely no social activities. We signed up for a month, and have about 2 more weeks before we head out. Our plan is to move slowly towards Colorado, and get into Monument the 3rd week of April.

What were we doing in Willis? Hangin' out of course! Donna has been working on several quilt projects, and we've both been working on digitizing our vast assortment of cookbooks. This last item has been on our "to-do" list since we started full-timing in January of 2007. The end is finally in sight! Completing this project will allow us to get rid of a lot of cookbooks, freeing up cabinet space and weight.

We also drove over to Brenham, about 50 miles west of here, and took a tour of the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory. The tour was so-so, but the tasting at the end was great! It's our newest favorite ice cream. So far on our journey the best ice cream was in Tillamook, OR. The cheese factory also makes excellent ice cream.

The weather here has been very changeable. A few weeks back it was sunny and warm, in the 80's, then it changed to overcast and muggy. Then fog. Then we had severe weather. Tornado warnings, high winds, and heavy rain. Then cold weather. Just the thing when living in an motor home! Hopefully, Spring has sprung. We think so, because allergies have kicked in big-time!

We also scouted out a park for our return here in November. We'll be a little further south, in the town of The Woodlands. The park is rated a triple-10, one of only 3 in the USA. We made reservations 2 weeks ago for the month of November, and there were only 4 spots left!

After leaving Lake Conroe, we headed north to Gainsville, TX. There is a small RV park at the Outlet Malls there, so we stayed a night. The last time we were in this area, the outlets were booming. Now, with the economy, about 1/2 of them are closed.

From there, we moved up to Amarillo. I had received a campaign (i.e. "recall") notice from Cummins, indicating that our Engine Control Module (ECM) needed to have upgraded programming. When I called them, they informed me that there were 2 additional campaigns that needed tending to. No worry, they had a electrical only site that we could use. As it turns out, this Cummins dealer doesn't work on motor homes too often, and they could not figure out access to the front of the engine, so the ECM programming was all that got done. We'll get those 2 items done up in Oregon this summer.

We moved north about 45 miles to Dumas, TX, where we thought we'd spend a night before our trek into Colorado. Unfortunately, Colorado has been socked in with a major Spring snow storm. So 1 night turned into 2 nights, and 2 into 3. The storm is moving out, so tomorrow we will move northeast about 180 miles to Raton, NM, and Monday will go up to Monument, CO. We're anxious to get back and see family and friends, and get our storage cleaned out for good!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Emma Turns 8 Months!

On March 1, Emma was 8 months old. It's hard to believe, but we've had her for 5 months. When we got her, she was 2.25 pounds, and her legs were barely long enough to keep her tummy off the ground. She is now 5.1 pounds. Her baby coat was coal black, with brown eyebrows and feet. Now her head is a silvery, brown, black combination. The black on the majority of her body is changing slowly to silver, and her legs are now a light tan. She is looking more like an adult Yorkie every day.

Emma at 8 weeks (we adopted her at 12 weeks)

Emma at 8 months

Emma and bully stick
The one thing that hasn't changed is her energy level. Puppies have a lot of energy...a LOT! She keeps us hopping, that is for sure. We take her for walks several times a day. On her evening walk (here at the collision center), her new favorite game is moth chasing. Moths congregate under the fluorescent lights, get scorched, and fall to the ground, where they flop around until they get their bearings again. Emma loves to chase them. She is also proving to be quite a runner, so, like it or not, I am turning into a short distance jogger.
Emma "in the zone"
Emma doesn't eat people food, but she does love carrots. She has a ton of toys, and she uses all of them. One of her curious habits is to take her lambswool ball, and hold it in her mouth while lying flat on her tummy. It seems to put her into a trance, kind of a Zen thing. She loves the space of the motor home, and has her favorite haunts: keeping watch on top of the sofa tops the list. We are amazed at how she can walk on the narrow sill, then sit looking out the window, one hip on the sill, the other on the sofa.


On patrol

We are glad to have Emma as part of our family!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tourists Without Cameras

Since we are just hanging out waiting for our coach to be fixed, we decided to make the best of it by taking in some of the local sights. Unfortunately, Dallas/Fort Worth is a huge metropolis, and going to either involves 40-50 miles each way from where we are in Krum/Denton. We've done 3 "touristy" things in the past week and a half. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed at any of these places, so any pictures displayed were downloaded from the web.

King Tut's coffinette

On Tuesday last week, we drove down to the Dallas Museum of Art, and took in the King Tut exhibit. I think it was back in the 70's when we went to the King Tut exhibit back in Los Angeles. We vaguely remember seeing lots of gold, including KT's gold coffin. This time around, we found the exhibit completely different. The museum's description is as follows: "The Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition displays works of art from royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings from the late 18th Dynasty (14th century B.C.). The main themes of the exhibition are Egyptian ideas of the afterlife; divine kingship; the Egyptian gods, including Pharaoh Akhenaten’s worship of the Aten sun disc; ritual objects of splendor; and the luxurious lifestyle of the ruling class in ancient Egypt, which was perpetuated in funerary art in order to ensure that the dead person lived well forever. The key role played by royal women and the importance of the family to Egyptians are also featured." Yawn...OK, we saw a lot of neat bracelets, necklaces, chests and chairs, but no bling. All-in-all, it was an interesting day out, but didn't quite live up to our expectations.

Brings back memories of Helms Bakery!

Last Thursday, we took a trip down to Fort Worth, to take a tour at Mrs. Baird's Bakery. Mrs. Baird started selling bakery goods in 1908 to supplement her income after her husband passed away. The business grew into a large local bakery. The tour itself was interesting - talk about rules and security: no cell phones, no cameras, no jewelry (including rings), no shorts, no opened toed shoes. And, we had to don hairnets (I got 2, one for the hair on my head, and one for my goatee!). The tour brought back memories of my college days, when I would often work a graveyard shift at the Barbara Ann Bakery in Pasadena, CA. They were making honey wheat bread during our tour - at the rate of 2000 loaves an hour! An interesting fact we learned was that each loaf of bread goes through a metal detector, just to ensure that nothing but bread is in that loaf! After the tour, our guide brought in 5 loaves hot off the line, cut them up, buttered them, and gave us a chunk. Very tasty! We've been buying Mrs. Baird's since we've been in Texas - they sell a loaf with very thick slices, just perfect for French Toast! The Baird story is quite interesting, check it out at:

Fort Worth Bureau of Printing & Engraving

Today we journeyed back down to Fort Worth, this time to visit the US Bureau of Printing and Engraving. This is where money is printed! As you can imagine, this tour also involves very tight security. No cameras or cell phones allowed here, for obvious reasons. The Fort Worth facility is on of two in the US; the other is in Washington DC. We really enjoyed this tour, and saw millions of dollars...of course, just out of reach!! They told us that most of what they make is just to replace what is out in circulation already. It's actually a very complicated process, and is getting more-so, as the government tries to stay ahead of counterfeiters. The design of denominations over $1 are changed every 7 years. Right now, they are getting ready to roll out a new $100 bill, and they have giant drapes that are put in place at various workstations so that tours can't get a clue as to the new design. We found the security features embedded in each denomination to be quite interesting. The inking machines are capable of using 14 colors, 7 on each side, at the same time. Check out this website ( for details. And, believe it or not, no samples after this tour!!

Money money money

This week we're also thinking about taking in a tour at the original Dr. Pepper factory and the Texas Motor Speedway. Hopefully the coach will get done and we can go someplace a bit warmer!