Sunday, December 20, 2015

Christmas in Boot Camp

Location: Highway 509 RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

It was Christmas of 1973 and I was a brand new Navy recruit getting my training at the Naval Training Center in Orlando, Florida. I was seventeen years of age and it was my first, but not last, Christmas away from family.

As I've mentioned before, while growing up, my family moved around the country because my father worked for a large construction company. The company built large bridges and dams which usually were completed in less than 2 years after which we would move to the next project. Moving as often as we did could have been devastating to my education and that of my brother and sister. When arriving in a new area, my parents would search out the best rental house by the quality of the town, neighborhood and school system. Sometimes the best house would be quite a distance away from the construction project. This would require my father to drive more than an hour to work each morning and evening. As anyone who has worked construction knows, the work hours are from "can see to can't" which meant leaving home well before daylight and arriving back home after dark. Apparently my parents were very good at choosing the quality school systems since I met all of the requirements for high school graduation at the end of my junior year. It sure helped that the last school was on the trimester system which divided the school year into 3 separate portions. Three classes were taught per day per trimester which equaled to 9 classes per year. Many students met all requirements before the end of their senior year. The school system gave three options to those of us who wanted to leave school early. Our graduation date would still be in the spring but we could leave school at the end of any trimester after attaining our graduation requirements as long as we 1) attended college full time, 2) worked at a job for a minimum of 40 hours per week or 3) enlist in the military. One guy made up his own option and chose jail, I'm not sure if he got his diploma or not, but that is another story. :). 

I was tired of school and although I had a job, I didn't want to do that job as a career so I chose option number 3 and enlisted in the military. Even at that age, I wanted to see new things and not be tied down to one place for long periods of time. That meant joining the Navy, getting stationed aboard ship and see the world. The official Navy commercial on TV at that time was "Be Something Special, U.S. Navy". The unofficial commercial the recruiters were using was "Join the Navy and Ride a WAVE." I won't explain the impact on impressible young men of that saying. :). 

I wanted to leave school after the fist trimester which meant I needed to enlist by the end of November. The official date was November 27, 1973. It never crossed my mind when I enlisted that I would be spending Christmas in boot camp. I'm sure my mother probably mentioned it, but at that time, it went in one ear and out the other. For boot camp, I was sent to the Naval Training Center in Orlando, Florida and wouldn't you know it, that was the same base the WAVES took their basic training. Initially I thought the recruiter may have known what he was talking about, but later learned he didn't. 

Back then it took about a week for enough recruits to arrive to form a company of 75 men. By the time we finished boot camp, we were down to 40 men thanks to our rough and tough company commander. He was a short but stocky Boatswain's Mate 1st class and was capable of frightening the crap out of everyone. Sometimes men were discharged or more commonly, they were put behind a week due to poor performance. A lot of times, we never saw them leave. We would wake up in the morning or arrive back to the barracks after chow and their rack (bed) and locker would be empty. My company number was 309 which meant we were the 309th company formed in the year 1973. It was our bad luck that Company 308 was the last company that qualified for Christmas leave which left me and my company as well as all others after us on base for the holidays. The good news was that our company was the "senior" company on base during the holidays and that meant we were the senior male company who attended the New Year Eve party with the senior female company. That again is a story for another time. It seems like there are more and more of those "stories for another time" but that other time never comes.

You do a lot of exercises in boot camp. It was not unusual to have jumping jacks counted into the high 100's and into the 1,000's. To start the exercise, the the command was like "Jumping Jacks, 500, Hut". The first part of that command was the type of exercise, the second was the amount and "hut" meant begin. Usually, there were rounds of exercise immediately after waking up to Reveille which was broadcast over the loud speakers. It didn't take recruits long to learn you better wake up before reveille so you could hit the head (go to the bathroom) before exercises. Exercising with a full bladder is not fun and probably unhealthy. After the first week, everyone would be awake while laying in their racks waiting for reveille to sound.

Anyway, this post was suppose to be about Christmas in Boot Camp. So, Christmas Day, 1973. Our company commander had told us the previous day that he would be spending Christmas Day with his family and friends but we would be confined to the barracks except for meals. He also informed us that there would only be one company commander in charge of 6 companies on Christmas Day and that we better not screw up while he was gone or we would pay for it the next day. During evening meal on Christmas Eve, word was spreading among all the companies that reveille would not be sounded on Christmas Day and that everyone could sleep in. It sounded too good to be true, but since everyone was saying it, it must be true, uh? On Christmas morning, we were all awake as usual and waiting for reveille to sound. It didn't. The time came and went without a peep. Alright then, lets roll over and go back to sleep. BAM, the door to the barracks was thrown open and slamed against the wall. A metal garbage can was thrown on floor between the racks with a loud bang. There was our company commander banging the garbage can lid on the walls and everything else as he walked to the middle of the barracks. He was screaming at the top of his lungs and I can remember those words clearly. He was yelling...... "What do you think this is, Christmas???" Of course by then, all of us had jumped out of our racks and were standing at attention. While still banging the lid against everything near him, he quickly turned back towards the door, stopped banging the lid, spun around to look at us and then there was complete silence. Time froze for a while as we all wondered what would happen next. After what seemed a long time, but was probably only a few seconds, he issued his command. "Jumping Jacks,,,,,,,,FOREVER,,,,,,,,hut". He tossed the garbage can lid on the floor, turned, and left the barracks. We started doing the jumping jacks. I don't remember how many we did that morning, but I know it was record setting and only about half of us made it to the end. After a while, the door opened again with a bang. The Company Commander walked in and yelled,,,,, "What the hell are you exercising for, don't you boots know it's Christmas Day?????" He left again and we didn't see him until the next morning. The incident was never mentioned by him. He acted as if it had never occurred and no one was brave enough to ask him about it. It just added to the mystique of this man being crazy. :). Looking back, it wouldn't be surprisingly to find out that every company on base went through the same thing.

So, this Christmas Day, if you are enjoying the day with family and friends, remember those that are not as fortunate. Remember the military men and women who are defending our great country and her allies and were not granted leave. Remember the police on duty who are protecting and serving, the airline pilots and flight attendants who are flying people home for the holidays, the cooks and waitresses who serve up holiday food, the truckers on the road trying to get home in time for Christmas, the doctors and nurses who are on duty, the hospital patients and their families who have the misfortune to being in the hospital or nursing homes during the holidays, the highway workers who risk their lives to keep the roads open for holiday travelers. 
Remember the ones who are lost inside themselves for they are the ones who truly don't have anyone.

I wish everyone a Merry, Merry Christmas. May you have a peaceful and enjoyable day wherever you will be and whatever you will be doing. 

Christ is the reason for the season. 
Christmas Tree at The Wall
(picture borrowed from internet article about the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fun)

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.        

Friday, December 4, 2015

One Reason Why I Moved So Often and a Few Pictures

Location: Highway 509 RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

(all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia 929 Cell Phone)
(click pictures to enlarge)

When I was traveling, I moved campgrounds about every 3 to 4 days. I would move into an area with plans to see one or two things then move on down the road about 150 miles. I repeated that process for about 125 campgrounds over an 18 month period. I definitely wanted to see new things all the time because in the back of my mind I may have been racing possible blindness. A couple of months before I retired in April of 2014 I made the rounds of all of my doctors to get checked out before hitting the road. My GP told me to watch my weight, blood pressure and cholesterol which was not news to me. My cardiologist ran an EKG and stress test on my heart and told me to enjoy my travels. However, my optometrist wasn't as positive. Besides giving me a new prescription for my glasses, he found a tear in my retina as well as a suspicious black spot on the retina. Even using the latest technology, he wasn't able to determine with 100% accuracy if the tear was recent and still in the process of tearing more or if it was an old injury that had become static. As far as the black spot, it also was unknown if it was new and growing, or old and static. This was the first mapping of my retina so there wasn't a baseline to look at to see if changes had occurred. I would have to wait for another set of retinal pictures sometime in the future. I left his office with new glasses and a warning that if I started seeing bright flashes of light or an extraordinary amount of "floaters", then I should seek immediate medical help as those would be the signs of retinal tearing and potential blindness; the speed of which was unknown. This answered any of my lingering questions I may have had about delaying retirement. Delaying seeing things I wanted to see may mean delaying seeing them forever. Sometimes when I was at some of the many "wow" places in this great country, my mind would wander and I would think how much different it would be if I were sightless. To have one of your most important senses taken away must be devastating. I congratulate all who have overcome that situation. I didn't tell anyone, including family, about the possible tear and its significance. I was a man on a mission to see as much as I could before anything could happen to change things. 

Good news. I'm making the rounds of my doctors again. My optometrist has taken new pictures of my retina and can now confirm with certainty that the tear is an old one and is static. The black spot has not grown in size and also appears to be static. That was great news. My eye pressure is at the upper range and will need monitoring. I will have it check it out in six months. My optometrist is a member of Vision Source so I can go into any other Vision Source Doctor's office around the country to get my eye pressure checked and they will send the results back to my doctor. 

My cholesterol, blood pressure and weight have stayed basically the same for the last year. I get positive points for consistency but negative points for the cholesterol and weight being higher than ideal, so I have decided to call that "breaking even" (new math, lol). 

I will be here in Mansfield at least through December. I have one more doctor to see, maybe. Although I am familiar with most of the sights around this area, I intend to explore it with "new eyes", as if I was seeing it for the first time. 

Smithport Lake. It is about 10 miles from the campground. I haven't been to this spot in years so I waited for a good day and went. As with a lot of the lakes in this area, it is being attacked by Giant Salvinia plants. The only positive cure is to drain the lake during the wintertime and hope a cold spell kills all of the salvinia. All gates were open and flowing full.

This is also part of Smithport. This used to be clear and open water a decade or so ago. Now, the water is still there, but with a nasty vegetative cover. Maybe some of my "yankee" friends will enjoy the spanish moss from the trees.

This is near the boat ramp. It is where Smithport Lake joins with Clear Lake. 

Olivia and I were having a
deep conversation.

Olivia stressing her point. :) 
"Pa, I'm so thirsty from talking so much".

Olivia and Buddy - getting to know
each other.

Mommy showing Olivia the places
where she used to play as she was
growing up.

She liked the leaves. It is the first autumn
where she can really understand and
appreciate them.

Uncle Brandon brushing Olivia's hair
after a hard day of playing and exploring.

Grandson Tucker on his bike, without training wheels.
He was riding everywhere. Being able to ride a bike at that age is the first "long distance exploration". It is the first real taste of Freedom.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.   

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Stroke Info That May Save Your Life

Location: Highway 509 RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

I have been in Mansfield for a couple of weeks now and will be here through Thanksgiving. The part of the RV park I'm in is an old mobile home park. The lots are very long and I'm in a nice location where there are trees to the north and west of me to help block any cold winds. The family house is about 5 miles from the RV park and is where my x-wife and youngest (30 years of age) son live. My oldest son lives about 3 hours away in south Louisiana while my daughter lives about 1 1/2 hours north near the Arkansas state line. Everyone will gather up at the family home for Thanksgiving. The menu is typically, turkey, dressing (pepperidge farms), homemade giblet gravy (my mothers recipe), green beans, yeast rolls, etc. It's good eating and we always ask why we only fix it once a year. No good answers. 

The number one "thankful thing" we will be thankful for this year is the stroke survival of my youngest son. For those that read the blog posts in the summer and early fall know that he suffered a stroke back in July. He lost movement in his right arm and leg but began to regain it about a month later. He has been going to Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy since about 2 weeks after the stroke. He has not regained 100% of his movement and I'm not sure what percentage it would be now. He is able to walk, open doors, drive a vehicle and take care of his physical hygiene. Improvement continues, but at a slower pace than what we were seeing during the first month or so after the stroke. Improvement continues for a lifetime. 

Just like a heart attack is an attack on the heart, a stroke is a "brain attack" and attacks the brain. It can happen to anyone at anytime. REPEAT,,, It can happen to anyone at anytime. It doesn't care about your age, color, weight, nationality or anything else. Sure, some things in your life increase the odds of you having a stroke, but remember, it can happen anytime to anyone.

There are two types of stroke:

The first, "hemorrgagic", is when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or just leaks and the blood that comes out damages the brain. This is the least common type but is also the most deadly. It occurs in only 15% of strokes but accounts for more than 40% of stroke deaths.

The second, "ischemic", is the most common and occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked by a blood clot or piece of plague which cuts off the blood flow and oxygen to the brain. The effects of this stroke depend on where in the brain it happened and how long the blood flow was cut off to the brain. The effects can range from numbness to total paralysis with losses of memory, speech, sight, etc.
The recovery process is the "re-wire" your brain. In my sons case, he had to re-learn how to walk, maintain balance and how to use his arm and fingers.

A subset of the second type is a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). It produces stroke-like symptoms that may last a few minutes or up to 24 hours. Most all of us have had or will have these at one time or another in our lifetime but never recognize it as a TIA. They usually do not cause permanent damage but should not be ignored. People who have had one or more TIA's are 10 times more likely to have a stroke. 

Some people make a full recovery after a stroke but 2/3 of stroke survivors will have some type of disability forever.

** Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death.
** Stoke is the leading cause of adult disability.
** After age 55, the chance of having a stroke doubles every 10 years.
** Women are twice as likely to die of a stroke than breast cancer annually
** High blood pressure is the Number 1 cause of a stroke
** If you are diabetic, you are 2 to 4 times more likely to have a stroke.

GOOD NEWS: 80% of all strokes can be prevented. 

The number one thing everyone should be aware of is their blood pressure. If it is higher than 140/90, then you have high blood pressure and should do something to bring it down. I won't get into all of the ways to bring it down since that is an individuals choice. A blood pressure machine is cheap and easy to use at home. It is truly, the "silent killer".

I won't go into the importance of controlling your diabetes if you are diabetic. If you are, then surely you already know the importance of it.

Smoking greatly increases your chances of having a stroke, but smokers already know this. My son was a smoker before the stroke but the part of the brain that controls the urge to smoke must have been damaged because he had zero urge to smoke after the stroke. 

Other things that a reasonable person should be aware of are heredity, cholesterol levels, excessive weight, excessive drinking of alcohol, heart problems, etc. This is NOT a complete list. If you need more information, there are excellent sources online. 

Everyone should be aware of the acronym FAST and remember it if you suspect someone is having a stroke. It stands for:
Face -- ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
Arms -- ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward
Speech -- ask the person to repeat a simple phrase such as "Mary had a little lamb". Is the speech slurred or strange.
Time -- if you observe any of the syptoms above, call 9-1-1 and get to a medical facility as quick as possible.

Sidenote: Parents,,, when teaching your children how to call 9-1-1 be sure to say each numeral separately such as 9,,,,, 1,,,,,, 1. Do NOT say "nine eleven". There have been instances where small children have tried to call for help and searched in vain for the number eleven on the phone. 

Ok, I've rambled on long enough. This is suppose to be a travel blog but since I'm not traveling for a month, I guess I will write whatever comes to mind. 

I sure hope this post has sparked a little interest in you. At least to make you aware of some things that could affect you dramatically.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Liberty's Second Birthday

Location: Highway 509 RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

(click pictures to enlarge)

I woke up this morning feeling a little restless. While drinking my first cup of Community Club coffee, I started browsing through some of my pictures on the computer with wild and crazy thoughts of organizing them better. Currently, most are organized in files with the date being the file name. There are a dozen or so with real (words) file names. That is one of the reasons I created the map pages with my travel route and dates so I could locate the picture files by date. The coffee must not have been strong enough because no organizing happened. 

However, while looking at some of the older pictures, I saw the first picture I took of Freedom and Liberty hooked up together. It was taken on the day I took delivery of Liberty and towed it to the Red River South Marina/RV park. I have used that picture as the header picture for this blog ever since I started the blog. I guess I ought to change it since it has been up for a while. The difference between the header picture and the original is the original has the date on the picture. That date is two years ago, today!!!!. Wow, I knew I took delivery of Liberty in the month of November but I usually don't remember the exact date. I guess I don't have to remember ti any more since the picture will remember it for me. 

As I was looking at some of the older pictures, I was reminded of the decisions I made concerning the truck, RV, equipment, routes, etc. I don't think I wrote a lot about my thought process back then so I figured I would do it now. It will be good documentation for me and perhaps some readers, although boring, may find it useful or interesting.

Now I'm stumped a little bit because I'm not sure how far back in time do I go. I guess I will start after I made my decision to retire and travel around the country in an RV. That would have been about the spring of 2012 or somewhere around there. The first question was "what type of RV"? I spent many hours online learning about the different types of RV's such as Motorhomes (big class A's and smaller class B's and C's), bumper pull RV's and fifth wheel RV's (like Liberty). I listed the Pro's and Con's for each type and found that for me, a fifth wheel RV would do the trick. I went to two RV shows, and with the exception of having a nice visit with a friend in Fort Worth, I didn't like them. I went to a few RV dealers and didn't like that experience either. The sales people are looking to sell you their RV and will put down any other RV model or brand you mention. I narrowed the manufacturer down to Forest River and the brand down to Rockwood. My only decision left was which floorplan/model. I thought I knew which one I wanted and I was lucky in that a Texas dealer about 45 minutes away had the model in stock. I went there specifically to see that model so I could make my final decision. I told the salesperson what I was looking at and to my surprise, there was no sales pitch at all. They told me to look the model over and to take my time. I did just that and sat down inside for while and tried to picture how it would be living in it full time and traveling around. After 30 minutes, I made my decision, I didn't like it and it wouldn't work for me. Dang, I thought I had wasted my time. But, the good news is I saw another Rockwood on my way back to my car (didn't have the truck yet) and looked at it. That floorplan was Liberty's floorplan and I knew it fit me. That cinched it for me as to which RV I would buy. It would be a Forest River, Rockwood Signature Ultra Light Model 8280-WS. I liked the rear kitchen, queen sized bed, high ceilings and lazy boy recliners. I chose the "diamond package" which has many of the options I wanted. The main options I "needed" was the free standing dinette (not a booth) and second air conditioner (I want to stay cool). I have been very pleased with my choice of RV and have not second guessed myself. I have only had a few minor problems with the RV, but it was to be expected after towing it 20,000 miles in the first 18 months. 
This was taken at a truck stop after picking Liberty up from the dealer. The first campground was about 10 minutes away. They match up nicely. Notice that Liberty is level to the bed of Freedom. I was satisfied.

This was taken after getting her set up for the first time. The water hose is one of those fancy "pocket hoses" that shrinks up when the water is off. It didn't last very long and I never bought another one. I also notice I don't have my Surge Guard hooked up. I don't know if that is because I didn't have it or I just forgot to hook it up. Also, I didn't place any blocks under the front landing gear or the rear stabilizers. I'm now in the habit of placing 5 yellow plastic blocks under each. The shorter the travel of the landing gear, the more stable Liberty sits.  
This was taken in February of 2014 which was about 2 months before I hit the road. The BBQ grill was an option on the RV that I chose but wish I hadn't. I have not used the grill since I hit the road. It is too much trouble to clean it when I'm moving every few days. This picture also shows the "D" ring on the water heater door. It prevents the door from opening while going down the road. It looks like I hadn't installed the bug screens over the furnace exhaust like the one over the water heater. They keep the dirt daubers from building nests in the vent. 

This was taken 3 days before the picture with the BBQ grill. Louisiana winter weather can change very quickly. The temperature got down into the low 20's but my two electrical ceramic heaters kept me warm inside. I've only used the furnace in the RV a couple times, mostly just to check it out.

Once I decided on the RV to buy, I needed to decide on which truck to pull it with. Liberty's weight tops out at 9,000 pounds fully loaded. I wanted a truck that would not only tow that amount but would have some extra towing power and load carrying in reserve for those times when I would be crossing high mountains. I also wanted a short bed truck (easier parking in cities), extended cab (not 4 doors) with single tires on the rear axle. I really liked the Toyota but it didn't have the reserve power and load carrying I wanted. That left me looking at Dodge, Ford and Chevy. I eliminated Dodge, out of hand and unscientifically because of some bad memories with Dodge trucks from my work. Chevy was eliminated because it looked like they were going away from extended cab trucks. That left me with Ford which was fine with me because my father once owned a Ford F-150. The one I chose, based on towing capacity, payload capacity (the weight of the RV carried by the truck) and comfort level, was a Ford F-250 Lariat with the 6.2 L V-8 engine. I chose a gasoline engine over a diesel engine because I figured if the truck had problems in some small town somewhere off the beaten path, the chances were greater to find a gasoline mechanic than a diesel mechanic. Also, every gas station sells gasoline but does not always sell diesel fuel. Again, I've been satisfied with my choice of truck and have taken it places where nobody was around for miles and miles. My confidence in the truck was super high and I never doubted that she would start and get me where I needed to go. Although I have had starting problems recently with the truck, it seems to have been solved and my confidence in its reliability has been steadily climbing back to where it used to be.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.     

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Quick Update and Dodging Rain

Location:10/30/2015 - 11/1/2015
Hidden Ponds RV Park; Sulphur, Louisiana

Location: Current - Frog City RV Park; Duson, Louisiana

This is a quick update:

I left Bolivar Peninsula on Friday morning with rain predicted for the weekend. I had thought about staying through the weekend but knew it would just be to watch it rain. I said goodbye to the Gulf of Mexico as I turned north at High Island headed to Sulphur, Louisiana. I was looking forward to a visit with my son, grandson and "that Pinder girl" (sorry, inside joke). I enjoyed a nice dinner that evening and breakfast the following morning. I intended to pull out on Halloween but the weather turned nasty and it set into raining for 24 hours straight. I was parked in a nice location that shed the water nicely without any flooding. 

Traveling along the Bolivar Peninsula Highway with the Gulf to my right and dark clouds overhead.

The Gulf of Mexico

Just before turning north and putting the Gulf of Mexico in my rearview side mirror.

Campsite in Sulphur where I weathered the rain.
 I left Sulphur on Sunday, November 1st, headed to a visit with my sister, brother-in-law, nieces and nephew in Lafayette, Louisiana. I had to wait for a rain storm to pass over before I started hitching up. The storm was heading east, along the same path I had planned. I fell in behind it and slowed my speed down enough so as to not catch up with the rain. While checking the radar, I noticed another storm about an hour behind me and coming in the same direction. I would have just enough time to get to the campground and get set up before the rain hit. I really like having Accuweather on my phone and have used it many time to navigate around storms

I was able to visit yesterday afternoon and will be going back for more today. I plan to pull out tomorrow morning headed back to Mansfield unless I change my mind. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Last Day on the Gulf of Mexico (mostly pictures)

Location: Bolivar Peninsula RV Park (el. 20 ft); Crystal Beach, Texas

(all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia 929 cell phone)
(click pictures to enlarge)

Today is my last day on the Peninsula. I will have been here four days when I leave tomorrow. It's been a relaxing time, which is what I expected. I didn't explore like I usually do in places I visit because I've been here some much other the years.

Just some pictures:  
This is looking south along the seawall. I got lucky with the gull flying by. This portion of Galveston doesn't have a beach area.

I'm guessing the sign provides the legal liability protection for people falling off the seawall.

Looking north along the seawall. This is the point where the beach area begins.

You could stay in a motel with a nice view of the Gulf

An amusement park on a pier,,,called the Pleasure Pier

The beach continues straight towards East Beach while the road veers away.

This is the seawall at Fort Travis which is located near the point of the Bolivar Peninsula. It is the old home of Jane Long, "Mother of Texas". I wrote about his place and her about a year ago. 

Beach houses with a view.

The beaches along the Peninsula were deserted. I enjoyed a long walk along the beach today.

More beaches

Sunset over Galveston. Ships at anchor.

Freedom on the beach at sunset. She will be rolling to Louisiana tomorrow.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Just Cruising the Seawall and Riding the Ferry

Location: Bolivar Peninsula RV Park (el. 20 ft); Crystal Beach, Texas

(all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia 929 cell phone)
(click pictures to enlarge)

Just a short post. I haven't done anything really exciting since I've been here. Mostly, I've cruised around the Island and Peninsula. I tried to get some pictures of the "near full" moon rising last night, but I haven't studied up on the camera settings for such shots. I may just be too lazy to figure it out although, the moon rising over the Gulf last night was very nice and it would have been good to get a picture. 

The beach on the Peninsula. You can drive on it for miles.

A large ship passing across our bow.

Every time I visit Galveston, I look to see if this old beach house is still standing. I call it the "tea pot house". I don't think anyone has lived in it for a while.

I'm not sure if I was shooting for the flying gull or Seawolf Park.

I was shooting for the dolphin

Pelicans look kind of clumsy on land, but they are good flyers and are fun to watch when they are diving in the water. 

This picture if for my sister. She likes the Bolivar Lighthouse. It was built in 1872 and retired in 1933. It was built of brick with cast iron plates. When it was active, the color scheme was black/white bands. Of course now that it is privately owned, it is rusting away which gives it is brownish/black look. 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Galveston-Bolivar Peninsula

Location: Bolivar Peninsula RV Park (el. 20 ft); Crystal Beach, Texas

(all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia 929 cell phone)
(click pictures to enlarge)

I saw the Gulf of Mexico yesterday. I've seen it many, many times over the years and each time I get a comforting feeling when seeing it. Come to think of it, I got that same feeling when seeing the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Heck, the feeling was there at the Great Lakes too. I guess any large body of water will invoke that feeling. I wonder if it is because I was born in Port Arthur, Texas which is only about 20 miles from the Gulf. We moved to South Dakota which was the first of the many states we lived in when I was two years of age, so if I was imprinted with the Gulf, it would have had to have been during those 2 years. Maybe the "comforting affliction" to large bodies of water is due to the time I served in the U.S. Navy with 3 1/2 years aboard the U.S.S. Manitowoc (LST 1180). All of those are possible, but I'm real sure the reason is the vacations taken when my kids were growing up. A couple trips to Panama City, Florida and a couple more to Galveston are what makes me connected to the Gulf. Those memories are still fresh in my mind and that is what gives me that comforting feeling. As I drive along the seawall in Galveston or ride across the Bolivar Ferry, the kids are in my memories as they play in the sand, body surf in the waves, feeding the seagulls,,,,,,,. That is why Alzheimer's is such a terrible disease. It robs us of our memories and they are what makes us who we are. They give us comforting feelings when remembering and can bring up emotions from decades ago. A memory. Just a small memory can bring a smile or laugh or tear. It doesn't matter which emotion, just as long as the memories stay alive inside of us. 

Oh well, time marches on, and we need to keep in step for if we fall out of step too much, those guys in white coats show up.

Campsite at Bolivar Peninsula RV Park
I've stayed here before about a year ago.

I only had about 120 miles to travel yesterday so I pulled out of Stephen F. Austin SP about 9:30 am. 
I planned to hit Houston before noon. I had hopes that traffic would be light as everyone would still be at work, watching the clock, and waiting for lunch. I was right. I passed through Houston doing 60 mph and most of the time the lane ahead of me was clear. I haven't been as lucky in times past while traveling through Houston but yesterday was great. 

I stopped just south of Houston at a place called Buc-ees. A very large place with 56 gas pumps. 
The clerk inside said the store in Baytown has 96 pumps. The inside is wide open and not crowded with products placed everywhere like so many places now-a-days. It was nice. Gee, I must be getting a little "touched in the head" if I'm commenting about how nice a gas station is. 

While crossing on the Bolivar Ferry, I went up top so I could get a good look at Liberty's roof. 
Everything looked good except for a seam opening up along the front. I've checked inside and there are no leaks but I need to have it sealed up before this weekend when more rain is predicted. Luckily, the RV Park recommended a local RV Tech that does work in the park. 
The open seam is in the upper left
of the picture. The tech will seal the
entire seam.
I don't need a highly technical person, just one that has the right material to seal the seam. He came by and inspected Liberty and said, "no problem". I told him to fix it on Wednesday which is suppose to be sunny and very little wind. I figure about an hour and he will have Liberty's "wound stitched up". (how is that for projecting life forces onto an inanimate object???,,,LOL)

The Gulf is still dirty looking from all of the battering it took from the recent storms so I didn't take many pictures. I hope it settles down before I leave. 
A view from the causeway on Gulf Freeway leading to Galveston

I think this guy is stuck. He is down by the East Beach area with is not very touristy. I guess the Captain didn't read the sign about "dangerous currents".

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Chased the Rain to Stephen F. Austin SP

Location: Stephen F. Austin State Park (el. 175 ft); San Felipe, Texas

(all pictures taken with Nokia Lumia 929 cell phone)
(click pictures to enlarge)

Knowing I had a 370 mile tow ahead of me, I pulled out of San Angelo State Park early. I was emptying my tanks shortly after sunrise and was on the road by 8:15.
That has to be one of the earliest departure times for me in a very long time. The skies were clear but after checking the Radar, I knew I may catch up to the rain before reaching my destination. Sure enough, about 1 hour from my new campground, the rains started. My choices were to go ahead and set up in the rain or pull over an wait. 

As I was deciding, a Rest Area sign appeared. Perfect. I pulled in and reclined my seat. Just as I was about to nod off into a nice nap while listening to the raindrops pitty-pat on the roof, some jake-leg trucker pulled in beside me and put his rig in high idle while he went inside the rest area. After waiting for 15 minutes and he not returning, I pulled out and headed on my way. 

I arrived at Stephen F. Austin State Park with a light rain falling but I knew it would end in just a few minutes.
There are two deer in this picture.
Can you find the other one?
The park is about 50 miles west of Houston, Texas. I camped here in December of last year as I began my swing through the western states.

The campsites are nice and level with the park located only a couple miles from Interstate 10. The sites are full hook-ups but since I'll only be here one night, I won't need them. 

I'll pull out this morning about 10:00 with hopes of being on the other side of Houston by 12:00 where I'll stop at a Walmart before heading on to Bolivar Peninsula. I will be passing through Galveston and will take the Ferry to the Peninsula. I will be staying in the same campground from October of last year. I'm looking forward to seeing the water again. I haven't seen the ocean or the Gulf in a long time. I think I'll really enjoy the Ferry ride this time. 

The weather should be clear by then with just a little bit of rain showers. I don't mind the little rain at all.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.