About Us

Southeast (Gulf Coast), Texas, United States

Monday, October 16, 2017

In Branson with Rachel

After a really quiet night at the Oklahoma State Park, we got up about 9:00am on Thursday with the intentions of getting on the road about 10:30am. 

I did my normal morning computer routine ( a habit from my working days)……. Checked emails, TRVN Forum, Some RV Blogs, Allegro Club Forums, and read my local newspaper.  With extra time, I decided to pay my PenFed Visa Credit Card on-line with Wells Fargo.  When I opened up the PenFed site to get my balance, I also checked the activity (we use only this card on trips, and I try to check it daily anyway), and I found a charge in Florida that I did not make.

I found the company on the internet and called to question the charge……… and got a VMX recording.  I left a message stating that I thought it was fraudulent, and that I was going to cancel the payment.  Thirty minutes later, no call back (and none to date!!), so I called PenFed to stop the payment. 

I found out that you can only challenge a payment if you gave them the CC number and were disputing the amount of the charge!  Otherwise, as in this case, it is called fraud, and they have to cancel the card and send you another one!

The only card that we use on the road, and for 90% of our cost of living at home, is the PenFed card.  It pays back 5% on fuel, 3% on groceries (and they call Walmart a grocery store, even if you buy a shirt and some paint!), and 1% on everything else.  We get about $100 back every 4 to 5 weeks!!  And, we buy a lot of fuel on a trip!

I convinced them to send the card, via FEDEX to the Bruce Deaton Paint and Body shop in Red Bay, home of the Tiffin factory, where we will be on next Monday.  It is supposed to arrive next Tuesday, and Melody Deaton is set up to sign for it!

We got on the road about noon, and made good time.  After we pulled into Missouri, we stopped at a Walmart to get some groceries for our stay in Branson.  As I pulled into the lot, the front PS tire must have clipped the curb, and the TPMS sensor managed to break off the threaded end of the metal valve stem. 

I went into the store, planning on grabbing groceries, getting a Subway for lunch, and hitting the road for the rest of the trip to Branson.  Not to be……. Patsy stayed in the store for the sandwich, while I took the groceries to the Bus to put away. 

As I approached the Bus, a customer came over from the gas station, which was near the Bus, and asked if I knew about “THAT”, pointing to a flat tire on the car!  I told him, “I do now!!”, and thanked him for pointing it out.  I would have heard the alarm if I had gotten into the Bus before he told me, but I did not like it either way!

I don’t like the car jacks that come with the vehicles, so I always carry a bottle jack inside the spare tire storage.  However, the one that I had starting leaking fluid about a year ago, so I tossed it, and never replaced it.  I went into the Walmart Auto Center and asked if they could change a tire on the parking lot, and the lady manager said a definite “NO”, and also told me they could not repair a stem associated with a Honda Factory installed TPMS sensor!!

I bought a bottle jack for $12, ate my sandwich, and put the ‘temporary spare tire on the car, and we took off.

We got to our Branson RV Park, Stagecoach  Campground, at about 6:30pm, and the office was long closed!  Our site assignment and paperwork was on the office door, and we got set up.  Luckily, we had a pull-through site.

On Friday morning, with Rachel and her parents expecting to arrive in Branson around 1:00pm, we found that the nearest Honda dealer was in Springfield, MO………. about 50 miles north of Branson. 

At the Honda dealer, we found that they had the parts, but we had to wait for them to work us into the daily schedule!  We went to the Customer Wait Area, and I finished my daily computer about 30 minutes before the car was ready.  Not really bad!

We got a call from my daughter that they were about 30 minutes away, so we headed to the Bass Pro Big Cedar Lodge, where the medical conference was being held and where they were staying.  We arrived just after they registered and had there lodge and room assignment, so we met them at their room.

It was about 2:00pm, and we headed out for a parting lunch at the Rib Crib in Branson, highly rated by Yelp….. I decided that Yelp is not always right!!  It was good BBQ, but not great, plus when we got there, they were out of brisket!!

We had a good visit, and Rachel had a time assembling a pair of eyeglasses that came with her meal….


This trip, we found Rachel missing a couple of front teeth, and letting her bangs grow out!  But, still cute, and a lot of fun to take care of!!

After our meal, we left with Rachel and stopped at a Vf Factory Outlet store and shopped a bit, and then headed back to the Bus to let her unpack and get her bed set up.

Here is what our site looked like………


After a good nights sleep, on Saturday morning, we had three goals…… ride the large Ferris wheel that was recently moved to Branson for Chicago’s Navy Pier, attend a Grape and Fall Festival at Hollister, MO, and visit Table Rock State Park, near our campground.

Here’s the Ferris Wheel pic’s……….


Rachel had a lot of fun on the Ferris Wheel, and had a lot more at the Grape and Fall Festival……


Pony ride…….


She wanted her face painted and chose a dog…….


Kinda’ looks like she lost a fight!!  Of course the next thing was getting finger-printed by the local police!…..


Of course, the big black ‘police’ balloon is the “new ankle brace” for kids in Missouri!!!

After a drive through the Table Rock State Park, we headed back to the Bus for a rest.  Then she wanted to go to the playground at the campground.  The plan is to wear her out so she goes to bed early and we get rested for our travels to Red Bay tomorrow after her parents pick her up!


At 6:30pm, we headed out for dinner.  Rachel fixed her hair and was ready to go…


By the time we got to the Cracker Barrel Restaurant, she was beginning to show signs of being tired!

IMG_0030Wrapping up our time with Rachel, we met her parents at the “Wild Bill’s Truck Stop” on HWY 65 on the way to Conway, where we were to connect with I-40.  Deanne and Mike were taking the same highway to get back to Little Rock.

We drove until 7:00pm and stopped for the night at a Walmart in Fulton, MS……. about 25 miles from Red Bay.  It was raining, and the last small highway in to Red Bay is narrow and windy with no shoulder!   We decided it was best to wait until morning for the last leg, and also, be able to watch our “new” Sunday night TV shows.

Next post will cover our “ADVENTURES” at the Tiffin home town!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

On the Road to Branson / Rachel Care

After a summer of work at the house, we were looking forward to our first Bus trip of the Fall.  This road trip includes a visit to Branson, MO to take card of our Arkansas granddaughter, Rachel, while her parents attended a medical conference. 

After that, we will head to the Tiffin factory town of Red Bay, AL to get some hurricane paint/Fiberglas repairs completed, a new set of tires with a four-wheel alignment , and some new house batteries for the Bus.

After Red Bay, we will head to a Lone Star Allegro rally at Trader’s Village in Houston.  The next week, we will attend a week-long Bluebonnet Allegro rally in the Rio Grande Valley town of Mission.  We will return home on November 12.

On this past Monday, I had a colonoscopy that made Sunday a very sad day with the pre-procedure diet!!  Tuesday, Patsy had a hair appointment……… As soon as she was finished, I picked her up at the salon in the Bus with the car hooked up, and we headed out.

I was told my colon looked good, and Patsy’s hair looked great.  Our reason for the fast departure was that our travels took us through Waco Texas on the way to Branson and we wanted to visit the Magnolia Market.owned by Chip & Joanna Gaines, hosts of HGTV's hit remodeling show "Fixer Upper".  Patsy is a fan of the show, and wanted to see the market.  She bought a T-shirt, and a flower vase for the Bus.

Here are some pictures……….


We had to park the Bus a couple of blocks from the market, and as we were walking back, Patsy spotted this house.  It is or was called ashotgun house”, and was one of the projects that was highlighted on one of their shows.


We had arrived in Waco at 5:00pm, and the Market area closed at 6:00pm, but we had enough time to do a good tour.  We went by a Bed Bath&Beyond store to buy a rug that Patsy had wanted for the Bus, and then we hit North I-35 toward Dallas.  We drove until about 10:30pm, and overnighted at a Walmart in Sherman, TX.

That put us at half-way to Branson, and we don’t need to be there until Thursday afternoon.  On Wednesday morning, we decided to drive about half of the distance to Branson, and stop at a campground in an Oklahoma State Park.  We chose Lake Eufaula State Park, near Checotah, OK.

We got parked in a site, and drove the car around the park a bit.  Then, we just rested.  Patsy grilled some hot links that we had brought with us, and I started updating this blog.

Here are some pictures of the state park………


It was a nice quiet and cool day in the park!

Tomorrow, we will drive to the campground near Branson where we will stay until Sunday afternoon while taking care of Rachel.

More later!!,

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Where Did The Summer Go!!

This post will be a short ‘Gap Closer’ from our  annual “Summer Vacation with the Grand Kids” and our current travel.

When I retired 13 years ago, I tore down the cedar board fence around out backyard, and told Patsy that one day, we would put up a new fence.  She kept asking “when” and I was able to keep dodging her ‘pushiness’! 

This summer, my success came to an abrupt end!  So, we started shopping and decided on a black metal fence, since we like the view out the rear windows of the house.  The previous wood fence was six foot tall on the sides and only four feet tall across the back to allow some of the view.

With Rick’s help, I found the fence that Patsy liked, and ordered the components of the fence. We had to delay the delivery until our Summer Vacation with the kids was over. Rick said he would help, and we decided we would do it ourselves.  Once we did some planning, and layout, it was fairly easy.

Rick bought a tractor about a decade ago, and has a post hole attachment.  That made the initial part of the task easier, except for the buried power, telephone and cable TV lines, as well as the big roots of the mighty oak trees that we planted 30+ years ago!!I bought a laser transit at Lowes to get & keep the fence level as we installed it! 

Once we determined the elevation that we wanted to set the fence, and got the holes drilled, it went pretty easy.  We mixed the bagged concrete in the bucket of the tractor, one hole at a time.  It took one weekend, some of the nights in between, and the following weekend to complete the jog.  My nephew, John King, help us and got it finished.

After a couple of weeks of rest, and a hurricane, Patsy and I completed the landscaping around the yard and fence.

My first engineering “work'” in 25 years!

Fence Layout Sketch

Backyard view before fence:


Backyard view after fence installation on day Hurricane Harvey visited!:


Concrete “Mixing”:


On a sunny day:


Hurricane Harvey was a cruel visitor to the Texas Gulf Coast.  Except for rain, I think our storm impact minimal compared to areas to the East like Houston and Beaumont.  The rain  amounts in our area was more like 12 inches compared to the 42 inches that was  forecast.  Our damage was contained to a small leak in the roof at a skylight, that dripped into a tub below. Lost a lot of limbs off our 7 Oak trees, and one big one came down at the edge of the roof and bent up the gutter some.

The storm hit us around 7:00 pm on Friday evening , and we lost power at the house around 3:00am on Saturday morning.   As the storm winds slowed, Patsy and I managed to go to the storage to get the Bus so we could use the Bus’ on-board generator to power our refrigerator as well as our neighbors. 

The Bus is parked in a 60' pull through with 16' tall doors on each end. On the end where I park my Bus,  the roller tracks gave way to the wind top to bottom.......... and the door was hanging by the spooler at the top, and the door was 'blowing' like a blanket on a clothes line....... beating the heck out of the front cab. It was very windy, but i managed to push the heavy door away from the Bus and it's windshield while another guy used the chain to roll up the door. To be able to store stuff behind the Bus, I park it only about 2 feet from the door.  Luckily, it did roll all the way up, and did not hit the windshield.

More luck...... the lower front of the Bus looked like it had been sanded with a lot of scrapes, but as the rain hit it, it partly washed off!!! It was mostly dust and paint chips off the door!   Although the paint is worn through to the Fiberglas in places, the damage is relatively minor. That new diamond shield is great stuff!! 

A Bus parked in the unit next to mine had been parked about 8—10 feet from the door, and his door failed similar to mine.  However, since his door was blown further and more violently, it did much more damage!  His windshield was broken in several places, his Fiberglas front was really torn up, and the driver’s side mirror was ripped on the arm.

The other door of my shed ripped loose from the spooler, but was held at the bottom. It just layed over all the stuff that we had stored behind the Bus. It did fall short of the back of the Bus, but it tore up a lot of the stuff stored there.

With the front door rolled up, I was able to drive out, and took the Bus to the house.

As for Victoria, the whole town was without electricity and water from 3 days to over a week in some cases. The city authorities said on TV (in my Bus, I had TV) that we should have water back in about 3--4 days and power could be out for most for 1--2 weeks. They said to boil the water...... The first question was HOW? Most people cook with electricity!!

With the Bus in the driveway at home, we were good.  Att night, we had a/c for sleeping,  some clean water, in our tanks,  power to cook, TV for information, and life was good. I was able to run a cord to my next door neighbor to power his fridge and freezer!

We were in good shape, and were very lucky!!  Here are some random pictures:

Loss of tree limbs in backyard (one of them also took out the gutter above the ‘boarded-up’ stained glass window):


My storage unit is the second from the left with the door laying on top of my stored stuff.  The other Bus was parked in the third door to the left of mine:


My stuff with the door still laying on it, and then with the door removed in the second picture…….. you can really see the damage:



My neighbor’s Bus:


The other side of my storage unit.  Again, mine is the second of the two missing doors!  This is where the front of my Bus was facing:


IMG_8306IMG_8308After we returned from the Kid’s summer vacation, the fence and the work caused by the hurricane pretty much tilled our schedule for the remainder of the Summer.

We did attend the first Fall meeting of the Lone Star Allegro Club which was held in Sulphur, LA.  We had a good time, but did not take a lot of pictures.  We did get a good one of the Bus on our lake-side site:

IMG_3801We are now on the first long trip in a while.  More on it in the next post!