Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

Now in Crawfordsville, Indiana

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

Settling in to Natures Resort in Edcouch TX

December 28 - 29, 2013 
After we checked out of the hotel in Brownsville we headed to Harlingen to pick up the rig.  First though we needed to get Patty her Christmas present at the Valle Vista Mall. The Zales jewelry store there had a watch she liked that we saw just before we left to go north for the holidays. We tried, unsuccessfully, to find it up North.  We were hoping that the watch was still at Zales, but it wasn't.  She did however find a nice one she liked at the Kay Jewelry store across the way from Zales.  So, now all is good!

We arrived at the Palm Gardens where we had the rig stored around 2 in the afternoon.  Of course the office closed at noon!  We called the number on the door and were soon met by the person on after hours duty.  After just a short time she was able to get someone with the key to let us in the storage area to get our rig.

While I was getting the rig set up for transport, Patty went to our old neighbors to get Rosey back.  Rosey didn't look too good at all.  It had been very cold, below 40, several days and there was a real bad wind storm a few days ago.  None of these things were to Rosey's liking.  She also had not been fed on time either.  Now we are hoping to bring her back to full health in the next few weeks.

There she is just as we left her.

We pulled out and were on our way by 3 pm.  It was about 20 miles to our new site at Natures Resort in Edcouch TX. We pulled into Natures just about 3:30 in the afternoon. This will be our home for the next 3 months!
You know you are close to the border with these all around.

Sandpipers Resort to the left and Natures to the right.

Here we are at our our new front door.

The site we are in is not large but not small either.  However, it was quite the ordeal getting our 40 foot rig into the site. The rig parking pad is a slightly elevated narrow gravel site with a good size grass front yard.  However, we have to park our truck on a lot of it.  The issue is that the access road is narrow not leaving much room to maneuver the rig on to the narrow gravel pad.  The pad is maybe 2 feet wider than the rig is wheel to wheel.  Even with plenty of access road width this would be a challenge for us.  We have gotten pretty good backing into a space that has either a tight access road or a tight site but not both.  It’s pretty easy to back into a site with a few feet on each side and then pull forward to get centered.  With no area to maneuver the truck and no forgiveness with the site it was real tough.  

Our neighbor helped Patty and I get into the site.  Patty was in the back and our neighbor was in the front.  We made numerous attempts at getting the angle just right to make sure we could get the rig centered after it was on the pad.  We are talking about moving just inches back and forth and left to right many times until we got it in perfect.

OK, we have been here at Natures Resort for a couple of days now.  We found that we know at least 2 couples from Florida resorts that we stayed in last year.  People are very friendly and seem to be very active which we like. We got a tour of the facilities after we checked in, which are very nice.

There are many planned activities that we like also.  They have my favorite, water volleyball and also petanque for Patty every day at 2 pm, biking on Thursday mornings, karaoke on Thursday eves.  There are many more things planned but those are some of the big ones we like right from the start.  There is a large swimming pool, a pool just for water volleyball, and a hot tub for around 20 people.
Nice lights at a nearby site.

The swimming pool at night.

So far the weather has not been very good.  Yesterday the 29th was our first whole day here and the weather was just OK.  It started out in the mid-50s with sun and then topped out at 71 with clouds.  Today the 30th is has been raining since 11 pm yesterday and the high temperature is to be 47, yikes!!  This cold rain is forecast for the next 3 days and then only getting to the upper 60s with maybe mid-70s by the weekend.  Then next week rain is again called for.  It’s better than freezing, but isn't this south Texas?

On our first full day, the 29th, we got our morning routine done quickly and headed to the grocery store.  We needed to restock our fridge after being gone for the past 33 days. Since this was to be the only good weather day until next Friday we wanted to get back and enjoy it.  

After purchasing $297 in food we were back at the resort by noon with a temperature of 68 and some sun.  It felt good to finally get undressed and be in the sun.  That didn’t last too long as it soon clouded up.  However the temperature continued to 70 -71 so it was still nice.

Lard is still a staple here!

Anyone for a cows head?  Yummy!

Or, how about a sheep's head?

I especially wanted to get my first water volleyball session in and with that I wasn't disappointed.  We got 12 players together at 2 pm and we started to play.  We played for 2 hours straight and as usual for my first time, my wrists and fingers were sore but I loved it!  Now the weather just needs to cooperate more.

Patty got us signed up for the New Year’s Dance/Party while I was playing volleyball.  The party is a potluck event and we have decided to bring chili in a crock pot.  Evidently there are about 135 signed up for the party!  Should be fun!

That’s it for now as we hunker down on this cold and rainy day in the sub tropics!  We plan to go out later to get the chili ingredients and that is about it for the day.  Tomorrow with the weather the same as today we plan to just make chili and then PARTY till 2014!

Happy New Year everyone!

Stay tuned for 2014!

Indiana Fun with Family

December 15 - 27, 2013   

Sunday the 15th we left NJ around 11 am and landed in New Stanton PA around 5 pm.  We had great weather but ran out of window washer fluid about 10 miles from our hotel.  I really don’t know how we got by without these years ago.  As it got dark and the windows got covered in road grime it was very hard to see the road by the time we got to the hotel.

We got checked in and walked to dinner at the (close by) Park and Eat Restaurant.  After dinner it was time for bed.  We have at least 5 hours to travel tomorrow to reach Crawfordsville Indiana.

Monday the 16th we got on our way around 9 am.  Our first stop was to get fuel and to purchase window washer fluid. The temperature outside was now 20 as I put the washer fluid into the reservoir.  After filling the reservoir I tried to wash the windows to no avail.  I believe the washer fluid probably turned to slush around the pump and was causing cavitation. This was going to be a problem as the temperature wasn’t going above freezing for the next few days.

We arrived in Crawfordsville around 4 pm.  We were about an hour later due to having to get out and put snow on the windshield to clean it every 50 miles or so.   We stopped at a local grocery store and picked up the ingredients to make Mac and Cheese with ham for dinner.  Who doesn’t like Mac and Cheese?  About meals; we usually cook dinner at my son’s house because we like to cook, we want them to relax (if that is possible with 3 young girls), we don’t want them spending money on us, and we don’t have anything else to do. 
From left (Granddaughters): Bailey, Savannah, and Livy

Due to the lack of hills, buildings, and trees, the snow never seems to be plowed off the roads.  This is what it looks like most of the winter in Indiana.

Tuesday the 17th Patty had a Dr. appointment in Lafayette IN about 45 minutes north of Crawfordsville in the morning and we both had our 6 mo. Dental visit in the afternoon.  Yea us that we didn't need any extra dental work.  

We are somewhat concerned about the dentist we are seeing in Crawfordsville.  This was our 4th time seeing him in a year and a half and we have yet to have an x-ray.  In fact we only see the dentist for maybe 2 minutes each visit.  
We feel that we will get a new dentist in NJ for our next visit in July.  We are in NJ as much as we are in Indiana and the dental plan covers many more dentists in NJ than in Indiana.

After the dental cleaning including the very lax dentist check we headed to my brother Roger and Sister Diana’s house south of Indianapolis.  We stayed with them for just one night.  They have a very nice turn of the century house in Acton IN that they have mostly restored now.  We always have a great time with them.  As usual, the conversation as well as the liquor flowed quickly and smoothly until just after midnight.  We managed to have a good diner at Red Lobster before we had too much liquid libation.

My sister Diana with her early Christmas present, a new Lexus SUV!

Wednesday the 18th Diana made us a nice country breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast after we got up a little late for us at 9 am.  Most of the rest of the day we spent just talking and finishing shopping on-line.  Sort of boring some would say but we had fun just being together.  We wanted to get back to Crawfordville before dark so we left my brother and sisters house around 3:30.

The 18th is also our wedding anniversary and this one is our 14th.  We decided to go out to a restaurant eat by ourselves in celebration.  Well, that is easier said than done in Crawfordsville.  Just about every chain fast food establishment has a facility in Crawfordsville.  But if you want something other than fast food even if it is a chain there just isn't anything.  When Cracker Barrel is reputed to be the best restaurant in Crawfordsville you then know what we are talking about!  
Our Anniversary dinner at the Creekside Lodge restaurant.

We ended up going to a restaurant called Creekside Lodge.  We have liked this place in the past but not this time.   Anyway we had cold food and just bad service.  You could just tell that this restaurant was on its way out.  It just seems that regular sit down restaurants can’t make it in Crawfordsville. It’s a real shame!

Thursday the 19th we both had our regular Dr. appointments in the morning.  We then went to visit with my step-father Leon and his wife Barbara.  They live just outside Crawfordsville on the west side of town. 

After a while visiting at their home we went to eat lunch at, wait for it, Cracker Barrel.  For having a monopoly on the sit down restaurant business in the area the food really is not very good.  Anyway we had a nice visit and a nice lunch even though it was mainly due to the company and not the food.

We got some news during lunch that surprised us.  Leon let it slip that the next time we are there they may be moved. Of course we are like “where are you two going?”  It seems that they are pretty much set on going to an assisted living facility in the area.  They have friends who are living there already and have given good reviews of living in the facilities. 

I feel like it is a great thing to do at the stage of life they are in.  General mobility is starting to be an issue for them.  
Walking and driving has become increasingly difficult.  The up keep of a house is harder to do and, why even do it now?  
We for one totally support this move.  They will have better access to the things that really matter like social interaction without having to do things like house maintenance.  We don’t want to do house maintenance anymore either so we really understand.

Friday the 20th we didn't do much all day except spend time with the grandkids.  We decided to make baked Ziti for dinner.  Another thing about this area, they really do not have any food diversity here.  For pasta selection at the grocery we had one size spaghetti, elbows, and penne; that’s it! So we made baked penne which is basically the same thing.

The weekend of the 21st and 22nd I’m going to just glance over as we just visited Tony and Tracy and the Grand-kids, nothing extra special.  Saturday night we got pizza at Arni’s which was great.  It was just like the old Pizza King pizza.  

Then on Sunday Patty made stuffed peppers.  The kids had never before tasted stuffed peppers.  They are somewhat picky eaters and say they do not like peppers or onion.  So we chopped up the peppers and onions so small they couldn't see it in the pepper stuffing.  I can’t say they loved it but they both ate some and more than just a bite. So, good for them and us!

Monday the 23rd I found a guy who was willing to weld the dining room chairs.  The chairs were ours originally from NJ. The chairs have a metal rocking chair mechanism that had started to break at the weld.  Actually one of the chairs was already broken when we brought them to Indiana almost 2 years ago.  Now we have 3 wobbly chairs out of the six.  

The fix was a little more involved than I had thought but the fix still only took about an hour to complete all of the chairs. The guy did the welding outside and the temperature was just 20, so I was freezing just standing around watching him. 
The dining room chair welds are in 2 places.  They were not done right originally so they break.

Chairs ready to be taken to the welder.

Welder welding the chairs.

That evening we took Leon and Barbara out to dinner at the finest restaurant in Crawfordsville, the Cracker Barrel. Dinner was just OK again.  Of course Leon knew a lot of the people who came in to eat as he knows most people in Crawfordsville.  Also, since they frequent the restaurant he knows most of the servers too.  After dinner we went back to their house and just sat and visited.

Tuesday the 24th, Christmas eve, Patty was scheduled for an MRI of her back.  Patty had been having problems with both of her sciatic nerves while walking.  So far we have ruled out a diabetic cause so we are looking at something in her back.  Anyway this MRI was scheduled for 7 am 45 minutes away in Lafayette.  It was the coldest morning yet at just 2 when we arrived.  I for one am no longer conditioned for the cold after being away from it for 2 years now.  I use to be able to handle it but now I get cold so fast and it stays with me for some time even after I am inside.  

After the MRI we went back to Tony’s and made carrot casserole to take to the Williams' Christmas gathering. Williams is the family name of my first wife and the mother to my 2 children.  She came from a family of 14 children and their mom is still alive so the event is quite large.  This year it was held in the Walnut school cafeteria and Gymnasium. I enjoy seeing all of them each year.
Tony and Livy at the Williams Christmas gathering.

Picture taking at the Williams gathering.

My grandmothers old house.  This is where my mother married my father in the 50's.  Grandmother passed away over 20 years ago.

A little trouble after the Williams event.  Tony lost an alternator belt.

Getting ready to read the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

That night just before we got everyone to bed, Savannah read to us all the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  It was real nice and Christmassy with all of us sitting together quietly while she read from her book.  This also wasn’t something she was asked to do, she asked if she could do it.  That made even more special.

Wednesday the 25th Christmas, we were awakened by the sound of children giggling at around 6 am.  The kids had been told that they couldn’t wake anyone up until 7 am so they were just giggling until 7 am.  

We got up at 7 on the dot so we wouldn’t make them wait. Tony started with the stockings and then we worked our way through the presents under the tree.  Patty didn’t put names on the ones we brought to keep them all in suspense; she matched the presents to the child by the wrapping paper.  We finished up the morning with cinnamon rolls and then we took a long nap!

The only shot I got of Bailey with a Christmas present.

Christmas evening we prepared a large ham dinner.  Tracy’s mom Brenda also came over for dinner.  It was real nice to have everyone together.

Thursday the 26th was our last day in Indiana and our last day traveling for the holidays.  We have been gone from our RV for 32 days now and traveled 2,100 miles between Indianapolis IN, Buffalo NY, Keyport NJ, Crawfordsville, IN and then back to Indianapolis IN.  

We are not sure we want to do the same next year.  We have some ideas but we need to work some more on the future plans before we let anybody know yet.  Staying in other peoples houses for so long gets tiring after this long of a duration.

Anyway, today we took the whole family to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  This is a really nice museum for the whole family.  Patty and I had decided to have lunch at the museum since we had left a little late in the morning.  
That turned out to be a bad idea on our part.  We ended up having plenty of time as we were done at the museum in about 2.5 hours.  Anyway, the lunch for 3 kids and 4 adults cost $53 with 2 of the adults sharing the kid’s food! It would have been much cheaper to have eaten outside the museum.   

Anyway, it worked out all right as nobody was hungry for dinner.  We were going to go to Olive Garden but at 4 pm it was too early and we were just not hungry.  So we said our goodbyes and we were off to a hotel near the airport and they all went home in Tony’s van.  We really hate saying goodbye!

The gang at the Children's Museum.

It was Dino time at the museum!

This was left in the parking garage after the Tut exhibit last month.

Savannah hatching dino eggs.

Livy hatching Dino eggs with help from Bailey.

Livy and Savannah fishing.




Digging for Dino bones.

We stayed at a Quality Inn a few miles from the airport.  We had a few glasses of wine and then a sub sandwich around 8 pm.  We spent some time on the internet and I started this blog.  By 9:30 we were in bed.  Our flight was at 9 am so we needed to get out the door by 7 am. We had to repack everything in order to fit a box full of insulin pump supplies Patty received. Just another challenge conquered!

Friday the 27th we were up by 6 am and down to have the included breakfast.  They had biscuits and gravy so I had to have some.  I usually try to have this once while I am here. 

We left by 7 am, filled up the rental car tank with fuel and made it to the airport by 7:30.  As usual the security at the Indianapolis Airport was real slow.  We were told it was due to government budget cuts.  Makes me wonder then why was it slow all of the past times we have been here.  It always seems to me that the TSA here is more meticulous than anywhere else I have flown from.  By meticulous I mean, slooooowllllly examine and question everything.  The one good thing is that they are very much more pleasant now.  They use to have the rudest TSA personnel as well as being slow.  Now they are just slow.

Christmas Tree in the Indianapolis Airport.  Goodbye Indiana until June!

It was all OK though as we still arrived at our gate half an hour before the departure time.  Our trip to Brownsville was on 2 flights.  The first 2.5 hour leg was from Indianapolis to Houston, then a 50 minute layover, with the second 1 hour leg going to Brownsville.  

Both flights were on small RJ (Regional Jets) planes.  The inside height is maybe 5’ 10’’ with seating of 1 by 2.  I am claustrophobic and can’t stand these planes.  I bought upgrades on both legs so I could be in the first seat on the plane.  The first 2 seats are along the left side of the plane and are next to the galley.  This makes my space feel much bigger and keeps me from having a panic attack.  It was OK as the flights basically were on time.  As long as the plane is moving I feel better.  Just sitting with the doors closed not knowing how long we are going to be here really pushes my panic buttons.

Well, here we are now back in Brownsville TX.  Not real warm at 60 but still better than 30!

Tomorrow, Saturday the 28th we will pick up the rig and head 20 miles northwest to our winter spot in Edcouch TX.  Next blog will be after we get settled in.

Stay Tuned!

New Jersey Fun with Family & Friends

December 7 - 14, 2013   

We arrived at our friends Cindy and Rob's in Keyport NJ around 4pm on Saturday the 7th.  We plan to be here for the next 8 days.  These are the friends that have an electric set-up for our 5th wheel when we are here in the summer.  In the winter, they offer us a guest room for the duration of our stay, so they have become our port while we are in NJ.

Cindy and Rob are KJing (Karaoke Jockey) at a local shore bar tonight called Bahr’s.  We decided to go to as we used to frequent there as Patty sings, I do not.  It was supposed to be an ugly sweater event but we didn’t see very many ugly ones.  We stayed for Patty to sing a couple of songs.  We met up with an old friend Diana.  It’s nice to go somewhere they all know your name.  I didn’t mean this to be an episode of Cheers, but it really is something like that here.

Patty singing a song at Bahr's.

Cindy (second from left) with her ugly sweater

After we arrived back at Cindy and Rob's, Patty started to feel like she was coming down with a case of GERD.  She has been having this since she was switched from her original medication due to some side effects.  Patty got up during the night to vomit so things were not going well.  Usually by morning she feels better and then we just move on, but not this time.  

Sunday the 8th Patty couldn’t hold anything down including water.  So we went through another night with her not getting better.  Then Monday the 9th we decided to see a doctor at a local clinic.  The doctor told us she needed to be in a hospital to get blood work quicker than they could do. 

Our next stop was Bayshore Community Hospital Emergency Room in Holmdel NJ.  By this time she was bringing up blood.
We got in right away and within an hour she was diagnosed with another case of Diabetic Ketoacidosis or DKA.  What we believe happened is that the GERD triggered her gastritis which caused her blood sugar to spike dramatically on Sunday night causing the DKA.  Because she was having the gatritis episode then getting the DKA the 2 were feeding each other in to a vicious cycle.
Patty was admitted to the ICU and got a room around 1am on Tuesday the 10th.  We have been through this before so we pretty much knew the procedure.  Only this time they were going to also treat her gastritis. The procedure is to get her blood sugar down and get her hydrated.  They also gave her intravenous protonics to control the gastritis.

By Wednesday the 11th Patty was back to being herself again, YEA!  She was discharged around 3 in the afternoon and we packed it in and headed back to Cindy and Rob's.  

Patty felt good enough to go out for dinner with her son Chas and his girlfriend Lisa.  We went to a new bistro in Keyport called Drew’s Bayshore Bistro.  Our opinion was that the food was better than average and fairly priced.  We would more than likely go back again.

Thursday the 12th I took the train into Newark NJ to have a few drinks with my old work mates.  We call ourselves the Old Bastards Club or OBC for short.  I arrived about an hour early so I took the opportunity to walk down Ferry Street and see what had changed.  I hadn’t walked Ferry Street for 2 years now since I retired.  Really, not much had changed.
Picture hanging in the Matawan/Aberdeen train Station NJ

The "big" board a Penn Station Newark NJ.

I didn’t, however, take any time to actually go to my old office.  I am feeling very ambivalent about going back to where I worked. I had a good ride there but it just isn’t something I want to relive. It seems that the longer I am retired from NJT the more I just don’t want to go back. Near the end of my career there I lost my personal connection to the place.  It just became way too bureaucratic.  Anyway, enough about work.

I had a great time talking with the OBC group. Tom V., Danny M., and Joe G. showed for this meeting.  We met at Bello's Bar that is near the NJT HQ.   It was again nice to walk in and, even after a couple of years, the bartender knew me by name.  I guess that is nice depending on how you look at that! We broke up about 9 pm and I got a train back where Patty picked me up a little after 10 pm.
The official meeting place of the OBC in Newark NJ.

Tom Vinson

Danny Melando

Joe Gallen

Friday the 13th we had plans to have dinner with my daughter Jennifer and her husband Christian.  We met them at their apartment in Budd Lake NJ at 5:30 pm after Jennifer got home from work.   We decided to take our rental car to the restaurant that is 25 miles away.  We went to a favorite restaurant of Jennifer’s and it is one of mine as well, the Walpack Inn.  

The Walpack Inn is located in the old Tock’s Island Dam area in northwestern NJ along the Delaware River.  The Tock’s Island area was a 1950s federal project to flood an area of 72,000 acres in NJ and PA for a reservoir to provide water for Philadelphia and New York City.  The land was acquired but, due to environmental issues, the dam was never built.  The federal government still owns most of the land and the Walpack Inn sits in the middle of this 72,000 acre site.  The first thing you encounter when you exit your car at the Inn is the lack of ambient light and the extreme silence. This just doesn’t feel anything like busy NJ.

Tree at the Walpack Inn

My daughter Jennifer and her husband Christian.
We all had nice dinners of the Friday night Prime Rib special.  The Walpack is also known for their fresh baked brown bread and large salad bar.  It really didn’t matter too much about the food though as we were just enjoying the company.  However, Patty and I were not real happy with the Prime Rib, it was very average with little taste.  It was a great night none the less.

Saturday night the 14th Cindy and Rob planned a karaoke party at their house.  This was going to be the time for us to see a lot of our old friends and have some fun as well.  As luck would have it, the weather turned bad with snow and then ice.  It snowed most of the day but just accumulated to only a few inches.  The problem was that the heaviest snow and the changeover to ice/rain happened at the start of the party after dark at 7 pm.  There were a few people cancel but to our surprise most came.  We had a great time seeing our friends.  

Rob doing some driveway cleaning before the party.  The girls are calling him the Gingerbread man in the brown overalls.

The girls rolling cookie balls before the party.  From Left: Leigh, Patty, Mandy, and Cindy

Cindy gives cookies as gifts so she makes a lot of them.

The duck picture so you will duck and not hit your head when you go downstairs for the party.

Rob after setting up the sound system for the karaoke party.
Patty working the bar.

Eileen, Michael, and Diana mugging for the camera.

Patty and Leigh doing a song together.  Rob with the sound system.
Sunday the 15th was our last morning in NJ.  It is always hard to say goodbye and it seems we do that a lot.  The reason we are saying goodbye so much is because we are saying hello to so many now.  We believe this is a good thing.  We have so many friends across the country now.  
However, our friends from the Jersey Shore will always be very special to us. Patty's son stopped by to say goodbye as well.

We managed to finally get on the road by 11 am.  We are headed 330 miles to our stopping point on our way to Indiana.  Indiana will be our final leg of the 3 leg trip for the holidays.  We arrived at the Days Inn about 4:30 pm.  We will get dinner somewhere here and that will be that.

Tomorrow we travel the last 400 miles to Crawfordsville IN.  
They are still saying NO SNOW!

Stay tuned!