2012 - 2017 Travel Map

2016 travel completion and winter season 2016/17

November 14, 2016 - April 6, 2017: 

It’s been almost 4 months since we have made a post to our blog!  I (Mark, writer) just find it difficult to write a post while sitting still for the winter.  Also, we are in a nude resort so we can’t really take many pictures inside the park.  

We were so happy to get here back in November that I just didn't finish our travel posts in 2016. This post will be big one as it will span getting to our winter site and the time here for the 2016-17 winter season.

I need to start this post from where we left off last November after leaving Livingston TX and the terrible service issues there. It is about 400 miles from Livingston to Elsa TX where our winter site is located. We usually stay at the halfway point in Victoria TX.  

We were about 8 miles from the campground in Victoria when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the rear wheel look just like this picture.  



I quickly stopped and went back to see what had happened.  


The next picture is what I saw.  The Axle retaining nut came off of the axle and allowed the wheel with the brake drum to come off!  


I called our roadside service provider, Coach Net to get us off the road.  After securing the axle from touching the road we took off for the service guys service lot in Victoria.

The service guy securing the axle under the RV.
It was dark when we arrived at the service lot so we couldn't see much of anything.  The lot only had water from a distant source, around 100 feet away.  We got set up for the night and put some water in our holding tank, good thing we have a little more than 100 feet of water hose!

That is us in the middle of the picture.

The next morning we got a look at where we were. We were in the middle of nowhere and in some abandoned house's front yard. 

A look out our front door.

Midmorning the bad axle was removed.  Now we waited to find out how long we were going to wait to get a replacement axle.

The old axle removed and loaded.

The empty space where the axle was.

That afternoon we found out that the axle needed to be ordered from the manufacturer, Dexter.  The arrival date for the new axle was 7 days!  We have no electricity or sewer and the temperatures were in the high 80s.  Oh well, we are just going to have to make this work.  We stretched out our 3 hoses and filled our holding tank with water. Next, we started up the on-board propane generator to charge the house battery and to run the AC to get cool.  While getting cool we looked for stuff to do in the area while we waited for the axle. Might as well make the best of our stay here.

We have stayed here in Victoria a few times but haven't really gone out to see much in the area.  The bad thing is that there really isn't much in the area to see or do.  We have a week to wait and we really just need to be gone during the midday so we don't eat up even more propane making electricity for the AC.


Victoria has a huge city park with a golf course.  We took one day and hiked the park and another to play golf.  Another day we washed clothes and did some shopping.  We also took a day to purchase new batteries for the truck and for the RV. All 3 were 5 years old and were showing signs of not holding a charge very long so we changed them out as we had the time.  We traveled to the Gulf of Mexico on another day and had lunch to kill another day.  After using about 100 pounds of propane and seeing all there is to see in Victoria we had made it!



Victoria City Park

The park has loads of pecan trees that were shedding their nuts.
 Many people were out picking them up and bagging them.

Pecans as we saw them on the ground.

At the exit to the park. Didn't find out why this was there.

Bought our batteries at auto zone.  Installation came with it so here the guy was trying to install the truck batteries.  He couldn't get one of the two old ones out because the tie down had deteriorated and he couldn't get it loose.  I got it out the next day at our site when it was a little cooler.

Great place to eat on the Guadalupe River, the Pump House.  


View of the river from our table.

The new axle arrived on the 7th day as planned and we got it installed the same day, however, it was late by the time it was done.  We decided to move to the city park where there was a full hook up campground for just $20 a night and leave the next morning.

New axle has arrived!!

Our site in the Victoria city campground.  Real nice to have full hook ups again!

On our way to the Rio Grande Valley.  We are now seeing the familiar burning of the sugar cane.

We arrived back at our winter site, #19, at Nature's Resort near Elsa Texas just before Thanksgiving.  This was our 4th winter season here.  The resort is 50 miles west of South Padre Island on the Gulf of Mexico and 10 miles north of Mexico.  We plan to be here until the 20th of April 2017.


OK, now for the winter season of 2016-17 post.

Our winters here are very fun but the fun is not as adventurous as our travel is.  We basically unwind, kickback, relax, and wait out the cold weather that is up north.  This post will bring us up to date with highlights of our winter stay and then a summary of our travel plan for the coming travel season. 


Our site set up for Christmas

The town of Elsa Christmas decorations.


Decorations inside our RV.

The year 2017 started off on a negative note for Patty.  Her dad, Tom, died at the age of 85 on Friday the 13th of January.  Tom was in an assisted care facility in East Aurora NY at the time of this death.  We were last there to visit him in August of 2016. 

Patty got a call from her sister, Cheryl, the night before he died to let her know that he wasn't doing well and was being put in hospice as he hadn't been eating.  However,  the prospect of him dying soon was not imminent as he still had months so we didn't need to get there.  It caught everyone by surprise then when he died at around 5 the very next morning.

Patty was told that they would wait for her to get there so the family could be together at the Memorial service. Patty was so happy that they were going to wait and it also gave her time to write the eulogy she wanted to give and prepare to sing a song for his service. After flight arrangements were set she called to fill her family in.  Patty was told that they were holding the service without her in a couple of days.  Patty was devastated by this news, so was I. Instead, we had friends visit that week, as was originally planned, and Cindy & Rob got to see our winter resort. 

OK, on to happier stuff now! Probably the biggest thing to happen for us in the park this winter season was that Patty was elected to the Board of Directors for the Fun Association. This winter resort park is unique in that all of the activities are planned and executed by the members of the resort.  The owners take care of the administration and upkeep of the resort while the members take care of the fun.


Patty dressed up in a toga for the resort's Christmas parade.

Our New Years Eve Picture.

Out with friends in Mexico.

Patty getting pampered in Mexico.

This Mexican boy, Christian he said his name was, friended me while we waited on Patty at the salon in Mexico.  His mom kept trying to get him away but he got on my lap and wanted to show me he knew how to play the games in my phone.

The board is made up of 6 people elected from the resort membership.  The board is responsible for ensuring that we have fun while we are here.  Patty was elected to a one-year term and is serving as the Entertainment Director, replacing the person who was in that capacity.  This means she is mainly responsible for getting the outside musical entertainment scheduled for the park.  I am very proud of her for taking on such a big responsibility!  


Border entry into Mexico before Christmas.

The Mexican border town of Nuevo Progreso has a few street parties for us winter Texans.

Part of the street festival in Nuevo Progreso.

This season we have had three visitors from the frigid north. We first had our friends Cindy and Rob from New Jersey visit the first week in February.  Then a week later we had Patty’s son Chas come down, also from NJ.


We went to pick up our friends Cindy and Rob from New Jersey at the McAllen airport which was fogged in.  They circled a few times and were taken to Austin.  They made it the next morning.

Our friends Cindy and Rob at an outing to Mexico.

Dancing in Mexico



A picture of the Rio Grande River with the left being Mexico.  Note the Mexicans fishing on the bank and the ugly border wall on the right side in the USA.

On the Mexican side of the border bridge.
Note the kids hanging on the bridge begging for money.
Chas flew into Austin and we met him there with the RV. This is his first time here in Texas so we decided to give him a mini tour.  We spent a night in Austin, San Antonio, and then to our place here near the border.  This gave him a chance to see how we live when we travel with the RV, too.


Our first stop just south of San Antonio on our way to get Chas.

Not bad for $20 a night with full hook ups.

This was outside the restaurant where we had dinner.

Our campground near Austin in New Braunfels TX.

We did a shopping excursion in New Braunfels.

After picking up Chas at the airport we went out for dinner in New Braunfels.
They were having a reenactment of life at the Alamo
 in San Antonio while we were there with Chas.



Chas is in the center watching a demonstration on the telegraph.

We stopped at a German place on the River Walk in San Antonio.  Do they make the beer big enough?  Good thing they gave us to go cups!

More River Walk.


A trip with Chas to South Padre Island.



We got a few projects done too while here.  We added some decoration to the west side of our lot.  The decorations were the addition of new solar lights all around, round stepping stones in the decorative rocks, and 3 concrete Texas decorations.  


We bought these concrete Texas stones at a local Walmart for $10 each.
They turned out really great!  The art is all Patty, I supplied the paint.



We had the Texas pieces placed for a few days before Patty decided she wanted to have them painted. So we removed them from the side of our lot and put them on our patio table to be painted.  They came out even better than we thought they would!  We have now even made one for one of our friends to take to their Canadian place.


Patty and I went to a local honky tonk, Rinky Dinks, to see some potential music for the resort.

Band, Southern Ashes, was good and Patty got a contract for them to play at our resort!

A little humor here.  The men's room at Rinky Dinkys using beer kegs for urinals!

I also added LED lighting to our pantry and to our bedroom closet.  Both projects came out better than expected. However, the pantry was much more involved that I had planned on.  I wanted to add a 2 foot LED tape string to each of the 5 shelfs in the pantry and have them come on when the door is opened.  I used a magnetic switch as it is somewhat easier to place than a conventional friction switch. However, the mag switch has a very low amperage range and wasn't enough to supply the lights.  I modified the circuit to use a 10 amp relay with the mag switch and all is good now.


Finished LED lighting Installation.

The relay is the little box on the rear wall to the right.  All of the wiring was tucked behind the door edge.

I also got around to fixing the outside slide seals.  It seems that the sun turned the bulb seals into mush.  I noticed it starting at the end of last season here in Texas.  The seals get so sticky that they stick to the edge of the slide.  I did some research and found that some of the seal material that has been used since 2007 has had this problem, ours is a 2013.  


This a piece of the old removed slide seal.

The slides have 3 rubber seal barriers to keep the outside outside.  The seals that have deteriorated are mostly outside.  They basically keep the element from getting in while the slide is closed so it really isn’t a big issue unless it is raining while we are moving.  Even then, the seals are stuck to the slide so not much could get in past the mushy seal.

The worst of the slide seals were the ones on the very top of the slide so I replaced these first.  They are fairly easy to replace, remove a screw from each end, cut the silicone seal between the RV and the seal and just pull the seal off.  I also need to replace the 2 side seals on 2 of the slides for the same reason.  These are not in as much decay as the top so I will get to those before we leave here on the 20th.


Finished work on the top slide seals.

We had another major expense on the truck this winter.  I started to notice that every once in awhile the truck would belch smoke when I accelerated.  I started to see this last year but it would only happen once every few months and the on-board computer didn’t give any indication I just let it go. So this year it started doing this out of the blue one day at all most every acceleration.  It also gave me a check engine light this time.  

We stopped at a store and when we restarted the truck the check engine light was off and no more smoke.  We decided to take it to the shop and have it looked at this time.  Yup, it was the EGR valve and the acceleration actuator.  At least they didn’t need to remove the cab to get at this stuff this time!  It still took a couple of days and $1,400 to fix it!


Another local place to visit is the Onion Fest heal each year when the 1015 onions are harvested.


The group Hot Rodz were playing and real good!  Patty is trying to get them to play at our resort.

A car show at the onion fest too.

Note the third seat.  Looks like a seat from a tractor!

While I’m on the maintenance and repair topic, we thought about replacing the truck and the RV this season.  We even went and looked at some new RVs.  After a lot of discussion over a few weeks we decided to keep what we have and just spend money on our current vehicles.  The cost to do a reasonable replacement of the truck and RV would be around $60k which goes a long way to keep our current vehicles in good shape.  We figure that the newer vehicles would still need repair and would only slightly reduce our exposure to breakdowns.


We sponsored a trip with about 30 in our park to the dog races.  This was our first dog race!  It is just like horses except they are smaller.

Just a picture of a cool spider web on our front porch one morning.
I finally got to Gonzales Burger.  They only serve hamburgers and fries/onion rings at mid-day, and only in the winter and only until the meat runs out.  They grind their own 16 oz burgers too!  We got one and split it.

We went to borderfest again for the second time, we went last year too.  Probably our last visit though.  Too much money for very little entertainment.

Some of the ethnic music groups to play here at Borderfest.


A guy doing the old spinning plate on stick routine.  He was good but lame at the same time.

Not sure why we came out red, but a picture of us at the Borderfest.

One of our favorite bands, the Renaissance Rockers, were playing at the fest too.
We went to local street fair, The Jackson Street Market Days.  It's on the first Saturday of each month in Harlingen TX.

You have to wonder where the police department gets money for a vette!  Guessing the money confiscated from drug busts in the area.
Guitars built from cigar boxes.

One of several street musicians on Jackson Street.

Our friends Terry and Ken have a boutique on Market Street during the street fair.

Lunch on Jackson Street.
Just a recent random picture of a horse going across the road. This happens quite often here just hard to get a picture.
  
This 2017 travel season is our last planned travel sightseeing trip in the US.  It’s a big one too!  We are still doing our family and friends visit in the east (Georgia, New Jersey, New York, and Indiana) but we will spend just 2 weeks each place this year.  Then, at the beginning of July we head out to Yellowstone, Banff Canada, and then to Vancouver BC.  

From there we are taking a 2 week cruise to Alaska.  Then after the cruise we will travel through Washington, Nevada, and Southern California before heading back to our winter site here in South TX in November.


We have our free Canadian National Park Pass now!  Only good for this year as it's the 150 year anniversary of Canada this year.
Our next post will most probably be just after we head out on the 20th of April and make our way to our first major stop in Atlanta.  Should be an interesting trip going east as we are planning to take I20 instead of I10 this time to see different areas this time.

Stay tuned!

1 comments:

Dianne and Steve said...

Nice to get an update on you guys. Sorry to hear about your dad Patty. You'll be passing close to us this summer on your way to Vancouver. We're working at Tunkwa Lake Provincial Park so if you're into a little boondocking we'd love to see you guys again. The road is paved all the way. Safe travels!