Saturday, September 23, 2017

Starting to feel like home...


We are pretty well moved back in.  Well, if the dredge would get the job done, my neighbor could put his boat back at his dock, and I could get my boat out of storage and into the water.  THEN, it would feel like home.

You can tell this dredge operation is not first class...


It looks like something out of Sanford & Son.  They have been non-functional (or no-show) as often as not.  The word I get is that ours is the last canal to be completed.  There is a board of directors meeting this Wednesday -  we plan to attend to find out what is really going on.

There are dolphins needing to be watched!

We have been busy since getting back, but each time we cross the bridge to/from our island, we look out on the Intracoastal to see if there are any dolphins nearby.  Nope.  Until this morning.  Heading to the grocery store (time to stock up again now that we are home), we got a glimpse of a dolphin about 100 feet from our bridge.  There was traffic behind us, so we couldn't stop... and no camera with us.

Grocery shopping... apparently, I am not a cheap date.  $200 later, we are stocked up for the next few days.

Coming back across our bridge, we again looked for our dolphin friends - several this time, including a momma and baby.  Still no camera, but when we got to the other side of the bridge, I pulled off and Joan got a photo with her camera...


No, it isn't the same as having them play by the boat, but... dolphins!  We are back, baby!


Friday, September 22, 2017

Preppers...


I'm a prepper, he's a prepper, she's a prepper, we're a prepper... wouldn't you like to be a prepper, too?  I may have an "r" or 5 too many in there.

"Preppers" are also known as survivalists - those who prepare for what the future may bring, whether it is a breakdown of society, a cataclysmic natural disaster, or the zombie apocalypse.  On the way south, heading for home, we picked up another generator "just to have."  We are only in the middle of hurricane season, so it is important to be prepared.

We also received notice from our resort management that power on our island is going to be off-line for a day next week, while infrastructure is replaced.  Yesterday, we heard that the "replacement procedure" is actually going to be over a 4 week period... one day each week.  While the summer heat has no idea that today is "officially" the start of autumn.  They have made arrangements for residents here to get a good rate at one of the hotels on SPI for a day... so they don't succumb to the heat with no a/c.  Being proper preppers, we picked up a room air conditioner today... one that will run on our generator... because... what could possible go wrong with service related work?

The house is good.  We "prepped" the scoots today.  If the dredge operation ever finishes in our canal, we may get the boat back in the water.  The moving back in process continues.

Another hot, humid day; it was 84º when I got up this morning, around 7:00.  Unlike many areas, we rarely get more than 10º of temperature swing from day to night, but I was expecting major heat with that start to the day.  It only got to the upper 80s, with humidity in the "ungodly" range.

And, little Izzy...


That insect-looking thing in front of her is not one of our local crawlie-critters - that is part of one of her toys.  She is sitting on the bottom of her tower, because "anybody can look cool sitting on the top platform"... and she is one cool kitty.  The air conditioning helps.  ;-)


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cue the theme music for Benny Hill...


48 hours since we arrived back home.  Without being maniacs, the coach is ready to go back into our storage unit.  It was hot and humid again today, but we are a whole day smarter and made a point to not be outside for any extended time without taking a break in the air conditioning and drinking plenty of water.

Joan cleaned the interior of the coach and got our patio/deck set up at the house.  Well, I helped get the patio mat tacked down.  I filled, flushed, and dumped the holding tanks.  The CR-V has been a champ on this trip, and has been packed with stuff for the trip - I got the e-bikes out, emptied the rest of the stuff, and turned it back into a 4-seater.  ;-)

We talked about putting the coach away tomorrow, but the weather weasels are now calling for a chance of thunderstorms the next 4 or 5 days.  Probably won't happen, but I did not want to put the coach away after driving in the rain... we moved that up to this afternoon.

We stopped for lunch with the motorhome and car, then headed for the storage unit.  Along the way, we saw a LOT of cotton waiting for its turn in the RGV Cotton Gin...


Now, that "Benny Hill running around like an idiot" thing.  We went left the house, we hooked the CR-V behind the motorhome.  Drove to our storage unit (inland, away from the salt air and the chance of storm surge); unlocked the gate and drove in.  Next: opened up the storage unit to see how the boat and cargo trailer did for the summer... fine, thanks for asking.

The storage unit is big enough to hold the motorhome and the boat.  Or, the motorhome and the cargo trailer.  Or, the boat and the cargo trailer (the scooters were stored in the cargo trailer, btw).  But, not the motorhome, the boat, and the cargo trailer.  So, something has to come out in order for the coach to go in.  We gave this some thought before we left on this trip, and had the cargo trailer to the back, boat towards the 14' door.  Which would have been fine IF we could have gotten the boat in right away.  Thanks to the dredging operation running months behind schedule (anyone surprised?), we can't put our boat at our dock right now.  Can't get the neighbor's boat off our dock right now, either, but I digress.

So, we had to unhook the CR-V from the coach, hook it up to the boat, move the boat out and away, unhook the boat, take the Honda back into the storage unit and hook it up to the cargo trailer.  Put the cargo trailer somewhere else out of the way, unhook the cargo trailer, go back to the boat, hook it to the Honda, and put it in the storage unit.  Unhook the boat, chock it, take the Honda back outside in the blazing sun, and hook it to the cargo trailer.  Then, put the motorhome in the storage unit.  Lock everything up, and head for home.  This whole routine took about an hour.  The temperature outside was approximately the same as the Gates of Hell.  On an unusually hot day.

No, I didn't get any photos of all that.  I took a camera but didn't want it covered with sweat.  I did get to use it on the way home.  We got caught behind a house mover.  Well, a half-house mover...


That is a narrow two-lane road.  Yes, drivers here use the lane, the shoulder... good thing there isn't a sidewalk.  Wait - what is that on top of the house??


Yes, it is a person.  Looks like a young guy.  No safety strap.  Literally "house surfing."  Well, half a house.  "What is he doing up there?" you ask...


He is lifting wires by hand to allow the half-house to get under them!  No radio to the truck driver.  No escort car for the traffic coming up behind.  Just this guy scampering around on that half a roof lifting wires by hand.  Yes, really.

After 20 minutes or so behind them, watching drivers consider whether they could get around on the left (opposing lane) or right (shoulder and ditch), the house stopped to let the built up traffic get around.  It was then that we saw there is a police car in front of them, acting as a forward escort vehicle.  Even though the police car was straddling the center line, opposing traffic drove onto-and-off the shoulder to get around.  What could possibly go wrong with this arrangement??  Why am I no longer surprised by stuff like this in south Texas?

Once home, we put the cargo trailer in the driveway, parked the CR-V, and called it a day.  Another long, hot, sweaty day.

I love my jacuzzi tub.

Little Izzy has settled in...


She has so many places for napping... from her perspective this is a 9 bedroom home.  ;-)  I'm kidding... 12.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

It isn't the heat, it's the humidity...


We went after the "cleaning chores" today... divide and conquer: Joan wanted to powerwash the siding and the hurricane shutters on the house; I planned to wash the coach.  We got out reasonably early this morning, before "the heat of the day."

That was the plan.

I could hear the powerwasher running while I scrubbed the motorhome by hand with a brush (my preferred way to clean it), with baby shampoo, then go over it with a long-handled miracle brush.

Joan put ice water in our Hydro-flasks so we could stay hydrated.

I had to go over the front of the coach several times - we splattered a lot of bugs through Arkansas and Texas.  Two hours into my project, I was tired but satisfied that the Aspect was looking good again.  The temperature at the time was 86º... with a "feels like" of 104º due to the humidity.  While picking up my washing stuff, I bent over and felt woosey... I straightened back up and saw my vision was narrowing... I think I am close to passing out.  While standing on a concrete RV pad.  I have never had heat exhaustion before, but I'm thinking this is it.  My goal was to get inside the RV before my rubbery legs gave out and I face planted on the concrete.

Almost made it.  I got the coach door open, started to raise my leg up to go inside, and the other leg said, "Nope."  On the bright side, I did have most of my self in the coach and could feel that wonderful air conditioning.  I sat/laid there for a bit deciding what to do next.  My shirt is wringing wet - I pawed at the buttons, but my fingers didn't want to cooperate.  Sitting mostly in the coach, feet and some legs outside, I turned enough to see where Joan was powerwashing the house.  I waved... she didn't see me.  Waved again... she is focused on her work.

On about the 8th wave, she waved back.  And, there is a palm tree between us, so she can't see that I am in need of a hand.  Around the 10th wave, she figured out something wasn't right ("Why would he be so friendly in the middle of his work??")

She came to the coach and could see that I was having a problem.  She gave me ice water (that I left outside) and poured some on a rag to put that behind my neck.  Yeah, that's a shock to the system.  Looking at her face, I could see she was not 100% either.  She helped me get my legs inside, closed the door, and we both lapped up the air conditioning.  And some water.

I was getting feeling back in my hands and feet and didn't quite feel like I was going to puke.  She asked, "Do you feel up to getting to the house?"

"Yes."

"Do you want a hand."

"Oh, hell yes."

We were both soaked to the skin when we got inside the house.

It has been warm the last few days of our travels, but we have mostly stayed inside.  Yeah, I think we're going to need some time to acclimate before taking on more physical chores.

A not too hot soak in the jacuzzi tub and an early supper at Johnny Rocket's on the island with a frosty malt helped.  Still, I feel wrung out.

We took a drive by the beach...


Not many people out and about right now.  In the past, it has been that way October and November, except for weekends.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Be it ever so humble...


... there's no place like home.  An old time song that was adapted from a poem.

Yes, we rolled onto our island today.  Home.  103 days out... I asked Joan what she's taking away from this trip - her response: "It makes me really appreciate where we live.  I can't imagine any place I'd rather live.  It's nice to see all the places we visited, but I like where we live."

Of course, she wasn't thinking about all the work ahead of us, with moving back into the house.  ;-)

We have covered the miles between San Antonio and the Tropical Tip many times - there is quite a change of terrain and climate in those 300 miles.


There are some signs that we are getting close to the Tropical Tip: first, the wind...


Wind out of the southeast at 15 to 20... more often than not.  A few sprinkles on the windshield...


Not enough to wet the road - about 30 seconds of sprinkles to make sure the car is grubby...

Off the side of the road...


Border Patrol.  There is a checkpoint as you go north; no checkpoint southbound, but they are out there keeping an eye on things.

This is new...


A major pipeline installation.  May be for a natural gas pipeline into Mexico, may be for the LNG operation that is likely going to go in along the Brownsville Ship Channel.  (Sigh)

Before coming to Raymondville, these start to line the road...


Yes, I've posted images like this in the past - the palm trees make me smile.  After the thousands of miles we've traveled this trip, many of them in heavily forested areas, the palm trees invoke tropical yearnings.  If that doesn't do it for you, roll down the window... it is hot and humid.  Around 95º much of the way, with the humidity in the OMG range.  I've mentioned that it is cooler right at the coast: the local weather checks for home are showing mid-80s... still going to feel hot and humid.

Checking Gas Buddy, we decide to fuel up at Sam's Club in Harlingen.  Yep, it's hot when I step outside.  And this view when I look in the coach...


For this whole trip, the dash air in the coach has kept it all comfortable while we're driving.  For this last stretch, we turned on the generator and ran the house a/c to cool the back of the coach.  It's about 45 minutes from our fuel stop to our island.

Approaching the swingbridge to our island, I get that "tingle" in my stomach, the anticipation of being home...


We didn't see any dolphins as we were crossing the ICW on the bridge, but this juvenile pelican got Joan's attention...


A few minutes later, we parked the coach...


We unlocked the house and did a walk around of the outside - all good!  Well, there is a boat that isn't mine at our dock...



No, it hasn't been abandoned.  I let our neighbor put the boat at our dock starting about 6 weeks ago, because the dredging operation had his canal blocked.  Well, they have now had our canal blocked for the last month or so, meaning he can't get his boat out of here.  It may be a while before we can get our boat in.  Right now, our first concern is getting moved back in.

Other than some sand/dirt on the siding and the hurricane shutters, the house is in good shape.  Everything inside is fine.  After moving the kitty stuff inside, we brought Izzy in... it is always a hoot to watch her look around: "We live in a HUGE house!"  Well, it is compact by most standards, but after being in the coach, it sure feels roomy.  ;-)

One of the purchases we made yesterday in San Antonio: this rolling cart...


Every time we return, we promise we won't "get crazy" about getting moved back in.  Our friend MJ calls it "the march of the penguins" with the repeated trips from the coach to the house (and vice versa when heading out) - Joan assured me that this cart will save us a LOT of trips.  Three carts full, and I am convinced!

On the bright side, it is the hottest part of the day.  So, the air conditioning feels especially good!  Kidding aside, it feels good to be home.  We'll take the next few days to get acclimated, moved back in, and get the coach cleaned.  Put it back in storage, start getting other stuff (like the scoots and guitars) out.  And, in time, the boat.

:-)



And, being home-bodies.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Close that gate! This horse is trying to head for the barn!!


A reasonably short day today, but Interstate all 110 miles or so.  I should add: Texas Interstate.  Yes, there is a difference.

From Georgetown to south of San Antonio, it is now pretty much one long urban stretch, with cities like Round Rock, Austin, Buda, San Marcos, and San Antonio blending into one another.



We marveled along the way... "Remember when this used to be undeveloped?"  Seems we said that a lot to each other today.  It has been a few years since we drove this stretch of road.  "Why, I remember when Austin used to end at exit 229 and there wasn't anything south of that..."





The traffic was steady, but manageable... it would make a great drinking game to have to take a shot every time someone switched more than two lanes at a time... or went to the right lane for a pass, then swerved across to the left lane for another pass.  Well, except for that whole drinking while you're driving thing.  Besides, you would be totally blotto in about 15 minutes.

Gas prices were a bit higher passing through this area; no doubt "the hurricane" would be the culprit, but the prices did vary by the city - none of which were affected by the hurricane.  We had already planned to make a stop at the next Buc-ee's because... well, it is Buc-ee's!  Their gas price was a penny or so less than the stations close to them, but 20 to 30¢ less than stations just a few miles up the road.

The big news about this stop: OMG - there is a brand new In 'N Out Burger right across the Interstate from Buc-ee's!  I could live here!  Some would think it is a matter of California (In 'N Out Burger) vs Texas (Whataburger)... personally, I appreciate this addition to the Lone Star State.  While Whataburger still has my loyalty, I felt I had to make these newcomers feel welcome...


Still loyal to this Texas stand-out...


Our timing was good - first time we rolled through Austin without a slow-down on I-35; we were passing through San Antonio early afternoon, and avoided rush hour there, as well.  Timing.

The temperature was into the low 90s when we rolled into our stop for the night - we are back to a commercial RV park after utilizing the CoE parks...



Yes, the sites are pretty close together.  Too hot to take Izzy for a walk, plus we had other plans for our early arrival time: shoe shopping at SAS (San Antonio Shoe Company).  I found two new styles for my fat feet, Joan picked out a couple stylish looks.  We are shoe satisfied for a while.  A stop at Dick's Sporting Goods netted us a hot deal on a folding rolling cart, which will come in good when the unloading starts tomorrow.

Joan suggested a stop at a "Texas Stop Sign" (Dairy Queen) on the way back to the RV park.  Apparently, the woman in the vehicle in front of us at the drive up ordered 8 different kinds of chicken (it's a family joke: chicken always takes longer than anything else you order... and Stephanie always wanted chicken when she was little and we were in a hurry), 6 personalized (on the spot) ice cream cakes, and "anything else that takes a long time".  Fortunately, we weren't in a hurry, since we sat behind that car for 20 minutes.  On the bright side: air conditioning and Classic Rewind on the satellite radio.

We plan to violate our 2/2/2 Rule tomorrow, with just under 300 miles to go to get home.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dropping in the rankings...


No, not this campground.  The guy who owns IKEA dropped from the 11th richest person in the world to #162.  "How can that be?" you ask... Kamprad willingly lost the money, after his lawyers proved that money in his Lichtenstein-based foundation -- which owns IKEA -- does not count toward his personal wealth, according to Forbes Magazine.

Which brings us to today's post: Joan loves IKEA.  Even if there is nothing she has in mind for purchasing, she likes to walk through there "to get ideas."  I love Joan.  I consider an outing to IKEA to be indoor exercise and the opportunity to laugh at the names of items.  Also, the people watching is almost as entertaining as playing People of Walmart Bingo.

We don't have an IKEA near us at home, but there is one quite close to this campground.


We went out for breakfast at a nearby restaurant (yes, I know they serve breakfast at IKEA), timing it so we'd be able to stroll through the store not long after they open.  For those who have never been in an IKEA, they are about a million square feet, generally on two stories (this was all on one), and set up like a maze where you are "directed" through every display in the store.  I think we walked about 15 miles through this particular store, but I could be off by a mile or two... I'm just judging by how tired my feet were at the end of the excursion.  But, I digress.

First displays: living room furniture.  Apparently, Swedes are normal size people who have especially long torsos, short legs from the feet to the knees, then long legs from the knees to the hips... at least that is how many of their couches and chairs feel to me.  Again, Joan likes 'em...



Perhaps the dumbest looking chair in the place...


Let the "Parade of Names" begin...


"Where could I use this?"


"Look!  It's a surfboard for Izzy!"


It doesn't seem right to treat the tramp like a doormat...


Speaking of doormats, this one is creepy...


I Googled it - washers and dryers in Sweden are apparently made of cardboard...


If it isn't a floor uplight, then what is it??


I don't wanna know...


Once you think you are almost through the store, you come to the area where the big items are stacked on shelves...


If you did it right, you have a list of all the different Snarkenflagels written out, and this is where you find them.

Then, you pass into a large area full of small stuff you didn't know you needed.  Take my word for it, they do NOT want you to throw the EIVOR...


"Go long!"

Standing in line for a check out is more fun people watching.  It was apparent that some people are furnishing their entire homes in one trip.  There are worn out kids, frustrated parents, and many people with that look of anticipation that only comes from dreaming about assembling stuff.

We did find a few small things - I am ever hopeful that I will find a comfortable pillow among their vast array.  "What is that thing?"... "I don't know, but it was only $2.99!"  Since I was on my best behavior in our urban hike (lots of tragically hip people in there, and I hardly pointed any of it out), I was rewarded with ice cream at the end of it.

Hey, even the rat gets some cheese when he successfully makes it through the maze!

;-)

Before coming back to the coach, we picked up a few grocery items at HEB.  HEB is our Texas grocery chain... we love HEB!  This particular store was HUGE and very nice... now, it really feels like we are back in Texas!