Saturday, September 30, 2017

Scootin'... just for the fun of it

We are about out of "home chores."  That's a good thing - it means we can do stuff just for the fun of it.  :-)

This afternoon, Joan suggested a ride on the scoots.  I was thinking I might be able to snag the most current "tag" in the scooter tag game... it was: "your scoot in front of a public parking ramp."  Not around here.

Before heading out...

The street on our island...

We got stopped at the swingbridge, opening to allow a boat to pass...

We didn't have to wait long for a small fishing boat to pass.  Across the bridge...

About six blocks, then we turn onto the causeway to South Padre Island...

Another warm, breezy day.  The water looks nice... as in: it would be a good day to be out on the water.  Soon.  I hope.  (The dredge was working again today.)

Welcome to South Padre Island...

Almost always someone getting a photo in front of that sign.  We drove around the island, looking to see what has changed in the past 3+ months.  The island looks good; a couple new buildings going up; the Convention Center got a new electronic sign.  Most of the restaurants have cars outside - a good thing for the local economy, but not a lot of people out and about.

On the main road...

Joan suggested ice cream.  I'm in!  A stop at the DQ before more cruising around.  Then, back to our island.

Nice way to spend the afternoon.

Friday, September 29, 2017

When a mommy palm tree loves a daddy palm tree...

... they have a "special kind of hug"... I don't know; I still don't know if I'm the bird or I'm the bee.

There is a palm tree in our front yard.  We have been told it is a female palm tree, because every so often, it sprouts out a branch that doesn't look like a palm leaf, and that thing spouts out little "seeds" that make a mess in the driveway.  And, anything parked there.  Sounds more like a male to me.

When we first bought here, this palm tree was about the same height as me.  I could trim the palm branches without the use of a ladder.  Over the years, it has grown to about 25' tall.  I gave up climbing a ladder years ago to try to keep up with the tree.  Since that time, there has been a young man who seems to have some 6th sense about our arrival, and usually shows up about 12 minutes after we get back, asking to cut the palm branches.  I have been happy to pay him to climb a ladder and cut them by hand.  The last few times, he has had to put the ladder in the back of his pickup truck to reach.

He didn't appear this year.

However, there is a company that is trimming all the village trees on common property.  We came across them yesterday and asked if they could do our tree.  The lady who ramrods the operation followed us to our place, looked at the tree, and gave me a price.  I agreed to the price, and she said, "Probably not today, but maybe tomorrow."

We hear that a lot around here.

We planned to go to our storage unit today to drop a few things off and check on the coach.  On the way, I found the tree crew, let them know we would be gone for a few hours, and to please trim the tree, and I will find them to get them paid.  The boss lady was not there.

We did our running, had a late lunch out, and when we got home...

The tree looks great!  They trusted me.  The boss lady left a note on our door where to find them, and I went there immediately and paid them.

They cleaned up all the branches, but it was a breezy day today - some of the bark that they stripped off blew around, and all those seeds were scattered all around.  Joan and I both went to work with brooms.  Now, the driveway looks as good as the tree.

I didn't want to bring the boat in until the dredge finishes our canal and/or we could get the tree trimmed, because the only place I can put the boat in our driveway is pretty much right under that tree.  This means: the next time we go to the storage unit, the boat can come back with us.  I checked on it today in the storage unit... it misses us, too.

The dredge has covered about half the distance from where it was on Tuesday to get to the end of our canal.  So, that "3 or 4 days" we were promised isn't going to happen... but, the end is in sight.



Thursday, September 28, 2017

RIP Hef...

There will be a lot of snickering, but Playboy, in its heyday, was an example of some of the best publishing around. While Hef built an empire around the promotion of it, the magazine had some of the finest photography (whether you appreciated the subject matter or not), excellent articles, great fiction, interviews with popular subjects, and great cartoons and jokes. It was printed on quality stock, and showed impressive design and layout. Month after month, year after year.

Sadly, the magazine has suffered the same fate as most printed publications in the era of the internet.

Hef lived the life that young men of several generations could only dream of. Along the way, he was a force for changing how America thinks. Playboy opened discussions of race, politics, music, repressive laws, sex, and so much more.

And, he had style.  Working in his pajamas... the Big Bunny (a DC9)... surrounded by beautiful women and the "stars" of the day... and, of course: the Playboy Mansion.

In his later years, Hefner turned over the running of the magazine and the business to others.  It showed.  There was something almost sad as he did the reality show scene with girls who were 50 years younger than he was... kind of a caricature of himself.

Proof that, at some point, we all have to grow up.  Probably.

RIP Hef - you changed the way America thinks.

Scoots and water...

We ran some local errands today with the scoots...

It was in the upper 80s and humid when we went out this morning.  Humid as in: your sunglasses fog up when you step outside.  I was concerned that it might be unpleasant riding the scoots, but as long as you were moving, it was fine.  I brought 3 bags of groceries back in the compartment under my seat.

Coming back across our bridge, we looked for dolphins... nope.  But, the water was a lovely turquoise color...

It changes - according to the sky (reflection), wave conditions (bottom gets stirred up), and the depth.

It would be nice to get out there with our boat, but... yeah, the dredge.  It is making some progress in our canal...

They are actually working all day.  And, they did bring in a second dredge that is getting set up in another canal that was already "done"... but apparently not to the specified depth.

Joan has been doing paperwork most of the afternoon... financial stuff that I "shouldn't worry my pretty head over."  The life of a trophy husband.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Island politics...

Well, maybe not quite politics - I went to a board meeting today.  Joan suggested I go to "find out what's really happening here."

Like most boards, there is a lot of talking and not much happening.  About half of what was on the agenda was either tabled or "nothing to report."  When it came time to report on the dredging operation, I once again had to find a polite way to say, "Bullshit."  The head of maintenance said the dredge operation was bringing in a second dredge to "speed up the process."  We are WAY beyond speeding anything up.  And, why bring in a second dredge when the "new boss" on the dredge said they were "3 or 4 days" from completing our canal (supposedly the last canal they will be doing)?

Exciting news: we may be getting a mailbox number that actually matches our address.  This really is kind of a big deal, since we now have to determine how something is being sent to us to know what address to give them.  The board voted to approve this project... it will be interesting to see how long this takes.

It was interesting (not) to listen to them discuss "what color is that?" regarding the paint for the fencing and our guard house... sand, ecru, beige... (yawn).

One of the board members resigned.  The board appointed a new member... beats the heck out of trying to get someone who will side with you elected.

The best part of going to the board meeting: I took my scoot!  :-)

After a nice lunch out (Italian), we came back home... looking down the canal, I could see the dredge was running... doesn't seem to have advanced much in the past 24 hours.  They're going to have to go like hell to meet that "3 to 4 days" for completion.  Or, as we in the business say: "Bullshit."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The countdown...

The power shut off starts soon - it is supposed to be off from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm while the power company replaces some equipment on our island.  We were up early to get showered, have breakfast, and be ready for... "the shutdown."

It isn't just a matter of the power being out.  On our island, there are lift stations to move our sewage off the island... through a large pipe that runs under the Intracoastal Waterway.  Those lift stations are powered by electricity.  Which means: with no power on the island, there is also no way to move sewage off the island.  Our automatic notification system (robo-calling) let residents know: "do not flush your toilet or put anything down the drain during the power outage."

Fun.  You have to plan for this stuff.

Part of our "being ready" was the re-install of the window a/c and topping off the fuel for the generator.  Power cords run as necessary.

The other happening today is: Jim gets his dock back.  The 36' catamaran is scheduled to get moved this morning.  I let the dredge operator know, in no uncertain terms, that I will be moving that boat at 10:00 am.  If his dredge is in the way, I will climb aboard and move it.  I let the island management know the same.  No threat, this is just going to happen.

The dredge people have been notorious about getting anything done on time.  I spoke to the dredge "captain" on Sunday.  I spoke to him again yesterday... "See this face?  This is a determined guy.  I would appreciate your cooperation and you doing what you say you are going to do.  Either way, the dredge is going to be moved so this boat can get out."

He assured me that they would be ready for us to move the boat.  When I went outside this morning to get the generator and a/c set up, it was a beautiful thing...

Yes, the dredge is moved to the far side of the canal, allowing us access.  One in a row.  ;-)

Nothing to do now but wait for the power to get cut.  Since nothing gets done on schedule in this part of the world, I assume the power won't go out right at 8:00.

It is now 8:15, and we still have power.  Tick, tick, tick...


On edit: (play dramatic music)

The headlines: the power outage continues.  Boat finally moves from dock.

The power went out around 9:25 - almost an hour and a half of "bonus power"!  I was showing Joan how to start the generator, in case I was gone dealing with the boat.  In the middle of that, the power went out.  I fired up the generator.  Joan plugged in the window air conditioner.  No, it is not going to cool the whole house, but it will make the living room liveable and give us power to fridge/freezer.

9:30, no sign of the neighbor... and the dredge seems to be more to the middle of the canal than the far side.  Still passable.

9:40, I walked down to where the dredge is tied off on this side to see what I will have to do if no one from that operation is here to move it when we're ready to move this boat.

9:45, neighbor is here, but has to get his dock prepped for the boat.  Trying to coordinate the dredge people, the village management, and the boat owner is like herding cats.  Well, not Izzy, but unruly cats.

9:53, neighbor gets on his boat and says, "I hope this engine will start."  Still no sign of anyone from the dredge.  Joan offers to take a kayak down and untie the dredge so we can just slip through.

9:57, a guy in a black pick-up stops in front of our house and tells me he is "the new boss of the dredge operation."  Then tells me, "I thought you were going to move this boat at 8:30 this morning."

9:58, I take a deep breath and explain to him nicely that "8:30 was NEVER discussed," and "In two minutes we plan to take this sailboat down this canal.  Are you going to untie the dredge or would you like me to do it?"

10:00, he assures me that he will have someone here "right away" to untie the dredge to give us passage.

Editors note: for those not familiar with the way things are done around here, "right away" means: when we get around to it.  There is also the phrase, "We'll get to it yet today," which means: we're gonna disappear and you won't see us for a couple days.  The worst is "manana" which means: not today.  Many people think it means: tomorrow.  Nope, just: not today.

10:15, no sign of the crew that is coming "right away"... Joan again offers to take a kayak down the canal to untie the dredge.  The new boss again assures us that won't be necessary.  The engine starts.  The new boss tell me they will have this canal done in "3 to 4 days."  I find a semi-polite way to say "Bullshit."

10:30, the "right away" crew finally shows up and unties the one side of the dredge so we can get through.  I untie the last line on the boat, shove off from the side, and we start making our way down the canal.  With one engine.  Asymmetrical thrust.  There is room with about a foot on either side for this catamaran to slip by the dredge.

10:50, Joan meets us at Randy's dock and hands me a line so we can haul the boat to his dock.  A few minutes to tie things off, and this project is almost done.

11:05, I get back to our dock, and Joan is putting the kayak in the canal to take the neighbor's mostly frayed lines off our dock.  She says, "I am in better shape than either of you two old guys, so I will get these lines untied and you can take them back to Randy.  The woman has a point.

11:15, I hand Randy his lines.  He said, "I was coming to get those untied."  I explained Joan's excellent logic; he agreed.  Randy and I sit for a bit and wonder how we got old so fast... just a scant 15 years ago, we chased each other all over the Laguna on our sailboats.

11:45, back to our house.  The air conditioner is adequate for keeping the temp in the living room a bit cooler than the outside air temp, which is around 92º with a "feels like temperature" of 374º.  I am kidding, of course, it is more like 483º

Proof that our dock is back to being our dock...

The kayak is still there from Joan's untying adventure.  Looking down the canal...

Yes, the dredge is back pretty much in the middle.  Of course, there is no one working with it.  No skin off my nose.  Well, maybe a little skin off my nose, due to the heat; but, I don't have a boat trapped at my dock.  IF they ever get down the canal as far as my dock, they will be able to dredge in front of it, because there is no longer a 36' catamaran there.

"3 to 4 days"... we'll see.  And by that I mean: bullshit!


One last edit:

Power came back on around 3:30 this afternoon.  Rare that something gets done ahead of schedule here, but we'll take it!  We did fine with the generator and window a/c, but couldn't get the satellite TV to be happy on the generator.  Yeah, first world problems.

Nice to know that we can be "self-contained" again, if necessary.

Oh, we heard the dredge fire up around 2:30 this afternoon.

Other than the relatively quiet sound of our generator, it was pretty quiet around the village today, except for the armada of power company trucks.

Back to real life again.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A step closer...

One last thing to do inside the house to call it home again: the guitar room.  I had picked up some stuff at Sweetwater's GearFest last June... and just now have the opportunity to try it out.  One of those things is an iKlip: holds a tablet to the mic stand...

I've been using an iPad Mini on the stand for years, so I know I like it; this one holds the bigger version... quite a difference in seeing the chords and lyrics.

Getting some guitars on the wall...

Left to right: Emerald X20, Taylor 522ce 12-fret, Emerald X7.  Yes, that middle one is a wood guitar.  Despite all the discussion here about carbon fiber, I still have some wood guitars... they all have a different sound/tone.  The Emeralds are still my favorites.

I have a practice set-up that is comfortable and convenient...

Now, if the dredge operation will get their job done, we will get the boat back in and be truly settled in.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A test run...

No, not on the boat - it's still in our storage unit, waiting for the dredge to finish in our canal.  I spoke with them today... realistically, I don't see them finishing this canal in less than the next two weeks.  And that's if they don't have yet another breakdown.

Today, the plan was to try out the generator and the portable air conditioner we bought.  The power company is going to shut off power on our island this Tuesday, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.  If it was just going to be for that day, we'd likely just live with it.  But, no, they will be doing this each week for the next 4 weeks.

We have run a small air conditioner with the Honda generator on our C-Dory in the past.  This new a/c is larger, with more cooling capacity.  I was concerned about how the generator would handle it; thus, our test run today.

We looked at several small generators, all less expensive than the Honda... but, having had and depended on a Honda in the past, we felt it was money well spent.  It comes "dry" - no oil in it.  Only uses 13 ounces of oil...

We wrestled the a/c out of the box and test fit it in a window...

Off to a nearby gas station to get fuel for the generator.  Then, the test run...

The Honda fired up on the 5th pull.  Not bad for a machine that had no fuel in the lines.  It immediately set into a gentle purr on Eco-mode.  Time to see how it can handle the new air conditioner... piece of cake!  The generator hardly spooled up much to handle the load of the a/c.  This new a/c puts out more cooling with less noise than the one we sold with the boat; and is obviously more efficient doing so.  We will have plenty of juice left over to keep the fridge and freezer going during the power outage.

Hopefully, the power company won't have any "glitches" that cause more problems than they fix.  But, just in case, we are prepared.

That wood support under the air conditioner in the photo above isn't something we made up for this use - I made that as an outboard motor bracket in our cargo trailer.  I took it out a couple years ago, but didn't toss it.  Never know when you're going to have a use for something like that... one 2x4 as a shim, and it is a perfect fit. 

As long as we were sweated up from working outside, I put the batteries back in the scoots and fired them up... also Hondas, also purring like a kitten.  Good stuff.  :-)

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


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?"


"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.