Saturday, April 24, 2010


We survived the fourth day on the road and clocked nearly 400 miles from Vicksburg, MS to Mansfield, TX. Our drive across Texas, although tiring was very beautiful. The progeny of the wild flowers planted during Lady Bird Johnson’s campaign to beautify her home state continue to bloom in profusion in the medians and along the shoulders of the public roads. And thanks to the copious amounts of rain they have been having all winter the prairies are a grassy green as far as you can see. Not what one would expect in Texas but thoroughly appreciated by these two travelers!

Phil called his niece, Debbie and let her know we had arrived and after a good nights sleep we would come to her house. She and her husband, Connie prepared a delicious early Sunday dinner (THE best meatloaf I have ever eaten for the entree!) and we had a great visit catching up with all the latest news. Debbie had been kept in the loop as well as reading the blog so she was pretty much up to speed about my surgery and recovery. Before we left we made plans to go out to dinner at Cheddars, our favorite restaurant in Arlington (Connie paid ignoring our objections—thanks Connie!) then attend their grandson, Austin’s Little League Ball Game. It started late so we headed back to Penny the Pace after an hour or so but it was fun. Those 12-year-olds are talented little ball players and we heard Austin hit a triple right after we left! We were sorry we missed that!

Another niece, Pam (Debbie’s sister) and her husband, Leslie met us for lunch the second day and we enjoyed a delicious meal at Cheddar’s getting a preview of the good food we would savor the next day at dinner. It was so good to see them again and get caught up on the news about her family.

On the fourth morning in Mansfield we pulled out early and drove as far as Big Spring, TX. This would be our longest day in this leg of our westward trek. We stayed at the “Whip In RV Park” (sorry no picture) and received a 15% discount because we are Escapee’s. Full hook ups with free WiFi and cable TV. We drove to a restaurant named Furr’s Buffet, that was actually pretty good food (The food was lukewarm—how do restaurants get away with that?) but a buffet it wasn’t. Actually it was a cafeteria with a server behind the counter. The price was right with our senior discount so in spite of our confusion we managed to get plenty to eat. I turned in early after watching TV for a while and Phil stayed up and watched a little more TV.

West Texas and SW New Mexico (our next destination) was experiencing a serious windstorm and we were right in the middle of it in Van Horn, TX, which was our next stop on Thursday night. We parked at Mountain View RV Park and it was nearly deserted. A self-help park with a Passport America ½ price discount offers FHU’s and cable TV that has two really bad channels. Preferring to be safe than sorry, we spent two nights rather than the one we had planned hoping to wait out the storm before pulling out on Saturday. The first night we had salads and sandwiches at home and the second day we ate at the local truck stop and Phil had a pretty good Mexican style dinner with red chili sauce he really liked and I managed to eat half of a hamburger bringing half of the meat home with me for my snack that night.

Because the wind had slowed down on Saturday morning we got busy and managed to leave by 9 AM. That’s some kind of record for us! :-) We still bucked a headwind of about 20 MPH all the way but it was only 190 miles to Deming so Phil managed to keep Penny between the lines with a little effort. Shortly after leaving Van Horn we gained an hour (moved into Mountain Standard Time) so we were very happy about that and pulled into the Dream Catcher RV Park at about 1:30 PM. We are members so they charged us $12.50 plus $2 for electricity (if we leave by 8 AM) or we could have opted to read the meter. We have FHU’s and there is hardly a blade of grass anywhere but the sites are wide and the park is nearly empty so it is quiet. We unhooked the Ranger and found the local Denny’s for our “linner” and spent a quiet evening before going to bed early. The wind continued to blow but the forecast called for it to die down overnight. Hopefully, our drive to Benson, AZ today will be without incident and we plan to rest a couple days and visit our friends, Jerry and Suzy .

Note: I was surprised to learn that the bridge I showed last week in Mobile was built in the early 1990s. We had missed seeing it when we drove through as it is over Mobile Bay on the highway that bypasses the city. When we drove the Ranger to New Orleans we stayed on the business route through town and went through the tunnel instead of around the city. The bridge was damaged by Katrina when an oil derrick smashed into it during the storm.
For more information Google:
Cochrane Africa Town Bridge Mobile Alabama
Thanks for stopping by!
Until next time ...

Joy and our much loved niece, Debbie in Arlington, Texas.

L-R: Connie, Austin, Debbie and Phil in the back.

L-R: Leslie, his wife and Phil's niece, Pam then Phil and Joy. Group photo after our lunch together ... also at Cheddar's! :-)

Inside Cheddar's Restaurant before the game. This is Austin taking a picture of me with his phone while Debbie and Connie look on and try to figure out how he does it.

These homemade onion rings are the main reason we love the restaurant named Cheddars in Arlington so much but everything else is good too. They are crispy and delicious!
This is one order for less than $5.00 and it fed five of us.

That is Austin on third base. He scored on the next hit ... Yahoo!!

Daisy-like wildflowers by the millions along side a Texas highway. This was a skimpy patch compared to most of them.

A closer look at one kind of wildflower along I-10 in Texas.
They are so fragile looking, how do they survive?

A small example of wildflowers in a Texas picnic area. My camera just doesn't do it justice.

Large Yucca in full bloom outside the truck stop on the west end of Van Horn, Texas where we had "Linner."

Our site at Mountain View RV Park in Van Horn, Texas. The park was nearly empty and we stayed two nights because of high winds coming out of the west.

We stopped at the New Mexico Welcome Center for a new map and to take a walk. The cactus landscaping is very beautiful.

The wind is about to blow me away but I wanted to show you the size of this Agave.

Maybe Staghorn Chollo?

I believe this is called Hedgehog Cactus.

Miss Penny at Escapee's Dream Catcher RV Park in Deming, New Mexico.

Not much to look at with few amenities but the price was right for one night.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

ON THE ROAD AGAIN! (the devil made me do it ;-)

This blog is coming to you from two very happy campers because we are on the road after almost five months of parking in one place. Wow! That is the longest length of time in almost six years that Penny the Pace has remained motionless. Actually, we can only blame my health problems for one extra month so we would still have broken our record without them. The original schedule was to leave mid-March and move up to play tourist in Washington DC and see the Cherry Blossoms in bloom. That adventure had to be scratched for this year but I found a blog on the Internet written by a lady who lives right in the heart of the city. She is an intriguing Blogger and an excellent photographer so I was able to witness the spring bloom vicariously through her camera lens. The trees were extraordinarily beautiful this year and I was so sorry to not be there in person but Phil has promised me he will bring me back one day and we can try again.

We also had to scratch visiting several much loved family members and friends which was difficult but we look forward to another chance at seeing each other soon. And, of course, leaving our friends Margie and Roger was very tough after spending so much time together the past 4-½ months but we made promises to see each other soon, hopefully when they come through WA on the way to Alaska during a spring in the not too distant future. Margie took several pictures of us as were leaving and I’ll share those with you down below.

Our first night was spent at the Tallahassee Elk’s Lodge. They have 6-7 FHU sites in the woods beside the lodge and there were only three other rigs parked. No chance of any satellite reception so we were really glad we had the new Verizon Air Card. It worked perfectly so we had Internet. Because Phil hasn’t hooked up the converter box yet (and we don’t have HDTV) we couldn’t use the antenna so no TV, which was fine with us, … we went to bed early, as both of us were pooped from our first day on the road. It was a bit noisy from the neighbor’s heat pump that went off and on continuously and the streetlights near us turned off and back on which looked like spotlights being shined at our windows all night long. Not a significant problem however and for $12.50/night donation it was fine for one night.

The second day took us to Robertsdale, AL and we found a nice Coast-to-Coast Park (Wilderness RV Park) with full hook ups just a mile or two off the freeway. Very quiet and peaceful and also very friendly and accommodating. Phil had a great visit with our neighbors, also from Washington State near Seattle. It really is a small world. We unhooked The Lone Ranger and drove to Foley where we ate a wonderful dinner at the Shrimp Basket. We missed the “all you can eat Shrimp night” but even so, we got plenty to eat. Phil had shrimp I had fried oysters and they were delicious.

On the third night, we drove as far as Vicksburg, MS and settled into a nice FHU site at the RV Park owned by the Ameristar Casino for $22.50 per night. We took the shuttle to the Casino across the road and made a very small donation. We considered eating dinner at the seafood buffet (we walked in and checked it out) as it looked absolutely delicious but for $24.95 per person neither one of us were that hungry so we came home and had leftover fried chicken (from dinner in Tallahassee) and my homemade potato salad. Nothing fancy but the price was right.

We got up early and managed to be on the road a little after nine the next day (our fourth in a row) and drove 384 miles! A real accomplishment for us since we made it a rule to never drive more than 250 miles a day. Of course, another one of our rules is to never travel two days in a row. We broke that one too ;-) but I paid for it last night with an aching back and a bit of swelling in my legs even though we stopped three times and managed some good walks. We are in Mansfield, Texas and will spend four nights here so we can both get some needed rest and visit family that lives near by. We’ll be back on the road next Wednesday, hopefully recovered and ready to roll.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time …

Our happy/sad farewell breakfast at Crackerbarrel where we received a lesson in southern cuisine. Roger (a TN native) says that no one in the south eats grits. He joked that Crackerbarrel (originating in Lebanon, TN) put them on the menu so the Northerners would have something to eat when they came south.

Our friends, Margie and Roger. We are gonna miss you guys ...
Handsome couple, don't you think?

Phil, Joy and Penny the Pace. Just minutes away from pointing her nose west from Florida. She had a bit of a stalling problem the first couple miles (We think she had just been sitting in one place too long!) but quickly got her hairball taken care of and has run perfectly since.

Margie took this picture of Penny the Pace and her faithful toad, The Lone Ranger as we left Citrus Ridge in Davenport, FL where we had been staying for nearly five months.
Westward HO!

Space #1 at the Tallahassee Elks Lodge RV Park. That spot of blue sky behind Penny was the only clear spot in the whole park and it was in the wrong direction for satellite Internet. Thank goodness for our Verizon Air Card.

Just one of the beautiful azalea bushes at the Tallahassee Elks's Lodge.
Phil tried to smile but the sun was peeking through the trees, right in his eyes.

The Shrimp Basket Restaurant in Foley, Alabama. Do not miss it if you are in the area.
We camped at the Escapee's Park called Rainbow Plantation in Summerdale for 20 days last fall and somehow missed this one.
We only had a one day stop this trip and Phil is still kicking himself!

These are my oysters and they were very good! The slaw was full of little shrimp ... yummy. I took half of my order home for a another meal. Not as good warmed up but better than most.

Phil's shrimp and slaw. He said they were absolutely delicious and if we had come on an "all you can eat" night (it was the next day) he would have really hurt this establishment ;)

Look at the new bridge in Mobile, AL! I hope this one will stand up to a hurricane. Isn't it beautiful?

I just love this style of bridge. So strong looking, modern and resembling a giant sculpture.
There are several around the country and this one is new across Mobile Bay in Alabama.

Miss Penny the Pace parked at Ameristar RV Park in Vicksburg. Nice ... free 24 hour shuttle to the casino and free buffet breakfast tickets (valued at $6.99 each) for every visiter. Such a deal!

Great stop for the night in Vicksburg, MS! Our first time ever staying in a Casino RV Park and it was great.

Welcome to Texas! Only about 160 miles to go and we can rest ;-)

Saturday, April 10, 2010


If all goes well (no reason I can think of that it won’t unless something shows up in my blood work) at my doctor appointment on Monday we have a “lift off” date! We will be traveling the first day of our trek west on Wednesday morning, April 14th. Phil has the back of the truck loaded (he had to add air to the tires) and since we had a trial run when Penny received her new tires, preparing our home on wheels to roll is going to be an easy task. We are both ready to go with a serious case of “Hitchitch” but even so, it will be hard to leave our friends and the lovely, lazy days of sitting in one place for a long time. In this lifestyle, the longer you stay without traveling, the more difficult it is to leave—in our experience anyway. Anywhooooo, with one eye on the weather and the other on the road that is our intentions for all those who have asked. But, be advised, a fulltime RVer’s “plan” is always carved in Jell-O.

Phil and Roger went on their last fishing trip last Tuesday. They caught fish but the big ones all got away. It doesn’t really matter to them; they always have a good time regardless of the size of the fish. Don’t get me wrong, they love catching the big ones but it’s okay if they don’t. Phil decided that in order to make more room in the back of the Ranger, the “Fold a Boat” will ride on top, unfolded (meaning all put together). If it is taken apart, then the seats, etc. need to be stowed in the back of the truck. Hopefully, it will make the trip without incident.

We drove to Plant City and had an early dinner with Margie and Roger at “Buddy Freddy’s Southern Family Dining.” It is a local buffet with many dozens of choices and tasty food. We all ate more than we needed but Roger and Phil hurt them on the shrimp and fried chicken. We discovered this restaurant on one of our daytrips last week and it was so good, we wanted to share it with our friends. Margie learned an interesting factoid about this place after we got home saying that the original owner, Fred, opened another restaurant after he sold this one and has a better buffet that he sells .50 cents cheaper. Too bad we don’t have time to go back and try that one before we leave.

My next post will be from the road, thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,

Proposed route from Florida to Washington.

Locked down, secured and ready to roll.

This is one of Phil's fish. Not a trophy but a nice fish just the same.

One of Roger's Bass getting released to swim another day. That long black rubber wormy looking thing is the bait they use called a "sinko."

Silly name, seriously good food!

Full and happy, Margie and Roger indulging us with a little posing on the porch!
Gloria ... this one is for you :)

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Maybe, just maybe the good weather has arrived in central Florida. The forecast for the next week is for 80 degrees or better every day. For me that is just a wee bit too hot for walking during the day but after the sun goes down, it is perfect. I am doing very well in that department. No shortness of breath, dizziness or weakness. Hurray! Maybe my stamina is recovering more quickly than anticipated. I sure hope so because I hadn’t realized how much strength I had lost until it started to come back. I am very grateful that I am feeling noticeably better every day. Our friend Margie told me yesterday that there is a distinct improvement in the way I am moving about—less hesitant, more sure-footed and quicker—so much so, even I had noticed the difference.

We have been having some annoying problems with our satellite Internet system (it is six years old now) so Phil finally decided to buy a Verizon air card as a back up Internet connection. He has installed a Cradlepoint router so we can be online with both computers at the same time. He is using it full time now but I am still hard-wired into the satellite system as well and can use either one. Once we are back in WA we may make some changes in the way we connect while traveling but that is yet to be decided for sure. For now, it is good to know we have double coverage since we both get grumpy when we can’t connect to the Internet.

Phil took our Penny the Pace down to the tire shop on Friday and put four new rear tires on for the upcoming trip across the country. He said the 1995 installed rear brakes looked like new so that was a pleasant discovery since we had to replace the front brakes last fall when they discovered a crack in one during her routine lube, oil and filter. He still has to replace the fuel filter but once that is done, our faithful coach is ready to roll. I have a doctor’s appointment with my local PCP on the 12th for a 3-month AIc (since I am diabetic) and then I am also ready to pull up the jacks and head down the highway. Departure will be just round the corner when those things are done. Phil and I both are ready.

Our dear friends, Roger and Margie have had their lot cleared and he has done some renovations on the electric and water hookups so they might just move onto their new lot for a week or so before they pull out—also heading west. We have not made any plans to hook up along the way but with this lifestyle, you never know what or whom you will run into when you pull into the next RV Park. They are going as far west at Utah before heading back east to Citrus Ridge for the winter of 2010-11. We hope to see them again for sure when they make that trip to Alaska that is still in the planning stages.


Sharon: The Finch Sock was purchased at Wal*Mart a couple years ago. I don’t think it is too appetizing any more because it has not attracted very many birds. Haven’t looked to see if they still sell them or not.

Lea: Yes, I have a chair of my own :-)! It was supposed to be Phil’s but it didn’t fit him so because I am vertically challenged, I got it and he got the couch – which he hated from the start.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time …

Pretty little yellow bird ... Finch maybe?

Miss Penny the Pace waiting for her new back feet!

New tire going on ...

Mr. Squirrel plotting his next attack on the full bird feeder ...

and checking out the spills under the bird feeder ... "Here comes Peter Cottontail ..."
Just in time for Easter!

Our new cradlepoint router and Verizon air card.

The dismantling begins ...

Going ...

Going ...