Monday, March 31, 2014

Day trip to Galveston, Texas

Woke up mid-morning, as usual – we have not been able to make ourselves become human, we continue to stay up really late and sleep in but guess that is just how we are wired.  Anyway, we woke up mid-morning and Clark asked me if I would like to go see the Gulf today, heck yeah!  We got around pretty quickly and took off.  We headed toward Galveston on state highways and county roads.

When we got to the bridge over the intercoastal waterway, Clark got a little nervous.  He does not like bridges and he didn't like how high this one went up.  He said he was glad I was driving!  We saw barges on both sides of the bridge and then swampy areas all around it.

Bridge over Intercoastal Waterway

Barges on the Intercoastal Waterway crossing under the bridge. 

When we got to the first place we could stop as soon as we saw the Gulf, at High Island, we got out and took some pictures.  Listening to the roar of the waves was awesome!  I will say that the Gulf is definitely a lot different than the Pacific Ocean in California which has those massive rocks and waves crashing off of them, but it was still cool watching and listening to the waves and knowing we were at the Gulf.

High Island

As we drove along the strip of land following the coast on the Bolivar Peninsula, we saw all of these houses built on stilts.  It is hard to imagine that the water can get so high during the storms and I am sure they hope the waves don’t get that high but I cannot even imagine living there with the threat of hurricanes.  Not to mention the buzillion stairs to climb to get inside.  Can you imagine carrying your groceries up those stairs?  I would have to install an elevator!!!!

We got on a ferry at Port Bolivar which took us across to Galveston.  Neither of us had ever done that before so that was a neat experience.  I happened to be driving and didn't care for that much so once the ferry was going we got out and traded places so Clark could drive us off of the ferry and then through Galveston.  I was glad of that.  I don’t mind driving on the backroads and the old highways but I don’t like driving in traffic in unfamiliar places. 

Waiting to get on the ferry.
The ferry ride was so fun!  We even saw a dolphin as the ferry was first pulling away.  There were seagulls everywhere just flying right next to the truck.  Several times I thought one was going to fly in and join us.  The size of the ships we saw was just amazing – now that I did not see on the Pacific.  We even saw a pelican dive into the water and catch a fish.  A seagull was all over him trying to steal it.

From the ferry before we pulled away.  Lots of people out fishing.
Another ferry like the one we were on but going the other direction.
Evidently, the pelicans can count - 3 to a sign.

One of the big ships we saw from the ferry.

We saw some pretty amazing homes in Galveston.  Some were very large with big fences and gates around them.  We saw lots of old architecture in many styles. 

Palm trees along Galveston Bay.

We left Galveston and went across the bridge this time.  It was a pretty cool bridge, unfortunately, Clark was driving.  He did okay though.  

We went through a town called Kemah where we saw some huge boats for sale and hundreds of boats in the marina.  Some of them were pretty good-sized boats!  There was also an amusement park there.

Water tower made to look like a lighthouse.

Roller coaster behind the marina.

We stopped in Liberty and Clark got shrimp and scallops – and also got to sample his first fried oyster – the meal wasn't anything to write home about he said.  I had a baked potato and called it good. 

We are now back home and writing this blog all in about 10 hours.  A fun day and glad we went.  Clark had a great suggestion this morning.  Tomorrow will be a stay at home day.  We need to wash the RV and truck.  The bugs we hit tonight on the way home hit the windshield with such force it was almost scary.  I believe if we had been riding a motorcycle, we would have been knocked clean off the bike!  That windshield will be a joy to wash tomorrow.  Poor Clark!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Texas Residents!

We have accomplished the goal.  We are legal residents of Texas – yee haw, ya’ll!  We went down to the DMV yesterday to get our driver’s licenses, but only one of us came back with one.  I was so disgusted that Clark became official before I did.  Once again, we did not have all of the paperwork we needed.  Because my name on my birth certificate did not match anything else, I had to have our marriage license – ugh!  The only way around that would have been if I had my passport which I do not have yet.  As an adult, I have not left the U.S. so I have not ever needed one.  We do plan to get one soon, so we if want to go south of the border this winter we will be ready but that was not real high on our list of things to do at this point.

So, back home we came to get the marriage license but I could not find it in Clark’s file system.  Now, I am not a very patient person so I was really frustrated by the fact I would now have to wait for a copy to come from Kansas before I could proceed with getting my license.  When Clark discovered it was going to cost us $15.00 for the license and another $11.00 to order it by phone using our VISA card, he decided he would look for it.  I would say filing it between a file folder marked electric bills and another marked VISA – and not even in a file folder – is not a very organized filing system!  He says it must have fallen through, after all, we were in a hurry packing things up in those last days.  But, if you ever saw the way Clark kept his tools or any of his other personal belongings, you’d understand why I don’t believe that!  I don’t know how that man ever found anything in his mess of stuff, but I will give him credit and say that he could usually find it as long as no one else had touched it.  He doesn't believe in putting things back where they go, he just believes in remembering where you left it last which is a kind of scary way to keep things at our age!  In fact, it did make me wonder why in the world I left him in charge of it in the first place!   But, as he reminds me, he did find it.  One of these days our luck will run out when his memory finally fails him.

Well, after all of that frustration, we went back to the DMV today to get my license.  I do believe I took the worst photo of my life and there are no do-overs here.  Too bad so sad, what you see is what you get.  They took my picture so fast I didn't remember to raise my head up so only one of my chins showed!  Plus, I had my eyebrows raised so high, I look like plastic surgery gone wrong!  I’m just going to tell people I thought it would be fun to make myself look as unattractive as possible for my I.D. picture that I will be carrying around for years to come. 

From the DMV we went and got the next, and probably most important, document taken care of…our library cards!!!!!  Their library is very small but I will be able to check out e-books and since Clark has left 4 tubs of boxes stored at a very kind sister’s house, he is not allowed to check out books until he gets through those. 

Following all of that fun, we went for a drive and saw some beautiful country.  There are some wonderful motorcycle roads around here, if we still rode.  We stopped and had supper before we came home and we will call this a day! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Our First House Guests!

     We had our first overnight visitors!  Chad and Amanda were in the Dallas area and decided to come see us.  We were pretty excited about that.  They stopped and picked up lunch from a place called Woody’s in Centerville, Texas.  We had stopped there for gas on our way down.  Inside they had smoked meats that smelled heavenly.  Clark saw they had turkey legs for $6.95 and had been salivating over them ever since.  We didn't get any at the time because we were trying to get to Livingston before dark that day, so we had no time to waste.  We may as well have stopped because, if you recall, we didn't make it before dark.  Anyway, since they were going to be going right past there, we asked them to stop and pick up two turkey legs for Clark.  He would have one for lunch on Saturday and save the other for later.  The saying that everything is bigger in Texas certainly proved to be true, at least regarding these turkey legs!  Clark was in heaven.

Does this turkey leg make me look small?

Are you sure this is really from a turkey?

Chad was hangry (said Amanda!) so we ate as soon as they arrived! 

Amanda muggin' it up for Mug root beer.
     Chad and Amanda taught me how to play Farkel.  Amanda kept score the first game and beat us bad.  Of course, she did confess she forgot to write one of my scores down, so I kept score the next game.  Yep, I won that one!  We gave Chad a chance to keep score too but he passed on that.  Evidently, he didn't mind losing.

     Chad and Amanda slept on our couch that makes out into a bed; it has an air mattress.  I wasn't sure of the mattress size so I had packed a set of full sheets as well as a set Clark’s mom had used in her RV.  I remember at the time she gave them to me she said they were for a ¾ bed.  I wasn't sure what that was but I had kept them.  I was sure glad because the double bed sheets were too small and hers fit this mattress perfectly!  Chad and Amanda said they slept pretty well on it.  They did let out a little of the air so it wasn't quite so firm. 

Tucking Amanda in for the night.

Looked so comfy I had to try it.

Guess three's company.
Amanda told Chad to get the pillow - this is an inside joke and it cracked me up!!

     It was a good trial run to see if we could stand to have extra people in such close quarters.  We had a good visit and found we could handle 4 people in here pretty well as long as everyone was respectful of each other’s space.  Good to know!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weighing and Paying

We had so much to do today we actually set an alarm.  YUCK!!!!  I won’t say how late we normally sleep but suffice it to say we feel we may need to start setting an alarm everyday to become “normal” people rather than vampires! 
Anyway, back to the busy day…We decided to get weighed today, and isn't that always fun.  We wanted to find out how badly we had over-packed our 5th wheel.   I won’t go into detail everything that is required before you get weighed, but it seemed to be a lot.  Plus, you have to “break camp” which is never much fun but especially when you aren't even moving to a new destination.  Anyway, on the few minute drive over to the RV weigh station (available here in the Escapees’ Rainbow Park for $55.00), we were talking about all of the stuff we could get rid of so we could lose weight.  Of course, I could think of lots of things we could get rid of, but Clark began to notice it was all his stuff!
I am happy to report that for the first time in either of our lives, we don’t have to lose weight!  We were so shocked by this we celebrated with ice cream…just kidding.  We really were surprised though.   The one area we can work on would be to try to balance the weight a little more evenly but we were better than we expected.  If we want to, we can get a re-weigh for $25.00 if we do it within 6 months.
After completing that process, it was time to get our truck and 5th wheel inspected as is required by law in Texas – annually.  That didn't take too long and the guy who did it was very friendly.  That cost $31.00.  He said it would be $31.00 for both, I thought he meant each, so I gave him $62.00.  Thankfully, he was honest and said no, $31.00 total.  Nice guy!  Anyway, he said it would be something like $15.00 next time; it was just more this time because it was the first time we were registering in Texas. 
Now for the fun part, we went to the Polk County Tax Office to register our vehicles and get our Texas tags – yee haw!  Let me start by saying that we stopped into their office while we were in town yesterday to make sure of what we would need so we would be prepared.  Unlike the horrid office back home, there was no line, no numbers to pull, not even chairs to sit on because you won’t be there long.  That was pleasant and that is about where the pleasantness ended.  The gal we talked to yesterday told us we would need proof of insurance and the inspection form as well as our titles so we walked in there today with those items. 
We got a different woman this time (she was mildly friendly).  She took all of our paperwork and asked us if we had completed the forms yet.  Forms?  What forms?  Oh, the forms that someone could have given us the day before when we were in the office asking what we needed?  Oh and also, did we have a picture of our rig?  No, didn't know we needed that.  Yep, but at least they had an email address we could send it in to them.  So, home we came to get pictures of the rig and the info on the cargo weight, etc. and complete the paperwork to the best of our ability.  Also, I would interject here that she asked us if we wanted new titles that said Texas so they would match the tags.  We hadn't even given that a thought but if you are planning to do this anytime soon, you should decide that in advance.  She also told us she noticed our Kansas titles said Clark and/or Sandra.  She said Texas doesn't recognize and/or, it has to be both.  I think there may be a lot of things Texas doesn't recognize!
Back to the tax office for round three.  This time we got the most unpleasant woman I believe I have ever encountered in a public position.  No kidding.  I had to remind myself of what Pastor Mark always tells us and that is you never know the circumstances in that person’s life that may be causing them to behave in such a manner so show God’s love and be kind.  There were a few blanks on the form we had not filled in because we had questions.  She was not happy that she had to answer them, she was not happy that she had to get the email to get our pictures and basically I don’t think she was happy that we were breathing either.  Anyway, she told us what we needed to complete and then pretty much told us to move somewhere else to complete the form.  I very happily obliged and moved way down the counter and told Clark we would stand there until the office closed if that is what it took to get a different gal to wait on us.  I thought that would be the best way show kindness.  We did get a different gal, sort of.  We got the gal from yesterday who was so helpful with giving us the information of what we needed except the part about the forms!  She processed our paperwork and gave us our tags never smiling or saying have a nice day or welcome to Texas…nothing.  She just took our $426.00 and slid us our tags.   It was such a pleasant experience I can hardly wait to do it again next year! 
Oh yeah, almost forgot…remember how much fun I said it was to move?  Well, we did such a poor job of leveling when we got back from weighing, we are going to pull in the slides tomorrow and try again.  Maybe we should do it tonight in the dark.  After all, we did a better job when we came in on Tuesday in the dark than we did today in broad daylight!  Well maybe after a good night’s rest with all of our blood rushing to our heads we will be able to do a better job!

Until Later…God Bless!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Officially Full-Timers

Wowww!!!!  The last week was so much harder than I thought it would be in so many ways!  First off, we had to stop and thank God for the beautiful weather we had during the last week.  We had the 5th wheel open and we were able to take multiple trips hauling our essential belongings from the house to our new home without tracking in snow or mud or having to wear coats!  It was gorgeous weather for packing.
Monday morning we got up early and packed the last of our belongings then left to go sign the papers on the sale of the house.  We stopped at the bank then headed home to hook-up and leave.  The whole way into town to close on the house we were so giddy.  We talked about how exciting this was and how hard we had worked to make this happen.  No tears – just huge grins!  But, I will confess, when we got back to hook-up and pull out the tears started.  I made the mistake of walking through the house one more time…stupid, stupid, stupid!  I took pictures and cried as memories slammed me from everywhere.  I have to say right now, though, that there was never a time we ever doubted our decision.  Even in my sadness of leaving our home of 23 years where we raised our boys, I still knew that I wanted to continue down our chosen path, but the actual leaving was bittersweet.
Our Old Home and Our New Home

Clark preparing to start out on our new life!

We didn’t pull out until 2:00 in the afternoon.  Our destination was the Escapees’ Rainbow Park in Livingston, TX where we will officially become Texans.  We weren't sure of the specifics of the trip to get there.  We thought we had a plan but we changed our minds and decided to drive through Oklahoma City during the night to avoid the horrible traffic we have experienced there in the past on I-35. 

Driving through the gate one last time.

Pulling away...

Looking back one last time...

We saw quite a few other rigs on the road but they were all heading north.  We appeared to be fish swimming upstream!  I am sure they were thinking we were idiots and were heading the wrong way.  We know we were thinking that about them!  We were telling them to turn back – it was still cold up north!  The trip was pretty uneventful other than the wind.  We drove into the wind the entire way to Livingston.  We will not do that in the future unless we have to, but we felt the need to get down here so we could get our truck and 5th wheel licensed as our tags expire at the end of the month. 

Oh what a beautiful sunset we saw on our first night of freedom – from the cab of the truck but that was ok. 
The sky looked like it was burning.

  Anyway, we spend our first night in an Oklahoma rest stop between two semi-trucks.  We thought it was wonderful and it was within our budget!  
Our beautiful view at our first "site" (the Oklahoma rest stop)
We crawled into bed and snuggled under lots of blankets because it was pretty cold.  We lay there and talked about all of the thoughts still bouncing around in our heads.  Clark finally drifted off.  I know this because he began snoring and I thought, well, that’s it for me – no sleep’s gonna come my way!  I started singing 100 bottles of beer on the wall in my head, and got into the 70s but kept losing track where I was.  Thankfully, Sleeping Beauty finally rolled over from his back to his side and the snoring stopped.    Normally, I don’t have a problem poking the bear to get him to roll over, but since he was going to be driving me - and all of the things I decided I must have - down the road the next day while I slept, I thought maybe it would be best to let him sleep while he could! 
We woke up (yes, I did finally drift off) a tad chilly but finally forced ourselves to get up and at it.  Boy was it cold but we were so excited to be on the road again.  When we got to Fort Worth, we realized we would have been better off to drive all through the night to get through the traffic there!  Two words…road construction…we idled our way down the highway for more than an hour!  When we finally got to go 10 mph we thought we were flying!!!!  We didn't care; we didn't have to be anywhere, so we patiently got through that mess. 
Of course, that was enough to screw up our arrival time at the park.  We called ahead to let them know we would be in after office hours and asked what sites we could pick from when we got there – I told Sunny we planned to stay for 2 weeks.  Boy were we shocked when she said she only had one site available for that duration – and grateful that there was still one left.  We hadn't even thought about making reservations! This was all new to us because in the past when we traveled on the Harley we rode until we felt like stopping.  Reservations…we don’t need no stinking reservations!  (Think Sierra Madre).  Well, it turned out we didn't need reservations THIS time but we may need to rethink our opinion about reservations.  Again – thank you God for looking out for us! 
We arrived after dark (but not after quiet hours) and backed into our spot.  Not our brightest move (yes, pun intended.)  Our new neighbors were getting home about that same time so they pulled their truck in and left their headlights on for us so we could see better.  We got all set up without any issue but we don’t want to make a habit of setting up after dark!  We slept in this morning and boy did that feel good.  For awhile, we sat in our chairs, which we turned around to look out our big back window, and gazed out at all of the other rigs in the park and just smiled.  We were “home”. 
Tomorrow we will be more productive than we were today. We plan to talk to the Escapees people here in the park about what we need to do and where we need to go to become residents of Texas.  They help folks like us do this all of the time so we are grateful to have them as a resource.
Lulu was very happy when we made camp.  She has been out of sorts for the past few weeks and Monday morning when we were running back and forth carrying things out, she refused to come back into the house.  She just lay down by the truck and waited to leave.  She had been in the 5th wheel with us all week as we were packing our belongings away, and she knew nothing in the house was as it should be.  She may not have understood what exactly was happening but she at least thought we were going on a trip and she knew she wasn't going to be left behind.  Dogs are so smart!  Her happiness was short –lived though because she got a bath tonight!
The cost for this park for a 50 AMP site is $128.00 per week.  This includes electricity and is the price for Escapee members, which we are.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Countdown Is On!
Today is March 1st which means we have 16 days left to finish packing, loading, tossing, hauling, and/or selling everything left in the house.  I look around and it still seems we have much to do, and yet Clark says we have plenty of time still!  I will trust his judgment on this and keep plugging along. 
It has been a very emotional time for sure.  When we first started this process, I cried frequently as the memories of 23 years in this house where we raised our boys came rushing in at every turn.  I would think about this being the last time for this or that, or I would say remember when this and such happened…lots of happy memories.  Now, as the time is getting closer and the house is in such a shambles I cannot wait to get out of here!  Of course this freezing cold, wet winter has played a huge role in this change of focus.  I have to say, though, that never have we doubted our decision to fulltime.  We truly know this is what we want to do. 
We stepped into the 5th wheel the other day and looked around and it got us so excited to get on the road.  We want to spend some time planning our route to Livingston and talk about what else we would like to do for the 6 weeks we will be gone.  We need to be back here the first of May for some appointments and graduations.

We have a list of things to do, besides getting the house emptied, that Clark is working on.  We have taken care of several already.  We got copies of our birth certificates so we can get passports in case we ever decide to go to Mexico.  We also have our mailing address set up in Livingston. 

These 16 days are going to fly by and boy am I glad since we are going to get sleet and snow tonight and tomorrow.  It is 20 degrees here right now and 76 in Livingston…March 17th cannot get here fast enough!