Getting a Quick Word in …

Hurry!  While the internet seems to be working slightly faster than a snail’s pace, here is an update on our recent travels.

Dawny and I lucked into a Camp Host spot a few weeks ago here in east Texas.  By the way, that opening picture on the TV show “Sheldon” is NOT east Texas.  They dropped a bit of Big Bend or the Grand Canyon or something mountainous into the background there.  Cowboy boots, yes.  Cows, yes.  Big brown mountains, no.  East Texas is actually pretty green and, at most, has some rolling hills here and there.  It’s very pretty.

We dropped by this sweet little state park just to camp for a couple of nights and to check the park out for future workamping opportunities.  It turned out there was an opening at that moment.  The job will carry us through the end of February, which fits in perfectly with our travel plans.

I am happy to finally get officially started with the Texas State Park volunteer system.  There’s plenty of competition for these workamping jobs during the winter months.  Here is a tip for others seeking these kinds of jobs:  If you can, visit the park you are interested in.  Talk to the person in charge of the workamping program.  Openings often occur when other volunteers have a change in plans and can’t show up, and if you are able to step in at short notice, that is a great way to get two feet through the door.

The only downside to this park is the whole internet and Verizon connectivity issue.  I can rarely get phone calls and the computer is touch-and-go.  Texting is the best bet for anyone who actually knows me if they want to make contact and, even then, I suspect some texts may have been lost in cyberspace.

Here is a tip for you travelers who find yourself in a similar situation with poor connectivity.  If you don’t want to lose a piece of your sanity and a chunk of your computer’s life and soul to cyberspace, do not–DO NOT!–say yes when your computer politely inquires if you would like to upgrade your operating system.  This should only be done when you have a strong internet connection. Feeling agreeable, I said yes when that little box popped up in the upper right corner of my screen.  I was rewarded with a black screen and a small folder containing a flashing question mark.  I spent my days off last week going back and forth to Geek Squad at Best Buy (yay Geek Squad!) where they repaired my operating system but were unable to retrieve much of my data, including all of my photos.  Yes, I know that is what cloud storage is for.  But I’ve never really understood this cloud thing.  I don’t trust it.  I have only used it when forced to.  Have I learned my lesson vis-a-vis the cloud?  No, I don’t think so.  I’ll accept my nice, clean new system and chalk the rest up to collateral damage.

One last note:  The picture at the top of this post shows the land surrounding us when the park had a prescribed burn early this month.  I was amazed how the fire control officers came in and set fire to hundreds of acres all around us (at one point, the flames were within 50 feet of our rig), and not have things get out of control.  Brush was burned, tree skins charred, yet the forest itself mostly came out unscathed.  How can someone toss a cigarette out the window and cause a multi-state conflagration yet these fellows can come in and use the flames like just another tool?  They’re like the Geek Squad of the Forest.  Pretty cool stuff.

Glad I was able to slip a word in while the internet was feeling zippy, but I don’t want to push my luck.  Talk to you again down the road!

Happy 25th . . . Bye Bye!

Wowzer, Bowzer!  You may not believe this, except that it comes from my very own trustworthy lips.  Er… do doggies have lips?  Of course they do.  They are on the thin side, but they are there.  And, for the most part, they are extraordinarily trustworthy.  After all, what reason do we have to lie?  exaggerate?  embellish?  None whatsoever.  That’s more the two-legged style.

Okay, that’s settled.  Let’s get back on track here.  A week or so ago, guess who drove up to our little house…  My Daddy!  Ya!  Mom and I were in this crazy campground in west Texas that was full of sand dunes, heavy winds, and prickle burrs that were unavoidably attracted to my paws.  Despite those burrs, it was a pretty neat little campground.  Especially once Dad arrived.

He pulled up in a pretty red car.  I knew him right away, even though it has been over three years since Mom and I have seen him.  I am a good leaper to start with.  My greeting that day just about sent me to the moon.  I didn’t know how much I missed my Dad until I saw him again.  As for Mom, she was really happy to be with family again for the first Christmas since we hit the road.

The three of us have spent this past week together exploring west and south Texas.  Dad is trying out the RV lifestyle to see if it suits him and, if it does, he might buy his very own little house on wheels.  He is gaining an appreciation of the simplicity and flexibility inherent in RV traveling.  As for me, I appreciate the extra cheese and other treats I can beg off of him–he was always a much easier mark than Mom.  And I love showing off my prewash skills on all the extra pots, pans, bowls, and plates that result when the human presence is doubled.  After all, when you have three residents with eight feet and forty toes combined trying to coexist and function in a small space, every one needs to do their part.

Mom says that tomorrow would be her and Dad’s 25th wedding anniversary had they stayed married.  They both agree that, in their case, it is way better to just be old friends.  So tomorrow we part ways.  Happy 25th Anniversary ya’ll.  Bye bye Dad.  May the wind be at your back, the burrs stay off your feet, and your cheese never run out.

P.S. Happy New Year to all from Mom and Me!  — Dawny Virgil

Our House Came Home :)

Dawny and I were without our house for ten days.  Yesterday it came home.  What a splendid feeling it was to drive it out of the shop, speed down the highway at 65 mph–faster than our normal speed, but I wanted to test things out–and return to our friends’ ranch, where they had generously accommodated us in a private apartment over the barn.

On the way back to the ranch, I settled comfortably into my well-worn driver’s seat, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and sent out a prayer of gratitude.  For a stroke of bad luck, we were blessed with several strokes of extraordinarily good luck.  The squeaking noise we had occasionally heard on the way to Texas was due to a nasty rear axle/nut/bearing/brake situation.  It was a major repair job.

Fortunately:

  1. We are lucky that the problem did not deteriorate to the extent that it caused us to have an accident on the road.
  2. There was a Ford dealer/repair facility nearby that serviced RV’s, which is not an easy thing to find.  (Our RV is built on a Ford E-350 chassis.)
  3. Although our Ford bumper-to-bumper warranty recently expired, this problem was covered under the drive-train warranty, which was still good.
  4. Our bill upon leaving the repair shop was a mere $7.00 to cover the cost of the annual Texas vehicle inspection.
  5. Our friends made us feel welcome and gave us a safe, comfortable place to stay, even though our week-long visit stretched to two weeks.

Keep in mind that Dawny and I travel in our 25-foot motorhome and do not tow a car behind (often referred to as a ‘toad.’)  When the rig goes into a shop for routine maintenance, we wait around for it.  This was the second time in three and a half years that it went in for a lengthy repair and we were unable to stay with it.  The first time (August/September 2014), we happened to be visiting my son’s dad and were able to stay with him for the duration.

When researching the full-time RV lifestyle nearly four years ago, I read lots of opinions about whether or not to pull a toad.  In order to keep costs down, I decided to start out not towing and, if it looked like a necessity, I could change my mind later.  Not only would it save a lot of money not having to insure and maintain a second vehicle, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible in our new life.  KISS–keep it simple sweetie!

I have no regrets about going toad-less, but I do wonder what things would have been like had we not been with friends during these two major repair jobs, which together totaled about 20 days.  I suppose I would have rented a car and stayed in a pet-friendly hotel.  That would have been expensive, but still a lot less than the cost of owning an additional vehicle all this time.

I really missed our little house, and I am so happy it is home.  We are home.  And soon we will be back on the road, house and all.