Texarkana

Good morning. We had thought we would be staying put for today, but our plans changed like the weather. Today we will be heading east into Arkansas. My thoughts are instead of going further north, if we go east we can stay with the nicer weather a little longer. Again, we don’t have definitive plans, we are just winging it.

Day 119. Yesterday we left the Walmart in Wharton, Texas and drove next door to the Bucee’s for coffee and a bite to eat. That place was almost as busy in the morning as it was the night before at dinner time. We were on the road and headed north before 8:30 am. The weather wasn’t bad for traveling, just not as nice as the day before. It was overcast and gloomy, which is better than thunderstorms, high winds or snow storms.

We drove through Houston without any problems. We hit some traffic, but not anywhere near as bad as it would have been on a week day during rush hour. We also encountered road construction and those wonderful concrete barriers along the sides of the road that Clyde just loves-not. I think the last time we had to drive through that type of construction for as long as we did was in Ohio. Not fun. Clyde calls it his white knuckle driving.

Just before 11 am we came across our first rest area. Patty Pepper was not settling down and was trying to tell us she needed to be let out.  We also needed to stretch our legs. We aren’t as young as we used to be you know.

The route we were on took us through long spells of nothing but farmland and grazing cattle. When you are driving a motorhome that is pulling a car, finding a gas station that you can get into and out of without problems is not always easy. We still had a half of a tank of gas, but with the lack of gas stations or anything else around, we decided to keep our eyes open for the next station with decent prices and where we would be able to pull in and out of easily. We found a Texaco in Marshall, Texas at $2.29 a gallon.

For those of you who have asked or are just wondering how expensive it is to drive a motorhome, I have figured it out to be anywhere from $3.17-$3.70 a mile depending on the cost of the gas. I guess we’d better like where we are going and enjoy the scenery.

Our plans were to stay at a Corps of Engineering campground near Texarkana, Texas for the night and possible the next, but that was not to be. There were four campgrounds in the area and they were all closed due to flooding. That meant we needed to find another place to stay for the night. The Walmart in this area was one that does not allow for overnight parking, so that was out. Besides, we wanted and needed a shower.

As it was getting late (almost 5 pm) we decided to pull into a campground we saw along the side of the road with a big sign that says Texarkana RV Park. It’s a clean park with gravel parking sites. Some of the sites are pull-through, which we are using one of so we don’t have to unhook the toad. We also have full hook-ups, 50 amps and free Wi-Fi if you wanted it. The park also has a pool. Clyde said the showers were really nice; big and clean. There are also washers and dryers if you needed them and a game room with tables to play at and a TV. We were able to use our Good-Sam’s discount which was nice, but it was still more than we like paying for a one night stay. But, again we do what we have to in a pinch. We are just south of Texarkana, Texas. We would stay here again if we needed to.

I’d better get a move on. We’ve got to figure out where we are going today. For sure it will be in Arkansas. Loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Border Patrol Checkpoint

Good Morning. It’s going to be another beautiful travel day. Today we will be going through Houston, Texas. I think we will be glad it is a Saturday and not a week day going through during rush hour. That is our hope anyway. We have no idea how far we are going today. We will see how it goes.

Day 118. We didn’t get on the road quite as early as planned, but no big deal. We are retired with nothing set in stone. It was an expensive gas day, almost $200 total. We filled up before we got on the road and then again when we stopped for the night. So our day of traveling cost us $74 in gas. At that rate we will need few free nights in Walmart parking lots to make up for it.

You don’t have to cross the border and go into another country to go through a border patrol checkpoint. We went through one today on our way north. The expressway was closed off and we were directed through the checkpoint. Traffic moved along quickly. The agent only asked us if anyone else was in the car. Clyde said no just our dog. The agent nodded and moved us through. We believe they photographed every car that went through. That’s ok, I took their picture too.

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We had beautiful weather the entire day and evening. We stopped for lunch at a rest area shortly after the border patrol checkpoint. My, was the rest area crowded. It appeared everyone else had the same idea. I love having the motorhome and being able to make our lunches fresh when we stop and if there isn’t a picnic table available we can always eat inside, which we did. We did see a number of other RV’ers on the road heading north right along with us. I guess we aren’t the only ones who migrate north along with the birds.

Our goal was to make it to Wharton, Texas where there is a Bucee’s and a Walmart and then decide if we wanted to continue driving or stop for the night. We made it to Wharton around 4pm and decided it would be a good time and place to spend the night. We filled up with gas at Bucee’s and went inside to see what it was like. The place was packed. It is a huge gas station with a Cracker Barrel type gift area inside along with a party store type area. There is also individual areas to get baked goods, ice cream, fudge, salads, fruit, tacos, BBQ, and much more. It was kind of overwhelming at first. We walked around the entire store and then decided what we wanted to buy. Clyde got a BBQ sandwich with homemade potato chips and coconut cream pie in a cup for desert. I got a salad and cheesecake. There is no place inside Bucee’s to eat, so we took our food back to the motorhome and drove next door to the Walmart for the night. Our food was good, but the cheesecake wasn’t anywhere near as good as my daughter Melissa’s or even Eli’s, but I ate it anyway.

The Walmart had a number of truckers already parked when we arrived. It is a nice large parking lot with plenty of room to find your spot. Before it got dark a few other campers joined us. We were able to put our bedroom slide out, which is always nice.

Loving our lifestyle. Have a great day.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

 

Final Leg South

Good morning.  We went to sleep last night with the bedroom window open listening to the waves hitting the shore.  How cool is that.  It is 61 already this morning, but it’s not supposed to get as warm today as it was yesterday.  The high is forecast to be only 64 with possible showers and high winds.  It doesn’t look like a beach day to me.  That’s ok, there is a lot to see here on the island.

Day 75.  We were up and ready to get on the road for our final leg of the journey to South Padre Island by 8:30 am.  A Murphy’s gas station was just across the Walmart parking lot, where we went to fill Winnie up.  Gas was $2.34 a gallon, which we thought was high until we went further south and found that the price had jumped to $2.49 a gallon.  It’s a good thing we won’t be needing to fill her up again for another month.

The drive was uneventful with moderate traffic and some construction along US 77.  We saw palm trees, cactus, cattle, a few wind turbines and even the boarder patrol along the long stretches of open land.  We stopped at the Harlingen Travel Information Center to stretch our legs and walk Patty Pepper.  This was an easy on and off the highway stop, with plenty of space for us to park.  While we were there we decided we should have lunch (pb&j sandwiches) so we weren’t starving when we got to the campground.

We passed through Port Isabel, crossed the 2-mile-long causeway which was named Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge and arrived on South Padre Island.  A total of 162 miles.

After checking into Isla Blanca Park and setting up we were ready to take a short walk down to the beach and check it out.  The temperature was perfect in the 70’s, but a bit windy.  The red flag warning was out.  We are hoping for some nice weather beach days while we are here this month.  I didn’t see any shells.  Perhaps this won’t be the beach for collecting any. I did read that if you wanted any shells you needed to walk the beach early in the morning.  We will see.

This park is the complete opposite from the Corp of Engineering campground in Waco, Texas we just left.  The sites here are so close together – “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand . . .” . Just sayin’.  This is a first for us.  We’ve stayed in campgrounds that we thought were a bit too close together, but none compared to this campground.  I’ll let you know how I feel after a few days.

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Our site #C443

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Our site #C443

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View from our couch window

What enticed us here to this area was the warmer weather, close to the ocean with sights to see and things to do. I’m looking forward to exploring the area.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

Corpus Christi

Good morning.  Last night was the first night in a very long time that we opened a window for sleeping.  I love the fresh air.  We shouldn’t even need a coat or sweater today with a high around 80.

Day 74.  We got on the road yesterday about 8:30 am.  There were a number of different routes we could have taken to get to our destination, South Padre Island.  I decided to take the western route, which was mostly expressway, going through the major cities.  I chose to go this way because I figured on our way back north we would be taking the eastern route and I want us to see as much of this beautiful country as possible.

This route was not fun and exciting.  We went through construction areas with the concrete barricades, which are extremely stressful, all along I-35.  Taking this route we went through Austin and San Antonio and all of the towns in-between.  It was heavy traffic all most the entire day.

We didn’t find a rest area/picnic area until a little after 1 pm.  My poor husband was starving and the break was greatly needed to relieve some of the stress from the traffic and construction.

Once back on the road the drive was much better; no construction and a lot less traffic.  We stopped again to fill up our propane tank which should last us the entire month of February.  It was $3.09 a gallon! That’s the most we’ve had to pay per gallon yet.  Gas prices are back up too.  Ugh.

We could tell we had finally made it south.  The temperature was warm enough to open our windows.  We also saw our first cactus and our first oil rig.

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Cactus

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Oil Rigs

After 312 miles, we made it to our destination for the night at 4:15 pm.  That is later than we like to stop when setting up someplace, but when we stay in a parking lot it is just right. We are staying in the Corpus Christi Walmart parking lot off I-37 & US 77, exit 14. We were happy to get a spot that was along the grassy edge of the parking lot.  It makes it so much nicer to be able to have the bedroom slideout out.  We were later joined by 3 other campers.  A trucker had arrived before us.  We like it when we are joined by other overnighters.  I guess there is safety in numbers.

As I mentioned previously, we like to shop at the places where we stay overnight for free and we had a few items on our list to get.  Patty Pepper is not happy to be left behind and lets us know.  Just look at that sad face below.  We also are far enough south that our palm trees are back.

Our drive today should only be about 3 – 3 1/2 hours.  Then fun in the sun and on the beach.  I’ve got to find myself a good book to read.  Loving this lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

Airport Park

Good Morning.  We are now in Airport Park, a Corp of Engineering Campground in Waco, Texas.  The temperature is currently 14.  We took the same precautions we took the last few nights to protect our home from having the tanks and pipes freeze up.  So far so good.  The only thing we’ve noticed is the ice machine is not making ice.  Hopefully when we warm up above freezing it will start working again with no ill effects.

Day 60.  We took our time getting on the road yesterday.  It was very cold outside and we knew we weren’t going too far to get to our next destination.  We left Lake Lavonia about 10 a.m.  

The only thing we really needed to do before arriving in Waco was fill up with propane.  By the time we were ready to leave we were down to a 1/4 of a tank.  Thanks to another reader and full-time RV’er, Al and Debbie of Our Coddiwomple Blog who suggested a Flying J in Waco that has propane, we weren’t worried about where to find it.

Once we were on the road, after looking to see what exit we were getting off and which exit the Flying J was at, I realized the Flying J was a few exits beyond the one we were getting off.  I needed to find another option to fill our propane tank.  Looking in the Next Exit book I found a Loves gas station, exit 386 off I-35, in Italy, Texas that not only had propane, it also was an easy in and out.  It was just ahead of where we were and Patty Pepper was restless and not settling down. We needed to stop and let her out.  How could you resist that cute face.

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Patty Pepper

 

I love the Next Exit book.  If you are a traveler and haven’t heard of it, I recommend getting one.  It lists each exit and rest stops along the highway and what you will find at each one.  We have the 2017 edition but the 2018 is now out.

When we pulled up to the propane tank at the Loves gas station a young man came out.  You could tell he had no idea what he was doing.  I asked if he had ever filled a motorhome before and he said no.  I then asked if he could get someone with experience to show him what to do.  He did.  It all worked out in the end, but they only filled it 3/4 full.  That was ok with me.  I’d rather 3/4 full than overfilled.  Propane there was only $2.09 a gallon.  That’s the cheapest we’ve seen it on our recent travels.  We got 10.8 gallons for $22.57.  We wanted to fill Winnie up with gas but we didn’t like the price.  The young man we were talking to said it was cheaper further south.  So we decided to wait and get it later.  With that accomplished we were back on the road.

We stopped for lunch at a rest area that again just happened to show up when we wanted to stop.  How convenient.  It was a really busy place.  Every trucker on the road must have been hungry too.  I love the ambiance of the Texas rest areas.  Each one is a little different but inviting.

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Texas rest area at 362mm off I-35

Our next stop was gas.  We got off at our exit 339 and saw gas at $2.13 a gallon.  That’s the cheapest we’ve seen in a long time.  It was a Valero gas station and it was an easy in and out.  $81 later we were on our way to our campsite.

Like the last Corp of Engineering campground, this one was off the beaten path too.  The GPS on my phone had us turn in a road too soon.  The sign said Airport park but it was the boat launch and also the road for airport personnel.  A nice lady was right behind us and told us we needed to go down one more road.  Unfortunately we had no room to turn around so we had to unhook the toad. While we were unhooking the car from the motorhome two more RV’ers also pulled into the wrong road.  I guess we aren’t the only ones who mess up.  Instead of hooking the car back up once we were turned around, I just drove it to our campsite.

We arrived at our site #61 about 2:30 pm.  Again it was a bit later than we had thought we would be, but then again we are in no hurry.  We traveled a total of 136 miles.

This campsite is perfect.  We have a beautiful view, a long paved pad, large site with a separate patio area with a picnic table, fire pit and standing grill. We also have full hookups with 50 amps!  There are a lot more campers here than at our last campground.

We are looking forward to exploring our new area.  Loving this lifestyle.

Until next time,

Kathryn

 

 

 

Gas and Tunnels – Oh My!

Happy New Year everyone.  2018 is sure to bring new adventures our way.  We start the new year off on day 44 of being full-time on the road.  It is really 108 days of living the full-time lifestyle, but we were a little waylaid in getting on the road.

Day 44 was a travel day.  Our time in Gulf Shores Alabama was up.  We enjoyed our stay but we were both ready to take off and see something new.  We got up and were on the road by 9:15 a.m.  Being New Years Day we weren’t sure what to expect traffic wise or what we would find open.  Traffic seemed light to normal and even though many places were closed, we didn’t have any difficulty finding what we needed.

We took our time and stopped for lunch at the Mississippi welcome center.  Due to the cold weather I decided we would go west using the southern route of I-10 rather than going north and across I-20.  I was hoping the southern route would be a bit warmer.  Maybe it was, but it was still cold.

Getting to Mississippi we had to go through Mobile, Alabama, which meant going through the tunnel.  We had no idea what to expect.  We are familiar with the tunnel going from Detroit into Canada, but that’s it.  To me it wasn’t that bad.  I have been much more apprehensive when going through construction areas or over bridges in the motorhome.

We made it through Mississippi and into Louisiana.  Our destination for the night was the Walmart in Walker.  It was about 3:30 p.m., which is a good time for us to stop for the day.  It is early enough to find a spot and settle in before dark.  We traveled a total of 233 miles New Years Day.

The Walmart parking lot was small compared to others we have been to, but we managed to find a space for the night.  When we woke in the morning we saw a couple other travelers had joined us along with a trucker.

We decided to run the generator all night for heat, not only to keep us warm but to make sure our tanks didn’t freeze up.  The temperature in the night went below 30.  It worked out well.  The noise from the generator was soothing and blocked out road noise, another plus.

Day 45 we managed to get an earlier start and we were on the road by 8:30 a.m.  Not too long after we had started our day, we needed to gas up and this was the first time we pulled a big no-no.  We waited too long to look for a good gas station that we could get in and out of easily.  The only gas station available was extremely tight and narrow to drive through. We got ourselves in a predicament. On one side was a big telephone pole.  On the other side was the gas pumps.  There was no room to maneuver.  We were inches away from both sides and to make matters worse, you can’t back up with a toad!  If it wasn’t for a really nice guy who worked at the gas station I don’t know what we would have done.  He managed to direct Clyde through the area without harm.  We can’t thank him enough.

The rest of the day went without drama.  We enjoyed the scenery going through swampy marshlands and seeing areas for the first time.

When lunch time came we stopped at the only rest area we saw all day.  It just happened to appear at the right time.  We were on I-49 going north towards Shreveport, Louisiana.

Tonight we are Staying at a Flying J gas station 3 miles from the Texas border.  We will be running the generator again all night for both heat and to keep the tanks from freezing.  It is supposed to get down to 22 here in Greenwood tonight.  We stopped for the night about 3:30 p.m. once again and drove a total of 295 miles today.

Tomorrow will be a short travel day.  We are only about 3 hours from our destination, which is a Corps of Engineering campground; Lavonia Park on Lavon Lake.  It is not too far from Dallas.  We will be staying there for a couple of weeks while we visit some old friends.

Until next time,

Kathryn