Archive for September, 2007

Dallas/Fort Worth September 30, 2007

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

We have been in the D/FW area for almost 2 weeks.  There certainly wasn’t a lot of resting time while here.  We both went to our regular doctor to renew prescriptions.  We took care of some paperwork getting ready to go to MX for the winter.  We changed the shocks on the front end of the truck.  Oh, my gosh, what a difference.  We were really bouncing all the time.  Now it is a smooth ride. 

While we were in a RV park in Louisiana, the people next to us with a 5th wheel had had heavy duty tires put on their rig.  When we had our rig weighed in California, it was recommended that we upgrade our tires.  We called around and found some G rated tires in Springtown, TX.  So while Tinka had an appointment with her regular hairdresser and getting a pedicure, Rick took the 5th wheel over to Springtown to change out our tires. 

Again we went through our rig and found many unnecessary things we can live without and took 2 big plastic tubs to our storage place in Weatherford. It is amazing what you think you can not live without and you end up never using.  So why take up space and weight in your RV? 

While we were in a familiar area (DFW) and knew all the stores around we picked up a few supplies, equipment and parts we needed.  We just had to go to Camping World to see how much money we could get rid of in an hour.


The most important thing we did while in the DFW area is see our family and a few friends.  We didn’t see several friends we really wanted to get together with but we will try next time we are through here.  Rick went to lunch with his former coworkers.  He almost had to     w   o   r   k.     The Odessa plant needed to be audited and they asked if Rick would do it since we were heading in that direction.  But they called later and said Odessa wasn’t ready so Rick didn’t have to go to      w   o   r   k       after all.  But we did see our FAMILY.


Last Saturday we did the grandparent thing and watched Gracie cheerleading.




Then we did another Grandparent thing (that we will NEVER do again!!!!!!) and took 2 granddaughters (Ayden and Gracie) to Celebration Station. Celebration Station is sort of like Chuck E Cheese.  Never been there?  Celebration Station has tons and tons of arcade games, pizza, birthday parties going on, and miniature golf outside with other carnival type rides.  So what is the problem?  It was a Saturday and everybody in the ENTIRE  DFW area with their 20 kids each was there.  Not only that they told their children to run wild and do anything they wanted to do and bother everyone and tie up the arcade games without tokens so paying people couldn’t use them.  To be honest I am sure it wouldn’t be a bad place on a weekday while school is in session.  We played miniature golf and used up $20 worth of tokens.  It didn’t take us very long to figure out the token deal.  Find a game that takes a lot of tokens at a time so we can use them up quickly and get out of there.  The noise level was loud!!!!   Then we went to McDonalds to eat.  Both girls were so excited to go play on the playground there.  So after all the money we spent at Celebration Station we could have only gone to McDonalds and they would have enjoyed that just as much. 

Sunday we went to Justin’s (son) house to eat.  He cooked baby back ribs which were just delicious!!!!!!!!!  We enjoyed a very relaxing day with the family.  The only thing missing was Marc (son) as he was out of town working. 

The 3 granddaughters were all together doing their favorite thing–dressing up!!!!



We were staying at the Plantation Place in Garland.  This picture was taken last time we were here before we headed to the East Coast.  The RV Park is behind this house.




Then we headed to Cowtown RV Park in Aledo, near Weatherford.  This is where we lived for 6 months from the time we sold our house and Rick retired.  It felt like we were arriving home.  Nice feeling.


Lance (son) and Ayden came over for steaks on Friday and spent the night. 


Ayden on her Razor.



Sometimes living in a RV can be confusing.  You may forget where you are or where you have been. We usually keep a case of Coors Light in our RV.  The other day I was putting 2 Coors in the fridge when I noticed on the box there was a gold helmet on the outside of it and a banner that said Saints.  I thought now why in the world would the Dallas area be advertising the New Orleans Saints instead of the Cowboys? After a while it dawned on me that we had bought that case in New Orleans.


We are on our way west.  Go west, young man, go west!


Life’s a journey and we are on one!!!

A Wreck in the French Quarter

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

As usual we are behind in our journal so we are trying to catch up. 

While we were in New Orleans we HAD to go to the French Quarter.  The buildings are very old but they have had 2 fires there years ago so a lot of the buildings were replaced in the 1800’s.

In historic districts we have visited this year each has had a distinctive flavor and characteristic about it.  The main characteristic about the French Quarter is shutters.  Every door and window has shutters on it.  When all the shutters are closed, the only way to tell the difference between the windows and doors is the few steps leading to the door.


The reason all the buildings were built with shutters was to keep the tax man from knowing their possessions.  Behind the old shutters could be a mansion and a beautiful courtyard.  No Goggle Earth back then!!!

The first thing we did when arriving at the French Quarters was to eat Beignets.  This is a must!  We stopped at the Café Du Monde and they served us our Beignets.  This is a cross between a French pastry and a doughnut.  There must be a trick we don’t know about to eating them.   We had powdered sugar all over the table, floor and us when we were finished.  We looked around and some people had no tale, tale signs of being messy.

How did they do that??????

Half the order gone —


Only sugar and mess left —



Jackson Square Park was right across the street.  The buildings on each side of the picture are apartments with a 7 year waiting list.  (CLICK ON PICTURE FOR LARGER VIEW)


To keep from walking all day we decided to take a carriage ride around the French Quarter to see where and what we wanted to visit later. 

This was our driver.


They use mules instead of horses because they can take the heat better and go without water better than horses.  But they aren’t as well trained as horses.  So off we go for about an hour’s drive.  The carriage makes wide right hand turns just like an 18 wheeler or a 5th wheel.  Well, just like in real life there is always a little car that wants to creep up on the right side of you.  We look over to our right and see a little blue car and the tire cover to our carriage about to collide.  We hollered to our driver to stop but remember a mule is pulling our carriage and did not mind.  Crrruuunch!!!!  Our driver pulls the mule straight to the next street.  The little blue car follows.  We all stop and the 2 guys with drinks in their hands get out to see the damage.  Not much, a broken headlight and the car’s blue paint is now maroon like our carriage.  Our driver tells them she had the right of way because she is driving a MULE and they were not to pull up along side of her when she is trying to turn right.  She, also, said they could call the cops.  With drinks in their hands they said they would take care of their own damage and got back in their car.  We continued our carriage ride around the French Quarter.




The foliage was beautiful.







Different shutters on houses.





This shop is a blacksmith shop.  Not!!!  It was a front for Jean Lafitte, a pirate.  There was no blacksmithing going on at all.



This is a mansion that a man built for his bride from the Midwest.


She got homesick and missed the cornfields so he planted some.  The only difference is the corn is on a wrought iron fence.



We ate at the Gumbo Soup.  This tree was outside the restaurant.



We ran into Rick’s girlfriend. (One he can keep up with and doesn’t talk back.)



Streets in the French Quarter.



Voodoo Shop



Almost all the shops are filled with different businesses.  There are very few vacancies.  People rent the 2nd and 3rd floors to live in and they are full.  There were a lot for sale though.  We were there on a September weekday and there were lots of tourists around.  So the people are returning to New Orleans to visit.


Life’s a journey and we are on one!!!

The Ninth Ward

Monday, September 24th, 2007

After being shocked and saddened driving through the Gulfport-Biloxi area we headed to New Orleans.  How very sad that town looks. It is very hard to capture it on camera.  Large nice apartment complexes or large buildings were empty and fenced off since the storm.  We first came across middle income neighborhoods and looking down the street there was some kind of trailer in everyone’s yard.  Some 5th wheels were parked in the driveway, some were parked along the street and some were parked across the front yard.  Just like in MS, the people are living in their trailers working on their houses.



As we drove farther into town it wasn’t just middle income neighborhoods but all neighborhoods that had lots of trailers. Older strip malls and buildings will never be rebuilt.  It would probably be best to just bulldoze those buildings but that cost money also.  As long as these buildings are allowed to stand it will always be a constant reminder of Katrina to the people of New Orleans. 

We stayed in a new RV park near a ship canal.  Across the road was one of the levees.  It looks more like a fence to me.




The roofs you see are the roofs of 2 story houses. This levee held but water flowed around it at the end and the water was up to the fence inside which meant the water came up to their roofs.



We were fairly close to the ninth ward so we took a drive through it.  One of the things that we didn’t notice on TV was how close all the houses are to each other.  Instead of all the front doors facing the street, some of the front doors are on the side yard and the house is lengthwise..  After seeing how close the houses were to each other, we noticed the same thing in other areas but not as crowded.  We figured the reason was that land is scarce as New Orleans is surrounded by water.  We had heard no one was moving back to the Ninth Ward but we saw a lot of cleaning up and rebuilding or remodeling.  When we say remodeling we noticed some people had replaced the windows and doors with new ones but using the old wood to remodel the rest of the house.  As close as all the houses are let’s hope a fire never breaks out in that area.





For fun we drove across Lake Pontchartrain. That is a huge lake that is to the north of New Orleans.




When we got on the bridge the lake looked like an ocean as you could hardly see the other side.  No wonder.  The bridge is 23 miles long!!!!!!  There were actually 2 bridges.  2 lanes going in one direction and another bridge returning.  Every 2 or 3 miles they had a crossover so you could get on the other bridge.  This must have been in case there was an accident on one bridge then they can move the traffic to the other bridge and avoid traffic congestions.  There were also wreckers sitting in 2 different crossovers waiting for an accident to happen.




On our return trip we passed a car that was going very slow.  It was a nice new car with a flat tire.  Someone will probably by very quickly to help them change the tire and get them on their way to avoid a traffic backup on the bridge.  The bridge is a toll bridge.  After being in Delaware and New Jersey and paying such high tolls we could not imagine how much this would cost.  So Tinka gets a $20 bill out hoping that would be enough.  She had it sitting in her lap.  As we entered the toll bridge we noticed there weren’t any toll booths.  Had they turned it into a free bridge?  Pretty unlikely!!!!!  As we came to the end of the first trip across Lake Pontchartrain we spotted the toll booths.  They only charged GOING into New Orleans.  We drove around the town on the other side a few minutes and started heading back across the bridge.  We still did not see a sign saying what the toll would be to cross.  Well, 23 miles of bridge and driving around town takes up at least 45 minutes.  That meant 45 minutes the $20 bill sat on Tinka’s lap.  As we got close to the toll booth—no $20 bill.  It was lost.  Tinka could not find it anywhere.  So we get another one out of our wallet.  The toll amount was $3.00.  Unbelievably cheap for a 52 mile trip.  In Delaware or New Jersey that toll would have cost as much as a house!!!!!!!!!  When we returned to the RV park we found the $20 bill.  It had slipped between the seat and the console.

 The next post will be about the French Quarter. 

Life’s a journey and we are on one!!!!!

Gulfport / Biloxi MS September 20, 2007

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

We will be in the Dallas area this weekend. 

After we left the Tampa area we drove to the Panhandle of Florida.  The Destin area had really grown since the last time we were there.

We were anxious to see the Gulfport-Biloxi MS area and what it now looks like after Katrina. 

The drive between Gulfport and Biloxi has been one of our favorite areas to drive through as there are huge live oaks trees surrounding very old, stately southern mansions. The mansions have large front yards with the beach and the Gulf of Mexico as an extension of their front yards.




The only thing between the houses and the beach is a 4 lane road (Highway 90). 

 Katrina arrived in the Biloxi area with a large surge of water which destroyed all the houses.  Now there is nothing along there but the large live oak trees. On the lots of these former homes are the new mansions of Beach Blvd. The people are living in nice motor homes or 5th wheels while they are having their houses rebuilt.  Or maybe they are new owners?








Before Katrina the houses were built on slats.  Now almost all the new homes are built on stilts.

The devastation was not just along the beach but the surge destroyed buildings and houses blocks away from the beach.

The casinos are back in business. We figured this could have been a priority to give people jobs and bring tourists and life back to the area.  Beau Rivage is a beautiful casino inside.


The Hard Rock Casino




National chains have been good about moving back into the area and building there.  We saw about 6 new Waffle Houses around the area.  Some of these were standing alone without anything around for blocks.


Signs made it through the storm.  



Most buildings didn’t fare as well.



Rick’s mother went to college in Gulfport and though the college buildings are still standing they are closed for renovations. 


Jefferson Davis’s home was also along this strip of  Beach Blvd (Highway 90) and it is closed for renovations.

It will take a few more years for the clean-up and rebuilding of the area.

A note about having the right tools.

Friday, September 14th, 2007

A few weeks back we were driving to the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  Prior to heading out onto the islands, we decided to fill up with fuel.  We had only been on the road for about two hours.  As a normal practice, we always check the tires prior to taking off for the day and when we stop. 

After filling up with fuel, I noticed a large bubble on the side of one of the tires.  We located a rest area and we went to work changing the tire.  Years ago, with our old trailer, our attempt to change a tire didn’t go well.  I placed a jack under the axle and on top of a cinder block.  The result was a crushed cinder block and a call to a wrecker for assistance.  Shortly after that, I came across a slick item that would have helped considerably. 

This gadget, shown below, is really handy.  Basically, you drive the good wheel up on this little ramp and the weight is lifted off of the tire to be replaced.   Slight use of a jack on the axle lifts the tire from the ground after the lugs have been replaced.


Changing the tire was the right thing to do.  When we arrived in Charleston to have the tire replaced,   the bubble had burst.  Had this happened while driving, we probably would have had a blow-out which would have been quite inconvenient and would have caused damage to the underside of the 5th wheel.


The 5th wheel manufacturer recommends the use of a torque wrench at frequent intervals after a tire change and at the beginning of each trip to check the lug nuts.  We’ve made a practice of doing this and, sure enough, after a change, I have had to tighten the lugs on several occasions.