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Along the Natchez Trace

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Becoming a Texan - Part II

A couple of weeks ago I wrote that Bill & I decided it was time to change our residency from Ohio to Texas.  A lot of reasons - taxes (both now and our estate) being high on the list.  But more than that, though we still own property in Ohio it isn't likely that we'll ever move back there.  We spend more time in Texas than any other state, whether it be down in the Valley (where we'll probably eventually retire to) or at Celeste's house (Bill loves puttering around her place).

We have 4 kids, but at this time they live in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Texas.  Our grandkids live in New York, Michigan, California and Texas.  My siblings live in Ohio, but my brother spends most of his time in North Carolina.  Bill's sister lives in New Mexico.

So many folks we know want to be close to family when they retire.  Well, we retired in 1996 (Bill) and 1997 (me) and we see our family more now that we live "on wheels".

All that aside...  we made the decision to change to Texas.  The past couple of weeks haven't been easy.  After finding that we needed the title to our vehicles (NOT just the registration as the website stated), I mailed the $30 check to our home county in Ohio and they sent copies out immediately.  (you don't suppose they are happy to get rid of us, do you?)

Okay...  what's next?  The vehicles need a safety inspection.  Got that!  ($15.50 each)

The requirements say that we need to have a photo of the rig and a weight slip stating its weight.  So one morning last week, Bill filled the water tank, and we went to have the propane tank filled as well...

This woman was the attendant....  did everything just as it should be done.

We then gassed up.  Got lucky...  with our 12c discount at HEB, gasoline was $3.07 a gallon.

Bill wanted everything topped off so he'd know exactly what our weight is at full capacity.

Off we went to the local stone quarry....
We're very slightly overweight.
If I were to get rid of a few books....  or maybe 3 pair of shoes (horrors!)
we're be right on the money.

We'll work on that later.

Okay...  now we have the inspection stickers and the weigh slip.
But...
Bill wants to keep his CDL.
He has to get a (DOT) approved physical.  He does, at the approved "walk-in" clinic.  He walks out with his wallet $85 flatter.

OKAY, FOLKS!
We got it all together!
We head off to Hood County to the DMV!

The clerk there starts working on the paperwork.  Page after page of signing this or that.  She comes to our Livingston, Texas address.
Uh OH!
Says, you have to get your license plates in the county where you reside.  

We explain that we are located at our daughter's house in Somervell County, but were told that that county doesn't have a DMV.
Well, she says...  they do.  You can't get a driver's license there, but we'll have to get our plates there.  AND...  there's a place on the form that we can fill in Celeste's address as our temporary place of residence.

Okay...  a 25 mile drive to the Somervell County DMV...
(A lot of buildings in Texas look like the Alamo)

Boy!  Do we have a rough time there!
Nope...  can't do it...  Livingston's in Polk County and she says we'll have to go to Polk County to get it done.
Finally, after some slick talking (I didn't say anything untruthful) we can get our plates there!
Here's Bill....  signing on the dotted line.

This place didn't want or need that photo we were told we needed.  They did use the weigh slip.

I wrote a check for $410.75 to pay for both the car and the rig.

Whoopee!  We now have Texas plates!
Our windshields are all but obliterated in various stickers now.  (That one in the lower left is actually our registration to travel in Mexico).  I found it interesting that the tags are the same...  no special tag for motor homes.  But that's good...  now I stand a chance of remembering what they are!

So, now Somervell County does not have an office for driver's license...
It's back to Hood County for that...
We think we're finally on the last leg of this little adventure.  That box that Bill's carrying under his left arm contains all the paperwork  we need. 

We have a great clerk helping us.  She even suggests that he show her his discharge papers from the Air Force so that she can put "veteran" on his license.
(the reason for this is that veterans often get discounts at various places)

That machine on the left is for "thumb print" identification.  He still had to take an eye test, and still had to get his photo taken.

I did all this too...  except Bill's was a bit more complicated because he also got his CDL.

My driver's license cost $25
(If I wanted to transfer my motorcycle endorsement, I could have for an additional $16.  I doubt if I'd ever kick start one of those suckers again so declined.)

Here he is...  Texas' newest citizen!

If we'd had all the correct information to start with, this process may not have taken so long.

The total cost came to $652.75

That included everything, including the weigh slip and the physical.

We can renew our driver's license on-line until age 80.  
We can renew our license plates on-line, but have to have an annual inspection.

Is all this worth it?

Well, we can get a "Blue Bonnet" pass for Texas State Parks now giving us a discount on camping and entrance fees.  (there is no charge for the pass)

I know I didn't include everything...  eg. we got Texas insurance on our vehicles, and I probably left off some other stuff, like listing all the documents we had to have to prove who we are.  

But...  now our vehicles sport brand-new Texas license plates.
Bill & I are both carrying a temporary driver's license until our "real" ones arrive in the mail.

One funny thing is...  they take your picture without you wearing your glasses.  I've worn glasses for 60 years... I don't even LOOK like myself...  or maybe I just look like I do when I first get up in the morning!

Did I really become a Texan to look like I just crawled out of bed?

That's All For Today!



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Happy Birthday & Future Plans

My baby's birthday was yesterday.  She lives in New York but spent most of the day in various airports...  I talked to her briefly while she was still in NY  (okay, she was actually in NJ) waiting to put her "grandcats" on board.  Megan, my granddaughter moved to San Diego a month or so ago but took a road-trip getting there.  So Donna, my daughter, took the cats and went for a visit yesterday.  She'll leave the cats with Megan, who has a surprise waiting for them.  They got a dog last weekend to round out their pet menagerie.  Wonder how THAT will go over?

Happy Birthday, Donna!
That's my baby on the left (she is now 49 years old!).  She's holding Evie G, (our great-granddaughter) with Heather, (our granddaughter) on the right.  Heather is mom to Evie and sister to Megan, who now lives in California.
They are all blue-eyed beauties!
(Photo taken when Bill & I visited September 9)

Bill & I headed for Ft Worth on Tuesday...  made a slight detour to the Avalon Urgent Care Center in Grandbury.  No...  nothing urgent for us...  but that's the place Bill needed to get his DOT physical so he can get his CDL license transferred.  

The Texas Dept of Transportation requires that the applicant for a Commercial Drivers License to have a physical (even if the applicant already has a valid CDL from another state)...  and they even have a specific place for the applicant to get this physical.  

About an hour after arriving (no appointments at this place) Bill emerged from the building with his documentation in his hand, and his wallet $85 poorer.  But he passed (no surprise there) and when we get the rest of the paperwork together, we'll head back to the DMV to get our tags and our TX driver's licenses.

A new Trader Joe's opened in Ft Worth since we were in Texas last May.  I'd read the reviews of it on its website and was surprised that several were not particularly good.  Mostly about the parking, the size of the store and some other odds and ends.  We have shopped at Trader Joe's in at least 5 other states so had at least some idea what to expect.  And we weren't disappointed.  We certainly found the parking more than adequate.  The store itself was exactly what we expected.  I mean, if we'd wanted a store the size of Wal-Mart, we'd have gone to Wal-Mart instead.

If you've shopped at Trader Joe's you know about "2 Buck Chuck".  That's the Charles Shaw line of wines that TJs carries...  and, depending on what state you're in (I mean your location...  NOT your state of mind) it sells for $1.99 a bottle....  up to around $4 a bottle in some areas.  I can't remember if you get a case discount, but at those prices, who cares?  Anyway, it's a pretty decent wine at a very low cost.  

Our other stop in Ft Worth was at the Barnes & Noble.  Both Bill & I use our Kindles a lot these days, but Bill gets his magazines on genealogy and linux and stuff like that ....  and he likes the hard copies of these.  I don't think I've ever left a book store without buying something, but since I knew my Amazon order would arrive today, I restrained myself to just one book.

Which brings me right to the "future plans" part of this post.

We have spent several winters in Mexico.  Bill's Spanish is good enough to get us by, but about all I know is "cerveza" and "banos".  We've thought about living in one of the larger cities, like Guadalajara, and enrolling in one of those immersion programs, but just never got around to it.

Last year we spent some time in the Mediterranean and gave those immersion programs some more thought.   One of the blogs I read.... Mitchell is Moving...  is written by a guy who lives in Seville, Spain.  His photos of the city, the artwork, the festivals and his life are just fascinating.  Spain was already our first choice, although Castilian is different than Latin American Spanish.  

There are lots of companies out there, and again, the internet is such a wealth of information.  We did some homework and decided on Enforex....  a language school in various Spanish-speaking countries.



Then, we started accumulating our information...
Our "library" and maps

We decided to make this a 2 month adventure - January and February of 2013.  We're now registered for classes, and will live with a local family....  (the school makes those arrangements) There's a lot more we have to do, (like get our airlines tickets) but most of that stuff, Bill will do on-line.

It's interesting that while we've wanted to do this for quite a while, it was through reading blogs and "meeting" new friends that spurred us into action.

Not sure what all we'll do in the next couple of months, but I'm sure it will be another adventure.

That's All For Today!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Today's Post... Can't think of a title...

This is NOT going to be Part 2 in becoming a Texan, except for one sentence that explains why we're doing it.  Taxes!  Is that a sentence?  Texas doesn't have income tax, which is to our benefit, and (if we don't spend it all) to our heir's benefit when we kick off.  There are actually a few other benefits... like lower sales tax if/when we ever buy another motorhome....  stuff like that...

But that's all for another blog and I know Part 2 won't be a pretty picture when it comes along in a week or so.

We've been busy here....  Bill does a lot of things around our daughter's house.  Our son-in-law works out of the country for months at a time, and Bill enjoys fixing things and making sure everything works in good order.

Taking out the trash...
Yeah...  that's little Rylee riding on the 4-wheeler with Bill.

We don't have any pets, so we get to spoil our kid's pets when we visit....

Grandpa, won't you throw my frisbee for me?
Jack loves Bill and will sit outside our door and wait for him.  He's like a little kid waiting for his playmate to come out and play.  You can tell by how chewed up the frisbee is that it gets a lot of use.

Jack's funny...  he wants Bill to throw it, but he never wants to turn loose of it.  So Bill uses 2 frisbees....  he throws one and when Jack come back with it (and won't give it up) Bill throws the 2nd one and Jack drops his and away he runs!

We were at Tractor Supply today (no, I wasn't buying my fall wardrobe) and we walked into a dog obedience class...
The store conducts these classes throughout the year.
As I was walking by, the trainer asked me if I would help out.  I was to walk up to each dog owner, reach out and shake their hand and introduce myself.  (the dog was to stay sitting and ignore me completely).  Of course I couldn't resist asking if they bite...  and also if the dog bites?

These dogs have been in training for a while...  one guy said his has been in obedience school for 2 years.
Actually, out of the dozen or so dogs, only a couple were even interested in me.  I did happen to notice that a couple had muzzles on (see the heeler in the corner?)...   It was kind of a fun thing to do.

As a "thank you" to me, the trainer gave me a Tractor Supply neckerchief (see the red "bandana" on the brown dog?) to take home to my own dog.

Since we don't have a dog of our own....
I gave it to my all-time favorite critter!
(Okay folks, you can stop those cracks about Bill going to Obedience School)

I've been having a lot of fun geocaching lately.  One fun thing for me is just seeing the countryside.
I'm always looking at the landscape, the ranches, farms and farm animals, and the houses....

Such a variety of styles....
Everything from the little "fixer-upper" 

to...
This Castle being built on this hill!

I can't imagine what this would be like to live in (the view from any and all windows is outstanding!).  But then, neither can I imagine the utility bills, the maintenance and the upkeep!

Guess we'll stay in our motorhome....

A few days ago, Rick, up in BC, was wandering around in a pumpkin patch and came across his old friend Russ, lounging around on one of the benches.

We all got a chuckle out of the good-natured kidding that went on over that.

Well, I have a few "Donna"s in my life.  My own daughter is Donna...  and when I started blogging, the first blogger I met was Donna of the Cave Dwellers.  She became Donna C to me.  Almost immediately, I got all kinds of kind words and support from another Donna...  Donna K (who happens to be Russ's wife). 

Yesterday when out and about I came across this...
Hmmmm....  I bet Donna K got tired of Russ sitting on that bench instead of getting out there to catch those catfish for her restaurant.

But, what the heck...  they moved to Oregon and lived happily ever after...

What more could a person ask for?

That's All For Today!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Becoming a Texan - Part 1

I was born in Ohio...  went to school in Ohio....  got married and had little Buckeyes....  went on to live another life, but still in Ohio.  Bill was born in New Mexico ...  after a 4 year stint in the Air Force, he went to school in New Mexico and upon graduation, ended up in Ohio for his work.  We're both Ohioans...  either by birth or circumstances.


Even though we haven't lived in Ohio since 2001 we have maintained our Ohio residency.  
Our Absentee Ballots
for 
The November Presidential Election

Since 2001 we have changed our mailing address to the Escapees mail service in Livingston, Texas.

But
We have continued to be Ohio Residents...
We pay Ohio Income Tax
Vote in Ohio

And...
Until a couple of years ago, we continued to have all our medical, dental, and optical needs taken care of in Ohio.

We just never saw the need to change all that...

Well, my doctor quit her practice; Bill's doctor passed away....
Our CPA suggested we finally take that Ohio Tax Refund that's been hanging out there because it didn't look to him like we were going to return.  It just seems like it's time to make the move.

So while we were in Ohio recently, Bill got on the internet to see what all would be required to change our vehicle registration and to change our state residency.  He even went to the safe deposit box to retrieve whatever necessary documents.

When we were here in May we started making changes.  We already had established our medical needs here.  We had already opened an account with a local bank.  Hey, we already had library cards at the libraries in the 2 closest counties.
We changed our auto and motorhome insurance to a Texas company.


We arrived back in Texas last Thursday.  We started the process the very next day.
It's become a very thorny situation. 

We started by getting our vehicles inspected.  Texas requires a yearly inspection and this must be done before even applying for Texas license plates.

That took 2 trips to town...  the inspection station we went to will do motorhomes only at 8:00 in the morning.  However, the fellow that told us that wasn't there the next day and the ones on duty said they couldn't do it.  After some "discussion", they did.

Now we have a nice new "we passed" sticker on both the Scion and the Lazy Daze, at a cost of $15.50 each.

Wildflowers in bloom....  things are looking sweet.

Okay...  ready to head to the Dept of Motor Vehicles.

Remember that I said that Bill had researched all this before we left Ohio?  Well, a few tiny items were left off of that website.

We had our Ohio vehicle registration, our proof of insurance and those lovely inspections stickers.  
Just like the website said.

But....  hmmmm...  where's the title? the clerk asks...
We don't carry the title with us, we answer.
We point out that the website says "title OR current state registration".
Oh...  we have to have the title if there's no lien on the vehicles, she says.

No...  she insists!

We have no liens...  but no titles with us.
Another sticky situation....

We figure we're screwed...  no way are we going back to Ohio at this point.

We head back to our daughters house figuring we'll have to put all this on hold.

I make a phone call to the DMV in my Ohio home county...  tell her we've lost the titles (don't ever tell the truth to authority!) ...  and ask how do we get duplicates?

That lady was SO helpful...  told me the website to get on...  what form to print out...  that we must get it notarized...  where to mail it (along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope...  and a check for $30.00), and when they get it, they'll make copies and send them out.

I printed out the forms, Bill & I filled them out...  took them in to the local bank (where we have an account) had then notarized, and I stuffed all that into an envelope and walked across two parking lots to the local Post Office and mailed them out.

Another beautiful wildflower...
Does EVERYTHING have stickers on it in Texas?

Bill got on the Escapees forum last night and pulled up (another) list of things you have to do to change your residency to Texas.  

According to that list, the photo of our motorhome and the weight slip can be satisfied by the brochure from the company that made it.  We keep everything, and Bill will check to see if we still have that original brochure from Lazy Daze from 2001.

But, of course...  that's no guarantee that we still won't have to get our rig weighed locally...  take a new photo...  all that stuff.


Purple and Yellow are the "in" colors this season!

We're taking this one step at a time...
First... get vehicles registered and new plates...
Second...  get our driver's license transferred 
Third...  breathe in...  breathe out....
Forth...  let out a big sigh!

I've titled this "Part 1" because I have a feeling it's going to take a while to accomplish all we want to do.

In fact, in preparation for our Texas driver's license, today we got the info as to where Bill can get a physical to satisfy the requirements for his CDL.

(DOT has a specified place...  only costs $85)

Did I mention that if we changed any info on the title of the rig, someone (us) would have to pay sales tax?

Oh my...  the list goes on.

There's always something out to get you!

Don't know when I'll move on to Part II
But
I have a feeling it won't be real soon.

The good thing is that we have until January to get it all sorted out.  
We can enjoy our family here...  and quite a few sunsets between now and then.  I'll let you know how this progresses.

That's All For Today!









Monday, October 15, 2012

No Photos... Is that dull or what?

What's a blog without a photo or two?  Well....  guess we're all about to find out.

We got here to Glen Rose, Texas last Thursday afternoon.  Here it is, Monday PM  - so what the heck have we been doing?

Well, first off...  our granddaughter asked me if I'd fix chicken enchiladas for her....  that was about a half hour after our arrival.  Of course I'll do that....  what's a Grandma for?  But I didn't have a thing on hand for such a meal.  In fact, Bill & I have pretty much eating vegan since we got off that cruise.

Nah!  No way did we watch what we were eating for THAT week!  Well, maybe a little....  but definitely not vegetarian, let alone vegan.

So early Friday morning we made a run to the nearest H.E.B.  Now...  for those of you who aren't familiar with this Texas grocery store, I'll tell you...  it's the Neiman Marcus of grocery!  The Nordstroms of the southern grocery stores!  But not those outrageous prices those folks charge for clothing etc.  

When I write that it takes us at least an hour to grocery shop I'm not joking.  It must take me about a half hour to browse through the produce department.  Visions of Pico de Gallo, stuffed jalepenos, fresh fruit for breakfast....  oh yeah!....  flow through my head.  Oh the peppers!  Jalepenos; Anaheim; beautiful colors of bell; poblano....  and tomatoes!  plum, roma, vine ripened....  ahhhhhh....   (Why didn't I take pictures of these beauties?)  And the cilantro!  I'm going to swoon!  But I got the ingredients and we all had chicken enchiladas for dinner Friday evening.

Oh, I think I got sidetracked....

I did buy some chicken breasts and some cream cheese along with about a hundred dollars worth of other groceries.  Have I ever mentioned that I love to cook?

Okay....  back to our daughters place.

When I first started this blog...  way back in January or February of this year...  there was some discussion about "mooch-docking".  I was kind of shy back then and certainly did not have enough confidence to join in that talk.  Sure, I considered it...  But y'all know we're at our daughter's place.  Not sure how long we'll be here...  doesn't matter.  We're hooked up to their facilities.  

We are so welcome here, you'd think we were royalty.  Actually, we'd be welcome at any of our 3 other kid's places, (and do run an extension cord from our rig to their place when we visit)...  so actually, no matter where we're at, we are more than made to feel at home.  

But, due to various circumstances, we are changing our residence from Ohio to Texas....  we've already changed our medical doctors and a few other things.  Tomorrow we'll start the process of vehicle inspection, Texas driver's license etc.  

(I will add right here that we'll still vote as Ohio residents this year...  absentee...  our ballots came in today's mail) 

No matter...  after the grocery and getting my hair cut and getting prescriptions filled and finding a place for vehicle inspections...  and going to church on Sunday...  and going to my first doctor appt today...  and Bill checking out what all needs maintenance here...  and visiting with our daughter and granddaughter...  and going to the library (yeah, we have library cards here)...  and....  

Oh yes... we have some kind of electrical problem with the rig...  Bill's working on that.  And he's been on-line ...  forums....  various other info?....  about why our Hughes net quit working.... (I think he got that fixed today)...  

So..  we've been busy.  Yeah...  we'll get caught up....  I'll start taking photos again....  Bill will be busy outdoors...  I read my favorite blogs and try to comment...  often just don't feel I have anything interesting to say...   but...  life is ready to settle down into what is normal for us...

A chaotic, hectic, fantastic adventure....

That's All For Today!





Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ohio to Texas - On the Road - Day Four

Thursday, October 11

We had stayed the night at the Wal-Mart at New Boston, Texas...  just off  I 30, so getting on the road was easy.  I found a dime in the parking lot before we left ....  figured that gave us good luck for the day.

We headed west...  but got off I 30 at Greenville.  Our daughter lives near Glen Rose, which is 50 miles or so southwest of Ft Worth.  We don't like driving through Dallas or Ft Worth, decide to drive on Rt 380 which is north of the cities...  through McKinney and over to Denton.  I'm thinking that we have around 200 miles to drive today...  but we soon learn that the going will be a bit slow due to both heavy traffic and construction.

Although it's overcast, the most we get are occasional sprinkles in the morning.

 We're not even in traffic here...  parked at a roadside rest and the trucker on the right stopped, hopped out of his truck and made a dash for the men's room.  We weren't in nearly the hurry he was, and it didn't take him long to take care of business and move on down the road.


This route takes us past a huge racetrack...
 As we're coming up to it I say to Bill... "Hey, there's a big cemetery right next to the track...  how creepy is THAT?"

Bill patiently explained to me that I was looking at the parking lot for the racetrack and seeing "jersey barrier like" things marking the parking rows.  RATS!  Here I thought that cataract surgery went so well.....  

We had plenty of time to get to our daughter's house before anyone got home from work, so we stopped at the Cabela's store that is just northwest of Ft Worth.

I know a lot of you have some kind of GPS road pilot.  We use our Garmin quite a lot and "she" usually does us just fine.  
I put in the address for the Cabela's store and as we got close, "she" started giving directions.  
Now...  Cabela's is pronounced "Ka... bell.... la", but someone forgot to tell our direction lady that and she kept saying "Cab...ba...la".  It took me a minute to figure it out (but then, hey... I thought those were tombstones) and of course I had to mimic "her".

Yeah...  we've had the XM radio on all day....  and after 4 days in a row of earthy songs I'm getting kinda punchy....
Have you heard "Pour me another tequilla, Sheila, and take off that red satin dress"?  Maybe not quite the right words, but it's a right catchy tune.  I especially like the way it ends ;-)

Oh yes... back to Cabela's
I think I've mentioned in the past that this is one of my favorite shopping places.  
Beats Macy's or Dillards all to heck....
It's right up there with Tractor Supply for my kind of clothes.

I restrained myself and only bought 2 pair of socks.  Bill didn't buy anything.  When we were checking out, the clerk commented that we must have a lot of self-discipline. 
Obviously he doesn't live in a 27' motorhome....

There was an unusual amount of 18 wheelers in the parking lot.  I mean, Cabela's isn't exactly the normal roadside rest. 
Then we saw this RV...
We'd seen this same rig somewhere else between Ohio and Texas...  just couldn't remember which state nor which roadside rest...  

Being the nosy person that I am, I suggested we walk over and just say howdy.

The man inside told us all about it...
There was going to be a truck show in this parking lot this coming weekend.  He recruits drivers for a trucking company.
He is retired, but does this for a friend...  He'd left Indiana (or was it Illinois?) a few days earlier and sure enough, we'd been driving the same route all the way to Texas.
The side of his rig rolls up to reveal a huge TV screen and he does his recruiting presentations outside.

He said that his company hires drivers for a minimum of a 3-week haul.  That's a long time for a family man or woman to be away.

I forgot to mention that as we walked up to the door of his rig, we were greeted by a lot of barking...
this guy travels with his schnauzer and 2 shih tzus.
No kidding!

Anyway, we had a fun visit with him and then headed on down the road.

Getting past Ft Worth and into Ben Brook went well...  then on to Cresson...  and into Granbury.

Almost there!

Another 10 miles or so and we're in Celeste's driveway.
We get set up..
Celeste has a full-hook up space at the edge of her yard.
Our granddaughter is home and greets us with Frankie, the (now grown) cat that was a tiny kitty when we were here in May.

Celeste will be home from work later.

I'd underestimated the mileage left to go...  today was a travel distance of 267 miles.

Four Days and 1,253 miles 
This road trip is over...

Guess we're ready for our next adventure.

That's All For Today!







Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ohio to Texas - On the Road - Day Three

Wednesday, October 10

We got off on an earlier start this morning.  7am...

Traveled just a way down the road and decided to visit another National Wildlife Refuge... Wapanocca NWR, located a few miles off I55.

Heck, I can't even pronounce it...  But I'll tell you one thing...  if you visit here you better be prepared for the low clearance....  We're not that tall and still our various antennae scraped as we were going through this underpass...
It's kind of creepy going through this thing with the antennae dragging along the concrete "ceiling" and a freight train with numerous coal cars just above us.


The Headquarters/Visitor Center
These are contractors putting the finishing touches on the new displays.  There wasn't a "brown shirt" around...  the offices were empty.  I was disappointed that the Refuge Stamp wasn't available so I could stamp my wildlife refuge book.  We didn't stay long...  checked out the place and then it was back to the rig and on down the road.



Cotton Fields
Mile upon mile of cotton fields...

I'm used to seeing those huge bales of cotton...  those that are the size and shape of a "container" ....
huge, boxes that you see on railroad cars or in shipyards.

But this trip we see cotton harvested a different way...
That's cotton...  baled in those huge, round bales the way you see hay harvested.

We've been traveling on the west side of the Mississippi on I55.  A few years ago, we lived across the river, on the Tennessee side.  There is a complex of wildlife refuges that raise and manage farm crops for waterfowl. 
When we were at Lower Hatchie NWR in 2002 the Mississippi flooded and we went out in a motorboat through the fields instead of a truck.  I remember smacking cottonmouth snakes with a paddle to keep them from getting in the boat.
Oh, what memories!

We get off I 55 near Memphis and start our way over to Little Rock on I 40.


Since we spend more time in Texas than any other state a couple of years ago we changed our medical care to a practice in Granbury, TX.  It's time for my annual checkup and we know we'll be in the area soon.  I call for an appointment.
The receptionist says that they had a cancellation and could I get there by 11:20?
Well...  ummmm...  no.  We're on the road - just outside of Memphis, TN, and I was hoping maybe for next week.
Oh.. okay...  would Monday be okay?

Oh!  The wonders of cell phones and modern day technology!



Little Rock was easy to drive around....  
Despite construction and lots of truck traffic...

We still have the XM Radio tuned to the country/western station.
I've heard about a hundred ways you can get your heart broken...  I know all about love... unrequited or otherwise...
Bill tuned out my singing along many miles back...
But wait!
It gets better!
Hank (not junior) starts yodeling!
I've GOT to try that!
I think I sound like a chicken in distress...
(Bill probably wishes I were on the chopping block)
Yo - De - Lay - De - Deeeeeeeee
Hey!  Maybe I could make a living at this!


Finally we get to Texarkana - The town that's in two states
It takes a while to get through it all, but we know that this is the last big city until we get to the Dallas/Ft Worth area.
Yay!  Texas, at last!

We stop at the first exit in Texas that has a Wal-Mart...  New Boston.
It's been a long day for us...
354 miles
We're ready to call it quits...

And so ends Day Three of this journey.

That's All For Now!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Ohio to Texas - On the Road - Day Two

Tuesday, October 9
We woke to more cold weather.  In fact, the Scion had a heavy coating of ice on the windshield.  I took my usual walk around the Wal-Mart parking lot...   found only one penny this morning.  Finding money is sort of a challenge for us...  and I have this theory about finding coins in Wal-Mart parking lots... I'll share that one of these days.

We get off to a late (for us) start...   head west again around 8am.  But we know that in about 50 miles we'll be in the Central Time Zone and leave Eastern Time behind.  So..  looking at it that way, it's really only 7am. 

Even I70 is foggy this morning...  visibility is low.
We are just north of the Ohio River as it separates Indiana and Kentucky...  heading to Cairo, Missouri.  There it flows into the mighty Mississippi River.  We don't meander like the river... 
I 70 is a straight shot across Indiana.  
The trees continue to display their fall foliage...

But instead of rolling hills, this is more flatland...  farming land.
The breadbasket of America....


We cross the Wabash River and head into Illinois.


This is our 2nd full day on the road and we're still listening to XM Radio.  By now I realize that this program plays the same songs each day and I'm beginning to remember the words to many of them.  Hmmmm.....  I can't carry a tune in a bucket...  never could...  maybe when it's another "he done'er wrong" song it doesn't matter.  I sing along with David Allan Coe when he does his "perfect" country/western song....  "I was drunk when my mom got out of prison" etc etc etc.  

Bill is imperturbable...

He just calmly drives along...
Either he's a saint or he needs his hearing tested.

It's another cold day, but I shed the down jacket fairly early.



When we get to Rt 57, we head south.  Somewhere along the way, Bill mentions that Crab Orchard NWR is close to the interstate.  We decide to stop as visiting National Wildlife Refuges throughout the USA is one of our favorite things to do.  

We've volunteered at quite a few refuges but never this one.  However, Kim King-Wrenn, whom I worked for at Seviletta NWR in New Mexico transferred to Crab Orchard about 3 years ago.
We stop and visit with Kim...
Catch up on what's going on in her life and learn about Crab Orchard NWR.

It's time to move on...  down I 57, 
We see the sign for Cairo, but don't take the time to see the confluence of the rivers.

We know we'll soon be crossing the Mississippi...
And will be in Missouri...

Soon we change to I55, and keep driving south....
into...
By this time the landscape has really changed...
The trees aren't so colorful for one thing.
I think here there are more cottonwoods and pine trees.

Another thing is the road kill.  (Yes, I'm always checking out the roadkill).  The raccoon and opossum population don't seem as prevalent...  now we're seeing armadillo....  Of course, maybe the raccoons and 'possums are just smarter and stay out of traffic ;-)

We stop for the night shortly after driving into Arkansas...  decide to spend the night in the Blytheville Wal-Mart parking lot.

There's no geocache here...  darn!

We traveled a total of 348 miles today...  that's a lot for us!
Two days on the road and we're about half way to our destination.

That's All For Today!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ohio to Texas - On the Road - Day 1

Monday, October 8
We did most of the "packing" yesterday.  Since we live in our motorhome 365 days a year, we really don't have much actual packing, but when we make our annual (or sometimes semi-annual) stops in Ohio where we have stuff stored, we tend to trade off some things like field guides, clothing and things like that.  

Bill always does various maintenance jobs on the rentals while we are here...  anything from fixing mudholes in the driveway to pruning trees to digging up bulbs that need separated.  Our rental agent takes very good care of our properties, but these are just little things that Bill likes to do.  So he keeps tools and other equipment in the barn to use while we're here.

So we took the time on Sunday to do put away and clean up...  did nearly everything except unhook our rig from the water and electric supply and hook up the tow vehicle.

While we hadn't had the first frost yet, it's still cold...  in fact, I have on a wool turtle neck sweater under a heavy wool fisherman knit sweater... and those are topped by a down vest.  I think it was 39 degrees, but that's too cold for me.

The township and county roads we travel to get into town are narrow and winding, so I'll drive the Scion; Bill will drive the rig.  We agree to meet at the Kroger parking lot where Bill will fill the rig up with gas and I'll make a quick stop at the grocery for last minute items before we hitch up.

I'm ahead of Bill....  I stop at the State Park to put a small bag of garbage in the dumpster.  I take a last look at the lake..  and think about how cold it is.  Oh No!  I forgot to take the outdoor thermometer from its cubby hole in the propane gas area.  RATS!

I know Bill will be along soon so I wait and flag him down...  Yep!  It's still there.  Bill had the foresight to velco it in place, but that's no guarantee it'll stay put on these bumpy roads.  

On to Krogers....  I do my shopping...  Bill gasses up the rig....

The view across from Krogers...
The leaves are in their prime "autumn" colors!


There are several ways you can drive from Ohio to Texas, and we've probably driven most of them over the years.  This time we're going to drive Rt 32 to Cincinnati,  This route isn't heavily traveled, and there are certain landmarks along the way I always look for.
I've NEVER been able to get a decent shot of this guy who sits on a fence post and waves at all the passing traffic!!!!

Somewhere along here, we're at least an hour from "home"...  Bill says, "I forgot my drill".

Having the barn to store things has its drawbacks as well as its pluses.  It's easy to set something down and leave it.

I ask him if it's plugged in on "charge".
No, it's not...  that's good.
It can be replaced at any Home Depot or Lowe's.

On we go....

We stop often...  there's a roadside rest before we get into the Cincinnati area.  We always stop there.

We don't need to use the restrooms but we both need to get out and walk after a while.  Besides that, there may be a geocache hidden there.

During lunch, I ask Bill if he brought the Melrose Apples that he'd got at the Farmer's Market.  He looks at me...  asks "Is it too late to go back?".  Of course he's joking...  but no, he didn't remember the apples.

We have a check list for the rig, and I have my lists of things...  but...  
Sometimes we just forget things....


When we're leaving we cross to the median to get back in traffic, then Bill is in the left lane until he can get back in the right lane.  There was no visible traffic when he pulled out, but about this time a car come flying past us on the right... and the driver is just laying on the horn.

I flip him the bird knowing full well that he can't see me.

There's something a bit undignified about a 70 year old great-grandmother flipping someone the bird, and I start laughing.

Bill never lets traffic rile him, nor does my language or gestures phase him...  he just drives on.

We don't actually have to drive into Cincinnati, but as we're on the outer belt I look over and see what is probably the Goodyear Blimp.

Not long after this, we cross the Ohio River into Kentucky...
We'll cross the Ohio River at least 2 more times before this trip is over, but I always feel a bit lonesome the first time.  Kind of like I'm leaving a good friend behind.

We have XM Radio.  XM Radio has a fairly large selection of music, but we almost always listen to country/western.
My preference is Chopin or a lovely adagio, but for a road trip, a raunchy "she done him wrong" song seems to be in order.

It's Willy and Waylon and Hank....
Lots of "cry in my beer" songs.

We drive down into Kentucky and are pleasantly surprised to find that the route around Louisville is fast and easy.

The fall leaves are beautiful...
I especially like the contrast between the species...
The terrain is not exactly mountainous...  more rolling and hilly.  I do finally shed the down vest...  and eventually the heavy sweater, but I still wear the wool turtleneck all day.

Finally we cross back over the Ohio River into Indiana...
We'll get onto I64 and go west.
We stop around 4pm at a Wal-Mart in Corydon, Indiana.

As is often the case, there's a geocache hidden in the Wal-Mart parking lot - and we find it - so I am happy.

As is also the case, when we are just "traveling from point A to point B" we stay in Wal-Mart parking lots for the night.  
Not exactly "free" if you add up what all we spend along the way.  But it's safe and usually "easy off and easy on" the interstates.

We have traveled 284 miles today.
That is a long day for us...  we travel at 55mph, take frequent breaks and a long lunch.

So concludes Day One of our travels.
The rest is yet to come....

All For Today!