Catching Up – Stops Along the Way!

The Places we visit are important to the narrative,  so we’ll do a dump to catch you up…  Our last missive had us in San Fran for a couple games… It’s been so long since I blogged,  that I had to read the last entry to remember that!!!

We did all those spots in multiple passes,  like a swinging pendulum!   From New Mexico to Gulf Shores via Dallas, with plane visits to Minneapolis and Denver.  Then west to to Lake Havasu.  Then east to New Mexico, Dallas, OKC, South Georgia and Memphis.   Then South and West to Marble Falls Texas via. South Padre Island.  Then East and North to Des Moines, and Minneapolis.    Makes me a little dizzy to describe it,  but at the end of the day,  we get a little restless when the wheels aren’t moving!!

Dallas Fans

From Tucumcari,  we continued eastward.  First stop — which took several days to reach, because its Texas and Texas is BIG —  was Brock, Tx.  There we stayed with Amanda and Max Hendrix for a couple days.  We attended an OKC game in Dallas, tx.

After that, we proceeded fairly directly to Lafayette, La.  There we had dinner with Sazeracs with Uncle LC Cambre.  

Gulf Shores Spot

From Lafayette, we reached for Gulf Shores, Al….

 

Xmas Decorations

…where we spent XMAS at a new park. 

 

Gulf Shores Beach

…And,  of course, Some BEACH TIME!!!

 

…Even decorating the bus festively…

FloraBama!

We also found the time to visit Pensacola, Fl. Where we visited the Naval Aviation museum AND…  the FAMOUS FloraBama Bar/Restaurant/Music Venue.  

Denver Fans and Fun

We also flew to Denver, Co,  where we spent the weekend with Susana and Tillman Farley,  and watched the Thunder beat the Nuggets.   We also ran into niece Claire…I suppose not a coincidence,,,she was there to see brother Chet’s game as well.   

Overnight in the shop

Finally,  we spent some quality time with our mechanic in Daphne, Al. ,  where we had a hydraulic pump replaced AND spent one night inside their garage.   

 

 

 

Our next scheduled event was a Blue Bird Rally and week in Lake Havasu, Arizona where we would be attending the International Fireworks Exposition.   As always,  our route was neither direct nor expeditious…

Mathis Ranch

First stop was Mathis, Tx, where we visited Lonestar Bird Friends Char and Powell Brown.  They seemed genuinely surprised that anyone would stop to see them in Mathis, because its not really “on the way” to anywhere!    Well,  we THOROUGHLY enjoyed their hospitality, including breakfast tacos from the gas station.  YUM!  (Seriously!).    

Dessert and BBALL  With the Browns in Mathis

By now,  after 8 years on the road and almost 300 blog entries,  NO ONE SHOULD BE SURPRISED when we show up if the offer of hospitality is even intimated in passing!  Beware of what you wish for, because “on the way” for us does not involve your spot being even remotely between other spots on our route!!!

While in Mathis,  we enjoyed a Thunder Game on TV

Next we headed for South Padre Island,  where we enjoyed Isla Blanca County park,  several dinners and beach walks with Carol and Jack Harriff.   

Nuevo Progresso Tacos Post-Dentistry

Another goal at that stop:  Medical Tourism in the form of Dental Cleaning in Nuevo Progresso, Mexico.  This is the third time we have been to Mexico for dentistry,  and we had the most pleasant experience yet!  Prior to our cleaning,  the hygienist asked us to “swish” a clear fluid for a minute.  This is new…it wasn’t Tequila,  though that might have worked, too…it was lidocaine to numb our gums/nerves.  AWESOME!  The most comfortable dental cleaning so far!

Southern Border Wayside

Continuing westward,  we decided to follow the Southern Border a bit,  to see for ourselves some of the chaos down there.  We drove through Brownsville, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Tx and eventually  El Paso, Tx.  We stayed in wayside rests and Walmarts. 

Not to be cynical (or political),,,

We did NOT get to the immediate crossing areas you see on TV,  but we also saw NONE of the chaos that you read about as a general condition along the border.  In fact,  we saw no one and nothing unusual, dangerous or chaotic.  We are a bit suspicious that at least SOME of the chaos is orchestrated for the TV cameras?!

Marfa Lights (T-Shirt)

We passed through Marfa, Tx.…again.  This is at least the third time – Liz is getting a little tired of NOT seeing the Marfa Lights, so this time she bought the T-shirt at least!!   

To break it up,  this time we stayed a couple days and went to some FANTASTIC art installations/museums.   In the 60s,  Donald Judd acquired some former Army Airforce Hangars from a retired base.  In these huge spaces,  he created and manifested some spectacular, large-scale pieces to match the space.   And,  over the years,  the Foundation he started has lured/cajoled other artists to take up residence and create more spectacular “stuff.”  Even though we have never seen the famous “Marfa Lights,” we can say that Marfa is a town truly in the middle of nowhere…but well worth a visit if you pass through on the way…

   In El Paso,  I needed to have the Rear Wheel Studs redone on the Bus. I had ordered some new ones – one had broken in Gulf Shores.  We found a mechanic in an open yard, who spoke very little English but knew exactly what to do and did it immediately.  For a very reasonable amount.

Words to Live By…

We did finally make it to the Lake Havasu, Az. Fireworks Festival.  This was really spectacular some of the time,  but mostly fun spending time with friends.  The “purpose” of the festival is as a trade show of sorts…manufacturers of fireworks bring their wares to the event and set up booths,  just like at any trade show.  The “customers” are Disney, municipalities, events and any other entity that might want to do a Fireworks Extravaganza…they come to see what’s new. The “demos” at this trade show, though, are louder and more “explosive” than any other I have been to!!! All day long,  there is an occasion Firework as a vendor is hawking some thing new and noteworthy.  Then,  from about  8:30-9:30 there is an official “show” as you might see at a Disney,  or on the 4th of July.      

While at LH,  we also spent some time at the nearby RC Aircraft field,  where we watched some really amazing scale aircraft perform.  These are not the little RC things I remember…some were 6 ft long and had actual JET ENGINES.  And the hobbyists were happy to have us walking along the flite line, getting up close and personal with their planes, answering questions, etc.  It was absolutely mesmerizing.

5 Station Bruise

And finally,  Steve Florer took me, once again, Trap Shooting.  But not actually “Trap,” instead a special variant called “5 stand.”      In this version,  you shoot at 5 targets from each of 5 stations (25 in all),  with the clays coming up, out, across, from behind, etc.  The variety IS more fun AND challenging – I didn’t “kill” very many,  but I did kill a few!!   What fun, even if the bruise on my arm took 3 weeks to disappear!!!

Next we went to Casa Grande, Arizona, where we managed dinner with Liz’s niece Ellen and her now-fiancee Andrew.   We also had our Anniversary dinner – Sushi, Sinaloa Style.  Sinaloa is a state in Mexico,  so this was unusual, to say the least.


Happy Anniversary to my main squeeze and co-conspirator or 33 years…Sinaloa Style!!

Hot Tubbin’

Next came Truth or Consequences and Silver City, NM.  At the former we Hot-Springed (Hot Sprung?) for a couple days at a couple different places. 

2 Birds @ Silver City

Then we moved on to Silver City,  where we spent a couple nights with friends Susan Camilleri and Peter Haggins.   It was Peter that put us on to the car-for-sale that ultimately became our Toad.

Large Nuts (and a big Pistachio, too!)

Next was a couple days in Alamogordo, NM.  There , we visited the world’s LARGEST PISTACHIO (you can’t make this sh*t up) and the Solar Observatory at Cloudcroft, NM (9,000 ft elevation). 

Solar Telescope

There was SNOW on the ground up there…but not enuf to require chains…  We also stopped at the  White Sands Missile Range. 

Carlsbad Entrance

Next was Carlsbad, NM, where we FINALLY toured the  Caverns.  We’ve driven by the Brown Sign for years,  and always said “we should go…” but somehow never did.  THIS WAS THE TIME,  and it was  – AWESOME!!!

Somewhere along the road from Tucumcari to OKC – probably right about Carlsbad —  we negotiated and did the deal with Randy Dupree to buy his Car.  Sight unseen and 2,000 miles away.

Ultimately,  we made it to Oklahoma CIty.  This was to sell the Jeep,  unload the sh*t IN the Jeep to the back of Chet’s Garage AND, of course, to catch a couple games. 

From OKC,  we now needed to get to South Georgia in a hurry, to acquire the new Toad and still make it to Memphis for Basketball. When we visualized our route,  we hadn’t really imagined going from Arizona to Memphis via South Georgia,  but what the heck!!!!      In a hurry for US means several days driving, and the  First night,  we stopped in Vian, OK to visit Lynn  and Dave Gray.  We’ve spent more than a few nights over the years with the bus parked just inside the gate of their ranch,  which is kinda on the way to and from east and west AND north and south, it seems. 

The trip to Bainbridge, Georgia was uneventful,  the car was purchased and we made a brief sojourn to Anna, Illinois (far-southern Illinois) to title and register the car.

Dad’s Birthday

Next up was Memphis, Tn;  well actually we stayed in Tunica, Mississippi at Sams Town Casino RV Park.  This was for 2 reasons – a basketball game in Memphis and a quick Airplane trip out of Memphis Airport to Minneapolis, MN for Dad’s 95th birthday.    The latter was sort of a false flag operation.  Dad ABSOLUTELY FORBADE us to have a party for HIM.  So we told him it was for “all the March Birthdays.”  This included mine and Niece Aleah’s.  And since we were at it,  we included Niece Shayna (her’s is technically in April).  Somehow,  Liz decided it should also be for HER birthday, as well (which is in December).

Memphis Seats!!!

The basketball game in Memphis was highly memorable, most especially for the generosity of strangers who orchestrated KICK ASS tickets for us!   I talked about this at length in another post… 

Lunch with Brian!

We even had a chance to have lunch with a former Chicago neighbor – Brian Walsh,  who now lives in Memphis.

 

 

 

After Memphis,  we headed for Covington, LA,  just across the Pontchartrain   from NOLA.  Two reasons for this:  a Basketball Game (of course!), and spending some oft-intended but long-delayed time with friends Rick and Peggy, whom we met in Alaska. 

Covington Spot

Though they live in Fairbanks still,  Peggy’s family has a bit of land in Covington,  where they spend the winter.  Wouldn’t you,  if you had family in Louisiana and lived in Fairbanks?!  Anyway, they invited us to park and camp and eat  and drink and be merry.  Some of that was done in Mandeville,  Abita Springs, NOLA, and at the Houmas House in Darrow, LA – an Antebellum, Plantation House and museum.   

 

 

NOLA Gametime

The Covington camping spot was AWESOME, as was the time spent with Peggy and Rick,  It started off challenging, tho…the spot was accessed by a very narrow road and across a drainage ditch.  We needed a 17-point turn to get in…Liz couldn’t even watch as she was sure we would not manage the entry and subsequent exit.  BUT WE DID!!!  

In exchange for all of which, we took Peggy and Rick to the BBALL game. 

Breakfast with LC

Leaving Louisiana, we were again headed for The ECLIPSE,  in Central Texas.  Once again,  we stopped in Lafayette, LA broke bread with Uncle LC….this time, breakfast!  

Rum School

We stayed at the Wildcat Brother’s Distillery; There we attended RUM SCHOOL (You cannot make this sh*t up!).  Our mentor and muse was the owner, Tait,  who waxed philosophic about the many varieties and strategies of rum-making.  This was an interactive experience,  with tasting as we went along.  After which  there was live music in the parking lot.   

Camping at Wildcat Brothers Distillery

Good thing “Good Trouble” was parked out back…”school” had us in NO CONDITION to go any further. 

It takes DAYS to get across Texas,  and we had allowed days to do it.  Along the way,  we stopped near Kemah, tx…between Houston and Galveston.  I picked a park based on the presence of a Hot Tub.  I even verified that they had it and it was not closed for the “winter.”  When we arrived,  I learned it was broken.  I hadn’t thot to ask if it was “working” I guess.  No worries…Bluebird Friends Kelly Wood and Buck Jackson to the rescue!  They live in Dickinson, Tx,  and invited us to a church BBQ event on the Dickinson Bayou.  Buck had smoked a Brisket …  which was AWESOME!!!! 

Arriving Marble Falls

We made it to Marble Falls, Tx, which was on the path of totality for the Eclipse.  I have experienced TWO full eclipses now.  There are several conclusions I would draw:

  • Mystical Eclipse Donkey

    A FULL eclipse is WAY BETTER , more eerie, mystical, etc etc. than even a 95% eclipse.  Its NIGHT AND DAY different (pun intended).

  • If the weather isn’t cooperating for the eclipse,  just drink “Dark and Stormies”
  • And, MORE SPECIAL STILL when enjoyed with Bluebird Friends Karen and Bob, who invited us to join them on their ranch
  • Eclipses are THE VERY MOST mystical if there are Donkeys present!!

 

 

 Another first occurred in Marble Falls.  “Good Trouble”  GOT STUCK and needed to be pulled out by Tractor!!!  The ground was not really soft,  but it rained “just a little,” which turned the ground into “gumbo,” according to Bob. An apt description… We could not make it up a VERY slight grade without wheel-spinning.  No worries,  Bob pulled out the tractor, we attached chains to the frame and with just a little insistent pulling assistance,  we were free.  

Texas Hailstones

I am SURE Karen and Bob were grateful as they may have had visions of the start of a transient community on their ranch…

Next, we headed again for Oklahoma City, OK…for the last three games of the regular season.  On the road,  there was a stretch where there were dozens of cars pulled over.  It WAS raining,  but I thot it odd because the conditions weren’t “pull over” bad by any means. Then I saw the drifts of hailstones in the ditch….it must have hailed just minutes before we got there!!!  We later learned our spot in Marble Falls had 3” hail!!  But for a few hours,  our new car might have been thoroughly Dimpled!

Bringing the THUNDER

In OKC we saw three games…

 

Affecting the Outcome

 

 

and the Thunder Clinched #1 Seed in Playoffs!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Iowa Sunset

And then, Northward!!  As always,  a West Des Moines, Iowa Stop with the Florers and a Vian,OK Stop with the Grays.

 

Game @ Dad’s

Next, we headed for Minneapolis, Mn.  where we currently reside. Here to see Dad for a week or so,  watch a few Playoff Games with him…then onwards to Chicago, Il.  for Dr. Appointments and Memorial Festivity for a good friend, gone too soon.  More on that in our next post…assuming I can find the right and enuf words…

 

And THAT catches you up, geographically!!!

4 thoughts on “Catching Up – Stops Along the Way!

  • I’m really glad we were able to see each other several times during our southern travels! I love your blog posts – you two are very energetic!

  • Always enjoy your pics and posts…living life large and stitching friends into the fun fabric of your adventure along the way! Glad you’re back to sharing!

  • Always great to read of your many travels and experiences. It’s especially great when we are able to connect face to face on South Padre Island. Maybe next year we can arrange for a ticket launch while you are there !

  • Vagabonds? Please send the blogs more often, it’s hard to remember what you said at the beginning when I get to the end. Guess that means if I read it 2-3 times it will still be a new update. Getting older is challenging.

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