November 2006 Archives

Awake: 5:54am Temp 72 sleep 6+10 sunny overnight @ Aransas Pass, TX.

For curiosity & exercise, K & I take a walk out of our campground area,
cross the street & walk a short distance south to another campground
called: “ICW.” We stop @ their office & ask if it’s OK to walk around in
their campground area. “No problem” the young lady says. As we approach
the RV units, it seems kind of strange to me that this ICW Park has the
RV’s all lined up on both sides of a wide & very long road. In about the
middle of this (mile long road?), another road is perpendicular turning to
the left, then parallels the mile long road. Aha, finally I figure it out:
it’s a retired airport. The locals confirm that deduction & some think it
was an early military airport.

After our walk & with the help of my bird book, I positively identify the
White Pelican & the Great Egret; I’m still looking @ clues to make sure of
the Double Crested Cormorant & the Tri-colored Heron.

Our 4:00pm social hr was wonderful for me. Again I partner with my ole 1st
day partner(Mike) & we….mostly Mike, take every game except the one I
accidentally knock the 8 ball in before it’s time. Winning is great but I
know it can’t last. Monday’s partner Frank, & I play 2 games after the
social hr is over. We each have a win & leave it as a tie.

6:25 Dinner: Stuffed peppers, spinach salad & garlic bread.

Late Satellite movie: “Stage Door” with Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers,
Adolphe Menjou, Andrea Leeds, Lucille Ball, etc. A theatrical boarding
house is the setting for this film; Hepburn is the rich girl trying to
succeed on her own; Menjouis the propositioning producer; Leeds as the
hyper-sensitive actress & several stars to be, especially Lucille Ball.
1937. Some great one-liners. Move it up on your must-see list.

High temp=77 Lights out: 11:57pm

Awake: 5:44am Temp 69 sleep 6+16 sunny overnight @ Aransas Pass, Texas.

I peruse the campground books for our next destination; make phone calls &
then, the reservations. The snowbirds are arriving for winter (no
identification necessary) & the campgrounds around here are pretty well
filled up already. Unbeknown to us, this area of the Golf Coast & further
south, appear to be very popular spots for the northern snowbirds.

One of the guys in our 4:00pm social pool playing group (Mike) told me
yesterday of a good bird viewing area. So again, we gather our safari
equipment & cross that bridge; this time however, we take the “no charge”
State run ferry system across the Ship Channel to the Island town of Port
Aransas, Texas. (30 min from our campground). Population of P.A. is 3,300.

1st we do a little touring thru town & then find our way to one of the
bird viewing areas down on the beach @ the east side of the island.
Driving on the beach was great with all the cars, people, motorhomes &
kids playing in the sand & water + literally hundreds of sea gulls but, K
& I are looking for those special birds that you don’t see just anywhere
that active kids, cars & noise scare away.

Plan “B:” We drive to the North side of the Island (10 min) & find the
Birding Center; then we follow a concrete foot path connecting to a board
walk which leads out & above a marshy bird & alligator preserve. I have no
alligator books so we scan only for birds. Now this is what I call a good
bird sighting hangout: many species of birds sitting, swimming, flying,
etc. It was quite entertaining to watch a group of White Pelicans swim in
unison & then, also in unison, dip their big bills into the water
searching for food like a well timed synchronized swimming team. Several
times we also watch the action of a dozen or more Pelicans chasing after a
fish leaving a muddy survival trail. My camera was busy for over an hr @
this bird sanctuary. It was fantastic! I could have easily stayed longer
save for wanting to be on time for our 4:00pm social hr.

4:00pm social hr: We draw for partners each day & today, I’m happy to
partner with a different(Mike), who uses 2 cue sticks but not @ the same
time. Again, we were the competition to overthrow. And Kathy is busy
yakking with the women.

6:15 dinner: Alaskan salmon, , white & brown fried noodles, leftover
broccoli casserole, mixed salad & garlic bread.

Late satellite movie: “The Last Hurrah” with Spencer Tracy, Jeffrey
Hunter, Dianne Foster, Basil Rathbone, etc. A political story loosely
based on the life of Boston’s Mayor James Curley, who in this story, is
mounting his final election campaign. 1958. Top-notch film. Put it on your

High temp=77 Lights out: 11:44pm

Awake: 5:40am Temp 67 sleep 5+49 partly cloudy overnight @
Aransas Pass, Texas.

Kathy gets up early & accompanies me in talking with Ben (campground
manager), about leaving our coach here while we travel in our tow car
during the Christmas Holidays. Ben mentioned yesterday that only one site
was available in January, otherwise they are fully booked. We sign up &
Ben types the figures into the office computer.

We talk to Melissa before noon & share talk time. Their family is doing
fine; boys still keeping Melissa very busy.

Kathy does (3) laundry loads this morning including the bed sheets & then,
we make plans to go on a birding safari. The last time we went on a
birding safari, March 28, 2005 in Barnardo, New Mexico, we recorded one
rare bird called: “a sparrow.” Hey, you gotta start someplace.

After we load our safari gear into the Suzuki (binoculars, bird book,
digital camera, special hat, water bottles & a healthy snack), we are on
our way. Leaving the campground on Ransom Ave, drive to Commercial Street,
then Goodnight Ave, over the Dale Miller Little Big bridge & on the other
side, drive onto the Stedman Island beach area where we start watching for
birds, start watching for birds, start watching for birds, etc. During our
1.5 hrs time & driving in different areas on both sides of the island, we
sighted 5 different species of birds.

I find it easier to capture the birds on my digital camera that has a 12
power magnification lens & then later, casually identify the birds using
my Nat’l Geographic birding book. On our return trip, we check a few
winter mansions in the area of the Dale Miller Bridge overlooking the
Redfish bay & then some light shopping @ the local HEB grocery store
before returning to our bus @ 3:35pm.

4:00pm social hour; again, I enjoy the guys @ the pool table area. My
partner (Frank) was the dominate shooter for our wining 2 of 3 games that
we played. Frank carries his own cue stick.

7:00 dinner: “T” bone steak, baked potato, sautéed onion slices &
mushrooms + a spinach salad.

Late satellite movie: “Unhook the Stars” with Gena Rowland, Marisa Tomei,
Gerard Depardieu, Moira Kelly, etc. Rowlands, as a widow with grown
children, comes to the rescue of a flaky young neighbor & looks after her
little boy one day; soon the two develop a strong bond based on their
genuine need for each other. 1996. This is a sleeper. You don’t want to
miss it!
High temp=78 Lights out: 11:28pm

Awake: 5:55am Temp 54 sleep 6+35 partly sunny overnight @
Livingston, TX.

We say our goodbyes to Ann, Ron & Mel….the few that were outside & wishing
us safe travels. Drive the motorhome to the RV office, pay our camping fee
for 8 days + electricity; attach the Suzuki & leave the Escapees Rainbow’s
End RV Park @ 8:45am. The people we met who work here in this park are
certainly a friendly & comforting bunch; it’s no wonder this campground
stays close to full most of the time.

98% of the roads traveled today were smooth & the traffic moved along @ a
decent pace. As we are passing thru Houston, Kathy talks with Gary &
Rosemary of PA. Even tho Gary has had the flu the last couple of days, he
did complete his trucking trip. He’s still not feeling well but hoping to
make a complete recovery in time to go deer hunting Monday. Rosemary
braved the crowds and faced Black Friday in Altoona, but it may not be
something she chooses to do again.

Arrive @ the Ransom Road RV Park in Aransas Pass, Texas @ 2:10pm. Without
us even getting out of our coach, Edna is in her golf cart motioning us to
follow her to our # 38 camping site. She tells us the office is closed
today & we can pay tomorrow; social hr is @ 4:00pm & the Ice Cream social
is @ 7:00pm. I like this place already.

Today’s travel: 271 miles 5+09 time 33.6 gal used 8.1 mpg 54.9 avg

Kathy gives Katrina a call in Denver. She had a good trip to Grand
Junction for Thanksgiving and a fun time with her godparents and most of
their family. She also got to visit and have dinner with her friend,
Kistin on Saturday. Katrina is back in her house doing things she needs to
do like house cleaning and preparing for her next week of teaching.

@ Social hr in the club house: the gals sit @ a long table & have their
gab session & get pretty loud; the card players sit @ a round table & play
their game of 99; the rest of us guys sit @ a round table & take turns
playing pool. Luckily, I was invited to join their game. As time goes on,
it occurred to me that these guys have been playing pool for (yrs) & are
very good. Some opened the zipper of their bag & out comes a $300.00 cue
stick. Another guy brought 2 bags; one containing a special break the rack
cue & the other an $800.00 cue for playing. Yikes! What have I gotten
myself into!

Mike is my partner & he is no slouch. We play 5 of 6 games. To stay in the
game, you have to win; thanks to Mike, we stayed.

5:10 dinner: Leftover turkey dinner & all the trimmings save for the
dessert. This was our 3rd Thanksgiving dinner & a gift from Carol.

After dinner, K & I take a walk around the campground in the dark for
exercise & to prepare ourselves for eating ice cream. This park is very
clean, well groomed & organized. The Ice Cream was smooth & tasty. I sat
next to the campground manager Ben & his wife, Marissa, & talk with him
about the possibility of us leaving our coach here for a month while we
travel in our tow car. He says: “see me tomorrow morning about 7:30am.”

Back in our bus, we both share talk time with Nick in Seattle. They are
doing well. Jerry is getting quite vocal, making loud, high pitched noises
in the background. Eriko has been busy making toys and a book for Jerry.
And Nick is still busy with work and school; he should complete his
master’s degree before Christmas.

High travel temp=81 Lights out: 11:51pm

Awake: 6:00am sleep 6+50 sunny overnight @ Houston, Texas.

Quietly, I go downstairs & find Jay & Carol already awake & making coffee.
Kathy hears us talking & joins us a short time later. Jay asks us where we
are going from Livingston. “South in Texas,” I reply. He reminds me of an
interesting town on the Gulf Coast by the name of “Aransas Pass” that has
a large bird sanctuary. With his map, he elaborates & I am interested. He
also reviews a shorter & easier route for us for leaving Houston while we
drink coffee & eat Carol’s homemade blueberry muffins for breakfast.

Carol also showers us with leftover turkey, stuffing, & sugar snap peas to
have later @ our leisure. It was wonderful seeing these guys again &
catching up on their world & what they have been doing in retirement. We
thank them for their gracious accommodations & another delicious
Thanksgiving dinner. We leave Carol & Jay @ 8:45am; having the Garmin GPS
guide us to the suggested toll road is a much easier & faster route
leaving Houston. After one stop @ a Kroger store for groceries & 10
bottles of wine, we arrive @ our bus @ 12:00 noon.

@ 4:00pm we join Pat & Mike, our near neighbors, who are hosting a social
gathering outdoors in the shade of their very large 5th Wheel Titan RV.
About 10 couples attend, most of whom we’ve met. With the goodies we all
contributed to this event, K & I figured it constituted enough food to
qualify as a dinner for the night. We had to leave the party early &
attend the 5:30pm vigil Mass @ Saint Joseph church on Church Street in
west Livingston. Afterward, Kathy picks up a few items from Wal-Mart while
I top off the Suzuki’s fuel tank.

In the bus, I program our GPS for “Aransas Pass,” Texas; then retract our
slides & we are ready for tomorrow’s moving out.

Today’s high temp=78 Lights out: 11:20pm

Awake: 5:51am Temp 49 sleep 6+15 some fog, then sunny
overnight @ Livingston, Texas.

Last Saturday, Kathy called her high school friend, Carol, & told her we
would like to accept her gracious invitation for Thanksgiving dinner @
their home on Thursday. “It’s too late,” Carol told Kathy. “We didn’t hear
from you guys so we accepted an offer with our son Chris & his girlfriend
for Thanksgiving @ their place.” Kathy apologized for us dragging our feet
but we just didn’t know if we would be this far south @ this time.

Anyway, Carol felt bad that we would be Thanksgiving-less & invited us for
a turkey dinner today…. & we accepted on the spot.

Driving the Suzuki, we leave the Livingston Rainbow’s End campground @
10:00am & drive non-stop for 2.5 hrs to Jay & Carol’s home in west
Houston, Texas. I didn’t remember their house @ all… has been over 30
yrs since we visited them last with our girls. Jay & Carol are retired
now; both look healthy & happy & have their own special interests and
hobbies. We are guided straight toward the back of their house to the
outside screened in patio. There we have some healthy snacks with wine &
start catching up with each others lives.

Our 2nd Thanksgiving dinner starts @ 3:40 pm with all the standard
condiments & trimmings included + fresh homemade pumpkin pie for dessert.
Carol is an excellent cook. After another g-r-e-a-t dinner, we adjourn
back to the outdoor patio & continue telling “lies” until the cool evening
air drives us inside. Carol’s 2 cats: “Murphy” & “Maggie” are the rulers
of the house & they were not so pleased that K & I had taken space on
their favorite chairs.

Later evening, we move into their den & peruse their son Chad’s wedding
album; then upon Kathy’s request, Carol produces her & Jay’s 1967 wedding
album; that brought on a lot of reminiscing.

These guys are too generous; they gave up their master bedroom suite for
us to spend the night; very nice of them. Kathy & I read in bed for an hr
before succumbing to sleep.

Lights out: 11:10pm

Awake: 5:23am Temp 46 sleep 5+49 foggy, then sunny overnight @
Livingston, TX.

Kathy joins the line dancing group @ 8:00am for 1.0 hr of exercise.

Melissa calls @ 10:00am with “Happy Thanksgiving” wishes; they are
enjoying a nice weather day & will be going to my brother’s place mid
afternoon for Thanksgiving dinner. When Kathy returns from her dancing,
she talks with Melissa a little & then begins preparing the yams for a
sweet potato dish + a large broccoli casserole dish.

About 1:30pm we drive the Suzuki with the hot covered (sweet potato dish &
broccoli casserole) to the activity center; take our hot dishes into the
building & place them on our # 14 table. I return our Suzuki to our
parking site, then walk back to the activity center just in time for the
singing & spoken prayer.

Escapee headquarters supplied the turkey & gravy & each couple was asked
to bring 2 complimenting dishes; the hostess of each table met with the
couples at her table and planned the meal. There were 10 people per table
(a few had 12 people) & 20 tables. It was an expensive meal; our cost for
the actual meal: $2.00 each, not counting our hot dishes. But it was
G-R-E-A-T, delicious + very organized.

After Kathy stores the leftover food from our dishes, we take a walk down
providence road west from the campground for an hr of exercise. It was the
ideal thing to do: the road was tree lined & cool; only 3 cars passed
during our walk time & we both (esp. me) needed that activity after eating
such a good meal.

Before dark, I retract the slides & store the portable water filters.

Mid evening satellite movie: “Topper” with Constance Bennett, Cary Grant,
Roland Young, Billie Burke, Alan Mowbray, etc. A delightful gimmick comedy
with ghosts Grant & Bennett dominating life of meek Young, the bank
president; 1937. It was good enough comedy & entertainment for Kathy,
which kept her awake even after her busy day & all the extra activity.
Eating popcorn during the movie didn’t hurt either!

I call & leave a message for Larry in San Diego.

Connie & Glen call from Burlington, WA.

Katrina called this evening but we didn’t get her “Happy Thanksgiving”
message until sometime Saturday. Thanks Kat!

High temp=77 Lights out: 11:36pm

Awake: 6:34am Temp 38 sleep 7+21 sunny overnight @ Livingston, TX.

Kathy joins the line dancing group @ 8:00am for 1.2 hrs of exercise. I use
these quiet moments to catch up on the nat’l news & do some magazine

@ 11:00am we, along with 5 other people, tour the Escapee Care Center here
within the campground area. The residency program began in January 1994;
the Social Program opened in March 1995 & the Care Center was licensed to
operate an adult day care program on October 1996. This Escapee Care
facility has been non-profit since its inception.

Sandy, our tour guide, sits & talks with us for a good 45 min about the
ins-&-outs of the day to day operation, the outdoor garden, the activities
room, etc. A lot of volunteer help is accepted in making this a successful
operation; this is the only place in the U.S.A. that a spouse can live in
his/her RV next to a care center & have assisted living. It is a very
impressive operation.

After that tour, we drive to Livingston for grocery shopping @ Brookshire
Brothers; HEB Pantry & Wal-Mart. Back @ our bus, we join near neighbors
Ron & Ann @ their 5th wheel rig for wine & healthy snacks.

6:35 dinner: Sweet & sour pork tenderloin stir fry, brown rice & mixed salad.

While Kathy spends time on the computer, I call my Sister Mary Jo for
“Happy Birthday” wishes tomorrow & a “Happy Thanksgiving” day tomorrow as
well. She told me she will be working tomorrow, but I think they are
throwing a wild party for her 50th.

High temp=72 Lights out: 11:34pm

Awake: 6:11am Temp 33 sleep 6+51 sunny overnight @
Livingston, Texas.

Kathy again joins the “Line Dancing” group @ 8:00am for 1.5 hrs of
exercise. And again, I use this quiet time for catching up on nat’l news &
then magazine reading.

@ 10:00am K & I, along with a dozen others, tour the Escapee business
offices. The mail sorting facility was 1st. Over 10,000 people have their
mail sent to this Livingston, Texas address; then it is either forwarded
to a temporary address for the traveling RV members or picked up
personally @ the campground mailroom. We have seen the US mail tractor
trailer arrive twice a day during our walking times; morning is delivery
and afternoon is pick-up. Obviously they do a great job as not one
complaint was heard from anyone. The workers who sort by hand gave us a
demo of their automated “commercial letter & documents” sorting machine.
Unbelievably fast! But, it does not do hand printed or written envelopes.

Next we are invited to the 2nd floor level of the business office; here we
take a seat & listen to Janice, one of the Editors of the Escapees
Magazine, describe the normal process of the publication procedures. Next,
Bud enlightened all of us about our membership benefits with the Escapees.
We ourselves learned a little as we’ve been members for less than 2 yrs.
We enjoyed seeing a “behind the scenes” look of what it takes to run a
busy RV business.

After lunch, I walk to the Club house & attend a small seminar with about
14 other people on a tire pressure monitoring system called: “Pressure
Pro.” This wireless system gives constant pressure readout of each tire
that you have hooked up with its monitoring cap, and if that pressure
should drop on an individual tire by 12%, an alarm would sound & lights
flash up front on the dashboard to identify the low tire. It measures tire
pressure without having to be moving down the road. My “Smart Tire” system
has to be moving down the road in order to get readout.

6:30 dinner: Leftover sausage in Italian tomato sauce with mixed salad &

Late satellite movie: “The Hurricane” with Dorothy Lamour, Hon Hall, Mary
Astor, C. Aubrey Smith, Raymond Massey, etc. 1st-rate escapism on isle of
Manikoora, where idyllic native life of Hall & Lamour is disrupted by
vindictive governor Massey. Climactic hurricane effects have never been
equaled. 1937 And….remember: no computers to enhance the scenes or
miniature models used.

High temp=67 Lights out: 11:13pm

Awake: 6:32am Temp 41 sleep 7+50 sunny overnight @ Livingston, Texas.

Kathy walks to the Activity Center & joins the “Line Dancing” group @
8:00am for 1.0 hr of exercise.

I use this quiet time for watching the national news & reading some of my
Family Motor coaching magazine.

Mid afternoon, we take a 50 min walk around the campground for exercise &
to satisfy our curiosity. This is no ordinary campground: they have
private homes with large RV garages attached; 3 large areas of RV camping
+ an area for spouses staying in their RV while under assisted living
care, etc. After 50 min, we still didn’t cover all the roads in the
campground but we needed to get back so Kathy could start dinner.

5:15 dinner: Tuna steak, broccoli, brown rice & salad.

After dinner & before the dishes are washed, we walk to the Escapees Club
House with our near neighbors, Ron & Ann, to watch the featured film
tonight: “Cars” with popcorn provided by headquarters. The viewing room
was packed, the movie was delightful & the popcorn delicious. Although
“Cars” is an animated film, it was so well presented it was easy to
identify those cars as though they were people.

Today’s high temp=64 Lights out: 11:20pm

Awake: 5:21am Temp 45 sleep 6+10 overnight @ Livingston, Texas.

We return Corinne’s call from yesterday & share the talk time. She sounds

Nick calls from Seattle: we share talk time with him also. Little Jerry
can be heard babbling in the background; maybe he’s trying to say: “Hi,
‘Geeeeee’ Daddy.”

Later I call my cousin Cy in Beltsville, Maryland; I haven’t talked with
him since September 4th when we toured Gary & Grace around Kirschtown. Cy
is planning on a 2008 time frame for selling his house & moving back to

Diane returns Kathy’s call of last Sunday; they kibitz for over an hr. The
big news is: Diane & her husband are buying a house in Leisure World, a
gated community in Phoenix, with a lot of activities in which they can
participate. Their present home is about 40 min away & may be rented out
according to Kathy. Other big news: their son Billy is engaged to marry
Fay in Sept., 2007.

Now it’s time for us to take a walk; but 1st we drive about 8 miles to the
Pedigo Park in west Livingston where we attend the monthly “Trade Days.”
This was similar to another flea market we visited in Tyler but on a
slightly higher scale. We saw no rusty or dirty items for sale & very
little merchandise from China. The local artists did display some rather
interesting & unique things but nothing we couldn’t do without. Our walk
time was good. En route back to our bus, we pick up some needed grocery
items from Wal-Mart.

Katrina calls while driving back from her Masters Class in Denver….. & of
course, she’s wearing her headset. We have a good time talking; catching
up on her recent activities, her next summer travel plans; etc, etc. She
is amazing: she will be driving her car, stopping @ a grocery store,
arriving @ her rental house, unpacking those groceries & then start
cooking & we have no idea that she has even arrived back @ her house.

5:30 dinner: Pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes & a spinach salad.

@ 6:05, we walk up to the Escapees’ activities center where the members
are having an Ice Cream Social. This is a Sunday tradition for Escapees’.
@ these social gatherings, any new visitors are called to gather up front
& give a short introduction of themselves: names, how long RVing, where
they are from, where they are going, what brought them here, etc. K & I
were going to skip this formality until our table people hinted that the
persons who go up & introduce themselves always get served ice cream 1st.
That did it! So after the introductions of some 6 couples, we were ready
for ice cream. Would you believe: on the spot, they decided to change the
way of serving the ice cream, calling out by flavors. Those who ordered
butter pecan were first than “Bunny Tracks,” than cherry vanilla etc.
Kathy was nearly finished eating her big glob of “Bunny Tracks” by the
time I was served “Chocolate.” While we eat, we listen to any new
developments of the Escapees campground; anyone that needs prayers for a
spouse; etc. It was a very personable gathering.

High temp=68 Lights out: 10:42pm

Awake: 6:22am Temp 41 sleep 6+28 sunny overnight @ Tyler, Texas.

In talking with Melissa this morning; some significant & noteworthy
happenings have occurred recently @ the Foote residence. I had to sit down
& hold onto my chair as I listened to the following: 1st of all, Andrew
took his 1st (2) steps without holding on to anything; 2nd Matthew decided
he wanted to sleep by himself, in his own room & in his own bed because
Andrew is too noisy. 3rd & most significant to me: Matthew has decided NOT
to call me “doo-doo” anymore. His mother asked him why? “‘G’ Daddy is ‘G’
Daddy” he told her! Hip-hip hooray! It made my day.

We leave the # 1 RV Park of Tyler @ 11:28am. Hwy 323 to hwy 69 to Hwy
59….all smooth roads that make us smile & lots of small towns with ill
timed traffic lights that cause us to cringe; they should be re-timed.

We arrive @ the Rainbow’s End Escapee Park @ 2:19pm; the campground host
offers us 4 sites to scrutinize & to select the one most suitable for us.
She suggests we detach our car & drive as the park is rather large.
Harrumph! We tell her we are a lot younger than we look & we’ll walk for
the exercise. But before we go on our search, we are given welcoming hugs;
a tradition of the Escapees at this park.

Today’s travel: 2+50 time 140 miles 19.1 gal used 7.3 mpg
51.4 avg speed

After setting up, we drive into town & attend 5:30pm Vigil Mass @ St.
Joseph’s church in west Livingston.

8:00pm dinner: Leftover Chili with Tostitos Tortilla chips.

Late satellite movie: “The Machinist” with Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason
Leigh, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, etc. Reznik (Bale) has not slept for a year.
He finds sanctuary of sorts in the bed of a prostitute & on a counter
stool at a late-night diner patrolled by a nuturing, widowed waitress. His
declining physical & mental condition erupts into a full-blown nightmare
of guilt, fear, confusion & paranoia when his coworkers @ a machine shop
ostracize him following an accident. 2004. Not recommended for children or
the weak of heart. Kathy did not like this story, but she stayed awake.

High travel temp=74 Elevation 275 Lights out: 11:11pm

Awake: 6:09am Temp 36 sleep 6+42 sunny overnight @ Tyler, Texas.

K & I walk this campground, more for curiosity than exercise (15 min).
It’s a nice place: 65 concrete level pads & some with covered storage
sites; its also big rig friendly & close to a major hwy. We discuss
driving to downtown Tyler but, we have no idea of what’s to do there.
After our short walk, Kathy visits the campground office to hopefully
obtain some local touring ideas. During her absence, I leave a message via
cell phone for our Nephew Craig, who with his family moved to Tyler about
a yr ago. We thought we would pay them a visit since our travels take us
this way southbound. When she returns, we had 2 options: the East Texas
Oil Museum &/or the Tyler Market Center. Kathy takes the return call from
Craig as I was outside: he indicates that we couldn’t have picked a worst
time! His family left for PA this morning to spend the Thanksgiving
holiday with family & Craig will fly there tomorrow. Kathy let him know
that we’ll get in touch with them again next time we’re passing through.

Due mainly to nice weather, we choose the Tyler market, about an 8 mile
drive. 3 hrs of walking & looking @ other people’s stuff: some really good
& rusty junk; lots of imported stuff from China; & the rare exceptional
good stuff that might sell to the discriminating buyer. We’re not really
looking for anything; it is part curiosity & part getting outdoors in the
sunshine & walking around.

Kathy then programs the Garmin GPS for downtown Tyler. We expected some
heavy Friday 4:00pm rush hr traffic delays but, to our surprise…..none. We
both had visions of getting some more walking time in just sauntering
around downtown Tyler; another surprise: the square was basically vacant
with some empty store fronts, buildings for lease, etc. For a city of
nearly 100,000, where is everyone? Actually, the most people were found
milling around the jail and courthouse.

En route back to our bus, we visit 2 grocery stores: Super 1 Foods &

7:20 dinner: Italian sausage sandwich with tomato basil sauce on Italian
bread & mixed salad.

Late satellite movie: “Crimes & Misdemeanors” with Caroline Aaron, Alan
Alda, Woody Allen, Claire Bloom, Mia Farrow Joanna Gleason, Martin Landau,
etc. Landau plays a married man who is desperate to cut off an adulterous
relationship in the somberly tragic tale. Allen is an unhappy documentary
film-maker who’s wooing attractive Farrow while making a film about
insufferably self-centered TV producer Alda. 1989. A bittersweet story
that will sustain your attention.

High temp=66 Lights out: 11:54

Awake: 6:02am Temp 36 sleep 6+10 sunny overnight @ Newell campsite.

(3) Weeks later, it’s time to move on. The guys have been asking us if we
have changed our address to the Newell campsite yet! Is that a hint or
what? Anyway, these people have been very accommodating for us during our
extended stay. It’s like; they couldn’t do enough for us to make us feel
more comfortable during our waiting time.

Due to the strong winds & rain yesterday, our slide tops were pretty
dusty, so this morning in the cold, I did some fancy brushing before
retracting our slides.

We leave our Newell residence @ 10:10am. Hwy 69 south to the Indian Nation
turnpike, then hwy 271 to the Tyler, Texas loop 323 & route 31 west. We
endured a lot of small towns on hwy 69 & hwy 271 with ill timed traffic
lights, but the good news is: their roads were relatively smooth.

We arrive @ the # 1 RV park of Tyler just before dark @ 5:34pm. One
comfort stop en route.

Today’s travel: 7:25 time 386 miles 50.6 gal used 7.6 mpg
54.2 avg speed.

The Indian Nation turnpike toll was $10.50 but it saved us from going out
of our way by some 40 miles or more.

7:45 dinner: Fresh salmon & leftover sword fish, fried rice and noodles &
mixed salad.

Late satellite movie: “Dodsworth” with Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton,
Paul Lukas, Mary Astor, David Niven, etc. This story is about a
middle-aged American industrialist who retires, goes to Europe, where he &
his wife find differing sets of values & new relationships. 1936. You
don’t want to miss seeing this one. Timely, even 70 yrs later.

High travel temp=61 Elevation 493 Lights out: 11:27pm

Awake: 5:49am Temp 48 sleep 6+15 rain & wind overnight @
Newell campsite.

Good thing we didn’t plan on traveling today…..the weather is lousy. Winds
are strong with gusts & rain, heavy @ times. We stay inside our bus all
morning. About 12:30, Kathy gets brave & walks over to the customers’
lounge to use their computer; by this time, the rain had subsided with
lessening winds. Kathy actually spent little time on the computer as she
found 2 couples in the lounge to talk with; Foy & Helen from Texas, owners
of a 1999 Newell and having a 2008 built and Tom & Patty from Florida,
former Prevost owners, now owners of a 2006 Newell which they bought from
Mic whom we met at the Booth Bay rally.

@ 1:40pm Ron & James ring our doorbell; they would like to have the Plasma
TV bracket & screws that hold the front TV in its cabinet with the ability
to swing out for service if need be. “I thought they would never ask!”
About 30 min later, R & J return with the Plasma in hand, all 165 lbs of
it, snap it into its cabinet cradle, a few on screen selections are made
by Ron & then, a beautiful picture is displayed. I thank the guys
profusely & begin programming our GPS for a southern destination.

6:20 dinner: Leftover filled peppers & spinach salad.

Zack calls from Seattle: He’s alive & well. We share over an hr of talk time.

We both watch the final episode of: “Dancing with the Stars” in the
comfort of our living room for a change.

Late satellite movie: “Five Came Back” with Chester Morris, Lucille Ball,
Wendy Barrie, etc. This sleeper shows its age a little but remains
interesting for colorful character studies among passengers on a plane
downed in headhunter-infested Amazon jungle. 1939. You better believe it!
67 yrs later, this film was ahead of its time.

High temp=48 Lights out: 11:54pm

Awake: 6:02am Temp 44 sleep 6+17 sunny overnight @ Newell campsite.

@ 9:35am we cut each other’s hair outside in the sunshine. Temp 60 degrees
with little wind; it was difficult to be inconspicuous about this as we
are only 55 feet from the entrance to the customers’ lounge & service
office. A lot of foot traffic; techs would call out: “can I be next?” or
“are you expensive?” Tommy (assistant service manager) walked over &
chatted for awhile; then Merle arrived from Tulsa in his new 2007 coach,
saw us & paid us a friendly visit. He was part of our group @ the Boothbay
rally last month. Not to be biased in the least, but the best visitor
during our hair cutting time was Bobby, he walked up from the warehouse
with papers verifying our Plasma TV arrival…..with the notification
attached: “no charge.”

Last evening, K & I talked about joining the local Rotary here in Miami
for lunch if they would have us. Kathy got on the computer, sought out the
secretary’s (Freda) e-mail, wrote a short note with our cell phone # &
sent it off.

Today & shortly after we finish cutting hair, Freda calls & invites us to
meet her @ the 1st National Bank in town & then, follow her to the A & M
Community College’s social room where the Rotarians gather every Tuesday
for lunch. Freda, who is actually the president of this Rotary club,
begins introducing us to some of the members almost immediately…..then
asks us if a certain table to sit @ would be suitable; certainly we agree
& more introductions continue. A plate of chicken with noodles in cheese
sauce & mixed vegetables came quickly, also a salad and drinks and apple
dumpling for dessert. Our table associates had many questions about what
brought us here, where are we living, where are we going, etc. These
people made us feel very comfortable & our table mates, including the
President Of the College, were especially friendly & gracious. I was
called upon to introduce Kathy & myself to the rest of the crowd, tell a
little about: where we are from, our lifestyle, etc. I made sure of being
complimentary to one special individual in the group that we know...Carl,
the owner of Newell Coach Corp. I think I did OK because he came over &
chatted with us briefly after the meeting was over. Joining some distant
fellow Rotarians was a wonderful experience; in fact, I just might do some
more of this in our future travels.

Back to our bus, @ 1:45; even though our TV is here, I realize that the
techs may not have adequate time today for the installation. As a matter
of fact, I casually mention to the coordinators that we’ll hang around (in
the campsite) & fit us in when & if you can.

We were thinking of going “on the road again” this afternoon but now, our
time slot is dwindling away for today. Besides, wind & rainy weather is
moving in fast. I did take some time however, to reseal a basement door on
the co-pilots side that has leaked a little water during the last heavy

Evening entertainment: for Kathy, “Dancing with the Stars.”

For both of us: the history channel featuring “Adhesives.” Most
interesting & informative!
Around 9:30pm light rain moves in.

Later, a satellite movie: “Renaissance Man” with Danny DeVito, Gregory
Hines, James Remar, Cliff Robertson, etc. A man (DeVito) whose life &
career have hit a stone wall gets hired to teach some of the Army’s least
intelligent recruits some basics of reading. 1994. One amazing feature
that could be obvious to some casual observers: this movie has been
recognized as having the kindest portrait of the U.S. Army in recent

High temp=66 Lights out: 11:34pm

Awake: 5:24am Temp 42 sleep 5+38 partly sunny overnight @
Newell campsite.

Mid morning, I visit the service desk & give the coordinators a head’s up
on our TV delivery today. According to the Bax web site, our TV
left the Tulsa, OK station @ 9:32am this morning heading for Miami, OK.
Then I visit John (vice Pres of service) & have a lengthy discussion on
recall notices for RV’s. I won’t go into minute detail, it’s much too

Kathy decides to make another trip downtown @ 1:40pm; there are still a
few stores yet to explore. During her absence, I hang around the area just
in case Bobby, the warehouse guy, gets our TV & the guys have the time to
install it. Meanwhile, I do some magazine reading & check the Bax Global
site a few times for updates.

Kathy returns @ 3:00pm & is surprised that: nothing has changed. I talk
her into going over to the factory & viewing the new bi-fold basement
doors that are now standard equipment on all new coaches. During our
visit, Brian in sales is showing a customer some of the new changes,
including the bi-folding doors & the remote controlled basement Joey bed.
His client ordered his first Newell months ago & it’s forecasted to be
finished in February. Since we are in the area, I introduce Kathy to the
Newell warehouse, which is next door to production, where the
inbound/outbound shipping takes place. Bobby & I discuss the phantom TV
yet to arrive. He suggests giving Sony a call. Back @ our bus, I do just
that & learn that for whatever reason, our TV will not be arriving today,
but tomorrow.

6:50 dinner: Stuffed peppers with a mixed salad.

Again, double feature night… popcorn. 1st movie: “Six Days, Seven
Nights” with Harrison Ford, Anne Heche, David Schwimmer, etc. A romantic
comedy about a N.Y.C. career woman (Heche), who’s forced to interrupt an
idyllic tropical vacation with her boyfriend (Schwimmer) for a business
side trip. Then her chartered plane crash-lands, & she’s stranded on a
deserted island with her pilot (Ford) who’s not exactly her type (& vice
versa). 1998. Not too shabby!

2nd movie: “The Al Jolson Story” with Larry Parks, Evelyn Keyes, William
Demarest, Bill Goodwin, Ludwig Donath, etc. Entertaining bio of all-time
great Al Jolson, with Parks giving his all in a story of brash vaudeville
performer’s rise in the show biz world. Many songs (all dubbed by Jolson).
The only shot of the real Jolson was on the runway during the “Swanee”
sequence. 1946. Afterward, we get on Google & find out that Jolson and
his wife, Ruby Wilson, were unable to have children and adopted a boy, Al
Jolson, Jr. who went with his mother upon her divorce from Jolson. She
remarried and had 4 children. When he was 14, Al Jolson, Jr. changed his
name to Peter Lowe after his mother's second husband, John Lowe.

High temp=54 Lights out: 11:45pm

Awake: 6:20am Temp 34 sleep 6+33 sunny overnight @ Newell campsite.

Kathy treats us to a breakfast of sourdough pancakes with eggs, bacon &
real maple syrup.
One of our plans today was to give each other a haircut. We patiently
waited for the wind to subside so we could do the cutting outdoors. It
didn’t so we didn’t.

I spend some time looking over our travel plan “B.” Southbound of course.

Kathy has a busy free phone day: Talking with Jeri in FL; Ann in AK; Nancy
in AZ; Ruth in WI; Katrina in CO & these were not short calls. That girl
is amazing! I make one call to Zack & leave a message.

Although it was windy, it reminded me to fix 3 of our basement doors which
have cables that tether the door from opening too far on windy days. I
replace the cable with some thin but strong rope.

In between Kathy’s phone calls, she posts some room ideas in her album for
our house plans.

6:30 dinner: Italian beef sandwiches with sweet garlic peppers & au juice.

Another double feature night… popcorn: “Only the Lonely” with John
Candy, Maureen O’ Hara, Ally Sheedy, James Belushi, Anthony Quinn, Kevin
Dunn, etc. Chicago cop (Candy) who still lives with his mom (O’Hara),
falls in love & has to overcome both his mother’s resistance & his
feelings of guilt over leaving her. 1991.
A decent & good family movie.

2nd feature: “Grave of the Fireflies.” Those who doubt that animation can
successfully tell serious, meaningful stories should watch this wonderful
animated feature. Young Seita & his little sister, homeless & orphaned
during the final days of WWII, try desperately to survive in a time when
food & aid are scarce. This story will break your heart, but still
suitable for most audiences. 1998.

High temp=61 Lights out: 11:46pm

Awake: 6:11am Temp 36 sleep 6+14 sunny overnight @ Newell campsite.

We test the portable Garmin GPS today by driving to the Lead & Zinc Museum
in Picher, Oklahoma (5 miles). Unfortunately it was closed with no signs
of opening soon. En route back to our bus, we stop briefly & check out a
yard sale in Commerce, then further down the street, the J.C. Penney
catalog return store. @ the yard sale, the guy we talked with had
magazines of the 1946 7AC Aronica Champ airplane. Turns out, he used to
own a 7AC & flew it out of the Miami airport. Now he flies a large scale
7AC model by remote control @ their club; interesting fellow.

Kathy grabs some healthy snacks from our bus & we continue on testing the
Garmin by driving south to the town of Grove (about 30 min). A lot of
Newell employees live in or near Grove. Today in this rather small town
many stores are having open houses, some even have a 10% discount on
selected wares; but along with that, healthy snacks were available.
“Gourmet’s” for example, had a cheese spread with crackers, spicy cider &
coffee. Dee’s Liquor store outdid them all: they offered baked beans,
chicken pieces, catfish, coleslaw, cold veggies & apple and blackberry
strudel, cherry pie, and Christmas cookies. We ate enough there to qualify
as our dinner.

En route back to our bus, we attend 5:00pm Mass @ Sacred Heart church.

Double feature tonight with popcorn: 1st movie: “Author, Author” with Al
Pacino, Dyan Cannon, Tuesday Weld, etc. Pacino’s flaky wife walks out on
him & their kids (most from her previous marriages) just as his play is
about to open on Broadway. 1982. This was a “fairly ok” kind of story.

2nd movie in honor of Veterans’ Day: “Stalig 17” with William Holden, Don
Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss, etc. Granddaddy of all WWII POW
films. Holden (in Oscar-winning performance) is super-cynical sergeant
suspected of being a Nazi spy. The story brilliantly blends drama with
comedy to show monotonous, anxiety-ridden life of POWs. 1953. This movie
was GREAT! Watch for it @ your local theatres…..coming soon!

High temp=50’s Lights out: 11:47pm

Awake: 5:55am Temp 67 sleep 6+26 cloudy overnight @ Newell campsite.

About half of the Newell service techs are working an extra day today but,
not with overtime; an extra day will be added to their Christmas Holiday
time instead.

Kathy & I attend the 9:00am Mass @ Sacred Heart church. Only 7 attendees
total. Shortly after I awoke this morning, as I usually do, I turned on
our Aqua-hot system to heat up the 17 gal reservoir for hot water for
washing our faces, etc. I have a choice of using the electric heating
elements or the diesel fuel burner. About twice a month or when dry
camping, I’ll use the diesel burner. It’s recommended to use occasionally
to avoid any algae from building up with stagnant diesel fuel. Well, when
we return to our bus after Mass, it was obvious there is a large moisture
spot on the concrete centered under our aqua-hot; this is not normal.
Looking into the compartment, I could only suspect….something is leaking.

Good for us, the guys are working today. I notify Creslie, he assigns
Dwight & minutes later, Dwight concludes it’s an inside job since our
temps are falling fast with strong winds from the north. Kathy takes
advantage of the time; goes downtown to check out a few more thrift stores
she noticed yesterday in a different part of town.

@ 1:15, Dwight drives our coach in bay 15, does his magic on disassembly
of the diesel burner motor, finds the German made fuel pump caput,
replaces it with a new modified one & finishes up by re-parking our bus
back in our campsite by 3:45. It was mentioned that a few yrs ago, there
was a recall on that fuel pump & we knew nothing about it. I’ll have to
talk with John about that on Monday.

6:45 dinner: Home made crab cakes, brown & wild rice, corn off the cob
from cousin Florentz’s garden, spinach salad & toast.

Evening time: a wide & good coverage of information exchanged with the
busy couple, Grace & Gary in Landenberg, PA.

High temp=67 Lights out: 11:57pm

Awake: 6:29am Temp 56 sleep 6+37 sunny overnight @ Newell campsite.

I call Kathy, the Newell receptionist, to find out when to expect today’s
mail. She tells me she’ll be going downtown for mail pickup around 11:00 &
return about 11:30.
We are expecting our Suzuki’s license renewal tags to arrive today with
the mail. On my way to visit Sam @ his office, I ask Creslie to prepare
our service bill as we are making plans to leave tomorrow. Upon entering
Sam’s office, Kathy the receptionist, hands me our coveted & forwarded
mail envelope from Alaska. Sure enough, our Suzuki tags have arrived. I
say our goodbyes to both Sam & Kathy + thank Kathy again for her
notarizing talent & then, get a good man right on the project (that’s me)
of getting our tow car street legal to travel again.

Being legal to travel, inspires K to immediately start motoring: by doing
some last min grocery shopping @ Marvin’s & Wal-Mart + visit the library;
but not necessarily in that order.

I mentioned to K as she was leaving, that I would (out of curiosity) call
Sony to find out if they have analyzed our plasma TV problem & what time
frame might expect its return? To my surprise, it has been repaired & is
on its way back to Newell as we speak. Kathy, who on some rare occasions
is not a die hart optimist, is not going to believe this story.

Well, this changes the whole picture. Our minute planning with selecting
Wal-Mart stops & campground destinations are nixed. The Sony man confirmed
our TV has left San Diego, transited thru Los Angles & will arrive Dallas
@ 0600 Friday. That is all he knew @ this time. After this recent
development, I wander over to the service office to let the guys know that
we like it here, so we’ll extend our vacation time into next week.

Actually Kathy did believe my story about Sony; I tried to make it sound
fictitious but she didn’t fall for it.

Now for our daily walk: this time, we drive to the west side of downtown
near the hospital & begin walking the streets. An hr later, we did not see
any (2) homes that even resemble one another in architecture. Miami is an
old, well established town.

6:40 dinner: Swordfish steak, brown rice, broccoli, spinach salad & toast.

Kathy again watches her “Dancing with the Stars” program while I wash the
dishes…. & she helps dry them during the many commercials.

Late satellite movie: “Bad Day at Black Rock” with Spencer Tracy, Robert
Ryan, Anne Francis, Dean Jagger, Walter Brennan, Ernest Borgnine, Lee
Marvin, etc. One-armed man (Tracy) uncovering a skeleton in Western town’s
closet. 1955. Great cast & performance by the one-armed Tracy but, we
recommend fresh coffee with an uncomfortable chair while viewing this slow
motion story.

High temp=77 Lights out: 11:29pm

Awake: 5:21am Temp 50 sleep 5+45 cloudy overnight @ Newell campsite.

While talking to Sam this morning in his office, our Alpine GPS navigation
unit for our motorhome arrived via UPS from Long Beach, CA. I waste no
time in reinstalling the unit in our overhead compartment but, due to a
lack of proper tools, it takes over an hr to do this. Without driving our
coach down the road, the Alpine appears to be working just fine again &
soon this system can help us decide which way to go.

About 2:15pm, Kyle, the driver, takes our coach into bay # 8. James has
been assigned to install the power pulse system to our AGM batteries. It’s
a fairly simple procedure & shouldn’t take long.

Meanwhile, K & I take a 1.5 hr walk for exercise over near the Miami
Municipal airport to a subdivision called: Green Acres. We think most of
the homes built in this area are due to the aviation training base
established during WWII. When we return to Newell, our bus is ready to be
taken back to our outside parking site.

6:40 dinner: Leftover stew with veggies, whole-wheat noodles, fresh mixed
salad & toast.

Kathy watches her “Dancing with the Stars” program while I wash & dry the

Late evening satellite movie: “Remains of the Day” with Anthony Hopkins,
Emma Thompson, James Fox, Christopher Reeve, Peter Vaughan, Hugh Grant,
etc. Hopkins is a self-sacrificing butler who serves with the utmost
discretion & Thompson, an efficient & bright head housekeeper. The 2
collide over work…….especially over overtures of romance. Looming over
these personal stories is the fascinating larger tale of the misguided
Lord of the manor (Fox), who is excitedly making alliances with the Nazi
sympathizers. 1993. We liked this story which was so unpredictable,
especially in the romantic segments. For this, I highly recommend a large
bowl of popcorn & a most comfortable chair.

High temp=73 Lights out: 11:52pm

Awake: 6:25am Temp 45 sleep 6+47 fog overnight @ Newell campsite.

Outside in the fog, I talk with (2) Frank’s: one from Wisconsin who drives
a Newell pulling a huge trailer duplicating the paint job of his coach
(combined length 72 ft). The other Frank, driving a year 2005 Prevost with
2 slides; he has just traded his Prevost in for a new Newell show coach
with 4 slides, 625 horsepower engine, steering tag axle, etc. Sam (vice
president of sales) tells me during the last 2 yrs, over 20 Prevost owners
have traded up to a new Newell.

I call Alpine Electronics in Long Beach; Cheryl tells me our GPS is very
sick & is being transferred to another department for some major surgery.
“Will this be a lengthy visit?” I ask her. “Yes, I’m afraid so,” she
responds. I remind her that we are basically in a parking lot in Oklahoma,
waiting for our navigation unit to be fixed so it can help us in deciding
where to go from here. “Just a minute,” she replies & puts me on hold for
a while. When she returns, she informs me that they will ship us an exact
replacement GPS unit….same price. Shipping out today or @ the latest,
tomorrow; I am quite comfortable with that plan.

Next call: Scott in Ligonier, PA. K & I have decided to retain Scott as
our architect for our house design but we want the progress to be casual.
We chat for about 15 min.

After talking with Sam in sales earlier, he mentioned the new doors the
Newell metal shops are making. So I wander through the production section
of the factory & get Richard to show & demonstrate the new & improved
bi-folding doors being used on the basement compartments on the new
coaches. They are well built, with new ideas on weather stripping & the
bi-fold allows less bending down to access the compartments.

I call & talk with Gary J. in eastern PA. We talk about motor coaches but
cut our chat short due Gary driving through a tunnel.

K & I walk for over an hr in the vicinity of the Miami airport for exercise.

6:25 dinner: Artichoke chicken casserole in white cheddar cheese sauce ,
leftover green bean casserole, spinach salad & toast.

Kathy watches “Dancing with the Stars” on TV while I clean up the dirty

Late evening satellite movie: “La Strada” with Anthony Quinn, Giulietta
Masina, Richard Baschart, etc. A simple tale of brutish strongman Quinn
taking simple-minded Masina with him as he tours the countryside, where he
encounters gentle acrobat Basechart. 1954. Hey, this was the best Foreign
Film Oscar winner of 1954 so keep it on your list.

High temp=68 Lights out: 11:36pm

Awake: 5:55am Temp 54 sleep 6+03 overcast overnight@ Newell

1st thing this morning: John (V.P. of customer service) & I have a high
tech discussion about batteries, both the lead acid & the AGM type. It
still bothers me that our AGM batteries (3) out of (6) failed after (2)
yrs of service & I had been very kind to my batteries. I bring up the
issue of using the “power pulse” unit to further give more longevity to
the AGM batteries. Unbeknown to me, Newell has been using these extra
little power pulse units on their AGM batteries ever since they upgraded
to the AGMs a little over 2 yrs ago & seem to be quite pleased with the
longevity results.

Apparently, when this gadget is wired to the batteries, it produces a
pulsing charging current in a manner that slows down & even reverses
sulfation on the battery plates. I hint to John that if I had known about
this power pulse at that time, perhaps my batteries would have lasted for
the average 5 yrs or longer. John suggests that they install the power
pulse system on our coach’s batteries @ their cost to confirm the
potential longevity. I am comfortable with this plan.

Meanwhile, Kathy is busy watching her morning shows on TV; later she makes
a trip to Wal-Mart, one of the more “exciting places” in Miami and
explores more of downtown, including the library.

Next, I call Alpine Electronics in Long Beach. The girl I talk with tells
me our GPS is listed to be repaired today. I am comfortable with this plan

Then I visit Cindy @ the Newell reception office looking for our mail with
the Suzuki renewal tags from the Municipality of Anchorage….. “nothing
from Alaska” Cindy tells me. “What’s going on” I wonder? I sent that
paperwork to Clara @ the M.O.A. over 10 days ago. I even called midweek &
talked with another girl @ the M.O.A. & she reported that our registration
for renewal is sitting in the outbox ready to be mailed. Cindy @ the
Newell reception desk suggests that maybe our letter is in limbo over @
the local post office. Hmmm, ok maybe, I’ll check on that. Using the
Suzuki, 5 min later the post lady informs me our letter would not be @
this office but possibly @ the downtown post office. So 22 min later to
include waiting 7th in line, the downtown postal lady tells me that they
don’t hang onto mail that no one claims; if it was here, they would
already have sent it return mail back to Alaska. Yikes! This is
discouraging. Driving back to our bus, I decide to call the M.O.A. again
to find out where they sent our registration: turns out, Clara sent it to
our forwarding 645 “G” Street address even though I made it quite clear (I
thought) to send that registration to the Newell address; but I am
relieved. Then I call Linda; ask her to check our mailbox & sure enough,
it is there & she will send it out today. cheezes, what a trip!

Late afternoon, K & I walk the suburbs of Commerce, birthplace of Mickey
Mantle, for an hr of exercise.

6:40 dinner: Alaska salmon with green bean casserole using Gary C’s home
grown beans, brown rice with pecans & apple bits, spinach salad + toast.

Evening satellite movie: “Smoke” with William Hurt, Harvey Keitel,
Stockard Channing, Harold Perrineau, Jr., Forest Whitaker, etc. A tapestry
of lives that intertwine around a Brooklyn smoke shop; key figures include
the philosophical manager (Keitel), a burnt-out novelist (Hurt), a worldly
wise teenager (Perrineau) whom Hurt more or less adopts, & the boy’s
actual father (Whitaker), whom he hasn’t seen since infancy. 1995. Not for
everyone but this movie was heartwarming for us.

High temp=64 Lights out: 11:38pm

Awake: 6:38am Temp 46 sleep 6+34 overcast overnight @ Newell

Kathy makes sourdough pancakes with eggs & bacon for breakfast.
Melissa calls & gives a casual updating; we both take our turn talking.
We call Gary & Rosemary; also a casual updating & we take turns talking.

While Kathy irons, I spend time on our computer reading the Newell Tech
Talk site; there are literally hundreds of items that owners write in to
discuss with each other & with the Newell techs about their Newell
motorhomes that date all the way back to the late sixty’s.

Mid afternoon: K & I watch a satellite movie: “Born Yesterday” with Judy
Holliday, William Holden, Broderick Crawford & Howard St. John.
Junk-dealer-made-good, Crawford wants girlfriend (Holliday) culturefied,
hires Holden to teach her in Washington, D.C. 1950. A good story with a
“make you feel good finish.”

7:35 dinner: Kathy’s Chili with macaroni & toast.

Early evening, I call my Aunt Aggie in Ohio; we have a nice 30 min talk.

Late evening: Call Mary Jo in Lodi, CA. They are doing well, but M.J. is
being challenged with using computers @ her nursing job.

Later evening: watch Satellite movie: “All the President’s Men” with
Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Robards, Hack Warden, etc. Redford &
Hoffman play real-life Washington Post reporters (Bob Woodward & Carl
Bernstein) who persevered in their investigation of Watergate break-in
that led to earthshaking scandal. 1976. A superb movie, don’t miss it!

Even later evening: reading in bed.

High temp=54 Lights out: 11:22pm

Awake: 7:15am Temp 48 sleep 7+34 overcast overnight @ Newell campsite.

Kathy calls & talks with Katrina in Denver; she enjoyed her 1 week break
from teaching.

Let it be known: this has been a record day for laundry; (6) loads. Thus,
it’s a reading & ½ computer day for me.

K & I attend 5:00pm Mass @ Sacred Heart church. Afterwards, we scoot back
to our bus, have a quick dinner @ 6:30 of leftover beef & veggie stew +

Next we drive to downtown Miami to the eloquent & magnificent Coleman
Theatre Beautiful & watch the play: “Barefoot in the Park.” It was good,
well acted by the local Miami Theatre Group, & funny. They allowed popcorn
during the play so we had 2 boxes each.

Late satellite movie: “Doc Hollywood” with Michael J. Fox, Julie Warner,
Bridget Fonda, Barnard Hughes, Woody Harrelson, etc. Fox is on his way to
a career in L.A. plastic surgery when he crashes his car in South
Carolina’s Podunk squash capital & is sentenced to perform much needed
medical community service. 1991. It was sort of cute but….when Kathy’s
eyelids close & there is no commercial?

High temp=63 Lights out: 12:04am

Awake: 6:30am Temp 35 sleep 6+00 sunny overnight @ Newell campsite.

We go outside early & say our goodbyes to “BIG JOHN” & Karen from
Puyallup, WA. + Rod & Mary from Melbourne, FL. Both leaving @ the same
time but going in different directions. John was quite the character; we
sure enjoyed him!

My daily check @ the Newell warehouse finally proves successful: our
plasma TV is gone & on it’s way to San Diego.

I spend some time getting to know our newly purchased Garmin 2720 portable
GPS for our tow car, while Kathy visits Wal-Mart & walks outside for 45
min for exercise. During her absence, the owner of “Wiley products”
returns Kathy’s earlier call: I question him about his published "Wal-Mart
Locator" book, then place an order. Having this book will make it easier
for us to dry camp in W-M. parking lots when driving cross-country just to
make distance & not be touring. Also, I get out our L-O-N-G vacuum hose &
clean the refrigerator coils + the galley heating supply vents.

7:25 dinner: Leftover filet steak, broccoli, fried whole wheat noodles,
salad & toast.

Evening movie via satellite: “Lenny” with Dustin Hoffman, Valerie Perrine,
Jan Minor, Stanley Beck, Gary Morton etc. Powerful biography of troubled
nightclub comic Lenny Bruce, whose hip humor & scatological dialogue made
him a controversial figure in the 1950’s. 1974. Another “not for children”
but highly recommended for us adults.

High temp=63 Lights out: 11:41pm

Awake: 5:31am Temp 30 sleep 6+47 sunny overnight @ Newell campsite.

Kathy & I attend 9:00am Mass @ Sacred Heart church for All Souls Day.

My daily check @ the Newell warehouse tells me our Plasma TV was not
picked up yesterday. UGH! That’s disappointing with 2 days lost in the
shipping process. Walking back from the warehouse thru the service bay,
both Cresley & Mike (schedule coordinators), tell me our coach will be
called in for service this afternoon. Apparently some of the techs worked
overtime last night to catch up with time lost due to “lean management.”

Back in our bus, I make a 3rd phone call to Bax Global. This time, I am
transferred to the Sony TV lady (Denise), who handles the TV’s that are
shipped to San Diego for repair. Now this gal sounds like she knows the
system & will call & find out “what happened!” 20 min later, she
apologizes for their contact @ Tulsa & assures me that our Plasma will
definitely be picked up today.

Kathy camps out in the customer lounge most of the afternoon…….using the
high speed internet + kibitzing with Newell owners Mary & Rod from
Melbourne, FL.

Shortly after 1:00pm our coach is driven into bay # 18 by John. Larry, the
engine mechanic gets right after changing the pro check canister on the
Series 60 Detroit Diesel engine. About the same time, John & Tracy start
adjusting our # 2 slide. Over the years, it’s gotten a little maladjusted
& needs a tuning up. A while later, Charlie does a load test on our 6 AGM
(Absorbent Glass Mat) (house batteries); unbelievable as it is, he found
the bottom 3 AGM batteries CAPUT. I was watching as he load
tested….drawing 750 amps for 5 sec, then watching the recovery rate.
Charlie & I hustle to the warehouse to notify Bob to fork lift 3 new AGM
replacements to Bay # 18….on the double. Bob does his duty pronto while
Charley asks for help & Ron is assigned to work with the exchanging
procedure. Each AGM battery weighs 150 lbs. Luckily the AGM batteries
have a 5 yr warranty with rebate starting @ 2 yrs. I don’t understand why
our AGM’s failed so soon. The guys tell me they have had such good service
(lasting 5 yrs or more) since switching away from the lead-acid battery to
the AGM. Our coach is backed out of the service bay & re-parked in the
Newell campsite just before the quitting horn sounds for the week.

7:50 dinner: Leftover Bratwurst with Italian sauce with spaghetti squash &
mixed salad.

Evening movie: “Sling Blade” with Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, J.T.
Walsh, John Ritter, etc. Fascinating portrait of a mentally deficient man
(Thornton) sprung from prison 20 years after killing his mother & her
boyfriend; now he attempts to blend into “real life,” helped by a boy who
befriends him. Incredible controlled performance by Thornton (who also
wrote & directed) anchors this long but rewarding tale, which leads to a
somewhat inevitable finale. 1996. What more can I say….except: you don’t
want to miss it!

High temp=52 Lights out: 12:30am

Awake: 5:09am Temp 44 sleep 5+52 cloudy overnight @ Newell campsite.

K & I attend the 9:00am Mass @ Sacred Heart church for All Saints Day.
Back in our bus, I call Bax Global in Arizona & ask: what happened to our
pickup? The person I talk with doesn’t know but schedules another pickup
for today between 1:00pm & 5:00pm.

After breakfast, I walk over to the Newell office & check for any personal
mail…none. Sam & I, & later BIG John, get into a discussion that lasts for
over an hr.

Kathy spends more time using the high speed internet @ the customers lounge.

Melissa calls late afternoon: the deal is off with the Montessori lady
from Dallas. They spend time talking over the phone & ended the
conversation on good terms with the lady offering future help with her
schooling the boys @ home.

6:30 dinner: Beef & veggie stew with noodles & toast.

Evening satellite movie: “Waterdance” with Eric Stoltz, Wesley Snipes,
William Forsythe, Helen Hunt, etc. An affecting story of a young novelist
(Stoltz) who becomes paraplegic after a hiking accident & learns to adjust
in a multi-ethnic rehabilitation center. 1992. We liked this show.

High temp=54 Lights out: 10:44pm

Awake: 4:42am Temp 45 sleep 5+10 overcast overnight @ Newell

Yesterday, schedule coordinator Mike asked me for my glitch list. Early
this morning I bring it in & then he cautioned me on the possibility of us
not being invited into the service bay for work at all this week, due to
many of the techs attending the mandatory class on: “lean management.” I
let him know that we are flexible.

Later, I call Sara in Phoenix @ Bax Global: our plasma TV is ready for
pickup @ Newell.

Late morning, Garmin calls to verify our address & mentioned the GPS will
be sent out tomorrow.

Kathy spends hrs on the computer @ the customers lounge. She likes that
high speed internet.

I take a walk through the assembly & production areas of Newell. It looks
different; cleaner with wider aisles. Maybe the lean management program is

Back in our bus, I did something I rarely do: while reading some AARP
bulletins, I napped. That’ll teach me to read those boring senior citizen
kinds of publications.

Mid afternoon, Kathy makes a run to the local grocery stores: Martins &

6:35 dinner: Tuna steak with brown & wild rice, spaghetti squash in a
cheese sauce & mixed salad.

Melissa calls early evening: the deal with the Montessori lady in Dallas
may be off. The lady is very reluctant to divide up her vast collection of
learning tools + Melissa is concerned about the lady’s high prices.
Melissa will keep us posted. Meanwhile, Kevin has found a web site that
allows a return of purchase if not satisfied on these similar Montessori
learning sets.

Kathy watches “Dancing With the Stars” TV show while I do the dishes & pay
a bill on line.

Late satellite movie: “Fun with Dick & Jane” with Jane Fonda, George
Segal, Ed McMahon, etc. How does one maintain one’s lifestyle after a
sacking from a highly paid aero-space position? Segal & Fonda have a
unique solution: they steal. 1977 It kind of falls apart after a
promising start, becoming fragmented & pointless; but we watched it all
anyway. If you watch closely, you might spot a bit scene with Jay Leno.

High temp=48 Lights out: 11:17pm

Awake: 5:17am Temp 62 sleep 6+32 partly sunny & very windy
overnight @ the Newell campground.

Happy Birthday to Katrina today.

On Saturday, Kathy & I looked @ the pre-owned motorhomes in the sales lot
but couldn’t go inside as all doors were locked. Today, we took time out
from our busy schedule & walked through many of them: mostly the 2003’s &
2004’s & a few of the show coaches (2007’s). Ever since the Newell Company
developed the Caterpillar powered 625 horsepower, 10 speed transmission
motorhome, owners of the 2003 & 2004 model years are trading in their old
coaches & buying the new, most powerful motorhome ever built to this day.

After our self tour of the pre-owned coaches, Ron & Charlie walk over to
our coach in the campground, remove our front plasma TV & then take it to
the warehouse for packing & shipping to the Sony Corp. in San Diego, CA.
Sony will analyze the unit: if the problem is theirs, they will repair &
ship it back here to Newell with no charge. If it’s our fault, then they
will contact us for options.

Kathy has been making Jack O’ Lantern pops out of Rice Krispies and
marshmallows for Matthew & Andrew. While she is working on that project, I
take our Alpine GPS unit out of the front overhead compartment & then make
a call to Alpine Electronics in Long Beach, CA. In lieu of us buying a new
replacement, they will repair any problem for $105.00 & then ship the unit
back to us.

We both wrap our respective packages for shipping via FedEx today. Newell
has a daily scheduled pickup around 4:00pm so we walk over to the office &
add them to the list.

I’ve been watching ads & asking about statistics on the portable Garmin
GPS to use in our tow car. This afternoon, this subject came up while
talking to Sam @ the front office. He mentioned that the “Best Buy” store
in Joplin, MO (30) miles, was having a sale on their line of GPS’s; he
didn’t know what models. We just happen to have an hr of free time so off
we motor to Joplin. Turns out, “Best Buy” was not even close to being a
best buy when comparing their price to a site on line. However, it was a
nice drive & there were some beautiful fall tree colors to view along the

7:50 dinner: Filet steak with baked potato, some corn off the cob from
cousin Florentz’s garden & mixed salad.

Later this evening, I place my order for the Garmin GPS on line.

Later: satellite movie: “100 Men & a Girl” with Deanna Durbin, Leopold
Stokowski, Adolphe Menjou, Alice Brady etc. A superior blend of music &
comedy as Deanna pesters conductor Stokowski to give work to her
unemployed father & musician friends. 1937. This movie was great.

Today’s high=75 Lights out: 11:32pm

Awake: 6:24am Temp 47 sleep 6+24 sunny overnight @ Newell

Kathy & I start our house cleaning @ 8:30am. Due to numerous distractions
throughout the morning & afternoon; i.e. John helping Kathy with the
telescoping brush & soapy water; Russell & Dawn stopping by to chat about
motorhomes; John asking technical questions about our coach’s systems;
John volunteering to help clean up areas I hadn’t planned on; a 30 min
lunch break, etc. I finish the job “good enough” by 6:00pm. In our past
house cleaning ventures, we were able to do a good cleaning within 4 hrs.
This time however, we did a splendid job most casually & the fun overruled
the labored activity. Oh yes, Kathy took the Suzuki around back to a
shady spot & gave it a thorough cleaning as well. I was impressed!

7:30 dinner: Veal bratwurst and spaghetti squash with tomato basil sauce &
mixed salad.

Late Satellite movie: “Dead Calm” with Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman, Billy
Zane. A married couple, recovering from a family tragedy by spending some
time on their yacht @ sea, pick up a stranger who proceeds to terrorize
them. This full-blooded thriller is so skillfully acted & directed, it
enables you to gloss over its flaws… & forgive its slasher-movie-inspired
finale.1989 Not for children…..but if you do indulge, please hang onto
your seat.

High temp=78 Lights out: 10:45pm

Awake: 4:55am Temp 44 sleep 5+32 sunny overnight @ Newell
campground, Miami, Oklahoma.

Corinne calls: we both take our turn talking with her. She sounds good &
will be visiting Saint Luke’s in Maryland for about 3 days next week.
Next we call Melissa & take turns talking with her. All is well @ the
Foote home…..

K & I spend about an hr walking around & looking @ the pre-owned motor
homes in the sales lot. Since the company has been manufacturing the new
625 CAT powered motorhome with a new style front & rear cap, a lot of
trade in coaches are now available for purchase.

Back @ our bus, we watch an older (1988) & classic Newell back into the
parking site next to us; it belongs to John & Karen who have been full
timing for 23 yrs. They have a lot of experience over us so we chat for a
good while & agree to chat more at a later time.

K & I attend 5:00pm Mass @ Sacred Heart church; then do some light
shopping @ Wal-Mart afterward.

8:15 dinner: Fried chicken with turkey gravy, fried whole wheat noodles,
leftover green beans from Gary C’s garden, spinach salad & toast.

Late evening: Melissa calls with an idea. She has been talking with a lady
in Dallas, TX about Montessori educational study tools. She may want to
make a purchase from this lady & would like us to think about bringing the
items purchased back to Indiana, PA in our Suzuki for our holiday
rendezvous. We agree to giving it some serious thought.

Later evening: Gary & Grace return my call: I believe our combined
chatting was over an hr.
Today’s high=62 Lights out: 12:00 midnight

Awake 5:23am Temp 52 sleep 5+29 overcast & windy
overnight @ Newell campground, Miami, Oklahoma.

Rain began @ 8:45am. The service department, production & assembly work a
4 day, 40 hrs per week so there is little to no activity on our side of
the corporation.

I do a little paper work to renew our Suzuki tow car’s registration in
Alaska….which needs to be notarized. Lucky for us, the receptionist is a
notary & she is happy to do this. Then I volunteer to fill out an auto
mileage form to be sent to our auto insurance carrier. We also both write
a note on a birthday card we will send out to Katrina this morning to
arrive on Monday; then a quick trip to the post office where we mail out
all 3.

While Kathy does a little shopping @ the nearby Wal-Mart, I clean up the
breakfast & lunch dishes.

Before dinner, we watch the “Town Meeting” on the Opera show featuring
Bill O’Reily. It was mesmerizing & Bill did what we would call, a good

7:45 dinner: Kathy’s homemade crab cakes brown and wild rice & spinach salad.

Late evening movie via Satellite: “xx/xy.” A laid back N.Y.C. artist hooks
up with two college girls & indulges in a free-love, partying haze of sex
& drugs. Story then fast-forwards as the three reconnect, years later, as
"responsible" adults. 2003 Definitely not for children. Interesting
examination of relationships in the adult phase of this movie.

Later evening: we wanted to see how Bill O’Reilly & David Letterman
handled their 2nd discussion on Bill’s new book: ………… It was not good!
Letterman did not allow Bill to finish a sentence without interrupting
him. Dave would ask a question & not really wait for an answer.

Today’s high=66 Lights out: 11:23pm


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