February 2007 Archives

Awake: 5:53am Temp 62 sleep 5+48 sunny overnight @ Mission, TX.

Melissa Thum, daughter of Larry, returns my call @ 8:20am. I had asked the question as to why our motorhome insurance premium keeps going up each yr when we know our coach is depreciating & is not worth its original value. Several calls later, I am told by Melissa that we still have the total coach replacement coverage @ its original price + the underwriters have all raised their premiums each yr. She lets me know that I do have the choice of devaluing our coach’s worth & they would adjust our premium according or simply leave it the way it is. My choice is to keep the total replacement coverage & pay the premium.

Kathy & I do 30 min of exercise with Gilad.

Late morning, K & I take the defunct Module over to FedEx Kinko’s on N. 10th Street in McAllen & had it shipped back to HWH for credit. On our return trip, we stop @ the Broadway Hardware store & Home Depot looking for a special light bulb that’s made in Mexico. Neither store had what I am looking for.

Gary calls just as we are leaving the Home Depot; he wants our opinion on visiting Nuevo Progresso, Mexico today. We had been talking about this the last few days but the doctor visits took precedence. “Let’s do it” I say.

Back @ our motorhome, we change clothes & make sure we have the proper identification to re-enter the US when coming from Mexico. Gary volunteers to drive their rental car, but before we leave, they present us with a small gift: 15 Lindt dark chocolate, 70% cocoa, candy bars. Be still my beating heart! You see, I’ve been giving them squares of Lindt chocolate after our dinner meals & they want to be sure we don’t run out.

35 min later, Gary maneuvers the rental car into the secure lot in Progresso on the US side. Then we browse the duty free shop a little before walking over the bridge & the Rio Grande River to the town of Nuevo Progresso, Mexico. Both Kathy & I were here with my cousin Roger just last December 7th. It’s a nice town; very clean, visitor friendly & a lot of Mexican stuff to look at.

Kathy & Grace check out quite a few stores while Gary & I patiently hang outside & do some people watching. Gary is not wearing his walking shoes today; so instead of having to listen to his grumbling, we duck into a bar restaurant called Arturos & each have a Margarita with chips to help support keeping his spirits up.

We continue our walking through town with the girls occasionally disappearing into a store here & there & basically it’s up to us to keep track ….where are they now?! By chance, Kathy found a pharmacy with good prices on medicine for her & for either of us should we come down with a bug during our travels. Grace also purchased some medicine for Gary @ the right price. Also, Grace found a cute outfit for Amanda, one of their granddaughters. Now we return to that bar restaurant, Arturos for dinner around 5:30pm: the 4 of us share 2 fajita dinners with refried beans, rice & fried onion rings. Quite good we all agreed.

When exiting the restaurant, we find the streets dimly lit & all the street vendors are putting their wares away in boxes, then into their cars.

Crossing over the Rio Grande River & across the bridge back into the USA was routine; Another 35 min & we return to our campground with a quick stop @ the main hall for G & G to sign up for a blood screening program with us tomorrow.

Today’s high=80 Lights out: 11:29pm

Awake: 6:32am Temp 51 sleep 6+34 sunny & windy overnight @ Mission, TX.

K & I do 30 min of exercise with our man Gilad on Fit TV.
Late morning, Kathy & Grace go grocery shopping @ the nearby HEB store. During their absence, I clean, wrap & pack the old defunct HWH Module, getting it ready to ship back to the factory in Iowa.

Call for Larry Thum in Michigan & leave a message to return my call.

Call the Hidden Valley campground near San Antonio….checking on availability & suitability.

Grace & Gary are visiting the doctor today @ 1:30pm for results of Gary’s many tests.

@ 5:30pm, Gary & Grace visit; the doctor still doesn’t know for sure what is causing Gary’s tightening of his chest & why his high blood pressure readings. The MRI & CAT scan showed nothing. Tonight Gary will be taking another sleep apnea test @ another location in McAllen.

6:10pm dinner for 4: Stuffed red & green peppers, mixed salad & multigrain bread.

Gary couldn’t hang around much after dinner but Grace did stay & chatted with us for another 45 min before returning to their Georgie Boy motorhome just 3 sites away.

10:15 movie: “Nailed” with Harvey Keiteu, Brad Rowe, Rachel Blanchard, etc. A single father gets advice from his dad after he impregnates another woman. 2001. Slow; sad; not easy to watch.

High temp=77 Lights out: 12:05am

Awake: 7:33am Temp 45 sleep 6+04 sunny…windy overnight @ Mission, TX.

Kathy makes her special sourdough pancake breakfast this morning. It’s great!

Today @ 2:00pm, the Daytona 500 NASCAR race begins in Florida. Gary is an avid NASCAR race fan & would like to watch it on our big screen TV. So after breakfast, I search all the DirecTV channels we get + raise the antenna for local channels that might have coverage; nothing on either. Next I call DirecTV to “pay for view” for this race. They want $100.00 for the season. That would be ok for Gary I suppose but he won’t be watching the sports channel in our motorhome & that’s not our cup of tea.

We call & take turns talking with G & R in Pennsylvania. They made us feel good by telling us stories of having to shovel snow numerous times to keep their driveway open due to strong winds.

After G & G return from their church services, Gary signs up for the sports package on his small TV in their Georgie Boy motorhome asking for a full screen viewing channel. Turns out it’s a split screen called the “hot patch” & on a small TV, one doesn’t have a very good view of any activity on the (3) screens. Gary spends a good 45 min trying to negotiate a full screen with the Asian girl from the Philippines to no avail. Finally, he gets switched to a supervisor who allows him to continue watching the HOT PATCH channel & after the race, will cancel that channel contract without a penalty. It was the 1st time for K & me to watch an entire NASCAR race. Actually pretty exciting; especially when getting to witness (4) main crashes.

7:15pm dinner @ G & G’s motorhome: Salmon chowder with corn bread & carrot cake for dessert. Very good dinner with some exciting race watching times.

High temp=67 Lights out: 11:58pm

Awake: 7:14am Temp 45 sleep 6+59 sunny overnight @ Mission, TX.

30 min of exercise with Gilad this morning.

Gary & Grace have (2) sets of Walkie-Talkies, so they loan us a unit to make it easier to communicate without using our cell phone minutes. We also have a set of Talk-About’s & have used them on rare occasions.

Late morning, Gary invites me to join him in looking for an oil or fuel leak on the engine of their 1989 Georgie Boy motorhome. After about 1.5 hrs of crawling around & scrutinizing, we only found a few loose bolts on one valve cover & that slight oil leaking out was probably dripping on the exhaust manifold. After tightening the bolts, Gary revs the engine to obtain normal temp & we smell nothing but normal exhaust odors.

K & I leave @ 3:00pm for the 4:00pm Mass @ our Lady of Guadalupe. Today we take a different route & it’s shorter, so we are in church by 3:20. No problem parking or getting seating in an up-front pew. 15 min later, the church was fully packed again. After Mass, we stop @ HEB for some groceries.

6:15 dinner: Grace & Gary join us in our motorhome for Parmesan crusted Tilapia fish, brown rice pilaf, broccoli & red peppers + spinach salad. We have a nice chat session for an hr or better after dinner.

Kathy talks with Melissa in Indiana, PA. An old fashion winter is upon them & they are doing fine.

Late movie: “The Negotiator” with Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, David Morse, Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, etc. One of Chicago’s top police hostage negotiators, (Jackson) is framed for embezzling money from his union’s pension fund & has a murder pinned on him, to boot. His only chance is to take hostages & clear himself with the help of another crack negotiator (Spacey). 1998. Highly watchable, if not 100% credible. Even Kathy thought it was a “sit on the edge of your seat” kind of story.

High temp=68 Lights out: 1:29am

Awake: 5:20am Temp 37 sleep 5+44 sunny overnight @ Mission, Texas.

30 min of exercise for both of us with our man Gilad.

Kathy & Grace drive over to the Mission West campground where we spent a week about (2) weeks ago. They are browsing the arts & craft display + buying some fresh veggies from a Mexican farmer. Meanwhile Gary honored me with an invitation to go with him to find a hardware store in town. He buys a few things for his Georgie-Boy motorhome.

Early afternoon Zack calls: yes, we have another son. He’s pretty busy but hasn’t forgotten us…yet! His new phone, the Blue Tooth, must be quite sensitive though, as we could hear all the street noises in town as he walked to work. That’s right; he walked to work for the 1st time….. & reports it wasn’t so bad. Being the designated driver last night, his car stayed @ in the parking garage near his work. Zack appears to be doing just great.

About 4:20pm, Gary & Grace bring their friends Skip & Ginger over to our campsite. Skip was employed by Gary for 15 yrs & just retired January 6th when we attended both Grace & Skip’s retirement party in eastern Pennsylvania. Skip & Ginger are work camping in Alamo, TX (20 min away) this winter & living in their motorhome. We sit outside & chat until the sun sets, then move inside our motorhome for at least another hr.

Later, in two cars, we all go to dinner @ the Santa Fe Steakhouse in McAllen. An excellent dinner, terrific company & conversation; Kathy & I share a filet steak dinner and wine. We say our goodbyes to Ginger & Skip for now & plan on seeing them again before we move further north.

Late evening movie: “Diva” with Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fermandez, Frederic Andrei, Richard Bohringer, etc. Music loving mailman bootleg-tapes the concert of a superstar diva who has never made a recording, finds himself in even hotter water when his possession is mixed up with a second tape that will incriminate gangsters. 1982. French with English subtitles. I liked it but Kathy chooses not to get involved; reading in the bedroom instead.

High temp=58 Lights out: 12:15am

Awake: 6:42am Temp 43 sleep 6+46 partly sunny overnight @ Mission, TX.

K & I exercise with Gilad on Fit TV. After the ruthless workout; a sponge wipe off & getting into a different set of threads, I walk down to the campground office to let them know that we are expecting a UPS package in site “C 23.”

Grace lets us know that she is making a roast for tonight’s meal; they will grocery shop, fix the meal & then bring it over to our dinette table.

Kathy attends the 1:00pm country western jam session @ the main hall and makes a trip to the campground library where she picks up a couple Nicholas Sparks novels.

UPS delivers the HWH package to our doorstep @ 1:30pm. I waste no time in moving the wires from the old green plug over to the new 8 pin gray plug I just received. Then insert the gray plug into the appropriate gray socket of the new Module. Next, ignition on; run through a battery of tests on the leveling system & ……….it works like new. Gosh, that was fun. Again I was outside putting my tools away when Joe calls; he was tracking my package & knew when it arrived. I gave him the good news. I think he was as pleased as I to know that we are on the level again & his good troubleshooting methods were finally successful.

Joe was a great guy to work with: patient, understanding, sense of humor, very knowledgeable on the systems, etc. It was a comfortable experience except for that driving back & forth stuff @ Falcon State Park. Unfortunately for both of us, when our coach was being build, it was worked on by both the HWH guys & the Newell guys. That confused Joe & me too when we initially started the troubleshooting procedures with different wire colors. I was happy to have my new Fluke voltage, ohm, etc meter to work with.

6:20 dinner for 4: Grace’s Pot roast with potatoes & carrots and mixed salad. For dessert: fresh strawberry short cake with strawberry yogurt. Grace & Gary have to leave shortly after the meal. Gary is going to sleep @ the Sleep Apnea Clinic tonight in McAllen.

Late satellite movie: “Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio” with Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Trevor Morgan, etc. Midwestern woman raises ten kids in the 1950’s, repeatedly keeping the wolf from the door by winning slogan contests. Not a slice of rosy-hued Americana but a pointed, often heartrending look at a woman with indomitable spirit who kept her family together in spite of her loose-cannon, ne’er-do-well husband & the condescending attitude of the men around her. 2005. Great movie! Highly recommended for family & friends.

High temp=54 Lights out: 11:36pm

Awake: 7:00am Temp 48 sleep 6+45 high overcast overnight @ Mission, TX.

K & I wish each other a “Happy Valentine’s Day.” Then we do 30 min of exercise with Gilad on Fit TV.

I still haven’t received the leveling system schematic from Joe @ HWH, I give him a call. He tells me it was sent out last Tuesday. Then we talk about our old intermittent Module. Joe tells me he & the head engineer have been doing some research on our motorhome & its computer leveling system. Joe suggests that I go ahead & take the old Module out, replace it with the new one, plug everything in that I can…..turn on the ignition key & report back to him. I’ve been reluctant to swap Modules because the new Module they had sent me has a receptacle with a 12 pin plug & my old Module has an 8 pin plug. I tell Joe I’ll call him as soon as I'm finished with his instructions.

Meanwhile, Kathy drives to the nearest HEB grocery store for needed dinner supplies. While she is away, I check off my credit card charges against the statement.

About 3:15pm, Gary & Grace move their motorhome into our “C” street neighborhood; now they are only 5 sites away.

After visiting with Grace & Gary @ their new campsite, I install the new Module from HWH that has one receptacle that I can’t use. As I am putting my tools away from the job, Kathy arrives & answers a phone call; it’s Joe. He wants to know “what happened when I turned the ignition key on?” “Nothing” I told him. Both he & the engineer were delighted to hear that. Now the next step: they will ship by (UPS) a new “gray 8 pin plug” that I can use in a gray socket & a wiring diagram to change the wiring from the green plug to the gray plug. Wow! I like it.

7:30 dinner for 4: Kathy’s homemade chili, whole wheat elbow noodles & corn muffins. Gary won’t know the results of yesterday’s tests until Monday. Meanwhile, tonight he is scheduled for a sleep apnea test so they can’t hang around too long after dinner.

Late satellite movie: “Free Enterprise” with William Shatner, Rafer Weigel, Eric McCormack, etc. Long-time friends & major sci-fi movie & TV buffs McCormack & Weigel are stunned to be befriended by William Shatner. 1999. If you are a Star Trek fan, this is the movie for you. Kathy was beamed up & then beamed out.

High temp= 51 Lights out: 11:56pm

Awake: 7:20am Temp 57 sleep 6+18 fog…then sunny overnight @ Mission, TX.

K & I exercise for 30 min with Gilad.

After breakfast, I continue washing our coach while Kathy starts doing laundry. The earlier fog burned off too fast, so now I’m stuck working & sweating in the sun….for (3) hrs & 20 min to be exact. Kathy joins in the fun after she gets the laundry started & talks with Grace about their estimated arrival time into this campground. Again, we retract the slides on the passenger side to expedite our progress. It was a tough job for both of us, especially on the sunny side because the water dries so fast. In retrospect, we should have skipped the Gilad workout earlier this morning. About 3:30pm, our house looks like new again.

After a short lunch break & to keep moving, K & I gather our empty water jugs and walk to the main office where I donate some of my small change in exchange for reverse osmosis water to fill our jugs. Kathy reserves an alternate campsite closer to ours (which is to be vacated tomorrow morning) for Gary & Grace.

This morning when Kathy was talking to Grace, she estimated their arrival time to be around 6:00pm; so now Kathy is finishing up the (4) loads of laundry & cooking dinner for (4).

@ 6:10pm, Grace & Gary are nearing our campground; we hustle into our Suzuki, meet them @ the entrance gate & then lead them to the campsite we had reserved for tonight. They did make a stop in McAllen, acquired a rental car & still kept very close to their estimated schedule.

After a quick set up in their site, we spend some time inside their Georgie Boy motorhome & catch up on: “what’s happening with Gary?”

Later, Kathy invites them over to our coach for an 8:15pm dinner: Chorizo/lettuce salad with Tostitos. After some more kibitzing for an hr or better, they return to their motorhome for the night. Gary has some medical tests scheduled for 8:00am tomorrow. Kathy’s job is finished, now it’s my job to load up the dishwasher & clean up the galley.

High temp=77 Lights out: 12:15am

Awake: 7:39am Temp 58 sleep 7+24 sunny overnight @ Mission, Texas.

I call Jeff in Anchorage; I have tax questions…..he has the tax answers.

Kathy & I spend about 2.0 hrs washing & using the chamois to clean up the water spots before they dry on the driver’s side of our motorhome. This time, to make our job easier, we retracted both slides. It’s the continuation of the process to have a clean home again.

Next, I clean the air conditioner filters underneath our circular stairs. Also, I vacuum the refrigerator coils.

A surprise call from Gary J. in El Paso, Texas; Kathy handles the call. Seems Gary had some chest pain and high blood pressure and was advised by medical personnel in Chihuahua, Mexico to terminate their Mexico trip, return to the USA, and have a battery of medical tests done. After finding out that we would be in Mission for another week or longer they decide, if there is room in the campground we are in, to drive their motorhome here and stay close to us. Kathy checks with the office, finds out there are vacancies, and relays that info to Gary and Grace. They are on their way. Kathy goes to the office and reserves a campsite for them.

7:10 dinner: Leftover meatloaf, gravy, broccoli, fresh salad & toast.

Late evening Katrina calls & leaves a message: her offer on the townhouse was accepted. Congratulations are in order.

Late movie: “Crash” with Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Thandie Newton, Brendan Fraser, etc. Mediation on the clash of ethnic & racial cultures in L.A. as disparate lives intersect & ignite various characters’ simmering anger. Provocative drama has powerful vignettes & performances, offering consistently disturbing (& believable) scenes of anger & bigotry, with tiny glimmers of hope in metaphoric moments.2005. In plain language then: in lieu of hanging out in Los Angeles with the bad guys, just sit down, get comfortable, fasten your seat belt & hold on; it’s gonna be a rough ride

High temp=77 Lights out: 1:02am

Awake: 7:40am Temp 49 sleep 6+23 overcast overnight @ Mission, TX.

Kathy makes her special sourdough pancakes, eggs over easy, bacon & real maple syrup for breakfast.

I start sorting through our recently delivered mail, then going through the files in our cabinet for 2006 tax items & shredding papers no longer needed or valid. During my shredding & sorting operation, Kathy keeps in touch with her friends, 1st calling her girlfriend, Jodi, in Memphis, TN; then her friend, Nancy, in Mesa, AZ.

Later, I take my turn on the phone & call my senior aunts in Ohio. My Aunt Aggie, age 92, has retained her sharp mind & great sense of humor. She uses a walker to get around but has no fear of going outside during the winter if her bodyguards are alongside.

My Aunt Bertha, age 95, has recovered quickly from her gall bladder operation, loves to walk & also uses a walker. Her macular degeneration has crimped her style a lot but she listens to many “books on tape”, has a wonderful memory + a positive attitude.

Katrina calls late afternoon; the condo she made an offer on also had a contingency offer from another couple. Our conversation is mainly focused on that scenario. Because the present owners of the condo want a quick sale, we retain our positive feelings that Katrina will soon be a condo owner.

8:00pm dinner: Veal bratwurst, whole wheat spaghetti, broccoli, spinach salad & toast.

Melissa calls & updates us on “the Foote Family adventures.” She sounds really good and is feeling much better now that her 1st trimester is behind her.

Evening TV on the History Channel: Dangerous jobs in Alaska: Driving the Haul Road (Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay); Bush Flying; US Coast Guard Rescue Service; etc. I didn’t realize those fun jobs were so dangerous!

High temp=56 Lights out: 12:15am

Awake: 7:24am Temp 49 sleep 7+07 rain & TRW’s overnight @ Mission, TX.

30 min of exercise with Gilad; no air conditioning necessary; we didn’t turn on the heat last night.

K & I drive to the nearest Post Office & send a few valentine packages. Then we do some light grocery shopping @ the HEB store.

My sister Corinne calls from Lilly, PA. We both have a nice chat…..sharing cell phone time.
Our forwarded mail from Alaska arrives today in the campground mail room. I just about finished reading the last bunch of magazines & now, I have more.

Call my cousin Roger in Harlingen, TX. I like to keep in touch with him while we’re touring around Texas. He’s been living down here for over 30 yrs & knows more than we do about this lower valley area we are touring.

Call Kevin in Indiana, PA. I haven’t talked with him for awhile. We tried to update each other but my timing was poor; the boys were bundled up for a walking trip to the nearby grocery store; it’s winter in Indiana.

K & I attend the 4:00pm Mass @ Our Lady of Guadalupe church. This time we arrived (2) min earlier than last week….still extremely crowded but managed to find a space up close to the front. In the same pew, we meet Mary & Don P. from Monkey Island, OK. They are staying in the same campground so we agree to get together sometime next week. Father Roy must be a real country western fan; this week’s homily on St. Valentine and the meaning of Valentine’s Day was concluded with a recording of George Straight singing, “It Just Comes Natural.”

And I love you
It just comes natural
It just comes natural

Seasons change, rivers wind
Tumble weeds roll and the stars shine
Wind howls, dawn breaks
Cowboys ride and time slips away

And I love you
It just comes natural

It's what I was born to do, don't have to think it through
Baby, it's so easy lovin' you
It just comes natural

En route back to our bus, we top off the Suzuki’s fuel tank @ $1.99 per gallon.

6:45 dinner: Leftover sweet & sour pork, brown rice, corn off the cob & toast.

Late movie: “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” with Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas, Peter Lorre, etc. 19th-century scientist Lukas & sailor Douglas get involved with power-hungry Captain Nemo (Mason) who operates futuristic submarine. 1954. You got to see this one; it’s a classic!
K & I work crossword puzzles in bed.

High temp=50 Lights out: 1:17am

Awake: 7:18am Temp 68 sleep 7+21 overcast….later sunny overnight @ Mission, TX.

30 min of exercise for both of us with Gilad; we were both sweating before finishing & used the air conditioning to help keep our cool.

Katrina calls: she has a few delicate questions of how to handle the 1st offer & how much to pay on closing costs.

Early afternoon, we drive to the town of Pharr, TX (9 miles) & tour the Smitty Jukebox Museum. Lots of early machines, starting around 1928 & featuring the years through to the present time; I take pictures. The building was large but less than ½ was utilized for the displayed Jukeboxes, the rest of the building was (we were told) storage for more classic jukebox machines.

In the same town, about 5 min away, we tour a clock museum. The father, Jim, started collecting clocks from around the world in 1964, then his son Gene, became interested & started repairing clocks. Gene became so good @ repairing all kinds of clocks that his reputation, “he can fix any kind of clock made” still stands. We enjoyed talking about & taking pictures of these many different styles & types of clocks that Gene even invited us to tour his repair shop. Now that was the most interesting part of the tour for me.

Next, we visit the Wal-Mart just down the road from Pharr. While Kathy browses & grocery shops, I decide to buy & install a new battery for our Suzuki. Our original battery, nearly 7 yrs of age, is fine; but it's rare to get that much life from a battery. Manager Roy of the repair facility tells me that if I leave my driver’s license with him, he’ll let me borrow a 10 mm socket & wrench to take out the old battery & then install the new one. Our car is parked in the shade to avoid the sun, so I take off my shirt & 25 min later, we have a new battery for our Suzuki & I get my drivers license back. I didn't want to wait the (2) hrs they estimated for then to install the battery.

7:20 dinner: Tilapia fish, corn off the cob from my cousin Florentz, leftover creamy pasta with cauliflower & broccoli, mixed salad+ toast.

Double feature night: “A Walk in the Clouds” with Keanu Reeves, Aitana Sanchez-Gijon, Anthony Quinn, Giancarlo, Giannini, etc. A young man just back from WWII overseas duty helps out a beautiful woman by pretending to be her husband, in order to smooth over the expected fireworks when her father learns she’s pregnant. Of course, he not only falls in love with her but with her family & the idyllic Napa Valley homestead. Blatantly old-fashion & romantic. 1995. Try & ignore how rapid the vineyard fire spreads throughout the valley….& you’ll love it.

Movie # 2: “Casanova” with Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Oliver Platt, Lena Olin, Omid Djalili, etc. The amorous bed-hopping lover of 18th-century Venice meets his match in a beautiful, headstrong woman, a protofeminist who is determined to resist his advances. Fresh, funny, sexy & smart. 2005. Not for children but highly recommended for us adults.

High temp=79 Lights out: 12:17am

Awake: 7:14am Temp 63 sleep 7+10 mostly sunny overnight@ Mission, TX.

K & I exercise for 30 min with Gilad on Fit TV.

After breakfast, I gather my house cleaning equipment: 20 ft hose; telescoping brush; Windex surface sprayer & Windex, climb the ladder & it’s time to clean house. About (2) hrs later, I am finished with the roof. Enough for today; the sun is strong & the temp is rising.

Sometime early afternoon, Kathy asks me: "is our leveling system working OK now?" "Sure" I tell her. "I fixed it on Monday. In fact, I'll give you a demonstration." Well, it failed the demonstration. Then I remembered Joe's words: It could be an intermittent problem. Now the leveling system has my attention again. Back to the Module, I take some voltage readings, move the plugs in & out & it's working once more. Then I demonstrate to Kathy that, yes, it is working. Joe told me he will send that schematic & I am looking forward to having more information on that system.

Mid afternoon, K & I take (4) quarters & (4) empty gallon jugs, walk to the office & fill our jugs with “reverse osmosis” water from their machine. We have found the well water, city water, etc not comfortable for us to drink in the mid & southern regions of Texas; too much sodium chloride. So in lieu of using up all our drinking water from Nicktown, we choose to pay the 25 cents per gallon & drink the reverse osmosis water. It actually tastes okey.

7:00pm dinner: Meat loaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad & toast.

Larry calls from San Diego; I had to announce a change of plans for our rendezvous in June due to Melissa’s pregnancy & delivery due date in late July/early August.

Evening movie: “Tender Mercies” with Robert Duvall, Tess Harper, Allan Hubbard, Betty Buckley, etc. A winning but extremely low-key film about a country singer who finds the inspiration to put his life back together when he meets an attractive young widow & her little boy. 1983. Casual, slow but still an OK flick.

High temp=77 Lights out: 11:57pm

Awake: 7:21am Temp 61 sleep 6+48 sunny overnight @ Mission, Texas.

Talk with Gary & Grace J. They are in position @ Las Cruces, New Mexico & ready to Caravan to Mexico & then, do the Copper Canyon piggyback train tour + thru Mexico.

15 min exercise for me; 30 min for Kathy with Gilad.

Later morning, I talk with Katrina about bargaining on closing costs & having a condo inspection done with details of sharing/not sharing the costs with the seller if something needs repaired. Plus encourage more understanding of how the system works from her realtor.

@ 1:30pm, we drive to the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (3) miles & spend the next (3+hrs) watching & taking photos of rare birds. This state park has been the best yet for birding. The park rangers had just loaded the bird feeders with grain, etc; it was easy to sit on benches & enjoy the activity. With some extra help from our bird book & the park rangers, we identified: a Plain Chachalaca; a Green Jay; a Great Kiskadee; a Golden Fronted Woodpecker; & a Western Screech Owl. We would never have spotted that Owl if it hadn’t been for another birder who by accident, saw it & passed the Owl’s hangout to us.

6:40 dinner: Sweet & sour pork stir fry, brown rice, & toast.

Mid evening movie: “Freeway” with Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Brook Shields, Wolfgang Bodison, Dan Hedaya, etc. A corrosive modern version of “Little Red Riding Hood” in which a teenage girl, on her way to grandma’s, hitchhikes a ride with a psychotic child psychiatrist (Sutherland). Extremely violent satire is bolstered by Witherspoon’s one-of-a-kind lethal Lolita performance. 1996. Definitely not for children or the faint of heart.

Later night reading in bed.

High temp=77 Lights out: 12:04am

Awake: 7:05am Temp 51 sleep 7+44 sunny overnight @ Mission, Texas.

15 min of exercise for me with Gilad, 30 min for Kathy; my cousin Florentz called from PA. He gives an updated report on his geothermal heating & cooling system. @ 6 degrees above zero, his unit cycles on for 15 min every hr. He also reports on the funeral Mass & luncheon for his brother, Vince.

It’s a casual day for both of us; I finish reading another magazine. Kathy is also reading some of the magazines that I’ve finished.

Mid afternoon, we do some light grocery shopping @ a nearby Wal-Mart.

6:30 dinner: Leftover stuffed pepper….a small portion only because we plan on having popcorn with our feature film movie tonight.

While I wash the dishes, Kathy talks with Katrina in Denver; she has found a townhouse in the South Park area of Littleton that she loves & is getting ready to make an offer on it. After talking with Katrina, Kathy spends time on the computer locating the write up and pictures of the townhouse; looks and sounds great!

Late movie: “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” with Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York, Red Buttons, etc. 1930 marathon dance becomes microcosm of life, with myriad of subplot, character’s lives intertwining. Fonda is self-destructive girl who attracts aimless Sarrazin with tragic results. 1969. Fascinating story. We had no idea these marathon dances which were popular during the roaring twenties were as brutal or went on for as long as shown. Not for the weak of heart!

High temp=72 Lights out: 12:33am

Awake: 6:51am Temp 58 sleep 6+18 mostly cloudy overnight @ Mission, TX.

After breakfast, I decide to get the leveling system working. We have a nice campsite; the coach is parked on heavy gravel, the day is good for working outside & we have a new replacement Module, so let’s get started.

Before I begin however, I have a question for Joe @ HWH. The Module they sent has a sheet with some info that has me confused. Joe tells me they shouldn’t have enclosed that sheet….”just disregard it” he says. Good! I was hoping he would say that.

About 20 min into my project of taking the old Module apart & removing it from it’s cabinet, for some wild reason, I felt like hooking up all the plugs again just for one last check; I do that; turn on the ignition & DARN, if the thing doesn’t work normal again. All the driving down the road to make phone calls & filling up the radiator; waiting for callbacks, etc. Now this happens.

Another call to Joe; he puts me through the 3rd degree: did you check for loose wires; a bad ground; recheck voltage readings, etc. He cautions me that this could be an intermittent problem. “Just hang onto the new Module for a week or so just in case the problem reoccurs” he says. I agree. He is going to mail me a schematic of our leveling system so I can, hopefully, do some of my own troubleshooting in the future.

Next, Kathy signs us up, not for (1) week, but for (2) weeks @ this Bentsen Grove Resort. Then she joins a beginners line dance class for (2) hrs.

I make a phone call & sign us up for (3) more yrs with the “Good Sam RV Club.”

6:40 dinner: Whole wheat Italian spaghetti, broccoli, spinach salad + toast.

Tonight’s movie: “Maltese Falcon” with Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, etc. Outstanding detective story; in a maze of double crosses & back stabbing, Bogart fights to get hold of a black bird, “the stuff that dreams are made of.” 1941. I could tell more but, not wanting to give a clue, you’ll have to see it for yourself!

High temp=67 Lights out: 11:21pm

Awake: 7:07am Temp 52 sleep 6+30 overcast overnight @ Mission, Texas.

After breakfast, we prepare our coach for travel. This campground has been great; lots of activities, interesting people, it’s close to the freeway & has a very decent weekly rate. Why are we moving just ¾ of a mile then, you ask? Well, our coach is sinking into the earth & we are uncomfortable with the threat of rain. Since our arrival last Sunday, our tires have already sunk down into the sod 5 to 6 inches. Anyway, it’ll be good to be on terra firma.

We are ready to move out now (10:30am) but our neighbor’s truck is blocking our turnout. They are attending a devotion service here in the main hall & should be back within the hr. When they do return, we have a nice chat with Jim & Mary Ellen, farmers from Ohio spending their 1st winter down here in the Rio Grande Valley.

I ask Kathy to walk alongside of our bus when I pull out to watch our clearance between the bushes & the electrical pole. We leave the Mission West RV Park @ 12:00 noon. Kathy follows behind me in the Suzuki to our next campground.

It took us about 30 min total to move ourselves to the Bentsen Grove Resort, including parking & running (4) slides out. I think we’re going to like it here. We thought the Mission West RV Campground was large with 340 sites; this place is like a small city having 850 sites. Now at last, we both feel better having our coach sitting on good level gravel with less thoughts of sinking into the earth.

7:00pm dinner: Leftover lemon poppy chicken & leftover beef stroganoff.

Later we share phone talk time with Nick in Seattle. Jerry is still adjusting to Pacific Time, depriving Nick of some needed sleep very early in the morning. He’s a busy boy, crawling all over the condo and beginning to pull himself up on furniture. Eriko is now reading & recording in Japanese once a week for a company in Seattle, singing with the coral group once a week & meeting with her (mom & babies) group once a week.

Evening movie: “Cinema Provisio” with Philippe Noiret, Jacques Perrin, Salvatore Cascio, etc. A young boy is mesmerized by the movie theater in his small Italian town (in the years following WWII), & pursues a friendship with its crusty but warm-hearted projectionist. 1988. English subtitles. We both enjoyed this story a lot. It was shortened from the original in 1989 & won the Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Later, we share talk time with Katrina: she is getting serious about buying a townhouse. She & a realtor looked @ a few townhouses in the town of Littleton, CO. today.

High temp=64 Lights out: 12:33am

Awake: 6:20am Temp 47 sleep 7+19 overcast overnight @ Mission, Texas.

8:10am: my brother calls to report that our 94 yr old Aunt Bertha has successfully survived Gall Blather surgery & is doing fine. He also reports on our 1st cousin Vince’s wake, funeral & luncheon activities in Northern Cambria & Nicktown.

Late morning, K & I drive the Suzuki over to the Bentsen Grove Resort (3/4 mile) to check on their campsites & vacancy. The sites are asphalt or gravel & they have (7) available today. We drive around looking @ the 7 sites, then return to the office & sign up for a week, starting tomorrow.

We leave early for 4:00pm Mass @ Our Lady of Guadalupe church. Kathy was doing a little grumbling along the way because we were going to be so early for Mass; then we see cars everywhere. We barely found a reputable parking spot that our little Suzuki could squeeze into. Walking toward the entrance of the church, we see a happy bride & her bridesmaids; aha, that’s why all the automobiles.

Not so fast partner! Time now: 3:35 & Mass is @ 4:00. We entered the church & that lower floor was filled to capacity…..standing room only. We couldn’t believe it! A nearby usher hinted to us that there are (2) empty chairs left upstairs. Up we go.

The usher was right; the upstairs was also filled to capacity, along with the choir & musicians. The fellow I sat next to told me that this Mass is always crowded. You have to come @ least 30 min early to get a seat. Do you know: this was the 1st time in yrs that I didn’t get into trouble for being too early?

This church is certainly different than the Basilica; it is small and old. Some unique things about this church: the priest has a real liking for dogs, his black lab accompanied him as he processed up the aisle to the altar where there are (2) statues of dogs, one at the foot of the altar and the other on the altar; the church was still decorated for Christmas, their tradition, decorations come down after Candelas day which is today. This is also the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple; while the Gospel was being read, members of the congregation, in costume, acted it out, portraying the people in the story. The priest kept his homily short focusing on “sowin’ love” as we share, celebrate, nourish and invigorate our lives together. He ended his homily by playing a recording of the country western song, “Sowin’ Love” by Paul Overstreet. I had never heard this song & for those who don’t know it here are some of the lyrics: I used to love to walk behind my Daddy
As he plowed our garden every spring
My little bare feet in the dirt would make me happy
As talked about what her harvest time would bring

He'd say "Son this whole world is like a garden,
and what you saw you're surely gonna reap
where bitter seeds are planted, hearts will harden
but a caring hand will make the harvest sweet"

CHORUS: He was sowin' love...for the family
He was sowin' love...he took a little extra time
Looking forward to a bountiful harvest
Like a good father does...he was sowin' love

How I used to love to sit and watch my Mama
Workin' with her needle and her thread
So patiently she'd listen to our problems
And we knew she heard every word we said

She'd say "Children this old world is full of scratches
and in your life you're bound to have a few
I guess that's why the good Lord gave us patches
so we could start each day out feeling new"

6:30 dinner: Filled peppers.

Late satellite movie: “In the Bedroom” with Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Stahl, Marisa Tomei, etc. An avuncular small-town Maine doctor & his wife, who teaches music in the local school, don’t approve of the “older” woman their son has fallen in love with……but no one is prepared for the events that then unfold. 2001. Starts out a little slow but hang in there for the surprising twist for the finish.

High temp=63 Lights out:12:37am

Awake: 4:51am Temp 49 sleep 5+33 overcast overnight @ Mission, Texas.

A Kathy muffin + (4) of my magazines & I am on my way to let the guys @ Payne Suzuki fix up our tow car. I hand the keys over to Fonzy @ 7:40am; then let him know that I’ll just hang out near the customers lounge, read my magazines & wait for the work to be finished. He did offer me a ride back to the campground but I didn’t want to take advantage since I’ve already accepted two trips this week.

Loosely, I figure they should finish up around noon time in spite of my adding a few more items to do besides the radiator replacement: new fan belt & timing belt; oil & filter change; new spark plugs; in addition to fixing the tire with a nail, rotate the tires; pressure wash the engine; & a new rear wiper blade.

Where I was sitting & reading, I could easily see our Suzuki in the shop being lifted up & down on the hydraulic lift according to the work being preformed. My magazines were interesting so time went quickly. Around noon, many of the workers were leaving & then returning with plates of food from somewhere. Only then did I remember my itsy-bitsy breakfast. Only 3 feet away from my chair sat a commercial popcorn machine; I wait patiently for the right moment.

Lunchtime was over & it was obvious that our Suzuki had not been raised & lowered for sometime; so when Fonzy walked through the customers’ area, I had to ask: “how goes the Suzuki progress?” “Not good Mr. Kirsch” he says. “They sent the wrong radiator from California.” Fonzy was very apologetic & explained that the guys were busy searching the local area now for a new radiator. He seemed confident that they will do the right thing to take care of us. He also offered to have someone drive me to a café for lunch. Ahaa, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for: “Fonzy, does the popcorn machine work & if it does, could you just make a batch & I’ll be ok with that.”

Not only was I OK with that, but I had 5 or 6 bags of that good popcorn, finished (3) of my (4) magazines; read the local newspaper; worked ½ of a crossword &…… those guys didn’t get finished with our Suzuki until 5:15 in the afternoon. I didn’t bug them; I didn’t pace the floor & I kept my cool. I think they appreciated that because: they were embarrassed over getting the wrong radiator & taking all day for the repair job.

When I was introduced to the bill, the original estimate for the radiator & labor was several hundred dollars less, no charge for the tire rotation, no charge for the pressure wash on our engine & the belts + spark plugs were some 20% lower in price. There is a 12 month guarantee on their parts & labor. I thanked Fonzy & Steve for their good work & slowly pulled away onto the service road leading to the US 83 freeway back to our home on wheels. The engine compartment really does look terrific.

Oh by the way, Fonzy’s eye surgery went very well. He was tired of wearing glasses or contacts, saved up some money & had it done on Wednesday. (2) days later, he’s back to work & he says its great not having to wear glasses/contacts & his sight is better than ever.

Kathy had a whole day to herself. She tells me she exercised with “Gilad,” made a batch of Kathy muffins and homemade crab cakes. She also bought some very good fruits and veggies from a Mexican farmer who brings his wares to the campground every Friday & attended a wonderful quilt show at the large hall (quilts made by camping women in their RVs). In addition, she did some house cleaning, a little e-mailing, and some reading.

7:20 dinner: Homemade crab cakes, baked potato, corn on the cob & a spinach salad.

Late evening satellite movie: “Jackknife” with Robert De Niro, Ed Harris, Kathy Baker, Charles Dutton, etc. A Simple & involving story of a Vietnam vet (De Niro) who looks up an old Army buddy (Harris) & tries to get him to face up to his repressed memories of Nam, & their mutual best friend who died there. 1989. Not too shabby.

High temp=? Lights out: 10:18pm

Awake: 6:17am Temp 55 sleep 5+53 overcast overnight @ Mission, Texas.

After a good cereal breakfast of (Basic 4; Spoon size Shredded Wheat with Bran, Cherrios + frozen blueberries, frozen strawberries & mixed with Dannon La Cream raspberry yogurt + milk, I go outside & top off the Suzuki’s radiator & we drive south (12) miles to Hidalgo, Texas. We park in a secure lot on the Texas side & then visit a few duty free stores that are very close to the Mexican border. After looking over some tempting low cost items, we walk across & over the Rio Grande River & bridge into Reynosa, Mexico.

The city is old & appears not to be a destination stop for US folks; sidewalks & stores were void of street vendors trying to sell their wares and there was very, very little activity everywhere we walked. A majority of the buildings we saw were desperately in need of restoration or renovation. We checked 5 or 6 pharmacies for competitive pricing on some medicine that Kathy uses that would require a prescription in the USA.

Mid afternoon, the clouds dissipated, the sun exposed itself & the afternoon was beautiful for our casual walking around town. After some 2 hrs of sauntering around town, we cross over the Rio Grande River & back to the USA.

Back in our Suzuki, Fonzy had left a message that our radiator has arrived from California; so we can bring our car in for repair anytime. I return Fonzy’s call to let him know I’ll bring in the Suzuki tomorrow approx 7:30am.

En route to our motorhome, we do some light grocery shopping @ a HEB store close to our campground. We also spot a Catholic church to attend on Saturday; this time with English spoken.

A box from UPS was waiting by our motorhome when we returned. The box is from HWH & contains a new Module for the rear section of our leveling system.

7:45 dinner: Lemon poppy seed chicken, whole wheat noodles & spinach salad with toast.

Tonight’s TV: The History Channel; a documentary on George Washington Carver.

High temp=? Lights out: 10:18pm

Awake: 6:14am Temp 50 sleep 6+02 overcast overnight @ Mission, Texas.

We exercise with David, then Gilad on Fit TV for (1) good hr; not counting commercials.

I call the Payne Suzuki dealership & talk with Bart, a service manager. Fonzy is recuperating from his eye surgery. I ask Bart about us using our Suzuki until the parts arrive from the West Coast. Bart says he needs to talk with Rubin, our temporary service manager, about this request. I wait about (2) hrs, then call Rubin who informs me that they are sending George (a driver) to our campground for a pickup. @ the dealership, I give the paymaster $100.00 in good faith for parts on order. Mechanic/supervisor Steve gets our Suzuki topped off with water & we are good to go; we found what we needed @ Wal-Mart, then its back to our campground for the day.

7:30 dinner: Tuna steak with brown rice mixed with Gary C’s homegrown green beans, mixed salad & toast.

We both share some computer time during early evening.

Late evening movie: “The Mating Season” with Gene Tierney, John Lund, Miriam Hopkins, Thelma Ritter, etc. Hardworking Lund marries socialite Tierney, suffers embarrassment when his plain-talking mother (Ritter) comes to town & is mistaken for a servant. 1951. Its good entertainment. Watch it with popcorn. We finish the day by reading in bed.

High temp=60 Lights out: 12:24am

Awake: 6:53am Temp 56 sleep 7+00 cloudy overnight @ Mission, Texas.

K & I exercise for 30 min with Gilad on Fit TV.

After breakfast, I call Fonzy, my service advisor @ the Payne dealership in Mission. The receptionist informs me that Fonzy is having eye surgery today. “I’ll call tomorrow” I tell her.

When we grocery shopped @ HEB on Sunday night after Mass @ the Basilica, we skipped the Wal-Mart stop because of the late hr, but Kathy still had a number of things on her food list yet unfulfilled. Hmm, this requires having our car returned if they haven’t started working on it yet.

Meanwhile, K takes her turn on our computer while I begin reading yet another magazine. Then during my turn on the computer, she continues reading her Bible & then, a novel.

6:40 dinner: Pork Chops, leftover creamy pasta with broccoli & cauliflower, a spinach salad & toast.

We watch the O’Reilly Factor on TV. Later, we share talk time with Katrina. She is getting more serious about hunting for a condo/townhouse to buy.

Still later, on Satellite, watch the movie: “Shane” with Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, (Walter) Jack Palance, etc. A former gunfighter Ladd, comes to the defense of a homersteader & is idolized by their son. Palance is unforgettable in the role of creepy hired gunslinger. 1951. Good story but unless you are a western fan, it tends to be slow.

High temp=59 Lights out: 12:12am

Awake: 5:51am Temp 45 sleep 5+26 mostly cloudy overnight @ Mission, TX.

After a quick Kathy muffin for breakfast, I call the local Suzuki service department & talk with a fellow by the name of “Fonzy.” After I explain my car problem, he asks if I can bring our Suzuki over this morning to have a look. “I am on my way” I tell him.

Fonzy looked the engine & radiator over & then assigned the mechanic/supervisor Steve, to give it an in-depth looking over & to report back as to what all might have to be repaired.

While mechanic Steve is doing some further investigating, I make a call to Sprint & talk with a lady by the name of Dee about our cell phone account. Of all the Sprint people that I’ve spoken with over the last month, this young lady was the most logical & effective person I have dealt with yet. In no time @ all, she had cleared up the confusion of (2) extra charges on my account that popped up out of nowhere. Then another surprise: she wanted to know if I would let her help set up our Sprint mobile Broadband Air Card for our computer. I ask her if she has done this before. “No” she says, “but I learn fast.” “You got a deal” I tell her. She asks if I can be on my computer @ 3:00pm this afternoon. “Yes.” “I’ll call your number this afternoon @ 3:00 then Monte.” Nice of her.

Fonzy invites me to visit Steve for a repair talk. “The radiator cannot be fixed” Steve reports. “The end caps are plastic & according to the radiator shops around town, once you bend those tabs out for the repair, then bend them back in for the fix, the tabs weaken & are unreliable & we can’t guarantee it.” More discussion ensues relating to other preventive maintenance that should be preformed with the mileage we have on the car. We also discuss how long it’ll take for the radiator to arrive & then I ask for a courtesy ride back to our campground & leave the Suzuki @ their repair facility.

Kathy has brunch ready for both of us when I return. She exercised with Gilad this morning & has signed up to play “bean bag baseball” with a local group this afternoon.

During her absence, I give Joe a call @ HWH. We discuss the non-working leveling Module & how to approach the fix. He offers (3) options; I choose to have them send a new replacement & then, if that solves the problem, return the failed Module back to them.

About 3:10pm Dee calls from Sprint; together we set up the mobile Broadband Air Card on our computer. She wasn’t kidding; this was the 1st time she participated in this field of technical science & she did well. I also read the instruction manual several times before she called & I think that helped us both. In my eyes, she is an exceptional, thoughtful worker for the Sprint organization. 20 min later, our computer joined “life in the fast lane” for a wireless connection.

7:35 dinner: @ the Main Hall in our campground: juicy 1/3 lb hamburger with fried onions, lettuce, tomato & regular onions. It was quite good. Actually, we went to the hall about 6:30 but had to wait for about an hour for our food to be cooked as the hall was very crowded; they had served some 500 + hamburgers (they began serving at 4:00). Most people remained after eating to enjoy the jam session that started @ 7:00pm & probably lasted till 10:00pm or later. K & I hung around until 8:30 & then returned to our MH where we shared our new fast speed broadband Internet connection in the comfort of our living room.

High temp=62 Lights out: 11:53pm

Awake: 7:04am Temp 48 sleep 6+50 sunny overnight @ Falcon, Texas.

Kathy makes her famous sourdough pancakes with eggs over easy, bacon & real maple syrup. I love this meal.
After breakfast, we retract our slides…..so glad I found that weak fuse; then leave the Falcon State Campground @ 10:35am.

It’s a beautiful day for travel. We continue following US 83 to Mission, TX & arrive @ the Mission West RV Park @ 12:25pm. This place is BIG…..some 340 larger than normal campsites. Unfortunately most of their campsites are on “grass” & with only 3 campsites available, we have little choice.

Today’s travel: 1+51 time 76 miles 8.9 gal used 8.52 mpg 42 avg speed.

Our host directed us & helped with my backing into site # 9. Just parking onto the grass left a 4to 5 inch deep track trail. We must be very diligent in watching the weather during our visit. A couple who have been staying in this park for over a month told us that just recently, a rather large motorhome had to be towed out of it’s parking site because it got stuck on the grass. Anyway, here we are.

We have great cell phone & computer coverage in this campground. Shortly after lunch, Melissa calls; while Kathy talks, I use Lady Garmin to locate Catholic churches & the distance they are from this campground. Then walk over to the Phone Room, look up phone #’s in the 3 cities of Mission, McAllen, & Pharr, & then call to find out what time Mass is tonight & is it in English or Spanish. Also in the Phone Room, a lady was using her computer & told me about the wonderful Mass she attended about a month ago @ the Basilica of our Lady of San Juan in the town of San Juan, TX. I asked Kathy to call & confirm that the Basilica Mass would be in English. She reported that it was going to be Bilingual.

When I checked the distance of this Basilica, it was the farthest away of all of our selections. A funnel & 3 gallons of water should be plenty to handle a radiator leak going about 16 miles. Lady Garmin showed us the way…. but the computer lady told me “you can’t miss it, it’s so huge!” She was so right; we saw it easily from the freeway. The parking lot reminded me of maybe 2 or 3 Wal-Mart parking lots. We learned that the main building seats over 1800 people; it was just about full to capacity for this Mass.

The church was begun in 1949 by the Oblate missionaries, who realizing the devotion of the Mexican people to Mary, granted their request for a statue of Our Lady of San Juan to be placed in the church. Their great devotion dated back to 1623 when thru Mary’s intercession, a young girl was brought back to life. As the number of pilgrims coming to this small church increased, it was decided to build a shrine to the Virgen de San Juan. The shrine was destroyed when a pilot intentionally flew his plane into it and the entire building burned, but the statue of the Virgin was rescued from the flames completely intact. For the next 10 years pilgrims kept coming to venerate the statue; in April, 1980 their dream of a new shrine, spacious and modern, was realized. It was designated a National Shrine in 1998 and honored as a Basilica in 1999, giving it it’s present name of, “Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle National Shrine.”

The Bilingual part of the Mass was recognized when the Mariachi group sang (one) song in English; otherwise, the Mass and all singing was in Spanish. The Mariachi group consisting of a piano, 3 trumpets, 4 violins, 5 guitars, 1 Mexican harp and one special guitar plus singers. The music was upbeat and melodious. Kathy was enthralled; I liked it a lot but found it somewhat distracting during a Mass. It also gave Kathy a chance to practice her Spanish.

After Mass, I topped off the Suzuki’s radiator which surprisingly didn’t use as much water as I expected…..probably an angel held its finger on the leaking area during Mass. Then we did some much needed grocery shopping @ the nearby HEB PLUS store before returning to our motorhome.

Dinner: Healthy snacks (cheese, mixed nuts & cereal) while watching the movie: “He walked by Night” with Richard Basehart, Scott Brady, Jack Webb, etc. Basehart is superb in this documentary-style drama as a killer stalked by methodical policemen. This gem inspired Jack Webb to create Dragnet, which was one weekly show we were allowed to watch on the farm. 1948; it’s a classic. Don’t miss it!

High temp=60 elevation 134 ft Lights out: 12:25am

Awake: 6:06am Temp 53 sleep 5+59 periods of sunshine overnight @ Falcon, TX.

K & I exercise 30 min with Gilad on Fit TV.

I drive to Park Headquarters & make numerous cell phone calls checking on campgrounds in the Mission, TX area. Our # 1 priority is getting our Suzuki roadworthy; 2nd priority: getting our leveling system back in business.

During my jaw exercising routine, Kathy does (4) loads of laundry.

Mid afternoon, we walk 30 + min around a section of the park searching for different species of birds. Again, we can hear them singing away but difficult to see them.
Before reentering our coach, our near neighbor, Bob & his wife, Viv, invite us to watch them fold up their new row boat called: Porta-Bote. The maximum capacity is (3) persons or 485 lbs. An ingenious idea; it advertises being folded up in 15 min & they proved that to us. I couldn’t help noticing from inside our motorhome that they were still storing other parts of that row boat: seats, oars, misc items, etc, an hr later (in all fairness tho, they had spent some time talking with another camping couple). The boat itself was slipped into a canvas sack & looked like a surf board when the process was finished. Then they tied it down on the roof of their motorhome.

My sister, Mary Jo, calls from Lodi, CA & I was able to talk inside our motorhome for 20 some minutes. At the moment, the sky is clear; perhaps that is allowing those cell signals to travel a little further. I will say though, holding the cell phone in one critical spot in the front passenger seat was essential to staying connected.

Since we ate a late lunch & took a walk in the park, our dinner tonight consisted of healthy snacks of cheese and popcorn while watching a double feature movie.

# 1 movie: “Manchurian Candidate” with Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury, Henry Silva, etc. A tingling political paranoia thriller about strange aftermath of a Korean war hero’s decoration & his mother’s machinations to promote her Joseph McCarthy-like husband’s career. 1962. Without a doubt, this story is eerie & definitely a thriller. Do find a seatbelt for your easy chair.

# 2 movie: “The Spy who came in from the Cold” with Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner, Peter Van Eyck, George Voskovec, etc. A potent account of a Cold War spy’s existence---minus glamorous trappings of movie cliché. 1965. Another thriller…but unless you have some FBI, CIA or spy experience, you might seriously consider watching this flick twice!

High temp=71 Lights out: 12:14am


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