April 2007 Archives

Awake: 6:10am Temp 53 sleep 5+48 sunny overnight @ West Memphis, AR.

Kathy talks with Melissa in PA. Husband Kevin is setting up a computer room in their library. For (2) yrs now their computer room…..so-to-speak, was a small desk in their kitchen.

Mid morning, I spend 55 min cutting Kathy’s hair. With mirrors & patience, she declares it to be “one of her best haircuts yet.” She then cuts my hair in 15 min. It’s amazing how fast she does that. She says “it’s amazing how little hair you have to cut!” Not nice!

I call the campground & extend our stay until Friday. Then Kathy calls Mary Ann & Bob in East Memphis & sets up a rendezvous for later this week.

Next we drive to Saint Paul’s Church in Memphis, where we attend the 7:00pm wedding Mass & ceremony of Adrienne & Kevin L. Adrienne is the daughter of P.D. & Jodi, Kathy’s very good friend of many years, going back to when they were raising little babies, now grown up, wonderful adults.

The beautiful altar and church pews were decorated with baby’s breath and bows by Jodi and her 2 sisters. Matthew and Tim, Adrienne’s brothers, warmly greeted us and ushered us to our seat. Adrienne’s cousin’s beautiful voice filled the church several times before and during the Mass. The mothers were seated to the song “Sunrise, Sunset” a cause of contemplation for Kathy. The 5 bridesmaids wore long black dresses and carried simple bouquets of 2 white Calla lilies. An interesting twist for us; a bagpiper, playing “Endearing Young Charms” preceded Adrienne and PD as he ushered her down the aisle. Of course, the bride, also carrying 2 white Calla lilies, was beautiful in her long white, off the shoulder gown and long veil. Weddings are such happy occasions!

The wedding reception was held at “The Vine” in midtown, a 2 story building which accommodated the 350 guests & a DJ for dancing. The food, served buffet style, was delicious. Again, Jodi and her sisters decorated the hall with roses and baby’s breath; Jodi made the tablecloths, table skirts, centerpieces, and a few hundred Biscotti. We just happened to sit with Kenny, a postal worker with PD & his wife, Gail, so PD visited our table several times. Jodi, hostess to so many guests, was understandably unable to spend the time together with Kathy that they would have liked. It was a treat, however, getting reacquainted with Jodi’s and PD’s sisters. We did get to spend a few minutes with Adrienne and Kevin, but only a few; and Kathy & I did manage to squeeze in a few slow dances before the young girls monopolized the dance floor. It was a busy, loud, crowded & fun celebration of their marriage.

By a mere coincidence, we returned to our campground nearly the same time as the night before, about 11:25pm.

High temp=no reading Lights out: 11:55pm

Awake: 6:45am Temp 52 sleep 6+56 sunny overnight @ Hazen, Arkansas.

We both slept very well in our Murphy bed last night. We like it! After the bed is made in the morning, I fold it back into the wall & we have another place that can be a social room, play room or another TV room.

Kathy calls X-M radio & cancels our contract; our new system Pioneer, uses the Sirius Company for satellite radio.

Leave the “T- Rick’s” small campground in Hazen, AR @ 11:55am. A cornering headwind persists in shrinking our fuel mileage along the way. So far, the I-40 highway has been 77 % smooth.

We arrive @ the Tom Sawyer RV Park @ 2:40pm in West Memphis, Arkansas.

Today’s travel: 2+45 time 91 miles 14.7 gal used 6.2 mpg 33 avg speed.

This campground is on 80 acres, is very secluded from town, & has a wonderful view of the mighty Mississippi with very active & long barge traffic. Also it’s only (10) miles from downtown Memphis, TN.

Another perk: free laundry facilities. Kathy wastes no time in getting the big stuff into those big washing machines and dryers.

I make a cell phone call for my “still flying buddy,” Jack S. in Memphis. Trish tells me he flew his Bonanza plane to Missouri today, left it there for maintenance, & is driving a rental car back later tonight. We were planning on having some of those famous dry ribs from Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous restaurant downtown with them but we can’t wait.

The BBQ dry ribs are still my favorite; the place has been a favorite for decades. Now they have expanded to the upstairs building with a bar & waiting room. After our dinner, we walk around downtown, then through the renowned Peabody Hotel. Then over to the crowded & legendary Beal Street & past the new FedEx Forum (basketball Stadium); this whole downtown area is flooded with people. We ask a bellhop guy if this was a typical Friday. “No! Usually there are a lot more people than tonight,” he says. There are new hotels and restaurants, a downtown baseball stadium, new shopping areas and museum. The climate has sure changed since we have lived in this town. We counted 26 different horse drawn carriages during our walk. We are back to our campsite @ 11:25pm.

Today’s travel high=76 Lights out: 12:22am

Awake: 6:06am inside temp 70 sleep 6+18 overnight inside the service bay

@ 6:40am, Dee the technician, starts our generator; he’s been installing a larger reservoir to fulfill the latest update on that 15KW unit. After he is finished, all the write-ups will be done on our coach & we should be moving outside by late morning.

Next, our coach is washed & then driven to a campsite where Mike & Ron explore the entertainment system. They discover the DirecTV account has been closed, so Mike suggests that I call DirecTV now & have our account switched over from our 2001coach before we leave. To my surprise, within (20) min, both TV’s are set up, running & we keep our original account.

That’s it! We are ready to go. We say our goodbyes to a few of the guys then attach our Suzuki & leave the Newell campground @ 1:10pm. We take US 69 (this section of 69 is much smoother than when we drove up 69 from Lake Kiowa to Miami….or is it the new ZF suspension system difference; then I-44 to Joplin, MO….I-71 & 540 to Little Rock & I-40 to Hazen, Arkansas.

Approaching Little Rock, Kathy calls the “T-Rick’s” campground checking for availability; yes. We arrive @ T-Rick’s campground @ 7:15pm with a fading sun. The campsites are concrete with full hookups & big rig friendly; there are no other amenities; perfect for an overnight visit.

Today’s travel: 8+40 time 335 miles 52 gal used 6.4 mpg 58.5 avg speed

Dinner: “leftover pork lo mein, corn off the cob & a spinach salad.

Travel high temp=79 Lights out: 11:49pm

Awake: 4:45am Temp inside 66 sleep 5+12 sunny overnight @ Newell service bay.

During our trans-loading & organizing, Kathy culled out numerous sweaters, blouses, slacks, etc from her closet collection. This morning, she is @ the thrift store in Miami donating those items & casually looking around for a few replacements.

About 10:30am, a FDX envelope arrived containing the title for our 2001 motorhome. Thanks Melissa & Kevin. I waste little time in getting this title to Sally the Comptroller.

Meanwhile, our new coach is getting a few updates before we drive it away, hopefully that will be tomorrow.

@ 3:00pm, Pam the cleaner visits & spends over (2) hrs cleaning anything & everything inside our motorhome.

Dinner: pork lo mein, broccoli, corn off the cob, salad, & bread.

Evening movie: “Brute Force” with Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford, Yvonne De Carlo, Ann Blyth, etc. Tingling, hard-bitten prison film with its few clichés punched across solidly. Brutal captain Cronyn is utterly despicable, but you know he’s going to get it in the end. 1947. Somewhat of an insider’s look @ the lives of cellmates with the dialogue & flashbacks. We liked this movie.

Lights out: 11:48pm

Awake: 6:18am Temp inside 73 sleep 5+43 cloudy with rain outside overnight in service bay

An early phone call from my buddy, Mark, while aboard a commercial aircraft @ SeaTac, WA & ready to return to Ohio, wished us a “Happy Anniversary” on our 36 yrs today. Very thoughtful of him; thanks Mark!

Talk with Sam & Mike W. about getting with the list of write-ups we found during the past (4) days of testing switches & buttons on this coach.

Katrina calls form Denver wishing us a “Happy Anniversary.” She was en route to a play yard near Stapleton airport; Katrina is like a “big sister” to a young girl, Karina, whom she takes to various places once a month. We thank you Katrina for the good wishes.

For our special anniversary dinner, K & I share a Mountain Top chopped sirloin with (3) crab cakes each & a salad @ Montana Mike’s. Then we drive downtown to the Coleman Theater Beautiful & watch the Amazing Magical Michael show; a different style of magic & comedy which was mysterious, funny & entertaining. When we returned to our new motorhome, many of those little write-ups were fixed. About a dozen of the techs worked (2) hrs overtime on many of the coaches.

While we were gone Kevin called and left a message with their “Happy Anniversary” wishes on our cell phone. Thanks Kevin and Melissa.

And my Sister Corinne in Lilly, PA wrote us an e-mail wishing us a "Happy Anniversary." Thank you for remembering Sis.

Later, my sister Mary Jo calls from Lodi, CA for a “Happy Anniversary” wish. Good memory Mary Jo….thanks. Aside from their family doing well, the big news with Mary Jo & Ed is that he found & purchased a classic 1955 Chevy auto for which he had been searching a long time.

No movie tonight; we continue to organize our drawers & closets.

Lights out: 11:33pm

Awake: 5:38am Temp inside 70 sleep 6+00 sunny outside overnight inside the Newell service bay.

We both slept better in our Murphy bed last night….getting used to the inside environment probably has something to do with it. I set the air conditioning in zones (2) & (3) for cool sleeping.

We visit Sam in his office; he was pleased that our week-end moving went well & we were happy to have the casual (3) days to do this move.

The Newell comptroller is in her office today so I ask Sally what is the next step. “We need the title from your 2001 motor home” she says. “No problem” I tell her.

After nearly an hr of searching my organized papers, I wish I hadn’t said that to Sally. The title I thought was for our motorhome was actually the title for our Suzuki. I had to tell Sally that I can’t find the title. “Monte” she says, “we have to have that title!”

I needed to think so I go outside in the fresh air from that storm that just moved through on Saturday night & kind of paced the concrete a little. Finally my memory starts to kick in; back in 2005 when we were RVing in the Northwest & visiting Port Townsend, WA, we called Kevin for his birthday. That’s when he announced their plans of accepting a job @ the University of Indiana in Pennsylvania & they were going to move themselves. Shortly after that, Melissa & Kevin offered to move our things out of storage as well. In addition to moving things out, I had asked Melissa to close out our safety deposit box after I arranged it with the Credit Union. I’m pretty sure that’s the box where I kept the title for our motorhome.

@ 9:45 central time, I call Melissa in PA. She remembers getting papers from the safety deposit box; “where are they now?” I ask. “They are in our safe now,” she says. I can feel a slight smile coming over my face as she mentions that. “Could you take a look & see if our motorhome title is there?” I ask. She tells me she is busy now but will have Kevin look when he comes home for lunch.

I wait patiently until 12:30 CDT; then call Melissa again. “Kevin didn’t have time to look” she tells me. I had to let her know that this is serious & we need to have those papers ASAP. Then Melissa questions me as to WHY I have to have them so fast? “You have the registration & your license; you don’t need to have the title with you, do you?” Ok, ok, I was trying to keep this a secret but I sensed that I might get a better response if I simply come clean. Yes, we’re buying a new motorhome.

Meanwhile, I had a few unused parts for the 2001 motorhome that were brand new so I asked Chuck C. if they could be returned for credit. Yes they could & he credited the cost on my AMX.

Next, Scott L. (vice Pres of manufacturing) gives K & I a (3) hr detailed tour of our new coach: inside & out. He is good @ what he does….but that’s a lot to digest @ one time. We also have (2) boxes of manuals covering all the systems, appliances, entertainment units, etc to read up on in our spare time.

Approx 8:00pm, the title lady calls…. & it was not Sally; Melissa has found our elusive 2001 motorhome title in their safe & will FDX it tomorrow. Whew!

8:45 dinner: Warm chopped chicken piccata spinach salad, acorn squash with cranberry sauce & toast.

Lights out: 12:35am

Awake: 5:34am Temp inside 68 sunny outside overnight inside the service bay @ Newell.

Kathy wakes up early again. We continue transferring our household things from the 2001 coach into our new 2007 until mid-afternoon. Then Kathy takes several hrs & cleans up the inside of our 2001 coach.

Meanwhile, I have been moving our basement items into some of the Joey beds (a moveable basement storage unit that can be extended in either direction). When I am finished with that, I clean the basement compartments to make the storage spaces look decent for the next owner.

After we are satisfied that our 2001 coach is almost spic & span, I drive it outside, empty the gray water tank & park it in one of the Newell campsites. It’s a good looking motorhome with only 63,172 miles & everything is now working great. We will miss it in many ways.

Now that all of our things are out of the 2001 coach, we both start organizing our respective zones; Kathy: the kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, closets, etc. Me: the basement compartments, computer desk, wine cellar, closets, etc. It’s a bigger job than we anticipated.

8:05 Dinner: ham Fettuccine with corn off the cob & sun dried tomatoes in a cranberry cream sauce.

High temp outside=64 Lights out: 11:38pm

Awake: 5:26am Temp 46 sleep 5+53 outside: it’s drizzling overnight inside the service bay @ Newell, Miami, OK.

Kathy is up early & ready to go. She starts by doing (4) loads of laundry; (2) loads in each coach @ the same time. When both coaches were running low on tank water, I had to get out my (20) ft hose + my (50) ft hose; connect them to a another (50) ft hose on a reel from the other side of this building to get water. They no longer have convenient water available for the customer’s coach as there were too many accidents with water some time ago. Later I had to cut her off from doing that 5th laundry load; emptying the gray water tank would cut down on our efficiency @ this time.

@ 11:00am, Gary & Myra visit to say goodbyes for now. They live in South Dakota & the weather west & north is beginning to improve.

K & I attend 5:00pm Mass @ Sacred Heart Church, just down the road.

Dinner: homemade crab cakes, Brussels sprouts, salad & toast.

We continue our trans-loading until around 11:30pm. We are the only one’s in the building all day.

Lights out: 12:05am

Awake: 6:40am Temp 46 sleep 5+56 early morning rain overnight @ Miami, OK.

K & I decide overnight that we would like to continue this RV lifestyle in a more updated motorhome so later this morning, we will meet with Sam & get serious about signing on the dotted line.

In the meantime, it’s raining rather hard. I wait for a drizzle period & then brush off the slide tops & retract all slides.

After breakfast, we drive over to the North Miami post office & mail our 2006 tax return envelopes to the U.S. Treasurer + our affirmative response to the wedding invitation in May in Virginia.

Then we visit Sam @ the Newell office for the final details of trading in our 2001 coach & buying the 2007. Our bill of sale won’t be completed today however; the comptroller is out of her office for the weekend.

Later K & I celebrate our new home acquisition by having a mid-day lunch @ Montana Mike’s.

Back @ the Newell campground, we prepare our 2001 motorhome for backing into service bay # 10 to be alongside the 2007 coach. Kathy opens the bay door & is ready; however, the inside lights are off. We searched but didn’t want to foul anything up by switching on something that shouldn’t be switched on. My mirrors were spotted with rain, the inside visibility was poor & I couldn’t see Kathy ½ of the time so it took (3) tries to get our coach backed in properly. After parking inside, again we began searching for the right light switch. Way in the distance of this long service building, we hear a noise & track it down; a guy who identifies himself as the building inspector, shows us the circuit breaker panel & some light switches that can be safely turned on. Now we’re in business.

We spend the next (5) hrs trans-loading our things & we’ve only begun the process. Kathy’s knees have been complaining with so much up & down climbing the (2) motorhome staircases so around 10:30 she had had enough for the day. Outside, the rain storm has really wound up, so much that the water is pushing thru the closed bay door. At times, small hail could be seen bouncing on the concrete. It’s good to be under roof @ this time.

Dinner: popcorn, mixed nuts & cheese. Our last night to sleep in our 2001! I open the bay door about a foot to get fresh air for sleeping; water is laying inside for the 1st 15 ft anyway. Thunderstorms with strong winds & hail @ times continue throughout the night (according to Kathy).

High temp=52 Lights out: 11:33pm

Awake: 6:08am Temp 38 sleep 5+56 partly cloudy overnight @ Miami, OK.

Kathy tells me she’s been lying awake since 4:30am….just lying there….waiting for me to wake up. She didn’t wake me up though; I woke up on my own. She tells me that she gently tried to wake me up, but then decided to be patient & wait.

She is disturbed that a certain motorhome that Sam introduced to us & which has gained our attention has such limited refrigerator storage space, especially compared with our current Amana. How unusual that Kathy would be awakened by such thoughts & so early in the morning; this sleeper is serious? What’s going on here? I suggest we Google the Sub Zero & definitely find out the difference.

Sure enough, the Sub Zero refer (2) drawers with a total of 5.3 cu ft. is indeed smaller than the Amana ( 14.8 cu ft) which we have now….like close to 1/3; unbelievable! Even the freezer in the Sub Zero is only 5.1 cu ft compared to 7.9 in the Amana.

After breakfast, we visit Sam to discuss this critical dilemma. Within (30) min, Kathy had opened Sam’s eyes to the missing refer space & I had convinced him that something also had to be done about the cramped computer desk & LCD TV placement to make this motorhome more attractive for the discriminating buyer. When Sam took a serious look @ this, he called in Tommy & before our very eyes….they put together a plan that might actually work. Take out the Sub Zero freezer drawers & in its place, install a full size Sub Zero refer with freezer that when added to the already boxed refer, will end up with a little more space than our Amana.

Now don’t go getting the idea that Kathy is easily swayed into another motorhome just because of more refer space; what we are doing here, of course, is just casual talk.

Late morning, our tax return & our regular mail from Alaska have arrived. I spend some time looking over all of these papers & then, write a check payable to the U.S. Treasury for 2006 taxes; then another check for estimated taxes in 2007.

Earlier Kathy hinted to Sam that neither of us have ridden in or driven this motorhome we are talking about. Sam agrees that we should do that & around 4:30pm we do. (6) yrs of advanced technology makes a big difference; I am impressed & Kathy seems to be as well. She said the ride is smooth, quiet & powerful with strong steering with short turning capability. I think she likes it.

Would you believe, Sam volunteered to have this new motorhome parked in the service bay & tomorrow, I could back our 2001 coach alongside this new motor coach. What then? We could begin the trans-loading of our stuff. Wow Kathy, can you believe it! We’ll think about it overnight; after all, we just stopped in here for the Easter weekend, free camping, & the convenience of being near a Catholic church.

Late dinner: leftover chicken burgers, egg corn squash, brown rice & salad.

Later movie: “Heaven” with Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Mattia Sbragia, Alberto Di Stasio, etc. An English schoolteacher living in Italy is frustrated by corrupt drug culture that’s harming her students, plants a bomb in the office of a local bigwig & suffers the consequences. During her police interrogation, a young, naïve translator falls in love with her & helps her escape. 2002. We both found this unpredictable saga very spellbinding & entertaining.

High today=54 Lights out: 12:44am

Awake: 7:19am Temp 46 sleep 6+35 cloudy with some rain, then sunny overnight @ Miami, OK.

I expected our Tax Return to arrive today from Alaska & when it didn’t, I called & asked Jeff for a tracking #; found the overnight letter missed the evening pickup from Anchorage.

Take the time from our busy schedule to replace a switch in our living room valance lighting.

Yesterday we offered to help Myra & Gary trans-load their things from their old 2002 coach into their new 2007. Today they agreed to let us help on the condition that we let them take us out to dinner; hey, go ahead…..make my day…..no dishes to clean up.

Their 2002 coach has been backed into a service bay & their new coach is pulled alongside so the loading will be more convenient. We trans-load most of the things that will be placed in the living area upstairs; that takes us about an hr. Gary insists that he do his own moving of things that will go into the basement compartments. That's guy stuff.

Around 6:30, they drive us to the restaurant, “Montana Mikes” in Miami, where K & I share an 8 oz filet with baked potato & veggies; a good meal with some good people & good conversation.

High today=58 Lights out: 12:12am

Awake: 6:41am Temp 47 sleep 6+28 overcast, then rain overnight @ Miami, OK.

Walk over to the Newell office & alert Kathy the receptionist that we are expecting some mail tomorrow or Thursday. Then I talk K into joining me for a self tour of the production assembly line of the (4) coaches lined up in various stages of being built.

Next, we spend more time talking to Gary & Myra about their travels, life & newly purchased 2007 motorhome.

Then, in the late afternoon, we ring the door bell on the Brax & Molly coach. We’ve tried several times to visit them but they were not to be found. This afternoon, they & their coach were perched on the alignment rack & all of their slides were retracted. They let us in but it was obvious that our timing was not so good. We talked briefly & then quickly suggested a visit for sometime tomorrow morning @ their convenience.

What a surprise that was for us; when we visited Brax in Lufkin on March 27th, he toured us through his motorhome with the slides extended. It was beautiful & had many, many features we would love to have if we were to purchase another. I couldn’t believe Kathy….all that talk about “no more motorhomes” & there she is: “love @ 1st sight!” Today however, with the slides retracted, it was very tight & narrow in the living room with little room for walking. Kathy fell out-of-love for the Brax coach. Whew!

Dinner: rosemary pork chops with balsamic pan gravy, broccoli, brown rice, salad & bread.

Late movie: “The Guys” with Sigourney Weaver, Anthony La-Paglia. A N.Y.C. fire department captain who lost (8) men in the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster gets help from a professional writer as he prepares to deliver eulogies for the deceased. 2003. A very good & emotional story plus well told; although difficult to watch @ times, it was based on true stories.

High today=50 Lights out: 12:44am

Awake: 6:19am Temp 40 sleep 5+51 sunny overnight @ Miami, OK.

Kathy calls the Social Security Administration in Birmingham, Alabama 1st thing this morning. I need to know how much monies she contributed to our income during the 2006 yr. Now that I have that number, I call Jeff in Anchorage & leave a message containing that missing number.

Call Angie @ HWH to find out if Joe had sent the Module rebate to our Alaska address. She checked her files & told me it was sent March 27th.

Call Linda in Anchorage to have our mail sent here @ the Newell Motorcoach address.

K & I visit Sam @ his office to discuss a certain motorhome we had questions about.

Brax from Lufkin, TX is here today through Wednesday for service on his motorhome.

Talk with Gary & Myra from South Dakota also parked in the Newell campground. They are in the process of upgrading from a 2002 Newell to a 2007. K & I take a self guided tour of their intended upgrade & found it to be a real beauty plus loaded with a lot of bells & whistles.

Dinner: chicken Ceasar, burger with romaine lettuce, asparagus & garlic bread.

Late movie: “Untamed Heart” with Christian Slater, Marisa Tomei, Rosie Perez, Kyle Secor, Willie Carson. Multiple-hankie romantic tale about (2) troubled adults. Waitress Tomei can’t seem to keep a boyfriend, while shy busboy Slater is a well-meaning orphan with a heart ailment. 1993. The story is a little hokey but still not too shabby of a flick.

High temp=56 Lights out: 12:13am

Awake: 6:26am Temp 28 sleep 6+18 sunny overnight @ Miami, OK.

“Happy Easter!” Kathy makes sourdough pancakes, bacon, eggs, & sausage for our breakfast. It was goooood!

En route from Nacogdoches to Lake Kiowa, our coach apparently picked up a little moisture from the highway travel on the bottom 1/3 of its structure. Suddenly feeling ambitious after that good sourdough breakfast, I get out the Windex, the telescoping brush, hook up another standby hose to the water faucet & make some metal clean again.
Outside temp was 45 degrees with a north wind. I also cleaned the front cap & windshield. Only two visits inside to warm up & the job was finished.

Kathy talked to Katrina for about an hr while I was outside, but I did get a few min of talk time in before she had to go about her business.

Later, Nick called from Seattle; I enjoyed some 42 min of talk time & listening to little Jerry nearby & Eriko laughing @ some of Nick’s antics with Jerry. Then Kathy takes her turn for nearly as much talk time.

Before dinner, K & I take another stroll around the outside lot looking @ the pre-owned motorhomes.

Dinner: ham with pineapple, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach salad & some strawberry shortcake for dessert.

High temp=47 Lights out: 12:28am

Awake: 7:18am Temp 28 sleep 7+12 partly sunny overnight @ Miami, OK.

Call & talk with Kevin in Indiana, PA. He admits that winter has returned for a few days. Kathy talks with Melissa who is feeling fine in her pregnancy. She updates Kathy on the happenings and antics in the lives of Matthew and Andrew. Good news: she has finally agreed to getting a washer and dryer down in the basement, however Kevin will most likely have to bring the laundry down & up as Melissa seems to have an allergy to basements.

Our outside water hose froze up last night. I was tempted to store it in our heated basement but thought maybe I’d gamble a little. It wasn’t a hard freeze; I switched over to tank water, laid the hose out in the sun until around 3:00pm until it thawed out, then switched back to city water.

Not much activity outside in this campground today….too cold. K & I did go back inside the service bay to check out this one motorhome with a Murphy bed since we couldn't remember if a slide needed to be opened to bring the bed down in place.

Tonight I am not taking any chances; the water hose is disconnected & drained & the portable water filters are stored in the heated basement compartment. Now we are using pure water from our holding tank.

6:05 Dinner: Saute Flap steak with portabella mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, brown rice, & salad with blue cheese vinaigrette.

We attend 8:00 pm Easter Vigil Mass @ Sacred Heart Church just down the road. This Mass lasted over 2.5 hrs &, though well attended, was certainly not full to capacity.

High temp=41 Lights out: 12:08am

Awake: 6:40am Temp 37 sleep 5+10 elevation 757 ft cloudy with light snow flurries overnight @ Miami, Oklahoma.

Late morning, Kathy goes grocery shopping @ the local Wal-Mart & Marvin’s.
I call Harold in Lake Kiowa….just to remind him of how much we enjoyed his company & appreciated his hospitality & touring. He was en route to the bank; tells me that Claire’s plane was late arriving yesterday & today she in on her way to the kennel to pick up Charlie & Coco. It was a good call.

My next call was not so good: We were notified by e-mail that our relatively new found friend of 16 months….had suddenly passed away. Connie went to the hospital for some minor cosmetic surgery & stayed the night. Her husband, Glen, drove over the next morning to pick her up & found out she had stopped breathing during the night & the doctors couldn’t revive her. A tragic surprise! The hospital had called Glen but without his hearing aid in he didn’t hear the phone ring.

We met Connie & Glen during our Asian Pacific Cruise in 2005; then visited them @ their home August 2006 in Burlington, WA. They were planning on visiting us in PA this summer or next. Glen has been getting a lot of support from family & friends etc. They were a good team together. We really feel badly about Connie’s death.

Mid afternoon, out of curiosity, we use our secret code to look @ a lot of the newer motorhomes parked outside, checking their floor plans & the new high tech gadgets etc. Cold air was moving in fast & thats when we moved into the service bay to continue the process.

@ 7:00, we attend Good Friday services @ Sacred Heart Catholic Church which lasted a good 1 hr +40 min.

Late dinner: Tuna steak with white beans, grape tomatoes & garlic chips.

High today=47 Lights out: 12:06

Awake: 5:32am Temp 46 sleep 5+17 mostly cloudy overnight @ Lake Kiowa, TX.

We say our “thank you’s & “good byes” to Harold for now…who has been a very casual fellow touring us around the area, keeping us quite comfortable & making sure we have enough liquid to prevent dehydration during our 3.5 day visit. It was a trade off: Kathy made sure we all had some healthy & delicious meals without running into town each day as well.

We leave the Harold & Claire driveway @ Lake Kiowa, TX @ 7:45am. It took us about 15 min just to leave the secured development area because of the winding & curvy neighborhood roads with stop signs. Once out on highways:-902; hwy-337 & US 69, we began to make good time. Crossing into Oklahoma, we were not impressed with the not-so-smooth I-75 & US-69; I will try & avoid US-69 in the future.

We arrive @ the Newell campground in North Miami, Oklahoma @ 1:45pm. Today’s travel: 5+30 time 299 miles 42 gal used 7.1 mpg 54.1 avg speed.

(3) campsites open so this is good. 1st of all, we are not here for motorhome service. I had talked with Sam R. a few weeks ago asking if we could visit over the weekend. “Not a problem” he says; “hang around longer if you would like.” We thought it might be a good choice to be here for the Easter holiday since they are closed Fri, Sat, & Sunday.

After parking, Kathy dishes out a medium size lunch; then we visit Sam & have a nice chat in his office. He encourages us to look around over the weekend & even gives us the special code numbers to unlock coaches. Wow! Why would he do that?

We do some casual looking around inside the service bay after the guys shut down for the weekend; then decide to attend Mass & Holy Thursday services @ the local Catholic church just a mile down the road. It began to “snow” as we drove to church & was still snowing lightly 1.5 hrs later.

Late 9:20pm dinner: tomato soup with oyster crackers. Then later, reading in bed.

High travel temp=57 Lights out: 1:30am

Awake: 6:11am Temp 52 sleep 6+09 sunny & windy overnight @ Lake Kiowa, TX.

We are both invited for breakfast this morning with Harold & some of his senior Lake Kiowa buddies: Jack, Jim & Joe. They + others meet every Wednesday @ 8:00am @ the Fried Pie Café in Gainesville. Nice guys: they all have motorhomes but are @ the age of giving up driving the big rigs.

Kathy declined the invitation but she would have fit right in with this small group. Instead she did 60 min of exercise with Gilad on Fit TV.

Back @ Harold’s home, he gets ready to take Charlie & Coco to the kennel for a day. Tomorrow Harold will leave about 8:00 am to take Claire's car to Dallas for the 5000 mile service check, then pick Claire up @ the airport around 5:00pm.

While Harold is transporting the dogs, I talk Kathy into getting another hr of exercise by walking around the neighborhood. The windy day helped us keep our cool.

Later in the afternoon, I bring in the slides & store the portable water filters to make the coach ready for tomorrow’s travel & before we have our traditional happy hr around 5:00pm today.

Wine with some healthy snacks, then Kathy makes: spaghetti with Italian sausage & chicken in meaty spaghetti sauce, mixed salad & bread.

We tried to leave the house when the bar closed but Harold found some amazing & bewildering scientific toys with which to entertain and detain us. Most enjoyable!

High temp=64 Lights out: 12:15am

Awake: 7:04am Temp 67 sleep 7+03 sunny overnight @ Lake Kiowa, TX.

This morning, Kathy made Easter cookies for Matthew & Andrew in the shapes of bunnies, eggs, hearts, & letters to spell out: “Happy Easter.”

Then late morning, Harold volunteers to tour us around Gainesville some more & stop @ an express shipping store to send that package to PA. From here, Harold suggests that we lunch @ one of his favorite spots: “Metzers Café” in the town of Lindsay’s where the (3) of us have some good BBQ beef with sauce & coleslaw & no bun. It was quite good.

From here, we return to Gainesville where we visit (2) old churches in town. They are not painted so-to-speak as were the (4) we visited near Schulenburg, but they are old. 1st church, St. Paul Episcopalian, an English Gothic style building, was dedicated in 1885. Inside, the fellow I talked with (retired electrical engineer) was very happy to show us how he converted the gas lights on the walls to electricity. No easy task as he literally ran separate wires from below the floor level, notched a channel up the concrete wall to where the gas lamps were hung & pulled the wires through the conduit to make the connection. This task took many months & the priest + the congregation were very impressed with his efforts & the results. Kathy & Harold spent some time talking with the priest especially about a shrine to Mary in England.

The 2nd church, First United Methodist, is nearly as old; no one was inside so we simply walked around & admired the architecture & inside structure. This red brick Gothic style building with art Nouveu stained glass windows was dedicated in1893.The organ pipes were beautifully painted. Harold also drove by the modern Methodist church he & Clair attend in Gainesville. We make a quick stop @ the Home Depot in town where Harold talks with someone about visiting his home to give an estimate on some double pane windows.

Back @ the H & C home, we are introduced to Harold’s heavy weight attic lift platform in the garage. It’s remote controlled & is actually a boat lift that lifts a square platform & whatever is placed on that platform. Weight limit: 3000 lbs. The square platform is simply a part of the ceiling when retracted. I like it!

Our happy hr, though a little earlier, was great as usual with limited snacks; we have to eat early since Harold has to leave at 7:00 for his weekly poker game. Kathy makes a dinner of: stuffed peppers, salad & bread. We wish Harold “good luck” and return to our home on wheels.

Late movie: “Only Angels Have Wings” with Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, etc. A tale of professional pilots who fly the mail through treacherous weather & terrain in South America. 1939. Hey, it’s a good story & has airplane action; I’m all for it!

High temp=84 Lights out: 12:02am

Awake: 6:33am Temp 58 sleep 6+32 sunny elevation 780 ft overnight @ Lake Kiowa, TX.

Harold had to make a trip to the bank this morning in Gainesville; we had assumed that our cell phone would not work in this area (zero signals when sitting up front in our coach) so Harold let us use his Singular phone.

With the May time wedding rendezvous in Norfolk, Kathy feels we should get right with securing a campground near Norfolk, Virginia & I agree. (6) different campground books we peruse; numerous phone calls transpired & finally, a suitable location within an hr of the wedding & hotel where the family will be staying.

Around noontime, Harold returns & is ready to show us the towns of Gainesville & Lindsay; oil & the railroad helped make Gainesville what it is today: population 15,000. A nice organized town with an active downtown area; Harold has lived in this area for over 30 yrs & knows a lot of people.

We lunch @ the Backstage Café on California Street where Harold introduces us to some (8) local people. After a driving tour of Gainesville & seeing some of their historical mansions & fine buildings, we visit the airport & spot a few DC-3’s & DC-4’s across the field still being used as cargo carriers. Next, we visit the painted Catholic Church in the town of Lindsay; maybe (5) miles west of Gainesville. Their 1st church was completely destroyed by a hurricane; then the German community built the present church: “Saint Peter” which was dedicated in 1918. It is reminiscent of the painted churches in Schulenburg. We make several stops en route back to Lake Kiowa, one being the “Tom Thumb” grocery store.

Happy Hour is a casual 5:00pm @ Harold’s bar; Healthy snacks with wine & always plenty of “stuff” to talk about. Close to 9:00pm, we decide to give Harold a break & return to our house parked on his driveway.

Late movie: “The Magdalene Sisters” with Geraldine McEwan, Anne-Marie Duff, Nora Jane Noone, etc. A harrowing, fact-based drama set in 1960’s Ireland in a convent where young women are incarcerated for committing such “misdeeds” as flirting with boys, becoming pregnant out of wedlock & being raped. They are physically & psychologically abused by the head nun & her sadistic staff, who are convinced they are doing the Lord’s work. Sometimes painful to watch, but it’s a story that needs to be told. 2002. A real eye-opener; definitely not for children.

High temp=74 Lights out: 12:01am

Awake: 6:26am Temp 59 sleep 5+54 sunny overnight @ Tyler, TX.

I call Harold in Lake Kiowa mid morning to confirm that we will be leaving Tyler around noon time. He asks that we give a call when we turn onto I-35.

We leave the # 1 RV Park @ 12:05pm; driving on US 69….I-20….I-80….I-635….I-35; when we turn onto I-35, we give Harold a call: he advises us to exit on Lone Oak Road & use our GPS from there. He figures we are an hr out yet but will be waiting @ the security gate to get us through & lead us to his home & driveway for parking.

Sure enough, Harold is waiting outside the security gate; tells me to stay in the right lane because it is a wider passage, notifies the guard that we are visitors & we follow Harold another (2) miles to his home arriving @ 3:28pm.

Today’s travel: 3+33 time 175 miles 22 gal used 7.9 mpg 52 mph avg speed.

Harold & Kathy watch me closely as I back onto his driveway….giving hand signals when necessary. Of particular importance was the roof overhang of the garage which I had no vision of so Harold was right on top of that handicap. He purposely had his driveway reinforced with (5) inches of concrete with lots of rebar. 50 amps & good water was available a few feet from our coach.

Harold gave us a home tour to begin with, showed us a few family pictures & then we settled down in his small bar room, had some spirits with healthy snacks & gabbed away. About (30) minutes later, he introduced us to Charlie & Coco (dogs) who treated us like burglars until they finally realized we were OK. In fact, Harold purposely kept them in their little doggie pens for that amount of time so they would be less aggressive. In about an hr, they were our buddies & that’s without accidentally dropping any goodies onto the floor.

We sat in his bar room, snacked & talked for hours. Since we had snacked so much we weren’t esp hungry but felt we should have some “good” food. Kathy made a large, fresh salad and Ivar’s clam chowder. Since we were so comfortable we just stayed where we were and ate our salad and soup. It was after 11:00 when it suddenly occurred to us that maybe Harold would like to get some sleep tonight. Anyway, we were off to a good start for more casual visiting.

High travel temp=83 Lights out: 12:01am

Awake: 6:20am Temp 65 sleep 5+54 waves of heavy rain starting around midnight overnight @ Tyler, Texas.

Mid morning, Nick calls from Seattle; he is promoting a Monte & Kathy family reunion by attending the Billie Anne wedding in Norfolk, Virginia in May. After getting the minute details & talking with Kathy, we agree to motor & attend this surprise gathering.

My sister Mary Jo calls from Lodi, CA. She & her daughter Jen will be visiting Nicktown this summer in August. This too is good news.

We call my sister Corinne in Lilly, PA. She seems to be doing fine & is looking forward to having the summer off from college duties.

My bro Don calls from Ebensburg, PA. He is @ the office doing tax returns while his wife, Josie, is visiting family members in Maryland.

K & I attend the 5:30pm Palm Sunday Mass @ the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception church downtown. The church was full & the priest gave a meaningful homily.

Afterward, we meet with the C & N family for dinner @ the Pico De Gallo Mexican restaurant. K & I each have a margarita; then share a chicken enchilada with salsa verde + one crabmeat enchilada in a cream sauce & one beef enchilada bathed in salsa roja.
It was a good meal but let’s face it: Nanette’s cooking will be held in the highest regard for a long time. The N & C children are very pleasant to be with. They are well mannered & extremely talented + smart….like their parents. We certainly won’t hesitate to rendezvous with them in the future but the next time, it’ll be our turn to provide the meals & give Nanette some time off.

We follow them back to their home; Craig turns the outside lights on by the garage so Nathan can give us a sneak preview of his jumping the ramp on his roller blades. The asphalt was dark, the ramp was dark & the lighting dim from the garage but Nathan sped forward & made the jump regardless, & he did great.

Inside the house, Trevor gave us a demo of his progress on the guitar, playing “Wild One” & and a few other songs. He’s only been taking lessons for a short time and is doing quite good.

Elaina went to the far corner of the great room & played a couple of songs on her little grand piano. She too, enjoys entertaining her family & guests.

After that, the children are encouraged to get ready for bed while we adults continue to enjoy learning about each other’s interests & future plans…etc.

We thank Nanette & Craig for their hospitality, generosity, friendship & for making us feel so comfortable during our visits. These guys are great.

High temp=77 Lights out: 12:26am

Awake: 6:05am Temp 68 sleep 5+22 cloudy overnight @ Tyler, Texas.

K & I drive downtown to meet with Nanette & little Olivia @ the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception church parking lot. In this area of quaint & historical homes, we (4) walk the annual Azalea Trail for nearly (2) hrs. Beautiful azalea flowers adorn these wonderful old homes & gardens for miles; in our Texas travel guide, it reported (8) miles to follow the Azalea Trail. We might have covered (2) & we were lucky to have done that with little Olivia walking along with us; she was a real trooper.

K & I carried an umbrella to ward off the rain…. & it worked. I was enamored with the variety of different homes & their unique architecture. After returning to our cars, Nanette & Olivia return to their home & we return to ours; we are lucky though as we have another dinner invitation @ the Nanette & Craig Estate. Nanette mentioned homemade Crab Cakes & she needed to say no more.

We were a little early arriving for dinner; the C & N family had not yet returned from their various after school activities. So we did a thorough mansion tour by auto of this unique section of Tyler. Throughout the development, these modern mansions of today….mostly all brick & 4000 square feet upwards to 12,000 sq. ft., having (3 or 4) garages, etc are a sight to behold; naturally this includes the Craig & Nanette home.

A good friend of Craig’s (Chris) visited with his daughter & son and joined us for dinner. Chris’s wife is sick with the flu or something so she probably enjoyed the peace and quiet at their home. Trevor and Chris’s little boy are good friends and he often stays overnight on Friday with Trevor. Though, a bit cool, the kids had a fun, albeit short time in the pool.

Nanette laid out plates of food for the children to eat @ the kitchen counter while we adults sat @ the main table overlooking the swimming pool. Delicious crab cakes (mostly all crab) vs. the little crab & mostly bread one usually gets @ a restaurant. Yes, there was more to eat: risotto & dessert.

After dinner, and after the kids went to bed, though not asleep, we (5) adults sat in the big great room & tried to solve some of the problems of the U.S. but they are many & our solutions are not yet ready for publication. We also enjoyed meeting & talking with Chris who has always lived in Tyler. It was another fun evening @ the N & C estate.

High temp=77 Lights out: 12:26am

Awake: 6:48am Temp 67 Sleep 6+41 partly cloudy overnight @ Nacogdoches, TX.

We leave the Piney Woods RV Park @ 10:49am just as it begins to drizzle. (2) miles up the road, we are ahead of the rain. Both Hwy 69 & TX 64 are busy roads but very smooth.

We arrive @ the # 1 RV Park in Tyler, TX @ 12:38pm. Good thing I called yesterday & made a reservation; they are maxed out & turned (3) RV units away who didn’t call in.

Today’s travel: 1+49 time 76.3 miles 11.1 gal used 6.9 mpg 48 mph avg speed.

I call Craig on his cell phone as soon as we get parked & leave a message. About an hr later, Craig returns the call & invites us over to their rubber plant “Rex Hide” for the executive tour. Now we’re talking.

The Rex Hide plant is over a hundred years old with a few new employees, of course, & updated equipment since its inception. Craig takes us through the corporate office area & then into the chemistry lab where mixtures of different chemicals, oils, black carbon etc are formulated to make the rubber in accordance to the customers needs & specifications. Before a mass production is run, samples of the finished product are also thoroughly tested & retested in this lab.

Next, Craig takes us upstairs where that package of different chemical mixes: oils, carbon, etc will be added & mixed with the raw rubber that changes the rubber properties for whatever the customer wishes. These powerful & huge machines grind up & stir the batter like it was bread dough. Then another even larger machine (like a giant old fashion ringer washer machine) flattens the new rubber mixture out & cuts it into (3) inch strips which will be hung on a moving dryer rack for cooling plus sprinkled with flour like “stuff” to make it non-sticky. What a process. I have pictures.

Along the way, Craig introduces us to some of the skilled workers who explain the process in even more detail but then, that’s top secret & highly confidential knowledge so I’d better not say any more. I will admit however, I have never had a more thorough tour of a rubber plant in all my life as I have experienced with Craig. He was most impressive.

Tonight the Nanette & Craig family schedule is busy: 5:30 Soccer game for Nathan; baseball practice for Elaina; tennis lessons for Trevor; & little Olivia is left to tag along with her mom. Nanette has Nathan & Olivia…..Craig drops Trevor off for tennis lessons & stays with Elaina during her baseball practice & then reverses for the pickup.

After the soccer game, we follow Nanette home by the high-speed highway route system so she can start the dinner prep. Those mansions I spoke of often during our many tours in Texas & other states; well, in this Craig & Nanette neighborhood, the modern mansions are very much alive & well. As we drove into this area, the different architecture & huge homes everywhere were absolutely beautiful & stunning. The C & N structure is no exception.

Nanette started giving us a tour but then her kitchen called her back into action. Craig took over & completed the home tour. . A guest wing provides a private area ideal for long or short stays. The enormous kitchen is open to a very large family room. Beautiful, easy to maintain non-marking bamboo floors run through much of the house; Nathan loves to roller blade thru the house while Trevor is skating on his Healeys. The boys share a bedroom as do the girls. The pool and yard are protected by a mosquito killing mist made from Chrysanthemum flowers which automatically sprays twice a day from under the eaves around the house.

Wine before dinner, then spinach salad, grilled steaks, baked potato, Brussel sprouts, & warm bread. Cheesecake for dessert.

We enjoyed a lovely evening with the Craig Kirsch family and some wonderful adult time after the kids went to bed. The (4) of us realize this is the most time we have ever spent in conversation, getting to know each other, without the distraction of extended family and/or friends. It was great!

High travel temp=86 elevation 469 Lights out: 12:43am

Awake: 6:49am Temp 67 sleep 5+54 cloudy overnight @ Nacogdoches, TX.

Mid morning I call my nephew Craig living in Tyler & leave a message. Next I call another fellow Newell owner, Harold in Gainesville; we discuss a brief visit for perhaps next week. Harold replies that his wife will be visiting her sister for 5 days, leaving on Sunday…. “but that’s alright” he says, “come on up anyway.” I let him know that it might be Saturday or Sunday before we actually get there.

Nephew Craig returns my call & gives the “all clear” for us to move into town & to call him @ his office when we arrive.

Then K & I drive to downtown Nacogdoches, park our tow car on Main Street & do our own walking tour starting in the town square. Obviously their town square had been renovated not too long ago; the old buildings have that newer touch on the outside with a few still having inside work in progress. On Main Street, we visit a huge antique store out of curiosity & then venture further away from the square where the large & elegant historic mansions of yesteryear are lining the streets; still occupied & having manicured lawns. I marvel @ the thought of having such a huge structure to maintain, heat & air condition throughout the year.

Within (2) hrs, we return to our car which had an “X” mark on one tire keeping track of our (2) hr time limit; fortunately we watched the watch. Back in our car, we drive northbound, circle the Stephen F. Austin University grounds & then do some light grocery shopping @ the nearby Kroger store before returning to the Piney Woods Campground.

Dinner: Thin cut Pork chops, fried whole wheat noodles, broccoli & a mixed salad.

Late movie: “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days” with Julia Jentsch, Fabian Hinrichs, Gerald Alexander Held, Johanna Gastdorf, etc. Gripping true story set in 1943 Munich, based in part on newly discovered documents & testimonials. Siblings Hans & Sophie Scholl, members of the White Rose student resistance movement, are arrested after distributing anti-Nazi leaflets. Film follows Sophie’s verbal sparring with a Gestapo interrogator intent on breaking her spirit….but Sophie is an intellectual of unusual poise. 2005. Sophie’s story has been told in other films, including: The White Rose. If you ever get the opportunity, don’t miss these (2) flicks though they are difficult to watch at times.

High temp=82 Lights out: 12:07am


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