Oh Waldo – You’re SO Hot!

Unfortunately, it isn’t near as sexy as it sounds. If you’ve following our travels, you know we have had a long time problem with Waldo overheating. There were travels days we spent more time on the side of the road than motoring. This has led to some very frustrating days, tears and more than my fair share of unlady-like fits of screaming.

I’ve tried to keep my posts happy and full of America’s breathtaking scenery,  but I’ve decided that isn’t really a fair way to describe our lifestyle. Yes, for almost a year now, we’ve been exploring new areas of the country and having the time of our life. But – it isn’t all beauty and magic.

When we arrived in Beatty, it was in a fit of overheating. We are extremely fortunate Steve is a mechanic by trade. He has been working on cars, trucks and motorcycles for 40+ years. RV maintenance comes easy to him. Changing the oil and filters doesn’t require a trip to a shop. This has saved us countless dollars. But, this nagging overheat issue obviously wasn’t going away. He had already changed the thermostats, checked hoses and replaced the overflow tank, all to no avail. He came to the conclusion Waldo needed a new radiator. UGH! To make matters worse, we had taken Waldo to an oversized carwash to clean away some of the grease and grime which has accumulated around the giant CAT motor. Using the high pressure hose, he began spraying away, only to watch as parts of the fan blades fall to the ground. Great, now not only do we need a radiator, but we also need a new fan. Thanks Steve. But, to be fair to him, the blasted thing is 18 years old and has 190,000 miles on it.

We had only planned on staying in Beatty for 6 nights, but ended up staying for 9 nights. The 3rd day there, Steve called around for parts. We could get a new fan from Freightliner in Las Vegas, a mere 2 1/2 hours away. They could get us a new radiator as well, for the low cost of $2200. When he gasped at the price, the parts guy suggested he call a radiator shop, not far from Freightliner. The woman who answered the phone was beyond helpful! She was pretty sure she could get us a replacement for about half the cost. The catch was, she needed Steve to bring her the defunct radiator so she could check some measurements.  So, with the limited tools Steve brought with him, he set out to dismantle Waldo’s cooling system. The camp host loaned us two 5 gallon buckets to drain the antifreeze. We were lucky the park let us work on Waldo there. Lots of places wouldn’t have. Once the radiator (and all the other miscellaneous crap was removed), Steve set off for Las Vegas. I was feeling more than a bit cranky and was content to let him make the trip alone. By the time he returned, a little before 10pm, I had calmed down – some. Both the fan and the radiator had to be ordered and wouldn’t be in for several days. We spent those days exploring Death Valley.

Wednesday finally rolled around and we headed back to Las Vegas. We picked up the fan and 15 gallons of antifreeze from Freightliner and called the radiator shop to check on the arrival status. It wasn’t in yet, but was on its way – another hour or so. Since we had time to kill, we went to WalMart and did some resupplying. As we were coming out of WalMart, I was nearly deafened by the sound of F-16s flying overhead. It was the Thunderbirds from nearby Nellis AFB. How cool is that?!?!? Since I hadn’t brought my camera, a crappy cellphone pic will have to do…

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With the excitement over, we headed to the radiator shop. They were just taking it off the truck when we arrived. Perfect timing. With the Jeep loaded to capacity with parts and supplies, we headed back to Beatty. We had just dropped over $1500 in Las Vegas and never set foot inside a casino.

Thursday, Steve got right to work putting Waldo back together. New fan…check…

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New radiator…check…

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It took a little longer to put things back together then it did to take it apart. It always amazes me when Steve can take a pile of bolts and know which one goes where. I mean seriously, when he took it apart, he threw all of the bolts into a bucket. When I take things apart, I label everything and take pictures so I can put it back together, maybe that’s why I’m not the mechanic! Soon enough, Steve was ready to start the motor. I have to admit, I might have been holding my breath. But when the “Wait To Start” light went off, Waldo fired right up. We let it run for a while, satisfied everything was good. The real test wouldn’t come until we drove down the road. We have since traveled to Alaska and Waldo hasn’t overheated once, thanks to my wonderful mechanic, husband and best friend. His ability to handle the mechanical problems has saved us thousands of dollars. It is a comfort knowing he can do these things, but it doesn’t help my anxiety in the moment things fail. I’m working on handling things better, but for now, if you hear a scream of panic, it still might be me!

A Strange Twist of Fate – aka Unplanned Happiness

Our original plan when we left Texas was to head to the Grand Canyon. I hadn’t been making RV park reservations because we weren’t dead set on the dates we would arrive anywhere. This turned into a problem when I started looking for a place near the canyon. Everywhere was booked solid. Apparently there is a water crisis in the park and outlying parks are picking up the slack. I had resolved we would just drive on to Las Vegas and see the Grand Canyon on some future trip. This had left me a little cranky and it didn’t help that Waldo was overheating – again. As I sat in my seat, sulking a bit, and perhaps muttering a few profane words, Steve pulled off the highway and turned into the parking lot of the Petrified Forest National Park (PFNP for short). Hmmm, maybe we should find an RV park near here and explore. I called the Sunny Valley RV Resort and made reservations for 3 nights. The park was right off the highway and only about 20 miles from the PFNP. We were unhooking the Jeep and trying to get settled in when I noticed another rig pulling in. I didn’t really give it much thought, but suggested to Steve he move the Jeep out of the way because we were about to have neighbors. A few minutes later, I came out of Waldo to see if there was anything I could help with outside. This was the moment my entire day turned around!!!! I was watching the camp host escort the incoming rig to the site next to us. She was walking with the passenger as the RV followed behind. When they got near us, in a less than ladylike fashion, I hollered, “Holy S*#T, I know you!” Technically, I didn’t really “know” them, not personally, but I have followed their blog for quite a while. It was Dawn and Mike from Random Bits of Trial and Error! Luckily, they almost always include what Dawn calls “Our obligatory selfie to prove we were there” so I knew it was her. At nearly the same instant, we ran towards each other, like some corny romantic beach scene, threw our arms around each other and hugged. We’ve been conversing via blog comments and email for close to a year and it felt like meeting a long lost friend. But, just think about this, we only stopped at THAT park on a whim – no planning. I had no idea Mike and Dawn were heading back east. They had no idea we would be there. I can’t even begin to calculate the odds of us arriving within an hour of each other. There are dozens of parks either of us could have chosen, but we both ended up at Sunny Valley.

Steve and I went back into Waldo and had dinner. I just kept saying “How flipping cool is that!” “What are the odds?” I have personally met a few of the bloggers I follow, but it was always by design, not some strange twist of fate. After dinner, the four of us sat out by the picnic table and talked and laughed over a few glasses of wine (well Steve was drinking beer).  It was the perfect ending to what had been such a crappy day. Actually, it wasn’t exactly a perfect ending because the wine went straight to my head (I’m going to blame it on the elevation about 5400 feet above sea level) and I fell off the picnic table. Doh! Thankfully, Dawn and Mike just laughed it off, but I was pretty embarrassed.

Over the next few days, we each did our own thing during the day and spent evenings around their very cool propane firepit. Mike still works full time, so Dawn does quite a bit of exploring on her own. While we were there, she visited the ghost town of Two Guns. I can’t wait to read her post about it and see all of her pictures!

We had dinner together our final night. I brought stuffed shells and she made a huge salad, garlic bread and dessert. I was truly sad we were leaving. Looking back, I’m really bummed I didn’t take more pictures of us together! It was such an awesome experience meeting them in person! Thank you Dawn & Mike for being the best neighbors we ever had at Sunny Valley!

“Our obligatory selfie to prove we were there:”

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If you enjoy reading about cool places and great people, check out Random Bits of Trial and Error

Have you ever accidentally met up with someone on the road? Did it turn out as well for you?

Up next my post about PFNP

Stepping Back in Time

The post title is about the museum, not that I am 3 weeks (or more) late in writing about it. I promise, I am trying to catch up.

When we left Palo Duro Canyon, we stopped in Amarillo at Jack Sismore’s RV Museum. It is free (one of my favorite prices). We drove by and it looked a little tight to get Waldo towing the Jeep in, so we disconnected at Walmart and drove back. I have to say, it was definitely worth the hassle of disconnecting!

We asked the lady at the front desk where the museum was and she happily pointed us to the back door – no really, the museum is in a building out back. We were instructed to stay between the red painted lines and take our time and enjoy ourselves.

Jack Sisemore owned a Chevron station…

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He started renting motorhomes, barely a year later, he had 6 rentals and started Jack Sisemore Traveland.

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The oldest “RV” is a 1921 Ford Lamsteed Kampkar…

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I can’t imagine bouncing around the roads of rural America in this beauty.

He started collecting and restoring unusual vintage RVs over 25 years ago and has quite the collection.  See for yourself…

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1946 Tear Drop Kit

One of the neatest RVs he has is the 1948 Flxible which was used in the Robin Williams movie RV…

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He also has the very first Itasca ever built, serial number 1…

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And the world’s oldest Airsteam, a 1935 Torpedo…

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Not his only Airstream…

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He bought this 1953 Fleetwood from an 84 year old lady who had decided it was time to quit life on the road…

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Also pretty neat is the 1976 FMC coach which was owned by Max Factor Jr (1904-1996)…

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Other cool RVs…

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1976 Argosy
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1973 Starcraft
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1970 Avion

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Not restored

To complete the throw-back feeling there is an old A&W drive up restaurant…

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And other vintage items, like this cigarette vending machine.  When’s the last time you saw one of these?

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Not only are the RVs lovingly restored, but there is a ton of period material to make the experience more real…

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Overall, I am glad we stopped in. It really was neat to see these old RVs and to think of how far we’ve come in the world of RV living.

If you are ever in Amarillo, I highly recommend stopping in!

Next post…Unplanned Happiness!

 

 

 

Rolling into “The Big Easy”

And so begins our next big adventure. We have a job in Alaska this summer but we have to get there first. I spent weeks planning our route. Where to stop, what to see, how long to stay…all while keeping in mind we have to be in Moose Pass as close to May 1st as possible. If we had chosen to drive straight there from Daddy’s house, it would have been 4773 miles. Instead we decided to go west, then north, making the trip 6110 miles.

Our first big stop was The Big Easy, The Birthplace of Jazz, Crescent City, New Orleans, NOLA, N’Awlins, whatever you chose to call it, it is a happening place with so much to see! We only had time to stay 3 nights with our somewhat rigid timeline so we wanted to make the best of it. You could stay there a week and never get to take it all in. We used  Pontchartrain Landing as our base camp, only 15 minutes from the French Quarter. With our Passport America discount, it was only $41 a night.

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The first thing we did was drive by the house my dad grew up in. I hadn’t been there since I was about 5 years old and it didn’t look anything like I remembered, but lets face it, that was many years and several hurricanes ago! We wanted to check out some of the plantation homes gracing the banks of the Mississippi River, so we headed towards Vacherie. It was a little further than I thought, but it was a nice ride. Just before we got to Oak Alley Plantation, we caught sight of the Queen of the Mississippi

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We found a place to park and walked up to the bank to admire her. The Mississippi River is a busy river! All types of ships and barges travel it’s waters…

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After watching the river traffic for a while, we got back to the original reason we were there. Plantations! We weren’t going to have time to tour any of them, but we wanted to drive by and see as many as we could. Oak Alley gets its name from the 28 evenly spaced live oak trees lining the front walkway. These massive trees are thought to be about 300 years old, man, if trees could talk!

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My picture really doesn’t do the scenery justice! A bit further, we saw a single live oak in the field, with no one standing near it, it is hard to give a sense of scale, but it was a beautiful tree…

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Not all the plantations have been restored, some are in the works and others are in pretty poor condition. Sugar cane is still grown in the area and we passed lots of freshly planted fields…

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I had to ask Steve to turn around so I could get a picture of this oak lined driveway…

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A quick stop at another plantation…

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Then back to New Orleans and the French Quarter! Parking is very pricey in the French Quarter but I found a neat app called Spot Hero . With the app, I was able to find parking right on the edge of the French Quarter ($17 for 12 hours on a Saturday!) We hit the streets and tried to take it all in…

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There were all kinds of street performers. each vying for your attention (and cash)…

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Then, there’s the people watching! A never ending stream of people from all walks of life…

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At night, Bourbon Street really comes alive with music, neon and people…

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We stopped in at Ticklers and listened to the house band for a bit. I noticed the neon board and paid my dollar to change the phrase of the night…

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This should be quite a year to visit New Orleans as it is celebrating it’s 300th birthday…

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I never gave it much thought, but apparently getting married and parading down Bourbon Street is in!

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The morning we left, I climbed up on top of Waldo to get a shot of the park…

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We will probably go back to New Orleans when we can stay a little longer. There is still so much to see!

Have you ever been to the Big Easy? What was your favorite thing to see?

Not nearly long enough!

You’ll have to forgive me as I go back in time a bit. I know I already did my 2017 in review post, but I have to tell you about the last weeks of 2017.

As you know from my Goodbye Wind Point Park post, we left Lone Oak, Texas, but I didn’t give any hint of where we were heading. Galveston! My parents really enjoyed staying at Galveston Island State Park (GISP) and since we were ready for a bit of down time that’s where we went. We arrived after hours and found our site number tacked to the bulletin board. Setting up in the dark isn’t my favorite thing to do, but we managed…

I was quite surprised when I woke up in the morning and realized we were right near the water’s edge…

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As you can see, the skies had cleared and the weather looked promising. I grabbed my camera and set off to explore a bit since Steve was still sleeping…

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Funny, our address in Lone Oak was State Park Road 55

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When I got back from my walk, Steve was up and about ready to roll. Since it was our first day, we figured we’d just drive around and make note of things we wanted to go back and explore. We stopped at the visitors to get a map and learn a little more about the island. Our friends had given us lots of suggestions of things to do and places to see, but no one told us about the Tree Sculpture Tour. Since we were already right near the beginning of it, we decided to do that first. The artistry is amazing. I’m not going to post pictures of all 24, but here are some of my favorites…

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Steve getting the shot
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This tree had 17 birds carved into it
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Getting into the holiday spirit
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Very cool mermaid
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The only one we found which was painted
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So much talent!
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Probably the most intricate of all and definitely my favorite.

The next day, I wanted to find some of the places where you can drive on the beach. We headed to the west end of the island and after a few dead ends we found a neat little place to do some birding…

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The pink bird is a roseate spoonbill, they are so cool!
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I saw this one later at the campground
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The sound was incredible when this flock of birds took off
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Heading out for some surf fishing

From here, we headed to Fort San Jacinto Historic Point on the east end of the island. It is a great place to watch the ships come into Houston Bay and do a little fishing…

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Then it was (literally) on to East Beach…

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I loved the designs in the sand made by the waves.

Since it was getting on toward dinner time, we looked through the coupons we had gotten at the visitor’s center and decided to do the totally touristy thing to do. We ate dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. I my opinion, the meal was completely forgettable and over priced, but that what you get for being touristy!

One of the best things about staying at a state park in Texas is you don’t need a license to fish as long as you are on the property. We decided to take advantage of that and get in some fishing. I was first to pull in whopper…

Okay, not really a whopper

The next big catch wasn’t exactly a keeper either…

Perhaps Steve would have better luck…

Looks impressive until you put it in the larger picture…

One of the places everyone said we needed to go was Moody Gardens. I checked it out online and it looked amazing, but I wasn’t sure we could really swing the price.  I pretty much put it out of my mind until I called my dad. He mentioned that when he and mom were in Galveston, they visited Moody Gardens and really enjoyed it. Then he offered to get tickets for us as a Christmas gift! Woohoo! Thank you! Since quite a bit of it is inside, Steve and I picked the coldest upcoming day to go. We woke up bright and early, had a good breakfast then headed out. It was only about a 15 minute drive and we had 10am tickets for the Ice Land exhibit. I know, I hate the cold, but who could resist a rain forest made completely of ice? If you want to read about the history and the how, click here, it’s definitely interesting! Here are a few of my favorite sculptures…

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The kids were having a blast on the ice slide

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Doesn’t Steve look good in blue?!?

Moody Gardens has 3 pyramid structures and each one contains a different theme. We started at the Discovery pyramid and enjoyed the Da Vinci exhibit. I never realized just how many things he was into. I didn’t take any pictures because it was fairly dark inside, plus, sometimes it is just nice to enjoy something without thinking about images for the blog.  Next we headed to the rain forest pyramid. After the near freezing temps in Ice Land, the rain forest seemed downright comfy!

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But, my favorite pyramid was the aquarium. Again, I didn’t take a lot of pictures, I just enjoyed…Moody Gardens-4339

It was starting to get dark by the time we left the aquarium.  We had almost an hour before our “sail” around the harbor on the paddle boat, so we walked around and checked out the holiday lights.

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Just before it got totally dark, a zip-liner went right over our heads…

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From the paddle boat, we had a good view of the pyramids…

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As we were getting ready to head back to Waldo, we noticed the Chinese lanterns.(these were done in honor of the Chinese ice carving team who made Ice Land into a rain forest, here’s that story) …

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Now, how it I get the title of this post? The next thing we knew, it was Dec. 26th and time to leave. 7 days is “Not nearly long enough” to see everything in Galveston! But we will definitely go back!  And once again, we packed up in the rain…

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Have you ever been to Galveston? What did you enjoy most?

 

A Year in Review

With 2017 and Peterborough in the review mirror, I realize just how much our life changed last year. When 2017 began, we were still living in a stick and brick home, we owned a business and we were still making our plan to hit the road. Then, something happened and it all changed. Accelerating our plan to move into Waldo full time a year ahead of schedule required quite a lot of work. First, had to decide what we wanted to keep and what needed to go, then we had to get rid of all our belongings that weren’t going with us…

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One of our many yard sales

We had to get the house ready to sell. Clean, paint, new flooring…

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kitchen cabinets

And, of course, the we had to wait for the weather to warm up…

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Sometimes, you just have to take a break!

Then, there was all the work we needed to do to Waldo before we could leave. My favorite “upgrade” was our new curtains…

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What do you do with family photos?
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You turn them into iron-ons and make curtains!

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We said goodbye to family and friends…

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Finally, Florida bound…

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By far, the biggest improvement we had to do was get a new roof. We decided Florida was where we should get that done. The benefit of being able to stay with my dad while the repair was done, made the decision an easy one…

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Steve began to adjust to not going to work every day…

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It was July before we truly ready to hit the road. We had a job waiting for us in Texas and it was time to go…

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Our first meal living full time in Waldo.

And then, our new temporary home in Texas…

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The next 5 months seemingly flew by, bringing us to December and the impending new year.

How things can change in 12 months! From this view…

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To this view…

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From using wood for winter heat…

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To using wood for camp fires…

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It’s been a year of major changes, all for the better. We’ve visited beautiful places and made some wonderful new friends. It means so much to me to have you along on our journey. Thank you.

May 2018 be your best year yet!

Goodbye Wind Point Park

When we first arrived at Wind Point Park, we had no idea what to expect. We had a basic idea of our job descriptions but we were stepping into unknown territory. Our initial commitment was 3 months. We said, “Beyond that, we’ll stay as long as it is mutually beneficial.” Time passed quickly. We made new friends. People who truly impacted our lives. To be quite honest, we also met some people we weren’t terribly fond of, but, let’s face it that happens everywhere. Our overall experience was a happy one.

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And we got to see some really cool things…

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Our daily visitors
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The Texas Eiffel Tower
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The Salt Palace in Grand Saline
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The wine festival in Grapevine
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The Texas State Fair
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The Grapeland Safari
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A night with the Marcus Linsdsey Band
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Turkey Drag 2017

When we set out on this new adventure, it was never our intent to find a happy place and call it home (at least not yet). Each place we stay is meant to be a visit. There are far too many places to see to put down new roots.

We decided to leave on Dec. 19th, a little over 5 months after we arrived. The week before we left, was filled with evenings with our new friends.  Dinner with Ivan and Josie…Dinner with Jerry and Janelle…Dinner with Scott and Reja…Dinner with Nancy…Hugs and well wishes from so many people…and our final campfire…

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Before we left, we walked over to see Meda. She is a long term lease holder who moved in a few months ago. She had just gotten her smoker and we wanted to see it…

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Is that cool or what!

Nancy gave us an early Christmas present…

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In case you are wondering, the “dog butt” is a leash holder. The “Where’s Waldo” candy bar was perfect!

The morning of the 19th was rainy and miserable for packing up…

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Thank you Josie for taking the picture

Despite the rain, lots of people stopped by for a final farewell…

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My apologies to Jerry and Janelle, we didn’t get a picture with you, but your homemade road snacks were awesome!

I haven’t come close to mentioning everyone who made our time at Wind Point Park so memorable.

A part of us will stay in Lone Oak with all of you…

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And I painted a reminder, in case you do start to forget us…

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A special “Thank you” to the park owner, Ryan, for giving us our workamping start.

Next stop…Galveston!