A NEW START: On the Road to New Braunfels…Eventually


6-2-17

Hill Country RV Park

New Braunfels, Tx

Before driving our pre-owned RV and pickup off the lot, last Wednesday, we had agreed to stay local for the first week. So, from May 25-June 1, we hung out at Treetops RV Village in Arlington, Texas, in case we discovered any kinks in either one. Both RV and vehicle behaved like model children who knew their parents were watching.

The week flew by, with Jeff and me learning our home’s whims and little ways. Almost every night, we blazed a trail to our storage facility where we dug out boxes of items we had hoped to use — such as the toaster oven and the standard toaster — only to realize they hogged our kitchen’s counter space. So, back to the facility they went, to be unearthed if we upgraded to a bigger RV.  But most important of all, we reduced the rubble from F5 status to at least F2 — F1 on a good day. We were finally ready to venture out.

Yesterday, June 1, we awoke with every nerve pinging. We were all dressed in our traveling clothes and caps and had already connected the RV to that doohickey that holds it in place in the truck bed when we discovered one of our three slides was stuck. Seeing our distress, Treetops employees Jim and Franny putt-putted over in their little golf buggies to assist us. Together, the three of them pushed, prodded, and flipped the switch that retracts or expands all three slides, one by one.Only  until Jeff called  Jeter, the Fun Town employee who led us through the walk-through before we left the lot, was he able to solve the mystery: a tiny, black reset button located near the battery. Once he mashed that button, the slide slid.

After we drove away from Treetops, we veered west on Interstate 20, and then south on Interstate 35. Jeff and I were close to Alvarado when it dawned on us that the A/C that had been turning my knees into knee-sicles, a week ago, was by no stretch of imagination, blowing  cool air,

As soon as we could find a gas station, we stopped to buy cans of Dr. Pepper, let me find a restroom, and Russet, a patch of grass. Jeff called his son, John, to ask him who he knew on his end who could fix our A/C. At the time, we thought it was a matter of stopping at a  Ford dealership. After calling the name of the person John gave, Jeff arranged to leave  the truck at an automotive shop, the next morning. Toward the end of the afternoon, the breeze grew cooler, reminding us of why God gave us windows.

When we pulled into our pull-through site at Hill Country RV Park, wind-blown and sunburned, we had just enough time to unhook, expand the slides, and brush our teeth before rushing off to watch one of Jeff’s grandsons play basketball. By the time we got home from one and a half games and stopped at Taco Cabana, we fell comatose quicker than you can say “fajita bowl”.

Yes, we were two pooped puppies. So, when Jeff told me that Russet and I should stay in bed and rest, this morning, I didn’t argue with Jeff.

“I’m going to go over there, drop off the truck, and be back. You rest, babe,” he said, before giving me a good-bye peck before he left for Landa Tire and Automotive. After he returned, we waited word from the “other” Jeff at Landa.

As I’m writing this post, we  have found out that our vehicle will not be ready until Monday, around noon. So we have a choice of putting our son and daughter-in-law out or renting a car to get around in the meantime. Something tells me we’ll choose Door Number Two.

So, once again, Life has been eavesdropping. We’re not only in Jeff’s hometown but, also, one of the prime summer vacation hotspots in Texas. Oh, well. We still have the next six days to see as many of the sights as we can see. Hey, with any luck, we just might get to see at least one or two of them.

Coming soon at your friendly neighborhood PC, iPad, smart phone, or tablet near you: a running account of our adventures in New Braunfels, as soon as we get our wheels back.

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From the ‘Treetops’: Getting Ready to Roll


5-30-17

Well, here we go, ready to hit the road…almost. On Thursday, May 25, as soon as the money for the house hit the bank, Jeff and I headed in to A & L Imports in Colleyville to pick up our Ford F-350 that our sales rep, David Pickle, had been holding for us. Once we paid for it and drove off the lot, we headed down south to Fun Town RV  in Cleburne, where we hauled off our fifth-wheel RV,  a 2011 Wildcat, after going through the required walk-through session intended to orient us to it.  Hours later than we expected, we were, at last, towing our newly-purchased home-on-wheels behind our equally newly-purchased pickup. With our wheels and our RV, we were all ready to hit the road, the next day, right?

Whoa. Not so fast! As we had discussed on the week before we moved, we were going to stay in a local RV park while we put things away, oriented ourselves to living in an RV, and allowed Jeff to keep his doctor’s appointment. Most importantly, we had to move out of our stick-and-brick home that I moved into in September 2006. Although the new owners had specified that we vacate the house by six p.m on Friday, May 26, they had never laid eyes on us, so they had no way of knowing that expecting us, “vintage youngsters” to move that fast by that date might be asking a lot. As a friend had said he wanted some of the items we were going to sell, he came over to buy them and help us get out of there. Everywhere I looked, every drawer and closet I opened, we had something we needed to move, leaving even more convinced that it’s much harder to move out than it is to move in. As it happened, we were not out of there until we had moved three loads. Before they started moving Load #3, I knew my back would not let me move so much as a pencil, so I agreed to hang with our dog, Russet, amid piles of clothing on hangers, dishes and glassware in boxes, and miscellany in bags, at our space at Treetops RV Village, in Arlington. Although surrounded by schtuff and junk, Russet and I hung tight until after midnight, when. Jeff and I began to text each other about his estimated time of arrival, or ETA. At around two a.m., I received the text I’d been waiting for: that he was on his way with a sack of burgers from Denny’s Restaurant, the only place open at that wee hour.

Since the day we took up residence here, after pulling box after box out of storage, we discovered that some items we had looked forward to around would not work within our limited space.  Our china could break. We lacked counter space for both our coffeemaker and my beloved Keurig. And the many pictures that had hung on the wall along the staircase of our previous home would be destroyed in the living area once the sliders moved in. Knowing that we might upgrade to an RV with more space, we socked these things back into storage until we had the space for them.

About two days later, we had problems finding the switch for the water heater and discovered other glitches that needed fixing before we would feel comfortable heading out.  Today, even more glitches presented themselves, but Jeff assures me we’ll be ready to roll out of here on Thursday, June 1.

Even though we had envisioned ourselves immediately rolling out of here on the day after we closed on our house, we can’t help feel relieved that we took our time to become acclimated to our RV and put away whatever could weigh us down.

So, on Thursday, June 1, we’re set to roll on south to New Braunfels. See my post titled “Shhhh…Your Life is Listening”, as I’ve learned that plans, however certain we would like them to be, are written in sand.

So, readers, who among you has lived or traveled with an RV of any kind? What lessons did living in it teach you? Please leave them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.  Stay tuned for our next RV adventure tale, coming soon to a desktop, laptop, or tablet near you.

SHHHH…YOUR LIFE IS LISTENING: When ‘Best-Laid Plans’ Run Afoul or Amok


05-26-17

Well, the moment for which my husband and I have been waiting months has finally come to pass. After closing on our house, one day, we finalized the purchases of our Ford F350 Lariat at A&L Imports and, almost in the same bated breath, plunked down the rest of the price on our fifth-wheel RV, a 2011 Forest River Wildcat, at Fun Town RV. As we pulled away, we reminded each other of so many other times we’ve seen others pulling RVs behind their trucks, we said, “There go Jeff and Kim!”

Now, it’s finally our turn to say “Here go Jeff and Kim!”. But I hasten to say that, just about the time we had it down as to how all of these events — the sale of the house and the purchases of our truck and RV — would come to pass, something or somebody threw a monkey wrench into our plans. It was almost as if Life did his impressions of The Three Stooges’ character, Curly.

“Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk” he would chuckle when he played an evil joke on Moe, the mean one. Well, so goes Life. I’ve had it happen so many times that, every time I tell someone what is going to happen, I hold my breath and wait for “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. I’ll fix you. It’s all going to mush, those plans of yours.”

And so it goes. Our plans to get out and travel, although they came true, morphed into something slightly different from what we expected.

For one, we were originally set to “close” on the house on Thursday, May 25 before we saw the next text message from the title company:  about closing on Wednesday, May 24. Well, that was a pleasant surprise.

But, then, the new buyers allowed us only 48 hours to move out.

“Not a problem,” we thought, until we started trying to vacate our house within that period. Boy, did we ever realize we had amassed a lot of junk!

Another change: we decided to stay local for the first week, to make sure everything is in good working order. Besides, Jeff has an appointment with his cardiologist. Gotta make sure the ol’ ticker’s not going to give out. So, we reserved a space at Trader’s Village. Only, it didn’t turn out to be Trader’s Village in Grand Prairie, which would have allowed us free admission to the grounds. Only it didn’t, because we decided to put down at Treetops RV Village in Arlington.

Then there was the “Big Truck Switch” that resulted in our getting a better truck at a better price.

On the big day, when we drove down to Cleburne to pay for our high-dollar “baby”, someone ran into a light pole and blew a transformer at the RV lot. And when each of our purchases ran longer than expected.

There is some truth to the fact that people should not broadcast their plans. Doesn’t James warn us against it in the Bible, advising us to say, instead, “If God wills,…?”

Or, how about the wise soul who advised us not to “count our chickens before they hatch.”? Once upon a time, someone, somewhere, on up the line knew what dingbats we people can be about telling everyone about what we’re going to do before the day comes. And don’t even get me started about what we tend to do on Facebook!

Still, anyone knowing how Jeff and I have dreamed of this day when I would finally be retired and we would sell the house, liberate ourselves from our car payments, and hit the road.

So, dear readers, what day in your future have you looked forward to? How many people have you told about it, in advance? And what actually happened after you told everyone in the Free World?

I look forward to reading your comments. Until the next time, when I related the first=hand lessons Jeff and I have learned the hard way about living in an RV.

THE REALTOR COMETH, Part 1: Ten Cool Places to Skedaddle Off To When You Need to Lolligag


May 5, 2017

And here we go. Again! Our house sale fell through, two days ago, but already two realtors have prospective buyers.  Since they don’t like for us sellers to be in the house when they arrive, lest we “share” information that could kill the sale in cold blood,  my husband and I have to skedaddle off to someplace where we can rattle around for half an hour or more. Now, that is a slam-dunk if we have to go to the store or run errands, anyway. But what about those times when we just need to find a place to lolligag?

To follow are ten cool places you can find wherever you live, depending on how much money you can afford to blow:

1. Movie theaters (good for at least two hours and, if you’re lucky, they include refillable popcorn tubs)

2. Restaurants (can be loosely defined to include In-n-Out, McDonalds, or even a hot-dog-and-drink special at Costco)

3.  Shopping or Antique malls where nostalgia abounds. We like those with “husband” chairs

4.  Museums (local, state, national, or International, especially if you have the limitless resources of President Trump)

5. Hardware stores that stock doo-hickeys and gizmos galore

6. Sporting goods stores (where you can stock up on “Red Fox Urine” to scare squirrels out of your chimney)

7. Beauty salons or spas (for hair, nails, or foot or back massages). Naps optional.

8.  Zoos and amusement parks (if you are like us and never got the hang of “adulting”)

9. Office supply stores: (Where you can tinker with the latest laptops)

10. Libraries and book stores (Tread carefully in these places have caused uncontrollable bouts of reading and escapism)

Well, now that I have shared a few of our favorites when we have to dilly-dally, what are yours? Leave one of your favorite “lolligagging” places in the comments section below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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THE REALTOR COMETH, Part 2: Stuff Potential Buyers Do Not Need to Hear, See, Smell, or Touch


May 4, 2017

Okay, here we go, again. For about the fourth time, our house is on the market (*although two of those times lasted only a few hours). After we let our realtor  list it on MLS (Multiple Listing Service), Jeff and I get the call that not one, but two realtors(at back-to-back times) want to show the house. Before we take off, we make a quick sweep of the house for anything that we do not want those realtors and our potential buyers to see, hear, smell, or touch.

** Trigger-warning: I am a mystery/suspense writer. Hence, heinous humor ahead. **

 NOISES

A. “SOS.”: (i.e. dripping faucets, running toilets, barking dogs or yowling cats; screaming and/or moaning not incited by * sexual pleasure and, if such is the case, see TMI, below)

B. ” TMI” (i.e. squeaking bedsprings, moans of ecstasy, cries of passion, answering machine messages from a debt collector, someone claiming she is the mother of your love child, your parole officer)

SIGHTS

* poop (pets, vermin, human, etc.)

* bodily fluids (urine, blood — need I elaborate? Eeew.)

* drug paraphernalia or “marital aids” (Must I draw you pictures?)

* dust (i.e. from the air, home repairs, dead skin from the last live sacrifice, etc.)

* skeletons of in-laws

SMELLS

* food (i.e. onions, garlic, pizza)

* rotting garbage (be it from food, diapers, body parts, etc.)

* poop (see also “Sights”, above)

* unwashed body parts (especially armpits or feet)

* decomposing carcasses of live sacrifices (especially after Halloween)

TEXTURES

* Sticky or slimy floors for whatever reason 

* Dust (see “Sights”, above)

Even one of the above visual, aural, olfactory, and tactile No-No’s can be a game-changer in itself. Can you think of others? If so, feel free to insert one in your comments below.

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Living On Island Time: “Roughing It”


05-03-17

Since April 24, when a woman who bought most of our furniture a month ago, came along with her moving crew to collect it, my husband and I have been sleeping on a mattress in the middle of our living room floor as we wait for “closing” day on our house. At the present, the only furniture we have left are two matching end tables and a coffee table, a home-made stand with my daddy’s deejay logo on it below the t.v.; Jeff’s card table and desk, and two lawn chairs that belonged to my parents. Besides for a light in our ceiling fan and another light in the ceiling above the stairs, we still have a floor lamp and two Tiffany-style lamps to light up our space, if needed.

If we were twenty-some years old and getting by until our furniture arrrived in our first apartment, this scenario would be all cutesy and romantic, like a scene from the 1970s Love, American Style. People watching us would say “Awwww. Ain’t love purdy?” And we would spring off the mattress because our tummy muscles would be firm and taut and our  legs would support us. But we’re  youngsters encased in “vintage” bodies.

Back on April 1, when we had a garage/estate sale at our house, some nice folks relieved us of our table and chairs, a hutch, and two living room lamps. Up to April 24, we still had three couches (as in a loveseat, recliner, and full size couch that folded down into a queen-sized bed), our bedroom set, including night tables, box springs, headboard and footboard, dresser, two pictures on the wall, and a big-honkin’ computer armoire and ottoman in the office, even though the sister of a former broker paid cash for them, one Sunday afternoon, promising to pick them up close to the time we were due to move, around May 11.

Well, May 3 is here. Only eight more days until we go to “closing” on the house, providing the buyer’s mortgage company gets on the ball. Like runners, we crouch in the get-set position, toes on the line,  ready for take-off. We have our RV, the truck to tow it, and a rough idea of where we want to go once we pull away from the house I moved into over Labor Day weekend of 2006, almost eleven years ago.

Meanwhile, here we are sleeping on a mattress, every night. In front of the television  . With a fridge full of food and a washer and dryer to launder our clothing.

Come to think of it, what is a few days’ wait?

As Jeff was telling me, earlier today while I agonized over the stop-start pattern of this whole event, life is one big wait after another, but good stuff can happen if we hang in there and “rough it” a little bit longer.

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Surviving Triple Twisters in Canton


04-29-17

“First Monday” Trade Days in Canton, Texas.

We knew today would be the last time we would get to attend “First Monday” Trade Days in Canton, Texas. But little did we expect it to be, possibly, the last day of our lives when triple tornadoes flattened Canton, that afternoon.

Since we will soon leave the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Jeff and I got up early, this morning for the hour-and-a-half drive East. Although the Weather Channel had predicted thunderstorms, we didn’t expect them to be a problem, since we planned to spend most of our time inside the  Marketplace, on the hill.

After spending two to three hours in the building where we sampled  salsa, coffee, and wine coolers, visited with vendors, we bought our second Bionic Bands from our friend, Jackie Blalock  of Cross-b Sales who sold us our first bands, three years ago. Since we bought the bands, they have helped us “vintage youngsters” maintain our balance when, otherwise, the slightest little trip-up might have sent us straight to the floor. Other than  the time I tripped over the dog and went flying through the air on New Year’s Eve 2016, the bands have been well worth the expense.

Now with two of these bands, one on each arm, we were feeling pretty indestructible. We ventured out to the grounds where we found a turquoise RV mat. Wearing our bands, and dreaming of our plans, we felt invincible. That is, until rain pelted the roof overhead , forcing us to head back to the building where we were greeted by officials bearing sobering news: A tornado was coming.

“Y’all go the bathrooms, now!” they urged. .

“Go ‘head on, babe,” Jeff said. “I’ll stay with Jackie in his booth. We’ll be okay.”

Heeding  my husband’s advice, I made a beeline for the restroom where I crowded in with a gaggle of fifty-some women and girls all talking at once. At first, we were simply waiting out a storm, as instructed by a calm but vigilant woman in charge. In her hand, a cell phone showing  a weather map showing an area colored bright red.

“Everyone get away from the mirrors. Go back to the stalls, instead.”

Now, up to that moment, I had never been in a tornado, so I never knew how I would react until it actually happened. I was amazed at how calm I was able to stay, even though my heart was doing somersaults and backflips. Fixing my eyes on the bathroom tiles, I bowed my head and sent up a prayer before texting my husband and posting to friends about the event on Facebook.

You will get through this, Kim, I whispered to my frightened self. Hang tough, ol’ girl.

“The tornado has turned north!” someone suddenly announced.

I looked up to see women leaving the restroom.

So it’s over, already. This is good news, right?

“Thank you, Lord,” I breathed, as my pulse raced.

Only an hour earlier,  the same women had been strangers to each other hugs before we wandered out to be reunited with our husbands, only to be shooed back into the restroom long  when someone yelled, “Get back in there! Another tornado’s on the way!”

So back into the bathroom we bustled. Teenaged girls, blowing off steam, engaged in horseplay until they were sobered by our solemn faces. One woman quietly breastfed her baby from a chair in the corner. A white-haired woman riding a mobility cart, brought her little dog inside with her. Still, another woman held a tiny, recently-rescued kitten to her chest. Some standing on toilet seats and peered over the top of the stalls. Others who were limber enough sat on the floor. Children wept into their mothers’ laps. When the nursing  mother her got up from the chair, I plopped down in it to relieve my back that suddenly ached from trudging all over the grounds.

In an instant, the room went dark. Collective breaths caught as we listened for the characteristic “freight train” roar signalingtwister would soon bear down upon us.

“Hit the floor! Cover your heads!” someone yelled. Knowing that if I got down on the floor, it would take a crane to hoist me up, I bent over and covered my head my purse. Again, I prayed until I broke down and wept as a woman stroked my back and prayed  over me.

“We’re all going to be all right,” she whispered. In spite of the  terror in my heart, I nodded. I knew that, even at that moment, God was still  in control. We would indeed be safe.

“Are you here by yourself?” she asked.

“No,” I replied. “My husband is out there with our friend in his booth. But our car is out on the lot. I’m so afraid that –.”

About that time, someone walked in swinging a lantern that lit up even the darkest part of the bathroom. Meanwhile, the air grew really hot, muggy, and eerily still. We could have heard a proverbial pin drop.

Eventually, I began to hear that the second twister had shifted direction. Only for a third to follow close on its heels. I began to wonder when we would ever get to leave the building.

How long is this going to go on? Are we going to spend the night here? 

I thought of our little dog back home and whether the weather was as deadly in Arlington as it was where we were. There was nothing I could do about Russet, other than to trust she would be okay.

Not long after that,  I noticed that women began to filter out if the restroom. I got up to walk out to look for Jeff. Was I ever relieved to find him sitting in our friend’s booth. I ran out to him, buried my face in his chest, and cried from relief on his strong shoulders.

After we stayed with Jackie a little while longer, he began to shut down his booth for the night. After the three of us shook hands and excahnged one-armed hugs, Jeff and I wandered out to the parking lot where our car appeared none the worse for wear and headed straight home, as emergency vehicles whizzed toward the scene of destruction and drivers huddled underneath bridges to shield their cars from hail that sounded like cannonballs when it hit the windshield.

Around six-thirty p.m., as we were nearing Lancaster, the rain stopped and the skies began to clear up. Although we had considered grabbing a bite on down the road, we decided to grab a few groceries at WinCo and head home, instead, where we heated  some soup, held each other for a long, long time before falling fell asleep in each other’s arms.

On Sunday morning, as we rode to church, I looked down at my gleaming silver-and- gold Bionic Band. I couldn’t help laughing at our human tendency to place our trust in “stuff”. Up to about three o’clock or so, on the day before, Jeff and I had placed our trust in two pieces of metal on our wrists until three tornadoes in rapid succession bore down on the city of Canton and left it in shock after many of its people were injured or killed  and many businesses demolished.

After living through my first tornado, I realized, even more than before, that they are no respecters of persons or places. They don’t make sense in the people they randomly injure or kill or the property they wipe out.

Whoa, but neither do they make sense in the people and places they spare. Among them, folks like us who happened to wander into Canton for one last hurrah.

Bottom line: we survived. We are safe. And, once again, we realized that we are blessed.

So, dear readers, here’s the question I have for you: have you ever wound up in the middle of a dangerous situation?

Many thanks to the Storm Chasers for risking their lives to produce this YouTube video of the in Canton, Texas tornadoes.

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