Sunday, November 25, 2012

Settling into living in Retama Village, Nov 25, 2012

We arrived back from our trip to Europe about three weeks ago.  We were met at the airport by our next door neighbors, Roger and Dianne and they even had a great dinner for us to share for our homecoming! 

It took us about a week for us to acclimate to the six hour time change, jet lag sure does do its thing on us. 

Dianne had raised some beautiful tomato plants from seed and had saved two for me.


So we had to go shopping for some potting soil and pots for my new babies.  I also added some water retaining crystals to help maintain the water in the pots. 

Jump ahead two weeks, they are doing wonderful, even have a few tomatoes set.


Bob made a fruit bird feeder out of a 8” 1”x 2” cedar board and some screen for the bottom.


Another jump ahead…see who is eating, do believe it is a Golden Fronted Woodpecker.


Thanksgiving at Retama Village was awesome.  There were ten folks at our table.  All the dishes were delicious.


With Thanksgiving behind us, we decorated the coach for Christmas.


See our new bikes!  They came from Amazon with a few parts to assemble and adjust.  Now we can explore the area and the state park next door.


Meet our new betta named Guy.  He is a beauty.



Monday, August 13, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane…tomorrow, Aug 13, 2012

Follow our European travels on Bob’s blog. Just click on the words Bob’s blog and you will be linked to his blog. Below is the actual link, if you want to use it.

The excitement builds. My bags are packed and ready to go. Bob has a few more items to pack.


I know I am going to really love the fact our new luggage has wheels. I am now ready for us arriving at the furthest away airport gate and having to walk miles to our next connecting gate.

We fly out of McAllen Airport tomorrow early afternoon for Houston, then around 6:30 leave Houston for a 10 hour flight to Frankfurt Germany. (Germany is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Time, 7 hours ahead of Central Time, and 9 hours ahead of Pacific Time.) After arriving in Frankfurt at 11:30 am on Wednesday, we will travel by train to Wurzburg for our first four day stop on our three month trip.

To read about our trip check out Bob’s blog.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Travel to and arrival at Retama Village, Mission, TX, Aug 1-11, 2012


While staying at the Escapees’ Rainbow’s End RV Park making sure our washer/dryer unit worked and the Norcold refrigerator remained cold, Bob tacked another much appreciated, by me, job.  He recharged the A/C Unit in the Explorer.  After adding two cans of R34a we both were happy and cool.

On our way down to the RGV (Rio Grande Valley), we made two stops.  The first was in at the Dixieland RV Park in Carmine, TX, the next two night stop was at Goliad State Park in Goliad. 

Then on Wednesday the 8th we drove the last 230 miles to our RV lot at Retama Village.





Today, (Sat) we were doing a little gardening and trimming  when some new to us neighbors stopped by, Bob and Kathleen (plus their dog named Cookie.)  They spend their summers here and when they heard we were flying out on Tuesday, they offered to take us to the McAllen airport which is about 15 minutes away.  Thanks Bob and Kathleen for the gracious offer.

Our bags are packed”, or mostly packed for a couple of days now.  Every day I keep adding a few items, so far so good, the zipper still zips. 

I have a list of tasks yet to do:  1) Suspend our Verizon phone service,  2) Suspend our Directv service,  3) Call the bank to increase the withdrawal limit on one remaining ATM card (the others have already been increased), 4) Backup the Quicken program on my computer. 

I have already taken care of our insurance renewals for the coach and car which come due during the time we are gone.   Have also suspended our internet satellite service, formerly Motosat, now through Real Time.  We have also called and notified the bank and our credit card company of our upcoming European travel so they don’t shut the card down for unusual usage outside the country.

I will not be updating this blog during our European trip, leaving out of here on Aug 14th and returning Nov 6th.  But we will be updating our travels on Bob’s Blog,  and will also be posting brief updates on Facebook.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

CARE volunteer month complete and successful RV repairs, Livingston, TX, Aug. 1, 2012

July 31st was our last day volunteering at CARE and it was an easy day for us.  With our service appointment at West RV Service having us scheduled to arrive on Tuesday pm, we drove the coach down to arrive by 1:30 pm.  We were greeted by the lady at West RV Service as referring to us as the overnight guests.  Soon they parked our coach, hooked us up to electric and water and we were set for the afternoon and night.


We joined the CARE residents for dinner and after the table and chair cleaning, Bob with Ron’s help completed the vacuuming for the last time.


IMG_1227After dinner we joined a few of the volunteers and residents’ for several lively games of Wizard.  One of the residents even gave us our own set of Wizard cards.  Soon it was time for good-bye hugs, bittersweet indeed. 

Today was a successful day for our repairs.  A new thermistor for the Norcold achieved the coldness we desired.  A new to us, but used Splendide motor also fixed our washer/dryer combo.


Here is proof the washer/dryer does come out of its space, there is only about 1/2” to spare.  I had to see it to believe it.

By 1:30 we had pulled  out of West RV and were parked at the Escapee’s Rainbow’s End RV Park.  I plan on doing several laundry loads tomorrow to make sure the washer does work as expected before we head down the Mission, TX.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last full week at CARE, Livingston, TX, July 23-29, 2012

Not so much rain this week, but the high humidity and temps have not let up.

We now have an ice maker that makes ice and have no leaks!!  The tech at West RV Service fixed the leaky outside line in no time, but the Splendide washer/dryer combo was a different story.  We do know the control board is not the problem and are scheduled to bring the coach back on the 31st, plug it in at their shop so they can continue with the diagnosis bright and early on Aug 1st.  When they find out what the problem is, we were told it could be one of fifteen different things, they will order parts and hopefully in a couple of days we will be on our way to the Rio Grande Valley.

On our day off (Wed.) steam coming out from under the hood interrupted our shopping trip in Livingston.


The 19 year old radiator hose sprung a leak.  Since we carry antifreeze from a prior unknown leak, Bob added it so we could limp two miles to the Walmart where we bought anti-freeze, clamps, bicycle tire patches and a set of tools.   Ever seen folks fixing their car in a Walmart parking lot, well that was us on Wed. 



On our way back to the coach, we stopped and ordered a new radiator hose for pickup on Thursday.  Now the Explorer sports a new radiator hose.


Bob is to blame for taking this photo of our neighbor and myself securing her coach’s water hose so she could take her driving test in her coach.


I rode with her to lend moral support and also to let her test drive the route I had taken 18 months ago myself.  She did great on our test drive, but was not able to take her test as her brake lights would not work.


Saturday late afternoon, a loaded (12) Care Center shuttle bus left to attend the Liberty Opry.  What a fun time!  We all stopped for dinner along the way and arrived  at the theater in plenty of time.



Here, the keyboardist, Calvin Gainey, is finishing up his ‘rafter shaking’ performance of “Great Balls of Fire”.


The evening was complete with the comedy routine of Booger Lee and Jerry.  Awesome show for only $12 each.


When the show was over, our bus was parked out front (the little one in front).  During intermission our driver went out and re-parked the bus for easy boarding for everyone.


As I write this entry, we have one more night of being “On Call” (Monday) and then we are done here.  Our replacement team arrived on Saturday. 

We have new luggage for our European trip (we leave Aug 14th from McAllen Airport), the Rick Steves’ rolling backpack.   These cases do seem smaller than the cases we have used before, so, we will see if what we want to bring fits.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Another week at CARE, Livingston, TX - July 16-22, 2012

This past week has been a combination of rain and sunshine, oftentimes in the same day.  Getting our laundry dry can be a challenge.  Since our washer is on the blink (to be diagnosed tomorrow the 23rd) I did a washer full at the laundry at the park, then I hang the clothes to dry on our rack on the back of the coach.  Do you see the plastic shower curtain covering my almost dry laundry from a quick rain shower? It worked great and we had dry fresh sheets to sleep on.
Our frig is also sporting a new ice maker.  According to the RV forums Whirlpool makes a identical replacement available from Lowes.  It didn’t take Bob too long to put it in.  Now to get the heated water line from the solenoid up the back of the frig replaced, that also is on the list for the RV Service repair happening tomorrow.
My next items on the list was to replace the kitchen faucets.  They had been ordered and waiting for the appropriate time to do.  The job went much easier than Bob anticipated.  The hardest part was removing the shelf so he could reach the faucet connections.
The old faucet is out!
The new faucet is installed along with a drinking water faucet.  My new faucet is a Moen 7545 Camerist, stainless.  Its removable sprayer spigot has a little higher arc than the old one had, but not too high to interfere with the cabinet above.
Below are two other volunteers here at Care, Lee on the left and Anita on the right.  Lee and her husband are from Israel and we have had a great time getting to know then.  Anita is originally from England. In fact, not too far from where we will be this fall when visit Norwich, England.  My family originated from the Norwich area dating back to the 1400-1600’s. 
Every night around 6 pm we (us volunteers) gather and clean up the dining room.  Each table top and chair is sprayed and wiped down with a vinegar and water solution.  Then the floor is expertly vacuumed by Bob.
In going through ‘stuff’ at our house last spring, I came across the postcard size photo (below with a white border) of my great grandmother, Adaline Hamilton Crane (1851-1925).  This postcard was sent to our good friends, John and Judy, who own a photo lab in Grand Rapids, MI to see what they could do to enhance this photo.  The photo below is the result.  I love it!!
Looks like she had on her Sunday bonnet which looks to be crocheted.
Our time here at CARE is drawing to an end, just 10 more days.  We have met some amazing folks that stay here.  We came to help but they have given us way more than we have given them.  Such awesome spirits.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Rain, Rain… Livingston, TX, July 9-15, 2012

In the last week we certainly have had our fair share of rain, over 9”.  Also  nine of the next 10 days have a forecast of rain, so it is not over.

We have been busy at the Care Center doing our assigned jobs, which includes every other night being on call.  Thank heavens we have had no emergency calls at night, we  sure have a healthy group of folks here!

Every night all four of us volunteers meet around 5:45 to all help clean up the dining area. All chairs are wiped down with a vinegar and water solution, the tables are also wiped off with the same solution. Then the floor is vacuumed. Bob has become known as the happy vacuumer!


IMG_1153Our new dehumidifier (Eva-Dry 2200)arrived a few days ago.  So far we are pleased with its performance.  It has pulled anywhere between a half to a full cup of water every day. 

This week it was time to deep clean under the stove top, I mean down below the black cover you see.  And yes, there are NO photos of what was there, it was bad.


IMG_1140Also this week, we bought a new shower head, it is larger, more settings and has a wonderful water shut off option.


Next Monday, the 23rd, we have an appointment at a local RV repair shop for them to work on our icemaker leak and diagnose our Splendide washer/dryer combo.  We know the icemaker leaks from the solenoid in the back up to where the water enters the frig, so the frig will need to be removed to get at it.  The washer/dryer won’t agitate, but repairs on it also involve its removal and that should be interesting to watch.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

International American Pie

Remember Don McLean’s song, American Pie.    Remember the chorus…

So, bye bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
Them good ol' boys were drinking whiskey and rye, singing...
This'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

Well, on July 4th when I was helping with the dishes after our noon meal, this song was playing on the radio while Anita from England, Mike (Hiam) from Israel and myself from Ohio were all singing along.   A special moment indeed!!  Who would have known it was an International Song!!

First Full Week at CARE, Livingston, TX, July 3-8, 2012

All six of us volunteers, two separate singles, Ron and Anita, Mike and Lee, and us survived our first full week of the volunteer staff being just us. We are lucky as Anita was here last month, she has kept us all in line.  (Winter volunteer staff is 5-6 couples [10-12 folks]). Russ, the maintenance man helps out with Anita for her on call nights, which is every other night, with us taking the on call when she is off.  Ron is our full-time driver so he is busy every day. So far we have driven two residents to their respective appointments here in Livingston.   


Mike and Lee, who are parked in another section of the park, help out with what they can, in fact, they organized and cooked the noon and evening meal on the 4th with all of our help.  Lee made a fantastic potato salad and all the residents loved it. They are from Israel and I loved her To Do list. (I think I have it in the right direction)


IMG_1128Here is Bob enjoying his 4th of July noon meal, BBQ Beef sandwiches, homemade potato salad, watermelon, prepared and cleaned up by all the volunteers.



The Park’s annual 4th of July parade started in front of the CARE Center.


As with most of the United States, the temperatures here have been hot and the humid.  The A/C runs all day, but we do shut it off at night, as we don’t like to hear it run, but by morning the coach is warm and really stuffy.  We don’t want to open up the coach as the outside humidity is between 60-95%.

To try and solve our high humidity issue, I ordered a small dehumidifier, Eva-Dry 2200, should be here on Wednesday.  We will see if it helps keep the humidity in the coach down just a little, hopefully the A/C won’t have to run so much.  Will let you know how well it works.

Eva-Dry Edv-2200 Mid-Size Dehumidifier

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