Sunday, November 29, 2015

State of Residency

Killeen, TX, our current mailing address, is home to Kathy's mom, Evelyn. For our visit back to Texas, we parked in one of the city's oldest mobile home parks which is now known as Cicada Springs RV Park, a gated RV community. Kathy's mom remembered the area from her youth and Kathy vaguely remembers partying at a friend's mobile home that was once housed there. The current owner is updating all the RV pads and offering long term and short term parking. Affordable and clean, it was an unexpected pleasure in a town we typically see as run down and dirty. 

Going through our closet at Evelyn's house, I located my teacher credentials, should I need them. We both decided we didn't need any of our other clothes even though we wouldn't be returning until the middle of winter. We did get a chance to rotate the jeep's tires and got a windshield installed in our RV. thanks to the 2nd crack it's endured since we bought it. The weather was cold and rainy but it dried out long enough for the installation which was even cheaper than the first one we had installed over a year earlier in Houston.

Frances was under the weather with some kind of bug so we took her to a local vet. We thought maybe she had a urinary tract infection. We left her at the vet almost all day but they still couldn't get enough urine to test. Nearly $200 later, we were given pain pills and antibiotics, although the urinalysis was mostly inconclusive.  We weren't very impressed with the young vet, especially after she misread Frances' blood work and told us she may have diabetes.  We decided it was time to head to Houston for a visit to our favorite vet, Dr. Cooper, at Westbury Animal Hospital.

Much to our dismay, it just so happened that the Houston rodeo was going on the same time we were planning on being Houston.  All of the RV parks in or near town were full so we ended up staying at one of our favorite state parks, Brazos Bend State Park, located about 25 miles south of Houston. The park offers hiking, biking, birding, fishing, an observatory and plenty of alligator watching. We've stayed here before without the dogs because Kathy was afraid the alligators would be right outside our RV door waiting for Frances to join them for dinner. 

We tried to make dentist and doctors appointments while we were in town but had no luck. We took Keila to the vet and Frances came along for emotional support. We discussed all her issues with Dr. Cooper and were told that yes, she's old but that no, it's not time yet.  Keila old and slow, but still healthy. We told Dr. Cooper about Frances' trip to the vet in Killeen and he took her to the back for a quick ultrasound to ensure she didn't have bladder or kidney stones. She was good, too! We took the pups back to the RV and prepared for our gathering with friends at the 59 Diner.

We were happy to see our former neighbors, the Tax family, our bowling teammates, Connie and Sam, Delyce, a former co-worker of Kathy's, and her friend, Bethany, who would soon be starting her own wandering adventure by traveling around the country in a modified van. You can read her blog about single life in a van called Somewhere I Feel Free. Please visit her blog at

We truly enjoyed seeing our friends again. Bethany shares my passion for manatees and suggested Blue Spring State Park in Florida. I can't wait!
As we departed Houston, I made arrangements to meet Gerald, a friend, supporter, and former boss, for lunch. Gerald was my boss while I worked in the Parole Division of the Texas Youth Commission. He has the most integrity of any person I have ever met, consider him a mentor and think of him often. We met at Dickeys BBQ, a chain restaurant.

A few more miles down the road found us staying at the Mission Tejas State Park in Grapeland. This historic area has all kinds of significant site,s including an old farm house and a mission. It's hilly roadway and trails called to Kathy and her mountain bike while I relaxed in a long, hot shower courtesy of the park's clean public restrooms. We rarely use public facilities at the parks and campgrounds we frequent, but these were nice and clean and I could run the hot water as long as I wanted without worrying about running out. We shared the entire campground with one other RV. It was a great quiet place before we reported to our first paying job on the road in northeast Texas.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Leaving the Bosque

Our volunteering commitment at Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico was an awesome four months that passed quickly.  The winter was nearly truly gone, save for a final snowy farewell. We were honored at a pizza luncheon and received our Blue Goose pins, the symbol of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  We also received lanyards and gift store credit based on our hours of volunteering. Kathy and I received $36.00 each!  I offered to sing a song I created but no one wanted to hear my off key repertoire'. 

We loaded the RV, connected the Jeep, gave our new dear friends Mary and Fay a hug goodbye and headed south.  

Last day 
the sun struggles to rise amidst the clouds
Storms roll in
No Carlsbad since the snow returns
El Paso awaits

One more drive around the refuge 
Beautiful snow
Grateful for a final Crane fly in from the south
One more morning...left at noon
Memories in digital medium

Texas, just a few hours south, held onto a few more glimmers of winter and we were prepared for ice and freezing fog.  We slept in the Walmart parking lot in Horizon City, TX, just east of El Paso and watched a spectacular red sunset over Juarez, Mexico out our door.  We were saddened by the enormous amount of plastic bags along the highway heading east.

Frances was excited to discover she no longer had to wear boots for walks as we could finally walk in parking lots or the sand with no more sticker grass!  After breakfast at What-a-burger, Kathy's favorite, we drove through frozen fog.  Stunning white landscapes and smoky white ground clouds dancing over black top brought us safely to Monahans Sandhills State Park. This is Texas' answer to White Sands but with smaller dunes and darker sand. Monahans is a cool desert delight.

As the fog lifted, we drove around the park and found a large dune to explore.  Kathy jogged quickly to the top.  I scrambled up after her.  We could see for miles!  The day became warm and we visited the visitors center.  I watched birds at the feeders and learned about the local search for oil.  Yes, even this park had an oil derrick on it.

The next morning found us driving on through Odessa and Midland and then south through fracking fields with desert scrub, again filled with plastic bags.  I'm so glad we usually remember to take our reusable cloth bags shopping.  

Large trucks flew past us at high speeds because out in west Texas the speed limit is 80 mph.
We stopped for lunch on a backstreet in Garden City, neither a garden nor a city.  We liked it here for one reason. The locals don't like oilfield people either.  Signage expressing as much was everywhere.  

Based on advice from Kathy's former work husband, Mike, we landed in the Brady City Park campground.  We watched a car of suspicious characters as we took the dogs for an outing until they finally departed. We saw ducks and a bridge walkway over the city creek as we sauntered through a pecan orchard.  It was very green and pretty.  Winter had already left this area.  

I went grocery shopping alone at Lowes, one of Kathy's favorite grocery stores that she discovered in Alamogordo. We find Lowes are always clean and carpeted.  After shopping, I drove around town looking for a friend who lived in there in 1999.   I drove through what would have been her neighborhood and remembered she had died.  I burst into tears, guilty that I had forgotten that I had already learned about her passing.  I wondered about her husband, Charlie? How did he fair?  If anyone knows of Sally Sanford and Charles please let me know.  I tried to call but there was no phone service for Verizon customers in this area of Texas.  

The next day, we drove further south to areas of Texas which we are more familiar - old stomping grounds and finally, Killeen.