Nov 26, 2009


Today is Thanksgiving. Most bloggers traditionally have long list of things they are thankful for. I suppose I'm no different. I could talk about faith and the kind of home I grew up in. I could tell you about Mom and Dad and my siblings. I could talk about our kids and grand kids. I could talk about our best friends. I could tell you about how blessed we are. We're both in pretty good health for a couple of baby boomers. We're out doing what we want thanks to other people and all their hard work.

But I've decided today to talk about one person. I've known this person since I was 19 years old. This person has put up with a lot over the years and yet has remained faithfully by my side. We've been through some very tough times and some truly wondrous times. Getting married as young as we did, the odds were against us. We've seen many couples we knew divorce and go their separate ways.

Yes today I want you to know how thankful I am for the most important person in my life. Judy.... my wife, my lover, my companion, my confidant, my life.

Nov 25, 2009


It's Wednesday and we are just outside the west entrance to Big Bend National Park in west Texas. We are in a little town called Study Butte. We are here for two reasons. One is to of course visit the park. We were there this afternoon and will be again tomorrow. The second was to visit "The Field Lab" otherwise known as the home of John Wells. John is a former commercial photographer from NYC who decided he was tired of the big city, with it's big taxes. He bought 40 acres of West Texas desert and is carving out a homestead for himself. I have been reading his blog for the past year and have corresponded with him a couple of times.

Today we headed off the pavement on a one lane dirt lane for 2.5 miles to visit John. We could see his place off in the distance and I'm sure he saw us coming. He is building everything himself. He has a one room house, and is currently building a green house based on 4 containers.

Rather than try to explain it all, I will just link to his blog. In fact if you go to Wednesday's edition you will see a picture of us. Yes, Janet is really Judy. John's only constant companion is a 20 year old open range cow that keeps him company. Her name is Benita.

When we pulled up and shut off the engine, the only sound was classical music playing. Seemed very strange. But John quickly made us feel at home. He showed us around and we couldn't help but be impressed with all he has accomplished in such a short time. You might call him a modern day renaissance man. He can weld, is a carpenter, electrician and he can even bake.

John often whips up batches of bread which he bakes in his solar oven. We were privileged to watch and he sent us home with a loaf he had made earlier.

John's nearest neighbors are both over a mile away but I sense that he knows them better then we know some of our condo neighbors. Out in the middle of the desert, a former commercial photographer, with the bare basics of life, and a cow. Strange, yet it all seems so right!!

Nov 21, 2009


After almost 2 weeks parked in MCD's parking lot, the shades are complete and we are very happy with the results. The final work was completed shortly after 6pm Friday night and by 9:15 Saturday morning we were pulling out of their lot for the last time. This is what it looked like before we started.

All the window shades along the side of the motor home were installed on Tuesday.

A crew arrived around 8am and began taking out the old and putting up the new. The MCD team is efficient and before long all the side shades were up.

All Finished!!

There are two parts to the shade system. The black shade provides privacy during the day. We can see outside but unless we have lights on inside, it is almost impossible for people to see inside our coach. The lighter shade provides complete privacy at night.

The front window proved to be a real challenge for the MCD team. It wasn't easy retrofitting our older, curved, 2 piece windshield but after some trial and error the team came through.

Saturday morning we drove a short distance over to Arlington where we found a nice Passport America park to stay in for two nights. We plan to go to the Fort Worth Stockyards and a couple of art museums. We also need to do a little bit of grocery shopping before we head down towards SW Texas.

Nov 18, 2009


There are rules to remember when remodeling. We last renovated and updated a home in 2003. Guess what? The same rules apply to remodeling an RV.

1. Everything takes longer than promised.
2. Everything costs more than estimated.
3. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
4. If you are ahead or on schedule refer to rule 1 and 2 and 3.

We are in the final phase of our renovation and are ready to be done. I will go on record as saying we would use all 4 of the companies again, but the process is painful. I won't bore you with all the details and hopefully we will be done Thursday noon. We will post pictures when we are "done".

We still haven't been to the JFK museum or the Fort Worth Stockyards, both of which are on our list. So if we finish here tomorrow we will move to a campground near Fort Worth for a couple of days before moving on.

Nov 15, 2009

Tradional Church???

This morning we had the privilege of attending Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. We both grew up in conservative evangelical homes, so their pastor's name was no stranger to us. Chuck Swindoll is a well known preacher and author and has a respected radio ministry. Certainly not the type you would think of when describing a modern day media evangelist.

I am not sure how to describe this church. I'm thinking many would call it traditional, but what is traditional? It seems that most evangelical churches these days, in their quest to be non-traditional, have to have a praise band, sing only praise choruses, use video projectors, and have no hymnals. But it seems to me they have just created a new tradition.

This church makes no apology for what it is. It's a very large church with a broad cross section of members. Traditional in the sense that it is conservative in it's worship and beliefs, but contemporary in it's outreach. It's ethnically diverse and we saw everything from suits to blue jeans. So I don't think it would be fair to put it in a box labeled traditional.

We thoroughly enjoyed the service this morning. It was a good start to the week.

Nov 14, 2009


Today is our Granddaughter Ella's 4th birthday.

Happy Birthday sweet Ella. We love you.
Grandma and Grandpa

Nov 9, 2009


It was about 4pm Sunday when we pulled into Camp MCD in McKinney, Texas. All the full hookup spots were taken but they found an area for us to park and plug into electric. We will probably have full hookups tomorrow. This place is busy!

This morning we checked in with the office but they told us there was a good chance they might not start on our RV today. They have a lot of employees out sick and they are very backed up. We understand. We're glad to be here and are getting settled in and starting to finally slow down.

We had a lot of dirty laundry piling up so this morning we drove over to a local laundromat and managed to fill up 4 washers. Judy knew that if we tried to wash all of our dirty clothes using our little Splendide machine that we have in the RV it might take us days before we were finished.

After the laundry was done, we drove over to the Market Street Grocery to buy a few needed supplies. This store has a wonderful deli, cheese, wine and produce area that should satisfy any foodie out there.

We decided to go out for dinner tonight. We had a place picked out and entered into the gps. As we headed out the door we checked email on the blackberry. We had a email from new email friends Mike and Geri. They had been to MCD a few weeks ago and went to a Mexican restaurant named Cristina's. Change in plans, we decided to try Cristina's. Great recommendation Mike and Geri!!!! The meal and the margarita's were wonderful and it was some of the best Mexican food we have had.

We're looking forward to spending a few days here in this area, seeing some of the sights, and just relaxing.

Nov 6, 2009


Thursday we drove from Bremen to Evansville, Indiana. We were headed to the headquarters of SMI. where we had an appointment to install a device that applies the brakes of our TOAD when the RV brakes are applied. We met these people at the fall FMCA rally in Bowling Green, Ohio. After reviewing several other systems we purchased their AIR FORCE ONE product. They claim you can install it yourself and include a training DVD. After reviewing the DVD, I knew I could handle the Explorer part, but the RV part was intimidating. With all the other problems we have dealt with the last couple of months we decided to let the pros handle it.

When they gave us directions to their location, they said to pull into the church parking lot next to their business. They told us we could park there overnight. But they didn't tell us that this was where they would be doing the installation. This morning Kyle ( the owners son) came out with several tool boxes and went to work right there in the parking lot. Three hours later everything was installed, checked out, and we were on our way. I am very pleased and we would recommend their system. They also have dealers throughout the country that can do the installation. If we hadn't been headed in this general direction that's probably what we would have done.

After a quick stop at the Bank of America in Mt. Vernon, IL we headed south and crossed the mighty Mississippi. It appeared to be at flood stage. We were fortunate to see a down bound tow going under the bridge right below us. Judy insisted that I keep my eyes on the road. She knows how much I love the river and all the work boats. It brought back memories of our 2 trips down the river and the one up. Unlike the canals in France that we enjoyed this last spring, this river is no place to relax. It can quite literally kill you if you don't respect it and the commercial traffic on it.

We pulled into our RV site for the night in Sikeston, Mo. and 20 minutes after we got hooked up we were driving to Lambert's. Our kids know this place well. We brought enough left over food back for tomorrow nights dinner.

We need to be at MCD in McKinney, Texas on Sunday evening and Monday morning they will start on our window shades. Since we moved up our scheduled appointment they told us they may not be able to completely finish us next week. That's OK. We're happy they can start sooner. They have FULL hookups so it will be like staying in a campground.

Nov 4, 2009

Next Stop Evansville

We have spent the last three days in and around and beyond Bremen, Indiana just hanging out while the last few details of the RV remodel were completed and the two new basement doors were painted. Since we couldn't be on the RV while they were working on it, we were challenged to find things to do each day to occupy our time.

Monday we found a few stores in nearby Elkhart and Michawaka to visit. We hung out in Barnes and Noble for awhile and used a gift card we had at Olive Garden for a soup and salad lunch.

Yesterday morning we drove back up to Michigan to visit with John's mom in Jackson and then over to Ann Arbor to meet up with Melissa and grand daughters Emma and Ella. Ella is going to be 4yrs old next week and she got to go to ToysRUs to pick out her birthday present. It was a long day of driving but we had a great time visiting family.

The motor home was parked inside the working garage last night to protect the new paint. They told us they would leave a door unlocked so we could get in after our return from Michigan. It didn't take long after getting inside to realize that it was going to be difficult sleeping with all the solvent and paint fumes. So we packed up a few necessary items, got back in the car, and found a very basic, but cheap, motel in nearby Nappanee that would take dogs and spent the night there.

This morning we were told that all the work would definitely be finished today not Friday like we had originally thought. This was great news. This is a nice enough area, but we were beginning to wonder how we were going to occupy ourselves for another day.

Tomorrow morning we will drive down to Evansville where the new braking system will be installed on Friday. This system activates the toad's brakes whenever the motor home's brakes are used (in RV terms, the vehicle you tow is referred to as the toad). The explorer is heavier than our other toad (jeep) and we don't want to overtax the RV's brakes on mountain passes out west.

We are scheduled to be in McKinney, Texas on the 16th for new window shades but we are hoping to move that up a week. We should know tomorrow.

The work is finally done, we are very happy with it, and we are very excited to be moving on down the road tomorrow. We'll post some pictures in a couple of days.