Monday, January 25, 2016

Tripping Across Texas

Texarkana, Texas, to Livingston, Texas

Saturday, November 20, we followed 59 south all the way to Livingston, TX, with a stop at Denny’s Restaurant just south of Carthage. Just for the record, even though backing up with a trailer is not my forte, I did accomplish backing up the trailer, all by myself, to fit in a space next to the big van and camper. It’s been years since we set foot inside a Denny’s Restaurant. There is no Denny’s where we lived in Arkansas. We used to love their Stir-Fry (now gone from the menu) as well as their Ultimate Omelette.

Where should we stay for the night?

John searched the web using our Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge phone and found a website showing a small, clean, park with amenities north of Livingston. The fees and pictures looked inviting. It looked nice enough we were considering staying for a week through Thanksgiving. We did not make a reservation because it was already afternoon and with it being along our route, we figured it would be easy to find. As we rolled in to Livingston, we saw no lighted signs or any indication of it. While gassing up the vehicles, John talked with a fellow customer who said he was going that way and would be happy to lead us to it.

John followed him, and I followed John. We thought when he pulled over, that meant we should turn, and John did just that, followed by me doing the same thing. It turned out to be an unpaved street, with no street lights. It was pitch black with only our headlamps to light the way. We communicated through our two-way radios. John’s voice came over the radio saying we had made a wrong turn and he was looking for a place to turn around. He pulled in to an unlighted driveway and backed out of it. I followed suit, except after turning into the unlighted driveway, I was not too sure about backing out onto the street. I rolled my window down to get a better view of the black night when I heard a voice asking if I could back up. The fellow leading us came to help us and he had a flashlight. I told him I could back up if he told me which way to turn the wheels. Thanks to him, his directions, and his flashlight, I got turned around and we headed back to the highway. As it turned out, we had only one more street to go.

We Made It!   Really?

This street was also dark. There was no light, and the near non-existent sign was also dark, as in not lit, not even a case of being turned off for the night. Oh my! This was not a good omen. To top it off, the falling rain had created mud puddles throughout the park. A couple of units in the park had lights, but no one came out. No camp host appeared to be on duty. Some units were totally dark and looked abandoned. I followed John through the park and with the assist of our walkie-talkies, he got the camper backed in. I parked the van and small trailer along the street in front of the space he backed into.

This was no where I wanted to be for a week, let alone a night! My wish came true when he plugged in to the electric, flipped the switch and there was no electric, and no water (except for that in the puddles). We left. As we drove past the building that appeared to be for registration, showers, etc, we had a better view of it and saw the broken windows and total disarray.

Lesson learned -- what you find on the internet is not always the way it appears. If you have never been there, check it out first! Thank goodness we did not make any reservations. As it turned out, John had tried to call for directions when we were getting gas, but no one ever returned his message.

At this point, we continued south to Rainbow’s End Escapees RV Park at Livingston. The office had already closed when we arrived, but for late arrivals, their information showed some easy-access sites. We opted to stay Saturday and Sunday in a pull-through site convenient to the office. Sunday night, the temperature dipped to 33 degrees, but we stayed warm and cozy. We had electric and used our built-in heater.

Sunday evening, we went to a short meet and greet session at the activity center, during which we had a dish of ice cream, and met Carmen and Domingo. Clipboards with sign-up sheets for ten people at a table were available. People attending the dinner signed up to bring a dish by putting their name, phone number, and the dish they were bringing. Since a Thanksgiving Dinner was in the works, we signed up and went to the office on Monday and extended our stay four more nights through Thanksgiving.

Wow…What a small world!

We had a surprise waiting for us when we moved to a pull-thru site in another section of the park closer to the activity center, clubhouse, and laundry room. Glen, the fellow leaving the site we were going to was a piano tuner, also headed west. When Glen learned we had a piano with us, he asked if my piano needed tuning. I asked him what tuning method he uses, and it is the one I like. We exchanged cards and information so we can contact him further down the road and arrange for him to tune my piano. I could not believe we already met a piano tuner in our travels. What are the chances of that!


Rain was predicted across Texas for three days after Thanksgiving, and we were not crazy about driving in a hard rain, so we extended again. We ended up spending a total of nine nights in Livingston.  This gave us more than ample time to do laundry, and read the list posted outside the laundry building of activities scheduled for the week.

Wednesday evening, we enjoyed movie night at the clubhouse. The movie was “The longest Ride” with Alan Alda and Clint Eastwood’s son in it. For the first time since we left home, I also found time to play songs I knew by heart on the piano.

The park furnished the turkey, gravy, and refreshments for Thanksgiving Dinner. We each took a side dish to serve the ten people at our table. The side dishes at our table consisted of peas epicurean (in a cream sauce with bacon), fruit salad, rolls, squash, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, cranberry sauce, and an English summer berry pudding with whipped cream to put on top of it. Friday evening, everyone brought their leftovers, and we had a potluck. Talk about it being a small world, both nights, we had the pleasure of sitting next to Angela and Peter, a very nice couple with a pleasant accent from Great Britain touring the United States. Loved their British accent.

One day while doing laundry, we had the pleasure to meet and talk with Carol Kiwi Donovan.  She is an exceptional lady from New Zealand, who spends time in Alaska, is a world birder, travels all over America visiting National Parks, and much more.  It was interesting and exciting to hear about her life adventures. You can google her name to learn more about her.

After changing sites on Monday, we had errands to run. First, we got a big bag of chow for Angel and food to fix for Thanksgiving at the local Walmart Super Center.

Since we use a garden hose to drain our gray water, next we stopped at a local RV shop to get a special fitting to hook our garden hose to, which seals it into a larger 3 or 4 inch sewer opening.

Westward on 190

Most of the rain had passed by Monday, November 30, but we still had periods of light rain, mist, and overcast skies as we continued West.

I took this photo showing the overcast skies while following John as he pulled the camper. 
As we followed 190, the first day was a lot of up and down (north and south) driving, rather than straight west; we ran into road construction in Temple, TX. Our first night after leaving Livingston was at Harker Heights, just east of Killeen, Texas. We chose the Walmart Parking Lot for our overnight stop because we needed to stock up on many items. This was a nice (and HUGE) Super Walmart.

Two extra trips to purchase four one-gallon jugs of water, and replenish batteries for our flashlights were necessary. For future, however, we think making a list of things we need will keep us from having to make repeat trips back into the store. Just because we run out of something does not necessarily mean we have to get it immediately. Waiting to buy when we shop for the entire list makes more sense.  By the way, most people think that boondocking in a Walmart parking lot is free, but after adding up our receipts for that night, believe me, it was not free -- but it did save us time by not having to stop and shop the next day.

It was down to 41 that night so the Mr. Heater Big Buddy Heater kept us warm during the night. It warmed things up comfortably and the pilot flame kept it tolerable during the night. After doing our shopping, we opened a can of chili and heated it on the Coleman butane stove we had purchased at the Walmart Super Center in Ash Flat, Arkansas, broke some soda crackers in it, and had pineapple and mango fruit cups for dessert.

Westward Ho and on we go in the next post! If you want to follow our adventures and be notified of new posts, you can subscribe by email or one of three other methods. Your comments are welcome.

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