Sunday, January 13, 2019

'19/#1 A Late Happy New Year

Well here we are two weeks into 2019. I can't believe how fast 2018 went and how quickly 2019 has started. We are still in south Texas and enjoying our time here. So much so that we are thinking about coming back for another winter season. The people that we work with and the residents have become more like family and coming back will feel like going home.

Now lets back up a bit. The week of Christmas I caught the stomach bug that had been going around. After that, Mary got a case of the sniffles. We didn't know if it was allergies or a cold but it passed in a couple of days. Apparently whatever it was, it was contagious because I got it a few days later. When I got sick I did it right! I got the sneezing, sniffling, coughing, congestion that decided to linger right through the New Years celebration. In fact I still have a bit of what they are now calling a post viral cough syndrome. Why is everything a syndrome now? Anyway we are feeling better.

Things have started to pick up here in the park. All the Winter Texans are now here and the activity calender is filling fast. Of course everyone wants people to participate in their functions and we are part of that. There are only so many hours in the day and days in the week, so we have to carefully schedule events that we want to get involved in. We need a little down time for ourselves to recharge the old batteries.

Some of the things we have gotten involved in are pickleball, wood carving, scroll saw, chip carving, swimming, pot luck dinners, in house movie night, dances, and just volunteering in general. It is too easy to fill the calender and get over whelmed. Add to that the hours that we put in work camping and our time is at a premium.

Well that is how 2019 has started for us and there is no sign of it slowing down. I will try to find time to blog more as the year progresses, from our home here in Pharr Texas because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Friday, December 21, 2018

'18/#32 Feliz Navidad

This is my Merry Christmas blog from the Rio Grande Valley. it is that time of year when everyone is getting into the spirit of the holiday. While some the spirits of the holiday may be getting into them (LOL). Anyway the office in the park is overflowing with decorations and the rest of the building is decorated with Christmas trees, lights, and garland. Christmas dinner in the hall is coming together nicely and those of us who want a quieter celebration are getting things ready for our holiday meal at home.

Last week we drove down to Hidalgo to see the Annual Festival of Lights put on by the city and local businesses. The stores are all dressed up and Christmas music is playing everywhere. The crowds haven't been too bad. It is just the usual Winter Texan congestion just like the Snow Bird situation in Florida.

In our home we have put up our flat Christmas tree, strung some garland with a number of ornaments, and have several music emitting decorations and animated items. we are starting to watch all the Christmas shows we have saved to our DVR and of course there is Christmas music playing. Sometimes Mary even joins in and when she belts them out....well lets say she should keep her day job. I love her and wouldn't dream of stopping her but sometime I have to find ways to deal with the excess (ahem) noise.

We have decided that on Christmas eve to go to the office and make sure all the last minute packages that show up get delivered to the residents in the park. It is not something that we have to do, but in the spirit of Christmas and as retired postal workers we feel it will be our contribution to making sure that everyone has a Merry Christmas.

Well I am going to end this blog now. We are volunteering in concessions for tonight's dance so we have to eat a little early. This may or may not be my last blog before Christmas so we are sending out our Merry Christmas wish to everyone now from our home in Pharr TX because......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Thursday, December 6, 2018

'18/31 We Scaled The Wall

We have been here in the Rio Grande Valley now for a month and it was time to go to Mexico. The park bus was going so we joined the party instead of driving. As we approached the border we kept an eye out for the troops that were stationed down here to keep the South American caravan from crossing into the US. Since the city of Donna is just a few towns from where we cross in Progresso we expected to see some build up of troops but none were to be found.

At the bridge crossing, the Mexican check point was the same as before. A fifty cent pedestrian toll and welcome to Mexico. When we go by bus we usually have about four hours to spend in Progresso so we just strolled down the main street and checked out the stores to see if anything had changed. Not all of the shops were open but for the most part it was business as usual.

Like most Winter Texans we picked up a few trinkets and some OTC medicine that is considered prescription medication in the USA. These medications are also at a substantially lower price. That tells you something about the pharmaceutical business in the US.

Last year I finally got Mary to eat lunch in Mexico and since she survived we decided to have lunch before we headed back to the bus. Two lunch plates, two margaritas, and a beer for $15 and it was delicious. Apparently the margaritas were a little potent and hit Mary a bit harder than she expected. Needless to say she was enjoying herself.

Well it was time to get back to the bus. A 25 cent toll to get back to the good old USA, a check of our passports, and we were on our way home. No soldiers, no barbed wire, no invading horde. All a bunch of baloney to scare the American public.

The bus was ready to leave and Mary was already closing her eyes. It was a quiet trip back to the park with our fellow travelers tired and Mary with a little buzz.

Once home Mary continued her nap in her own bed in our home in Pharr because...

Home is where we park it.
Frank and Mary


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

'18/#30 'Tis The Season

We are well into our winter season here in southern Texas and are getting back in the rhythm of the park we are staying. It is getting close to the end of November and that means the holiday season is kicking off. First and foremost Mary and I would like to thank everyone who wished us Happy Birthday. To quote Clarence Oddbody of It's a Wonderful Life, "no man is a failure who has friends!". By that account Mary and I are way beyond successful in life when looking at the list of people we count as friends. Thanks again for all the well wishes.

Now on to the holidays.  First up is Thanksgiving. This year we are going to keep it simple and have a Thanksgiving for two. That means we will sleep in, watch the recorded Macy's parade, get a start on all the holiday programming on TV, and of course eat too much delicious food. We will probably stay in our PJs all day and make phone calls to friends and family before falling into a food induced coma.

The rest we get from the previously mentioned coma will come in handy since Mary has found a few Black Friday sales she wants to go to. Fortunately Black Friday is not the insanity it was years ago thanks to Internet shopping and Cyber Monday. Our holiday shopping is going to be curtailed this year.  We are planning ahead for the next couple of years and need to enhance our financial status if want to take on the adventures we hope our future holds for us.

The next holiday we celebrate is Chanukah. This a celebration of the miracle of the rededication of the temple. The story goes that one day's worth of oil lasted eight days during this time. We will celebrate it like most Jews with the lighting of the menorah but we seem to have started our celebration a  little early... only with propane instead of sacred oil.

We have a propane cylinder that needs a new valve and the propane tech told me to use up the full cylinder so we didn't waste 9 gallons of propane. For the last 3 plus weeks we have been using propane for everything even though we get our electricity for free. We heat our hot water, heat our house, cook, and even run our generator all with propane instead of electricity which is our normal procedure. And still the propane cylinder is not empty! In West Yellowstone where we used electricity for everything, and propane only to supplement the electric heat, we used a cylinder once a week. I am not one to believe in miracles but....... Anyway, it has lasted way longer than we thought it should. We are glad that we will be able to get by on less propane when we go back to normal but we also would like to get the defective valve fixed.

Well the laundry is done and needs to be folded so I will end this with a "Happy Thanksgiving" to everyone from our home in Pharr because....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Saturday, November 3, 2018

'18/#29 It's Winter Texan Time!

Our summer season is over and West Yellowstone is behind us. We left before the temperatures dropped and the snow started to pile up. That is why we are full time RVers and our houses are on wheels. That and the fact that Mary didn't know what a snow shovel was! HAHA. The trip south was relatively uneventful and we were welcomed back to Texas with open arms.

This first week back we got the rig set up for a long term stay. The truck was washed and de-bugged and we got caught up with the laundry. Then we drove around checking out some of our favorite stores and doing a little shopping. We also went to the office to get a bit of a refresher and updates on the office procedure. My mind is at that age that if I get away from a regular routine it just seems to fall out and get lost forever.

Part of our reintroduction to the area was reintroducing our stomach's to some of our favorite foods. Six months in Montana and we forgot what seafood was. Also Mary had to get her Whataburger fix. We are looking forward to some real Italian, Chinese, and Mexican food. The Mexican food is especially good being only a few miles from the Mexican border.

Speaking of the border, we are also looking forward to our trips into Progresso and enjoy the Mexican welcome for the Winter Texans. We are officially Winter Texans which is very different from Florida's Snow Birds. Snow Birds are tolerated while Winter Texans are overtly welcomed. Not just the winter communities but the towns all around us have special events and promotions aimed at the Winter Texans.

Well this is our first day back at work in our Winter Texan home here in Pharr Texas because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

'18/#28 Ours Is A Different World

With Montana behind us and Texas somewhere down the road our adventure continues. It was a great summer in West Yellowstone. We got to meet some wonderful people and make what we hope will be lasting friends. Yellowstone National Park did not disappoint and we found some hidden gems in the surrounding countryside. But now we have other things to do.

If you have been following us, you know we had an eventful trip northward bound in the spring. Some damage was incurred on the rig and we are stopping in Arizona to have it repaired. We will be there for a few days and hope to be back on the road to our winter destination in the Rio Grande Valley.

Yes we drove past the turn-offs to Bryce Canyon and Zion National park. We also kept the wheels rolling as we left Salt Lake City and Las Vegas behind us. Many of you are saying that we are driving too fast and missing many things worth seeing. Well that may be true if we were on a vacation like most people who travel the country. But we are NOT on vacation. As I have mentioned many times, this is a lifestyle and not a vacation. We have places to go and people to see and things to do just like everyone else does in their life. Ours is different than most and it maybe hard to understand but every drive is not a sight seeing tour. Just because a trip to the grocery store or the mall may take you near a museum or beach or other attraction doesn't mean you have to stop. It just means you live near places that other people would love to see.

I grew up just outside NYC and went into the city many times. Sometimes to work with my Dad, sometimes to visit family, and even sometimes to see a show or museum...but it wasn't until I moved to Florida and was well into my 40's that I went to the top of the Empire State Building. Why? It was always in my own backyard, so to speak, and that was what "tourists" did. Mary went to Disney a gazillion times, mostly when friends or family visited from out of state and that was what they wanted to see. As Mary puts it, "she doesn't have to see that #@#$% mouse again...EVER!". Why? Again it was in her own "backyard" and we tend to take things for granted that are just "there".

I know that we will go to many of these places that we pass on the road at some time, and we have seen many of them already. But right now we have places to be and people to see and things to do and that is the life we live. As a friend once said, "the RVer's neighborhood is 3000 miles wide". That makes everything in this country right here in our backyard.

So for now we are just rolling on down the road taking care of business in our home in Golden Valley Arizona ( just for one night) because.......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

18/#27 It's NOT Jello And It's Frozen!

There are only 5 more days on the calendar until we leave West Yellowstone. We and all the other work campers are getting anxious about hitting the road and moving on to the next adventure. Like everyone else we are starting to get the rig ready to travel. Things need to be stored and secured, final loads of laundry are being done, and food is being prepared so we can travel without having to spend too much time cooking.

All this time we are still working our jobs here and dealing with the cold weather. The last 3 days the high temperatures have not gotten above freezing. Water hoses have been disconnected and we have been working off our on board fresh water supply. We have also been keeping an eye on our propane supply and make good use of electric heaters, blankets, and mattress pad. The last was a recent purchase and it is wonderful on these cold Montana nights.

Everything was going smoothly so we knew that somewhere we were going to run into our "jello" moment. After the cold spell had broken I went outside to dump our waste water tanks. I pulled the handle and glug, glug, stop. What the .....! I checked the sewer hose and lo and behold (always wanted to use "lo and behold") it was frozen solid in a couple of spots. I hadn't payed attention to the low spots that had developed and the water there froze solid in the shape of the corrugated hose. Well that wasn't good. Now I couldn't dump my full waste water tanks!

Soon Mary was out there with me trying to solve this dilemma. First we tried a blow dryer but the ice was too thick and hard so we got nowhere fast. Then we thought we might be able to disconnect the hose, hold it vertical, and maybe the ice would slide out. Nope, not happening. Finally we boiled water and Mary poured it down the hose while I held it vertical and eureka! (Always wanted to use "eurika" also.) The ice started to break free and all the nasty sewer water and frozen waste water flushed down the campground's sewer connection. That was great but there were 2 more hoses to do so more hot water more frozen poop water and finally the hoses were clear. Mary called them "poopcicles". Did not sound appetizing.

But were we done? No! Now I had to get back to dumping the full grey and black tanks. As I pulled the handle to empty the tanks we had a little geyser of waste water squirting through a hole the ice had punctured in one of the hoses. Out to the hardware store ( which by the way has a decent RV section) and one new hose later we were able to dump our tanks without creating a bio-hazard situation.

This could have ruined our whole day or put us in a lousy mood but like I always say "there goes the jello". Patience and a sense of humour may be the best tools an RVer can carry with them on the road. You never know what will happen next but whatever it is you just have to deal with it. Later on it becomes another story to tell around the campfire.

Well we are tired and don't feel like cooking after our poop water ordeal so we are treating ourselves to dinner out. Tomorrow we go back to work to finish our commitment and earn a substantial bonus. It may have been the only thing keeping us here the last few weeks. So I will sign off with empty poop tanks and a brand new sewer hose in our home in West Yellowstone because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary