Sunday, April 29, 2012

RV Dreams Rally and Ahhhhhhhhh!!

Roger here....  The opening photo is of the "ahhhhhhh!" at Balmorhea State Park in West Texas ---- where we are at this moment ---- but first, the RV Dreams Rally.

Now that we are on the road again, our posts should be more frequent.  The RV Dreams Rally that was organized by Howard and Linda Payne was everything we expected --- so much information and SO MUCH FUN.  Every day was filled with so much information about our lifestyle (some we knew and some we had forgotten).  It was a great rally for both newbies and people like us who have been on the road for a while.  I don't have pictures of the seminars (that would be boring if you were not there), but I do have pictures of some of the off time and some of the fun.

First the off time.  Every day the puppies needed a walk.  Here are some shots of the walking area at Buckhorn Lakes RV Resort.

The picture above shows the large fenced dog area that will soon be available.  Our kind of place.

During the rally, we had a full afternoon of free time.  Five of us, all Retama Village residents who were at the rally, traveled to the Hill Country Wine Area, and enjoyed an afternoon at our favorite Texas Winery, Grape Creek Vineyard.  We shared a couple bottles of wine, a couple different cheeses, and some chocolate.  Ahhh!  Say hello to me, Kathy, Marian, and Mike.  (Dianne took the picture).

After the wine.... Dianne and I traveled a short distance from the campground to have dinner at Mamacitas in Kerrville, TX. 

Great atmosphere...  Delicious Mexican food... a bifsteca (steak) with charro beans, peppers, tomatoes, and rice.  (Two suppers with the take-home box).

Now the fun time....  The catered meals at Buckhorn Lake rate with the best catered meals we have ever eaten.  Take a look at the pork chop dinner on the last night.  With aluminum foil... another supper.  We are set for two days!

The theme for one evening was the Newlywed Game - full-timer style.  A couple of the questions give you a sense of the fun.

The last night of the rally was Hollywood Night.  Many of the attendees dressed up as celebrities.  We did not... this time.    Howard was Bruce Willis, complete with sunglasses (sorry, no picture).  Linda was Elizabeth Trailer:

The rally ended with a delicious breakfast, another tasty meal.  Linda sang farewell with her rendition of a Rascal Flatts song, "My Wish."

Howard and Linda weighed our motor home just before our departure.  This is an important safety issue.  We were relieved to know that our motor home's weight was evenly balanced and that we only needed to slightly adjust the air pressure in our tires.  It was nice to have this task done before hitting the road for six months.

Now for the ahhhh-time....  We have not been traveling for a while.  We definitely miss our adventures in nature.  Today, all that returned. We drove five hours west on Interstate 10 before arriving for a one-night stay at Balmorhea State Park in West Texas.  (Texas is a big state.)

The natural springs at Balmorhea create an oasis in a dry part of the southwest.  The opening picture (taken from our campsite) and the next two photos (also taken from our campsite) explain the drops in our blood pressure.

Bandido and Tequila enjoyed exploring the new campsite.

Dianne and I enjoyed the empty campground and the mountain views.

Our journey tomorrow will take us through El Paso, out of Texas (finally), and into New Mexico.  

The pet pictures of the day show Tequila taking time to smell the wildflowers at Buckhorn Lake.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We're Outta Here! On to the RV Dreams Rally

Roger here....  Sunday morning.  The sun was up.  I was enjoying a few more minutes of sleep while Bandido watched for intruders.  Time to get up.  Big day ahead.

We finished packing and moving the outside furniture into the coach house on Saturday night, so the only tasks before leaving were setting off a bug bomb inside the coach house and locking the doors.  Our lot sure looks empty right now.

Time to connect the Matrix to the motor home for the first time in six months.

On to Kerrville (an hour west of San Antonio), 300+ miles and six hours away.   We worried a bit about how Tequila would handle her first trip in the motor home.  As it turns out, there was really nothing to be concerned about.  When she was not sleeping, she sat next to Dianne watching the scenery go by.

The Border Patrol checkpoint greeted us after about an hour of driving at Falfurrias.  We have passed through this checkpoint enough times now that it is just another part of the trip.  We waited a little longer this time as the agents were very interested in the vehicle at the front of our line.  The patrol dogs must have detected something.  The vehicle was eventually pulled over to the side for a more thorough search.  Uh-oh.  Someone was having a bad day. 

We arrived at our destination, Buckhorn Lake Resort, at about 4:30 p.m.  We have stayed here before, but it has been almost three years.  It is an upscale place (nicer than most of the places we stay) with lots of amenities, a good place to enjoy the RV Dreams Rally, sponsored by Howard and Linda Payne.

On Monday, we drove  17 miles to the idyllic town of Fredericksburg in the heart of the Texas Hill Country.  We have been there many times before.  This time, our sole purpose for the trip was to have lunch at Auslander's, our favorite German restaurant.  I had a reuben sandwich (outstanding) and a mug of Spaten.  Yum.  It brought back memories of a similar lunch last year with our Indiana camping buddies - Chuck and Cindy.    

When we returned, Dianne found some time to enjoy the view from our site.

Later in the day we joined a large group of "RV Dreamers" enjoying happy hour outside Howard and Linda's RV.

Tuesday morning we took the dogs on a three-mile hike to the end of Goat Creek Road, and back.  It was a nice hike (only saw two cars the whole time) in one of the most picturesque areas of Texas.  

Dianne enjoyed the adolescent calves.

Bandido enjoyed a quick dip in Goat Creek.

The Rally started in the afternoon.  I volunteered to help with registration.  Then a bizarre thing happened.  One of the attendees, Greg, came up to me and asked if I was from Pendleton, IN.  After a moment of confusion I realized that I went to school with Greg and his wife Diana.  They graduated one year before me.  Pendleton is a small place.  There were only about 600 students in the entire high school at the time we were there.  Running into people I knew decades ago from my hometown, in a place that was hundreds of miles away,  was amazing.  We will have a lot of catching up to do.

The pet picture of the day shows Tequila enjoying one of her frequent naps.  Smelling all the new smells in this place is exhausting.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Count Down to Road Trip

 Travel Books and wet wipes in front of passenger seat.
Hi all, Dianne here.  I thought I'd better give an update on what in the heck we've been doing lately -- it sure hasn't been blogging!  We have been taking our time and getting organized for our six-month road trip that starts next Sunday.  We might have been overdoing it a bit; one day I heard a voice calling out as my friend, Sue, rode her bike down the street in front of our motor home:  "Quit Working!!"  Yes, Sue, I agree, we did over-do it a bit, since this has been going on now for three weeks!  

We are really only "half-timers" now, with some storage here in Texas, so we don't have to drag everything we own on the road all summer.  We've been weeding through every bay, cabinet, drawer, closet with a jaded eye: "Do we really want to deal with this [whatever-it-is] for the next six months on the road?"  If so, how best to deal with it?  

We've had the carpets, love seat, and recliner steam cleaned and Scotchgarded.  Tuesday the outside is being washed and waxed.  Spring cleaning the motor home is officially done.  

Our first stop will be Kerrville, Texas for a week to attend the RV Dreams rally at Buckhorn RV Resort.  One of the fun activities will be a "show and tell" session where folks show their favorite RV-related items to the group.  With that in mind, I decided to blog about a few items we've found that make our life on the road easier and more convenient.  My RVing friends probably do things differently and probably better, but here's what works for us:

New Shoe Cabinet (Closed)
One of our worst problems has turned into one of our best solutions.  Our shoes have always been on a shoe rack inside the door (we kick them off when we enter the motor home).  Problem is, we need an assortment: hiking shoes, sandals, water shoes, slippers, Crocs.  They always looked like a jumbled mess, even when we lined them up neatly.  An added problem is that Tequila likes to chew on my Crocs (she thinks they are Kong toys), and it was easy for her to just pick them off the rack.  This shoe cabinet tilts out and holds all the shoes we normally keep by the door.
Shoe Cabinet Open
It works fine for us, because we both have small feet.  If your shoe size was large the door might not close.   It also makes a handy side table for our recliner.  (I found this cabinet on, but they sell it elsewhere on the web too.)

The new Costco has opened here in the Rio Grande Valley, so we used our credit card points ($330 shopping spree) and stocked up on meat and I froze them into two-person portions, using my Food Saver.  A basket from an old chest-type freezer lets me stack them all the way to the top without tumbling out every time the door is opened.  Our ice cube trays fit underneath, and other frozen food items fit in front.  The plastic wrap lining the back and bottom of the freezer makes it a lot easier when it's time to defrost -- I just pull on it and the ice comes off in big sheets.  I'll miss my regular-size refrigerator/freezer and ice maker while we're gone, but our road trips are more about adventures than food.

One of my favorite "gadgets" is my Fasta Pasta pasta cooker.  Space is at such a premium in the RV that I don't take a big pot.  This gadget cooks pasta in the microwave, and all who have tried it say they can't tell the difference in taste or texture.
Best of all, I just hold and tilt it over the sink and it drains the hot water out without having to take off the lid.  No more spaghetti down the drain!  You can also find the Fasta Pasta on  In the background is my French-press coffee maker.  When we have electric hookups I use my electric kettle to quickly heat the water for it.  When we have no hookups, I can heat the water on my stove top using propane; no need for a generator, and no more bad coffee from my Coleman percolator.

My latest gadget is this Bag Well bag holder.  I use lots of zipper bags for food storage in the RV, and this bag holder is like an extra set of hands.

When I'm done with it, it folds flat for storage.  I also use it to dry any bags I decide to wash and re-use, like the green bags for vegetables. Link to Bag Well web site

My daughters and granddaughter have busy lives, and I didn't have any recent photos of them to display.  Facebook took care of that -- I lurked on their Facebook pages and downloaded my favorite photos, then printed them out and put them in our collage frame.  Aren't they pretty?  I can't wait to see them in Utah next month.  I'm going to try to get a good photo of the three of them together; if I do, I'll just switch it out.

Here's my version of a junk drawer.  This hangs in my closet, and takes up only a couple of inches of space.  When I find a miscellaneous item, I just stick it in one of the pockets.  Next time I need a miscellaneous item, I know just where to look, and just scan the clear pockets to find something that will work.  

But wait, there's more!  It's actually double-sided, offering twice as many pockets as you'd think.  I can't tell you how often I've found an odd screw or unidentified part on the floor, then later (sometimes much later) needed that very thing, when I figured out what it was.  

Another recent modification is this cute storage block with two bin drawers that I found at Target.  On the left you can see the bottom of my "junk drawer" pockets as they hang in the closet.  What is not shown in the photo is the tray bin that fits on top of the cube, which I fitted with flexible cubbies to hold my socks and undies.  Now all I have to do is open the closet door and grab what I want.  (I thought a photo might just be TMI.) 

Our closets are small, so another way I make space is to use sections of shoe bags mounted on the wall to hold odd things like bandannas or gloves, and closet multi-hangers for my clothes.  Except for shorts, I only use the top three hanger holes; otherwise, they hang too low and are too bunched up.

My few necklaces hang on a hook inside the closet door.  This way, they don't get jumbled and tangled when the RV bounces down the road.  If a chain is easily tangled, I put it through a drinking straw section before I hang it up.

Several years ago, before we were even RVing, my daughter bought me a set of collapsible silicone measuring cups.  These are handy riding on hooks inside my cabinet door.  

Traveling with two dogs and a cat holds its own challenges.  Where to put all their stuff?  Our RV has space for a washer/dryer.  Instead of utilizing that space as it was intended, we have four bins there: one for cat food, one for dog food, one for cat litter, and one for pet miscellaneous toys, brushes, etc.  Shoe bags hanging on the inside of the closet doors hold lint rollers and other grab-and-go type stuff.

Dog toys stay in a basket on the floor.  Both dogs help themselves to their toys; I just wish they'd learn to put them away!

One clever idea I thought of all by myself (those are few and far between) is to reuse the green net tubes that cushion wine bottles to keep small stackable containers stacked.  You can see in the lower right section of the photo how I slipped net tubes over two each small Tupperware containers so they'd stay stacked.  Another use for these net tubes is to place on glass vinegar or condiment bottles to keep them from clanging into each other during travel.

Here's another highly-organized cabinet.  The four small white crates on the middle shelf hold dish rags, dish towels, hand towels, and fingertip towels -- some of my most-used items.  The large orange detergent container which has been cut open is my "put away" place.  Rather than let items pile up, if I'm in a hurry and don't have time to put something where it belongs, I pop it into my "put away" box so it's out of sight until I have time to put it away.  Since clutter begets clutter in my house, this is important for me.  (Disclaimer:  Roger is not the messy one).  Right now it's empty, so it's holding extra paper napkins.

Another way I've discovered to stop the clutter from starting is to use this "project box" for all the slips of paper, recipes, to-do lists, and whatever other work-in-progress items are laying around. 

 Right now it's holding our master list.  This is time-consuming, but so worth the effort.  Roger made our first list a couple of years ago when I was working at Amazon and he was being Mr. Mom.  Things have changed so much since then that we've redone it, incorporating the list of items in our outside bays with items inside.  There are almost 800 items on our master list!  It's not finished; we're still editing it.  When it's ready, I'm going to put two columns per page, front and back, and laminate it.  Items are coded for location. 

 Blue items are in outside bays; red items are inside.  We have a key that corresponds to the number/lettering system.  Lest you think that some of these items should be self-explanatory, just know that I am married to a man who can never. find. anything....

 This list will help us keep our sanity this summer when we're trying to remember where we've stored items.  I plan to keep a copy here in Texas as an inventory listing, in case we have a fire in the motor home.  Thank heavens that our word processing software alphabetizes for us!  

Roger has been working just as hard on the outdoor bins.  Here's an example:

He's also been emptying all of our pots and readying them for storage, along with our other outdoor garden items:

Everything has to be cleaned and put inside the coach house when we leave in case of hurricane winds while we're gone.  This next week will be spent closing up the coach house.

Enough housekeeping!  Here's a pretty photo of our rose bush just covered in blooms.

My wildlife cam caught a culprit eating my bird food:



The pet photo of the day shows Bandido and Tequila at the dog park.  It looks like Tequila is telling him a secret.  They're already wondering where all their friends have gone.  Little do they know that they'll be hitting the road next!