Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter Weekend in Sulphur LA

On Friday morning we left the campground at Cagle Recreation Area heading east towards Louisiana. We took TX-105 from Willis to Beaumont to avoid I-10 for as long as possible. TX-105 was a good road and traffic was light. Once we got on I-10 we ran into construction and accidents from Beaumont to the Louisiana border. We saw where both the Trinity and Sabine rivers were out of their banks and it was still flooding along each of the rivers from the recent rains. I-10 had been closed recently due to high water being over the road, but everything was OK for us.

We continued along I-10 until we reached Sulphur LA where we travelled south about 2.5 miles on Hwy 27 to the A+ Motel & RV Park. We were assigned to Site 66 which is a nice pull through site with full hookups.

Site 66

View down our row
This is a very nice campground with two swimming pools (one for kids and one adults only), a hot tub, workout room, laundry rooms and bath/shower rooms. We took advantage of the hot tub (once we figured out how to work it) and I used the workout room over the weekend. The hot tub was located in a covered area with a large screen TV and nice sound system.
Large screen TV/bar area near Hot Tub

Hot Tub and Adult Pool

Workout Room
On Saturday we took a trip along the Creole Nature Trail. We took the route heading south from Sulphur to Hackberry to Holly Beach to Cameron back to Lake Charles. We tried to walk one of the several trails along the route, but I was eaten up with mosquitoes so we skipped the other trails along the route. At Holly Beach we drove on the beach until we hit soft sand. With it being Easter Weekend, the visitor center was closed for the holiday. The trail follows the area where the land meets the sea and the area is home to over 200 species of birds.

We had to stop and wait on a ferry along the trail. While we were waiting a large tanker crossed in front of us and the ferry had to wait on the ship to pass. So we ended up having to wait about 40-45 minutes to get across the water. 

On Sunday, we did laundry in the morning. In the afternoon, we travelled over to Lake Charles. The first stop was the Prien Lake Park. This is a very nice park located near the I-210 bridge over Lake Charles. We got out and walked around the park for about 30 minutes on a paved walking trail.

The park had several fountains along with some covered pavilions. There were a number of families in the park on a very nice Easter afternoon. From there we travelled across I-210 to the L'Auberge du Lac Casino, which is one of several casinos here in Lake Charles. Connie had won some money at this casino when she was on a gambling trip with Rhonda Herrington and Rhonda's sisters & mom several years ago. Unfortunately she was not so lucky today.
L'Auberge du Lac Casino & Hotel
After visiting the casino, we went back into the main part of Lake Charles to visit an old historic neighborhood along the lake. Lake Charles has a very nice park in its downtown area along the lake which we drove through on our route. Along Lakeshore Dr and Shell Beach Rd there are a number of very large houses that face the lake. Some are located on several acres of land while others are quite close together. Here are a couple of the older houses we passed along the way.

On Sunday night Connie used our new InstaPot to make one pot spaghetti with meat sauce. She used the pressure cooker function to cook the spaghetti squash, then removed the noodles and made the sauce in the same pot. It was nice being able to do the whole dish in one pot. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

A few days at Lake Conroe

Tuesday (Mar 22) to Friday (Mar 25):

We made the trip from the apartment where we were dog sitting in Austin to Rosanky to pick up The Duchess and start out on our travels this spring. We visited with my dad for a few minutes, finished packing up the motor home and then made the trip east to the Cagle Recreation Area on Lake Conroe.
Site 8 at Cagle Recreation Area
We had made reservations here hoping to spend some time with Carl & Pam Manganaros who we had met at the RV Dreams Fall Rally in Michigan last September. They also started their full timing adventure last year and we wanted to get caught up on our travels. They have been camp hosting at this campground for several months during the winter. Unfortunately their 5th was in the shop having new flooring put in during the week we were there. The work was suppose to be done a couple of weeks ago, but the flooring got delayed and the shop had to wait to start the project. They are staying with Pam's dad nearby and we were able to get together with them for lunch at the Cozy Grape Wine Bar & Bistro in Montgomery on Wednesday. We spent several hours visiting and going through the good/bad/ugly of being on the road full time. Carl & Pam will be camp hosting in Vermont this summer and will be also be attending the Escapees Escapade in Essex, VT during the last week of July.
Cozy Grape Wine Bar & Bistro

Carl & Pam (taken from their blog)
On Thursday we took it easy around the campground until we found a leak in one of our water lines late in the day. It was the hot water line under the kitchen sink and we discovered that an animal had gotten into our rig while it was stored at Rosanky. It ate into several items inside the RV and put a pin hole in the water line. I ended up going into Willis to see if I could find some parts to fix the problem so that we could have water inside the motor home. I was lucky to find an RV dealership open until 6 PM, found some parts to patch the line and then spent a couple of hours "fixing" the problem and making sure there were not any leaks.

You can see where I patched the water line in the middle of the photo
Cagle Recreation Area Campground is located on Lake Conroe. The lake gets a lot of traffic on the weekends with it being close to Houston. The campground is very nice with full hookups, but is isolated from any towns. We had very intermittent AT&T Wireless service and with the trees were not able to connect our satellite dish to DirecTV. We were able to pick up a few over the air TV stations but with the high winds the signal came and went.
A couple of photos from the trail along the lake

On Friday morning we made the trip from our campground to Sulphur, LA were we will spend Easter week-end. We traveled along SH 105 instead of I-10 for as long as we could. I-10 from Beaumont to Louisiana was very crowded and traffic slowed to a crawl in several locations.

House/Dog sitting in Austin

Feb 22 to Mar 22, 2016:

Connie and I have been house/dog sitting for a month in Austin. This is for the same couple, Vic & Pam Gallagher, that we took care of their two King Charles Spaniels, Murphy & Emma, last year. They have a two bedroom apartment located in the Arboretum area of northwest Austin. It is a great location with lots of shops, grocery stores and restaurants within walking distance of the apartment. Pam & Vic go to the British Virgin Islands each winter and their kids/grandkids come to visit them during spring break.

Vic & Pam Gallagher
Murphy on the left and Emma
We got to see Xena, the labradoodle that we raised from a 8 weeks old until she was about three. We found her a great home with Crockett & Carol when we decided to go full timing in our RV. Crockett takes Xena almost everywhere he goes, even to work. The two of them take long walks every day. We spent about an hour with Xena at our friend's house, Katie, when Crockett was having his acupuncture treatment.

We have been able to visit with a number of friends here in the Austin area during the month. There have been a couple of happy hours with friends and we have gone out to dinner or lunch with friends on several occasions. We been able to eat fresh fish from the Highland Lakes caught by Brooks Ivey at their house. It has been good to visit with everyone here in Austin, but we are both ready to get on the road again. We are amazed at the changes in Austin during the year we were gone. Austin continues to be a boom town with all of the good & bad that go along with the growth. One thing we will not miss is the Austin traffic.

Connie was able to visit the senior living facility in Cedar Park where her parents resided for several years. Connie and her sister, Debbie, attended the "happy hour" that happens every Friday afternoon. One of the ladies at the facility, Dorothy, was a close friend of Connie and Debbie's mom and they all had a nice visit.
Dorothy & Connie's sister Debbie
While we were here we accomplished several tasks: (1) we both updated our wills, power of attorney, durable medical power of attorney & medical directives, (2) had blood work done to see if we need any changes in medications/diet, (3) had Jeep serviced & tires rotated, and (4) bought clothing to replace some we had worn out during last year.

We also purchased several items for the motorhome: (1) InstaPot pressure cooker, (2) Viair RV air compressor with accessories (much smaller than the one we had been using), (3) crossbar for the screen door in The Duchess (I'm not sure why the manufacturers don't install one of these with every RV), (4) a small Dutch Oven, (5) small sitting stool that folds for the bedroom and (6) a small Char-Broil propane grill that uses Tru Infrared Technology. Notice how many times I used the word small: see a pattern here? We have used the InstaPot several times during our stay and it seems to do a good job of cooking food quickly while keeping it moist and juicy. We also purchased a few smaller items for the motorhome kitchen and some tools to have onboard during our travels.

Connie went on a "girl's wine trip" with 12 other women to help celebrate Pat Robinson's 65th birthday. It was an all-day trip through Slowpokes Winery Tours that included visits to 3 wineries along with an outdoor lunch. The trip was organized by Heidi Ivey and a great time was had by all.

The group that went on the tour.
A good time was had by all!!!
We were able to meet with Fred and Bonnie Lee for lunch before we left Austin. The Lees  were staying in San Antonio/New Braunfels over the last month. They travelled to Nova Scotia last summer and we were able to gather a lot of good information about their trip during our visit with them. It always to great to talk to someone who has travelled in an area before to get their insights and advice. Fred & Bonnie are going to travel along the Lewis & Clark trail from Missouri to the west coast this summer. We were able to hold one last HAPPY HOUR at Brio's Restaurant near the apartment we were house/dog sitting. We had a good turnout with about 20 people attending over the 3 hours we were there.

We are planning to visit the north east part of the USA along with spending a month in New Brunswick & Nova Scotia, Canada during the summer. Our route will take us from Texas to Florida before we head north to an Escapee's Escapade in Vermont at the end of July.