January 2015: To Oceanside and Texas in Search of Sunshine!

Texas Sunshine!

(These photos are very large when double clicked.)

January 22 to February 4, 2015

2015-1-22 Thursday, Day 1: Home to Bakersfield Flying J via US99: 201 miles

The day finally arrived to hit the road again! We have had a lousy period of fog and clouds and drizzle and I was just sick of the winter weather. A bit of sunshine would do wonders for me.2015-1-22a loading up for Texas!Loading the coach on Day 1 to head south – clear into Texas – for sunshine !

I had just gone through a lot of frustration getting the coach right. I had it painted and I couldn’t live with the colors I had chosen. Before Christmas I had the coach wrapped in vinyl and it turned out a great pattern, but I chose a bit too bright blue and wasn’t happy with the colors again. But it was an improvement. The wrappers did a lousy finish job, leaving parts unpainted and pieces broken and/or left unassembled. I did what I could and had a professional painter finish areas the wrappers missed. The colors became more acceptable as time went by, and as I loaded the coach and headed south for sunshine, I decided that while the color was a bit bright, I did not dislike the overall appearance. After thousands of dollars spent on appearance I should be very happy with it, but so it goes.

After loading stores and clothes and electronics, I left home a bit after 1000. I enjoyed an uneventful drive to Fresno where I once again met my cousins, Murle Jean and Genene, for lunch. We changed our habit and tried Marie Callender’s which is next to a Walmart and only a mile and a half from SR99. I was very pleased and considered it a discovery! And if I ever choose to spend the night there, Walmart would welcome me. All three of us chose quiche for lunch, and enjoyed it. We visited about an hour and a half, talking about family and the good ol’ days. My cousins are both in their eighties and some of our childhood was spent together.

2015-1-22b Fresno lunch with Murle and GeneneLunch in Fresno with my dear cousins Genene (l) and Murle Jean.

I continued south around 1530 and arrived at Bakersfield’s Flying J sometime before 1700. I parked about a block from the plaza to avoid the noise of the endless trucks, and still I could hear them coming and going at times. A few parked near my spot but it was better than parking in the truck lot.

2015-1-22c Big Blue lookin' good in FresnoThe coach parked in Fresno. I’ve decided I don’t dislike the new color combination of the “wrap”. I may grow to really like it as time goes by.

I dropped the jacks, shot a few photos, did a couple of chores around the coach and just whiled away the evening. I began this travelogue and edited photos. I called home to check with my dear Wifey, and made sure all was well on the home front. To compensate for the loss of her husband to the highways and byways for a couple of weeks, she invited several friends over for a party the next night. Or perhaps it was a celebration more than compensation!

On Day 2, I would drive to Dean’s to visit the family for a couple of days, and I looked forward to that time very much. We’d have Christmas in January as I bring the gifts each year a month late rather than just send them. On Sunday morning I planned to head for Texas as I did last year to visit my dear Aunt Dawn. Last year I visited her and Uncle Norwood, but he passed away in September. I looked forward to a short visit of less than a day with my aunt as I did not want to cause any disruption to her schedule. She’s in her 90s and I have been told recently that she’s doing very well.

2015-1-22e campsite Bakersfield Flying J in distanceJacks down for the night near the Flying J Plaza above Bakersfield.

While at the Walmart in Fresno I bought a few things including some Cracker Jacks in lieu of Walmart’s Crunch ‘n Munch as they were out of the good stuff – and a six pack of Bud Light Lime. I allow myself such a treat rarely and decided that I would do so my first night out. The Cracker Jacks didn’t compare to Crunch ‘n Munch, but the beer was good. I watched more of the Johnny Carson DVD collection I got for Christmas, munched on the goodies, and eventually fell asleep on the couch. It was about 2200 that I awoke, turned off the TV, did a few evening chores and crawled into bed.

2015-1-22f dinner in Dale's Diner
Really? Another selfie? At rest in the boonies for the night. As before, if this is camping, I’m a camper! But I’d “camp” with nothing less than my cozy motorhome and all the comforts of home.

Day 2, Friday, to Dean’s in Oceanside via SR99, SR58, US395, I-15, SR76: 244 miles

My little campsite, along a completed road but otherwise undeveloped is free to all comers. Sure enough, sometime around 0300 a noisy reefer rig pulled in right across the narrow street from me. His #$%&@!! reefer was loud and I heard it above even my sound machine. I tried to continue sleeping but finally gave up and moved to another location nearby with no reefers to put up with. I got back to sleep and slept ‘til around 0600.

I wrote a bit more in this travelogue, did the necessary chores to start the day off right, then headed to Flying J to top off the gas tank. 28 gallons later, around 0800, I pulled out onto the highway and continued my trip to Dean’s.

I love the drive through the desert when it’s not windy, and it wasn’t with one glaring exception  somewhere below San Berdoo where it seems to always be windy. It was enough to blow the coach around, but I managed. Much of the drive beyond the windy area I had a strong tail wind which is always welcome.

2015-1-23a Scenery along SR58 out of Bkrsfld.

2015-1-23b Scenery along SR58 out of Bkrsfld.Scenery along SR58 east of Bakersfield as I headed up the Tehachapis toward the Mojave Desert. I was above the fog and in the sunshine – mission accomplished already!

2015-1-23c desert along US395 note windless day.Scenery along US395 southbound in the desert. Note the steam in the distance on a windless day.

2015-1-23d Joshua Trees along US395 desert (I think)Joshua Trees along US395 during the desert drive.

2015-1-23e I.15 dropping down into San Berdo areaDropping down from the mountains on I-15.

2015-1-23f we can't afford decent roads but can afford unneeded artHow is it we can afford miles and miles of absolutely unnecessary art along the highways of Kalifornistan but cannot afford to maintain the highways in so much of the state? This happens because fools run the state!

2015-1-23g I-15 near Perris (I think)This photo was taken along I-15 somewhere before I turned off onto SR76.

I arrived at Dean’s a bit after 1300. We set out at once for a nearby “soul food” place that featured fried chicken. I asked Dean to find such a place if he could and the place, Felix’s Soul Food, wasn’t half bad. I had three fried thighs, mashed potatoes, and candied yams. It was all very good, and the place was quiet with soft music playing. Dean ordered ribs and brisket (for $27!!) and enjoyed it very much.

When we returned home I drove the coach over to Guajome Park and set up in my usual roomy space. About 45 minutes later Dean picked me up and we returned to the house where I visited with him and Connor. Sometime later Aidan and Melissa got home from soccer practice, and we visited ‘til 1730 when Dean and Connor headed to baseball batting practice. They dropped me off at the coach as they left.

2015-1-23h Dean lobs pitches as Connor practices buntingDean lobs a few balls to Connor for bunting practice while their big, lovable, white cow watches. 

I spent the evening hours in the coach editing photos, writing this, took a shower, and just relaxed. I watched more of the silliness that is the Johnny Carson DVDs while enjoying a couple of refreshing Tom Collins. I hit the sack around 2200 and slept like a baby. Big Blue is a very comfortable home on wheels.

Day 3, Saturday: Jacks down at Guajome Park for a family visit.

I rolled out of the sack around 0630, well rested and looking forward to a day with the family. I worked through the usual  morning chores, enjoyed a couple cups of coffee, and even posed for the obligatory photo of me ‘n Big Blue at Guajome Park. It is a lovely park and my space is nicely located away from other spaces – and very quiet.

2015-1-24a me 'n Big Blue at GuajomeThe obligatory photo of me ‘n Big Blue at Guajome Park. It seems I shoot one of these on every visit. Note the wide and spacious, well kept RV space. It’s a great place.

I took a walk as I waited for Dean to call. He picked me up a bit before 1000 and we spent a few minutes at the house. Dean had to go to Dick’s Sporting goods and I joined him for the shopping before dining at Chin’s Chinese. Lunch at Chin’s has been our custom for a long time.

2015-1-24b Aidan and houndsAiden with the family cattle herd. Honestly, they need a barn for those monster dogs!

Our lunch was superb, as usual, at Chin’s. Essentially it was our only meal except for snacking late in the afternoon. And it was enough food for a day.

After lunch Dean and I went car shopping for him. We spent a couple hours or so looking at used and new. The tire kicking was no more than that for the day, and he still had more shopping to do as he really didn’t know just what he wanted at the time. We enjoyed the tire kicking as we both like to car shop.

We returned home and spent the afternoon on the couch. Dean looked at cars online as I watched some MMA action on TV. We whiled away doing nothing much more. At around 1800 we had Christmas in January as we all exchanged gifts.

2015-1-24c Christmas in JanuaryThe boyz opened their gifts of money cards to Target including Connor’s 14th birthday present as his big day was earlier this January.

2015-1-24d Christmas in January Dean's birth bracelet and ID cardI gave Dean his birth bracelet and ID card from the bassinet. He was pleasantly  surprised as he had no idea they existed.

2015-1-24f Christmas in JanuaryThe family poses with Grandpa after the Christmas in January event. 2015-1-24h Dean realizes Lavonne's call about restaurantsDean realizes the call from Lavonne before Christmas about friends coming to Oceanside and wanting to know of good restaurants was a sly way of learning his favorite restaurants. His surprise was a gift certificate for him and Melissa to their favorite bait shop – or, as most folks refer to it, sushi restaurant.

2015-1-24i my Corvette mouse from the kidsThe cool little Corvette mouse the kids gave me for Christmas in January; it is a replica of my real Corvette including the color and even the wheel style. I love it!

Shortly after the gift exchange I asked Dean to take me home for the night. It had been a lovely day with the family but it was time to head back to the coach.

I had to re-route my trip for the next day to Arizona due to high winds in the San Diego area. I chose to head back north a few miles and catch I-15 to I-10 and hopefully avoid the worst of the wind.

Back at the coach I edited photos, updated this travelogue, and enjoyed a few cocktails. Around 2200, as usual, I hit the sack and slept very well.

Day 4, Sunday, Dean’s to Casa Grande Arizona via SR76, I-15, I-215, SR60, I-10, SR86, SR111, I-8, I-10: 436 miles

I was up around 0530 and after the usual chores I loaded up the fresh water tank. I then drove over to the one dump station at Guajome Park and dumped the black and grey tanks. I pulled out of the park at 0700 and headed east on SR76, then north on I-15. 

The altered route added 60 miles and an hour to the day’s drive. By heading north instead of south, my eastward trek was far north of the worst winds. Still, I drove through wind much of the day but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I-5 through the Cuyamaca Mountains would have been.

2015-1-25a Along SR15 northbound I thinkPart of the scenic drive on my northerly detour to avoid the high winds to the south.

2015-1-25b Along I-10 I thinkThis huge casino and hotel was along I-10 somewhere before Palm Springs. 

2015-1-25c It was a bit windy on my detourWhile I missed the high winds I still drove through windy country. The thousands of wind turbines were all there for a reason.

2015-1-25d the desert near the Salton Sea was below sea levelThe desert near the Salton Sea was below sea level as noted on my navigator. I saw readings as low a -270′.

It was a very enjoyable drive as the deserts made for a sunny and beautiful day. It was warm enough that I ran the air conditioner some of the time. As always, the drive along the Salton Sea was scenic and pleasant.

2015-1-25e by the Salton SeaThe Salton Sea was a beautiful sight in the desert. 

2015-1-25f ArizonaArizona! I still think their logo is cool.

2015-1-25g Border InspectionThe Border Patrol always waves me through. It must be my innocent, good looks.

2015-1-25h Arizona landscape featureArizona the beautiful. It was a pleasure to drive through the deserts in January.

I tried to stop at a Walmart in Yuma, and knowing their old policy of no overnight parking, I called hoping it had changed. It hadn’t. I checked a couple of rest areas along I-8 thinking I might spent the night in one, but they were too close to the highway and would likely be noisy. I had no choice but to truck on.

I called the Walmart in Casa Grande to see if they allowed overnight parking. Nope. What was this Wally-Docking coming to?! I was zero for two. Cracker Barrel has an open lot policy for RVers, so I called the one in Casa Grande and they welcomed me warmly. I continued on to their store even though it made for a long, long day. I finally pulled into their parking lot around 1830 and dropped the jacks for the night.

I then walked over to the restaurant and ordered dinner. I enjoyed their chicken fried chicken with mashed potatoes, corn, a cup of soup and corn bread. It was a delicious meal and worth the long drive.

After dinner I returned to the coach, showered, and began editing photos and writing this travelogue. 

2015-1-26a Jacks down at Casa Grande Cracker BarrelParked for the night at the welcoming Cracker Barrel. And I had a great chicken fried chicken dinner.

As usual, I watched more of my Johnny Carson DVDs on the TV as I enjoyed a couple of cocktails. I was in bed around 2230 home time, but by local time it was near midnight. I slept very well.

Day 5, Monday, Casa Grande, AZ to Deming, NM via I-10: 277 miles

I took my sweet time getting around on the morning of Day 5. I had five days to drive 1200 miles to see my Aunt in Huffman, Texas. Something over 200 miles per day would get me there on time, so there surely was no hurry. Even so, I was up and around before 0700 local time. I spent time at the computer after the morning chores, writing more of this travelogue, posting photos, and browsing my daily online sites.

It was 0940 when I finally pulled out of the Cracker Barrel lot. I was a bit surprised at the crowd the place drew for breakfast. The crowd didn’t include me, however, as I wanted to eat light meals on this trip. Somewhere down the road I pulled over and zapped a breakfast sandwich.

2015-1-26b what the heck is that basket for, maybe a shooter's standI can’t imagine what those basket thingies were about – perhaps a deer stand? In the desert? Maybe a watch tower for illegals? I didn’t know.

I stopped at the Walmart in Benson, AZ to do a bit of shopping. While there I considered just staying put as I was in no hurry. But I knew I’d get antsy and really wanted to continue driving.

I continued on, enjoying the beautiful desert scenery that is Arizona and New Mexico. It seemed that the Walmart in Deming, NM would be a good place to spend the night, so I made that my destination.

2015-1-26c Why I like Flying J but I just ate breakfast. I bought at 1.80 something laterGas prices have dropped to what it’s worth. While I didn’t gas up at this station, I did later at $1.80 per. It was about time for lower prices!

I stopped at Lordsburg, NM for gas, and pumped on 60 gallons at $1.80 per. It sure was nice to see gas down to what I thought it was worth, but there was no doubt it would be creeping up again soon. Meanwhile, I seemed to be buying plenty of it at those bargain prices.

2015-1-26i Arizona landscape

2015-1-26j Arizona landscape
A couple of photos of the beautiful Arizona desert landscape.

2015-1-26L eastbound in the boonies heading into rain. A hard life.Whenever I think I’m having a tough time, this photo should help put things in perspective. This fellow was in the boonies, pushing his bicycle and little trailer, heading east. That looked like a tough life. 

2015-1-26f pretty but a waste of taxpayer's moneyThat artwork looked pretty, but it sure seemed a waste of the taxpayer’s money!

At 1730 I pulled into the Deming, NM Walmart for the night. I found a spot, dropped the jacks, and made myself at home. But not for long. I was on the side of the lot the store requested, but near a main exit with entirely too much traffic and noise. I tried to put up with it, but as I finished my shower, dressed, etc., I knew I had to move if I was to have a restful sleep.

I raised the jacks, fired up the engine and moved right next door – to the K-Mart lot! I picked a spot far away from the store, near a couple of other RVs, and set up for the night once again. It was quiet. I was a happy camper.

I spent the evening editing photos and watching more old Johnny Carson DVDs while downing a few brews and some delicious Crunch ‘N Munch I bought at Walmart. Life is good.

The night was peaceful but some of us old folks get night-time leg cramps for some reason, and I sure had a lot of ’em that night. I doubled my magnesium supplement as they say that helps. I sure hoped so.

Tuesday, Day 6, a day off in Deming, NM to cool my heels.

I was up and about around 0630 and tackled the morning chores right away. I was rested even though it was a rough night with the leg cramps. After the chores I took my sweet time at the computer.

2015-1-27a sunrise over K-Mart in Deming NM Sunrise over Deming, NM from the K-Mart parking lot.

I didn’t know what the day held for me as I was awaiting a call from Texas about when to arrive. I was in no hurry as I had a lot more time to get there than I needed. Dawnie called that morning as I sat at the table, and we agreed Saturday at 1600 would be the best time to arrive. Heck. I then had almost a day longer to get there.

I wondered just what to do as I slowed down the pace of my trip. Drive to El Paso? No, I thought that it was too rough a town for me. Maybe Las Cruces? No, it wasn’t far enough to bother. How about a day off and just stay in Deming all day? Not a bad idea. If I wasn’t due til Saturday afternoon, I had a lot of time to get there.

2015-1-27e An old man and his ride
I dug out my little electric scooter and hit the town!

2015-1-27b Old building in DemingAn old building in Deming that just caught my eye. 

I spent time updating the travelogue. I took a walk. I made breakfast. I cleaned the linoleum floors and the bathroom.

I thought I’d better move the coach so the K-Mart folks wouldn’t think I tried living there, and moved the coach back to Walmart for the day. But I would return for the night and enjoy their quieter lot.

I dug out the scooter and drove it up to the main part of town and looked around. I took photos of beautiful downtown Deming. I passed the time and enjoyed myself. Back at the coach I decided to have a Subway sandwich for lunch, so drove the scooter to the Subway in Walmart and ordered a Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki. Mmmmmmm. Good choice!

2015-1-27c Display in DemingThis grand old locomotive and cars were on display next to a replica train station. There must have been some well-to-do benefactor nearby that wanted to keep the old rail road history of the town alive.

2015-1-27d replica of old RR station in Deming, an old RR town.The modern replica rail road station that acts as a museum for the town’s rail history.

Looking for something to do to pass the time, I decided to dig out the little Honda 2000i generator from the hold below and charge up the scooter. Heck, while I was at it I’d charge the house batteries to be sure they were up to snuff for the night – after all, I’d been using them for about 24 hours. I charged things for about two hours, and a bit before 1800 local time I unplugged the charging cords and put things away.

The shadows were getting long, so I fired up the coach and headed back to K-Mart for the night. Walmart was like a bee hive while K-Mart was nearly empty every time I was there. I visited K-Mart during one of my rides on the scooter and it was just plain sad. There were a lot more employees than customers, except that the pharmacy looked somewhat busy. It was a huge store and I couldn’t see how they kept it open.

I was set up at K-Mart for the night by 1800. And it was time to eat. I zapped another frozen meal, added a piece of fruit and a slice of bread and called it dinner. I was tempted to eat something extra during the day as I spent the whole day with little to do. Nevertheless, I stayed on my diet through the long, somewhat lonely day.

After dinner and time at the computer, I settled back to watch more Johnny Carson and the silliness of up to 40 years ago. It was all very entertaining and the old stars were shining once again. The sad part was that nearly all of the people on the shows had passed away since their appearances.

I hit the sack around 2230. If the added meds did anything for my nocturnal leg cramps, it wasn’t much. I hoped that they would kick in over the following days. The leg cramps were still pretty bad.

Day 7, Wednesday, Deming, NM to Fort Stockton, TX via I-10: 331 miles

I rolled out of my cozy queen bed about 0600 and turned up the heater and water heater, then climbed back in bed for another half hour. I was in no hurry, but I was delighted that I would hit the road again! Hanging around is not my style and I had more than enough of it on Day 6.

After chores and some ‘puter time, I hit the road at 0840. It was a pleasure to be heading down the interstate again – and on a perfectly gorgeous day. 

2015-1-28b Dale's DinerI found another Dale’s Diner about 20 miles into the day’s drive. I seem to find ’em even in the Southwest deserts!

2015-1-28c view from Dale's DinerHere’s a better shot of the lovely view from Dale’s Diner. 

Only 20 miles into the day’s drive I pulled over for breakfast at yet another Dale’s Diner I found in the boonies of West Texas. I stopped at an out of the way off ramp with a small Baptist church nearby. It seemed a strange place to build a church as it was miles from anywhere. Apparently some folks from around the flat, bushy, desert attended there and kept it open. I zapped a frozen breakfast sandwich of turkey sausage, egg white, and cheese on an English muffin. They are cheap, low calorie and pretty good. And I continued on my diet. After a couple of photos of the scenic mountains nearby, I climbed back aboard and continued my trek east.

I-10 was posted for 80 MPH! That makes good sense out in the endless wasteland of West Texas. It’s too bad Kalifornistan doesn’t have the common sense to open up our long, endless, rural freeways to 80 MPH.

2015-1-28d Saw several of the maybe cameras looking for illegals but don't knowI saw several of what seemed to be collections of cameras peering at passers by. Could that be so? Maybe it’s the Border Patrol looking for illegals?? I didn’t know.

2015-1-28e Las CrucesLas Cruces, New Mexico! Those rugged peaks beyond the city make an incredible sight!

2015-1-28f Las Cruces rest area big birdBig Bird seemed to be watching over the city from a rest area overlooking Las Cruces.

2015-1-28g Welcome to TexasTexas gave me a big welcome.

2015-1-28h ugly El PasoDriving through El Paso, Texas was much like driving in Kalifornistan. It was a big sprawl, it wasn’t pretty, and it was a pleasure to have El Paso behind me!

2015-1-28i I love TexasOnce beyond El Paso, however, this sign reminded me that I love Texas – it seemed to be run by competent, thinking people!

Perhaps most folks would hate the day’s long drive through the vastness of Texas. I love the driving, so the drive was very enjoyable. Even so, a long stretch of 30 miles or so of I-10, at least on the east bound truck lane, was as bad as any road in Kalifornistan. I was surprised that Texas would let a stretch of I-10 deteriorate so badly and I suspected it was more likely a federal issue.

I arrived at the Walmart in Fort Stockton around 1730 Central Time. I lost another hour during the days drive and was then two time zones from home. I figured I’d likely find both of those hours on my return trip.

The day had been sunny, warm, and comfy. I ran the dash air conditioner for awhile during the drive, and even ran the house air conditioner awhile during the evening. My search for sunshine continued to be successful!

I shopped a bit at the Walmart and also double checked that overnight parking was Ok, and as usual it was. I moved the coach to what I thought would be a quieter part of the lot, dropped the jacks, and was home for the night.

My evening was the same as the last several; I made dinner, did the computer things, blah, blah, blah. I hit the sack around 2230 local time when it was just 2030 at home. Two hours is enough to screw up one’s internal clock, but I seemed to be adjusting just fine.

Day 8, Thursday, Ft. Stockton, TX to Lampasas, TX via I-10, US190: 309 miles

After dawdling around ‘til 1000 doing chores and travelogue, I was pleased to finally head east on I-10 to what I thought would be Killeen, TX, but I didn’t make it quite that far.

2015-1-29a Walmart at Ft Stockton, TXJacks down at Ft. Stockton, TX Walmart.

2015-1-29b Eastbound under popcorn clouds on a gorgeous Texas day.Eastbound under popcorn clouds on I-10 for a few more miles.

2015-1-29f US190 all dayUS190 was two lane and 75 MPH – only in Texas! I drove 55 MPH and was in nobody’s way as there was very little traffic. It was a wonderful drive.

After about 50 miles I exited the freeway to finally drive along a US highway, namely US190. It was a wonderfully remote highway for about 150 miles during which I passed through one small town named El Dorado. On my route through town, there was but one gas station, although there was at least one other on the other side of town. I was getting low on gas, so stopped in to gas up. I pumped 60 gallons at $1.91 per which was not a bargain by recent fill-ups. But I would buy gas under $2 without complaint every time. I continued east on US190.

The next town was Brady, TX, the nearest town to the geographical center of Texas, and it proclaimed itself The Heart of Texas. One could not argue the point as it sat dead center of the state. It was a nice little town with a very picturesque court house. I snapped a few photos as I drove through.

2015-1-29i Brady Texas, Heart of TexasBrady, Texas; The Heart of Texas! I believe this was their courthouse.

2015-1-29j Brady Texas celebrates my Baby's B'dayBrady, Texas celebrated my Baby’s birthday – Valentine’s Day! Actually, it was likely a stale Christmas decoration and as The Heart of Texas, even their Christmas decor… well, you get it. Several businesses in Brady were named Heart of Texas. They take The Heart thing very seriously.

I continued on, needing to find a RV park or rest area with a RV dump. I had four days in my holding tanks, and while I could do a fifth day, I wanted to get them dumped and off my mind. I saw one little RV park as I left Brady, I think it was, but saw it too late to pull in so I drove on by.

2015-1-29L what I'd been looking forWhen I reached the small town of San Saba, TX, The Pecan Capital of the World, I looked high and low for a place to dump. As I was just leaving the little town, I saw one of those highway signs showing a RV with an arrow going into the ground, signifying that if one followed the directions he would wind up at a dump station. I followed the sign.

About a half mile later I came upon San Saba River Golf Course and RV Park. I pulled in. I finally found the manager who was visiting some of his cronies in a small office and maintenance building at the far end of the large property. He and his cronies were about as friendly a bunch of fellows as one would hope to find. I told him I’d like to pay him just to dump, not to rent a space. He replied that in Texas they’re friendly folks, and he wouldn’t charge me to just dump. Wow! That was a first. I tried to pay him something, but he wouldn’t take a dime. I told him I must agree with him about the friendly people comment, as I have visited the state about every other year or so, and have found that Texans really were about the friendliest people I’ve met anywhere. Then I told him I was from Kalifornistan, but asked him to please not hate me. The fellows had a good laugh, and I headed to the RV area.

I simply pulled into a RV space and dumped the tanks and filled up the fresh water tank. I worked in a light rain, but was very pleased to be doing so. I headed back to US190 and continued east.

Forty miles later I pulled in to the Lampasas, TX Walmart. It was a Super Walmart with groceries and all, but was not a 24 hour store. I was just 30 miles short of my planned destination, but it was late and I was tired. I walked into the store and asked if they allowed overnight RV parking, and of course they did. I bought a few items, and then headed back to the coach.

2015-1-29M sunset at Lampasas Walmart Jacks down at Lampasas, Tx for the night. I shot this photo at sunset. What a glow! 

I spent the evening in the usual manner, editing photos and writing this log. And I watched more of the Johnny Carson DVDs for a few laughs. I was in bed by 2230 local time and slept well. The leg cramps had diminished greatly.

Day 9, Friday, Lampasas, TX to Huntsville, TX via US190, US77, FM485, SR30: 185 miles

I began the day with chores, as usual, and then headed out for my walk. I had forgotten to walk the day before and wanted to make sure I didn’t miss another. Back at the coach I checked my daily web sites, then worked on the travelogue, and once again realized that I was spending an awful lot of time with it. But what else would I do?

I had less than 200 miles to drive as I didn’t want to arrive at my aunt’s place too early. I planned to spend the night in Huntsville, TX, home of the Huntsville State Prison where Texas keeps the death chamber pretty busy. In fact, I saw online that a man was executed just the night before. It may have been a strange notion to want to visit the place, but nearby there was  a privately run museum and – I respect Texas justice.

2015-1-30a US190 perfect start
It was a beautiful day to be bumming around the country. This was a section of four-lane US190 and the living was good!

I finally pulled out of the lot a bit after 1030 and continued east on US190. It was a beautiful day to drive and I wished I had more miles to cover. Although the drive was shorter, I traveled several different highways as noted above. Most driving was on two lane roads, but there was some freeway driving as well. I hit one minor snag in Killeen as two lanes bottle-necked into one lane due to construction.

2015-1-30b picnic area restParked for a spell at what Texas designates a “Picnic Area”. They are rest areas without restrooms and usually very small. I had some accumulated and bagged trash that I deposited in the waste cans. A sign read No Household Trash, and mine wasn’t; it was travel trash.

After getting past the heavy traffic of Killeen, I found much more rural country along US77 and FM (Farm to market) 485. Here are several roadside photos of those more rural roads, and I just can’t resist shooting rustic homes, nice spreads, and churches. Here are a few:

2015-1-30c FM485 roadside

2015-1-30d FM485 roadside

2015-1-30e FM485 roadsideThe bushy, hill country gave way to open farmland as I drove across Texas. The two photos below are in stark contrast to most of the photos (above) along US190.

2015-1-30f FM485 roadside

  2015-1-30i SR30 roadside

Somewhere, I believe along SR30, I saw a sign for the George Bush library. I assumed GWB but should have known it was GHWB or Bush 41. I took the off ramp, changed my navigator to take me there, and in less than 15 miles I arrived at the George Bush Presidential Library.

2015-1-30a Front
…and soon I pulled into a large parking lot across from the very impressive library that honors GHWB. What a building!

I was impressed by the library more than I was by the man himself. He was a good and honest fellow, I have no doubt. But he rode into office on the coat tails of Ronald Reagan’s very successful two terms, and didn’t win reelection for himself. I do remember that broken promise: Read my lips… NO NEW TAXES. And then he raised taxes!

Here are more photos I shot at the library: 2015-1-30ab entry lobbyThe lobby. Wow – very impressive!

2015-1-30b Limo
I presumed this was the limo that carried him around when necessary.

2015-1-30d the pilotBush 41 was an honest-to-goodness war hero having had his plane shot up badly during a bombing mission that took the lives of his two crew member. He wound up in the sea, and was rescued from his life raft by a US submarine. What a brave man!

2015-1-30g same type car as his gift carOf course my attention went to this old Studebaker. This one was similar to a gift from his father as his first car.

2015-1-30h Dale visits the White Office
I pulled up to the White House in my little scooter and took over:

2015-1-30i President Dale takes over
I tried my best to look noble at this most esteemed moment. I’m not so good at looking noble.

2015-1-30j President Dale ponders how to kick Kalifornistan out of the unionThis was a moment when the annoying press caught me pondering my options as I tried to form a coalition to boot Kalifornistan out of the union. I failed and ultimately got myself booted out of the White House!

My choice to see the presidential library instead of Huntsville’s Texas Prison Museum only delayed the museum visit. When I took the off ramp I knew that I would be able to visit the prison museum the next day. I’d be less than 170 miles from my aunt’s place and wasn’t expected ’til 1600. I had plenty of time!

After leaving the library I had about a 54 mile drive to Huntsville and the Walmart store. It was a lovely drive, all rural with lots of interesting sites, some of which were the roadside photos (above). I arrived at Walmart around 1700 and settled in for the night. I had called earlier as I drove and knew they allowed overnight RV parking. I love Walmart!

2015-1-30j Walmart Huntsville, TX WalmartAt the end of the day, I was again at home in a Walmart lot. It was a very interesting day with lots to see and I loved the drive across Texas!

Once I parked for the night I got to work on all the photos of the day. I zapped yet another frozen dinner and was proud of myself for doing so. I actually lost some weight on the trip and hoped to keep it that way.

I showered after dinner, then got back to the travelogue. A bit after 2000 I called it quits and retired to the couch for some more Johnny Carson DVD silliness. I do know how to have a good time! I called it a day and climbed into my cozy bed around 2200.

Day 10, Saturday, Huntsville, TX To Huffman, TX via: I-45, Loop 336, FM1485, Loop 494 = 163 miles

After what was likely the best night’s rest of the trip, I awoke to a pretty cool coach and an overcast, breezy day. My sunshine had been hard to find the prior couple of days of my Search for Sunshine trip of 2015. I rolled out of bed a bit after 0600 to turn up the heater and turn on the water heater. Then I snoozed, sort of, ‘til almost 0700 when I got up to greet the new day.

Day 10 was the final day of my trek east. I would visit my aunt and cousins around 0400, likely go out for Chinese dinner (as Roy is also a Chinese food junkie), and spend the night in their driveway. I planned to head for home (Home sounded better every day!) early the next day.

I called dear Wifey two hours early because my 71 year old mind must have been wandering off somewhere. Again. For no good reason I thought at 0500 local time that it was two hours later at home, just the opposite of reality. Naturally I awoke my sleeping wife, and while she answered clearly and seemed awake, I suddenly realized what I had done. I apologized profusely, and told her to go back to sleep. She was very sweet about it, of course, but I did wake her. Two hours later I called again and we enjoyed our usual morning conversation. But no, she did not go back to sleep, and got up for the day after my first call. I was sorry, over and over. Once again, I have to wonder why they allow us old folks out on the highways and byways alone. I do such things all too often of late.

I took a walk around the store for about 20 minutes or so, and it was as big a Walmart as I’ve seen, then headed back to the coach. I returned a bit later to buy some things I needed, and included a small apple fritter I just couldn’t resist. I had it for dessert after my usual zapped breakfast sandwich. I was very mindful of my diet during the trip, so I didn’t beat myself up over that one treat.

I ran a cord from the plug outside the coach to the scooter in one of the holds below, and fired up the generator. I charged the scooter for a couple of hours for the day’s visit to the prison museum. I dawdled around ‘til almost 1100, then headed to the museum just 4 miles away.

2015-1-31h Museum photo1311Huntsville’s Texas Prison Museum.

I dug the scooter out of the hold and scooted up to the door and rode right on in. I was greeted by a gal who took my money for admission; it was a paltry $4.

2015-1-31g Museum photoThe interior of the museum; it was a very interesting visit.

The place was nearly empty when I arrived but by the time I left about an hour later, there were several people looking the displays over. It was pretty small as museums go, but there were a lot of interesting things to see and read.

A few photos from the museum visit:2015-1-31b Museum photoPrisoner made shotguns found in the prison.

2015-1-31c Museum photoBad guys getting collared for real back in 1957.

2015-1-31d Museum photoOld Sparky. Few men ever sat here, and those only once!

2015-1-31e Museum photoPoor me, having been tossed in the slammer for illegal parking. I was trying to get used to my new room.

2015-1-31f Museum photoTrying to cope with my punishment: Honest, warden, all I did was take four spaces in the parking lot… and I had no choice!

After the museum visit, I stowed the scooter back in its hold. I headed for my Auntie Dawn’s with still much time to spare. I drove down I-45 for perhaps 45 minutes, and turned off in Conroe to catch a farm road just out of town to Huffman.

2015-1-31ib Sam Houston
The monster Sam Houston statue along I-45. This photo was taken from the ‘net as I didn’t take a photo. 

I was shocked by the size of the huge Sam Houston statue along I-45! I was slow on the draw and missed a photo but the above shows how big it really is. They must really love that man in Texas!

Along my drive I saw a Valero station peddling gas for $1.70 per and I pulled in and filled up with almost 60 gallons. That was good timing; for once I found a gas bargain and had room to put it! It turned out to be the cheapest gas of the trip – and likely the past several years!

I continued down the highway to another Valero that had room for parking. I asked for permission to park for an hour or so, then killed time writing this and editing photos as I likely would not have time later because I planned to be with the family. I also had lunch – a bowl of soup. I was saving space for the Chinese dinner with family that evening!

2015-1-31k Talking with Auntie DawnEnjoying my visit with Auntie Dawn. What a wonderful lady!

I arrived at my Aunt’s place exactly at 1600 as agreed. It was so great to give her a hug and see her for awhile. We sat and talked for about an hour before we climbed into the family car and headed to a local Chinese restaurant, the same one we visited last year. I had a warm visit with my Auntie Dawn, her daughter Dawnie, and Dawnie’s husband, Roy, as we enjoyed a first rate Chinese dinner.

2015-1-31m Dale, Dawnie, Roy, Auntie Dawn Me, Dawnie, Roy, and Auntie Dawn after our dinner out.

After dinner we returned home and I bid my aunt good-bye. She’s a very spry and energetic 91, and was a joy to visit. She has a great sense of humor and is a fountain of family information. I didn’t want to keep her up or delay her usual schedule. I also told Dawnie and Roy good-bye and climbed back into the coach for the night. I was settled in by 1930.

The visit with Auntie Dawn went just as planned, although I would like to have spent more time with her. Still, my main consideration was to not delay her schedule and by ending our visit around 1915 she was in her home and on her normal schedule.

Back in the coach I got busy on the travelogue and photos. I had time to watch more Johnny Carson DVDs and that silliness seemed to relax me. I was in bed by 2300.

Day 11, Sunday, Huffman, TX to Ft. Stockton, TX via: FM1485, Anderson Loop, I-10: 533 miles!

I slept well, and was up at 0600. I hustled through the usual morning chores and backed out of their driveway at 0630; I was on my way home! The morning was a bit foggy but strangely warm; it was in the low 60s somehow and I’m not used to such a morning in January.

I drove the narrow back roads through the darkness for perhaps a half hour or so, and eventually pulled onto the freeways that took me to the beltway around Houston and eventually to I-10. I planned to stay on I-10 past Tucson to get home as soon as possible. It was early Sunday morning and Houston’s traffic was light and smooth.

2015-2-1a Houston grey and coolHouston was overcast and even a bit foggy as I drove the beltway around it. Note the light Sunday morning traffic.

2015-2-1b Houston area why I love my navigatorHouston is a huge city with highways stacked high overhead. I wouldn’t want to tackle the drive any morning but Sunday nor without my faithful navigator speaking directions and showing the way.

2015-2-1c Houston behind me and heading to hill country
It was good to have Houston behind me and open highway ahead, and even the drive through San Antonio wasn’t bad.

2015-2-1d found a rest area with dumpAt one point along the way I pulled into a rest area and found a dump site for RVs! Great! I pulled in and dumped the coach and added fresh water. I was a happy camper.

The day was a long 533 miles – which was long enough in miles, but I also fought wind much of the day. Such driving is very tiring. Then about 90 miles from Ft. Stockton, I noticed that my gas gauge was down to about an eighth of a tank. My navigator told me I had about 60 miles to the next gas station. I was worried that I might not make it, so I pulled over and put the last gallon and a half of gas from the gas can I carry for the little Honda generator. I slowed to 55 MPH for most of the drive to a small town about 30 miles or so from my destination. I made it, but the gas there was selling for $2.50 per. I pumped seven gallons and continued on to Ft. Stockton where I could fill up for $2 per.

2015-2-1e nearing Ft Stockton
Approaching Ft. Stockton under cloudy skies. It was cooler at the end of my trip than in the darkness of early morning when I left Huffman.

I arrived at Ft. Stockton about 1830 and was plumb tuckered out. I was happy to drop the jacks at the Walmart store there, and settled in for the night.  Of course I tackled this travelogue and edited photos, even as I ate another zapped dinner.

After the computer time and dinner, I watched more… blah, blah, blah. The night was the same as most on the road. I hit the sack about 2300.

Day 12, Monday, Feb. 2, Ft. Stockton, TX to Benson, AZ via I-10: 495 miles

The night was cold; it was in the 30s when I awoke to another pleasant day of driving. After chores I headed to the store and got my walk done for the day. It seemed that if I didn’t walk early, I didn’t walk at all. I bought some OJ while there, then returned to the coach to get my traveling day underway.

I pulled into a new Walmart gas station that just opened in the prior few days and pumped about 19 gallons to top off the tank; the Shell station the prior night shut me off at $99, a stingy sum compared to most stations as many will pump up to $150. I wasn’t up to the routine of swiping my card, zip code, etc., again after that long drive so they didn’t sell me any more gas.

It was a bit before 0800 when I resumed my journey west. It was a cold but lovely day to spend driving. I thoroughly enjoyed such days, but I fought sleepiness after the first hour or so. After a couple cups of real coffee, I was alert for the day’s adventure.

The drive was much the same as any other including the too many photos I shot. These are the few that made the cut:

2015-2-2 Jacks down Ft StocktonThe day began at Fort Stockton’s Walmart where I…

2015-2-2b gassing at new WMart station…also topped off the gas tank at Walmart’s brand new station. I’ve seen stations at Walmart before, but never with Walmart’s name and logo. I liked it.

2015-2-2c rest area in TXThe picnic set up at one of Texas’ rest areas.

2015-2-2d El Paso again. Ugh.
I had to drive through El Paso again and didn’t like it any more than the many times I’ve done so in the past. I just don’t like the size and the busy-ness of the place.

2015-2-2f welcome to NM
I headed back through New Mexico and they welcomed me in a big way.

2015-2-2g cont divide in NM
I again crossed the Continental Divide in New Mexico.

2015-2-2h cont divide in NMArizona’s best of class logo and their colorful welcome.

I found a Dale’s Diner for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the day’s drive. It’s amazing how many of those I find during my trips and I’ve never found a noisy one. The food is usually just Ok and I never eat too much of it. That’s why I keep patronizing the place.

The day’s drive was again long but not as tiring as Day 11’s. I reckon the stress of my fear of running out of gas that day made me all the more weary.

2015-2-3b Benson AZ Nazis warningThis local nonsense by the city Nazis was nothing new. I’ve stayed in many a Walmart next to such signs. I simply ask at the service desk if they mind and usually I’m told it’s just the city but they don’t mind. And in real life, the city cops have better things to do than roust peaceful RVers.

It was 1800 when I pulled into Benson, Arizona’s Walmart. Sure enough, the place was cluttered with No Overnight Parking signs, and I knew it would be. I had called Walmart and they advised that the city had an ordinance against freedom. But Walmart didn’t mind, and the city doesn’t enforce their silly ban. I pulled in for the night like I owned the place. 

It was an almost 500 mile drive that day. As soon as I arrived I planned the next day’s drive, had dinner, and brought this travelogue up to date. After some more Johnny Carson DVDs and a couple of cool ones, I hit the sack about 2230.

Day 13, Tuesday, Benson AZ to Indio, CA via I-10, SR347, SR 238, SR 85, and a county back road: 418 miles

I was up and at it a bit before 0600. It was another cool desert morning, but I was cozy and warm in the coach. I slept very well.

2015-2-3abBenson AZ WalmartSunrise in Benson, Arizona

After the morning chores I headed to the store and took my walk for about 20 minutes. The stores are warm in winter and cool in summer and are a great place to walk in comfort. That’s another perk when staying at Walmarts.

I returned to the coach and readied for the day. I made the mistake of gassing up in Benson, and got mugged to the tune of $2.10 per for 60 gallons. I paid at least $6 more than I should have, but there would be no worry about running out of gas. A short drive down the highway proved that it was still under $2 most everywhere else.

I weighed in that morning at 185 pounds, a very satisfying number and was greatly encouraged to keep at it.  I was very pleased, so I celebrated with breakfast at the same Cracker Barrel I stayed at earlier when heading east. I had pancakes, eggs, and sausage. And it was delicious. For the rest of the day I promised myself to eat light, and I did. But a pig-out sure is satisfying once in awhile.

2015-2-3c TucsonThere was no way to miss Tucson, but it is a pretty city with those mountains in the background.

I meant to take SR 85 from I-8 to I-10 to miss the madness of Phoenix. But I stayed on I-10 too long and had to backtrack nearly 30 miles to miss the city. It was a lovely and scenic detour and I didn’t mind a bit.

2015-2-3d rural AZ during my mistakeAlong my detour in very rural Arizona.

2015-2-3e rural AZ during my mistakeMore scenic Arizona backroad.

2015-2-3f scenic AZ desert along I-10Back on I-10 it was very scenic, too.

As I approached the Kalifornistan state line and the Welcome to California sign, I had that old feeling of mixed emotions. It would be great to be back home, but in the lousiest state of the union? I suppose. I’ve been tired of living in Kalifornistan for many years. Ugh.

It was a long drive even though a hundred miles less than each of the two prior days. I planned to spend the night at a Walmart in Indio but it was several miles off the highway, so I chose the Fantasy Resort Casino in Indio which was right on the highway. I called to see if I could park for the night, and it was Ok – if I went into the casino.

2015-2-3h dropping into Coachella Valley and Indio Dropping down into the Coachella Valley westbound on I-10.

When I got there, a community of RVers and some big rigs were parked beyond the casino lot much like the insanity that is Quartzsite. One could just move in and make it home – apparently for whatever time one wanted. I found an area where it would be unlikely for some noisy reefer truck to park nearby and made myself at home for the night. I had neighbors, but they were quiet and it turned out to be a good choice.

I spent the first hour and a half editing photos and bringing this travelogue up to date. I zapped another frozen dinner. That made two meals aboard Dale’s Diner that day which somewhat compensated for the big breakfast. 

After my nightly chat with my dear Lavonne, I took my shower. It was tough staying comfy in the coach as it was pretty warm in Indio at about 80° outside and inside. I didn’t want to run the generator any more than for dinner as I had neighbors right behind me. I took my shirt off and got by. 

I passed the time as usual with the Johnny Carson DVDs and a couple of tall, cool ones. I hit the sack around 2200.

Day 14, Wednesday, February 4, Indio, CA to home! via I-10, SR210, I-15, SR395, SR58, SR99 = 446 miles

2015-2-4b morning at the big lot near Fantasy Casino

 2015-2-4a Indio RV areaThe coach at the RV encampment near Fantasy Casino. I had plenty of company on the “campground” but it was quiet.

I was up a bit after 0600 and worked my way through the morning chores. I called Lavonne and told her I might make it all the way home – the navigator said 468 miles to go. It would depend on how I held up through the heavy traffic of Kalifornistan. My route would skirt the LALA basin and back through the Mojave Desert.

2015-2-4b Usually windy Palm Springs areaThe Palm Springs area, covered in wind turbines, should perhaps be named Turbine Springs. I saw a lot more wind turbines than palms.

I hit the road at 0730, leaving Indio in typical Kalifornistan traffic. I never had to deal with slowed traffic, but it was heavy and the 55 MPH limit for trucks kept rolling road blocks in my way virtually all day. It really is amazing that Kalifornistan would keep that archaic law even today when other states allow trucks to run with traffic. Even the feds, who are proposing speed limiters on big rigs, cite 68 MPH as a safer top speed.

At any rate, the day’s drive seemed to include more traffic than the entire trip since leaving the state after my visit to Dean’s. The stress was high as well, greatly increased by the lousy roads that seemed to shake the coach apart. The drive along I-10, I-15, SR210, and SR99 was unbelievably rough. Sure, there were smooth stretches, but overall it was the worst day’s drive of the entire trip. It is inexcusable that our roads, which are well funded with the highest gas tax in the nation, are so bad. But enough griping.

2015-2-4c Morongo Casino dominatesThe Morongo Casino dominated the area simply by its size.

2015-2-4d US395 desert driveUS395 heading north through the desert towards SR58 and Bakersfield.

I had breakfast aboard Dale’s Diner when I turned onto SR395 and found a wide spot in which to park. The drive along SR58 was about the most pleasant of the whole day as most of it was smooth and the scenery of the Mojave Desert was beautiful.

2015-2-4e blown tire, broken storage, along SR58These poor folks had a tire blow in their motorhome along SR58 that tore through a storage compartment below. The highway was strewn with lots of papers from the incident. 

2015-2-4f dropping down SR58 into The ValleyDropping down into the San Joaquin Valley on SR58. I was getting closer to home!

Around 1400 I pulled into a Mickey D’s along SR99 and ordered a couple $1 sandwiches, a McFlurry, and a large coffee. That combo kept me alert the rest of the trip. I guess one cannot discount the effects of a sugar and caffeine overdose. It always seems to work for me.

2015-2-4g Home to our gated communityHome again!

I pulled into our gated community moments before 1700, just as I told dear Wifey I would, thanks to my navigator. I walked in the door to our home at precisely 1700. That first big hug was wonderful! We chatted briefly, then I brought in a few items that I’d need overnight. The rest would wait ’til the next day.

We had a long talk as I told her of my trip and she told me of the happenings around home. We talked twice a day on the phone, but such conversations aren’t the same as in person.

The trip was 3,939 miles, and actually more because the coach’s odometer is off a bit. I burned 522 gallons for 7.5 MPG.
(I deducted ½ gallon of gas from the total purchased for each hour that I ran the generator, which was just five hours.)

I took this trip during a huge drop in gas prices due to very low crude prices at the time. I was very pleased to pay an average of $2.06 per gallon. The lowest was $1.70 in Conroe, Texas which was near my destination of Huffman, TX. The highest, naturally, was in Bakersfield, Kalifornistan at $2.37 per gallon. For contrast, I paid $4.06 in La Pine, Oregon as recently as July 2014! 

No matter where you may roam, the best part is coming home!

Amen to that!

About FishWisher

Over the years I have posted many exciting fishing and boating stories here, but now in my seventies, it was time to sell the boat and find less demanding pastimes. All the fishing stories are still here! I will now post my travels aboard the motorhome and other activities. I hope y'all will still enjoy the fishing and boating adventures and perhaps peek in on my post-boating activities on occasion. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you enjoy your visit.
This entry was posted in Travel: Dean's, Travel: Interstate Adventure!, Travel: Search for Sunshine!. Bookmark the permalink.

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