More Adventures Through Texas


After two nights in San Antonio, we spent the next day on the road crossing the barren plains of Texas on I-10, stopping only to eat lunch and fill the gas tank. There wasn’t much to see. Four hundred miles brought us to a KOA in Van Horn.

Since it was already 6:30 we decided to try dinner at the Grill. The menu was limited and prepared by the work campers who were on duty. It was not the best meal we’d ever eaten, but it was adequate. Being late in the season, there weren’t many other amenities open or activities happening, but it was a clean, well-maintained park. After a walk around the park for a bit of exercise, we soon crawled into bed. To save time in the morning we returned to the Grill for what we hoped would be a quick breakfast, before striking out again. Unfortunately, a new, quite elderly couple was beginning a three-day stint and already they seemed tired and confused. I felt badly for them as I overheard the man exclaim that he had retired once before. I got the feeling that they had to do work camping just to survive. It reminded me how fortunate we are. The eggs were fried in the bacon fat, the toast was too thickly buttered and, although I had eliminated some things from my order, such as an extra egg and home fries, I was still charged the full amount. The $20 bill for breakfast seemed rather steep compared to the full hook-up camping fee.

El Paso

Interesting sculptures along main street through El Paso

At 10:00 am we were on our way again, although we soon realized that we’d traveled through another time-zone and it was actually 9:00 am. By the time we reached El Paso the busy traffic, slowed down by construction and accidents had tired us out. We’d seen signs along the highway for The Saddle Blanket and thought we’d take a wander through there for a break before lunch. When we turned off at the designated exit, however, we saw no more signs as to which direction to take. We chose the wrong one. A Google search told us that it was on the other side of the highway, so we made our way back through the congestion, under the overpass and back along the service road until we found it. We found an out-of-the-way parking spot and I gratefully pulled the door latch to get out. The door wouldn’t open. Jim tried to no avail. While he tried different things I opened the window to wave down the first person who saw us. A kind woman in a white Lincoln stopped and asked what the problem was. I explained that we couldn’t get out. We both had a little chuckle, and then she took the key that I offered and tried opening the door from the outside without success. A younger fellow in another Lincoln also stopped, but he too had no luck. By this time Jim had managed to find the only screw driver that wasn’t in the trunk, and was starting to disassemble the lock. When the woman offered me “the office phone number” saying to call if we needed more help or wanted them to call a locksmith, we realized that they were both from The Saddle Blanket. They went off to lunch and Jim got the lock torn apart. He discovered that all that jarring on Hwy 90 out of New Orleans had displaced the bolts, causing them to obstruct the opening of the door. He put it back together, fixing the problem, and we were finally able to do the tour of The Saddle Blanket’s massive two warehouses. We discovered that our “rescuers” were two of the owners, Bonnie and her son Luke. After we’d finished the tour, while we were having some lunch in the RV, Bonnie stopped by again to make sure we’d gotten out and were alright. A big thank you goes out to Bonnie and Luke for their concern.

We carried on until 5:15 before stopping again at a little KOA in Lordsburg, New Mexico. It took a bit to find it, buried at the end of a street behind some dilapidated house trailers and rusted old automobiles. We were doubtful, but kept following the signs and were pleasantly surprised to find, as we rounded the last corner, that there was a line of motor homes waiting to register. We figured it couldn’t be too bad, and was probably the best RV Park around before the border to Arizona. At least there were a few trees and a small store/office, unlike the many others we’d passed along the highway. Again, it was in the off-season, so not much was happening, but it was pretty park with much to offer in-season.

By mid-morning the next day we were in Arizona.

San Antonio, Texas


When we left New Orleans we headed in the direction of San Antonio, Texas. Traveling along Hwy 90 was the worst road we’ve ever been on. It is made of concrete slabs and they have all heaved just enough to cause the RV to thump over the uneven seams with each set of axles. Dishes rattled, doors and drawers that we thought were secured banged open and closed. My body began to ache and my head began to pound. At one point we turned off it to take the much smoother service road that ran alongside it, until that took a turn north before meeting up with 90 several miles later. It was 4:45 pm when we crossed the border into Texas and were back on I-10.

Jim takes a break under the Texas Star

Jim takes a break under the Texas Star

At 6:30 we stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel near Houston and called it a day. Most Cracker Barrel Restaurants have parking spots at the back just for RVs and as long as there is space, they are welcome to stay for the night. Of course it’s good for business because we always return for breakfast.

By 2:00 pm the next day we were entrenched in the San Antonio KOA. We unloaded the bike and rode downtown. After finding a spot in a nearby parking lot, we walked to The Alamo and did the tour with headsets that told us the history. It’s an interesting story.

Alamo Alamo5And the gardens around it are beautiful.

Alamo Gardens

Alamo Gardens

Alamo GardensThe sun was hot, so the cooler air that enveloped us after we descended  the stairs to the River Walk was a welcome relief. We strolled on the walkway beside the river banks, and checked out the many restaurants before settling on an outdoor café that featured polish sausages, sauerkraut (or potato salad) and fresh baked pretzels.

Yummy Sausage, pretzel and German Potato Salad

Yummy Sausage, pretzel and German Potato Salad

While we ate we were entertained by two fellows dressed in German-style knickers, vests and hats. One played an accordion, the other a lap drum kit; both sang and told jokes. They quit about the time we were finished eating.

Enertainers

Sign on bucket: “All Donations Benefit the Home for One-armed Accordion Players”

We climbed back up the stairs to the hot pavement, returned to the bike and attempted to find our way back to the campground. We needed a little help from a traffic cop who allowed us to make a U-turn after he told us we were going in the wrong direction. Following his directions we found a much easier route back than the one we’d taken to get there, one that we would use again the next day.

After breakfast we returned to the same parking lot and made our way back to the River Walk. This time we took the hour long boat cruise through all the branches of the river while our captain told us of the history of the building of the River Walk, its main purpose being to prevent flooding. Over time the building of a multitude of restaurants, a shopping plaza, convention centre and two towering hotels has turned it into a major tourist attraction. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the atmosphere, listening to the music being played on the terrace of the plaza, and ending our visit with a fine dinner at The County Line BBQ, after waiting in line for twenty minutes. We were disappointed to see that not all of the lights along the walk had been turned on, but it was a lovely evening just the same.

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk

River Walk Tour Boat

Five & Dime

A good place to purchase t-shirts and other souvenirs

River Walk

The birds found a good place to eat, but we couldn’t get a seat here.

The next morning we were on our way again.

More Challenges; More Food


Each day we learn something more about this motor home. Yesterday morning when we were ready to leave Branson, I plugged the back-up camera back into the lower cigarette lighter, and the light didn’t come on. We checked different things, to no avail, but found that it would work when plugged into the dash portal. So we left it there and took off. The morning was foggy, visibility poor in some spots. We were barely onto the highway when a beeping started, coming from the back. After checking the CO2 detectors and pump and furnace switches, I finally determined that it was a fridge warning, but I couldn’t find the cause. Jim took the next exit off the highway in search of a place to stop. Five miles down the road we found a church with a large parking lot. By now all gauge lights and the fridge were no longer working. After fiddling with switches, Jim finally discovered that a button to disconnect the house battery had been switched off the night before, when he was trying to get the stabilizer jacks down. Turning that back on fixed the problem, but he still hasn’t been able to get the jacks to work.

We heard on the news the night before that a nasty winter storm was a couple of days behind us, so the only stop we made yesterday, other than for stretching our legs, was at the Lambert Cafe in Ozark, Missouri, advertised on billboards as the “Home of the Throwed  Roll.” We had to check that out!

It was only 11:30 and already the parking lot was half full.  We pulled into a bus parking spot – yes they come by the bus load. We were seated in a wooden booth in a room where the walls were covered with old tin advertising signs and licence plates. Helium Balloons floated from the backs of the seats. We ordered coffee to start and before we could look at the menu, we heard a cry, “Hot buns!  Hot buns!” We looked up to see a young man tossing dinner rolls to patrons who gave a nod or held up their hands. With a nod, we soon had one of those fresh-from-the-oven buns in our hands. We tore pieces of paper towel from the roll on the table to use for plates. Another fellow came by with a can of molasses and a spoon. When our coffee arrived and we gasped! The mug was the size of a coffee maker carafe.

LARGE coffee

Now that’s a LARGE coffee, the only size offered!

We ordered our lunch of pulled pork on a bun with candied yams and coleslaw, which would certainly satisfy us, but there was also a list of free sides that were delivered from pots to each table – deep fried okra, black-eyed peas, fried potatoes, tomato macaroni, and more. We tried some okra, and Jim tried some black-eyed peas. Everything was delicious, but far more than I could finish.

Lunch

Lunch?

The fellow across from us had a medium chief’s salad that was piled six inches high in a big bread bowl! A lunch menu it wasn’t! An interesting break in the day it was.

We continued on to Oklahoma City, where stopped for the night in Rockwell RV park.

Today we motored on, hoping to avoid the storm. Tonight we have stopped in Santa Rosa New Mexico, where the winds are already rocking us to sleep. The prediction for snow is light and low, but the temperatures are to drop before freezing, which worries us because we filled up our water tank and lines a few days back, when the weather was summer-like.  We’re also having trouble with the furnace, which suddenly refuses to shut off unless the power is turned off! We won’t be cold, unless we run out of propane.

Tune in tomorrow to learn how it all worked out. 🙂

Spectacularly Fed and Entertained in Branson Missouri


Monday, December 2

We left Sullivan without incident and arrived in Branson at around 1:30, after a brief stop at Springfield to get information about RV Resorts, and shows in Branson. After a quick lunch in the motor home while sitting in the Walmart parking lot, and picking up tickets for a show, we drove through the downtown strip and then to the recommended RV Park. It was closed for the season.  Fortunately, I had located another one in the Good Sam book, our second choice only because it was further out of town. By now it was going on three o’clock and it had been recommended that we arrive at the show by 4:00. We were going to the Dixie Stampede Dinner Theatre. We found the “America’s Best RV Park” high on a hill. It was large and welcoming, but they were too getting ready to close for the season in a couple of weeks. There were only about a dozen other RVs occupying spots. We registered, found our site and then had to head back into town. The bike was too oily to ride, and they gave us no place to leave the trailer, so we had to take the entire rig along and hope we could find parking. We did. It was a very large parking lot. We arrived at 4:00 pm exactly and had time to visit a bit with the horses in the stalls along the walkway to the main entrance. These were the last pictures that we were allowed to take until we exited the building again, two hours later.

IMG_2404

White Horse

As with all tourist entertainment shows these days, we had to pose for the staged photo before we were directed into the Carriage Room at 4:30. What a beautiful room with its dark wooden beams, stairs and balconies. In the centre of the room was a stage, and soon the pre-show entertainment arrived, a young man who told us he was going to juggle. Few were impressed; after all, jugglers seem to be a dime a dozen, right? But when this fellow concluded his act, there were many more fans of juggling than there had been. All of his tricks were very unique, skill testing and sometimes downright dangerous, like his finale – juggling flaming torches while standing on the rung of an inflamed ladder that was perched upon a burning rope! Wow! I wanted so badly to sneak my camera out of my purse for a quick photo.

From the Carriage Room we were directed to the big horseshoe-shaped arena, another impressive place with tiered rows and rows of shiny wooden “tables” extending around the perimeter, and comfortable chairs where we sat shoulder-to-shoulder with the other guests. The waiters all wore elf costumes, in keeping with the Christmas theme of this show. We were warned that our fingers would be our only utensils. A plate, a bowl with a handle, a sealer jar, and paper napkins made up the extent of our place settings.

Soon the show began with the beautiful horses we’d seen outside, now dressed in their finest and ridden by young cowboys and cowgirls in red and green satin shirts and jeans. We watched in awe as they performed some intricate routines, and some of the riders did tricks. We learned from the man sitting next to me that his brother was the Roman-style rider (two horses, one foot on each horse back). During all of this our dinner was being served. Warm cheesy biscuits were placed on our plates, a delicious cream of vegetable soup was ladled into our bowls, and we were offered a choice of iced tea or Pepsi in our sealer jars.

When the horses left and a Toy Shop was lowered from the ceiling, it was difficult to concentrate on eating. A brightly clad toy soldier rode in on a fluorescent lime green and white horse; Raggedy Ann and Andy danced with GI Joe; a fairy princess floated around above them. We thought how much our grandchildren would enjoy all of this.

Once the soup and biscuits were consumed, our plates were filled with small whole roasted chickens, thick slabs of seasoned, roasted potato, corn on the cob and a slice of pork tenderloin.

The Toy Shop disappeared.  We were entertained by a redneck clown, and were divided into teams delegated to cheer for either north or south for various “rodeo” competitions, all done with humour and no harm to any animals. Appropriately, we were on the “north” team, and reigned victorious when all was done.

A beautiful live nativity appeared, complete with a donkey, sheep and even the Three Wise Men riding live camels. Carols were sung and Christmas scripture read, before the Angel Gabriel appeared in the sky.

We cleaned up our greasy fingers with the warm wet towels provided; our plates were removed and replaced with new ones holding warm apple turnovers! I was glad that I’d opted to use the “doggie bag” for the rest of my chicken!

A videotaped Christmas greeting from Dolly Parton, a visit from Santa, and introductions of all the performers brought the production to an end. Outside, the darkness was lit up by the pretty Christmas lights. We made our way back to the campsite, full and happy.

Dixie Stampede Theatre

Dixie Stampede Theatre

Dixie Stampede Theatre

A Quick Visit to Quebec


Finding the time or inspiration to write has been difficult this summer. Most of our travel has been to funerals or memorials it seems. But I think we made our last such trip, for a while I hope, this past weekend when we traveled to the Montreal, Quebec area.

We had to stay over one night so I looked for an inexpensive hotel near to our venues. Through Hotels.com I found a room at the Travelodge in the Dorval area. The reviews were mixed; some were awful, so we didn’t know what to expect. It was a pleasant surprise. The building is an older one, but seems to have been refurbished fairly recently. The reception area was large and had double winding staircases up to the second floor. I could imagine a photo of a bride with a long train descending them.

Travelodge Room

The halls were bright and clean; the room was more than adequate with a queen size bed, two night tables, a corner armoire with a large TV (not flat screen though), a sofa and a desk. A coffee maker, hair dryer and ironing board and iron were also supplied.

Travelodge Room

Jim found the bed comfy

I noticed no unpleasant smells that a few reviewers had mentioned. Other than a few paint nicks and some wrinkles in the drapes and bed skirt, I could see nothing to complain about. The dining room wasn’t open for dinner, but we enjoyed a good breakfast the next morning.

After getting lost in the construction on the way to our hotel, and driving through the Dorval Airport, we settled into the Travelodge Hotel on Chemin de la Cote-De-Liesse, before venturing across the highway in search of dinner. Getting there was a challenge. Montreal is known for its one-way streets and strange angled intersections. When we arrived at Le Bifthèque and entered the grand reception area where we were asked if we had reservations, we expected to see an expensive menu.

Le Biftheque Restaurant

Le Biftheque Restaurant

We were directed up carpeted steps and into one of several dining rooms. The decor was elegant – dark stained woods, polished wooden table tops on black tables with black chairs or benches, dimmed lights and a glass-enclosed fireplace. But when we scanned the menu, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the prices were only the normal for most family restaurants. We chose the baby back ribs, which came with a choice of soup or salad, and potatoes or rice. Before our order was even taken, a bowl of tasty seasoned, crunchy croutons and a basket of freshly baked dinner rolls were placed on our table.

Seasoned Croutons

Yummy Croutons

Our Caesar Salads were ample, so when the plates of half racks of ribs and huge baked potatoes (sprinkled with salt and Parmesan cheese) were presented, we knew we were getting more than we could chew!

Ribs and potato

Where did they find those potatoes!?

And it was all very succulent. We enjoyed some of the leftovers for our bedtime snacks later that night.

Next week we are flying to BC for a real vacation spent with family. I hope to have many pictures and stories to share.