Bob descending into Ft. Worth Water Gardens, Ft. Worth, TX, December 30, 2018

Bob descending into Ft. Worth Water Gardens, Ft. Worth, TX, December 30, 2018
Bob descending into Ft. Worth Water Gardens, Ft. Worth, TX, December 30, 2018

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tornado Warnings - Sunday, April 30, 2017

Our plan this morning was to leave the RV park in Livingston, LA, at 7:15 a.m. to make a 9:00 a.m. opening of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. The weather service on our phones kept giving us alarms of tornado warnings just to the west of us, heading east. Did I mention I have never been in a tornado alley before? I was so nervous.

The cats were placed in their carriers, we grabbed our "go box" with computers and important papers and headed to the women's restroom. The women's and men's restrooms are the designated storm shelters for this RV park. The buildings are cinder block and the restrooms do not have windows.

We were the first people in the shelter. Over the next 45 minutes there ended up being about 12 people in the women's restroom with about six cats and four dogs. Another 4-5 people were in the laundry room, and about ten people milled around outside watching the storm.

I had the cats in one of the back shower areas. I met a delightful young lady (almost 15 years old) who is going to volunteer this summer in the Deschutes National Forest near Bend, Oregon. We talked and talked, having loads of things in common: a love of travel, we both like animals and birds, love learning new words, both live in 5th wheels, the list went on and on. Unfortunately, I forgot to get her name. 

Bob stayed outside talking to some of the men. I went out to find him. From the time we first arrived at the restrooms until I went out 45 minutes later, the sky had gone from light gray to very dark. Bob told me a little while earlier the sky was even darker. They watched the main track of the storm go north of us with lots of lightning in the sky.

The men recounted the tornado last February in Convent, Louisiana, just a few miles south of us. You may remember the photos of Sugar Hill RV Park from last year with the mangled 5th wheels, trailers, motorhomes, and pickups.

Bob was getting antsy to drive to New Orleans to see the museum. He insisted we take the cats back to the 5th wheel even though there was a monsoon of a downpour, thunder, and lightning when we had to move the cats and go box out to the truck. In the few seconds it took to get from the door of the restroom into the pickup truck, we were drenched in rain. The rain was running into the cat carriers too. 

As we drove back to the 5th wheel, lightning flashed all around us, the rain poured down and thunder mocked us. I would not leave the pickup with lightning flashing all around like that. We sat in the pickup about 15 minutes or so waiting for the downpour to lighten up. Bowie and Sunnie were loudly meowing and restless. 

When we finally got back into the 5th wheel. Bowie was terrified, running all around, snarling and hissing. He couldn't be consoled. 

Bob, meanwhile, wanted to leave immediately for the 1 hour, 15-minute drive to New Orleans. Radar maps showed a north-to-south band of severe weather from Livingston, LA to New Orleans, LA. We would be driving through that the whole way into New Orleans! Not my cup of tea. 

We left the cats in the 5th wheel and off we went. Not many people were on the highways. Sure enough, we had thunder, lightning, and torrential downpours all the way into New Orleans. 

Since we weren't sure where the National WWII Museum was located and we didn't have our phones set to map the way, we got off the freeway in an area with deep standing water. People had been driving through the water and their car engines flooded and shut off. We could see them trying to push their cars through the deep water. Crazy! We tried to stay in the shallower lanes and our pickup truck has a higher clearance, but we didn't want to tempt fate and get into water that was too deep. 

Bob set up his phone's GPS directions. We got back on the freeway and then found the museum. Metered parking is free on Sunday, so we found a spot on the street about two blocks from the museum. There was still a little bit of rain, but the umbrella kept us dry. 

In the museum, we went to "will call" to pick up the tickets Bob had ordered online last night. He added one more day onto our tickets for tomorrow. The exhibits started in the lobby where you purchase your tickets.

To start your "experience," you are issued a "dog tag" with your own unique number on it. At the start of your museum experience, you register your dog tag and choose (or are assigned) a soldier whose story you follow throughout the museum. This is good in theory; however, on a crowded day like today, the stations where you listen to your soldier's story were so crowded with people there were bottlenecks at every station. We opted not to try to follow our soldier's story.

Harley Davidson

DKW NZ350 Motorcycle: see description below

Combat pigeon loft
It was about 1:30 p.m. so we had lunch at the Soda Shop attached to the museum. About 2:00 p.m. we finally started going through the museum. 

I should mention that this weekend is the New Orleans Jazz Festival (with big-name rock 'n' roll, jazz and blues artists) that was supposed to take place outside at a speedway. Also, a big golf tournament was supposed to happen today. The reason I mention these is that it seemed like ALL the people who couldn't go to the golf or music events outdoors because of the weather ended up coming to the museum!

Our experience at the museum was awful. Hordes of people were in the exhibits, making it difficult to walk, read the history, or watch the movies along the way. We got out of there as quick as we could. We had a reservation to see the 48-minute movie at 4:00 p.m. 

Before the movie, we had time to go into the Boeing exhibit building. That was the one part of the museum we toured in which people weren't packed in like sardines. We took the stairs up to the fourth-floor catwalk where we could view the airplanes.

Planes in the Boeing building of the museum

Nose gunner

Looking down on planes from 4th-floor catwalk

After the Boeing building, we made our way to the 4:00 p.m. movie chronicling World War II. We enjoyed the movie very much.

When the museum closed at 5:00 p.m., Bob and I went to visit Mina Lea, Bob's almost 93-year-old second cousin who lives nearby in New Orleans 9th Ward, I believe. We had a wonderful visit with her. Bob walked to a nearby restaurant named Kebab to bring back dinner. Bob and I had falafels and Mina Lea had a pork gyro sandwich. We also ordered bread with homemade hummus which is a specialty of theirs. It was good, but too much food. We should have shared!

Bob and Mina Lea

Me with Mina Lea
Thank you, Mina Lea, for having us over to your home. We wish you a wonderful 93rd birthday!

Well, what a day we had! I was mentally exhausted after worrying about tornadoes and flooding all morning. I kept falling asleep while we talked with Mina Lea. At 8:30 p.m., we headed back to the RV park. Our 5th wheel and kitties were still there. Bowie had calmed down over the intervening hours. 

I think we have decided to skip our 2nd day at the National World War II Museum and head north from Baton Rouge to the Natchez Trace Parkway. Tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day and we want to spend some time in Vicksburg visiting the Civil War battlefields.

I'll talk to you again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Texas Is In the Rear-View Mirror - Saturday, April 29, 2017

Threats of wind, rain, and hail peppered the weather forecast for eastern Texas and southern Louisiana. Our departure from Traveler's World this morning at 7:30 a.m. certainly had some wind, but nothing serious.

As we drove east, the wind picked up to a steady 20 mph. indicated the wind gusts were 35-40 mph. Bob has nerves of steel. He drove all day. The 5th wheel danced in the wind, but he handled it well. I was more stressed out as a passenger than he was driving. 

Let's back up a couple of days so we can tell you about having the 5th-wheel hitch installed. There was a slight hitch with the hitch. Bob thought it appropriate to take the truck into SW Wheels a couple of days before his installation appointment date to have them make sure the install would go smoothly. They found the truck had a gooseneck hitch frame attached to the undercarriage of the truck. This meant we could not have a 5th-wheel rail system over that. Plans were made to attach a 5th-wheel hitch to the gooseneck receiver.

The appointment for the install was yesterday, the day before we were to leave on our trip. What could possibly go wrong? The hitch they originally were going to install they erroneously thought would fit onto the gooseneck receiver, but it didn't. It required rails. That required a more expensive 5th wheel to be installed, one that can haul up to 20,000 lbs., which is way more than the weight of our 5th wheel. Bob calls it a "very beefy" 5th wheel. I'm not sure I explained it very well. Anyway, it is now installed.

Back to the present time: Around 11:00 a.m. today, Bob and I finally decided what our first destination would be and a plan of action for Sunday. The RV park we decided on is Lakeside RV Park in Livingston, Louisiana, just east of Baton Rouge. I called to make reservations for one night in a pull-through site. We chose this location because Monday morning we will head north to Natchez Trace Parkway.

The weather forecast for Sunday is for thunderstorms. Our day will be spent in New Orleans at the National World War II Museum. The drive to New Orleans will take us about 1-1/2 hours and we will leave here about 7:15 a.m.

For lunch, we stopped at Buc-ee's in Baytown, Texas, a large gas station/food and souvenir mart. You can see from the photo, we took a little liberty with the parking job. Thankfully, Buc-ee's was not super crowded.

Beauty and Rigamarole at Buc-ee's
Bob had a hot BBQ turkey sandwich and I had a yummy "paleo" plate with hard-boiled egg, cheddar cheese, almonds, grapes, and cubed turkey. It was just perfect for my lunch today. Bob said his sandwich was "mostly bread."

Back on the road, Beauty pulled the 5th wheel like a dream. The truck is so quiet and so smooth. Saturday traffic on I-10 East was pretty heavy. There were a few construction areas with narrow lanes that were a bit hair-raising when combined with people's aggressive driving.

Early afternoon, we finally crossed into Louisiana. We made a well-deserved rest stop at the Atchafalaya Welcome Center in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. This is a must see place with a good, four-minute intro movie about the Atchafalaya Basin. Barn swallows nest on the building. 

Sculpture in back of the Welcome Center

Beautiful barn swallows
We finished our drive to Lakeside RV Park. Reservations were a smart idea! When we arrived we asked if we could add one more night to our reservation. We were very lucky because the same site was available one more night.

I think we got one of the last sites!
Lakeside RV Park is lovely. We had a golf cart escort to our site. Set-up was quick, and then we did one load of laundry. We walked the lakeside path to the laundry room. I had to chuckle at the signs in their laundry room: 

Path to the playground, Camper's Lounge, and laundry room
The weather gods were with us today and we did not have rain. The temperature was in the 80s with high humidity and some strong winds. It became quite pleasant as the sun was going down. 

Here are some more photos from the RV park. We feel really lucky to have chosen this park. 

Our pull-through site - #85 - with partial lake view

Looking down the park road

Park models for rent

Covered picnic area

Rocking chairs overlooking the lake

Camper's Lounge area

Camper's Lounge

Game room

Pool (no hot tub)

I love their signs!

Central Bark (dog park)

Fenced, off-leash dog park
Time for me to get some sleep. We have a big museum day planned for tomorrow. The forecast is for 95% chance of thunderstorms with possible flooding in New Orleans. We are hoping to park in a multi-level parking garage (up high)...just in case.

After the museum, we plan to take Bob's 93-year-old aunt out to dinner. She is such a lovely woman and sharp as a tack!

Stay tuned. We could have some interesting stories to tell on Sunday. The wind is howling around our 5th wheel tonight. Good night!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

And Away We Go! - Thursday, April 27, 2017

The new 5th wheel hitch is being installed Friday. Saturday, Beauty will get her first test pulling Rigamarole down the highway. We are taking off on a two-week trip around the Southeast: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the panhandle of Florida. 

Our plans are to visit five state capitals and do the Volksmarches in each one. Six Flags Atlanta is in our plans as well. Bob wants to visit Vicksburg for some Civil War history. Maybe we can sneak in a garden or two, museums, and some waterfalls. 

In Florida, we will visit Tom and Rosemarie (Bob's brother and sister-in-law). We'd also love to see our friends Iain and Tess who we were close to when we lived in Hawaii. They now live in Destin, Florida.

So far we have not made any reservations for RV parks. For me (someone who makes RV park reservations for travelers coming to Traveler's World RV Resort), it is scary to not have any reservations knowing how many people are traveling right now. I guess this trip our plans are made in Jell-o!

Only one more day until our wheels are rolling again! Can't wait to see what we can see in two weeks. 

Maybe we'll see some of you on the road or in a park along the way. Woo hoo!

Look for us...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Meet Beauty - Mon., Apr. 17, 2017

The time has come to introduce Beauty, our "new" 2012, Ford F350 pickup. Our Beast was a 2000 F350, so we're getting a newer, more technologically advanced model. It even has dual temperature controls and seat heaters/air conditioners.

We bought Beauty last Thursday evening and are very happy.

Left to right: The Escape Pod, Rigamarole, and Beauty

Beauty and Rigamarole
Our insurance has still not paid us for Beast and they are dragging their feet, even calling Bob to ask him how he got home from work the day it was stolen. (I picked him up.) Not only did they call Bob, they called his subordinate and asked him the same question!! What does how Bob got home from work have to do with our truck being stolen??? It's been over three weeks and they were supposed to get back to us in two weeks. Grr!

On a lighter note, about one week after Bob's truck was stolen, our insurance company called to tell us they had been notified by the Converse police that our truck had been recovered. Bob was so excited. He hadn't heard a word about it. He called the Converse police and asked them about his truck being recovered. They looked up the case # and told Bob they only recovered the license plates. Bob got right back on the phone to the insurance company and told them they needed to change their records because only the license plates were recovered! It was a bittersweet laugh that we choked out. The whole truck would have been better.

Anyway, now we need a 5th wheel hitch (which will be put in on 4/28/17) and then we leave on our two-week vacation around the Southeastern United States on 4/29/17. That's cutting it close!

Can't wait to get on the road again!

Travel Bug out.