Tag Archives: RV

Happy Trails, Part 133: Free room and board?

LAMESA, Texas — I am about to let you in on a little secret, although it’s likely not a secret to veteran RV travelers.

If you want to park your recreational vehicle free of charge, just look for those “public parks” in your RV directory.

We rolled into this West Texas town with a population of about 9,400 residents. We had called ahead when we saw a listing in our RV directory that caught our attention. It was a “public park.” So I called. It turns out the RV park is part of the municipal park system.

The lady at City Hall told me we could stay here for free for a maximum of four nights. It has water and electric hookups; no sewer, but . . . we can take our waste water with us to the next location.

We have found some of these public parks on our travels over the past three or four years. We stayed at one of them in Sayre, Okla.; if memory serves, the nightly rate there was $10, which we considered a heck of a bargain.

While traveling in Texas, we prefer to stay at state-run RV parks. Given that we’re big fans of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, we like supporting the state park system. The parks where we’ve stayed over the years have been well-manicured, well-appointed and generally quite gorgeous.

We buy a state park entrance pass once a year to waive our entrance fees. Since we’ve made ample use of the state parks, the pass is worth the investment.

But tonight we’re getting some free room and board at a city park. Keep this kind of thing in mind if you’re like my wife and me and enjoy the open road in your RV.

If you venture to Lamesa, here’s a tip: The locals pronounce the town name La-MEE-sa, not La-MAY-sa.

It must be a Texas thing.

Hoping for perpetual Wi-Fi on these journeys

COPPER BREAKS STATE PARK, Texas — I was sweatin’ bullets last night, man. You see, I have this streak going that I want to maintain and I feared that a lack of adequate Internet connection at our RV site was going to derail the streak.

High Plains Blogger has managed to post something for 715 consecutive days. We pulled into our RV site near sundown at this wonderful state park, but once we got settled, I found that my cell phone service isn’t the best, which might have deprived me of the ability to post a missive on my blog.

Never fear. It comes and goes, but it mostly stays.

That brings me to my point. Our retirement journey is taking us hither and yon across the country. We want — and intend fully — for it to continue for well past the immediate or moderate future.

One of the aspects of RV park-site shopping, though, will have to include Wi-Fi availability. That also must include cell phone availability. Why the linkage? If I cannot connect to a viable Wi-Fi network, I can use my handy-dandy smart phone to provide me with the “hot spot” I need to connect to the Internet.

However, if I don’t have enough cell phone strength, the hot spot is rendered useless. (My tech-savvy sons will enjoy my relative “fluency” in this kind of techno-speak.)

So, to keep the blog going — for better or worse, depending on who’s reading this stuff — I need to stay connected to the big ol’ wide world of Internet telecommunications.

My wife and I do enjoy parking our RV in more rural settings. However, we aren’t yet into what they call “primitive camping.” We like the amenities associated with most RV parks: water and electricity and sewer service when it’s possible. I consider one of those amenities to include Wi-Fi service.

I am retired, for sure. I am not surrendering to old age. If my noggin is still functioning and if I can still strength sentences together, I’ll keep this blogging thing going for as long as I am able.

For those of you who say you enjoy these musings, I’ll do my best. For those of you who say you dislike them, but can’t stop reading them … too bad.

Happy Trails, Part 125: Great RV neighbors

COPPER BREAKS STATE PARK, Texas — I had intended for this blog post to be a high-minded tribute to the Texas Parks & Wildlife department’s state park system.

Specifically, I intended to write about how easy it is to back into TP&W park sites. I would pull our 28-foot fifth wheel up to the site, straighten the truck/RV assembly out and back it all in. Slick, man! No sweat!

For some reason I don’t yet know, it didn’t work out that way.

I want instead to devote most of this post to the neighborliness of RVers. I’ve experienced their friendliness and willingness to offer a hand. This time an angel named Jim stepped up and said, “Hey, do y’all need help backing in?”

We answered simultaneously, “Yes!”

We offered him the keys to the truck. He took ‘em and back the rig into our spot.

We learned that Jim and wife, Brenda, have been traveling for two years full time in their RV. They’re originally from Hereford, Texas, just about 30 miles southwest of Amarillo. They’ve been just about everywhere in this country, Jim said.

He also told us he began backing up semi trucks when he was 13 years of age. His father hauled cattle in these big rigs, Jim said, so he got indoctrinated early. “Yep, that’s Hereford, all right,” I said with a weary chuckle.

I do not intend to speak ill of TP&W and its system of state parks. Indeed, the agency does make its back-in RV sites quite accessible – even more for brain-dead RVers such as yours truly. My wife and I are huge fans of the Texas parks system and we visit them whenever we can when we’re traveling in-state. Copper Breaks is a lovely site just south of Quanah in Hardeman County.

Maybe I’ll do better the next time I have to back our RV into a site. Not this time. I’ll chalk it up to, oh, a long day on the road. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I was tired. That works as an excuse.

Now that we’re here, we intend to relax for a few days. We can do that now that we’re retired.

Puppy Tales, Part 57: Who needs travel training?

I laughed out loud when I heard this tidbit from a pet-training expert.

He talked about a dog he had given to a couple that was looking for a dog to replace their previous “baby” that had died. The training expert talked about how he gets dogs accustomed to travel by letting them sleep in their kennels prior to sending them to their new “pet parents.”

Why did I laugh? Toby the Puppy was born to travel. He remains in constant travel mode. There was no need — none at all, zero, zilch — to “train” Toby how to travel.

He’s a natural at it. I long thought my mother-in-law was the world’s greatest road warrior. She surrendered her unofficial “crown” the moment Toby the Puppy joined our family.

We ask him: Do you want to go for a ride? His response is that he whirls around like he Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil. Yep, he’s ready for a ride. He stays ready. He was born ready.

When we travel with our fifth wheel, Toby is good to go the moment he settles into his bed, which my wife and I place on the console between the two front seats. He might circle once or twice before settling down for his road-trip nap.

Did we have to “train” our puppy to do this? Hah! Hardly. He puts his mother and me to shame with his travel endurance. It comes naturally.

Happy Trails, Part 122: No ‘organized activities,’ please

You know already that my wife and I have returned to our “roots,” if you want to call it that.

We started our life together 47 years ago in a two-bedroom apartment in southeast Portland, Ore. We have returned to an apartment lifestyle in Fairview, Texas. We sold our house in Amarillo and decided — after relatively little discussion — to hang on to our dough and use it to travel; the idea of assuming a mortgage at our age didn’t appeal to us.

And that brings me to the point of this blog post.

While we were shopping for an apartment to call “home,” we entertained the idea of living in one of those “active adult communities,” you know, the places that restrict residence to those who are at least 55 years of age.

We visited some complexes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We chatted with enthusiastic young marketing professionals who sought to impress us with all the “benefits” of living in such a community.

Perhaps you know what they are: quiet surroundings, well-kept property, easy access to amenities.

Then came this one: group activities. You know, tours, shopping sprees, various and sundry outings with our peers.

My wife and I would look at each other fairly routinely when we heard about all of that; we would nod, thank the marketing whiz for his or her time and be on our way.

It then dawned on both of us at about the same time: We might be old, but we don’t want to be treated like two old people. I am about to turn 69 years of age; my wife is, shall we say, a little younger than I am. We remain in good health. We want to enjoy our recreational vehicle. We intend to make ample use of it now that we have all this time time on our hands.

I don’t feel like a fuddy-duddy. Neither does my wife.

There might come a day when we need to relocate once more to one of those “communities” that feature group activities and, all that blah, blah, blah. We both are acutely aware that time isn’t necessarily our ally.

Just not yet.

Feeling an enhanced sense of outrage over this crime

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — I am nearly overcome with a level of outrage over a crime that all by itself should elicit this kind of response.

But we’ve been parked in our RV just outside of Denver and the local news media are reporting a hideous crime involving a man accused of killing his pregnant wife and their two young daughters.

Chris Watts reportedly has confessed to killing his wife Shanann, who was 15 weeks pregnant with the couple’s third child; he also allegedly strangled his two daughters.

We’ll be leaving this community very soon, heading north and eventually west. However, the images we’ve watched the past two days on Denver-area news TV of the beautiful victims and the man accused of killing them are going to stay with me for a long time.

Forensic psychologists already have begun dissecting Chris Watts’s body language as he has told the media and police to find his then-missing wife and children. They noted the way he stood, arms crossed, with no apparent outward emotion. The observation reminds me of how the Union County, S.C., sheriff began to suspect Susan Smith was culpable in that heinous murder of her two sons when they drowned in a car that had been pushed into the water. Smith “cried” but didn’t shed a tear.

So it is with Chris Watts.

The crime occurred in Frederick, which is northeast of Denver in Weld County. The media here are all over the story. I am getting the strong sense watching the reporters and anchors talking to viewers about what they know so far that they, too, are moved beyond measure while trying to understand how such a crime could occur.

I pray that justice will be delivered hard to the individual responsible for this dastardly deed.

What do I miss? The weather!

AMARILLO, Texas — Yep. we’re back where we lived for about a third of our lives on Earth.

Tonight I think I have discovered what I miss the most (sort of) about the Texas Panhandle.

I’ll stipulate up front that we made many friends here before departing for the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex earlier this year. I miss them terribly already.

The next thing? Man, it’s gotta be the weather.

We’ve been getting re-accustomed to downstate humidity while we have settled into our new digs in Fairview. It hasn’t been narly the struggle it was when we first moved to Texas in the spring of 1984; we left Oregon for — gulp! — Beaumont, in the Golden Triangle, or, as I like to call it, The Swamp.

Then we moved to Amarillo in 1995. It was in January. My blood had thinned out (if that’s possible) during our years way down yonder, so getting used to the Panhandle winter was a project. But we did.

We have returned for a few days while we prepare to depart for Yellowstone National Park and Grand Coulee, Wash.

We’ve had a hot, humid, sticky summer in Fairview. We parked our fifth wheel tonight at an RV park and have enjoyed the cool breeze wafting through our vehicle.

Ahh, yes! The weather. We likely are going to miss the Texas Panhandle’s version of the four seasons.

Phone books? Pfftt! Who needs ’em?

You’re going to accuse me of being way too slow on the uptake.

I don’t care. I am going to make this declaration anyway. You are welcome to disparage me if you so desire. I’m tough. I can take it.

I have finally come to grips with the fact that I no longer need a telephone directory to find a phone number I need to call.

Yep. Just like the rest of you I am packing my “directory” on my hip. It’s clipped to my belt in the same device I use to scroll the wire services, check my daily page-view stats on High Plains Blogger and, oh, make a phone call when I need to talk to someone.

That ol’ smart phone serves the same purpose the phone book used to serve. I just Google the subject, the nature of the business and I can find it quickly. I hit the “call” button on my screen and, well, there you go.

OK, you can stop laughing at me.

It wasn’t all that long ago that I declared victory in my campaign to be the last man on Earth to own a cellular telephone. It was my mission. I was dedicated to seeing it through.

Finally, I just thought I’d declare victory. I made it! Then I got a flip-phone that worked for good while. I graduated to something a bit more, um, sophisticated. Then I upgraded to the phone I have now.

It’s a slick device.

One of the many discoveries I made about it was the using it to locate a phone number is far less cumbersome, frustrating and annoying than using a printed phone book.

You know why, but I’ll explain it briefly anyhow.

In the not-too-distant old days, I would find that the person whose number I was seeking in the phone book wasn’t listed; he or she had cut off the land line and the cell number wasn’t in the book. If I needed to look in the Yellow Pages for a business phone number, I often would get frustrated slogging through the various topics trying to find the business.

My wife and I severed our land line when we moved into our RV in October 2017 while we prepared to sell our Amarillo house. That event proved to be far less traumatic than I had anticipated.

I wrote about this notion three years ago:

Get rid of the land line? Not just yet

As my comfort level with my smart phone has grown, I have discovered — finally! — that phone books no longer serve a useful purpose.

Are you proud of me?

Happy Trails, Part 118: Packing warm clothes

A young woman at an RV park in central Wyoming delivered a message that was music to my ears.

I made an overnight reservation there and then asked about the temperature. “It’s been hot here the past week,” she said. I then asked about Yellowstone National Park, where my wife, Toby and Puppy and I are heading.

“Oh, be sure to bring warm clothes there,” she said. “I hear it’s cooling off nicely.”

Man, I hope she heard it correctly.

This is our first trip in a few months; it is the first since we moved from Amarillo to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

We have had a toasty summer so far in the Metroplex, although it’s been more,  um, tolerable the past few days. We had quite a few consecutive days of 100-degree-plus weather. That, and the humidity, does take the starch out of you.

However, very soon we’re packing up our RV and heading north and west toward Yellowstone. We’ll spend four nights there before heading ever farther north and west, where we’ll spend three nights near Grand Coulee Dam, Wash. I grew up in Portland, Ore., which isn’t all that far away, and have never been to Grand Coulee Dam. So, this is kind of a bucket-list destination for me.

I am not expecting frigid temps on this road trip. I do expect to layer up my attire while we’re visiting Old Faithful and gawking at the wildlife that runs around the nation’s oldest national park.

I do hope the young woman on the phone today knew what she was talking about.

I’ll keep you posted.

Happy Trails, Part 113: Adult supervision anyone?

I don’t normally like discussing adult supervision in this blog, but since my High Plains Blogger profile talks about “life experience,” I want to offer a brief glimpse of what my wife and I witnessed on a quick trip back to Amarillo, Texas.

We saw first hand how adults should and should not handle minors under their supervision.

First, the “should not” example.

We were parked for three nights at an RV park in far west Amarillo. One afternoon, some kids walked by our fifth wheel and one of them pounded on the door. The noise upset Toby the Puppy. My wife and I went outside and confronted one of the boys and told him to quit doing that.

The boy kind of smirked back at me and said the culprit was a friend of his, who was nowhere to be seen. Fine. Then I said, “Just knock it off.”

Late that night, we turned in around 11 p.m. All three of us had gone to bed. Then came another knock on the door. The Puppy got upset again. We went outside. No sign of the kids.

Ah, but then we noticed an RV parked across the road from ours. We believed it belonged to the coach/dad who was accompanying the boys, who were part of a baseball team that was in Amarillo to play in a tournament; the visitors are from western Oklahoma.

We knocked on his door. Coach/Dad answered. “Are you the coach of the boys here?” my wife asked. “Yes.” Then we told him about what had just happened. He was mortified. One of those kids is his son, he said. He grabbed his cell phone and called his son. “Get back to the trailer — right now!” he said.

The kids returned. We went back to our RV. We watched the kids enter their trailer. We’ll presume Coach/Dad gave them a serious tongue-lashing.

Two quick points I want to make here: One is that the boys had no good reason to be out wandering through an RV park at 11 p.m. The adults should have reeled them in much earlier. The kids also should have been made to apologize for disturbing us; they didn’t do it.

Shame on Coach/Dad.

This morning we had breakfast at a restaurant near our Amarillo RV park. We ate our meal with our son. Then we finished, got up and walked toward the door. We noticed a group of Boy Scouts sitting quietly. They were eating their meal, too. We hardly knew they were in the room.

Those boys were exhibiting discipline, decorum and good manners.

Good job to their scoutmaster.

There. Rant over. We’re back home in Fairview. I’m quite certain no one is going to beat on our door in the wee hours.