Tag Archives: RV

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.

Happy Trails, Part 112: Back to the beginning

Not quite 47 years ago, my wife and I recited our sacred marriage vow — in the quickest 22-minute ceremony of my life — spent a glorious honeymoon in the Cascade Range of Central Oregon and returned to start our life in a two-bedroom apartment in southeast Portland.

Our monthly rent in 1971 was — get a load of this — $135.

Many years later — after owning four homes in Oregon and in Texas — we have returned to our “roots,” more or less.

We have decided to return to apartment living.

I must stipulate the obvious. Our rent today is nowhere close to what we paid when we began our life together. You don’t need to know what we’re paying these days; just know that it is many times more than what we paid back in the day.

We are thrilled with this turn our life has taken.

After we sold our Amarillo house we decided quickly to forgo the search for a new house to buy, to take on another mortgage that we likely wouldn’t be able to outlive, to be saddled with house repairs as they occurred.

We decided to rent. Yes, our intent was to “downsize” significantly from the house we owned in Amarillo. We did unload many of our possessions, but not enough of them. We have managed to stuff our remaining belongings into this apartment in Fairview, although it doesn’t look as though it’s stuffed.

Fairview is a lovely community tucked between Allen and McKinney in Collin County. The sign at the city limit says the population is around 7,200 residents, although I am absolutely certain it’s much larger than that today.

Our grand scheme goes something like this:

We’ll use the apartment as a jumping-off place for the travel we intend to pursue in our retirement years. We own a 28-foot fifth wheel that we hitch to the back of our pickup. It served as our home for several months while we prepared to sell our house and then put our dwelling on the market. Our fifth wheel served us well in that capacity.

Now it’s being returned to its original mission, as a recreational travel vehicle. We will use it frequently, weather permitting, as we hit the road across North America.

We already have returned to the Cascade Range. We’ve taken our RV to all three coasts and to the Great Lakes region. There’s plenty more to see and enjoy.

We will return home to our apartment, just as we did when we began this marvelous journey together. It’s been a great ride so far.

However, we aren’t nearly finished.