Good Times In Texas

The highway north from Zacatecas was surprisingly a great free road until the bypasses around Saltillo and Monterey, making our toll costs from Mazatlan to Laredo a total of $132 US. We made good time to the Columbia border crossing just west of Laredo which is recommended for motor homes and trucks.  This is a very quiet crossing and we were the only vehicle there at the time. There were several thin stray dogs at the border so we threw all of our dog kibble out the window to them rather than lose it to the US border agents.  I hope everyone else does the same.  The US border agents requested that we pull over and get out of the RV and five of them started questioning us.  They all ask the loaded question “what are you bringing back from Mexico” over and over.  I’m never sure what to say.  I mean, we are bringing back a lot of stuff that was brought into Mexico from the US initially.  In the end they didn’t find so much as an apple to confiscate.

Then it was on to San Antonio for a visit with my friend Rita who I have known since the 70’s when I lived there.  We parked in front of her house in a nice little subdivision shaded by oak trees and just across the street from the largest park in San Antonio.  We always enjoy taking walks there.

One bonus of being vegetarian/semi-vegan is our hostess did not know what to cook for us other than broccoli and so she took us to the best vegetarian restaurant that we have ever been to. It’s called the Green Vegetarian Cuisine and is in the Pearl Brewery Complex along the river.  Take a look at our meals:

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20140223_155543-2Rita’s Eggplant Parmesan was so good that she went back to The Green the day we left and tried another vegetarian dish.  A convert?

20140223_155549-2My salad plate had strips of crusted tofu on top that tasted similar to fried chicken.

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After we ate Rita took us to the Central Market in San Antonio.  That was another best as I could have spent all day in this huge and wonderful supermarket.  The produce section is as big as some grocery stores.  There were two aisles of tomatoes like this.  I bought five different kinds and some of them actually tasted and smelled like tomatoes.

Two days later we said our goodbyes to Rita and drove a short 40 miles to Blanco State Park in the hill country.

DSC_4532-2-2   Temperatures plunged on this day and it was overcast and soon rainy.  No problem.  We had a great time anyway because friend Tessa drove from the Houston area to visit and camp with us.  Although we live far apart, we manage to meet at least once each year with the first time being in Nova Scotia in 2010.

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You could be in the Sahara Desert with 130 degree temperatures, starving, no water………but if Tessa is along you WILL have a great time!  But that’s the least of her qualities.  She is a downright good person through and through. She is one in a billion – that’s for sure.

Tessa and her daughter are traveling to Russia this summer and then taking a train through Mongolia to Peking.  I can’t wait to read about her upcoming trip here:  http://www.travbuddy.com/TessaHill/blogsDSC_4570-2 Tessa recently bought a tent that is especially made for a Toyota Prius and this was her first time to try it out.  You wouldn’t think such a little car would have so much sleeping room but there was.  Although it was very cold at night, the heater in her Prius can be set for a certain temperature and the quiet motor will automatically go on and off, keeping the inside warm.

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Tessa drove us all to Perdnales Falls State Park but because of the drought Texas has been having the falls were not running very hard.  Still, the red rocks and scenery here is pretty.  I like this picture of Mr. Handsome.  Tessa calls him my trophy husband and I love it.

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The weather was still rainy and cold the next day so we settled into Tulip and Tessa and I began our marathon Words With Friends challenge.  We had five games going at once and other than an outing to the Red Bud Café in the cute downtown of Blanco, we played and played.

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By the time we finished that night, we were both a little hysterical with laughter.  One of us had to handicap the other by double the points to make the game fairer.  By the end of the challenge one of us wanted a triple handicap.  Doesn’t matter who won or lost – it was the best (another best) time I had the whole trip.  My vacation that began in the pits sure ended on a high note.

However, the good times in Texas weren’t over yet because while at Blanco State Park I received a text message from my daughter Lauren that she was at the moment driving from Colorado to Ft. Worth, Texas with her boss Julie to rescue a dog.  Julie found out that a mixed breed dog named Panda was going to be put to death that day in an animal shelter because it had a contagious type of pneumonia. Julie talked the shelter into waiting one extra day so that she would have time to drive there and adopt Panda.  My daughter has an SUV that will hold a kennel so off they went.

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Julie is on the left of Lauren. At the shelter they found out several other dogs were going to be put to death because they also had pneumonia.  Julie pleaded and offered the shelter a donation of $2,000 for veterinary bills to save those dogs.  The shelter said it was against their regulations and refused.

Previously, Julie tried to rescue a dog that was sentenced for execution from a shelter in Georgia and would have also made the drive but that shelter refused because she wasn’t a Georgia resident.

Julie and Lauren were driving back to Colorado the same day as us.  They were many hours drive north of our location so I didn’t expect to see them.  However, they didn’t leave Ft. Worth until about noon and we left Blanco State Park at 10 am.  But then, just outside of Amarillo Lauren had a flat tire.  The good Samaritans that stopped and changed her tire told her that all her tires were in very bad shape and she should get new ones.  That meant spending the night in Amarillo.  We had initially planned to take a leisurely 3 days to drive home but the chance to see my daughter early was too good of an opportunity to pass up.  We all arrived within 1/2 hour of each other and met at a nearby restaurant before going to their hotel where we were allowed to park overnight. Because we didn’t want to take any chances of Molly catching Panda’s pneumonia, Lauren didn’t come near Molly and I only saw Panda through the hotel window.

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The next morning Lauren went to the tire store and we left for Colorado.  Then they passed us in Dalhart.  Lauren explained that getting the tires mounted didn’t take long at all.

Lauren and Julie drove straight to a veterinarian in Colorado Springs who started Panda on antibiotics.  I was worried she wouldn’t live that long because the way Lauren described her condition, she was really sick with constant coughing and lethargy.  Lauren kept her until she was well and no longer contagious since Julie has other dogs at her house.  Panda is doing fine now and is one lucky dog.  And I’m one lucky mother to have a daughter who is so compassionate that she will drive 1400 miles round trip to save an ordinary mutt.

Houston to Natchez

Our time with Tessa and her family was fantastic!  And we got more done thanks to Tessa.  Steve steam cleaned the carpeting and Tessa made a warning board to put on the back of the RV, evidently a law in Europe if bikes are being carried.
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We have too many books and gave some fat ones to Tessa, one of which was hers anyway.  So what does she do?  She takes the spines off and scans all the Europe pages!  If we had known about the itty bitty Scan Snap before we bought our combo printer/scanner, we would have invested in one.  It has a feeder, scans both sides at the same time and is maybe 12” wide by about 6” deep.  Having a printer/copier/scanner with us is an absolute must and does get a lot of use.
A month ago I wrote about the cost of toothpaste in Europe and so dear Tessa gave us 8 tubes.  Plus 6 deodorants and several bottles of body wash. Maybe she was telling us something?  Tessa is an “Extreme Couponer” and gets super excited to see how much she can buy for free.  I’ve never seen such a stockpile of goods and learned that couponing in this big way is also very complicated. 
Yesterday we went to Natchez, a beautiful town on the Mississippi River.  Our time there was too short.  Steve is having a hard time enjoying himself knowing we have at least five days of work to be done on Tulip.  I can’t blame him.  I really want to see more of Mississippi someday and especially the plantations.  The weather is perfect this time of year.
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The only cathedral built in Mississippi – St. Mary’s
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Natchez, Mississippi
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Woodlands, TX

Anyone who was reading this site in July and August remembers Tessa and her children and how we kept running into each other in Newfoundland.  And now we are at their lovely home and finally were able to meet Ned. Tessa’s website is the travbuddy link on this home page.  When we arrived two days ago,  Rick and Kathy Howe were also here visiting and then yesterday Tessa took them to the airport in Houston for their return flight to Lisbon where their motor home has been stored the past couple of months.  We’re all so glad winter is about over and can get back to the business of traveling.
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Our motor home had decals on all four sides that said “View”.  We removed them and placed one “Tulip” decal on the back.  Then Steve took off the big “W” decals on each side and replaced them with a heart that has a tulip in the middle. 
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Tessa is keeping the backing wet while the vinyl lettering sets.  “Tulip” letters are actually bluer than this and matched our other striping perfectly once the backing came off.

Great Turnaround

For sure, when there’s a string of bad events, the turn around far outweighs the bad.   After five (yes five) strikeouts yesterday morning trying to find a laundry in Victoria that was open, wasn’t out of business, or non-existent, we decided it was time to leave town and go north.  We expected to spend last night dry camped somewhere but found a park that is absolutely free.  And with full hookups on concrete pads.  The most incredible part was arriving at 6 pm on a Saturday night and 2 of the 8 sites were vacant.   Texas is such a nice state!
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DSC_0574 With the advice of some members of the Yahoo View/Navion forum, Steve fixed the slide.  A shear pin had broken.
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We stayed up late last night talking with this very nice couple from Germany who were parked next to us.  They travel in the US 6 months out of each year and store their motor home in Houston.  In fact they quit working in their early 40’s and travel all over the world on the same meagerly income as us.  It was fantastic comparing notes and we gave each other many good tips.