Tuesday, June 28, 2016

More about small Texas towns

Coleman RV Park, Brownfield, TX June 27, 2016


Rowena, Eola, Brownfield…the list goes on. Small Texas towns that on the surface seem tired and worn out, but digging deeper you find they each have their own unique charm.

For instance, Bonnie Parker of “Bonnie and Clyde” fame was born in Rowena. It’s also home to the Horny Toad Brewery that we mentioned in our last blog.

And in Eola, Mark Cannon moved from Seattle, WA to this little town in the early 2000’s and purchased the abandoned school building. He began an ambitous endeavor that included restoring the buildings, opening a restaurant, operating a hostel and creating a brewery. And he did all this by himself. EJ and I sampled the beer and the Farm House Ale was excellent.

We forgot to mention that our departure from Dad’s yesterday was delayed due to rain. While we waited for it to stop and the roads to dry a little, Dad called to let us know the replacement motor we had ordered for his bed had arrived. This worked out well because we were worried how anyone was going to get down on the floor under his bed to replace the part. So I got to take care of it and tested it to make sure everything still worked after the new motor was installed.

After leaving Dad’s, our first order of business was to find a place to refill and dump as the only facility we’ve had for the past 2 weeks is an electric connection. We stop at San Angelo State Park to use their sani-dump for $10. Finally we are on the way to Brownfield, TX.

We had forgotten that we had visited here in the past until we arrived at the free campground, Coleman Park. That’s another thing we really like about small Texas towns. Compared to the other 45 states we’ve visited, Texas towns have more free, or donation oriented, city/county campgrounds. Here is the Brownfield brochure.

Coleman RV Park Brownfield TX

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by a city employee who welcomed us and pointed out the only 50 amp connection in the campground. He came by the next day to make sure our stay was pleasant.

Chillin at Coleman Park in Brownfield TX

The other thing that is amazing is that these little campgrounds are rarely used. There were 12 sites and only 3 occupants the night we were there.

Breakfast the next day was another experience however. Google Maps told us there was an interesting sounding restaurant about a half mile away. Great, we can walk and get some exercise and some food. We walked to where Google said the restaurant was and found nothing but an empty lot and some houses. We called the number listed for the business and there was no answer. Well darn!

We decided to settle for McDonalds which was about a quarter mile from where we were standing. After walking over there, we find the dining room is closed for renovations. Dang! We end up walking ever further away from Big Guy to a Burger King. Oh well, at least it was eggs and sausage.

The walk back was getting warm and it was time to head to our next stop, Ruidoso Downs, NM.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Parked at Rio Concho Manor

Rio Concho Manor Power Pole, San Angelo, TX 6-13 to 27-2016


We don’t live as close to Frank’s father as we wish we did. But he did chose to live in the middle of the desert in Texas. San Angelo to be exact. Summer time temperatures do reach into the low 100’s, but as everyone will tell you, “It’s a dry heat”. Well, it makes little difference it’s still hot! In fact, during this visit we were seriously considering breaking open an egg on the asphalt next to Big Guy just to see if it would cook.

When we visit Dad, it does cause us to spend some time thinking about our future. Where do we want to end up? Do we want to be surrounded by people? Who will take care of us? How can we make sure we end up in the company of happy people and not a bunch of curmudgeons? We both love the outdoors so a moderate climate is important, as opposed to being trapped inside in air conditioning all summer long.

By most counts, Dad’s decision to live here has served him well. He has lots of friends as well as a small group of very close friends. He’s found a group of good doctors and they pretty much do whatever he wants them to.

Besides visiting, we like to make sure his paperwork and computer problems are taken care of. That way, after we leave he can at least start out not having to worry about those issues. Now if Microsoft would just quit bothering him about updating to Windows 10, we’d be in good shape. Clean and simple, just the way we like it!

Dad's PC

Depending on who you ask, we either showed up a week late or a week early. We ended up making a brief but necessary detour back into Florida on our route from Columbia, SC to San Angelo, TX. So that slowed us down a little. Then we found out Dad was concerned about getting his driver’s license renewed before his birthday arrived less it expired opening another whole can of worms.

So we decided to put on some speed and arrive on Monday, June 13, before his birthday on June 18 to help however we could.

Less than 45 minutes from Dad’s place, Google Maps starting shouting that there was a brewery nearby in Rowena, TX. Wondering how google knew we like breweries (that’s a subject for another post) we drove through Rowena to find 313 Edward St. The prospects weren’t looking good as Rowena was pretty much a ghost town.

Horny Toad 2 

The address was a filling station, which obviously no longer dispensed gas as the pumps were gone. But wait, on the wall above the door, we could just make out the word “BEER”.

Horny Toad 1

We did see a person walking around, so EJ sent me over to see what the deal was. It was the owner, and yes it was the Horny Toad Brewery, and no they weren’t open. They only open the first Saturday of the month, but what the heck. He wanted a beer too, so he opened up the tap room for us. We chatted with him for over an hour.

We finally arrived at the Rio Concho Manor and hooked up to our life saver, the Power Pole. Yes, it’s two 30 amp plugs hooked up to our combiner to make 50 amps so we can run the air conditioner full blast since it’s going to be in or near the 100’s for the next week or so. That’s the Manor in the background.

Rio Concho Power Pole

Frank’s Dad was concerned about renewing his license. However it turned out that Dad had recently upgraded his eye glass prescription and just needed to retake the driver’s license eye test with his new glasses. He passed and is now good to go for another year.

Afterwards, Frank made a big faux pas and texted his brother Terry that “Dad passed”. EJ was mortified about the wording. But Terry understood.

Terry and Joy came over from Georgetown to celebrate Dad’s birthday and we all took him out to lunch.

Putnam family lunch

Between lunch, social hour, and dinners out, it was hard to get any productive work done. But we did manage to sneak in one on Dad. EJ planned, with Bill Norvel’s help, a surprise birthday party for Dad.  Terry and Joy were there too. That’s Joy cutting the cake.

Dads 94th-aDads 94th-bDads 94th-c

Several days later, EJ and I took a road trip to Eola, Texas to visit the Eola School House Brewery.


The owner, is working by himself attempting to restore the school, brew beer, making trips to larger cities to market kegs of his beer, and running a restaurant. I think he needs some help.

On another goof-off day, EJ and I wandered the restored shopping district of San Angelo. I found these chimes and thought they would be perfect in the side yard at our townhome. The longest pipe is about 5 feet long. They don’t really chime, it’s more like a boooonnnggg! The neighbors would love it, I’m sure.


EJ took me to a soda shop and bought me a sundae concoction.


Then she dropped me off at this place while she went shopping. i guess I was whining too much.


It’s been over two weeks now, Big Guy’s waste tanks are full, and it’s time to move on. We bid adieu to Dad and point Big Guy north west hoping to find cooler weather.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Critters from Alabama to Texas

We just thought we were done with Eastbank COE Campground in Bainbridge, GA. It seems as though we picked up a little gift while we were there.


We call them sugar ants ‘cause they’re so small, like a grain of sugar. There were hundreds of them. So we’ll spend the next few weeks trying to get rid of all them. Next time I’ll believe RVParkReviews.com. Several reviewers mentioned ant invasions, so we brought along Boric Acid, But it rained and washed it all away after we surrounded the tires with it.

Also this guy was parked right behind us. Each time we would step out of Big Guy, our eyeballs were clicking right and left trying to figure where it was this time.


Several more critters we saw around the motorhome.


Service COE Campground just outside of Coffeeville, AL is one of our favorites. This makes the 3rd or 4th time we’ve stayed here. But this time we spent 2 days. It’s right on the Tom Bigbee waterway and features lots of barge traffic.

This guy’s headed north….


And this guy’s headed south….


In the mornings it was nice to sit under the shade tree and contemplate nature and its wonders.



The sunsets were pleasant to observe as well.


We almost had another hitchhiker from this park. As we were getting Sunny, the Explorer, ready to go we found this guy had attached himself to one of the fenders.

Don’t know what it is, but I’m not gonna touch it.


Now we have a conundrum. We’ve really liked the low cost COE parks and being able to use our Geezer Pass. But we’re in a part of the country now, where they are not convenient to our route. It’s still way to hot for dry camping, electricity for the air conditioner is a must.

Getting ready to leave Mississippi and cross over to Louisiana.


So we’re gonna have to suck it up and stay at a commercial campground. But wait, EJ finds one that belongs to Passport America. But even with the discount, one night costs more than 2 nights at a Corp of Engineers campground. But it’s on the Mississippi River! So we splurge.

The view from the campground.


More critters. Along the River Walk, we see a sparrow a harassing a hawk.


These last few weeks eastern Texas has been inundated. Our next stop at Mill Creek COE Campground shows evidence of all the rain. A good portion of the waterfront sites are partially underwater and have closed off for use. Even our site, which is not considered waterfront, shows water not that far away from Big Guy. We’ll definetly keep an eye on that.


The campground is located next to the Rayburn Reservoir, the fishing center for this part of Texas. And there are boats, barking dogs and squally kids everywhere. I guess it’s a good thing it’s too hot and humid to spend any time out doors. When we’re here we stay inside where it’s cool, dry and quiet.

Looking for the next place to stay, we find 3 Passport America campgrounds in Gatesville, TX. We call and call and call, but cannot ever get anyone to answer the phone. So we leave messages that we are on the way and hope they have space for us.

One the way, our road turns into a construction zone and this sign confronts us. If we have to detour, it’ll be miles and miles out of the way.


We mull this over for a few minutes and decide they must be talking about the center lanes of the road. The shoulders are still open so we continue on driving an 8 foot wide RV on a 7.5 feet wide shoulder. It was tight. Fortunately, it only lasted 4 miles.

We arrive in Gatesville and still had recieved no return call confirming a space for us. So we picked Texas Station #2 only to find it had a gate you needed a security code for. EJ called 3 times, no answer, so we parked in front of the gate, figuring we’d either really piss some one off, or management would get the message.

Soon we recieved a phone call, arranged for payment for the night and they gave us the access code. I love it when a plan comes together!


Next stop, Dad’s place in San Angelo, TX.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Cease for Colin

East Bank COE, Bainbridge, GA June 4 to 6 2016


Saturday was a long day for us, 289 miles. It wasn’t by design, but we were traveling through a part of Georgia that had no campgrounds along our path. Walmart was always an option, but all day long the temperature had been hovering around 95 degrees. We figured that it would cost about 16 bucks to run the generator all night so why not find a campground for about the same price.

Towards the end of the day, we could tell we were getting tired as the navigator and driver started trying to put square pegs in round holes. Try that whe you”re driving! It was time to slow this circus down and land, somewhere!

The place we wanted to go, DevenCrest RV Park, was a Passport America member. That means 50% off the published rate. But they wouldn’t answer their phone. We finally decided to go for it, pull in unannounced and hope for the best. When we arrived the office was locked up but there was a different phone number posted. Long story shorter, we got the last site and settled in for the night.

That’s where we found this beauty. I’m sure if you made an offer they would accept it! Steve O’Bosky says it would make a great Alaska rig.


Our plan all along was to make a run to the Eastbank Corp of Engineers Campground in Bainbridge, GA. Our Geezer Pass works at COE campgrounds(half off!) and our experience so far has been that they are very nice and well maintained. Eastbank was no exception.


When we checked in here, the camp hosts warned us about Tropical Storm Colin. We hadn’t had access to a TV signal for the last few days so it kinda caught us by surprise. We quickly decided to do our running around on Sunday, and just lay low on Monday, the day Colin was to show up here in southwest Georgia.

While driving around we spotted this neat old Ford pickup.


The sunset from our campsite.


Colin didn’t disappoint. He showed up about 6am Monday with a light rain. EJ had gathered up some abandoned firewood for a potential fire. It’s only 90 degrees, right? But, the fire ring resembles a swimming pool.


Even the heron looks soggy.


What’s a person to do when it’s raining and you’re cooped up inside?


Wash the car! All you gotta do is put the suds on and let nature do the rinse.


Tuesday, if the weather clears, we continue west. And we gain an hour. That means we can sleep late! Now we just have to convince the cat….

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Cruising Through Columbia

Mr. Z’s RV Park, Gilbert, SC June 2 & 3 2016


Unlike many of our RVing friends, we prefer to not travel on Interstate Highways. The views are mostly boring, they’re crowded and people drive crazy. Back roads, lesser traveled highways, are more relaxing, more scenic and more friendly. Besides, what good is a 70 or 75 mile an hour speed limit when you’re barely go over 60? And, we’re rarely in a hurry, so why not take it easy?

But today, Thursday, we got a late start and wanted to get to our destination before rush hour traffic in Columbia, SC got too bad. So to make up some time, it was necessary to travel on I-26 for most of our trip. We plod along at about 62 –63 miles per hour and just let traffic whiz by us. Everybody is a hurry to get somewhere.

We had singled out 2 campgrounds on the southwest side of Columbia so that when it came time to leave we wouldn’t have to fight city traffic. According to RVParkReviews.com one had complaints of drug dealing taking place in the parking lot next to it and the other was a real small park, but no complaints other than that. Not really wanting to deal with druggies, we went for the smaller park, Mr. Z’s. And it was small! In fact we parked in Mr. Z’s side yard.


Just pulling yer leg. It wasn’t the only site, there were 16 in all, but it was the only one left with a 50 amp hookup.

We made plans to have lunch with EJ’s niece and sis’n’law on Friday. The niece received her nursing degree a couple of years ago and moved to Columbia beause she liked the vibes. We had a good time visiting with them, 13 cats, and 2 dogs. Finally I started to get antsy because I wanted to get across town before rush hour started.

Fate had another idea though, and within minutes after leaving it began to pour. When your dealt lemons, you make lemonade, right? Using the android app, Untapped, we located a microbrewery nearby where we could wait until the rain and traffic died down.


Our wait person was very helpful, determining our tastes and suggesting different brews that we might like. After a tour and several samples we found our favorites and even filled up a small growler.

We even talked up the possibilty of brewing on the go in a motorhome and found out that gallon sized batches might work. We’ll keep that in mind. As we left, the gate caught our eye.


On Saturday, we are on our way southwest to begin making our way to Texas.