This past winter in the Rio Grande Valley started out hard for us with rain being our focus. For the second time in 2018 our park was flooded due to extreme amounts of heavy rain. We arrived just in time for the worst flooding on record. A few times the water came within an inch of reaching the sliding door to our Texas Room where we have carpeting, furniture and electronics including our beautiful 92” TV but we were fortunate and escaped any damage with only our yard and driveway being flooded.
This season we moved along with additional improvements to the mobile. We now have some new furniture for our living room and Texas Room as well as a new desk for the office. We converted our guest room to a sewing room for Claudia and have installed new carpeting in both the office and the sewing room. We replaced our bedroom and office windows as well as our ancient sliding door to the Texas Room that most people have had a very hard time opening. We also renovated our bedroom and master bathroom but decided to hire a contractor for that due to the necessary electrical and plumbing issues. He completed the demolition quickly but slowed down significantly with the new construction and installation of the cabinets and fixtures including the new shower unit. Once he did complete his final tasks we realized how unprofessional he was in many areas. We had to repair a leak under the sink, patch and repair many areas of the wall and most significantly, repair leaks in our new shower. After replacing the caulk ourselves once, we realized that the real problem was that he had never leveled the base unit which caused the caulking to crack as you moved around on the base. We ended up cutting a hole behind the shower unit in our closet in order to access and level the base. Once we re-caulked the shower base we had no additional problems. We also decided to pick up where we left off last year in the living room and kitchen and continue our laminate floor through to the bedroom area. What a difference a nice floor makes. And just recently we finally completed the new linen closet in the bathroom that used to be a shower stall. Claudia is thrilled with all the new storage space.
Stella gave us a scare this year after we noticed some lumps that were growing inside of her. One of them was fairly large and needed to be removed before it started causing her real issues. She ended up with two major incisions on her side that they stapled and another on her neck that ended up in stitches. Once those were removed she quickly got back to being her old self. It was heartbreaking to watch her for the first few days after the surgery. We were even having doubts about our decision to have the surgery performed but now we’re glad it’s done and behind us. By the way, the lumps were all benign so we were able to rule out cancer.
Our band, the “Nudie Bluez” was a great success again this year. We added two new members bringing the total to seven of us. Ray, our mentor joined us full time to give us a great lead guitar and his wife Win joined us on keyboard. It brought a whole new dimension to the group and we had so much fun jamming together. In addition to five performances this season we brought in the New Year in style. Roy, one of our park DJ’s and a great friend of ours hosted the evening and the band played for over an hour about mid-way through. The party went from 8pm till after 1am and everyone commented on how great the evening went. Having both a DJ and a live band turned out to be an excellent mix. It was nice to be able to enjoy most of the evening with Claudia as we spent lots of time on the dance floor. The night of our final performance of this season however turned out to be a bittersweet night for me as I had informed my fellow band members earlier in the day that I would be leaving the band at the end of the night. As one of the three original members of the band, it was a difficult decision for me but it’s time to retire. The band was taking more of my time than I wanted to put in. Like anything else, it takes a lot of time and work to make anything successful and this band was no different. Five years ago we had just begun learning how to play our guitars and had a list of maybe 8 to 10 songs. On our last night we played 32 out of our list of 90 songs. The band has come a long way and it will continue without me. I’m looking forward to spending next year’s performances dancing the night away.
And speaking of dancing the night away, yes, we continued our weekly dance lessons at another RV park nearby. I’m finally beginning to feel like I “get it”. We’re really having a lot of fun as we learn more and more movements to the Texas Two Step and the Waltz. On one night this season, a bunch of us returned to the same park where we take our lessons and danced the night away to a wonderful country band with more than enough songs we could dance to. There are about ten of us now from Sandpipers who make the journey each week for the lessons.
As anyone who has read any of my previous blogs know, I’m known around here as the obnoxious Pats fan for a reason. In truth, I’m just about the ONLY Pats fan down here so I have to be sure everyone understands where my loyalties lie. It really isn’t any secret considering that my golf cart is covered in Pats decals and until recently, displayed a 5X Super Bowl Champions flag. That flag has since been replaced by a 6X Super Bowl Champions flag following this year’s Super Bowl win. We have many football fans of many different teams down here and although I receive the teasing I deserve, they are all great sports and I always have someone to watch a game with. Our Texas Room is known as NFL Central during football season and I was able to enjoy both the AFC Championship game between the Pats and the Chiefs and the Super Bowl between the Pats and the Rams with our Texas Room full of friends and fans. During this year’s Super Bowl we hosted over 20 people watching the game with another 8 to 10 inside the house with Claudia hosting card and board games for the football widows.
During this year’s winter stay, Claudia and I decided it was time to finally go out and get that new car we’ve been talking about. So the HHR is history and we’re now owners of a 2019 Chevy Equinox. We had decided on the Equinox not only because we liked the look & feel of it but because it was designed to be flat towed behind a motor home without any modifications. We decided on red because, well because Claudia wanted red. After purchasing the car we had a tow bar installed, the lights were wired for towing and a new braking system was added for towing.
Now that we had a new car, it was time to take a road trip so we headed out for a three day trip to South Padre Island this year. We were able to test out the new car tow and brake system between the motor home and the Equinox and everything worked great. While out on South Padre Island we spent a lot of time walking, enjoying the beach and spending time with about a dozen of our friends.
Claudia once again demonstrated some of her theatrical skills this season. She began by performing in a skit during our annual variety show, this year titled the “Follies”. She was one of the eight witches in a dance number titled “The Sand Witches of Sandpipers”. The show was a hit as always and the witches did great. She then performed in our annual theatrical production, this year titled Beautiful Beulah Belle or, Virtue's Various Vicissitudes with Claudia playing Beulah herself. She spent well over a month practicing and memorizing her lines and she played the part perfectly. It’s always a great time watching our friends as they present a wide variety of plays. Each year it’s something different and can be quite surprising and always entertaining. They work hard to give us a great performance and they never disappoint us.
Once again we were part of the Sandpiper Bowling League. Each Friday we head out early and 14 teams of four people each, all from here at Sandpipers meet up at the bowling alley for some great fun. Our season normally lasts about 14 weeks. This year our Secretary/Treasurer, the person we all rely on to lead our league, announced that he would be retiring from his position. During our final meeting all members were asked for nominees and much to my surprise, my name and my name alone was nominated. I wasn’t expecting it or planning on it but with no other nominations being made, I accepted the position. I’m sure I’ll have lots of help and Claudia will make a great treasurer.
Our Olympic games were once again a blast and we had gorgeous weather for the entire week. Claudia and I both won our share of medals but surprisingly some of them were in events we didn’t do well in before. On the flip side of that, we didn’t do too well in the events we’ve previously done well in. That just adds to the fun of participating in all the events, even ones we know we aren’t good at or hadn’t participated in before.
All in all it was another great winter season here at Sandpipers. We had many dances to attend, each with varying themes including Halloween, a Western Roundup, a couple of outdoor Street Dances, a Beach Party, Mardi Gras and several more. We also celebrated National Margarita Day and Mardi Gras with our very own Bourbon Street complete with food, beverages and our own parade. For the second year in a row I lead the parade playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” on the clarinet. We socialized at many of our regular Pub Nights at Cheerz, our very own on-site “pub” and we enjoyed plenty of tennis, pickle ball, pool time and happy hours just about every single day including many potluck super happy hours with themes that included hot dogs, baked potatoes, tacos and other good stuff.
As our season began to come to an end and our friends began to head off in all different directions, we spent some time cleaning the inside and outside of the mobile home and staining the porches. We also redesigned our outside trellis area by removing some old vines and replacing rotting lattice work with new vinyl ones. While I was busy doing the woodwork, Claudia stayed busy extending the garden around the house. The result has turned out really nice.
Our final three weeks at Sandpipers was dusty and noisy. The pothole ridden road that runs in front of our house is being replaced by a very nice new one, complete with drainage ditches. Between this new road and the work the county has been doing to develop a much better drainage system outside the park we’re hoping our flooding days are behind us. Transferring our stuff from the mobile home to the RV located in another part of the resort presented some challenges this year but we made it happen, thanks largely to having a golf cart.
The 2018/2019 winter season has been great for us. We’ve visited new places, hiked new trails, made new friends and best of all have stayed healthy. We couldn’t ask for more. Our families are all doing well and we’re looking forward to seeing them once again this summer as we do each year. Be sure to check out our web page regularly as we begin our seventh year on the road. We hope you’ll enjoy following our adventures. We’ll do our best to keep our web page updated as frequently as possible.