It’s been a busy winter since arriving here back in October. We started off with a few problems that we had to deal with including a leaky toilet in the guest bath, a refrigerator that was barely keeping our food cold and a giant hole underneath our pack porch. A quick call to the plumber, a visit to Lowes to select a new refrigerator and a live trap that caught the rabbit living under our mobile resolved all these issues.
Right away we began staying busy with our normal winter activities such as tennis, pickle ball, daily happy hours, etc. I enjoyed the weekly football games with several of the other NFL fans around here. Our Texas room (and our 92” TV) is considered NFL Central around here and all NFL fans are welcome. Claudia began enjoying yoga sessions, Mexican bingo, dominos and Shanghai as well as her monthly book club meetings.
The band got together right away in order to get ready for five performances we had scheduled for the winter. Our bass player had to leave this year but we were able to recruit a new one and our lead guitar player returned after a two year absence. We also discovered we had a drummer in our park who has joined us replacing our drum machine. What a difference!!
This year we decided to make some upgrades to our living room and kitchen in the mobile home. We painted both rooms and performed some serious plumbing updates that were required under our sink. I upgraded some of the electrical outlets embedded into some of the tiles around the sink, thanks to some good training from my dad. We installed a new laminate floor in both rooms and it looks beautiful. I also completed all the trim work and baseboards while Claudia followed close behind with all the finishing touches to patch and paint any blemishes. We are both excited about the results and agree that our mobile now has the look and feel of a real home. In each of our projects we received and in most cases accepted offers to help from our friends here. It turned tedious tasks into much more enjoyable ones and allowed us to complete them much quicker. Whenever there was a question about plumbing, electrical or how to lay a laminate floor, there was always someone wanting to step up and in some cases, lead the way. It’s one of the reasons we love it down here so much. We have more rooms to complete but they’ll wait until another year.
We had a nice quiet Christmas morning together this year followed by a wonderful Christmas dinner and social time with about a dozen of our friends. The weather was cool but nice enough for us to enjoy dinner outside. We also enjoyed a great Christmas Party that was hosted by our resort owners where we enjoyed good food, drinks and a performance of Christmas songs by one of our members on her piano.
On New Year’s Eve we brought in the New Year at a dance where one of our resident DJ’s entertained us with some great music. We celebrated the New Year with a toast to our family back home at 11pm (their midnight) and another to bring in our new year with our Texas friends at midnight. 2017 was a great year and we toasted to what we hope will be another incredible year ahead. Every year just seems to get better and better for us.
In January I drove the RV up to a service center in San Antonio that we’ve used before for some maintenance. It was a four hour trip to drop it off and a four hour drive home but when you find a repair center that you can trust and rely on it’s definitely worth it. They were able to determine why we were having problems opening our storage doors on the passenger side of the vehicle. It turns out the wall had actually separated from the floor. They repaired the wall better than new, replaced our missing ladder, performed some routine maintenance and now it’s as road ready as ever. It sure is nice to be living in the mobile which allows us the luxury of leaving the RV for a period of time for repairs.
This year a good friend of ours arrived to visit for a couple of weeks. It was a first time return visit for her since she lost her husband and a great friend of ours late last year. She stayed in our guest room as we enjoyed her company and kept busy with lots of social events around the park. We loved having her here and Stella enjoyed the extra attention as well.
We also took a refresher course in CPR this winter. We became certified two years ago but thought a refresher course was due. Since the primary benefactors for knowing CPR or Choking Relief might very well be ourselves, it’s a good thing to know as we travel around the country on our own.
Claudia and I also decided to join some friends of ours for some weekly Texas Two Step and Waltz lessons at another nearby RV Park. It was a lot of fun and we were able to practice at dances here at Sandpipers as well as when we visited neighboring RV parks to dance with other bands.
On Valentine’s Day we enjoyed a performance by a friend of ours, William Florian who entertains around the Rio Grande Valley each winter. He used to be a member of the New Christie Minstrels back in the 70’s and is a great singer and guitar player as well as an excellent entertainer.
Next we celebrated Mardi gras. Once again the 400 row was blocked off and turned into Bourbon Street for the day complete with all sorts of food and beverages (more like concoctions) at multiple stations along the road with some great themes. Claudia dressed the part of a pirate as she worked with other friends at the station named “Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar” where she served her “shark bites”, aka... fish sticks. There were also many street performers including myself since I decided to pull out my clarinet that I haven’t played in 45 years. I ended up leading a couple of parades up and down “Bourbon Street” while playing “When the Saints Go Marching In”. It turned out to be a hit with many people joining in, all dressed in costume and lots of beads.
The members of our theater group performed again this year to a full house in two separate plays. They were both quite entertaining. Claudia played the part of a male train conductor in the first play. She looked and played the part perfectly. You’ll have to take a look at the pictures in our photo album.
This was another year of many Super Happy Hours which always include various themes, food and beverages. One of these was a combined Margarita & Taco Happy Hour complete with DJ music. Not only were plenty of tacos and margaritas consumed but under a full moon and with gorgeous temperatures we spent the evening dancing under the stars. It was one of those evenings that only comes along once or twice a year and will definitely be a night to remember.
We did return to bowling again this year and our team came in fifth this season out of twelve teams. Not as good as our second place finish last season but just as much fun.
In March, Claudia and I along with another couple headed off for a two night camping trip in our RV’s. We camped at Falcon State Park that sits along the Rio Grande River near Rio Grande City in southwestern Texas. We had beautiful weather and hiked seven miles on our one full day there. We also took some time to just relax and enjoy our surroundings. It was nice to get away for a few days.
The Olympics were a great hit again this year. There were over forty events and over a hundred participants. Claudia and I helped run several events and we both earned our share of medals. I once again walked away with the gold in basketball (thanks Billy for all those hours of playing HORSE) and Claudia was proud of her second place ribbon in the chili cook off that had 18 entries. Our proudest moment came when we regained our gold medal in the Charmin Plunge. You’d have to see it to believe it.
The band met just about three times a week this season for rehearsals. At all five dances we performed at, we played to a full house, once with more than 140 people. We kept the place hopping for three hours and the dance floor stayed crazy all night. As a treat to the band as well as to the audience, our musician friend William joined us on stage at one of our performances for our final set as we rocked the house. We ended the season on a high note as everyone on the dance floor joined us for a very enthusiastic version of Proud Mary. It sure made all that practicing worthwhile.
Claudia had to return to New Hampshire this year for three weeks in April. Unfortunately her dad passed away shortly after her arrival so she had a lot to take care of. She was however able to spend some quality time with her family as well as with all our kids and grandkids while she was there. Three weeks seemed like a very long time for both of us and we were very happy to be together again.
While Claudia was away I kept busy on several projects. In addition to building a new back porch (thanks for the help Randy), I was able to build new shelves in both the RV and the mobile home. I was also able to take care of several housekeeping chores such as power washing the mobile, replacing one of our storm doors, grouting some kitchen tiles and laying some new patio blocks in our side garden. If it wasn’t for the chores I would have definitely gone stir crazy.
Once Claudia returned we began preparing our itinerary for this summer’s road trip. Although this year’s trip will only last a little more than three months, we’ve got some exciting stops to make. We’ll be revisiting the Natchez Trace on our way back to Massachusetts, spending some quality time with our families and then enjoying some sightseeing and visiting friends in Missouri and Oklahoma as we return to Texas for the winter. In 2019 we’ll be returning to our normal travel schedule of six to seven months on the road and have already been discussing some great places to visit.
So it’s on the road again for us. We’ve moved our living quarters from the mobile home to the RV, we’ve covered much of our furniture with sheets, electronics have been unplugged, batteries have been removed, etc. We’ve also moved all of our food into the RV and we’ve shut off the water, lowered the thermostat, covered our windows and shut off the necessary breakers. Finally we stored the golf cart, the BBQ, our bikes and we’ve locked the place up. It sounds like a lot to do, and it is if you don’t want to forget anything, but we’re pretty organized and we’re pretty good at it. Everything we forgot to bring last year made it to the list for this year. Worst case, we can usually buy whatever we forgot.
So off we go. We’re ready for another adventure!!