Saturday, April 28, 2012


When I think of Dallas, as with many people of my generation, I always remember November 22, 1963 and the Kennedy assassination.  I still remember my friend Dave telling my in the hall at school that the president had been shot.  My reaction was to tell him he was full of s**t, but at about that time the principal made the announcement on the PA.  I am sure the attack on Pearl Harbor was the same for that generation and 9/11 is for all of us who lived through that terrible day.  Where we were and what we were doing is burned into our memory.  Since we were in the area we had to visit The Sixth Floor Museum in the old Texas Book Depository Building.  The museum does a very good job of telling the story of that day and all the related events from the funeral to the conspiracy theories that more people than Lee Harvey Oswald were involved.  Standing in that window and looking down on the site really gives you a clear picture of how Oswald had a straight line to fire at the president.  One thing that struck me was the display that talked about how much hate there was here in Texas toward President Kennedy.  It is frightening, like much of what you hear people saying today about Obama. No photography is allowed inside the museum.   
 Looking up at the sixth floor window (right corner second from the top) from the spot (X) where the second shot hit the president.  It is really chilling to be standing here.  One story they told was of a Dallas policeman who noticed pigeons fly from the roof of the building when the shots rang out.  He immediately ran into the building and actually stopped Oswald, but was told he was an employee and he let him go. Oswald, who was captured later in the day after he killed a Dallas police officer, was shot and killed two days later as he was being transported to court.
 This is the Grassy Knoll in Dealey Plaza where many conspiracy theorists think a second assassin shot from.  This spot is at the side of the road and would have required the shooter to pan as he shot rather than having the straight line of fire that Oswald had.  This is also where Abraham Zapruder, who filmed the only footage of the actual shooting, was standing. Being here and walking the area gives you a clear understanding of the events of that day and it is still shocking. 
 Near Dealey Plaza is the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza.  The memorial is designed as a cenotaph, open tomb, to symbolize the freedom of Kennedy's spirit.  This is all a must see stop for anyone who lived through the events of that November day.
 Another day we visited the Dallas Museum of Art.  The museum has an excellent collection including many impressionist paintings that are Nanc's favorites.  Above are works by Calder, van Gogh, O'Keefe, and Degas. 
 This is the work of glass artist Dale Chihuly whose works we have seen in Las Vegas and Tacoma.
 We found this art work by Robert Rauschenberg with its Kennedy theme to be very interesting.
 The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection is one of the most interesting in the museum.  When their collection was given to the museum in 1985, a replica of the interior of their French home, Villa La Pausa, was built inside the museum to display the works.  The villa was originally the summer home of Coco Chanel.
 The entrance of the villa with tapestries, paintings and furniture.
 The Reves bedroom (above) salon, and dining room all had the works of art displayed as they had been when they lived in the villa.
One of the most interesting rooms to me was the collection of art and other artifacts they had from Winston Churchill who was a close family friend.  The DMA and the villa are a great stop.

As I write this, we are sitting in Dodge City, Kansas and have an appointment in Garden City on Monday for a continuing problem with the motorhome.  While traveling on Thursday the stop engine light came on once again and we had to have it checked in Woodward, Oklahoma.  They were too busy to work on it, but after putting it on the computer they assured us it was ok to drive and even gave us the name of someone to call to have it looked at.  This obviously puts a hold on ALL travel plans as we need to find someone who can figure out what the real problem is once and for all.  

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cummins Turbocharger & Friends

For the second time in our five years on the road we have had to replace the turbocharger on our Cummins diesel. No Cummins representative can tell why this has happened twice, only that it is a rare occurrence, even once. If anyone who reads this has any information that could give me some insight into this problem I would love to hear from you.

All that said, after a really bad start the staff at Southern Plains Cummins in Houston did work very hard to get a discount on the repair even though the warranty on the last replacement was only one year and had expired in September 2010.  We had made an appointment for annual maintenance and to have a couple of other items taken care of on Monday. We arrived at 9:30 AM for our 10:30 appointment, signed in, gave them the keys and went to the waiting room.  No one came to talk to us all day so we thought all was well.  WRONG, they had done nothing but park the rig and had not even looked at it.  At 5:30 they moved it to a spot where we had electricity and told us they would be on it the first thing in the AM.  On Tuesday at about 10 AM they delivered the bad news that the rig needed a new turbocharger at which point began two days of haggling to determining who would pay for it.  Late Wednesday they told us that they would cover 65% of the turbo and labor which reduced the cost a great deal.  We were told it would not be done until the following Wednesday and we would have to find a place to stay over the weekend since they are closed and locked down.  We made a reservation for a hotel in Livingston so we could visit SKP friends at Rainbows End RV Park.  Guess what, when we checked in with Cummins before leaving on Friday morning they told us the rig may be done by the end of the day.  We were stuck with a reservation we could not cancel so we told them to take their time and do it right and we would be back on Monday.  It was done on Monday and after we talked to the service manger they gave us a credit for part of the work which covered the cost of the motel. This was in addition to a $200 credit they had agreed to earlier to cover the scheduling snafu.  While we were not happy with things as they happened, the staff at Cummins did step up after a really bad start and hopefully this will be the last time I have to write about turbochargers.  We did think that Running Down Our Dream would be easier than it has been when it comes to RV service and repairs.

After we picked up the rig on Monday we drove to the SKP park in Livingston so we could give it a much needed cleaning, inside and out and spend more time with friends.  On our weekend visit Mark and Renita had us over for dinner and we had a chance to return the favor with a meal of gulf shrimp we had purchased off the boat in Louisiana.  We were joined by Marvin whom we have spent much time with at Betty's.  It was great getting together to talk about all our old adventures and future plans.  Mark and Renita are planning to travel to Alaska this summer and we have decided that we are still going to head that way too.  We figure that there is no time like the present and if we wait another year the rig and us will just be older.  So unless something happens on our way heading north in the lower 48, it is ALASKA OR BUST.       
Jim, Renita, Mark and Marvin getting ready to chow down on that gulf shrimp.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Happy Hours to Sad Days

Well our time at Betty's had ended, but not without one last party. This time it was a going away party for us. This is a bit unusual as the last time we were here they had "our" going away party after we were gone:) It was another great evening of fun and fooling around. We left on Easter and spent the night at a Flying J so we could be at our maintenance appointment in Houston first thing Monday morning.One of the joys of being at Betty's is her works of folk art that she has created to decorate the park. She picked out this piece of wood at Gerald's and turned it into a neat looking folk art gator complete with teeth and shiny bling. We nicknamed her Miz Gator. If you visit Betty's make sure you check out her folk art and if you don't like it, well folk you. Friends gather for our last supper. At left are old friends, MaryBeth and Tony, whom we met here and have visited in Michigan. At right are new comers, Julie and Jim, from Oregon. Part of their contribution to happy hour was homemade wine, beer and cheese which were all excellent.
Jim, Judy, Cookie and Maggie, all friends that we have met before. Cookie and Jim were at the Escapade in Gillette last fall, we have enjoyed Judy's music several times and Maggie is a regular here.
As with almost everything that happens at Betty's there was a lot of great food. For this night almost everything was vegetarian so Nanc could try it all. These people really are special.Pictured here is our old friend Dan and newcomers, Dennis and Laura. Right are Judy and Jim getting ready to enjoy the meal. We are so glad that Judy joined the party because we got a chance to just talk to her a bit because she was not providing the entertainment.Bottom left are Cal and Marie who pulled in the same day we did and after a couple of times doing the Betty Shuffle were our neighbors for the last month. At right are Peggy and Paul who still have a house but are tooling with the idea of going fulltime. We all warned them they will not find another RV park like Betty's. Top of course is our great friend Betty who makes all this possible. Without her we would not have met any of these great people and without her RV park we would not have met her. We had a great stay and are already planning our return next spring. We truly are caught in Betty's web.Betty's is an adults only park but that does not mean there are not toys to play with. Cookie and Marie each had their own Elmos and Cookie discovered hers was really Elmolene, so she made her a skirt and dressed her up for a special date. As you can see they hit it off right away and were soon sharing a bottle of wine and swapping stories. At first it appeared that Elmo had had a bit to much to drink but he recovered and the two of them were soon getting it on. In the end Elmo did pass out while Elmolene finished the bottle. It is hard to believe these stupid little things had us all rolling with laughter. It may have been the case that Cookie, Marie, Nanc, Merlene and Betty had as much to drink as Elmolene. No toys or adults were harmed during the evening events.Our plan (always written in sand) was to have the rig serviced in Houston on Monday. Other than routine maintenance the stop engine light that had resulted in us being towed last fall had come on a couple of times for just a few seconds on our way to LA. It always went out before we could even get to the side of the road so I figured it was once again a bad sensor. WRONG, it turns out it was the turbocharger AGAIN which had been replaced in September 2009. The repair had only a one year warranty so we went back and forth with Cummins for two days and they finally agreed to pay 65% of the turbo and labor. Of course there is more involved but with their help the bill went down a great deal.
Below is the rig finally getting worked on. It will not be finished until next week so we have to get a room for the weekend because this place is closed and locked down. We decided to go to Livingston so we can visit with Marvin, from Betty's, and with Mark and Renita who are going to Alaska this summer. For us Alaska is up in the air. The possibility of a breakdown hundreds of miles from a repair shop is not a pleasant thought. We will wait until next week and drive north a bit to see how the RV performs and then decide what to do. Just another bump in the road of this wonderful life we live.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Food, Fun, Music; Cajun Style

We are nearing the end of our stay here at Betty's with more of those Cajun traditions of fun times, food and music. You never know what to expect, who will show up for a visit and who will be hitting the road. Marvin, Russ and Lori who have been here all winter have pulled out to start a summer of travel. George & Judy and Omer & Sylvia, who we have met previously, passed through for a few days. The sites always fill up quickly with new RVers. It is great getting to make new friends and meet up with old ones here at Betty'sIf you stay at Betty's for very long you will end up seeing her underwear and this stay was no exception. Here are Betty and Carol showing off those "BIG" red under garments for all to see. What a hoot!!!!!A big crawfish dinner is usually on the agenda of most visitors so along with a few new RVers we returned to Big John's for some great mudbugs. They were much bigger than the ones we had on our first visit as the water in the ponds is warming up. It does not take much to decide to have a party here at Betty's and when several people are celebrating big events a big party is a must. Here are Birthday celebrants Jim, Betty, Sandra, Buz and Omer along with Peggy (right) and Paul (behind and left of Peggy) who were having an anniversary. The food was wonderful and the entertainment was great. The crowd gathering for the party. Top left are George, Judy, Dan and Merlene. Top right are Marvin, Maggie and Jim. Bottom left are Peggy and Paul. Bottom right are Nova Scotians Sylvia, Omer, Marie and Cal. Here at top are CeCe, Nanc, Lori and Cookie and bottom are Cal, Russ, Chris, Joyce and Betty. We all had a great time and ate way to much. There is an incredible amount of musical talent that passes through here and this week was no exception. Regulars Dan and Cal are joined by newcomers Don (drummer), Omer and Ann on guitar. That evening Sylvia, Omer and Judy Bailey joined in the festivities. Omer was really happy getting to play with Judy as he is a big fan of Moe Bandy whom Judy had a top ten hit with. Here at Betty's you never know who might hop in to play a tune. Saturday was our last chance for a Cajun jam session at Touchet's. Here is a link to hear a short clip of the music. A few of Betty's RVers join in the fun. Top right are Merlene, Dan, Don and Ann. Top right are Gene and Linda. Bottom left are Omer, Sylvia and Nanc and on the right are Jim, Buz, Sandra Cal and Steve. Yesterday morning there was a knock on the door at 7AM. Who in the hell is knocking at this hour? Well it turns out that Marvin was leaving and a few people were going to breakfast with him and wanted us to join them. Here is the breakfast bunch at CC's. On the left are Dan, Merlene, Jim, Cookie, Dave, Pricilla (who just returned after a work assignment in Oregon) and Betty. On the right are Jim, Nanc, honoree Marvin, Cal and Marie. There is not another RV park around where all these people would get out of bed to see a friend off. We had no sooner gotten back from breakfast than Betty was at the door to tell us the Lil Man, a shrimp boat, was in and if we wanted some fresh gulf shrimp we needed to go right away. This is not to be missed so off we went. Here Captain Rene and his crew are weighing our shrimp. I got a whole new appreciation of what it takes to be a shrimper just watching them work on the dock for a few minutes. I don't think I will ever complain about fueling up the motorhome again after watching Rene pump $7,000 worth of diesel. That is what they burned on a ten day trip and they did not catch one shrimp the first four days. The group bought a total of 100 pounds and it all had to be cleaned when we got back to Betty's. Oh well, it was not too bad as Dan made Bloody Marys to help us complete the job. It was a fun time and of course there were a couple of fresh shrimp appetizers for happy hour.