Monthly Archives: May 2015

Beating the Storm

The weather guessers had me scrambling yesterday. I wanted to get things done since they were certain we would be in for a wet and stormy Sunday. I packed up the tire covers and the windshield covers. I wanted to store them away while they’re dry – packing them when they’re wet makes a good environment for mold.

I broke out the ladder and climbed up on the roof. Our front air conditioner shroud is cracked. I put duct tape over the crack. Then I checked the rear cover – it’s cracked as well. I need to order new shrouds soon. I thought the shrouds were made of fiberglass but it appears to be molded plastic. Baking in the sun on the roof eventually leads to deterioration. Our air conditioners are Dometic Duo Therm Penguin 15,000 BTU heat pumps and parts aren’t cheap. The plastic covers are about $100 each!

Workers here at Copano Bay RV Resort were also going double time to beat the weather. The park is pouring new concrete. The workers are prepping unoccupied site pads. About a dozen of the pads already have new concrete. They’ve prepped about a dozen more over the past couple of days. I’m thinking they should be using rebar in addition to the wire mesh to strengthen and reinforce the concrete. After all, there may be a 40,000+ pound RV rolling over it. But they’re the experts, not me.

Pad ready for concrete

Pad ready for concrete

I don’t know when they will pour the concrete. They need a window of dry weather for a day or two.

Donna took the scooter grocery shopping in the morning. When she returned, I rode it to Walmart and picked up a case of water and restocked my beer supply. Then I finished organizing the trailer and loaded the scooter in preparation for Monday’s departure. I figured we wouldn’t be using the scooter on Sunday if it’s stormy and I might as well have the trailer packed and closed up while it’s dry.

My daughter Jamie came up from Robstown with her friend Ruby, two of her step-kids – Rayleen and Ariana – and their cousin, Victoria. Donna took them to the community pool while I was packing the trailer.

The rain held off while they were at the pool. When they returned at 5pm, I could see a storm approaching on the weather radar app. We said our goodbyes and they left, trying to beat the storm home. I don’t know when we’ll see them again, but we plan to return to this area at some point – hopefully at a time when the weather isn’t so wet. May has been a very wet month – more than twice the average rainfall for the month.

One of the things Donna bought at HEB was jalapeno salmon burgers. These are made fresh at HEB, not frozen. I fired up the grill to cook them and also toasted onion ciabatta rolls. Donna made a remoulade sauce and garnished the burger with lettuce, avocado and remoulade. These were the best salmon burgers I’ve ever tasted.

Jalapeno salmon burgers and toasted onion chiabatta rolls hot off the grill

Jalapeno salmon burgers and toasted onion ciabatta rolls hot off the grill

One tasty sandwich

One tasty sandwich

We rarely buy bread, but when Donna asked the guy at the seafood counter if the salmon burgers were good, he told her how he makes them and it sounded so good, she had to do it! Since she had to buy the onion rolls in a package of six, she bought four more salmon burgers and stashed them along with the rolls in the freezer.

It started raining while we were watching Homeland. The lightning made a great backdrop for the show.

This morning it’s dry out. The forecast has backed down from the dire storm warnings. Now they say there’s a 30% chance of thundershowers this afternoon. Oh well, I guess it didn’t hurt to make our preparations for travel a day early.


Jumbo Shrimp

Yesterday’s early morning thunderstorm dropped a little over a third of an inch of rain, bringing the month-to-date total to over 7 inches. Once the storm passed, the skies cleared and the wind settled down to about 10 mph.

Donna went to the community pool and swam a mile again around noon. I spent a lot of time sitting at my laptop trying to decide on a route out of here. Originally I thought we would follow the coast toward Galveston and skirt around the east side of Houston. With so much flooding in the area I changed my thinking. Now I think the best bet is to head north to College Station. We might spend a couple of days there, then move on to Shreveport, Louisiana before we settle in for a week in Memphis, Tennessee.

We rode the scooter south of town and stopped in at Paradise Key Dockside Bar and Grill for happy hour.  I thought they had live music on Friday afternoon, but the entertainment doesn’t start until 6pm. We sat on the deck in back and watched boaters come and go while we sipped a couple of beers and snacked on their homemade tortilla chips and queso. Their queso dip is outstanding – it’s spiced with finely chopped tomato and jalapeno.

On the way home, we stopped at Flowers Shrimp Market. Donna wanted to buy shrimp for dinner and she had read reviews saying that they had the best shrimp. While we’re here on the gulf coast, we’ve been taking advantage of the fresh seafood. Flowers Shrimp Market is a tiny place with coolers of seafood on ice on a counter top. The fresh shrimp were still in the shell with the heads removed and the jumbo shrimp were huge – about 11-13 per pound.

Donna spiced the shrimp with garlic, crushed red pepper and olive oil and skewered them.

Spiced and skewered jumbo shrimp

Spiced and skewered jumbo shrimp

I grilled them over medium-high heat. Three minutes on one side, then two minutes on the other and they were done.

Skewered shrimp hot off the grill

Skewered shrimp hot off the grill

Donna served them with a side salad of black rice, mango and blackeye peas – another new recipe. We’re already looking forward to the leftovers.

Grilled shrimp with XXXX

Grilled shrimp with black rice, mango and blackeye pea salad

The weather guessers are calling for thundershowers to move into the area this afternoon. Rain is expected to continue on Sunday. I’ll pack the wheel covers and front window covers before it rains. I think I’ll organize the trailer and pack the scooter too. If it’s raining tomorrow, we won’t be using the scooter. With that done, we’ll be ready to hit the road first thing Monday morning.

Key Allegro Island

A guy posted a question yesterday on one of the RV forums I visit. He said his coach was in storage for five months. When he took it out of storage and hooked up at an RV park, he dumped his gray water holding tank. He said the discharge was dark, more like black water and had black flakes of solid material. He suspected black water sewage had somehow infiltrated his gray water tank.

There were several responses to his post with lots of theories on how black water could have ended up in the gray water holding tank. My take on the situation is this – he doesn’t have black water in his gray water tank. His gray water turned dark because he left untreated gray water in the tank with organic matter in it for five months.

The gray tank holds the water coming down the drains of the kitchen sink and shower. If you cook and wash dishes in the sink, a certain amount of organic matter (bits of food) will drain into the tank. Some soaps contain fats and oils which are also organic. Leave this stuff in a tank of water for an extended period of time and it will become a science project gone wild. Bacteria and molds will thrive.

Some people think the gray water tank is benign and doesn’t create a sanitation challenge. I disagree. The gray water tank needs attention, just like the black water tank. Gray water tanks can create foul odors if left untreated. That’s why I use TankTechs RX in my gray tank. I wrote about it in this post. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

The run of nicer weather continued yesterday. We had a high temperature of 86 degrees with partly cloudy skies. It wasn’t as windy as it’s been. Most of the time we’ve been here, we’ve had steady winds of 15 -20 mph. Yesterday it calmed down to about 10 mph.

I ran a couple of errands on the scooter and while I was out I explored Key Allegro Island. Key Allegro is a small island community in Rockport. Riding north on Broadway, I could see the island looking east across Little Bay. I made a right and crossed the bridge to the island where Broadway becomes Fulton Beach Road.

View of Key Allgro across Little Bay

View of Key Allegro across Little Bay

The entire island is developed with very few unoccupied lots. The beach areas are private. Most of the properties back up to canals that criss-cross the island. It’s a boater’s paradise.

View from one of the few undeveloped lots

View from one of the few undeveloped lots

One of the Key Allegro canals

One of the Key Allegro canals

When I returned, I told Donna about Key Allegro. She was going out on a grocery shopping run on the scooter. I suggested heading out to the Grog Bar and Grill on Key Allegro for happy hour when she returned from shopping.

The Grog Bar and Grill is located at the Key Allegro Marina. We took a look around the marina – it was filled with sportfishing boats and luxury yachts. We found a table at the back of this large, beautiful bar overlooking the marina. We were the only people there!

Vie from the Grog Bar and Grill

View from the Grog Bar and Grill

We sipped a couple of beers and watched the antics of sea birds in the bay. I had an IPA brewed in Houston by Saint Arnold Brewery. It wasn’t anything special – it can’t compete with San Diego’s IPAs. We were there for close to an hour and no other patrons showed up. I took Donna for a scooter tour of Key Allegro before we headed back home.

After we returned home, I grilled herbed chicken thighs. Donna served it with sauteed haricots verts (French green beans) with cherry tomatoes and kalamata olives. Donna duped me into trying anchovy vinaigrette dressing by not telling that what was on the green beans. I’m not a fan of anchovies. The vinaigrette was a little salty for my taste but the flavor was good.

Grilled boneless chicken thighs with green beans, tomatoes and kalamata olives

Grilled boneless chicken thighs with sauteed green beans, tomatoes and kalamata olives

We finished the evening with two episodes of Homeland from season two.

Our run of nice weather ended abruptly at 5am this morning. Donna and I were both jolted awake when a bolt of lightning struck nearby followed by a loud crack of thunder. Wind was rocking the coach as torrential rain fell. I got up and closed the living room slide as a precaution against wind or water damage. I looked at my weather radar app and once again we were in the thick of it.

We are the blue spot in the center of the storm cell

We are the blue spot in the center of the storm cell

I went back to bed and listened to the thunder and rain and drifted off to sleep again. When I woke up at 8am, it was still raining but not as hard. The wind had died down. By 9:15am, the rain showers quit and sun came out. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with no rain until early Sunday.

I think I’ll remove the tire covers and windshield covers once they dry out. We’ll pull out of here Monday morning and I don’t want to pack wet tire and window covers.


Birds and Birthdays

The weather has improved considerably over the last few days. We’ve had lots of sunshine and a lot less humidity. On Tuesday, we had a few sprinkles of rain, nothing measurable. Donna went to the community pool and swam laps on Tuesday morning. I puttered around at the RV park. I ventured out at one point to pick up a few things at the store.

My daughter Jamie and Francisco came up from Robstown a little after 3pm. We drove to the south side of Rockport to hit happy hour at Paradise Key Dockside Bar and Grill. The bar and grill used to be located on Key Allegro, which is an island on the north end of Rockport – it was called Paradise Key Island Grill at that time. The new location with the name changed is on a cove off Aransas Bay.

I can hear Jimmy Buffet

I can hear Jimmy Buffet

The coastal bend area of Texas is home to the Great Texas Birding Trail. At any time of the year, over 100 species of birds can be found here. In the winter, it’s home to the endangered whooping crane. Whooping cranes are the tallest North American bird. By 1941, unregulated hunting and loss of habitat had the whooping crane on the brink of extinction. There were just 21 wild birds and two in captivity at that time. Today, more than 200 whooping cranes winter in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge from November to April. Then they migrate north to their breeding grounds in Canada. Sandhill cranes, which are almost as large as whooping cranes, are also found here.

At the Paradise Key Dockside Bar and Grill, there is a bird watching platform at the end of the parking lot. It’s one of many bird viewing areas we’ve seen around here, but the first we’ve visited.

Bird watching platform

Bird watching platform

We stood on the platform for a few minutes and saw egrets, herons, gulls and pelicans. The pelicans we saw were smaller brown pelicans. The pelicans along the California coast are a larger sub-species. White pelicans can also be found along the Texas coastal bend, but we didn’t see any.

Brown pelican soaring past the platform

Brown pelican soaring past the platform

We watched the birds soaring on the wind currents, hunting for fish before we made our way inside. We sat out back on the deck. The deck overlooks a slough off the cove. There’s a marina in the distance. Boats cruised to the dock below and the occupants tied up there while they came in for a drink or bite to eat. On the weekends, there is live music on the deck.

View from the deck

View from the deck

We enjoyed a platter of tortilla chips with artichoke-crab dip and a couple of drinks while we took in the view and talked. Jamie and Francisco wanted to treat us to dinner. We thought about ordering dinner there, but decided to try another place that Donna’s friend, Dina Martin, another full-time RVer had suggested. She and her husband are from The Woodlands, Texas and spent a lot of time in Rockport.

We drove back into town and went to The Boiling Pot near Fulton. This is a funky, casual Cajun-style place. Once you’re seated, they cover your table with butcher paper and tie a plastic bib around your neck. Most of the items on the menu, such as crab, crawfish or sausage is served (dumped) on the butcher paper without a plate! Their signature entree is a combination plate featuring blue crab – but they were out of blue crab. We weren’t very hungry after the chips and dip, so three of us settled for gumbo and Jamie ordered red beans and rice with half a pound of boudin sausage. The food was good and the gumbo was enough for Donna and me. I don’t know if Francisco had enough to eat, but he didn’t complain.

We came back to our place and talked into the night. Jamie had brought two bottles of Tavel she found in Corpus Christi. Donna opened one. Jamie also picked up four large chocolate truffles that we enjoyed for dessert.

Wednesday was Donna’s birthday. She went to the community pool and swam a mile to celebrate her birthday. She hung out for a while at the pool afterward. She met a woman there and they sat in the sun and talked. Donna’s sporting a bit of sunburn today.

We went out for her birthday dinner. Donna chose Latitude 28°-02′. This is an upscale restaurant in Rockport. It’s also an art gallery. During the day, half of the building houses the art gallery. In the evening, the art gallery is used for dining. There’s another dining area that’s not part of the gallery. They serve seafood and steaks.

We both went for the seafood. Donna had blackened grouper with chipotle crawfish cream sauce. I had fish oscar which was made with the catch of the day – fresh red snapper – with crab meat, asparagus and hollandaise sauce on top. Both dishes were served with green beans and orzo on the side. My snapper was slightly overcooked, but otherwise delicious. The portions were larger than they appeared – Donna brought half of her fish home.

Happy birthday Donna

Happy birthday, Donna!

After dinner, we came home and watched a couple of episodes of Homeland. We enjoy the series although I have trouble sometimes with the unrealistic premise of the plot. That’s TV though – sometimes you have to overlook things since most shows can be picked apart.

Yesterday was also my youngest daughter Shauna’s birthday. She couldn’t enjoy her birthday much last year as it was her first day working as an intern at the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington D.C. This year finds her back in D.C. studying for her bar exam. Happy birthday, Shauna.

Texas Flood

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about heavy rains overnight and standing water. I should have said how thankful I am. The brunt of the storm hit along a corridor running from San Antonio to Austin, Texas. I mentioned Donna’s friend, Kathy Palmer, being evacuated from the RV park they were staying at in San Marcos, Texas.

The RV park was the Pecan Park Riverside RV and Cabins. It’s on the bank of the Blanco River. The Blanco River was about five feet deep last week. It’s considered to be at flood stage when it reaches 13 feet. On Sunday night, the river crested at 40 feet. It flooded the RV park. Everything in the park was destroyed – the cabins, RVs left there, the site infrastructure and the park owner’s home. I lifted a few pictures of Pecan Park Riverside RV from this site.

RVs tossed aside by flood water

RVs tossed aside by flood water



Thankfully no one was injured as everyone was evacuated in time. That can’t be said for everyone along the storm path.

Two families were reported to be staying in a vacation home on the Blanco River. The home was lifted off its foundation by the flood water and the house smashed into a bridge, completely obliterating it. Twelve people are missing and presumed dead.

Foundation and debris are all that's left of this vacation home

Foundation and debris are all that’s left of this vacation home

The wind, tornados and flooding damaged or destroyed more than 1,000 homes. Four people were confirmed dead, killed by the storm. Our thoughts go out to those who’ve suffered from this storm.

Fulton Crawfish Boil

After I wrote yesterday’s post, I took a walk through the RV park. The soil here usually drains quickly. But hours after the storm passed through, we still had standing water. Overnight, 1.52″ of rain fell, bringing the month-to-date total up to 6.66″, more than double the average rainfall for the month of May.

Standing water several hours after the storm

Standing water several hours after the storm

When I hand washed our coach last week, the hard water left water spots from mineral deposits. One benefit of the storm was the low PH of the rain water. Around here, the average rain water PH is 4.9, meaning the water is acidic – a PH of 7 is neutral, higher is alkaline and lower is acidic. The slightly acidic rain water washed the mineral deposits from the coach. We don’t have any water spots on the glass or paint after the storm. I’ll still go over the coach with waterless cleaner as it leaves a protective film on the paint.

Today is Memorial Day, a day to give thanks to all who served our country. We went to a charity fundraiser crawfish boil yesterday to support a group called the Coastal Bend Troop Support. They send care packages to troops deployed overseas and assist troops returning from combat with post traumatic stress syndrome.

The crawfish boil was similar to the event we attended a year ago in Heber City, Utah, but not as fancy. For $20 each, we got a crawfish flat, which is a cardboard soda case (flat) filled with crawfish, five jumbo shrimp, potatoes, corn and andouille sausage.

Crawfish flat

Crawfish flat

It seemed like a lot of food, but it takes a lot of crawfish to supply a small amount of meat. After picking up your flat, everyone was seated cafeteria style in the Fulton Convention Center Paws and Taws. The convention center title seems to be a little ambitious – it’s more of a community center or auditorium.

The convention center was created by a group of square dancers from Rockport, the Paws and Taws square dance club. They incorporated the club, raised funds, leased the property from the town of Fulton and began building the center in November of 1964. The grand opening dance was July 10, 1965 and 340 square dancers attended.

For this event, the Coastal Bend Troop Support organization had the walls covered with Memorial Day posters and displays.

Display at the back of the stage

Display at the back of the stage

Wall poster

Wall poster

Display commemorating local veterans

Display commemorating local veterans

We found a table and sat with a couple from the area. They spent three years living on a 44′ sport fishing boat. They cruised from Rockport to the Bahamas and south Florida before coming back and moving into a conventional house. Now they spend January and February in The Keys and the hot summer months in Taos, New Mexico. We had an interesting conversation, but we never got their names before they left.

Another couple joined our table. He is the publisher of the Rockport Pilot, a local Aransas County newspaper. She is the president of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce. They’ve lived in Rockport for 30 years and take frequent weekend getaways, often flying to the west coast. We enjoyed conversation with them as we finished eating.

After we finished our lunch, we took a walk out on the Fulton fishing pier. The pier is constructed from wood and is about a quarter of a mile long.

A laughing gull on the rail as we head out on the pier

A laughing gull on the rail as we head out on the pier

We walked to the end of the pier and saw a few people fishing. A woman reeled in a small catfish as we approached.

View of the Fulton Convention Center from the end of the pier

View of the Fulton Convention Center from the end of the pier

Then we rode the scooter on Fulton Beach Road until it became Broadway in Rockport. This was a scenic ride and we found shops and restaurants along the way. There are many nice houses along the waterfront. We hadn’t been to this part of town before. Donna has a 25-mile bike ride mapped out that includes this stretch of highway. Now that we’ve driven it though, she’s not sure about cycling it as the road is narrow and there is no shoulder. Perhaps the road will be quiet enough after the holiday weekend.

By the time we returned to the RV park, the skies had cleared. Although it was windy, it was the nicest weather we’ve had since we’ve been in Texas. The forecast calls for a chance of thundershowers every day for the foreseeable future. We’ll be here for another week and hope for the best.

Aransas Pass

Flexibility is a good trait when you live in an RV. Right now, our daily plans change from hour to hour depending on the weather. I don’t particularly like planning my activities around thunderstorms, but that’s the lot we drew when we booked time here in Rockport, Texas.

I expected more thunderstorms in the afternoon yesterday. We wanted to get out and explore the area. At 11am, we rode the scooter into the historic downtown Rockport neighborhood. One of the things we had in mind was a visit to the aquarium. Admission is free, but we found out that the museum hours are 1pm to 4pm daily except for Tuesday and Wednesday when they’re closed.

We kicked around downtown and shopped at a health food store. It was housed in half of a duplex, I’m assuming the proprietors live in the other half. There are a few funky little shops along six blocks or so of Austin Street. We took a look around the marina which had just about every type of boat imaginable docked there.

Then we decided to blast down the TX35 business route to Aransas Pass, about 12 miles south of Rockport. I thought Aransas Pass was a larger town than Rockport, but it really isn’t. Aransas Pass has about 500 fewer people than the population of 8,700 in Rockport. There wasn’t anything too exciting to see in Aransas Pass. We did find a couple of fish mongers with fresh seafood from the gulf. We stopped for lunch at the Bakery Cafe on the recommendation of a woman at one fish market.

The Bakery Cafe is a historic diner. It first opened in 1929. A short video of this small-town Texas diner can be found here. Donna and I both ordered the fried whitefish. I had mine with fries making it a fish and chips plate while Donna had a baked potato and salad with hers. The batter was fried to a nice crispy outer coating with moist, tender fish inside. It was a good choice for lunch.

After dining, we headed back to Rockport. We needed to do a little grocery shopping at HEB and I wanted to be back at the RV park by 2pm. The weather forecast called for thundershowers around that time. On the way back, we stopped at a little community on Aransas Bay on the east side of the highway south of Rockport. This community reminded me of Florida. The houses next to the bay are elevated on stilts. The rows of houses on roads perpendicular to the waterfront are separated by canals. Each home has its own boat dock in back on the canal. Some of the homes are large and obviously very expensive.

Aransas Bay near Estes Cove

Aransas Bay near Estes Cove

House on stilts next to the bay

House on stilts next to the bay

Canals separate the streets

Canals separate the streets

It was an interesting neighborhood. I think some of the houses are seasonal second homes while others are occupied year-round.

We made it back to the park around 2pm. I covered the scooter and by 2:30pm we had raindrops. It wasn’t anything too big, just a passing shower. By 5pm, the skies were only partly cloudy, but we knew a big storm was coming. We originally planned to grill a pork tenderloin, but with the iffy weather, Donna put it in the slow cooker with salsa earlier in the day and made a taco casserole with it.

We watched a few episodes of Homeland before we called it a night. We’re almost through season one and we are both really enjoying this Showtime series. At 2am, the storm woke me up. There was so much lightning that it was light outside with flashes of darkness. The rain was pouring down, mixed with hail for a while. The wind rocked our coach. I got up and looked everything over. It was a big storm but we were secure and dry.

Weather radar app with alerts and warnings

Weather radar app with alerts and warnings

This morning the rain has stopped, but there’s a lot of standing water in the area. Donna’s friend, Kathy Palmer, and her husband were in an RV park in San Marcos, Texas – between San Antonio and Austin. Late last night, they were told to prepare for evacuation and ended up having to leave around midnight because the river was expected to flood their park. They were relocated to a Walmart parking lot along with about 50 other RVs. This morning, the Walmart lot is flooded and rigs are stranded there with water up to the axles.

The forecast says we’ll stay dry until the early afternoon today. If it pans out, we might head over to Fulton for a crawfish boil. We had a great time when we went to the crawfish festival in Heber City, Utah on Memorial Day weekend last year. We don’t know what this one will be like, but if it’s anything like Heber City, it will be fun.

Who’ll Stop the Rain?

Donna and I rode the scooter to town after lunch on Thursday. Thunderstorms were threatening, I could see a line of storms to the west of us on the weather radar. We didn’t linger in town – just picked up a few things at the store. On the way back, Donna pointed to a sign that read “community pool.” I took a detour to check it out.

It turned out to be located on a 12-acre aquatic and skate park funded jointly by the cities of Rockport and Fulton and Aransas County. Rockport operates the park. The pool has eight lanes and it’s 25 yards long. Donna went inside to see what the requirements were to use the pool. It was simple – pay a fee and come on in. For $20, she can make six visits to the pool. Actually, we can make six visits – the $20 allows entry for both of us. There’s a pool here at the RV park – nice for cooling off, but much too small to swim laps.

We came back the RV park to be inside before the storm hit. The storm came later than I expected, but when it hit, it rained hard and lightning strikes were all around us. Half an inch of rain fell in a little over an hour! This area averages 3.10 inches of rain during the month of May. So far, 5.14 inches of rain have been measured with more to come.

A lot of weekend warriors pulled into the park on Friday for Memorial Day weekend. The park isn’t completely full, but there are way more rigs here than we had all week.

Most of these sites were empty until Friday

Most of these sites were empty until Friday

The managers were true to their word – they didn’t assign anyone to the site behind us.

Our double length site

Our double length site

I again expected rain later Friday afternoon. Donna took the scooter around 11:30am and went to the community pool. She swam 40 laps – over half a mile and said the pool was awesome.

We thought about grilling shrimp. Donna bought jumbo wild Texas shrimp that were the size of my thumb. Due to the threatening weather, we scrapped the grill idea and Donna prepared curry shrimp with spinach. She sprinkled it with chopped peanuts and served it over brown jasmine lemon rice.

Curry shrimp with peanut sauce

Curry shrimp with peanuts

It was absolutely delicious. There’s no reason to eat like you’re camped out just because you’re in an RV. Donna prepares a wide variety of meals on our induction cooktop. I eat like a king, just like when we were living in our sticks-and-bricks home.

Today we’ll have more heat and humidity with a chance of scattered thundershowers this afternoon. We’ll head into town and explore a bit – maybe visit the aquarium. The next storm is due to hit late tonight and the weather guessers are already warning us to be ready for a doozy. They are expecting flooding to the west of us. The area from San Antonio to Dallas/Fort Worth might get five to eight inches of rain from this storm!

The extended forecast looks like we can expect scattered thunderstorms for the remainder of the time we’re here. Hopefully we can avoid any flooded areas when we roll out of here June 1st.

Family Picnic

Donna took her bike out to battle the wind, heat and humidity on Wednesday. In the end, the 89-degree temperature with humidity over 70% nearly did her in. She wasn’t feeling well after an hour on the bike and called it quits after 15 miles.

I kicked back and read a book. Later, I scootered into town to pick up a couple of things. First, I wanted to see if I could find a bottle of wine – Tavel wine. Tavel is a rosé from the southern Rhone region of France. I enjoyed it on summer afternoons when I traveled through south France in 2004. After I met Donna in Arizona, I introduced her to Tavel. Served chilled, it’s a refreshing drink on a hot afternoon. Donna had a hankering for Tavel so I went in search of a bottle.

No luck finding Tavel in Rockport, Texas. I checked the grocery store on Tuesday and yesterday, I tried Spanky’s Liquor. The clerk asked me what I was looking for, then she entered it into her computer which was linked to 11 liquor stores. None of them stocked Tavel. I’ll keep an eye out for it as we travel.

I stopped at HEB and bought a watermelon and some ice cream. Donna was cooking all afternoon. She prepared smoky baked beans (a new recipe she wanted to try), coleslaw, cornbread and a cucumber, tomato and feta salad. She also made a big batch of guacamole and cut up some jicama for fresh fries. We were having guests over for dinner.

My middle daughter Jamie lives in Robstown – about 50 miles south of Rockport. She drove up with her significant other, Francisco and his four children – Jennalee, Trey, Rayleen, and Ariana. They arrived around 5pm. After a tour of the coach, we walked down to the pavilion by the dock and had appetizers.

Snacks at the picnic pavillion by the bay

Snacks at the picnic pavilion by the bay

Another view of our group at the pavillion

Another view of our group at the pavilion

Trey and Ariana cooled off with a dip in the pool. It was our first time meeting Francisco and the kids and we enjoyed getting to know each other. We just saw Jamie a few weeks ago in San Diego, but it was good to see her again with her family.

After a while, Donna and Jamie walked back to our site and brought our picnic dinner fixings back to the pavilion. We sat and talked for a while before heading back to our site to have some watermelon and ice cream at the picnic table there. That’s when the mosquitos started eating me alive. There are large black mosquitos here that have a stinging bite. My ankles and arms are covered with mosquito bites. We were so spoiled in San Diego – I didn’t see any mosquitos or biting insects there. No bugs in Arizona either!

Texas sized mosquito

Texas sized mosquito

About the time the mosquitos were were starting to drive me mad, our guests were ready to hit the road and head home.

Donna and I capped the night off by watching a new to us series called Homeland. The first episode was interesting and we plan to watch the entire series – we have four seasons on the hard drive that Joel Myaer loaded with video for us.

Jamie and Francisco may come back today. If so, we’ll go into town and poke around – maybe go to the aquarium.

The Road to Copano

I mentioned in my last post that we had a plan to back the coach out of our tight site and hook up the trailer. The plan worked perfectly and Donna had me lined up exactly where I wanted to be to connect the trailer to the coach. Pre-planning maneuvers like this is a good idea. Communication is important. Donna understood what I wanted to do and was able to direct me into position with a handheld Cobra CB radio.

I had programmed our GPS to route us from north Houston to Rockport and avoid tolls. I didn’t want to repeat the situation in Austin where we were on a toll road that didn’t have toll booths. You needed a TxTag pass or know how to pay via mail on that road.

The slog through Houston wasn’t much fun, but at least the rain had stopped. Large urban areas are never fun to drive through in a big rig. Houston is the fourth largest city in the USA and has the traffic to prove it. After about an hour, we we were on US59 and heading out of the city. From there it became rural and we rolled along on Texas highways. The traffic was light. The speed limits are a little over the top on some of these two-lane Texas highways. A 70mph speed limit with gas station and restaurant driveways and no slow down lane to exit the highway or acceleration lane to enter the highway doesn’t seem too good to me.

Unlike west Texas, the highways have few rest areas or roadside tables to stop at in this area. I drove for more than two hours before pulling over in the town of Palacios for a comfort break. That’s the nice thing about motorhome travel – if you need a restroom break, just pull over and walk back to the restroom!

We made our way 200 miles to the Copano Bay RV Resort and pulled in. The entrance is poorly marked without any directional signs telling you which way to go to stop and check-in. There are two roads into the park, one to the right of the entrance and one to the left with a building in the middle. I saw the office to the right and cranked the wheel hard right at the entrance, but there was a stone planter in front of the building in the center that made it too tight to complete the turn. I started to back up but was mindful of the trailer jack-knifing and also needed to know if the road was clear.

A man and a woman came out of the office and signaled us to go to the left. Donna got out of the coach to check if the trailer was in danger of jack-knifing against the right rear corner of the coach. The man told Donna he would direct me, so Donna didn’t signal me. The man also didn’t give me any signal, so I didn’t move. The guy looked irritated by my lack of movement. Donna could see this wasn’t working, so she came back inside and picked up her handheld CB radio. Aha – communication. She told me to back up slowly and stopped me when the trailer was close to touching the corner of the coach. At that point I had enough room to crank a hard left and enter the park on the left side of the building.

We walked to the office to check in and the lady asked if I would like to be moved into a long pull-through site instead of the back-in site that was reserved for us. I said that would be perfect. She set us up in what is essentially two back-to-back sites on a continuous concrete pad. She told us both sites were ours for the next two weeks and no one would move-in behind us. Nice!

Our double pull-through site

Our double pull-through site

It was nearly 90 degrees out with high humidity. I hooked up our power so Donna could start the air conditioners and we were set up in no time. Later we took a walk to the west end of the park where there’s a small (very small) swimming pool and a fishing pier. We saw a number of jellyfish in the Salt Lake, which is really a cove off Copano Bay.

On Tuesday morning, it was time to remove 1,500 miles worth of grime from the coach. Traveling in rainy weather left a real mess on the coach, not to mention all the bugs on the front cap. I went to the office and paid $10 for the privilege of washing my own coach. I can understand RV parks not wanting everyone to pull in and wash their coach – it takes a lot of water. But I don’t think it takes $10 worth of water. I think they charge that much to discourage people from washing in the park. We really needed a wash though. Donna went for a 5-mile walk and then hit the exercise room to do strength training while I worked on the coach.

I spent the next 135 minutes hand washing the coach with car wash soap and water. It looks much better but the hard water left spots. I’ll go over it again in a few days with a waterless product. I use a product from Super Seal called The Solution. It works really well – it will remove the water spots and leave a nice shine. With the coach clean, I installed the front window shades and tire covers.

Donna made a salad for lunch and served it with a soup she made Monday night. The soup is a carrot-ginger soup with dollop of coconut cream. It was delicious – you wouldn’t know it was carrot-based. It tasted like something you would get in a Thai restaurant. She got the recipe from her mother.

Carrot-ginger soup

Carrot-ginger soup

After a shower and lunch, I rode the scooter into town for a look around. I bought a case of water at Walmart. Later, Donna and I took another scooter ride and checked out the funky downtown area and waterfront in Rockport. We stopped for groceries at HEB and found it to be a nicely stocked, large store. Much nicer than the HEB in Austin. Donna bought New York strip steaks that I grilled for dinner.

New York strips hot off the grill

New York strips hot off the grill

Donna served it smothered in sauteed mushrooms and onions, a baked potato with crumbled bacon on top and steamed asparagus on the side.

There's a steak under those mushrooms and onions

There’s a steak under those mushrooms and onions

We’ve had mostly cloudy skies with 70% humidity and temperatures in the mid 80s. The skies are supposed to clear up this afternoon but there’s always a chance of a thundershower around here. Since I just washed the coach, I’m guessing we’ll see a thundershower soon.