Thursday, March 31, 2016

Longview, Texas

Longview, Texas RV Park

I have always enjoyed the great state of Texas. The people are friendly, the landscape is green and beautiful (at least at the moment), but the Mexican food is hit or miss.

Although we did like the first restaurant we ate at, the second one was not as good. It was call "Los Enchiladas." The decor was decent but once the food arrived, it was clear that they should have called the restaurant "Los Gringos Enchiladas"

Dan got a beef taco salad which was just ground beef with "taco seasoning" over some lettuce and chopped tomatoes--all nessled in a crapy taco shell. I ordered a carne asada taco which turned out to be a "steak" taco. Mine was by far the lesser of the evils but still...steak is not carne asada.
Dan says I'm a Mexican food snob, and I am. 

I found a picture of the carne asada taco plate online. It doesn't look bad, right? But it just wasn't authentic Mexican.

Dan has been able to reconnect with his friend Dave. He met on the first Navy ship he was on and even after 24 years, they reunited as if not a day had passed.

Dan and Dave having steak & beer :)

As for me, it was a lucky coincidence that my friend Missy also lives in Longview. I was able to visit her and her little family while we were here. 

Missy, Daniel and Missy's daughter Nichol playing in the sand.
Daniel is loving the swing

Missy, her fiancé Allen and their sweet daughter Nichol were brimming with happiness and love for one another. I've known Missy a long time and it warms my heart to see her this happy. ❤️

While we were here, we decided it was time to replace Caiden's tricycle with a real bike. Dan found a Paw Patrol bike at Walmart and took Caiden on a special outing to buy it. He was so excited. He picked out this punk rock bike helmet all by himself.

He had no trouble riding it for the first time.
He's a natural.

Our friend Lou drove up from Austin to visit us. It seems like a lot of people we know from San Diego are moving to Texas and we can see why.

Lou hanging out on our couch.

I was worried about how we would spend Easter without any family but lucky for us, one of the mom's here at the RV park organized an Easter egg hunt.

Here we are walking to the park where the eggs have been hidden.
The first egg found!
Caiden racked up a lot of eggs.
Daniel was determined not to miss any eggs.
The spoils of the hunt.

It was so fun to really get to know our neighbors. It really feels like we are in a community now instead of an RV park.

We have one more week here and then we head towards New Mexico...

Sunday, March 13, 2016

From Mississippi to Texas

Wednesday, after leaving Chattannooga we planned our next stop in Meridian, Mississippi for a two day rest. Even though our morning had been stressful with the unexpected RV slide-out trouble, the lush green grass and tall trees that lines the freeway as we drove calmed and soothed our weary nerves. The south is simply beautiful. I think I mentioned it at least once an hour and Dan had to remind me of the hot, sticky summers in an effort to detour any notion of settling here. I admit, there is an allure to the south that speaks directly to my soul, and were I from here, I probably would never leave.

Nevertheless, we pulled into our next RV park without trouble (thank goodness). The next morning it rained, so we spent the day indoors relaxing to the rhythmic sound of rain falling on our roof. It's much louder on an RV than a regular house and much more romantic.

Friday morning we drove towards Shreveport, Louisiana. Again, gorgeous scenery the whole way. By 2:30pm, we were driving up to the industrial gate at the Barksdale Air Force Base just outside of Shreveport. The campground looked well kept and there was an adjasant park with plenty of grass and a huge playground.

This was the bridge over the Mississippi River. It devides Mississippi & Louisiana.
The first rest stop just in Louisiana.
Our camp site at Barksdale AFB.
Daniel climbing the ladder at the playground.
Caiden is introducing himself to his new friend.
There were so many kids to play with. This little girl stole my heart❤️
The kids sharing snacks outside our RV

We had originally planned to stay for only two days but our boys were having so much fun with the friends they made, we decided to leave a couple of days later. Tuesday morning we lazily packed up our campsite and hooked our trailer to the truck. The drive to Longview, Texas was less than 2 hours and we couldn't check in until 12noon. 

The RV park in Texas. The rain just started.

We knew a storm was coming so we wanted to set up before the heavy rain fall began. By some miracle, we set up meer minutes before the rain clouds unleashed their vengeance. I'm not joking! Never in all my life have I experience such forceful rain accompanied by earth shattering thunder and lighting. The rain toggled between hard and harder, never soft. The rain woke Dan and I numerous times during the night. The thunder felt like earthquakes and it was then that I began sending out a silent thanks for having moved to this site that is so well elevated instead of staying longer at the Air Force Base. We almost did stay. If we had, we would have been flooded.

The weather map showing Shreveport (pink)  and Longview (red).
This is the freeway we drove from Shreveport to Longview 
This is a picture of what happend in the most affected areas in Louisiana. Scary!

Shreveport was hit hard. Dan found a photo of the Air Force Base and it was indeed flooded. Perhaps our luck was changing, we had just escaped a very dangerous storm when we could have very easily been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Once the rain subsided, if only slightly, we ventured out to secure groceries and lunch. Having now crossed over into Texas we felt it was safe to eat at a Mexican restaurant. Dan found a promising restaurant called The Jalapeño Tree. The word "Entrada" painted above the door and the familiar fragrance of Mexican food were encouraging sign that we had made a good choice. It was Tex-Mex all the way, but it was delicious.

The entrance to The Jalapeño Tree
Chips, guacamole and salsa. All were delicious!
The boys got corn dogs and fries. Everything is bigger in Texas, lol.

We are going to stay in Longview, Texas for the month so Dan can visit his friend Dave and coincidently enough my friend Missy is here too with her family. We look forward to visiting friends and all that Texas has to offer.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

This traveling way of life has been a mixed experience for us. Especially this last week, let me break down for you.

Getting to visit with friends who have truly been restorative to the soul.

Getting into a minor fender-bender with a questionable, sketchy couple who are apparently living out of their car.

Finding out the morning we were trying to leave Chattanooga that one of our slides has a broken motor. It took 3 hours and $175  to manually shove back in.

That last one is still hanging over our heads and hopefully doesn't slide back out as we travel. We can't even begin to think about fixing it until we get to Texas.

So, back to The Good
Wednesday, we drove out to Sabrina & Allen's home nestled in the beautiful grassy hills of Ooltewah. Sabrina was cooking up a Mushroom Stout Pie in the kitchen while Daniel played with baby Mae.

We ate, laughed and reconnected.

Friday, we met Sabrina and Mae at the Tennessee Aquarium in Downtown Chattannooga. I think we've been to more aquariums this trip then ever before. This Aquarium was definitely impressive. 

I love the look of wonder when Daniel sees the exotic bird exhibit.

Sunday, we met Sabrina, Allen and Mae at The Chattanooga Choo-Choo just down the street from the aquarium to check out the old trains that have been turned into hotel rooms and cafes.

Caiden loved blowing bubbles at the "baby"
This was a cool diner

After letting the kids explore the trains, we invited everyone back to our RV park where I had ham and bean stew cooking in the crock pot. The men talked about their experiences in the Navy over Yuengling beer while sipping Scappa Scotch out of coffee mugs. And Sabrina and I compared notes about motherhood. It was an evening that we didn't want to end but it was the kids were tired so we arranged one last visit before we left town.

And now The Bad.
Wednesday morning, Dan set out to purchase a 50 AMP surge protector (to prevent any further electrical/appliance issues) but decided to pick up lunch before heading home. While coming out of the strip mall, he was cut off by one car which forced him to hit another car. Our truck had practically no damage and their car had a small dent. Everyone was ok until the cops came and suddenly the couple were hurt and their car was undrivable. The man was eventually hauled away by the ambulance. Unbelievable. 
Here is a picture of the tiny dent in our truck.

So, this is the third claim we've had in about three months. I sure hope our insurance doesn't drop us.

We had another wonderful visit with Sabrina, Allen and Mae on Tuesday evening and then on Wednesday, we got ready to drive towards Texas.

Finally, The Ugly.
We were almost ready to leave, all I had to do was bring in the slides and put the boys in the truck. Only, one of the boys slide-out wouldn't come in. Aghhhh! At this point I'm thinking we have some kind of voodoo curse over us because this just can't be happening. 

Dan calls the mobile rv repair guys and they arrive 30 minutes later. Apparently one of the 4 slide-out motors jammed up and prevented the slide from moving. It had to be removed with a hammer and a screw driver. Three hours later, the slide was successfully pushed in and we were on the road, hopefully towards greener pastures and better luck.

We stop in Mississippi and Louisiana before arriving in Longview, Texas. I'll keep you posted on our misadventures next week!