Travels With Dick and Judy
Follow us in our trials, triumphs and tribulations, while on the road in our motor home "The Liberty Belle". We chose to forsake the conventional lifestyle in our 3,000+ square-foot home to move into a 40-foot Winnebago Ultimate Freedom. Travel with us as we take you on the road with us in our new lifestyle.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Since we have not posted a new blog in over a year, we have set up a Facebook page for Travels with Dick and Judy. If you want to follow our new travel blog, click on this link and, once on our travel page, click on the "like" button. Hope to see ya soon!
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
When I last posted on September 13th, I said that would be my last post until our next adventure began on October 1st. Who knew that a month would pass so quickly and be so busy! Come along for the ride and I hope you will bear with me while I post lots of pictures of family and friends!
Our new adventure actually began on Tuesday, September 30th, when the couple replacing us at our gate guard site near Henderson, Texas and our tech showed up before 10 a.m., and we rolled out just a short time later. After finally getting the motor home (“MH”) inspected, we were on the road to Magnolia Ridge Corps of Engineers (“COE”) Park near Woodville, Texas for the night – approximately 115 miles.
On Wednesday, October 1st, we woke up to rain but, fortunately, we did not have much to do to get on the road to Village Creek State Park in Lumberton, Texas – approximately 45 miles. We had rain off and on during our drive, but it was much needed and not too bad.
Once we checked in at the park, we spent the afternoon getting settled in and remembered what it was that we did not miss when away from Southeast Texas - humidity and love bugs! Since it was October 1st, I knew it should be Fall weather, so I began to get ready!
Having been on a gravel road for the last 6 weeks, Dick sent me to have the car detailed while he met with our park superintendent, Jerry, who told him we would not be on duty until 5 p.m. on Sunday when he would ride with us (or mainly Dick) for 2 nights. We knew we were going to love volunteering as park hosts through December for 25 hours per couple (times 2) from Sunday through Thursday from 5-10 p.m., which leaves lots of time to play catch up and visit family and friends.
On Thursday, October 2nd, while Dick stayed at the park to continue with our set up, I traveled to Jennings, Louisiana for the funeral of my second cousin-in-law Sandy. I was blessed to have been closer and able to attend the beautiful memorial service and reception. Although I would rather see family under more fun circumstances, it was nice seeing so many cousins and getting to visit with them.
After almost 3 months without a DirecTV connection and since we finally had an address again, we scheduled an appointment with a technician for Friday, October 3rd, who discovered that the LNB on the dish was bad, which was why we were unable to tune the satellite. Once done, he told us to call customer service and request that they switch us over for local channels (Beaumont, Texas). Dick spent an hour on the phone, only to have the call disconnected. After an hour with another rep, Dick was told the technician would have to return and find out what our problem was. As soon as the tech returned, he told Dick that he should have told us the receiver would not work for Beaumont local channels, since this area is strictly HD and our receiver was standard. This was the standard DVR receiver that a DirecTV rep told us we had to purchase a year ago. Now, DirecTV said they would have to charge us $99 for a new HD receiver. We placed the order, which was sent via Federal Express and received the next day (even though the tech had an HD receiver on his truck, which he could not give us since they would not give the approval for him to do so). Dick set up the new receiver, changed our plan online, and we now had local channels, which we hope to be able to keep. How do you say totally frustrated? An entire day was spent on this, because no one realized what should have been obvious. The good news is that we were now set up!
Now, fast forward to this past weekend! Our standard box in the bedroom that did not record and could not be paused, fast forwarded and rewound began to freeze, change channels, etc. After talking to a DirecTV tech the week before, we determined that the box was not working properly. We called and spoke to another tech, who disconnected the box and walked us through setting up our standard DVR receiver. Bingo! We now have all the shows that were recorded through June, plus we can now record on both the DVR in the living room and bedroom – and able to watch TV on our schedule – and our bill was lowered by $6. Can’t beat that! I will say that this was our best experience with DirecTV in 2-1/2 years, so we’ll see what the future holds.
Events and Visits
Later in the afternoon on Saturday, October 4th, since we had a few unexpected days of freedom, we finally drove 20 miles to Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Beaumont, one of our favorite restaurants in the area, to celebrate various events that had occurred during the year when we were gate guarding and unable to leave together (my birthday, our anniversary and Dick’s birthday). Our seafood meals and service were excellent! When traveling East or West on I-10 in Southeast Texas, check them out: www.pappadeaux.com.
On Tuesday, October 7th, I drove to Seabrook to attend Logan’s band event with the Clear Creek Independent School high school and middle school bands and to stay overnight with Michelle and Logan. The following morning, after loading up our bikes, which we had stored with Michelle for a few months, I stopped for shrimp at Rose’s Seafood in Kemah, Texas, and began the drive back to the park – approximately 90 miles.
Another advantage to being in the area for a few months was calling my brother David and meeting him and my SIL Tresa for lunch at Jason’s Deli in Beaumont.
On Saturday, October 11th, we drove to Lake Charles, Louisiana (approximately 71 miles) to attend the wedding of our niece Amy and new nephew-in-law Stephen. We first drove to Sam Houston Jones State Park in Westlake to visit our son Mike, DIL April and grandsons Colby and Ben and tour their new 5th wheel trailer. Very nice and just perfect for them!
After a much-needed haircut with Connie at the Matador in Lake Charles, we all met for lunch at one of our favorite go-to seafood restaurants in the area, Steamboat Bill’s (www.steamboatbills.com), and were happy that my brother Jim and SIL Sharon could join us.
Thanks, Jim and Sharon, for our room at the Inn at the Isle of Capri, and Michelle and Logan appreciated it, too. The evening wedding of Amy and Stephen was beautiful, and we had a great time at the reception – great visits, excellent food and enjoyable music. Everything was beautiful! For these and more pictures of the festivities, check out the album below.
My sister Brenda had 2 mother’s helpers at a table in one of the rooms with activities for the kids and fun food – PBJ sandwiches, fruit and juice boxes. Our 6-year-old grandson Ben particularly had fun and was joined by other kids, too. Good job, Brenda!
My SIL Sharon took this great picture of our son Mike’s family, which I must share!
The following morning, we continued our recent tradition of joining our niece Virginia and nephew-in-law Josh for breakfast at Denny’s! We had a great time, y’all, and hope to meet again soon.
Once back at the park, we settled into our volunteer park host duties, which consist of monitoring the park from 5-10 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday (as mentioned earlier). We make 4 rounds on the Mule (provided by the park) to be sure campers and day users are registered and settled, pick up trash (which is little to none) and check the restroom (which is usually in excellent condition), plus lock the gate at 10 p.m. Not a bad gig for a few months! Dick and I are always available when in the park, if needed, and we are enjoying this gig so much that we have committed to October, November and December of 2015 and 2016.
The first of the next week, I received a message from my second cousin Joyce (after seeing her at the recent funeral) and, on Thursday, I met her and a high school classmate Virginia, who is also Joyce’s SIL and lives nearby in Sour Lake, at Parkdale Mall for lunch and a visit. After 2 hours, Dick joined us for another hour’s visit. We hope to get together again soon and bring others.
After returning home and between runs through the park, Dick put a steak for him and pork chop for me on the grill while I got the rest of dinner together inside. It is great to be able to set up our outdoor grill after having it packed away for the last few months.
The following afternoon, my classmate and our friend Jay came from Beaumont to visit. We always have so much to talk about and look forward to Jay’s next visit.
The following afternoon, we traveled to Deer Park for our great niece Audrey’s first birthday, which had been postponed twice. The good news was that, due to the postponements, we were able to attend. We had a great afternoon with our kids, grandsons, other family and friends.
Ashley told the kids to bring a pumpkin to decorate, and Colby, Ben and our great niece Elena had a great time and did a great job, too.
Thanks, Ashley and Jason, for the invitation! To see more pictures from Audrey’s party, please check out the album below.
On Monday morning, October 20th, I drove over to Lake Charles with 2 Lake Charles High School Class of 1965 classmates, Virginia and Gayle, and met other classmates for a girls lunch at Zeus. Great friends, great visit and great food! Looking forward to seeing more classmates when the group gets together in November.
The rest of the week was fairly uneventful, although I forgot to mention that Dick was finally able to get back to making cigar box guitars (“CBG”) and filling a few orders. He enjoys working with his hands and, as he says. seeing what the wood tells him. It is definitely a work in progress, and every CBG is an original!
Mike and April brought Ben and Colby to the trunk or treat at their elementary school on Friday, October 24th, and here they are all decked out in their costumes!
On Sunday, October 26th, my brother David, SIL Tresa and great nephew Brandon came to the park for a visit and to play some music. It was a beautiful afternoon and we had a great visit.
I was able to join David, Tresa and Brandon at an afternoon showing of “The Judge”, which I would highly recommend. I loved the interaction between Robert Duvall and Robert Downey, Jr., and I laughed and cried throughout the movie. The language is a bit strong, but the story is awesome.
The following day, we completed our mail-in ballots and I made a trip to the Post Office to get them in the mail prior to the November 4th election day. We would have made a trip to Harris County for this election if it had been necessary, but it was convenient to be able to vote in this way.
Again, our week was fairly quiet at the park, with another visit from our friend Jay on Thursday, October 30th, plus our grandson Ben celebrated his 6th birthday. We could not be there, but our DIL April shared pictures with us, and we will see him soon to celebrate with him.
Halloween was very quiet at the park and Ben wanted to go camping for his birthday weekend – West and not East – but we will see them over the Thanksgiving holidays at the park!
Mobile Home Repairs
And now, time for updates on our MH repairs! As many of our friends and family know, our slide and jacks had not been operational since our vacation in July. We wanted to get back to Texas and be in one place long enough to find a reputable and dependable RV repairman once we arrived at our park host site for 3 months.
We had someone who was recommended to us in Beaumont, who told Dick to come see him on October 15th. When we drove to see him and Dick talked to him, he told Dick he was too busy once again, and that he had since decided he would not come out on a repair call.
We then got a recommendation from the Village Creek State Park staff, and Ted Williams with New World RV Service in Vidor, Texas came to diagnose our problem on Monday, October 20th. It was not the slide motor, as Dick had thought, but was, instead, a bad shuttle valve that caused 2 of the vacuum pumps to fail. Ted set up a test bench and insisted that Dick watch him - so that Dick would know everything was being properly done and that he was not just switching out parts. Once the 3 parts were changed, with a slight delay waiting for a part from HWH, the hydraulics manufacturer, we finally had an extended slide and 4 jacks on the ground and were finally level.
We pretty much determined it was the wrong hydraulic fluid that was added by a previous RV service company in Jasper, Texas that caused the failure of the pumps and valve, which we cannot prove, and we are just happy to be up and functional once more!
So far, we feel good about our experience and the only down side was that Ted (and others in the area) would not work with Good Sam Extended Service Plan, since they were having problems getting paid. Ted did make the call and acquired an authorization, but we had to pay him up front. After faxing our receipt, we were waiting for a partial refund from our extended service plan – and I just received good news (November 5th) that the check arrived in the mail. Not too bad, although it was an expense I would rather not have had.
If anyone is in Southeast Texas and looking for an RV tech, here is Ted’s information, and please tell him that Dick and Judy Mott recommended him.
Well, thinking all was good, while fixing dinner this past Sunday, all electricity went out in our MH. After trouble shooting by Dick and talking to our RV tech, it was determined that we probably needed a replacement power switch, and Ted said he would be out on Monday morning. Fortunately, it was cool enough to sleep with the windows open, so we survived, but it sure was quiet. Also, I was very thankful that Dick had installed an outlet in the bathroom, to which we plug an extension cord into the 20 AMP plug. We were able to charge our cellphones and my iPad Mini, make coffee in the morning and, then, turn on the heater.
As promised, Ted and his assistant arrived around 9 a.m. on Monday morning. The good news was that we did not have to replace the power switch - unless we have problems in the future. A black wire had worked loose, which caused an intermittent open on one leg of the 50-AMP plug, so Ted corrected the wiring in the electrical mooring line to the pedestal.
While Ted’s assistant was checking the inverter, wires shorted and arced within the inverter box. Ted determined that the inverter wiring was crossed inside the inverter (which had been worked on by Convenience RV in Willis, Texas last October), and he removed the melted wire and replaced the connectors. While here, Ted also fixed a leak behind the hot water heater. Fortunately, our total invoice was only $200 – and I cannot believe I said “only”! We were also fortunate not to have been traveling and to have been home when this happened! Since we will be in this location for 2 more months, we will be monitoring closely and hoping for no more challenges.
And that’s all, folks!
Wow, the month was busier than even I realized! Lots of family and friend time interspersed with volunteer park hosting, CBG making (Dick), and getting settled in for 3 months before our next adventure. Have I mentioned that we love our park host site?!
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