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.
I may grow older, but I'll never grow up!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Finally–R&R?!–Let the Holidays Begin–November 2013!

My intent was to complete 2013 by blogging about our “adventures’' during November and December. However, after organizing pictures during those months, I realized we were busier than I remembered. In an effort not to totally “lose” our followers, I will bring you up to date through November and December in a few days or so. Honestly, I am beginning to see the “light at the end of the tunnel” and hope to post at least monthly – and possibly more often – once finally up to date.

We returned to El Lago to our daughter Michelle’s and grandson Logan’s home on November 4th to celebrate Michelle’s birthday on the 5th and go to some medical appointments. With a few stops on the way and a trip to the grocery, we were ready. Michelle has always liked fondues and Logan had never had the experience, so that was her birthday dinner on November 5th. First, she woke up to a birthday balloon and gifts (to be opened later). Then, Logan really got into the fondue, although he spent more time cooking the food than eating.

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The following morning, I finally saw a neurologist for my recurring neck itching, which began radiating down my arms and to my hands. Having had an MRI over a year ago, which showed bulging discs, I expected the worse. Naturally, more tests were scheduled, so no answers yet.

That evening, while relaxing at Michelle’s home, she shot this picture of Dick and I, which she posted on Facebook with the following caption: “What's wrong with this picture? Mom has a phone, laptop, and iPad...all on. Dad has ancient looking guitar parts....disturbing.” I have to admit there was a lot of truth to her statements, but we were together!

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A couple days later, Dick and I went to visit my sister Betti (which we always try to do while “in the area”). Our great niece Elena would not get in a picture with me, which was unusual for her, but I did get a picture of her coloring. As Betti said, I was able to get my “great auntie fix” by holding Audrey. Elena and Audrey are the daughters of my niece Ashley and nephew Jason.

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Finally, on November 8th, we made another trip to check on our motor home (“MH”) at Convenience RV in Willis, TX - 87 miles one way! We found out that the new dryer had not yet been fixed (more details below), and that the part for the leveler support, which was supposedly shipped 2 weeks ago, had either not yet been ordered or was still being manufactured! The story changed each time we spoke with the Manager John, plus he said (when we asked why the dryer was not fixed after a week) that he could not bring the MH into a bay to fix only 1 thing. Go figure! We paid up and got our MH out of there as fast as possible - after 5 weeks of being in the shop, plus 8 days of paying for a site that we did not use. Needless to say, between gasoline, diesel, meals, site, etc. we probably spent about $1,000 additional for out-of-pocket expenses during this 5-week period. In the event any RVers out there are wondering if we would recommend Convenience RV, the answer is NOT – as long as it is under the current management – and we will probably never return due this unfortunate experience.

From Willis, we headed south on I-45 to Latitudes RV Park in San Leon and parked our MH for the rest of the year (east of Dickinson and Highway 146 on Dickinson Bay – off Galveston Bay at the mouth of Dickinson Bayou).

Latitudes RV Park, San Leon, TX

As you can see, we were on concrete, and we had almost constant winds, which I did not like, but it was nice not to deal with dust and dirt. In fact, it only took a few hours to realize what the wind was doing to our mat, so we put it away for down the road.


It took a couple days to get somewhat settled and get DirecTV set up, but, late one afternoon, we took a break from reorganizing and took some time to sit in the sunshine and enjoy the view.

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I must brag on Dick! As I mentioned above, we bought a new Splendide washer/dryer combo. The washer worked great, but the dryer was not drying. When we returned the MH to Convenience RV after our weekend getaway, we asked that they "fix" the dryer, which they had ordered and installed. Almost 1 week later, we found out that they did not know what to do and had done nothing. Once set up in San Leon, Dick checked the Internet and told me to hold the start button for 5 seconds to reset the unit. Voila! The dryer was now heating! One more point against Convenience RV!

We also discovered that the ice maker in our new Samsung refrigerator/freezer had a drip, which would cause the ice to freeze in clumps. Dick made a call to the service center, who sent someone to “fix” the problem, and it has worked great since – and was fortunately covered under warranty. While waiting for the repair, we turned off the ice maker and set up our portable ice maker again – which we also use when gate guarding and only have non-potable water, using bottled water for drinking. We made this purchase from WalMart – – 2-1/2 years ago, and it has paid for itself many times. I see the price is now $159.99, but watch for sales and, if you choose delivery to  your closet Walmart store, shipping is free.


One of the other “projects” Dick finished after getting settled was to complete his hutch for his desk. What an awesome job and, now, as you enter our MH, the first thing you see is NOT the desk! He attached it to the bottom of the upper cabinet and to his desk, so it stays in place during travel. As you can tell, Dick started working on the hutch in November, and we finally got a picture of the completed hutch in December.

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On November 11th, Dick and I went a few miles north on Highway 146 to our favorite Mexican food restaurant, La Brisa, for dinner. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of our awesome meal.

I previously forgot to mention that, when we took a weekend break in October and parked at Country Place RV Park – – off Highway 105 East near Conroe, TX, we suddenly had no hot water. Fortunately, the park had a shower. Once we got settled in San Leon, Dick did what troubleshooting he could and finally determined we had to use some of our oilfield money for a new water heater. On November 12th, after making calls to Camping World in Katy, TX and not receiving a return call, we stopped at PPL – located at Beltway 8 and Highway 59, which was on our way to Camping World. We bought our 1999 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom MH in August 2010 from PPL Motor Homes – Our buying experience was awesome but, our service department experience, not so much, and Dick will still  not let PPL work on our MH - although it would, hopefully, not be worse than our recent experience with Convenience RV. We “bit the dust” and upgraded to a Suburban 12-gallon water heater, which has made a world of difference when taking showers! Camping World was the loser on this purchase, and we were the winner, since we got a better price at PPL. Dick was finally able to install the water heater on November 14th, which saved us some money, and that is always a good thing.

Suburban Water Heaters SW6P

We also had to purchase a door flush mount.

Good news - or lesser of evils, I think! On November 14th, while Dick was working on installing the water heater, I returned to the neurologist’s office for a nerve conduction study and an EMG, which showed that I had severe carpal tunnel syndrome (worse in my right hand), which required surgery. An appointment was scheduled with a hand surgeon the following week, so more to come. The neurologist also said I had restless leg syndrome, which did not come as a surprise. I am confused, though, because she said to keep doing therapy for my neck, but she did not mention the neck. The therapy, which I had recently started and which was covered in full by my insurance, was relaxing and definitely helped, so no complaints.

On November 15th, Dick and I drove to Pasadena and picked up my sister Betti and great niece Elena for a road trip to Houston (30 miles or so). Betti had told us about the Texas Junk Company near downtown Houston. Dick was looking for parts for building his cigar box guitars (“CBGs”), and he found a few things. It was just fun browsing and, then, we had lunch at Zydeco’s - – one of my favorite lunch spots when I worked in downtown Houston. In fact, Betti took me for my first lunch when I returned to Houston in March of 1999 to Zydeco’s near my office, which has since closed. When our son Mike or my brother Jim and SIL Sharon met me for lunch, we would drive to Zydeco’s, plus, with my boss and others from the office, I would eat there occasionally. Always a favorite and excellent seafood! Oh, and did I mention that Dick is in the running for the best great uncle?! He showed Elena just how yummy it was to dip bread in tartar sauce. Oh, yes, he did!

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I also forgot to mention that living at Latitudes was an experience, as there was a bar at the end of the parking lot, with lots of motorcyclists, bands on Friday and Saturday nights and “interesting” neighbors – most of whom were in the area working contract jobs. On Sunday, November 17th, while watching football (first, the Texans and, then, the Saints), our neighbors and their guests were grilling, and one of them brought us a plate of caribou and whitetail back strap with tortillas. It was so yummy (especially, the caribou) that it made up a bit for the noise level (which subsided after dark).

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Surgery on my right hand for severe carpal tunnel syndrome was scheduled Monday, November 24th, at 8:30 a.m. Surprisingly, this probably had not been caused by years of typing and, more recently, using my iPad Mini and cell phone, but was caused by 3 months of holding a pen in my left hand and pad in my right hand while signing people in and out on the site as gate guards. For a week following surgery, I could not hold anything heavier than a cell phone and could not use or get my right hand wet - which meant no washing dishes on Thanksgiving. Darn! By the way, our son Mike told me I would be on clean-up duty on Christmas!

The following day, while recuperating from my surgery on a cold, rainy and windy evening, Dick knew just the “cure” – shrimp, crab and oyster gumbo with rice and potato salad - made and served by him.

On Thanksgiving Day, Dick, Michelle, Logan and I traveled approximately 68 miles to Mike and April’s home to celebrate and give thanks with all of them, plus Colby and Ben and April’s parents Jay and Sue. Everyone contributed dishes and, as always, the meal was awesome!



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Don’t shoot me, girls, but this is the only picture of y’all that I had, although it looks like y’all were taking a nap – before taking a bite of dinner!

As November was ending, it was a good time to decorate the MH for Christmas! We have more decorations, but I decided to go simple this year, since what goes up must come down. I did put out another Santa and my Nutcracker, but stopped there. While the weather was so perfect, Dick worked on CBGs to fill orders and make a few extras to sell.

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Now, it was time to get ready for some travel to family events and for the Christmas holidays, plus make preparations to move on to our next adventure after the first of the year. More to come soon and thanks for stopping by!


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