We knew December would be a busy month with family visits and events, plus the Christmas holidays and our last month in the Houston area. On December 2nd, Dick and I decided to try the restaurant near our site – Latitudes & Pirate Dog Bar. The seafood was very good and, on the evening we were there, there were very few diners. We enjoyed a quiet meal and watched the Saints in a playoff game on the big screen TV.
Dick and I had been following a blog entitled “Our RV Adventures” (//ourrvadventures.wordpress.com/). We could tell from the blog that Greg and Jan White were gate guards near where we were in Whitsett, TX, and that they worked for the same company. We realized that they were returning to the Houston area while we were there, so I posted a comment to see if we could finally meet. Ironically, they parked their motor home (“MH”) just 5 minutes from us in San Leon, TX. We shared emails and phone calls and, on December 3rd, they picked us up for dinner at Floyd’s Cajun Seafood House. We found out that they had met some full-time RVing friends of ours and, through our blogs and Facebook, we are able to stay in touch.
On Friday, December 6th, our daughter Michelle chauffeured me around (since I could not drive our stick shift until the stiches were taken out of my right hand – following carpal tunnel surgery). I got a manicure, pedicure and haircut in preparation for an out-of-state wedding on December 7th, plus we did a bit of Christmas shopping - although most of our shopping was done through Amazon (www.amazon.com) - and I love our Prime membership with no shipping and handling on all items from Amazon. By this time, winter had arrived with colder temperatures, wind and rain. This did make packing for a 4-day trip much easier, since we only had to bring winter clothes.
We got a later start than planned but, on the morning of Saturday, December 7th, Dick and I traveled to Crowley, LA for one of his cousin’s weddings. He had not seen his cousin “Tiger” since Tiger was a toddler, so it was nice for us to visit with him and his wife Sharon. One of the reasons that I enjoy Facebook is that we have become Facebook friends with cousins and others that we would not be in touch with at all. I saw Sharon on Facebook when another cousin made a comment on a post. We became friends and she invited us to her daughter’s wedding.
We stayed at a local motel on Saturday night and, upon the recommendation of a city policeman, ate lunch on Sunday at The Rice Palace, and I had just what I had been craving. Yummy!
After lunch, Dick and I drove to Gueydan, LA to deliver another Cigar Box Guitar (“CBG”). As mentioned previously, while gate guarding near Whitsett, TX late last summer, Dick took orders for CBGs, and Johnny, who worked for another oil company, bought 1 and ordered 2. We had a nice visit with Johnny and his wife and hope to see him again down the road.
By the way, my Mom was born in the Crowley/Gueydan area, so it was nice going back to an area I had not been for many, many, many years. I just wish we had had more time, but that’s another trip for another day.
After leaving Gueydan, we drove to the Lake Charles area where we had a reservation at the Inn at the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel for the next 2 nights. Since we had not eaten since our early lunch, I called the hotel to check on the price of their dinner buffet. I found out that, if we each got a Players Card, we would get discounts at buffets (which were yummy), plus we each got $5.00 to play the slot machines and a free t-shirt. I won a few $$$ and then lost, but I was in time to see the Saints make their most recent touchdown on the big screen TV at the lounge. Dick actually made some $$$, which paid for dinner.
How to get the most out of a day back home in Lake Charles! First, I visited my sister Brenda, who was recuperating from surgery, while Dick ran some errands.
Dick and I then met my high school friends Lillie Ray, Kay and Beth for lunch at McCormick's. Lillie Ray saw on Facebook that we were going to be in Lake Charles on Monday, December 8th, and invited us to join her, Kay and Beth for lunch. How cool is that after graduating in 1965?!
After lunch, Dick and I drove to Topsy, LA to visit my second cousins Mickey and Jan and their son John. Mickey plays guitar and was interested in seeing Dick's CBGs. Mickey told us the gumbo was on, but we had made plans for later that evening with my brother Jim and his family, so we took a rain check for another visit.
After our visit, we had time to return to the hotel for a quick change before joining my brother Jim, SIL Sharon and their family (Virginia and Josh; Natalie, Scott and Ty; and James and Stephanie) for their get-together to decorate the Christmas tree and enjoy good eats. The candy dish below was Mom’s, which I gave to our niece Virginia, and she filled it with Dad’s favorite Christmas candy – bonbons. I got to add a decoration to the Christmas tree, which our daughter Michelle had given to her godfather Uncle Jim and Aunt Sharon.
Still not time to see everyone, but I would say we packed a lot in one day – especially a day that was cold and rainy!
On Tuesday morning, we began the trek back to Texas and, around Orange, the sun finally came out. We first drove to near Jasper to visit with the Assistant Superintendent at Martin S. Dies State Park and to tour the park – where we will be park hosts from April 6th through July 6th. Then, we drove to Village Creek State Park in Lumberton (about 20 miles north of Beaumont) and met with the Superintendent, who showed us our site for when we are park hosts from October through December of 2014.
Following our visits at the state parks, we met my brother David, SIL Tresa, great nephew Brandon and great niece Cassie at Jason’s Deli in Beaumont for dinner. Sorry we were unable to see the rest of our Beaumont family!
I finally got the stitches out of my right hand on December 12th – a beautiful day in the neighborhood – and will hopefully be able to carefully drive our vehicle with a stick shift.
On Friday, December 13th, Dick and I drove to Katy to pick up our grandsons Ben and Colby to spend the weekend with us. Unfortunately, we got in rush hour traffic, and the return trip to San Leon took 2 hours. So glad we do not have to deal with that traffic daily!
On Saturday morning, while Grampa slept in, I (Grammy) fixed breakfast for the boys.
Mid-morning, while Dick worked on his projects outside, I got chairs for Colby and Ben to watch the San Leon Christmas parade, which passed just in front of our MH. Having 2 cute boys, ages 5 and almost 7, pays off! The firemen gave them each a Teddy Bear, and our friend Amy, who was in another vehicle, gave me 2 huge lollipops for them. Plus, they got lots and lots of candy, which I know thrilled their Mom and Dad.
That afternoon, Ben, Colby and I met Michelle and Logan at a shopping center in Dickinson to attend the “Festival of Lights” – while Dick stayed home for his own quiet time. This was my first time attending the festival, and it was very well done and affordable. We parked our cars at the shopping center and took a bus to the event – the first time for Colby and Ben on a school bus and, as you can tell, the boys were enjoying the ride.
The boys and Michelle enjoyed decorating – and we all enjoyed eating – the cookies!
The lights were beautiful but, naturally, pictures could not do them justice. We finished our evening with dinner at Cici’s Pizza. Yum!
On Sunday afternoon, Mike and April drove down to pick up Colby and Ben and, since Michelle and Logan were going to California for a week at Christmas, they exchanged their Christmas gifts. As you can tell, our MH was ready for the celebration!
On Tuesday, December 17th, our full-time RVing friends Dave and Janice came for a visit on their way to visit their son. Dick made an awesome homemade vegetable soup, which everyone enjoyed, and we had a great time catching up until we can meet again.
On Wednesday, December 18th, I picked up my sister Betti and we went Christmas shopping. Again, I did not have much to do, but I had fun helping Betti and picking up a book for my great nieces Elena and Audrey and a few small items for Dick. Betti treated me and her daughter (my niece) Ashley to lunch, which we brought to Ashley’s home for us to visit and for me to get my "great aunt fix" before leaving the area for the next few months.
On Thursday, December 19th, our fellow RVers and gate guards Greg and Jan invited us to meet them and their son Chris and DIL Linda at La Brisa Mexican Bar & Grill in Bacliff for dinner. This was a no brainer, first, because we were happy to have another dinner with them and meet Chris and Linda and, second, because La Brisa is our favorite Mexican food restaurant. Chris wanted to see Dick's CBGs (see picture below) and "pick his brain" on building them. The food was excellent and so was the company! I had a picture of Dick and Chris, but I think it was on my phone and was lost when the phone died. Oh, well! An excellent picture was taken of Dick and I.
Logan spent a couple nights with us since he was on Christmas break.
Michelle came over after school on Friday, December 21st, for her and Logan to celebrate Christmas with Dick and I - since they had to fly to California for a week, leaving early Monday, December 23rd. We had snacky foods, exchanged gifts and had a great visit!
On Sunday, December 22nd, Dick and I picked up Michelle and Logan and met the Acton family at BJ’s Brewery in Clear Lake to celebrate our niece Ashley’s birthday (December 23rd). BJ’s is a place we always enjoy, but rarely think to go. Check it out at http://www.bjsrestaurants.com/. We had a great time with my sister Betti and BIL Jim; Ashley, Jason, Elena and Audrey; and Shannon and Jarrod – as seen in the pictures below.
Bright and early Monday morning, Dick and I picked up Michelle and Logan for the ride to Hobby Airport and their flight to California – for a week with her ex-in-laws. She really enjoyed visiting with her SIL Nikki, BIL Darren and their 2 girls, who “idolized” Logan. I knew we would really miss them for Christmas, but we picked up our grand dog Radar on the way back to San Leon to spend the week with us and, when almost back to the MH, these Monk Parakeets blocked the road.
We spent the rest of the day and Christmas Eve getting ready for holiday celebrations. On Christmas Eve afternoon, Dick and I went to visit our first cousins Linda and Gordon. We always enjoy our visits, but they are never as often or as long as we would like!
Christmas Eve night was spent with my sister Betti and BIL Jim and their family, who included Dick and I because she knew I would be lonesome without our kids. She knows me well, and thank you, Betti! Here are our beautiful nieces Shannon and Ashley.
Jim’s parents, James and Mary, and his sisters, Jan and Carolyn, also joined the celebration.
Elena had to show Uncle Dick her grandparents’ Christmas tree.
Santa even made an appearance and had a great helper – Elena.
As always, there were lots of good eats - and this was the dessert table!
Even though it was late, Dick and I exchanged gifts when we got home, so that we could get an early start to Katy on Christmas morning.
Naturally, as soon as we got to our son and DIL’s home in Katy, Colby and Ben wanted to show us everything Santa Claus had brought them. We then exchanged our gifts, and I was particularly excited with a CD and DVD box set of Garth Brooks hits. Later, April’s parents, Jay and Sue, came over and we had stuffed chickens from Hebert’s in Katy, TX – www.hebertsmeats.com – with all the trimmings. Yummy!
The last week of 2013 was spent getting the MH ready for travel to our next gate guard assignment in January – pending the availability of a site. Michelle and Logan returned from CA on December 30th, but everyone decided to take it easy on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, especially with the weather not being conducive to travel or visits. My friends and family were playing “Words with Friends” on New Year’s Eve - and staying safe and warm – so I had my entertainment.
Stay tuned for more “Travels With Dick and Judy” in 2014 and thanks for stopping by!