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!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Easter at Martin S. Dies, Jr. State Park, a Family Wedding and More!

In preparation for Easter weekend, Dick and I took our Gator and road some of the park trails – checking for trash and maintenance issues. The Slough Trail was great for walking or bike riding, but I walked across most of the bridges!


Also, no one told us that we could not get between 2 trees on this leg of the Forest Trail, so Dick had to back up across the bridge!


After returning to our motor home (“MH”), Dick took this awesome picture – by being in the right place at the right time!


For those of you who may not know what an Easter weekend is like at most Texas state parks, here is a synopsis of our day as a volunteer park host! At 1:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, Dick heard a banging on our door. A lady camping nearby said her daughter was throwing up and having trouble breathing and, long story short, she reached 911 as she left and drove away while Dick was calling our Assistant Superintendent.

The alarm went off at 5:30 and, with coffee in hand, we left to do site checks on our side only - due to the number of campers. We turned in our info around 8:00 and went to the shop for the morning meeting.

After a quick breakfast at home, we met staff and other volunteers at the Dining Hall to hide Easter eggs for the 10:00 hunt. Following the hunt, I helped kids make Easter eggs (like snowflakes) and was assisted by Emily, a weekend volunteer and teacher's aide, who was a huge help, while Dick took pictures of the events for the kids.

At 11:00, Dick and I picked up our list to check for campers leaving that day. We grabbed a quick bite of lunch around noon and were back at the office at 1:15 to pick up our list for a final check of campers leaving that day. While making our rounds, we saw a very young child driving a truck with an adult beside him and reported this to the office and, then, met someone at the site. Despite what the grandmother told everyone, the child was alone in the driver's seat until his grandmother switched places with him. We turned our report in to the office and headed home, stopping to visit with staff on the way.

Dick took the Gator to go pick up trash and left me to "rest". Then, the Naturalist, Amy, needed someone to watch the Nature Center for an hour or so, and, since I hate to say no, I finished my day at the Nature Center. Needless to say, since state park volunteer hosts are only required to “volunteer” 25 hours per couple per week, this day was an exception, but very tiring.

Easter was quieter, but we were on duty and not able to be with family; however, knowing we would be seeing everyone the following weekend made it easier on me.

On the following Tuesday, April 21st, my high school classmate and our friend Jay came from Beaumont, TX to spend the day with us and brought us some yummy homemade chocolate chip cookies. After our afternoon site check, Dick fired up the grill and barbecued chickens and sausage, which we served with potato salad and baked beans. After a mid-afternoon dinner, we all sat outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. We always enjoy Jay’s visits and look forward to seeing him again soon!


The rest of our week at the park was fairly uneventful and, on Friday morning (April 25th), we headed East to LA and our nephew James and new niece Stephanie’s wedding on Saturday, April 26th. We were surprised to realize that by taking the route we did, it was only 1-1/2 hours to Lake Charles from the park.

Before checking in to our room, we made a stop by Bed, Bath and Beyond – and had an unexpected surprise when we saw our SIL Steph - for our wedding gift and “treated” ourselves to a set of pots to use with our induction burner – $99.99 less 20% coupon. Thanks to our friend Debi for showing us her set!


We checked into our motel, which was really poor, and we will never stay there again (the America’s Best Suites on Lake Street near Prien Lake Road), but we were staying next door to our son Mike, DIL April and grandsons Ben and Colby, so we, naturally, made the best of it. While Dick “rested”, I went for a manicure and some minor shopping. That evening, we all went to one of our favorite restaurants, Steamboat Bill’s, for dinner and, after being so good, the boys got to play on their iPad Minis while we visited.


On Saturday morning, our grandson Logan and I went for haircuts at The Matador, and it was great to see Connie, a longtime friend and hairdresser, for a happy occasion. Then, it was time to get ready for the wedding and reception, which were beautiful. It was great to see and visit with family and friends. I loved that James (son of my brother Jim and SIL Sharon) and Stephanie entered the reception to “When the Saints Go Marching In”, and James was wearing his Saints cap! Can you tell they are fans of the New Orleans Saints? If you would like to see more photos from the wedding and reception, please check out the album below.

Judy, Jim, Brenda and Betti
Mike and Michelle
Michelle, Judy and Steph
Aunt Judy and James
Our Family
Michelle drove back to TX after the reception, and Logan stayed overnight with our niece Virginia and nephew Josh – so the “boys” could hang out together. Before leaving Lake Charles on Sunday, we had breakfast with my brother Jim and SIL Sharon, Virginia, Josh, Mike, April, Colby, Ben and Logan. On the way back to the park, with a stop in Beaumont to meet Michelle with Logan, we stopped at the TX welcome center and walked on the bridges over the swamp, experiencing a few picture moments.


After meeting Michelle, we returned to the park by a different route, which was a pretty drive through the country, and found that a fire on a utility pole had knocked out electricity to park for a few hours. Not long after turning on the generator for our MH, the power was fortunately restored. A very busy, but fun, weekend!

A couple days later, I finally unpacked our new pots and actually found a cabinet above the couch that I could re-purpose for them. When Dick cooked in one of the pots the following night, he gave them a "thumbs-up" and said they really spread the heat evenly and did not have "scorch spots". I can attest that they also cleaned very easily!


A perfect ending to a very busy month of April was our view of Lake Steinhagen while cleaning campsites!


Thanks for stopping by and "see ya" until our next posting! And for those interested in seeing more of Dick's photos, he has opened a new page on Flickr - Dick's Flickr page - where his photos may be viewed by subject or as a random collection.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Martin S. Dies, Jr. State Park-April 6-17, 2014–Let the next “adventure” begin!

Another few weeks have elapsed and, unfortunately, I did not get an updated blog posted while in Katy, TX last week with our 5- and 7-year-old grandsons. Little did I know how busy I would be! Come along for the ride and share our next “adventure” – and please let us hear from you!

On Sunday, April 6th, we drove a few miles farther East on Highway 190 and, after crossing Lake Steinheigen, we entered Martin S. Dies, Jr. State Park (“MDSP”) - our new "home" for the next 3 months. We are in site no. 67, with trees and shade and just off the lake – a really nice site with lots of birds.


When Dick started to put the jacks down on the motor home (“MH”), they started to go down and stopped. When he tried to open the slide, it opened about 2" and stopped. When he checked, hydraulic fluid was all over the ground. Fortunately, this happened once we got to the park, and we had enough room in our living area to move around. After checking it out, Dick realized a repairman would have to check it out. We asked the office and they recommended RV Services in Jasper, who we actually used almost 3 years ago for some refrigerator recall work. We were pleased with their service then, and hoped we would be pleased again.

We do love our site, though!

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A few days later, this hummingbird stopped by!


When George with RV Services came out, he determined that the repair service in Waco, TX routed the hydraulic hose over the drive shaft without securing it, and the drive shaft rubbed a hole in it. George replaced the hydraulic fluid that had leaked out of the slide-out cylinder, and we were able to open our slide. He said he would be back the next week to replace the hydraulic hose and fix the jack stands. Naturally, Dick and I were skeptical and praying George knew what he was doing! More on this “event” in our next blog, as the repair took longer than anticipated.

Another benefit of park hosting at MDSP was the Dutch oven breakfast provided by the Village Creek Cookers on Saturday, April 12th!  Here are Dick and Barb getting ready to chow down on some wonderful dishes!

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This group comes to the park each year and prepares Dutch oven “Cowboy Stew” and desserts and presents a demonstration to campers. The day was overcast but, fortunately, it never rained! Below, our co-hosts Bev and Don are checking out the desserts - awesome peach and cherry cobblers!

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Dick and Barb visiting with Village Creek Cookers

Before the day was over, Dick bought this stand on which you put the Dutch oven, with coals on the bottom and on top. Beats having to bend over a fire and, in the meantime, it makes a great bird feeder – without the Dutch oven, of course!


The following morning (Sunday, April 13th), Dick and I volunteered for a few hours at the MDSP Nature Center. Here, Micah was getting ready to feed the snakes, and we had a number of campers in attendance.


After finishing at the Nature Center, Dick and I made a road trip to stay overnight with Michelle and Logan in El Lago. We first met family at Double Dave’s Pizza in Clear Lake and had a great visit. Thanks, Nicole, for the invitation. It was great to see my sister Betti and lots of other family!

Cousins - Michael and Logan
Logan and his Mom Michelle
BIL Jim with his Dad
Great Uncle Dick/Grampa with Michael and Logan
The following morning, I had scheduled a medical appointment and, then, we brought our bikes in for refurbishing at Bike Barn, and purchased 2 good used tires for the car (after buying 2 new ones this past week). Talk about “killing lots of birds with 1 stone”! Before leaving the area, the temps dropped from 73 degrees in Seabrook/El Lago to 47 degrees by the time we reached MDSP – with rain all the way.

Before returning to our MH, we stopped by to check in with our full-time RV friends Dave and Janice and to meet our new RV friends Ed and Debi, who came to the park for a few days to visit. Check out “Ed’s RV Tips” at and “Debi’s RV Cooking” at

Dick and I finally made it back to our MH and, after unloading the car, the first thing we did was turn on the heaters and, then, we took out 1 of the storage bags and dug out warm-ups to wear – which might as well stay out for the duration. Finally, we warmed up, and Dick fixed a clam chowder to keep us warm. What a long day!

The following day, we got together with the “group” at Ed and Debi’s MH (since it was too cool to eat outside) for an early dinner – shrimp gumbo and rice (Dave and Janice), potato salad (Dick and Judy) and dessert (Ed and Debi). The food was great, but the visit was even better!

Judy, Janice and Debi
Dave, Ed and Dick
After dinner, the “girls” visited outside (with Janice taking the picture of Debi and I) – beautiful, but cool!


The following day (Wednesday) the “girls” (Janice, Debi and I) went shopping and buying in Jasper, which is something I rarely get a chance to do. Later in the day, Dick grilled hamburgers and we invited our co-hosts Rich and Barb to join Dave and Janice, Ed and Debi, and Dick I for dinner – before Dave and Janice head North for their summer travels, returning to TX in the fall. Janice fixed French fries and onion rings and, again, Debi brought a yummy dessert, plus we fixed baked beans. The evening ended with a walk along the camping loop on the lake with Janice and Debi – with a beautiful view of the sunset.


At the shop meeting on Thursday, April 17th, Dick and I found out that we were in charge of arts and crafts after the Easter egg hunt on Saturday. Here is Naturalist Amy showing us how to make the snowflakes – and our finished project! More on the weekend events in the next installment of “Travels with Dick and Judy”.


It was time to say “see ya” to Dave and Janice as they prepared to leave the park for their summer adventure, and you can follow their travels as “Evans Escapades” -

Dick and I finished our visit with Ed and Debi by going to the Cedar Tree Restaurant in Jasper, TX for an excellent dinner buffet – and said “see ya” until we meet again down the road.


As you can tell, our first 12 days at MDSP were very busy, so I’ll say “see ya soon” and thanks for traveling with us!