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, September 13, 2014

Gate Guards Again–August 13, 2014 and onward!

While waiting to hear from our company service rep about a gate guard site, we left Spring Creek Park in Tomball, Texas and headed south on I-45 on Tuesday morning, August 12th, for about a 50-mile drive to visit my sister Betti in Pasadena. In addition to visiting with Betti, Logan and I got to see our great nieces and his cousins Elena and Audrey. Unfortunately, the girls did not warm up to me for most of our visit, which is the price I pay for not seeing the little ones as often as I would like so they remember me. Logan sees them more often, though, and he was great with them.

08-12 - Logan, Elena and Audrey_resize

Then, it was time to bring Logan home after our month-long RV vacation! We had a great visit with Michelle, who had prepared lunch for us, and we gave her some goodies from our trip. It was sad to say “see ya” for the next 2 months, but we knew we would keep in touch.

The following morning, we received a call that a gate guard site was available near Henderson, Texas (approximately 180 miles from Tomball) – and we had to arrive later in the day. We had hoped for a couple more days to visit family and friends, but we also knew we could not turn down this offer. Fortunately, we did not have too much preparation for travel.

Unfortunately, we had not yet seen our son Mike, daughter-in-law April and grandsons Ben and Colby. As soon as we were ready, we made the drive to Katy (approximately 31 miles, going by way of the Grand Parkway or Highway 99, which was a much quicker drive). After going by the house and giving small gifts to everyone, we went to Freddy’s Steakburgers for lunch – yummy and reasonably priced.

8-13 - Colby and Ben_resize

Colby and Ben wearing the t-shirts we brought them!

2014-08-16 - Colby and Ben in shirts from Grammy and Grampa_resize

After saying “see ya” until October, Dick and I headed back to the motor home (“MH”) and got on the road.

The distance was doable in one day, but we had not planned on traffic from Spring Creek Park to I-45 North being so heavy and stop-and-go, thereby, taking almost an hour. Then, we stopped at Pilot/Flying J in Huntsville, Texas, and spent almost another hour in line to get diesel for the MH. Not a bad drive, going north to Buffalo and northeast to Henderson. Due to all the delays, though, we did not arrive at our destination until about 8:30 p.m., in the dark, which did not make Dick a happy camper.

We met our company service rep and his wife, who helped us set up with diesel and the generator. He did NOT have a water trailer, though, and we had to wait another day for water. We learned the hard way this past January (when the water in the water tank was frozen for 2 days) that the on-board water tank needs to be full when traveling in case of emergencies such as this. Our gate guard site was only 10 miles from town (Walmart, Kroger and Lowe’s, so we were good) and a relaxing drive through the country.

This was our set up – and hopefully, will be until our next adventure beginning October 1st!

GG site_resize

Not bad for a gate guard site! In fact, nicer than some campgrounds where we have stayed. We have trees, very little to no wind and a nice highway to the road to the site, which is gravel and only a short distance. We also have excellent phone and internet service with our Verizon jet pack.  The site is fairly level and solid, which is great until we can get our slide and jacks fixed. Since we are farther north, it is not as hot and humid, either (and today, a cool front arrived with temps in the 60s-70s for a day or so).

Part of the morning, I was actually able to sit outside and enjoy the view and a bit of nature (although wildlife has been almost non-existent).

Tree at GG site_resizeButterfly_resize

We were put at this site for completion, which started out steady, but slow; then, got busier; and now, is very slow – but we are making money, which is always nice. After last July through September in South Texas and the 2 sites in East Texas from January through March, this has been the dream gate guard site! We would stay longer if we did not have prior commitments and a family wedding in October.

On Monday, August 25th, as I looked out the door of the MH, this was the view that greeted me.

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This was also the day that our daughter Michelle and 3 grandsons started school and, even though we could not be with them, both Michelle and April shared pictures with us.

2014-08-25 - Colby and Ben_resize2014-08-25 - Logan and Michelle_resize

2014-08-25 - Logan_resize

The following day (August 26th) was our son Mike’s 46th birthday!

2014-08-26 - Mike, Ben and Colby - Mike's 46th birthday_resize

When we are away from our kids, grandsons and other family and friends for months at a time, I have to remind myself that my Dad’s family lived in Kentucky while we lived in Louisiana. We were lucky to see our grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins once a year – and that was before cell phones, the internet, Facebook, digital cameras and Skype! They actually had to write letters and print pictures to mail, talking on the phone very rarely. Our life as full-time RVers is so worth it, and our kids are very supportive and happy we are keeping active. I know I digressed, but this has been something I have wanted to share.

The following week (September 2nd) was our 47th wedding anniversary, and we posted a few pictures on Facebook: first, Dad walking me down the aisle at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Lake Charles, Louisiana; and second, Dick and I in front of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, Louisiana on our honeymoon. Memories!


We were blessed with much needed rain, which was definitely a gift from God. Then, Dick fixed us an awesome dinner - since we could not leave together while gate guarding - which was better than any restaurant dinner: Cornish game hens stuffed with wild rice and served with green beans and field peas and a side salad of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and purple onion. Ironically, our most memorable meal on our honeymoon in New Orleans was stuffed Cornish game hens at the Court of Two Sisters - where the waiter split the hens and laid the wishbone on our plates - which Dick did not do.


We had 2 drivers picking up fluids at the site offer to bring us water to wet down our dirt – in-between the few showers we have received during the last 4 weeks. Dust from the trucks is a huge problem, and we can never get the dust out. Fortunately, without much wind, we do not eat the dust every time we have to go outside, and we tell all the drivers to go by us very slowly, which most do and, if they do not, they hear about it the next time. Dick invested in a tower air purifier from Lowe’s, and I sure wish we had had it last year in South Texas. It does help, but we always prefer no dust.

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In exchange for wetting down the dirt, I prepared brownies for both of the drivers. Before we could receive the delivery on Saturday, September 6th, we had a really heavy downpour.


My niece-in-law Ashley said that God must have wanted the brownies – and I am sure that must be it. The driver still got his brownies and brought us water the next time the dust got really bad. Brownies are a small payment as a thank you to those who do us favors on these sites!

Tuesday, September 9th, was Dick’s 69th birthday - even though he kept telling me that he was entering his 70th year, which was true. but let’s not rush it! Again, we could not leave our gate guard site together, so I picked up Chinese food for dinner, and we can celebrate all these events next month. Here are a few pictures through the years!

Young DickGraduation

Summer 2014

Earlier in the afternoon, Dick called me to his window to see about a 3-foot Blue Racer snake whip across our road chasing a frog. He got the frog and went back across the road. The frog got away and the chase began again - across the road, in front of our MH and next to our vehicle. Unfortunately, Dick was not fast enough to get a picture, and the snake disappeared. I know this was a non-venomous snake, but it was right where I go to get in our vehicle in my open-toed sandals. I would have had heart failure and will be watching much more closely. I realize that I had gotten complacent, since we have been fortunate not to see snakes of any kind on our gate guard sites, but I know they are all around us. I never wear open-toed shoes while on duty, but ….

Working in the oilfields of Texas off and on during the year as gate guards, I thought this was an interesting bit of history from 1866.


Well, we have 17 days left on this stint of gate guarding, which we will start again in January. Unless something really exciting happens, this will be my last blog until we leave here on September 30th and our next adventure begins on October 1st.

Thanks for stopping by and please let us hear from you. See ya next time!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

RV vacation continued - Final 10 days - August 2-11, 2014!

On Saturday, August 2nd, we headed farther south, with the Mississippi Gulf Coast being our next stop, but too far for driving in 1 day with the motor home (“MH”), We thought we would be staying at a Walmart parking lot. However, I started researching online and found a campground with vacancies – Choctaw Lake Recreation Area in the Tombigbee National Forest near Ackerman, Mississippi (Choctaw Lake Recreation Area) – and we made a reservation for the night. Since this campground was located in a national forest, we were able to use our Federal Senior Pass and saved dollars, too!

Since we found a shady site by the lake, once we were set up, Logan got ready and went fishing – not catching, but fishing! That evening, he and Dick took a few moments to enjoy the view. By this time, we had decided to stay another night, as this was a great spot for relaxing.

08-02 - Logan - fishing_resize08-02 - Logan and Grampa_resize

The next morning, Logan was able to enjoy the campfire and ride his bike, so it was a great 2 days of R&R.

08-03 - Logan with fire_resize

After a very relaxing weekend, we were on the road again for an overnight stay at the Walmart parking lot in Wiggins, Mississippi.

On Tuesday, August 5th, we pulled into Buccaneer State Park in Waveland, Mississippi for an afternoon and overnight on the Gulf of Mexico. I want to make a return trip along the Gulf to Biloxi, since we did not have time on this trip. So much had changed since the last time we were here – especially after Hurricane Katrina. The beach was pretty and clean, and there were lots of places to park and walk to the beach, with benches along the way, too. Logan and I took a short drive and he got to play in the water (and was somewhere in the picture below, I thought) – but, again, never enough time.

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Lots of history, too!


After returning to the park, Dick, Logan and I went for a dip (or cool down) in the wave pool, which is another must do at this park. We will definitely return to this park and encourage you to visit when in the area - Buccaneer State Park! According to the website: “The area now encompassed by the park was frequented by pirates in the 1700s, and figures prominently in mysterious tales of smuggling and buried treasure.” I am fascinated by stories of Jean Lafitte so, one day, I would like to explore more of the area.

Time to get on the road again on the morning of Wednesday, August 6th. We left Mississippi, entered Louisiana, crossed the Atchafalaya River Basin and set up at Quiet Oaks RV Park near Kinder for the next 2 nights. We stayed at Quiet Oaks 3 years ago when our niece Natalie and nephew-in-law Scott had their wedding reception in Iowa, Louisiana. It was still as nice and quiet this time, plus reasonable, and an Escapees and Good Sam park. We received a bigger discount with Escapees, but realized our membership had expired. Since this is a family-owned campground, we were told they would still honor our Escapees card and give us the discount. How ‘bout that?! We liked this park because it was very quiet, had trees, plus 50 AMP electric, water and sewer hookups, away from the city, but a short drive west on I-10 to Lake Charles to visit family and friends. Check it out when you are going to be in the area:

There was so much we wanted to do in Louisiana, but it was time to get back to Texas so Logan could get ready for school to start in 2-1/2 weeks. We made a trip to Lake Charles on Thursday to visit our sister-in-law Stephanie and nephew Bill and, then, to visit my brother Jim, sister-in-law Sharon and niece Virginia. I guess that we had made trips as often as possible to visit family that I forgot to take any pictures. Imagine that! Again, there is never enough time to visit everyone.

On the road again on Friday, August 8th, heading northwest to Magnolia Ridge COE Park near Woodville, Texas – where the price was right at $9 per night (with our Federal Senior Pass) – to stay for 3 nights (through the weekend). We had stayed at this park before so, again, I took no pictures while there, except upon our arrival.

Logan told Grampa that he could unhook the car without help because, after a month on the road, he really knew how to get everything set up and broken down. We knew we would miss him after this trip, but I knew I would certainly miss the extra help – since he took over some of my jobs.


On Saturday, August 9th, we were able to drive just over an hour to my brother David’s house in Beaumont for our great nephew Dominic’s first birthday. It was great to see some family and friends, and we had great food and a great visit. I love that cousins Chelsea, Logan, Brandon and Cassie were able to get together, and I wish we had more of these opportunities. For family and friends who want to see more photos of Dominic’s party, check out the album below.

Chelsea, Logan, Brandon and Cassie_resizeCake_resize


On Sunday, Dick and Logan did make an attempt to go fishing and, as soon as they got to the pond, it started thundering and lightning. Oh, well, they tried!

On Monday, August 11th, we began the last leg of our RV vacation with Logan and headed to Spring Creek Park near Tomball, Texas. We remembered seeing this park when we visited our son and his family when they lived in the Tomball area. There were 8 RV sites with full hookups, including 50 AMP electric service, and it was FREE. This park was run by Harris County Precinct 4, and a reservation can be made each month for a stay of 1-7 days. You must be at your RV from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., because they lock the gates, but that was not a problem for us.

Our month-long RV vacation with Logan had come to an end, and we knew we would miss our travels together, but it was time for all of us to move on to other things. We definitely made memories!

While on this trip, we bought hiking stick pins for the hiking sticks that Dick had made for Logan and us (an inexpensive souvenir to collect).



I also bought pins for my Teddy bear, which a friend suggested as a great way to remember our travels (and, again, not too expensive to collect). With the pins I bought on this trip, Logan made me pants for Teddy to go with the vest his Mom made 3 summers ago.


By this time, we had been in contact with the service rep of the gate guard company we had worked for periodically over the last year to, hopefully, obtain a gate for approximately 6 weeks – after the long trip and with the MH slide and jack repair facing us. At this time, nothing was available, but we had learned that openings change from moment to moment. In the meantime, we planned to spend time with family and friends and determine where we would head next if a gate did not become available.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for our next adventure, which will be coming soon!