The Early Months … December-March 1998
Mick’s 1st entry:
Thanksgiving and Christmas allowed us a very enjoyable time with the family in Avon, Colorado (near Vail). This was much needed R&R after a pretty exhausting few weeks, getting ready for and making the “big move”.
Both trips enabled us to help Kevin move in with Ben and Jennifer, following his graduation from Texas Tech in December. After all, moving back home, like some of his friends, was no longer an option! Big brother had kindly offered him accommodation and a job on the mountain, until he decided on a firm career direction. Jennifer was looking forward to getting to know her brother-in-law, and happy to have someone help out with the rent!
At Thanksgiving, we packed some of his possessions into a U-Haul, along with a few pieces of our furniture that Ben and Jennifer had volunteered to “look after” for us. At Christmas we towed his Jeep, loaded to the top with the rest of his worldly goods. These two trips gave us some experience of towing, if not a full 35′ 5th Wheel.
January and February kept us very busy with our business in Dallas, so we had plenty of time to grow accustomed to our new lifestyle. Of course, we now had much less space indoors and very different living conditions. But we also had wide open spaces outdoors, a beautiful view over Lake Lewisville, and a quiet, rural setting for riding our new mountain bikes (fun!), running and walking around the lake shore, in one of the most spacious and beautiful RV parks in north Texas. We were very content to stay put and enjoy our new surroundings … for a while.
Our first trip of the year, in February, was to the west coast, and at the last minute we found some very good reasons why not to take the 5th Wheel (were they really excuses?!) We drove our car (we still owned an Infiniti Q45 as well as our Dodge RAM) to Colorado for some skiing.
We’ve discovered that the best route to the Rocky Mountains from the south takes us west of I-25, either from Santa Fe, NM or from the Pueblo area.
Head north toward Salida and Leadville and you can visit such magnificent places as the Great Sand Dunes National Monument to the east, and Buena Vista (well-named) en route. Our spirits lift measurably the further north we drive through this spectacular landscape – we would have to call this “God’s Country”.
Leaving Colorado after some great (beginner) skiing) we moved on to Las Vegas. This was our first visit — interesting! After meeting team members there from Fort Worth and Oregon, we drove on to Valley Center, CA. There we worked with Norma and her group, before flying to Seattle. We worked with our team in Centralia and Tacoma for a week, then flew back to Los Angeles and drove to Arizona. Phew!
In Green Valley, just south of Tucson, we worked and did great sight-seeing with Ted & Julie … our first time there and a lot of fun.
Our return to Dallas was through New Mexico with stops at White Sands National Monument (amazing … we saw the most beautiful sunset ever), Carlsbad Caverns and a tiny place called Jal where we met with Dr. Charles Walter and his wife, Lorrie.
Now back in Dallas we had to be honest, and admit that we were simply nervous to move our home. We had “chickened out” last November and had Marshalls RV deliver our Hitchhiker to Hidden Cove instead of driving it all the way from Kemp through downtown Dallas, so we hadn’t even hitched it up ourselves, let alone towed it anywhere. So finally the time came when we just had to “bite the bullet” and “just do it”! The first time we prepared to move, hitch up, drive about a half mile around Hidden Cove, reverse into our spot, unhitch and set up again, it took us 5 hours! Oh boy, this wasn’t exactly what we had expected! The hardest part was unhitching … it took well over an hour, including phone calls to the dealership and local “experts” helping out. There is a “knack” to this, like many things in life, and we just had to learn it the hard way.
After this experience, we were in no hurry to take a longer journey … but that was what this new life was all about, wasn’t it?! So we planned our first real trip for April and May, but we knew we needed some experience before setting off; a short trip was called for, to break in our rig, and ourselves, “gently”! I’ll let Jenny tell you about our weekend away in the Piney Woods of South Texas.
Jenny … March 25th, 1998:
As it happens, it was exactly 11 years ago today that we left our home in Beaconsfield, England, and arrived in Dallas, Texas, USA. What a lot has happened since then – and today, what a perfect day!
Up at 7.00 am (early for us!) we had everything stowed away, secured and “road ready” by 10.00 am. Beautiful weather, cloudless blue skies and the temperature would reach 80°. How wonderful it is to go away without having to pack a suitcase – just take your entire home with you! We stopped in Kemp (Dairy Queen!) while Marshalls RV fixed a small problem with the furnace, and met a wonderful couple – Bill and Rhonda. They were very interested in our nutritional products because their 16 year old daughter is an insulin dependent diabetic, and her 14 year old sister has Crohn’s disease. Whatever is happening to the health of our children today? Bill asked for a business card and, of course, we gave him an audio tape! Maybe he’ll call; some will, some won’t ….
On the road again, our home hitched up behind us (Mick: yes, we unhitched and hitched up without trouble this time!) 4 o’clock is tea time, so we pulled over, boiled water on the stove (Mick: love the gas-fuelled stove and fridge!) and enjoyed a “cuppa” looking out across the fields. We really should have called the Crockett Family Resort – our destination – but somehow we never got round to it and our cellular phone was out of service area. Never mind, with 116 sites I’m sure they’ll have room for us.
Oops, missed the turning! Mick turned into a church driveway, trying to turn round. Ten fruitless minutes later, after nearly backing the truck into a ditch, he realized that behind the church was a parking lot with ample room for turning. God certainly showed us the solution to our little problem, so, gratefully, we turned around and continued on our way. (Mick: navigation quickly became a very high priority … “don’t make me turn this thing round again, please!”)
The Crockett Family Resort turned out to be a beautiful, wooded site bordering Lake Houston – but where was everyone? No sign of life — office, restaurant and shop all closed. We wandered around the deserted woods, selecting a spot, when a guy appeared on a bicycle, telling us that they closed down last week – bankrupt. There was no electricity but we were welcome to stay at no charge. So we brought our trailer into a pull-through site and went off to enjoy the sun setting over the lake. How beautiful, but how sad – evidence of a great park in a bygone era, but today just empty, derelict buildings among the trees.
Mick gathered wood for a campfire, while I rustled up soup, bagels, pizza and salad, which we ate round the fire. We were truly out of touch, away from it all – no-one knew where we were, we had no phone (working), no TV, just lighting powered by the batteries. So we enjoyed a romantic evening under the stars, counting our many blessings.
This short, but super trip allowed us to visit Livingston, Texas for the first time. Since this is the home of the Escapees Club and our mail forwarding service, it made sense to go and see the address that’s on our business cards and letterhead! Escapees is a well organized, mature, RV family organization full of very warm, friendly people. Their Livingston headquarters is part of their Rainbow’s End RV Park, so we were able to stay at “our address” for 2 nights, and thoroughly enjoyed the place and the fellowship.
After a safe return to Hidden Cove, we felt much more confident about venturing further afield and determined to head east in April.
To find out whether we did, read on!