Art in Houston (post 8 – I counted)

We have been reading, listening to news and stories and doing a little wandering since we got to Rainbow’s End in Livingston, TX.  We actually took the “official tour” finally after being here four or more times.  The postal setup is amazing.  As we were guided back through addition after addition Carol commented, “when do they build a second story” as she said that stairs appeared and we climbed up to the office area on the second floor, recently added.  It is amazing what can be built with volunteer labor which is how all of Rainbow’s End has been built. 

The name seems a bit trite, but it has a story.  When the first member of the original group that founded the Escapees agreed to stay here to run the operation, they parked their old trailer, which they called Rainbow for the last time, hence Rainbow’s End. 

We are using the DroidX to provide internet connection and it is fine for the most part.  Bandwidth is limited and Verizon’s 2 GB limit may turn out to be a hassle, beyond that it is really nice not to have to depend on what each campground has to offer in the way of internet service, so long as there is phone service.

The last time we spent time here we went into Houston and saw many galleries, but somehow we never got to the Museum of Fine Art Houston (MFA H).  I think we agreed there was no way we could do it justice at the end of a long day of many galleries.  Yesterday we arrived at MFA H at 11:10, just after opening.  We did not need our Memorial Art Gallery membership with its North American Reciprocal as it was a free day.  Some time after 4 we staggered out, unable to stand on  a gallery floor or to feast our eyes and brains on one more magnificent work of art.  The collection of gold artifacts from Indonesia was our starting point and the show of Latin American art, much of it on loan was amazing and eye opening.  The wonderful work by Fridah Kahlo and Diego Rivera seemed almost a second thought after seeing the more recent works by artists with whom we are much less familiar.  The collection of impressionist work was breathtaking and worth a trip all by itself.

When we walked into the Chinese exhibit we were greeted with a mural that covers all the walls of the gallery.  Check out this site to get an idea of what we saw.  We have never heard of gunpowder art before.  If you are near Houston, if you can find a reason to go to Houston, go to the MFA H. 

Tonight, New Years Eve, we have tickets for Liberty Opry’s special show:

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2010 – 8:00 P. M.-Midnight *
DONNA B “The Ebony Cowgirl”
Jay Cantu
John Ray Baxter
Rick Burton
Jim Cox
Larry “Booger Lee” Etheridge
Kenneth “Little Red” Hayes
Andy Lingenfelter
Jerry Locke
Mike Loftin
Aaron Marshall
Marcy Rae
Ray Sowell

We have no idea what to expect, but it will be different from any other New years Eve we have spent. (no, none of those names mean a thing to us).  Maybe I’ll provide a review another time.

Christmas Shabbos in Goose Island SP

We have been here in Goose Island State Park since Monday, the 20th.  The weather was wonderful until Friday night.  We have taken a couple of bike rides and several nice walks in the park.  Birds are plentiful and we even managed to get over to 4th Street to see the Whooping Cranes that seem to hang out there.  Actually it is the block between 4th and 8th, when they numbered the place they were thinking in smaller blocks then currently exist, the next street is 12th.  We were directed to this location last year during our stay.

There are no organized walks or activities at this time, after all it is that season.  We are in site 105 right across from the designated Bird Host.  We have seen Dennis, but he has been busy on many CBC’s in the area (for the non birders reading this that is Christmas Bird Count – a national project that has been ongoing for many years without internet connection I can’t recall how many, but over 50 years).  We do not have to stir from the coach to see many different birds from Cardinals to Grey Catbirds to Mockingbirds and Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers and many many more.  As I write two birders are standing in front of the coach peering through binoculars into the distance. 

We are being industrious water conservers.  The site has water and electric but no sewer so when the grey water tank is full we will have to move to the dump which will require 75% of the work necessary to get on the road – we can leave our outdoor stuff set up.  This is day five and the highly inaccurate gauge shows we are at 3/4.  Two more nights and we plan to move out on Monday in any event, we should be good.  Fortunately we set up across the street from a nice clean bathroom with nice showers.   This is a big water saver. 

Yesterday was a “work” day (sorry about the four letter word).  In the morning we took our laptops to the office to spend some quality time using the free wifi offered there.  In the afternoon I had committed to hold a board meeting of the Goldberg Berbeco Foundation, Inc to do some grant making and then to begin the process of dissolution of the corporation.  After 50 years we are moving on.  We drove into Rockport and established ourselves in the Rockport Dairy Queen parking lot to take advantage of their free wifi which is combined with decent cell service, something we lack at Goose Island.  After the meeting we set out to find a coffee shop to await movie time.  Oops, December 24 at 4 in the afternoon is not a likely time to find a small shop open.  We did find a book store – those that sell stuff stay open until the bitter end – but no coffee shop.  Off we went to Cinema 4 which was running a matinee showing of True Grit.

This might be considered a mini Occasional Movie Review – haven’t done one of those in a long time.  GO SEE IT, if you haven’t.  The Coen Brothers have made a fantastic movie and the acting is wonderful and the use of language is just great. More than enough said.

Across Three States in Day and a Loose Screw (or is that a Screw Loose?)

As the weather began to improve we debated – Livingston to Goose Island State Park to Austin or Goose Island SP to Livingston to Austin.  Don’t bother looking at a map.  Goose Island is almost to Corpus Christi, way out of the way to end up in Austin, but that is what we were facing.  We are in Goose Island State Park just outside of Rockport TX as I write this so you can imagine that Livingston will come next, unless it doesn’t.   What about those three states?  We woke up on Sunday in Alabama, east of Mobile and by the time the light was gone from the sky we were parked in the Texas Welcome Center at mile mark 880 on I 10 (that is 880 miles to the other side of Texas past El Paso).  We had crossed Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana into Texas.  That was a long day.  And we still had 5 hours to get to Goose Island. 

Sleeping in the truck parking section of a Welcome Center not more than a lane and a half removed from the highway itself requires an act of discipline to convert the road noise to a background lullaby.  It would have been better if we hadn’t been 15 feet from a speed bump in the parking area.  We slept, sort of, mostly, kinda.  By 6 we were up and about and by 7:30 we were rolling down the highway.  Went through the heart of Houston on I 10 to US 59 between 9:00 and 9:40, and never had to slow for traffic.  A miracle.

None of our drives would be worth writing about without something untoward happening.  This time it was the loss of a nut and lock washer less than an eighth inch across that caught my attention.  As we were rolling down the road my eye was caught by a screw drifting out of place on the driver side windshield wiper.  The weather was fine or this could have been a show stopper.  The screw is the pivot screw that holds the wiper blade to the arm.  Fleetwood, in its nightmares, engineered a unique wiper blade mount on many of its coaches.  The parts are only available, to the best of my knowledge, from the factory.  I was about to loose a significant part, the screw, with no means of replacing it quickly and easily.  I warned Carol and eased off onto the shoulder praying the screw would not drop out before I got stopped.  It didn’t!  Now how to fix it in place without the nut.  First a twist tie went where the nut would have gone.  Next some grey tape (I have no idea how to spell it) went in place to hold everything together for the short term.  Today, a day later, I took off most of the grey tape and used rescue tape to make a long term repair.

If you haven’t used it, this is funny stuff.  It only sticks to itself and once stuck to itself for 60 seconds it will not separate.  I took two wraps of this stuff to secure the blade to the arm and the screw in place.  Done!

Now we are settled in to Goose Island SP for a week.  We will visit the Whooping Cranes and the Sand Hill Cranes and we will see many other interesting birds here.  To be sure we get some good guidance we are set up across the street from the Birding Host who we hope to get to know.  Since arriving we have done a more complete setup than usual including awnings and lights and outdoor seating.  Oh yes it is pleasant to sit out in the sun or shade with the temperature in the high 70’s.

Finished a day later, Tuesday, sitting on a picnic bench outside the office to et wireless connection.

Idling in Alabama

We left Elks Lodge 713 in Albany GA early, for us, and rolled along to Rainbow Plantations Escapee Park in Summerdale AL.  That is way south in the little part of Alabama that makes it to the gulf east of Mobile Bay. We planned on moving on today, but. . . Spent Thursday roving around with a walk in Bon Secour NWR and lunch at the Old Oyster House. 

Before we left for the day, I was walking around the coach and saw water dripping from a connection that had never caused a problem before.  When I took it apart, I found that the end of the hose connection was a little crimped and apparently eroded as well.  I was not able to get a good seal so I picked up a replacement hose end to resolve the problem.  While I was working on it Bob walked over and struck up a conversation (no idea who he is beyond the name and he is neighbor who once owned a Southwind).  I called on Carol to lend me her hair blower one more time to warm the end of the hose so I could slide the new part in.

Other minor repairs/fixes have attracted my attention and been resolved.  For some reason the builder put vinyl (or linoleum) flooring on the bottom of the cabinet that is set up for a washer/dryer.  The flooring curled up at the edge preventing the bottom drawer from closing.  I got out the staple gun and tried to staple my finger into the floor, not a good idea.   That was a few days ago and all is healed and the flooring is now nice and flat.  I noticed a light fixture over the bed had worked loose.  When I took it down I found that the builder had driven the screws directly into the wallboard with no mounting.  CHEAP!  For now I have filled the holes with wooden toothpicks and reset the screws – also CHEAP and QUICK – also works long term.

The mail came yesterday! Six pounds and over 60 pieces.  We are busy telling all we missed that our new mailing address is: 127 Rainbow Drive #2707, Livingston TX 77399  and scanning the pieces we need so we can burn the paper along with the stuff we don’t need.  Snail mail is really slow now as it has to go to Livingston and wait for us to tell them where to send, once we know. 

We are not sure when we will leave or where to.  At present maybe Sunday and maybe Goose Island SP, near Rockport Texas on the coast or possibly Livingston TX.  The weather looks delightful either place for next week. 

Another Family visit and on to ?

After leaving Williamsburg we set out to visit Mimi Caplan and Joe Feak.  Mimi is Carol’s first cousin and we have stopped by to visit several times over the years.  They live on a thirty acre farm in Ivanhoe, NC, about 30 miles north east of Wilmington, NC.  Getting in and out of there farm yard is always exciting for us as it requires bending past an old dogwood tree that leans out over the drive at the perfect angle to hit the awning on the way in or the refrigerator vent on the way out.   This trip was a no damage trip 🙂

Our big excitement was a trip to Walmart in Wallace, NC. For the  most part we sat and talked and watched the animals, horses, donkeys, geese, Guinea Hens, and assorted birds along with the dogs, Diesel and Ruben behave as animals do.  We have always enjoyed having long talks and also long walks with Mimi and Joe.  The walks did not happen as the weather was not conducive to spending voluntary time out in it.  Cold and raining or at times raining and cold.  Did I mention we also ate.  Great meals put together by Mimi almost in passing.  There was plenty of hot sauce, Joe is getting into the business of distributing Rum Island – Bonefish Joe’s, a very tasty hot sauce with a story longer than the label on the bottle. 

We cannot figure out how we want to get where we want to get.  The concept (avoid the word PLAN) is to get west quickly, yet here we are south of Charleston, SC, plainly way off route for Texas.  There is this cold blast spreading throughout the southeast (not to mention the rest of the country it seems) and Joe suggested it would be warmer near the coast, so we are going to circle south along the coast and then tomorrow begin a dash to the west hoping not to spend more than another night in freezing temperatures.  Tomorrow night it appears inevitable that we will freeze, we are not likely to drive more than 6 hours and somehow that does not get us past the Florida Panhandle.  I’ll report on our freeze avoidance results in another post – if I remember.

I think I am stretching your patience, not to mention my own.  For the RVers reading this we are in Lake Aire RV Park south of Charleston.  It is Passport America.  The entrance road is in poor shape, the person we were greeted by was very pleasant and the facilities appear to be well maintained, other than the entrance road.  It would be a nice destination stop for Charleston area in better weather.  I do love the sound of the freight train when it passes.

Here is a photo of the suspension bridge on US 17 entering Charleston, it really is quite spectacular:

Williamsburg – without Alexander

Plan is a four letter word.  Every time we think we know exactly what we will be doing for the next three days – a plan – something throws a monkey wrench into the works.  A friend came over for a visit and brought her own special variety of cold/flu/virus you name it.  Sure enough just three days before our departure Alexander came down with it.  Fever and all.  There was no way to take a sick child on a motorhome to a happening that would require walking around in 35 degree weather for a day trying to grasp lots of new information.

We left without him.  No point in staying around to be sure we came down with “it.”  Propane was running low and I learned a new fact (that is previously unknown to me) that a portable propane tank when subjected to cold temperatures will not flow sufficient vapor to meet the needs of an RV furnace when it is full.  We were running through the onboard tank and would need to move soon to refill that. 

We drove to Williamsburg, the American Heritage RV Park is a very nice facility only ten miles from the the Historic Area and they had propane for sale at an only moderately confiscatory price which they assured me was lower than any in the neighborhood, and only $1 a gallon more than I had been paying in Charlottesville.  But enough of my complaining.

We had a glorious day in Colonial Williamsburg, well worth the price of admission subject to advance purchase discount and Senior discount etc.  Pat’s “twin” from 1765 gave us a wonderful account of life just before the Declaration of Independence in the Governor’s Palace and the action in the courthouse was a lot of fun especially because both Carol and I took parts in the trials that were presented.  Lunch at Chownings Tavern turned out to be a very special event for us especially because they had a nice salad for Carol and the Brunswick Stew was very delicious and warmed me nicely. 

After a tour of the Capitol and the Gaol and the Coffee Shop we went to the Museum of Folk Arts and got lost for the 90 minutes that remained to us before closing.  Worth another visit for itself.  It was too late to drive back to the coach and begin the preparation of dinner so we went to 2nd Street Restaurant which I had researched the night before.  The menu looks simple, but it was all very well prepared and the pricing was distinctly modest for the quality of meal served.  All in all a superb day.

We missed Alexander, yet we were not sure how happy he would have been with the nature of the day we ended up putting together.  It certainly would have been a different day.

While we were enjoying our day, our daughters-in-law had been putting together a gathering in Los Angeles.  We will be together from February 16 to 22.  We are now booked into Dockweiler RV Park – on the beach by LAX – for then.  So now we have a PLAN of sorts.  At least there is a stake in the ground for the third week in February. 

A nice long visit in Covesville

After our too eventful trip down here, we have been content to stay with Dan and Malena and the boys.  Thanksgiving was a joy with Malena’s mother and step-mother here and her sister Simone and husband Steve along with sister Jessica.  Add in the 6 of us and it was quite a crowd.  The turkey was more than big enough and the rest of the food was plentiful so there were plenty of leftovers for lunches. 

After everyone cleared out on Friday and Saturday we took a deep breath and then Dan left on a business trip for the week.  We have picked up some chores, you should see me collecting eggs and closing up the chickens for the night.  Then I schlep firewood for the wood stove. Then I have a scotch to be followed with wine with dinner. We have had two nice visits with Ed and Gretchen Robb, the first at Devils Backbone Brewing Company and the second at Thee Notch’ed Grill in Crozet, a little quieter then DB.

We are preparing to drive to Fredericksburg tomorrow, in the car, to visit with Helen Schwartz, a classmate from high school.  Then on Saturday David Lovenheim and Tari Bradley will join us at the farm, he too is a classmate from Monroe High and we will meet another classmate Bill Freedman, MD who is a cardiologist here and his wife Lindsay for lunch in Crozet. 

The plan for next week is to leave here on Tuesday with Alexander and head for Colonial Williamsburg.  We have campground reservations, not really needed at this time of year, at American Heritage RV and will spend two days seeing the sights then we will meet the family at Malena’s dad’s place in Unionsville to hand off Alexander then off to see Mimi and Joe (Carol’s cousin) in Ivanhoe, NC.  After that there is no plan.

We’ve burned through at least 18 gallons of propane just staying warm and warming water for showers.  That’s two refills of the 30 lb tank and one 20 pound tank (30 pound tank holds just short of 7 gallons and 20 pound is a normal grill tank, holds short of 5 gallons).  I suspect that by morning our 30 lb tank will be empty or close to it again.  Fortunately I still have most of the 18 gallons the onboard tank holds so I have no worries. 

All the finicky details necessary to keep everything operating smoothly.  Since we can use the freshwater from the house and drain the holding tanks into the septic those worries are much less, although with the cold I do think about what will freeze up at the most inconvenient time.  I am grateful for the 30 amp outlet we installed here.  Plenty of electricity for our needs.

There you have a mind dump as I prepare to curl up with a book before going to sleep.