2018 Winter/Spring TX/AZ/CA

Pictures can be found here

As has become our pattern, we spent four months in the Houston area again over the winter.  We arrived at Gordy Rd. RV Park at the end of October and stayed until the end of February.  Most of our time here was spent catching up with friends, enjoying Gulf Coast cuisine, visiting doctors, and not planning where we would be the next day. 

This year we had a space facing west, which meant there were days we needed air conditioning in the afternoon and heat at night.  The weather in general was colder than normal for this area.  We actually had measurable snow on the ground twice, and one day when the temperature never got above freezing.  That is very unusual for the Houston area.  The day that the freeze happened, there were numerous broken pipes in the RV park.  We were one of those whose water connection broke.  We were totally disconnected from the water and using our tanks, but even though the faucet was wrapped, it cracked and started spraying water out into the street.  The end result was that the water to the whole park had to be shut off for the better part of two days while they repaired everything.

During our summer tour, we stopped at many craft breweries, and one large one (Coors).  Well, there is a large brewery in Houston that even though I have lived here for twenty years, I had never visited.  Anheuser Busch has a brewery here which offers tours.  I’m not sure why I never toured it because in addition to the beer, I love watching the automation in any type of manufacturing.  What pushed us to visit the brewery was the fact that the famous Budweiser Hitch was in town.  The Clydesdales were in town for some event, but I just wanted to see them in their stalls.  When the Clydesdales come to a town, they come with a “portable” stable and full support staff.  Of course there is also the Dalmatian that rides on the wagon in parades.  Since we went in the middle of a weekday, there were no crowds and we were able to walk through the stalls and see the horses up close.  After visiting the horses, we took the brewery tour.  The tour isn’t free, it cost $10 each, but it includes a beer straight from the tank and two more in the tasting room after the tour.  One of the things that I was surprised by was to learn how many brands are Anheuser Busch brands.

In December, we took a few side trips from Kemah.  One was to Crystal Beach, on the Bolivar Peninsula, where we attended the Full Moon Party on the Beach where our friend Jerry was performing with his band Hanna’s Reef.  Another friend owns a house right on the beach where we were able to park and be plugged in so that we could party hardy and spend the night.  The trip to Crystal Beach involves riding the Bolivar Ferry which is always fun.  Another trip was to Austin where we attended the annual Christmas dinner party hosted by friends Karen & Henry.  The other December event that didn’t involve taking the bus was the Galveston Bay Parrothead Club’s Christmas party at the Kemah Elks Club.  It was good to see many of our original Parrothead friends and especially good to help celebrate “Shady” Floyd White’s 90th birthday.  One other highlight was going to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas show.  Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s show is a holiday themed rock opera.  It is a story, loud rock music, and a light show all wrapped into one. 

January was pretty quiet with the exception of our annual visit to New Orleans to attend Pardi Gras.  Pardi Gras is NOT Mardi Gras.  It is a four-day Trop Rock music party hosted by our friends Jerry & Mary.  We are part of the Krewe that helps put on the event, so it is a working weekend as well as a partying weekend.  We do not take the bus to New Orleans, as the RV park near the French Quarter is very expensive, and it’s nice to just be able to crash in your room right by the events any time you need to.  As with all Parrothead events, Pardi Gras is a fund raising event.  In addition to the regular charities that Pardi Gras supports, this year a ceremony was held to honor a recently fallen NOPD officer.  It’s good to be part of such an event.

February had two more Trop Rock music events for us.  This year was the second for the Lone Star Luau in Marble Falls, TX, near Austin.  Last year’s inaugural event was such a success, that the venue had to be changed to allow for increased attendance.  The new venue was the Lakeside Pavilion, just down the street from the original location.  The pavilion is a city facility and is adjacent to a city park that use to be an RV park.  There are no longer any RV hookups, but the city agreed to let event attendees who come in RVs to park in the park and dry camp.  So, we were parked right across the street from the venue for the weekend.  While we weren’t officially part of the staff, we helped as much as we could with the setup and tear down of the event, and had a great time.  The second event was the annual Pirates and Poets Songwriters Invitational event in Port Aransas.  Unfortunately, Port Aransas was decimated by Hurricane Harvey last fall, so this year’s event is being primarily held a little further down the road in Corpus Christi.  Even though the venue wasn’t quite as intimate as the usual show, it was still great. 

When we left Corpus Christi after Pirates and Poets, we were heading for Arizona.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make it out of Corpus before we had a problem.  As we were cruising in the center of three lanes of the interstate, an eighteen wheeler tractor passed us on the right.  He had many rocks stuck in his tire treads and one came out and hit one of our side windows, shattering it.  I followed the tractor to his yard, where I parked and went in the office.  While I couldn’t confront the driver because he hid in the yard where I couldn’t go, I got his boss and showed him the damage.  They gave me a number to call, and a form to fill out, and acted like they would do the right thing, but in the end they ignored me and left me hanging.  We carried on to AZ, with an overnight at Walmart in Ft. Stockton, TX, and an overnight at a KOA in Las Cruces, NM.  Between New Mexico and Casa Grande, AZ, we drove through snow.  Yes, snow in southern Arizona.  It wasn’t much, and didn’t really affect driving, but snow on I-10 just isn’t right.

Our first stop in AZ was in Casa Grande to visit our friends Dwayne & Tammy.  We spent a week with them before heading to the NASCAR race in Phoenix.  When we camp at NASCAR races, we always get there the first day camping is allowed, and stay until the morning after the race.  This makes the in and out easy.  Our spot this time was right along the fence at the edge of the camping area.  That meant we had extra space along the fence to park the car, and we got to watch the race team haulers enter the track right from our spot.  My son joined us for the race weekend, and we had a good time.  After the race week, we moved to a snowbird park in Mesa for a month.  Although it is just mid-March, many of the snowbirds, especially the Canadians, are already heading back north.  This means the activities in the RV park are shutting down, but we don’t care about that, since we are here to visit friends and family and not be snowbirds.

April saw us leaving Arizona and moving to Hemet, CA.   Hemet is just south of the Los Angeles area.  We are here for the annual Alfa Owners rally.  The rally consists of two parts, and we are partially responsible for the first part.  Although the attendance at the rally was a little down from previous years, there were still about eighty Alfas there and it was good to see everybody.  One of the vendors at the rally was Redlands Truck & RV Service, who specializes in tires and chassis repairs.  We have had them do some work before, and this year we went to their shop after the rally to get an alignment.  They found that the shop in Houston, who did an alignment a few years ago, did it to the wrong specs.  Now that it has been done properly, the bus drives better than it ever has.

From here we started our summer trip.  The plans this year are not as aggressive as the past couple of years, but that will be the next update.