Pictures can be found here
November 2018 found us back at the Gordy Rd RV Park for our fourth winter. Nothing has changed here. The same lady manages the park and she was glad to see us return. A few of the residents were the same, but a couple of the long-time ones had moved on.
Overall Houstonís winter this year was colder and wetter than usual. It wasnít quite as cold as last year, and we never had snow, but it seemed to rain more often than expected.
November was spent catching up with old friends. We caught several local musicians at T-Bone Tomís but the weather wasnít optimal. We saw Thom Shepherd & Coley McCabe on a very cold evening when everybody was bundled up even with the heaters going full blast. And this was before Thanksgiving. We once again shared Thanksgiving with old friends Walter & Beverly Caldwell in Clear Lake Shores. As usual it was good to catch up with them and have Walter fill us in on changes at BMC Software over the past year. Something else we did in November was replace our old PT Cruiser with a newer one. The old one had 208,000 miles on it, and although it was still running fine, I didnít want to risk it dying while we were traveling in the north and have to replace it with a northern car. So, we found a newer (2010) Cruiser with only 50,000 miles on it at a reputable dealer. The car looked like new and although it doesnít match the color of the bus like the old one, we bought it.
December had us seeing some more cold music, including a Pirates and Poets songwriters show at T-Bone Tomís that included Randy Brooks who wrote Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer. I always found that song annoying, but itís cool to hear Randy tell the story of how it came about. We also got to catch up with some traveling Alfa friends. Rudi & Beatte Gefeke were spending several days west of Houston at the Brazos Bend State Park, so we drove over to visit them one afternoon. We took our first bus trip of the winter in mid-December when we went to Austin for our friends Karen & Henryís annual Christmas dinner. This year was a little different though. For one thing, Karen & Henry just moved from Austin to Stonewall, TX about an hour further west from Austin proper. They sold their old house and bought a property with an old house, a cottage, and a barn, with plans to renovate everything to be their home and a B&B. The problem was that once the plan was made, it all happened very quickly, leaving them just moved and living in a borrowed RV in the driveway right about the time the annual party was supposed to happen. But, the dinner must go on, so we cleared space in the barn, threw up lights, setup space heaters, and had a dinner. Even though it was pretty cold, the party came off perfectly. About half of the twenty or so people were there a day early and everyone pitched in to make it work. As usual we all had a great time, making a weekend of it with a couple winery visits and breakfast Sunday morning before heading back to Houston.
Our second road trip of the winter was just an overnight trip down to Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula east of Galveston. Our friend Jerry Diaz does a couple of full-moon beach parties where he performs on the beach. The summer party is much larger, but the December one is more intimate. Of course being a beach party means the tide must be considered. We donít take the RV on the beach, as our friend Barry Terrell has a beach house with an RV parking space just behind the dune. But, Jerry has to be aware of the tide for setting up his ďstageĒ and generator etc. The Gulf of Mexico tides near Galveston are usually minimal, but a full-moon still makes larger than normal tides. As luck would have it, high tide coincided with the eveningís party. Jerry had to setup right up against the dune to avoid being in the water. A bonfire was built and at least a hundred folks braved the windy and chilly conditions to have a party and listen to some good music from Jerry and Bert Hebert. Our trip down and back on the Galveston Ferry was fun. I enjoy the idea of combining our new life of RVing with the old boating life.
New Yearís Eve was nothing special for us. We stayed at home and stayed up to watch the ball drop in Times Square at 11PM Central Time. What was crazy though were the local fireworks. Until I moved to Texas, I never heard of doing fireworks for New Yearís Eve. While I have become accustomed to it now, it seems to have become the whole preceding week that people are setting them off. Starting before Christmas, we had a barrage each evening from all around us. New Yearís Eve itself of course was the climax of it all, with constant booming for several hours before and after midnight. The neighborhood around the RV park is not particularly affluent, to put it politely. It boggles my mind to think how much money gets blown up there each year that could probably be better spent.
When we were in Charlotte for the NASCAR race last October, our generator crapped out. I spent November and December plotting how to try and fix it myself. The problem is that it has to be removed from the bus to do the repairs. Thatís not a big deal if you happen to have a forklift. So, after much consideration, I found a place through some friends that works on all makes of generators and they work on them in RVs, boats, houses, off-shore oil rigs, or anywhere else. I contacted them and they were perfectly used to working with full-time RVers. So, we made an appointment to be there first thing one morning, and in a little over an hour they had the generator out. We went home and they set about finding where it was leaking coolant. Since any coolant related leak requires pulling the unit, we agreed the smart thing was to replace all the hoses and clamps while it was out. Of course once it was out, they found the leak was the radiator itself, which is the most expensive part. So parts were ordered and it was put back together. Once reassembled, they test ran it and found that the new radiator had leak too! So, another was ordered adding a few days to the process. When they reassembled it again, the starter crapped out when they tried to test run it. Better now than once itís back in the bus. Finally, it was ready and we went over and they put it back in the bus in about an hour. I wish I could have done it myself, but sometimes you just have to have the right facilities.
Mid-January, we drove the car over to New Orleans to attend Pardi Gras, the Trop Rock music event we go to every year. We are part of the volunteer krewe that makes it happen. We donít take the bus there because the RV park near the French Quarter is outrageously priced. The weather this year was not too bad, but the one rain forecast coincided with the Saturday afternoon street party. So, a tent was rented at the last minute to cover the stage and protect the musicians and equipment. Some rain did come just as the first act started, but it didnít last long, and the rest of the afternoon was dry. Despite Bourbon Street being under serious construction just a block from the main location of the event, it went well and we worked hard and played hard.
The first weekend of February brought our next road trip and music event. Lone Star Luau is in Marble Falls, TX, northwest of Austin a little and is hosted by Thom Shepherd and Coley McCabe. We are helping out with this event now too. This event is popular for RVers to come and dry-camp right by the venue. But, since Marble Falls had significant flooding recently, a lot of the area where the RVs parked in taken up by the riverfront rebuilding project. Since we are krewe, we got to park right across the street where we always have with the artists. Our newly repaired generator got a good workout and worked flawlessly. Unlike Pardi Gras, which is a street party and bar venues, Lone Star Luau is a sit-and-listen event. It is held in a large room that seats about three hundred, and you are expected to be quiet and listen to the music. The music of the Luau ends Sunday mid-day, but then there is a Super Bowl watching gathering at a bar just down the street from the venue. We elected to skip that and watched the Super Bowl at the bus. Monday morning, the krewe joined Thom & Coley for breakfast at the Bluebonnet Cafť, and then we headed back to Houston.
Our next trip was at the end of February. Pirates & Poets has an annual event in Port Aransas, TX that is an intimate singer/songwriters show. The weekend includes a couple of shows at Shorty's, the local dive bar, but the main show is limited to about a hundred people in a small room at the host hotel. There are usually two artists who take turns telling the stories about their songs and of course singing them. Last year, Port Aransas was badly damaged by Hurricane Harvey and the event had to be moved to Corpus Christi. While Port A still has a lot of recovering to do, it was good to be back at the original location of the event. In past years, this event has been our departure from Texas. We had kept going west to Arizona since my son lived there. My son no longer lives in Arizona though, so this year we went back to Kemah for another month.
Our last month in Kemah was pretty uneventful personally. The area had big news with the huge fire at the ITC tank farm in Baytown, TX. Baytown is on the east side of the Houston area and is where much of the petrochemical industry in the area is located. It is about fifteen miles north of where we stay in Kemah. While the fire and smoke never directly affected our area, it was the big news for almost a week.
The last weekend of March, we left Kemah to begin our next adventure. Weíll be starting in the Texas hill country.