Home On the Longhorn Range

Hillcrest RV Park, New Waverly (actually Pumpkin), TX

Cost: $12.50 per night with Passport America
Last Date Stayed: 4/2/2017 – 4/8/2017
Altitude: 229 Feet
Days #839-845

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Bill:

A great, quiet, relaxing place. We utilize this Park for our week out of Thousand Trails Lake Conroe. Good electric, water and sewer and Wi-Fi. About 30 sites mostly grass and level with ample room between sites. Some sites have shade. Picnic tables are sprouting up on sites every day. Pool, bathhouse and very nice clubhouse.  Friendly, no nonsense onsite management. I always enjoy it here.

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Mia:

One of my favorite places in East Texas. Love the pastoral setting – the friendly Rodeo cows in the neighboring field – including some Longhorns, who pose for the camera; the zillion birds that wake you up in the morning; the nicely spaced and level grassy lots. Most of all the management, Mary and Doug, make me feel at home there. From a homemaker’s point of view, I appreciate the clean, quiet laundry facilities within the club house. Speaking of the club house, they have just done a make over of the kitchen and it is lovely. If I were still in cooking / baking mode, I would not hesitate to use their gorgeous kitchen to turn out a great family dinner or bake tons of homemade bread & pies. Lots of space and new appliances waiting for your use. Can’t recommend this place enough – but, then, maybe I should just be quiet and keep it a secret so I don’t have to worry about not being able to get a spot….

 

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Thousand Trails Lake Conroe, Willis TX… Our Final Day for This Winter.

Cost: $3 per day with our Thousand Trails membership
Date Stayed: Two week cycles from 11/13/2016-04/23/2017
Altitude 239 feet
Days #699-860 – 6562 miles downrange

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-Bill Here-

It is a Thousand Trails park. Not bad. Electric is good. Water is OK. Almost all sites have sewer hookups. Most sites drain well after a storm. Sites are pretty level BUT are gravel. Large gravel. As in, twist your ankle if you step on one of the rocks wrong, gravel. All our sites had a picnic table and fire ring. Depending on which site, spacing is good.

Lots of things for kids. Pool, tennis and basketball courts, Activity Center and on and on.

This was our second winter here. Things have changed. The weekends are really crowded now. I assume it is because Thousand Trails opened it to the public and more seasonal sites. Plenty of rules, but little enforcement. Nothing really bad, but the “quality” of campers has deteriorated.

If we’re both above ground and still rolling this fall we’ll probably be back. Mostly because the limitations of our membership may be too severe to get us into the Florida Thousand Trail Parks anymore.

One word of warning. Management here WILL NOT allow you to receive any USPS mail here. They will refuse it – Return To Sender. Even Priority Mail – except medicine. That can be a real problem if you are not aware of it. Probably because it would be a violation of Federal Law to charge you $2 per package like they do for FedEx and UPS.

Mia’s Turn –

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As usual, Bill and I agree on most things, but we each see those same things from a slightly different perspective.  So – my view of TT Lake Conroe. . . It has been a good place for us to winter – neither of us are really  “Florida people”. High heat and high humidity is not my thing, neither is the higher cost of Florida living. but in the Southeast part of Texas is great in the winter – November thru March. Lower humidity, and temps ranging from 50s to high 70s daytime and 30s to 50s at night – perfect sleeping weather. Lots of seniors love the heat –  but for me, I like a cooler crisper temp at night.  Lake Conroe has that in spades.  Also, when storms move thru here, they seem to be smaller, and less violent than the ones that go thru Hill country, to the west of here. There are storms and tornado warnings / watches here even as early as late Feb. but the sheer force of the storms don’t seem as harsh as those further west even tho they are more frequent.

Shopping is convenient – just a few miles down the road one way to Kroger’s, and if you go a different route you are quickly at Sam’s Club, Walmart, Big Lots, Michael’s, almost any big box, big chain store or restaurant that you could want, It’s easy to find what ever yu might need, and easy to get around. Our experience in finding good service for Ms. Lucy has been pretty good here, and that is hard to find because of her age. Many places are either afraid to work on her, or are willing but don’t have any experience on older engines.

The week end campers flood the place on Fridays and start the exodus on Sunday morning. Lots of kids, some very well  behaves, others . . . not so much. Same as their parents – it doesn’t take long to see which kids belong to which parents. In general the campground is more crowded now than it was when we first stayed here in 2015.

The wild flowers in this area are beautiful – pinks, reds, purples, yellows, blues – the grass is alive  with color and I truly love that. Even in the campground the grass is full of beauty at this time of year. But, the thermometer daily keeps reading higher and higher and the humidity is following right along, so it is definitely time to get back on the road and head North. So long for now Texas, we’ll be back!

Update as of March 31st, 2017

Yes, we have been lazy. Yes, we have been bad. Yes, we are still full timing. Yes, we promise to be better.

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So – we wintered in Conroe, TX starting November 16th,  2016 this year. Going back and forth from Thousand Trails Lake Conroe and Hillcrest RV Park in New Waverly for our week out.

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We had to install a new carburetor which took a couple of months to “get right”. I think we got it right now. I’ll know more in a couple of weeks when we fill up the tank and check out mpg. We got down to 4mpg and hope to get it back to 6mpg or better.

Also FINALLY got the computer fixed. I put in  a new video card,CPU and a new motherboard. It turned out the motherboard was the defective item.

Texas High Plains – Where the Wind Never Stops!

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Me, in the High Plains wind!

 

Texas High Plains. – Love the wide open spaces, love the friendly down to earth people. Love the wind that is always present. – The wind- ahh, yes, the wind. Here it is almost always present, – like an old friend, constantly there. Sometimes it is gentle, a light refreshing breeze, softly sighing through the window, making the sunny days pleasantly warm instead of scorchingly hot. Sometimes it rages and gusts, blowing small objects ahead of it, along with dust and grit that filters in through the screens. It shrieks and screams and howls through every tiny crack around any opening of Ms. Lucy. At other times, it rocks her like a mother lulling her baby to sleep. When the wind is still, – when it is calm for more than a few moments, it seems eerily quiet – too quiet – something important is missing; and when the wind returns, the world seems right again.
The wind, that I love so dearly, does come with a price for a woman. That price is that you will never have neat hair again, – ever. The wind teases and pulls and coaxes the hair from its proper place, calling it like a siren to blow free in the breeze. – Ever wonder why the Native American women (and men) are shown with their hair in braids? The pioneer women have their hair tucked into bonnets tied tightly under their chins?? It’s the wind. – The better to keep it out of your face, and especially out of your eyes!!

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She knows how to handle the wind in her hair!

Since we have been on the road full time, I’ve let my hair grow out – and now after almost 2 years, it is well past my shoulders. The reason is simple – short haircuts require constant maintenance. When you live full time in your RV, and you don’t have a towed vehicle, it’s difficult to find a place to get a haircut that can accommodate your 36 ft. rig in the parking lot. Since we prefer rural places and small towns, where there may not even be a barber shop within a 30 mile radius, Great Clips is not a realistic option. – so, I fight with the wind and my hair. I’ve tried pony tails, barrettes, Claw / clips, combs and any combination you can think of, along with industrial strength hairspray – but the wind just laughs at my silly attempts to tame it!

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A beautiful shot that captures the winds sweeping through the High Plains – wish I could take credit but I can’t claim it – Kudos to who ever did!

Time to go to hats – maybe bandanas – right now I’m wearing a baseball type hat. Next I’ll try a cowgirl hat. But. . . . the wind loves hats too . . . so they have to be pinned on or tied on. .. What’s that noise? Do I hear a soft chuckling in the distance? The wind just laughs as it whistles on by.

The Chihuahua and the Old Fashioned Vet

My apologies in advance – this is a long blog post  – but if you have a pet that is also a family member, you’ll understand.

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There are three of us in this little family unit; myself, Bill, and our third Musketeer, Little Snoopy, the 5 lb. Wonder Chihuahua. Snoopy joined us about 10 years ago, just before his 3rd birthday. He was tiny-(er), scared, and withdrawn when he first came to stay with us. He would hide in his bed, under his blankets for most of the day, coming out when he thought nobody was around to find food and water. –  He was afraid to ride in a car or truck. He ate very little. He wanted to join in the “pack” activities but was slow to trust, so he spent a lot of time watching, silently, at a distance.
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“I hate cameras.”

Slowly he learned that we were not going to hurt him. – We began “immersion therapy”. I would carry him around with me, either in my arms or in a “pooch pouch” all day long, so he was constantly with us. When we went anywhere, he went with us. We established a daily routine. He began to understand that he could expect the days to follow a pattern. We got up, ate, went outside, etc. etc. in a fairly regular schedule. As he learned what he could expect from us, and what we expected from him, he became more secure and his confidence grew.

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We have had several major life changes during the 10 yrs.  he’s been with us, – moved several times, retired, became full time RV’ers, but through it all, we’ve tried to keep the same sense of order and routine to our day to day lives. It’s been good for him and for us. He is an integral part of us now. If we want to go to a restaurant that won’t allow dogs, we either get take out, or we just don’t go.  We take turns when we go shopping in places that don’t allow dogs, so one of us is always with Snoop. He knows he won’t be left alone, or left behind.

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With that preface, there have also been inherent health issues with a dog this size. – He has to go in to have his glands “expressed” about every 6 to 8 weeks. He is a VERY picky eater. He has had dental issues – a lot of dental issues. – Soooooo – since we have been on the road full time for the past 2 yrs., we have seen quite a few different Vets. Some have been nice, some have been better than others. Most have treated us part of a production line. Rush rush In, – tech does nails and glands all in 5 minutes – and rush rush Out.  If we did request an actual office visit and exam by THE VET. The degreed Dr. would spend even less time with us than the vet tech, write a script, and be out the door to the next.  Questions? – ask the tech – who may or may not know.   We knew that Snoop needed dental work done. Whenever we stayed at any one location for longer than a week, we would ask the local vet for an estimate – worst case scenario for dental work. We got estimates ranging from $350 to $800 to “Well, it depends on how many teeth, how complicated the procedures are” etc.
Then we stopped “overnight” in a little (pop. 800+ ) town in Northern Texas, called Vega. – It was quiet. It was peaceful.  We could see 10 miles in all directions! – It felt good. We decided to stay another week. Then for another month. Since we were going to be in Vega for a while, we thought we would try again for a vet to work on Snoop. Our first try was in Amarillo – 35 miles to the East of Vega. More production line crap. . . .  we looked on line for a vet in Vega – no  websites, but the owner of the RV park recommended the Vega Veterinarian Hospital down on Rt. 385.  – We found a phone number and made an appointment.

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We pulled into the parking lot – it was a dirt lot with a very small pole building  – about triple garage size, and several large out buildings as well as livestock pens. – Ummm – maybe this was the wrong place?. . . We went in. I did a double take – there was no reception room – this was a rough, hard working country vet’s office. I had to stand around a few minutes, waiting for the vet, who was with another patient. When he came out of the exam room, I had to do a double take. Jeans, cowboy boots, plaid farmer’s shirt with the sleeves rolled up and hands the size of hams.
When we got into the exam room, I was amazed. Nice exam room, marble topped table. – and bedside manner – this guy – Dr. Rollins – REALLY cared. He took an hour to examine, to explain everything in detail, to draw blood for labs, to get to know Snoop. An HOUR!! – When was the last time ANY doctor spent an hour with you???
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Snoopy the Ever Vigilant Urban Farm Dog

We made an appointment to get the dental work done, and when it was finished, the Dr.  – not the tech or receptionist – called to tell us we could pick up our boy. He has only 5 teeth left, but he came through it like a champ. We are so glad we did it . . . and we are soooo glad we did it in Vega, with an old fashioned vet that really cared about our little guy. – After we picked Snoop up, the Dr. had to make a house call out to one of the local ranchers who was having some problems with one of his cows.  – Wow! Can’t say enough about this place, and about the people here.  If you are in need of a really good, caring vet, and are in the vicinity of Amarillo, TX. Drive on over to Vega, – stay at the Walnut RV Park, and call Dr. Rollins. You won’t be sorry!

Big Ones. Small ones. Fat ones. Tall ones. – Silos are EVERYWHERE !

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The further north we moved the more we saw silos. More and more silos. In every town, between towns, silos everywhere.

Coming from the Midwest, this puzzled me. Yes, there were fields of agricultural crops here in Texas. But nothing like in Illinois or Indiana where they stretched out from horizon to horizon. Why so many silos?

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Then it dawned on me. I theorized that they were “reverse silos”. Not for storing the grain at harvest time. But to store imported grain for the cattle which DID sometimes stretch out from horizon to horizon.

But I needed to find an expert to validate my theory. I found one on Facebook. Megan at the Texas Grain & Feed Association. Her reply:

“You are correct. Depending on the need, grain can be purchased from other parts of the US and even the world. There are elevators that store grain and feed mills that manufacture feed from grains. Some elevators have feed mills on site.”

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Glad to know the old brain is still working even though it took me a while to realize that if I grew up in Texas then Midwest silos would be the “reversed” one.

So, if you want to see some hardworking folks having some good old Texas fun click on the link below:

Texas Grain & Feed

Say hi and tell ‘em that “Midwest Bill with the dumb silo question” sent you.

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Route 66 RV Ranch in Amarillo, TX

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Remember the old Test Pattern that would appear when nothing was being broadcast over the air-waves . . . .

About 34 miles East from Walnut RV Park in Vega, TX

Cost: 2 days @ $36.00 per day
Date stayed: 8/4/2016 – 8/5/2016
Altitude 3,601 feet
Days #598-599 – 4,875 miles downrange

-Bill Here-

Not much to say. Utilities were OK. BUT electric outlets on pedestal are installed UPSIDE DOWN. Park was kinda “tight”. Because the people to our left had two vehicles we could not make the swing to pull out and had to pull forward through an empty site. A little creepy, but not overly so. Right off I-40. Our site had a view looking westbound. Anecdotally, lot’s of RV’s and Uhaul’s moving on down westbound on I-40.

We stayed here for a provisioning run. Sam’s Club, Walmart and United Grocers were very close.

Would be OK for another short stay. But I think I might try another one of the RV Parks right in the area. All about the same price. At $36, it was OK but unremarkable.

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This is actually a photo of the Multi -purpose Park  taken from the Route 66 RV park website. Not my photo, and it is actually nicer than this photo shows.

~ Mia’s 2 ¢ ~

This place was so unremarkable that we didn’t even get the camera out to take a photo. Not even one.  It was barren – desolate – boring – and somehow, just not pleasant. – There was a small “Park / Playground / Dog Park” area which doubled as the Tent camping area.  It had a swing, slide, ‘monkey bars” and a covered pavilion with a communal grill.  It was well maintained and had a nicely watered lawn – although small. There were several large trees which made it a nice little oasis in the blistering hot park. –

Although bags and a waste bin were provided for doggie doo. there were several LARGE piles laying within 5 ft of the unused bags and waste container. They were there when we arrived and still there when we left. – This was not the fault of the management, but was more a comment on some of the campers who were staying there.  And yes, I  was (and always try to be) careful to pick up our 5lb. Chihuahuas  “disposables” just because it’s the right thing to do . One of my pet peeves is people who are irresponsible about cleaning up after their pets – and especially so in a multi-use area like that.

Sooooo, while it was adequate for a short stop over, it was not a place I would want to return to or recommend. Sometimes a place just doesn’t have a good “vibe”, even though you can’t point to anything specific. For me, this was one of those places.