Sunday, October 31, 2010


Val said she felt well enough to ride to Dallas, so we headed out about 9:30 on a chilly 43 degree morning.  Thank goodness it warmed up to around 60 within the first 30 miles as the sun rose in a cloudless sky.  The trip there was uneventful until we got around Dallas where 5 lanes of highway made the last 15 miles a little tense.  I don't trust other drivers and in fact, one older guy in his minivan tried to take us out.  But we arrived safely and headed downtown to Fountain Place.  This 60 story skyscraper is known for its 172 fountains around the base.  You might remember that a young man from Jordon was arrested by the FBI last year for plotting to bomb the building.  What a shame, and I have no idea why he would pick Fountain Place.  Anyway, it was worth a stop just to see the fountains, waterfalls and dancing water.

As buildings go, this one is not the usual middle finger to the sky.  It's great from all angles.

After a little Texas barbecue, we headed to our main reason for visiting Dallas, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.  It is 66 acres of beauty on White Rock Lake with a view of the Dallas skyline.  There were water walls, landscaped lawns, sculptures and bamboo forests for just a start.  The plantings change with the seasons, but there were over 150,000 plants blooming in fall colors.  And we were there for their Great Pumpkin Festival where they brought in over 40,000 pumpkins and gourds.  They even made four houses out of pumpkins modeled after children's stories like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

We decided to get out of Dallas a little after 3 pm to miss the traffic.  Well, for those in the know, that was just a tad late on a Friday afternoon.  Instead of a lazy 90 minute trip home, we were in stop and go highway traffic for all but the last 45 minutes of a 2 1/2 hour ride.  Thank goodness the rest of the day had been relaxing because that was not.  But we made it home in one piece, and after some wine, we were doing well.

I haven't been able to load a video yet, but here are two shots of the clouds from the other day.

Tuesday is moving day as we head to Texas hill country outside of San Antonio.  The bike riding is supposed to be some of the best in Texas.  All for now.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Lonestar State

Well howdy pardner..  Okay, enough of that.  But we are in Texas (near Gordonville to be exact) and except for my lovely bride having several days of vertigo, we're happy here.  The campground is on Lake Texoma which is immense (almost 5 times as big as Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia) and our site backs up to a pond with a fountain.  Very nice.

And before I forget, and in case you missed the last post with the picture of all the HDT's, I wanted to let you all know that we were not the only school bus colored HDT at the rally.  We had a twin.  I even drove the motorcycle up to it one day after a ride before realizing my mistake.

Another bit of news is that I've played pickleball twice in the past few days.  Its been  just over 6 months since my operation and the doc said that I could start to play as long as I wear my brace.  As many of you know, I really missed playing so I'm excited to get my skill level back up before heading to Florida after Christmas. That's where the competition is fierce.  I will admit that the first lob over my head made me stop in my tracks (I lost the point) since that was how I hurt my knee in the first place.  But I've hit a few overheads since then and the fear is dissipating.

Tomorrow we're heading to Dallas for the day to see some sights assuming that Val's vertigo is better.  I'd hate to have her fall off the bike.  Of course that reminds me of the old joke where the cop pulls the guy over, walks up to the drivers door and yells "Sir, do you realize your wife fell out of your car 10 miles back?"  To which the guy says "Well that's a relief, officer.  I thought I was going deaf!"

And one last thing.  We witnessed some eerie weather a couple of days ago.  A strong front was passing through that brought a tornado about 100 miles south of us.  I'm hoping to post a video of the clouds in a day or two.  All for now.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The HDT rally

The HDT (heavy duty truck) rally is over and we were not disappointed. About forty rigs showed up (most being HDT's, but there were a couple of little baby trucks too...) and the seminars were excellent.  There was lots of time for round-table discussions about our experiences and issues, and food and drink was plentiful as you would expect at a rally.  Friday was the last meal together with a pre-planned potluck that was better than any we've been to.  The best part was getting to meet so many folks that we only knew on the HDT forum.  It was great to put faces with names.  And it was fascinating to see the different trucks and RV's.  No two were alike, and they ranged from simple designs to massive works of steel with cranes and garages.

We arrived a day early, and we decided to stay an extra two days here in Hutchinson so that we could continue to visit new friends.  But we also didn't want to miss the opportunity to go to the school bus races here at the Kansas State Fairgrounds. For you race fans it might come as a surprise that Val and I have never been to any type of car racing.  Nope.  Never.  So last night was a new experience.  And we can see how you could get hooked on it, especially in a local setting where you might know some of the drivers.  Of course this was not just school bus racing.  That was just for fun (and surprisingly slow even though they did slide around the corners and push each other).  There was the modified and sprint car racing as well, and the 2010 sprint car champion was crowned. In the first sprint car race, Val quickly picked out her favorite car to root for.  She pointed it out to me just moments before it slammed into the wall on turn one, sparks flying until it came to rest, totaled. It was our first experience with the caution flag, one of many as the different cars either wrecked or, more commonly, disintegrated with sparks and smoke. 

There was really only one problem with the whole night.  Noise.  Unbelievably loud noise.  Val and I put paper towel in our ears, but most did not.  That included lots of young children and at least one baby.  Odd.

Today was supposed to be a day of rest before tomorrows trip to Gordonville, Texas, but a lack of  RV brakes required several hours under the axles replacing brake lines with a fellow HDT'er who also happens to be an RV Tech . Not hard, just tiring.  So tomorrow is the rest day and we head to Texas on Tuesday.  We plan to be there for about 6 weeks before meandering back to VA for the Christmas holidays. 
Time to head over to another rig for some drinks and dinner, so all for now.
We'll write soon.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

On the road again...

Yes folks, we're on the road again. We left good ol' Virginny on Wednesday, drove 11 hours to a quick night in Ohio and arrived in Fort Wayne, Indiana Thursday morning.  We're staying at the Johnny Appleseed campground where it took me about seven tries to back in to our space.  Two trees and a sharp turn made things a little tense, but it worked out.  The campground is run by friendly folks and the area is beautiful.  Val and I took a run on the trails by the St. Joe River that borders our site and ended up going more than five miles before we got back.  Way to go Val!!
We also spotted Tom's Donuts just a short walk away, so we headed over there after lunch.  As we walked past the Fort Wayne Coliseum, I saw something about a "hamfest" flash on the board in front.  Since I was curious to find out about what that was (or if I had actually read it correctly) we paused and watched until it finally displayed again about five minutes later.  It was apparent to me when it showed again what the "Hamfest and Computer Expo" was, but Val was perplexed and commented that hams and computers are a strange mix....
After I stopped laughing, I commented that we should probably attend so that we could upgrade her processor, and I explained that it was ham radios and computers, not pork and circuits.

Anyway, we continued on to Tom's to find out that they close at 1 PM.  Disappointing, but since we had donuts on the brain, we stopped at Scott's grocery and hit the bakery.  It made the morning run worth it.

Well, it looks like we're here until late Monday at least.  The truck needs a little transmission work and we opted to do a little extra work to make sure we don't have issues on the road.

Today (Saturday) is chilly and cloudy after a rainy night, so we decided to go to the Fort Wayne Chilifest which was very different from the "hamfest" mentioned above ; )  I believe we sampled 24 chilis and several salsas, and came away full and happy.  Not bad for 5 bucks apiece.  At least one of the competitors will be going to the national chili cook-off in Texas where we will also be in November.  I doubt we'll be able to sample all of the 350+ chilis down there, but we'll try.

Before I forget, check out the new "Favorites" link after the posts.  I'll add new links as time goes by, but for now, I've put the link to Matt's blog.  He's arriving now (as I write this blog) in Florida to shoot the National Geographic Miami and the Keys travel book.  Exciting times for him!

All for now.
St. Joe Dam by the park where we're staying.

Part of the dam complex.