Thursday, December 31, 2020

Red Bay Disaster

Red Bay, Alabama - December 16 to 19, 2020

A long awaited visit to Red Bay was finally approaching. In November of 2019, while in Texas, we began making Red Bay appointments get some needed maintenance done on Miss Mosey, our 2012 Tiffin Phaeton. But then life happened and we ended up staying in Texas for most of the year. Fortunately, the Red Bay folks were very understanding and told us to call back after things were sorted out. So in early December 2020, I was making the trip solo while EJ stayed in Orange Park, FL. Sitting around for almost 2 weeks while people worked on her RV didn’t sound like fun to her.

Our experience with Red Bay vendors has always been excellent. Over the years we have done business with Trevor Nichols, Bay Diesel, Making Sawdust, MS RV Solutions and the Tiffin Service Center. Every one of those was a positive experience that I would repeat in a heartbeat.

Never having had a negative encounter with a Red Bay business and based on the recommendation of one of the above vendors, we took our beloved Miss Mosey to Banner RV Paint and Auto. I had researched Banner and found that while they were not the most popular paint shop, they had gotten several favorable reviews. I found no bad reviews for them.

I apologize for the lengthy blog, but I must tell the story of my disastrous experience at Banner RV Paint and Auto.

I arrived at Banner RV Paint and Auto just after noon on December 15 after having spent a day and a half at MS RV Solutions having new slides seals installed and the carpet replaced. Daniel and Carl are fun to work with and do top notch work.

I came a half day early thinking the owner of Banner RV Paint and Auto, Justin Allison, might want me to park inside the paint shop since rain was predicted that night and I figured he would want Miss Mosey nice and dry before he started to work on her. But, he said “No, I’ll just blow it off”. That set off a few warning flags in my mind, but he’s the “expert” I figured he knew what he was doing, and after all, he was recommended by someone whose opinion I respected. The second warning flag I got, was that I was the only customer there. All the other places I had been to were swamped, but this was the “slow” season for Red Bay.

The next morning, December 16, Wednesday, I pulled into the bay and yes, Miss Mosey was wet and muddy from having spent the night outside in the rain. He  said it would be better if I left during the day because if I stayed he would want to talk to me and get distracted from his work. Hmmm, none of the other vendors had that problem. The next red flag that went up was that he was alone. This was a one man operation..

To his credit, Justin did call around and found me a rental car. He even took me to McKinney’s in Red Bay to pick it up. Of course while he was doing this, no one was working on Miss Mosey.

So I killed several hours at the Mason Jar in Red Bay eating lunch, drinking coffee and surfing the ‘net on my tablet. I returned about 3:30pm since that was the time most of the Red Bay vendors quit for the day. Justin wasn’t around when I got there, but at least some progress had been made on Miss Mosey.


Thursday I was up at 6am having spent the night in Miss Mosey inside the shop.. Made breakfast and got ready for the day as I assumed that Justin would start at 7am as all the other Red Bay vendors seemed to. Finally at 9am, I decided to drive by his house to see if he was going to work on Miss Mosey today. As I was driving down the road, I saw him in his pickup coming towards me. We stopped and he said he had been out getting supplies. OK, I’ll give him a pass for that.

So I disappear for the day at his request. When I come back around 3:30pm he is not there, again. He shows up about 5 saying he had to go pick up his boy. OK, Tuesday night, Wednesday night and now Thursday night and I’m not seeing a whole lot of progress. By now he realizes he has bitten off more than he can chew and brings in someone to help him. The helper is named Steve. Justin says they will have to work late to get me out on Friday. They quit at 7pm. Well at least the window frames got painted.

Now Justin is a nice guy and he will talk your ears off. Old timers in the area like to come by and schmooze with him for hours on end. I also found out his “real” business is running log trucks. Painting RVs is just a sideline. Wish I had know all this this ahead of time. By this time I’m in too deep as there are Miss Mosey parts scattered around the shop and out in back. I’m stuck. I keep hoping it will get better.

Now it’s Friday. Justin shows up at 7am to turn on the heat and disappears. About 9am he returns and say they can’t finish it today, but they will work late into the night to get me out on Saturday. Today the engine hatch, front cap, and side rails get painted. Steve gets to take me back to McKinney’s in Red Bay so I can return the rental car. They quit about 7pm, again.

On Saturday, things get started about 9am again. Now they are working on patching some screw holes around the bathroom window. About noon, Justin informs me that they are quitting at 2PM whether they are done or not. I offer to stay through Sunday, but he says “No, we’re done at 2pm.” “Oh, and because we are pressed for time we can’t use the slow drying clearcoat, which is better, we’ll have to use the fast drying stuff which is almost as good”. By this time I am getting pretty upset. I mentioned the engine hatch, which had been repainted, looked like Fido’s ass. He said don’t worry, he would buff that out. If he buffed it out, I couldn’t see any difference, it still looked like crap.

So at 2pm, Saturday, they wrapped it up and started pulling off tape and paper. I couldn’t get up on the roof at the time, but after seeing the mistakes that were evident from the ground I was madder than a pissed off hornet.

I drove off and stopped at the Downtown RV Park in Red Bay to investigate what was making the flapping noise coming from up on the roof. I pulled out my ladder and climbed up top to find more left over tape and paper. I also found this.

Over spray on the roof. Justin did not even attempt to fix this.





Then I discovered that he only painted the front cap, and not the rear cap like I had asked him to do also. Of course that may have been a blessing since I won’t have to pay to have that fixed again too.


Further inspection revealed that the paint job to repair the front cap was not the quality I would expect a professional to strive for. There were runs in several places. He had to have seen this and just hoped that maybe I wouldn’t notice.



He did not remove the running lights. That means he painted over the caulk which is going to be a problem when I replace the ones that have moisture in them. When I remove the lights I will have to remove the caulk also meaning that may screw up the paint even further.

The engine hatch cover had stress cracks in it and Justin gave me the impression that he would do a fiberglass repair to eliminate the cracks. Turns out all he did was paint over the cracks with no repair what so ever. And the paint job looks like someone threw dirt on it as it was drying. There are bumps and dimples all over it. The white stuff is the reflection from the clouds.


On the big air inlet above the engine hatch, there were a number of places where the paint had chipped away and the white primer was showing through. This was Justin’s repair…


I had also asked him to repaint the louvers on the rear of the coach as they were looking a little tired and dull. It looks like all he did was get out the rattle can (spray can) and spray over what ever was already on the louvers. Dirt, warts and all. And you can even see a hint of red over spray on the black. Not sure how he accomplished that.


And to wrap up the engine hatch, on the lower edge there was not enough clearcoat applied so the finish is dull.


But, apparently it all got applied on the opposite side where we have more runs in the paint.


The final area they worked on was the bathroom window. There were four screw holes that used to have snaps for a solar fabric window cover. We no longer use the window cover as we installed a window awning instead. But I wanted the snaps removed and the resulting holes repaired. I should have left the snaps and just let it quit bothering me. Instead we got a paint and fiberglass repair that appears to be the work of a 3 year old.


The one thing I thought he did ok on was the window frames. But he even managed to screw that up. Yup, overspray on the freshly painted window frame.


I must say as I was leaving after I told him how unhappy I was, he did offer me a free wax job if I ever came back. He also gave me an empty bottle of polishing compound and some rags and said I could just buff it all and it would be as good as new. I thought I was paying for it to look as good as new?

I hate to trash any business, but I hope this serves as a warning for anyone considering using Banner RV Paint and Auto in Golden, MS for any work on their beloved Tiffins. Don’t do it!

Obligatory cat photo follows. This little guy, I named him RB, adopted me while I was staying at the Downtown RV Park in Red Bay. Story was he was a mouser and was employed by a nearby business. He was starved for attention.


Saturday, August 29, 2020

And now…the end.

Concho Pearl RV Estates, San Angelo, TX – August 29, 2020


As most of you probably know by now my father, Bill Putnam, passed away on July 28, 2020. This was particularly hard on us and I’m sure it was on him also since we had not been allowed in his room since March 16, 2020 with the exception of a single day on July 22.

I am bitter, annoyed, upset, whatever you want to call it, that our country chose to make this virus a political issue. This led to hysteria at all levels of government with each politician trying to outdo the next one by laying on more and more restrictive measures to “protect” their constituents. How many folks lost loved ones and were not able to be with them? How many patients and elderly residents felt like they were abandoned by their families when that wasn’t the case at all? Oh sure, some medical facilities would let you visit on the final day of life after the patient or resident was comatose but what good is that? You want to be able to visit while they are still aware and are cognitive and know that you are visiting them and that you love them.

We are so grateful that our lifestyle has allowed us to spend so much time here in San Angelo, Texas over the last three years. Although Dad was fiercely independent, he had been needing more and more subtle assistance. We tried to make life simpler for him. We put his bills on autopay. We added my name to his bank accounts so I could do transactions for him. We took him to doctors appointments. We hired a physical therapist to help with strength training and balancing. We hired a lady to cook supper for him and to keep his pill dispenser full. In short, we did our best to make his life free from hassle. Our family did their part to by visiting and calling to keep his spirits up during his last few years.

Terry and Joy, my brother and his wife, helped to celebrate Dad’s last birthday, his 98th on June 18. My sister Fran and her family sent many cards for the occasion. The four of us sat outside his room with an open window so we could see him and talk to him. Communication was difficult at best, but at least we could see him and he knew we were there for him.

Since March that was how our visits went. Sometimes we had to argue to get the staff to open his window so we could visit. Once we had to involve the manager of the facility to pass the word down to staff that it was OK. Towards the end, the facility passed down the stupid rule that communication had to take place through a closed window. Understanding the impossibility of that working, staff remained accommodating and would open the window for us. For the last 5 months of his life, that little window was as close to a real physical connection as we would get.

Towards the end of June or early July, I finally realized that I had to give up the hope that Dad would ever return to his apartment. Early on he fought hard to get better and get stronger so he could come back home. I felt as if somehow I would be betraying him by letting his apartment go. But inevitability, he became too weak to fight any more. Even so it was a couple of months before I gave up on a miracle happening. So I told EJ it was time to begin in earnest the task of letting his apartment go.

Now here is where our two personalities come into play. Once I make a decision I am ready to  move on. I was all for hiring someone to come and empty out the apartment. “Not so fast” EJ says. “Let me handle it” she says. For the next 4 or 5 weeks, she proceeds to organize and advertise the contents of the apartment. It’s particularly challenging, because due to the China Virus no outsiders are allowed in the apartment building. (It’s full of old folks,you know. Potentially high risk.)

She would put flyers up on the bulletin board advertising some of the bigger pieces and invariably a resident in the building would snap it up. She even sold his power chair twice. (The first person that bought it decided they didn’t need it). Towards the end, almost everything was gone or spoken for except the clothes. Dad had lots of nice shirts, but we could get no takers. We eventually ended up donating all his clothes to the Salvation Army.

We were on schedule for giving up his apartment on July 31 when Dad passed away on the 28th. I guess our decision to let the apartment go was more timely than we care to admit.

He wanted no ceremony, he just wanted to slip quietly away. We honored his wishes. He was cremated and wanted his ashes spread over Ivy Cemetery in Admire, Kansas. All that remains now is to round up my brother and sister so we can make that journey sometime next spring.

Obligatory cat picture follows.

Maggie Sleep

Friday, August 7, 2020

Gabby’s Got The Tail Droop Blues

Concho Pearl RV Estates – August 6-7, 2020

More tales of RV life. When you live in a 2 room apartment of less than 400 square feet you are definitely aware of your surroundings.In less than 10 steps you can be in the bedroom, the bathroom, the kitchen or the living room. Throw in 2 cats and every step is a potential disaster for a cat. They definitely don’t like being stepped on.

As anyone who is a cat servant knows, you are always on the lookout for unusual behavior. Why? Because cats are sneaky little varmints. And to their own detriment, one of the things they do best is hide their ailments.

Hurt Cat Tail

They won’t tell you they are sick or they hurt their foot. Instead they just disappear. Eventually you notice the cat has been missing for several hours which is unusual since they are always begging for attention, food, to go outside, to come inside or any number of other things that are impossible for humans to decipher.


We noticed that Gabby seemed to be a more subdued than usual. She normally is looking to get into some kind of mischief. But we noticed that she was acting timid about everything. She had the blues!.Very unlike Gabby! This is the cat that walks up to complete strangers to say ‘Hi” and sees possible prey around every corner (like my fingers).


At the same time, we noticed her tail was hanging straight down to the point of dragging the ground.


Normally when you scratch the “sweet spot" on her back her tail will spring straight up into the air. Now when we scratch it, nothing.


A little research on the web indicated possible nerve damage which can also cause bladder problems. A cat’s worst enemy is a bladder problem. Of course this is a Friday, the last day Veterinary Offices are open for the week. So do nothing and hope it gets better, or call the Vet and hope they can squeeze us in today.

So we call the San Angelo Vet we favor to see if they can take us as a walk in, which of course is more costly than making an appointment. They want us there in 30 minutes. We grab Gabby’s medical files, blankets, throw on some acceptable clothes and of course Gabby and rush out the door.

At the Vet, they check her temperature (it’s normal), give her a once over and an X-Ray. The Vet agrees that there is some trauma to the tail and the results of the X-Ray should tell us more.

The X-Ray pictures come back showing no bone damage. Since the base of her tail (where it attaches to the body) is swollen, the Vet surmises that Gabby has some soft tissue damage (read bruise). Then we remember that Gabby fell off the counter 2 days ago. We didn’t see it happen, we just heard the “splat” when she landed. The Vet said she probably landed on her butt and bruised the base of her tail. Because that area is swollen, it is pressing on nerves that control tail movement, hence the tail droop and the limp tail Thus the title of this post, Gabby’s Got The Tail Droop Blues.

So Gabby gets a shot to reduce inflammation, and we get to give her doses of pain meds over the next few days. Once again, Gabby survives another mishap.

Obligatory cat picture follows.

Maggie Zoned

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Chinky-Pox Paranoia

We're living in crazy times, that's for sure. Unemployment rates are 14.7% to 20% depending on who you believe (Unemployment in 2019 was 4.8%). Bars are closed again. Restaurants can only operate at 50% capacity. No organized 4th of July fireworks, but that night San Angelo sounded like we were in a war zone. Mandatory facemask edicts. Social distancing. Here in town most fast food restaurants have kept their dining rooms closed, they are now drive thru only. McDonalds no longer serves breakfast items all day long (the horror!). But EJ and I haven't gotten all paranoid over the virus just like many other rational folks. We no longer trust anything the media says and it is sad that we have to fact check everything they produce. So many don’t bother to check and just believe whatever news(lies) they are fed. We adapt to the degree we are forced to and continue on with our lives.

As long time readers know, EJ and I have temporarily relocated to San Angelo, Texas as this is where my father lives. His health has deteriorated and he is now under the care of hospice. We are staying here for several reasons.1) we hope to be able to once again be with Dad on a daily basis before he leaves this world; 2) we are in the process of wrapping up his affairs.

March 16 was the last day I was able to spend with him. Since he went into the hospital on December 17, 2019 I had spent every day with him. We talked, he slept, I kept occupied on the laptop and I handled the small stuff like getting him food or water and making sure he was comfortable. Not being able to visit with him is an emotional challenge particularly knowing he may pass away before we are allowed to be with him again. So we continue to wait and hope the Chinky-Pox scare ends before he dies.

Dad has always had a big heart and has always helped his friends if they were in a tight spot. He would loan money, buy furniture from someone that needed money even though he didn’t need another thing for his apartment. He would give friends a ride to the doctor or to go shopping. He would even go shopping for them if they couldn’t get out. In the last few years he hired a friend to drive him. Dad paid him every week whether he needed him or not. Even as recently as a couple of weeks ago he wanted to know if “Joe” was still being taken care of. That’s Dad’s big heart. But because he had a hard time saying no to people, Dad ended up with an apartment full of excess “Stuff”.

Unedited view of Dad's apartment

EJ has been working diligently over the last few months to sell odds and ends. Finally, about a month ago I finally accepted the fact that Dad was never going to be able to return to his apartment. It was time to let everything go. I guess I had a glimmer of hope that he might somehow recover and things would return to some level of normalcy. I know that was a pipe dream, but I could still hope. Since then EJ has gone into high gear and has been advertising and selling stuff right and left. Dressers, night stands, lamps, book cases, tables, computers, file cabinets, a water cooler, refrigerator, printers, tools, a huge TV and more. Now we are down to nick-knacks, clothes and a queen sized bed. She has a big sale planned for the remaining items as we are shooting for vacating Dad’s apartment by the end of July.

But now for some RV stuff. We have recently had some major hail storms. Hail 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter fell for about 30 minutes on May 21, 2020.

Hail size San AngeloHail damage

Fortunately we were at the RV and heard the early stages of the storm. I managed to get the Explorer under a shelter here at the Concho Pearl RV Estates and left EJ and the cats in Miss Mosey. Boy did I hear about that later on. EJ was not a happy camper after all the noise and anxiety produced by the storm. Gabby was not happy either. She disappeared during the storm. How she manages to find hiding places in the RV that we can’t find is a mystery. The next day I checked the roof of Miss Mosey and found no damage. But, the Explorer did end up with a few minor dings you can see if you really look for them. Meh! I’ve given up on having a perfect car. It is what it is!

However, Miss Mosey did not escape completely damage free. Our slide toppers are of indeterminate age. They could be as old as 9 years, or not. We think the previous owners told us they had been replaced once. Nonetheless, since the previous owners full timed in her and we are too, the toppers have been exposed to the sun for most of their lives. That means lots of sun aging or damage. The hail was just the final straw.

Topper damage

That’s a lot of sunlight coming through the weather proof fabric. So we ordered new toppers from Tough Tops and installed them ourselves. Youtube to the rescue for installation hints. It was so hot, we could only do one a day. The heat just wilted us.

As I mentioned above, Dad still has a car. It is a 2004 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT that he has had since it was new. It was his wish that “Joe”, his driver, end up with it. I met with “Joe” to discuss it and he didn’t want it. Said he couldn’t afford it. Well, alright. I can understand that. Licensing, insurance, maintenance that takes some serious coin. And if you don’t need the car, it could be a real burden.

So I undertook the task of selling the car. To make it really presentable, I replaced a broken windshield and a O2 sensor in the exhaust that was making the check engine light come on. Showed it to a guy that was going to sell it for me and he liked what he saw. I told him I would bring it back after I got it cleaned up. I bet I didn’t get 3 blocks before that stupid car started developing major problems. Only 5 cylinders were firing. So I thought, I can’t sell it like this. I took it to a recommended mechanic. It had a bad brain box. So he replaced it. I drove it a block and it started missing again. I took it back. It’s got a bad brain box he says. I say, find out what is causing it. After 2 days he calls back and says you have a bad fuel injector wiring harness.

2004 Grand Caravan Fuel Rail wiring

Yep, it’s bad all right. There is a lot of missing insulation and it was shorting out. I did some research and turns out this is a fairly common problem on the early 2000’s Caravans. He couldn’t get the part because according to Dodge it is on national backorder. I called several Dodge dealers myself in a hundred mile radius and yep, it’s on backorder. So, EBay is my friend. I found a dealer back east that had one in stock and it’s being shipped to Dad’s apartment. Should be here late next week.

In the mean time, I have spent way too much money trying to get this car in sellable shape when I probably just should have taken it to the junkyard.

And we haven’t just been sitting stationary. We actually moved! All the way from site 25 to site 42. We went from being surrounded by other RVs to actually having shade trees (well as much as Mesquites can provide shade)  and space tor Gabby and Maggie to explore.

Miss Mosey's new spot

Obligatory cat picture follows….

She has no shame

Gabby enjoying the new yard. That is one relaxed kitty!

Saturday, June 6, 2020

And the child becomes the parent

Concho Pearl RV Park January 1 to May 1, 2020

This point in time comes for a lot of folks, I guess. Your parent or parents, go from being a person or persons upon whom you can depend on for being a steadying force in your life to needing to rely on you instead. It’s a sobering thought, at once a feeling of pride for being in a position to provide that support along with guilt for maybe not being able to do even more.

When we cut our trip to Big Bend National Park short to come back to San Angelo, TX because Dad was in the hospital, little did we know that a big change in our lives was happening. As it has turned out so far, December 16, 2019 would be the last day Dad would be living on his own, in his own home.


When Dad first started feeling out of sorts, his friends in Rio Concho Manor tried to take care of him, giving him various pills and telling him he needed to drink more water. He was admitted to the hospital with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) with edema. I won’t go into all the details but over the next few months he would be in and out of rehab/nursing home facilities and the hospital. Each time with different ailments.

This is our second experience with nursing homes, EJ’s Mom being the first. So this time around wasn’t our first rodeo. As such we had a pretty good idea that the level of help we thought Dad needed and the help he would actually receive would be different. We weren’t wrong. Again, I won’t regal you with the deficiencies between what actually do and what we think they should do. Nursing home management always talk a good game while they are trying to sign you up, but the actual performance always falls way short of their promises. We went into this skeptical and we weren’t surprised.

You always want things to happen instantly because that’s how it happens at  home. You have to go to bathroom, you get and go to the bathroom. In a nursing home when you can’t walk under your own power, you have to ring a bell and hope someone shows up before you pee in your pants. You learn quickly to ring the bell the instant you get the urge. You don’t wait until it’s urgent. Some of this was alleviated by either myself or EJ (or both) being with him 6 to 8 hours every day. This way we could smooth over some of the minor inconveniences of Dad no longer being able to care for himself.

But enough of that. Suffice it to say, a nursing home will never do as good a job as you can do yourself, but they are there 24 x 7 and you are only you.

OK, I lied. I am going to get into some details. When Dad first went into San Angelo Nursing and Rehab (SANR) he really tried to get better. He did his exercises and therapy and was able to move around his room under his own power. But somehow his Lasix dosages got doubled and he became severely dehydrated which meant another trip to the hospital. He was released back to SANR after his hospital stay. He then became weaker and weaker and could no longer do his exercises and therapy. He began to experience severe abdominal pain which became so bad he had to go back to the hospital again.

The abdominal pain turned out to be an unstable vertebrate fracture. Any time he attempted to move he would experience debilitating pain. An operation was suggested then discarded as being too risky and his vertebrate being too fragile. When he was released this time it was to go to New Haven Assisted Living where he would be under Hospice care. He is given Fentanyl every three days to manage the pain and he is now bedridden.

As each day goes by he becomes a little weaker and he spends a lot of time living in the past. We are hearing stories we have never heard before and it fun trying to piece together events to put the story into some perspective. 

One thing we have learned to not do is to correct him as this frustrates him and interrupts the flow of story telling or general conversation. A wrong day or location or person makes no difference in the overall scheme of things. Just letting him talk and tell stories is what is important.

And now with Covid-19 interrupting everyone’s lives it has also limited our ability to visit Dad. An assisted living facility is considered a nursing home which means no visitors are allowed in. We have not been allowed in Dad’s room since March 16, 2020. We can still talk to him by phone and occasionally they will open his window and let us visit with him that way. But lately they have even tried cracking down on that.

And so we begin the painful process of going through Dad’s things and starting to let go. The Manor, the apartment building where he has been living the last 13 years, has an annual “yard” sale that we took advantage of.

The big sale

I have finally accepted that he will never be coming back to his apartment and it’s time to prepare for letting it go. He has collected a lot of stuff over the years. Slowly we’re selling it, trashing it or donating it. We have a ways to go yet. It’s not easy.

Obligatory cat picture follows.


Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Finding a West Texas Home for Miss Mosey

Since the 24th of November, 2019 we have been in San Angelo and will be for the foreseeable future. Family circumstances are such that our presence is needed to oversee some things that are in the works.

Which brings us to our experiences in finding a place to park Miss Mosey for the duration. Normally for stays here in San Angelo of 2 weeks or less we simply park in the parking lot of Rio Concho Manor (where Frank’s Dad lives) next to the power pole which has 2-30 amp connections. This is great as it only costs $5.00 per day and we can combine the 2-30 amps connections and make a hookup which satisfies our power hungry Miss Mosey. But, and this is a major but, even with extreme tank management and showers in Dad’s apartment, a 2 week stay is the limit for our waste tank capacity. We know we are going to be here for at least 2 months, maybe more, so full hookups are in order.

That began our search for an RV park where we could stay as long as we needed to. We drove out to the San Angelo State Park and spoke with one of the Rangers about extended stays. They told us we could stay for a month, but then we would have to leave for 25 hours and we could stay another month. Well, over and over we examined their website with a fine (really fine) tooth comb and we could not figure out how to make a reservation for any stay long than 2 weeks. So all we had to go on was the word of a young Ranger who may or may not be there when we tried to extend our stay. Hmm. I could see a problem happening here.

So I started visiting the various campgrounds in San Angelo. KOA (no monthly spaces available), Spring Park Marina and RV Park (only 2 sites available crammed in amongst other RVers), Huling Mobile Home Park (kinda seedy), Cactus Lane RV and Mobile Home Park (No vancancies),  Tucked Away RV Park (No vanancies), and we are seeing a pattern here.

Energy Services contracting is going strong in here in West Texas. Wind turbine farms, gas pipelines, solar panel fields, and even road construction. All of these require workers and a bunch of workers live in RVs and need a place to park them. Good for the RV Parks, but bad for us. There are a few more RV Parks in the San Angelo area, but even with our flexible standards, we didn’t want to even consider them. The other thing we discovered, the rates at most of the RV parks were close to the same.

Having discovered that monthly rates amongst the choices didn’t vary much, we contacted the owners of Concho Pearl RV Estates (the name is much fancier than the park, but friendlier owners you will not find) whom we knew from previous stays in their park. They said they were full also, but would call back to see if there was something they could do. Sure enough, later that day, they got in touch with us and said we could come on in. There had been some workers moving out and we could stay as long as we needed to.

As with all the long term RV Parks in San Angelo this one too, is filled with construction and energy workers. Which makes for an experience opposite that of what we are used to. It is quiet during the days and deserted on the weekends. The workers are gone all day long and they go home (where ever that might be) on the weekends. Normally RV Parks are bustling with activities during those times. During the week, after work, there is some socializing, but these guys are tired and dirty. All they want to do is get cleaned up, eat and go to bed.

We are not in this picture, but we are the only motorhome in the park.

Until next time, when we talk more about the family matters keeping us here in San Angelo.

Obligatory cat picture follows:


Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Big Bend National Park

Rio Grande Village Campground 12-9 to 12-16-2020

We did manage to sneak off from Dad’s for a few days and visit Big Bend National Park. That's the good news. The bad news is we both were under the weather the whole time. I hate it when you go someplace special and you’re not well enough to really enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t sit around and mope about it. We still got out and did stuff, but we didn’t do any long hikes. Just being in Big Bend NP was awesome enough.

We had spent Thanksgiving with Dad getting his paperwork under control and making sure he was ok, health wise. Our plan was to spend 10 days in the park, then mosey back to Dad’s for Christmas. Then in late January end up in Red Bay, AL for some Miss Mosey upgrades and touch ups. That would put us in Orange Park in mid February where we would take care of some needed projects at the home base.

We headed south out of San Angelo on US67 then connected with Interstate 10 ending up at Walmart in Ft. Stockton, TX to replenish our supplies. At our ultimate destination there is only a small camp store (with minimal supplies) near Rio Grande Village where we will be dry camping for 10 days. This is our last chance to stock up for that time period.

As an added bonus, there is a huge gravel lot behind the Ft. Stockton Walmart. We decided to make camp here for the night.


The next morning we drove down US385 which runs from Ft. Stockton to the Persimmon Gap entrance of Big Bend NP. Along the way we stop to stretch our legs at a rest area we have used before for overnight stays.



While out walking around, EJ found some artwork left behind by some hardy souled bicyclist no doubt.


When we arrive at the entrance to Big Bend, the guard station is deserted. Alright, we’ll just stop at the Persimmon Gap visitor center. Oops, can’t to that either. It’s closed. A sign on the door says we need to check in at Panther Junction visitor center.

After showing our reservations to the Ranger at Panther Junction, we continue our journey to Rio Grande Village Campground. But along the way we spy a coyote lurking in the bushes giving us the “stink eye”.(More on the coyote later)


Once we pass through the tunnel, we are greeted with this view. Oh my! A whole 10 days of scenes like this coming up!


We get settled into our spot and Gabby has already made herself at home.


We had a very large campsite and it was level. Plus it was raised, so when they flood the fields to irrigate, it will stay nice and dry. The red arrow marks our spot.

Rio Grande Village Map

A new addition since last time we were here are bear boxes. Folks in soft sided campers and tents make good use of these. The camp hosts were pretty strict about enforcing the rules, which we appreciated. Even I got chastised for letting our old arthritic cat (Maggie) walk around without a leash. I was much more diligent about evading detection after that.


One day driving around, it looked like the clouds were eating the mountains.


We made drive up to Chisos Basin, which has the only restaurant and lodge in the park. After we ate lunch, EJ wanted to pay some bills (personal responsibilities never go away) so we got out the laptop and connected to one of the few cell signals in the park. And it was windy and it was cold, but she persevered and accomplished her goal.


Here you can see the Chisos Basin restaurant up the hill from the visitor center parking lot.


One day we took a walk along the Rio Grande River headed east from the campground. Along the way ( on the US side ) we were approached by an old cowboy-ish looking Mexican. He wanted us to pay him to sing. We opted to decline since we had already heard him singing as we walked up the trail.

EJ was a little skeptical about my choice of a trail as we walked along the continually shrinking path.


Another day we drove over to Castolon to see the visitor center and store. It is a 56 mile trip one way from where we are camped. I tell you, this park is huge!. Boy were we surprised when we showed up. When we quizzed the ranger on duty, she told of a fire that had gotten out of control and had burned down the old historic buildings. It appears that across the Rio Grande River, piles of trash were being burned when they shouldn’t have been. It was too windy. The ashes jumped the river and caught the under brush on fire on the US side . Unfortunately it reached Castolon and burnt the store, the ranger station and the old bathrooms.



Since we had driven as far as Castolon, we went ahead and drove on to Santa Elena Canyon. This time though, the river was high. This meant to get to the Santa Elena trail we would have to wade through mud and water if we wanted to hike it. We decided maybe next time.


On the way back to Miss Mosey that evening, we spotted the coyote again. We had seen him almost every time we drove along this part of the road. This time though, as we slowed down to take pictures he (or she) ran out to snap at our tires. Guess he (or she) felt pretty strongly about guarding this section of the road.


One day that we were feeling particularly wimpy, (we had been battling colds all week) we took a short hike on the nature loop close to where we were camped. We didn’t realize we would have to cross a swamp as part of the hike.


Fortunately they had thought to built a bridge over it.

Along the way we also encounter an entrepreneur’s offering along the trail. Hiking sticks, beer can coozies, and wire trinkets are for sale. Along with a message that the proceeds go to the education of the children across the border. Whether or not they do go to the children, it tugs at the old heart strings.


At the highest point of the nature loop, you can see Boquillas in the distance. (look for tiny blue buildings) That is the only Mexican town near Big Bend NP. There is even an official border crossing that serves the town and a passport is required if you travel over and want to get back in the USA. The only way to cross the border is to wade the Rio Grande River or hire a boat to take you across. Once you cross into Mexico it is still about a mile walk into town. Alternatively, you can pay for a mule ride or pickup truck ride into town.

The town has no external electric distribution system serving it. In 2015 the Mexican government funded the installation of solar power for the town and the electric lines to supply it to households and businesses in the town. The town has enough battery power to last two days without sunshine. But thanks to solar power, restaurants have refrigerators now and you can get cold cervezas.


Every day we would stop by the Rio Grande Village Store to use the internet to check on Dad. We discovered a new feature on our phones that allow us to make phone calls over wifi. How cool is that!! Especially since in this part of the park there is no cell service. Each time we went to the store there would be a cluster of 5 to 10 people hanging around outside where the wifi signal was strongest. Invariably someone would ask us if we were getting a cell signal since they saw us talking on the cell phone.

Then on December 17th when we tried to make daily contact with Dad he wouldn’t answer the phone. We even tried calling Dads friend, Joe Farley, and he wouldn’t answer either. By now we were starting to get worried. Finally just after the noon hour, Joe called us to let us know Dad was back in the hospital.

EJ and I made a quick decision to leave 3 days early and head straight back to San Angelo. The cats settled in as we hit the road.


By 6:45pm we were back at Rio Concho Manor in San Angelo, Texas hooked up to the power pole and on our way to see Dad at the hospital.

But, more on that next.