Friday, February 12, 2016

Finally on the Road Again

We arrived in Livingston, Texas on January 5.  Yesterday, we finally departed, heading west toward Arizona.  Being at the Escapees campground for this length of time was both good and bad.  Good, because it is a nice place to camp with lots of friendly people, and bad because it causes us to feel too complacent.  We found that we weren't inclined to do too much and therefore spent a lot of time at our campsite.  A couple of times we took rides and did a little birding, but we fell into this lazy routine.

We camped for our first week at an electric/water site.  Then we moved to sunny dry camp site for three weeks.  Our solar panels were put to good use!  We did eventually run low on the trailer battery charge, but we then moved back to an electric/water site, and that seemed to boost the battery sufficiently.  Our car battery died at one point, but a neighbor gave us a jumpstart and all has been well there.

Our favorite cafe, the Whistlestop, served good food and had wifi.  The servers all got to know us, and we really enjoyed their friendship!

Well, there were some other crazy moments.  Without boring you with details, I spent a few hours a day for over a week, battling with my health insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, my mail order prescription pharmacy, Prime Therapeutics, and the Health Insurance Marketplace over incorrect billing, coverage issues, and more.  It was so crazy that it sent me into a tailspin.  Most of it is worked out now, but you can't imagine how stressed I was.  

Then another challenge.  On this past Sunday, two staffers from Escapees came to us and told us that our tent had to come down, per the boss.  They told us a tent could only up for seven days and we had exceeded that.  We use the tent as a shelter and living space, not to sleep in.  We were surprised by this as we had the tent up since January 5, and nothing had been said during all of that time, and it was up last year and no one commented on it.  

Then we were told that since our teardrop is not "self-contained" (meaning we have no bathroom in the trailer nor holding tanks), we couldn't be in an electric/water site.  At this point we asked to see the camping policies, and they showed us the back of the welcome brochure which has limited information.  At this point, we were pretty frustrated.  Finally, they gave us the name and email address of the regional manager.  I wrote Bill a lengthy email about all of this.  As teardrops are becoming more popular, they needed to make accommodations for them.

The manager came to see us and we had a productive conversation.  And we just learned from Bill that Escapees is changing their policy to allow teardrops at electric/water, and shelter style tents an be used.  So we fought for teardrops and won!  Overall, we think this will benefit Escapees and there campgrounds.

Today's is Thursday, the 11th of January, and we are heading toward El Paso, about an hour away.  The landscape has really changed.  It is chaparral with low vegetation, some Joshua trees, and mountains and limestone ridges cropping up.

On Wednesday night we camped at Palmetto State Park in Liling.  We walked to the San Marcos river, and viewed a cool building built during the Great Depression (1930's),by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  

But most exciting was the bird life!  A fall-out of chipping sparrows and American goldfinch.  Plus hermit thrush, Carolina chickadees, black and turkey vultures, red-bellied woodpeckers. Heard pileated woodpeckers too.  As it got dusky out, coyotes were calling loudly, and during the night we heard great-horned and barred owls.

Old water tower at Palmetto state park.

Built by CCC.

A bright yellow teardrop camping at Palmetto.

Last night we camped at our first rest stop.  We ran into other folks in a camper van that we recognized from the Escapees campground.  Lots of semis pulled in to, so we felt that safety in numbers.

Yesterday, as we travelled on I 10, we saw two great birds, 2 crested-Caracas, and a road runner!

As we drive today, here are some photos:

Davis Mountains in the distance.

Other miscellaneous photos:

Teardrop pj's given to me by my sister, Linda!


Michael's eggplant lasagna, made in our Dutch oven!  It was yummy!

Heading for New Mexico!