Friday, December 25, 2020

Is it Christmas 2020 already???


Wow, it is hard to believe this will be our tenth Christmas spent on the Road of Retirement. How has it been that long? Our initial plan was to RV for a minimum of two years and I forecasted we might do this 3-5 years depending upon whether or not we were still enjoying it. Guess what?


We still are enjoying it! Yes, even in a year with a pandemic we are discovering ways to have fun on the road. How much longer we do this is really anyone's guess. As I tell people we are simply kicking the can down the road until it just isn’t fun anymore. We admit this year has been vastly different than Christmases past.


Normally our daughter has flown in no matter where we choose to winter but not this year. Not only because of Covid but she found out she was pregnant and due in March of 2021 so no travels for her this winter. We held out hope that this year since we would be in Texas we would be able to spend Christmas with our son and his family in San Antonio. However, Covid is pretty bad there so we are staying  home in our RV. Sharon hasn’t even been inspired to put out our decorations. To cheer ourselves up, I decided we should make a normal, festive Christmas dinner.


I also decided to post some of our favorite Christmas photos over the years in this blog to normalize this unique time in our lives. We realize this Christmas and this year has been trying for us all but like you, we are trying to make the best of it. 

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Naples FL 006

NOTE:  We are currently in Port Isabel in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for the winter… 

Monday, December 21, 2020



We are settling into our new digs here on South Padre Island. We really love the spacious site we booked sight unseen on the web. I also love having a small patch of natural growth in between sites as well. We are situated nose in so we face the vegetation giving us a feeling of being more isolated than we are.


As we do most every morning (weather permitting) we go out for a long walk alongside the jetties and then to the beach before closing our loop back at our RV site, One morning I noticed what looked like a space ship across from the jetties so I took a few photos with a full zoom to investigate later.


Back home I discovered that SpaceX has a launch site in Boca Chica which is just across from us. I checked to see if anything was being launched in the time we are staying here. Then there was a WOW moment as we realized that there was a planned test launch of the Starship SN8 (stands for serial number 8) for a flight to 12.5 km any day.


SN8 is a fully-reusable, two-stage-to-orbit, super heavy-lift launch vehicle developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It was exciting to think we could watch a test launch of SN8 by taking a short walk over to the bay. I found a web site that would update us as a launch time neared and every time  i saw the notification we would run down to the jetty to see if it would launch only to find out it was scrubbed for one reason or another. We kept the faith however that it would eventually happen…


On 9 December 2020 the Starship SN8 would finally perform its first high-altitude test flight. As the clock ticked down we could see the steam was being released and launch appeared imminent. Then it happened, as smoke billowed out from underneath SN8 and it slowly lifted to the sky. There was a sizable crowd socially distanced along the beach cheering as it ascended to the sky.


Executing the launch was just part of the test. Once it reached 12.5 km it performed a “skydiver-like descent using high-drag body flaps” and then it began to fall back to earth. As it was falling back to earth it had positioned itself on its side in a free fall.Then as it was falling, it performed a reorientation burn to upright itself for landing. How cool was that…


As it neared the center of the landing zone it started the propulsion again as it was attempting a propulsive landing on the launch pad.  We noticed it coming in kind of fast but it was oriented right in the center of the landing pad. The landing was too hard and as a result SN8 exploded on the landing pad. The smoke came first and then a fireball with the loud BOOM shortly thereafter. It was a tragic ending to an otherwise successful and spectacular mission.


We read the explanation for the hard landing was the result of lower than expected pressure in the methane header tank, resulting in the vehicle exploding on the landing pad. The press release also stated that the mission was successful in its completion of the many test objectives for this flight and that it was a major milestone for the Starship program


WOW, for us it was truly a magical event we were lucky enough to have seen while on our Road of Retirement…



NOTE:  We are currently in Port Isabel in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for the winter…  

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Our Winter Home and a Check Engine Light…


A few more hours driving the RV south, we were at the very bottom of Texas. We took the bridge over to South Padre Island and as we were crossing it we could see the “smile” from the bridge our friend Doris had told us about. That smile and the beautiful blue water was indeed a welcoming sign that our choice of winter stay would be just fine.


On the last leg of our drive I had a check engine light come on and go off. It did this several times over the two hours it took us to get to our campsite. I wasn’t too worried about it since water pressure and oil gauges seemed fine. However I knew it was something I would need to have checked out.


After settling in at our winter site I did a little online research on my check engine light. I came across a really neat product, the ScanGaugeD for diesel rigs. They make them for other vehicles as well. This device hooks up to the plug that repair shops plug into the engine analyzer to read engine’s fault codes.


The reviews were awesome so I ordered one and couldn’t believe how easy it was to install. I turned on the ignition of the RV after I hooked it all up to read my fault codes  my check engine light would have created .Alas, I had no Fault Codes saved in my ECM. With more research I discovered that the ECM won’t store a Fault Code for many minor items such as a fuel filter starting to struggle with clogging.


I am pretty sure that is what my problem probably is since I am way overdue for filter changes. I would have changed them last spring but due to Covid we haven’t been to a shop for the needed service. I am going to love my new scan gauge however because it also allows me to use it to monitor anything that my ECM records such as gas mileage. And the next time I have a real Fault Code I won’t have to pay a shop to tell me what my problem is. I can find out right away and then just have to deal with whatever the issue is.


Enough of that… It didn’t take us too long to settle into a winter routine here in South Padre Island. We generally have breakfast while reading and watching the news. Then we head out for a long walk on the beach since it is practically in our backyard. We usually leave our campsite which is a couple blocks from the beach where we first walk along the rock jetties to see what the fishermen are catching, then along the beach to see what shells rolled in on the tide and then finally back to the rig.26

In the afternoons, Sharon does her workout while I catch up on what's happening in the stock market and soon thereafter it is time for happy hour!


Yep, we think we are really going to enjoy our long winter stay in south Texas this season   And gazing up at the large Jesus statue on the beach it’s not hard to believe that perhaps we were guided here…

NOTE:  We are currently in Port Isabel in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for the winter…

Friday, December 11, 2020

Moving to Our Winter Digs and Some Thoughts on Why Texas This Winter…


It was another rainy day when we left Mathis, TX and it pretty much rained nearly all the way to our next stop a few hours further south in Texas. We have had an issue over the years with our passenger side windshield wiper dis-engaging from the wiper arm and dangling. Not a good thing to happen during a rain storm so I finally “fixed it” with four zip ties securing it in place. This was the first real test of that wiper since we rarely drive in the rain… thankfully it held up.


We pulled into another Passport America Park called Seawind RV Resort a bit off the beaten path in Riviera, TX. I chose this park since it was right on Baffin Bay. We stayed for two nights and found the park pretty nice with lots of large and roomy sites.The only downside was our Verizon signal was poor making Sharon not very happy.


The park is adjacent to a city/county park on Baffin Bay which has a nice fishing pier. While there isn’t much of a beach ,it made for a nice walk for us even though the weather wasn’t all that pleasant. Within the park is also a large pond with many pull through sites on the far side and sewer was recently added making overnight stays more convenient.


We did see lots of Black Bellied Whistling Ducks and Blue winged teal on the large pond. There were even a few winter plumaged Black Necked Stilts as well. It was nice to see some waterfowl again as we head south.


We also took a short loop drive into the town of Riviera Texas to check out the landscape.We saw mostly south Texas plains and prairies in this area. We also saw lots of hawks on the telephone wire such as Harris Hawks, Red-Tailed Hawks, Kestrels and a few Northern Harriers.


The next morning it was finally time to move on to our winter home this season. We hit the road about 10:30 and pulled into Isla Blanca Park in South Padre Island, TX where we will stay until March 1st 2021. While we would have preferred to be staying in Bonita Springs Florida this winter we changed plans due to all the Covid-19 issues.


In Florida we would have paid twice as much and wouldn’t be able to participate in all the fun social things we like about Florida due to the pandemic.  By coming to Texas we will save over $600 per month for the next three months and still have close proximity to a beach. Walking the beach and biking around the large park will be our primary entertainment.

We will miss all our Florida friends this winter but felt this was the safest place to spend the winter. And heck, if we are going to have to sit somewhere and not enjoy the social activities or the bars or restaurants we might as well do it here on the beach where we’ll likely save more than $1800…

NOTE:  We are currently in Port Isabel in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for the winter…

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Ten gifts that all RV’ers would love to have…

Ten things that all new RV’ers would love to have but may have not thought about. Since we have been full timing nearly ten years now I think we are well qualified to make this list of recommendations.

  1. RV water pressure regulator to prevent damage to internal plumbing Don’t buy the cheap in-line one, spend a little extra and get one that you can adjust based on the water pressure provided at the park. Much better…
  2. RV 30 or 50 amp Surge Protector - Two popular brands are SurgeGuard and Progressive Industries. If you can spend a little more for one that analyzes the pedestal to ensure proper electrical conditions before allowing power to the RV and provides an easy readout option. You have two choices here. You can get one that simply plugs in to the pedestal unit or you get get one that is hard wired inside your bin.
  3. RhinoFLEX 15' RV Sewer Hose Kit – Most people will save a few buck buying a cheaper hose but DON’T DO IT. RhinoFLEX are the best we have bought over the years. Also make sure to get an extension hose as you will need it someday when the sewer is a bit further away that you think.
  4. 150 PSI portable air compressor – You really need this to maintain air pressure on all of your RV tires .My experieces says to get the one from Craftsman!
  5. Portable ladder – We have a simple 6 foot ladder but if I had to do it all to do over again I would get the more versatile collapsible ladder.
  6. RV Tire Pressure Monitor System – I have to be honest as we still don’t have one of these but I would recommend you buy the one from Pressure Pro found here
  7. Outdoor propane grills – maybe not a must have but I certainly must have one – the two we like are the Weber Q series or the Coleman Series. We have had both of them and they both have their pros and cons. Email me at if you have questions. 
  8. RV GPS – We love our Garmin GPS device. It is not perfect but we certainly would be less comfortable traveling down unknown routes without it. We also use our smartphone GPS as well. They seem to sometimes offer different routes which make it even better traveling.
  9. Camping Chairs – again maybe not a must have but we certainly MUST HAVE them – we love the Zero Gravity Recliners the best
  10. Patio Rug 9x12 – another highly preferred item to have for the more extended stays for your outside comfort.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Thanksgiving in San Antonio and Moving South!


We got an earlier than normal start on the road to San Antonio since there was rain predicted later in the day. Our destination was Braunig Lake RV Resort in  Elmendorf, TX just SW of San Antonio.

We booked four nights with plans to have Thanksgiving with our son and his family. We discussed rules in advance of the visit. Everyone agreed to wearing a mask while inside the house and since there was great weather predicted Thanksgiving day, we agreed to eat outside on their patio. Social distancing would also be mandatory. We also explained we would not be staying overnight.


While all the rules made for an awkward Thanksgiving it will still be remembered as special  time together. We accomplished the main goal of no one becoming ill and the awkwardness did not get in the way of our having a great day together..


Our son JJ and his wife Kelly made a fabulous feast. We contributed meagerly as they had it all planned out. We did make some cranberry and a decadent chocolate bourbon pecan pie! It was also great to hang out with our grandson Cameron and our grand dogs.Although it would only be one day together, we made the most of it.


While in San Antonio we took a day to shop at Trader Joe’s to stock up on all of our favorites for our three month stay down in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas. We also were delighted to discover our very favorite tamale place in McAllen Texas, Delia’s, opened a new location in San Antonio. We just had to get a dozen of the very tamales EVER! A real road treat…


I should also mention that while in San Antonio we were due for a brake job on out Honda CRV. I didn’t relish the idea of sitting in a shop all day and waiting to get the work done so I discovered NuBrakes online that will come to your site and do the work. All I can say is amazing work, fast and reasonably priced. I had new brake pads and rotors on the front and new pads on the real for just  a bit over $400 all done in less than an hour. Score one for us!!!


It was kind of sad though visiting one of our favorite Texas cities and not being able to fully enjoy the downtown River Walk and the Pearl District. as we normally would have prior to the pandemic.


I should mention that Braunig Lake RV Resort is another Passport America park. We really liked this park as it had some huge sites as well as some smaller ones. There was plenty of space for a nice walk with a large pond in the middle of the park making the walkabouts pleasurable. We enjoyed seeing lots of ducks taking advantage of the open water in this drier part of the state.


Four days went by fast and it was time to hit the road once again. Our next stop was further south for a one night stay at Wilderness Lakes RV Resort in Mathis, TX. Another rainy day was predicted so we had little choice but to drive on through some rain showers to get there.


We were thankfully able to set up before the big rains came through. We were hoping to explore nearby Lake Corpus Christi but with our staying one day and the heavy rain we will have to save that excursion for another day. We were able to walk around the park and found this to be a nice park with some nature trails and two lakes onsite I guess we will have to return someday….

NOTE:  We are currently in Port Isabel in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for the winter…