At The Beach!

Well, this post was intended to be entitled “On The Beach!”, but you know where good intentions can get you. No, we are not on the paved road to hell: We are at Padre Balli Park on North Padre Island. While it is fairly hot – currently 29c – it is far from hell on earth!

Betty, Charlie & our Smart and I soak up the hot sun at the North Padre Island beach.

Let me explain how we got here.

We watched the warm waves roll toward our car as the tide came in.

As previously noted, our travel plans are best written in jello – or in this case sand. From Palo Duro Canyon we had planned on heading west to Santa Fe, New Mexico, but the cold weather was arcing down, bringing below freezing overnight temperatures. So we cancelled our reservation at Hyde Memorial State Park and headed southeast instead. 

A motorhome parks on the beach at Port Aransas, where beach camping is currently free.

The end of our last post had us situated at Guadalupe River State Park, on the northern outskirts of San Antonio. And it was our intention to head east from there to camp ON THE BEACH at either Magnolia Beach or Port Aransas, Texas – two Gulf of Mexico locations that allow free ocean-side camping.  

Betty & I drove for many miles down the beautiful beaches of Mustang Island, where RVs were parked for the day or overnight.

This all made possible, of course, by our new lithium batteries. But in addition to electricity, one needs water, and somehow our fresh water tank sprang a leak. We have an appointment next Tuesday at Iron Horse RV in San Antonio to have the tank repaired, but in the meantime we booked a full service site at a Nueces County park, next to the beach, just outside Corpus Christi.  

Our site (#21) at Padre Balli Park includes a cement parking pad & patio, picnic table, 50 amp service, sewer and (in this case) all important on-site water for $275./week. The palm trees are just starting to recover from the last hurricane that went through.

As many know, Betty & I are not DIY people, but since we were here for Black Friday week, we thought we’d take the time to switch out our old microwave oven for a new one. Some time back the little plastic post that rotates the glass tray broke off, and crazy glue has not fixed it. More recently the button one pushes to open the door also broke, and we have been forced to use a crowbar to open the microwave: Likely not the safest method. lol.  So we were due. All we needed was to remove the old oven and verify the available space. Easier said than done. Betty & I fought with the screws and bolts that hold it together for more than an hour before throwing in the towel. We just hope Iron Horse RV has the time and better luck in removing the obstinate oven! 

Betty & I were able to break the door and control panel off the front of our convection/microwave oven, but that’s as far as we got… It is now an objet d’art in the shabby-shabby motif. lol

In the meantime, we are forced to sit back and relax at the beach. My margarita at the Iron Cactus restaurant on San Antonio’s Riverwalk came with a souvenir mug, so I have been obligated to keep it filled and in reach ever since. 

We have had the same table in the same restaurant on San Antonio’s Riverwalk for the past 3 annual visits. The guacamole is made table side, and an earlier version of their margarita is what inspired my superior concoction (IMHO). I made margaritas great again! Or at least I made a great margarita… Great company too, BTW.

Betty & I would say that Padre Balli Park is far closer to heaven on earth than the other direction. Regardless of our intentions, we are more than happy with the paved road that lead us to our heavenly spot at the beach.

All San Antonio roads lead to the Riverwalk: A must experience!

Cheers, and congrats to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for their Canadian Football League Grey Cup win!

You can see by the tracks in the sand that there is no road: One makes their own path on the beach – a fitting metaphor for our overlandish odyssey.
Whether all roads in San Antonio lead to the Alamo: Here we are. Remember this?
As we often do, Betty & I took a guided tour of San Antonio. In this case it was the open upper level of a double-decker bus on a beautiful November Sunday.
If you are ever in need of a Ghostbuster, look closely at the top of this San Antonio building featured in the movie. Cheers!

Deep In The Heart Of Texas

“The stars at night
Are big and bright

Deep in the heart of Texas

The prairie sky
Is wide and high

Deep in the heart of Texas…”

Driving across northern Texas is similar to the Canadian Prairies, except the dominant crop is cotton.
Even the cotton balls are supersized in Texas! lol
After the sun set over the canyon wall, Betty & I used the “SkyView” app on my phone to identify bright stars in a dark sky with no light pollution. The canyon was also amazingly quiet, both day and night.

The song Deep In The Heart of Texas, was written by June Hershey and recorded by a number of artists in 1942 – including singing cowboy Gene Autry. It came to mind last week as Betty & I watched the stars in the clear night sky at the ever-amazing Palo Duro Canyon State Park, just south of Amarillo, Texas.  We have covered a lot of territory since our last post, with almost all deep in the heart of this supersized state. So this post is a bit of a catch-up.

Our well-treed, full-service site at Lovin’ Life RV Park cost $45./night.

After our new tire was installed in Clarksville, Arkansas, Betty & I made our way to a nice little campground called Lovin’ Life RV Park, just west of Texarkana. It is owned and operated by Sirron & Nicole, who obviously have a deeply warm heart for Texas. We stayed a few days while Tom Dansby of RV Medic and Solar installed four new lithium batteries in our coach. What a joy to be able to maintain and monitor our power supply while boondocking!

Tom Dansby worked right at our site to remove 4 lead acid batteries, and install 4 new Battle Born lithium iron phosphate batteries in an enclosed, insulated compartment.
Along with our inverter/charger, our new batteries fit nicely into an insulated compartment.
An app on my phone now provides detailed info about our new batteries, including temperature and state of charge.
Tom installed another battery monitor inside our coach. Betty wants me to mention how excited I am, posting so many pictures of this. I could have posted more! lol

From Texarkana we headed across northern Texas, stopping for the night at a quiet rest area west of Wichita Falls.

We enjoyed nice weather and a quiet night at this rest area west of Wichita Falls, Texas.

Next day we arrived at the truly breathtaking Palo Duro Canyon, where we spent three nights in site 91 of Mesquite campground. We had originally booked six nights, but that cold front from Canada continued to chase after us. With forecasts of below freezing overnight temperatures, we decided to move back up the side of the canyon, and then on down the road to the south.

This was our second visit to Palo Duro Canyon. It is well worth the trip if you are near Amarillo, Texas.
It may not be as big as the Grand Canyon, but you can drive two miles to the bottom, where a number of picturesque campgrounds are situated.
On switch-backs down the canyon side, one constantly has the feeling of going deep into the heart of Texas.
Where’s that road again?
Our site (#91) in Mesquite campground was $22./night, including water & 50 amp service.
The site included a pergola, sturdy picnic table on a cement pad, a fire pit and a breathtaking view in all directions!
Betty sews in the 23c sunshine, after taking a hike on one of the many canyon trails.

We are currently in site #85 of Guadalupe River State Park, just north of San Antonio, and are hoping to make the mandatory visit to the Riverwalk tomorrow.

Betty works on a new quilt at site 85 in Guadalupe River State Park, while Charlie rests nearby.
Our large, nicely wooded site includes water, 50 amp service, fire pit and picnic table for $21./night. It is currently 22c here in San Antonio, with a forecast for 24c tomorrow and 27c on Monday. Yeah!

The Texas Society of Professional Surveyors (measuring by satellite the exact distance between the state’s four borders) places the “geodetic” center of Texas 18.5 miles west-southwest of Eden. And it was in a rest stop deep in the heart of Texas – just outside of Eden – that we spent a quiet night between Amarillo and San Antonio. While you can’t get much closer to the heart of Texas than that, we continue to be blessed by the friendliness of the good people we have met so far in this state where everything just seems a little bigger.

“The coyotes wail
Along the trail
Deep in the heart of Texas

The cowboys cry
“Ka-yippie aye!” (Woo-hoo!)
Deep in the heart of Texas

The doggies bawl
And say “you all”
Deep in the heart of Texas”

Cheers y’all!

Here’s a new quilt Betty made since our visit to Hamilton, Missouri, along with a pair of matching pillow cases.
The back of our new quilt, which Betty made while we were at Lovin’ Life RV Park near Texarkana.
For those who remember our earlier trip to Amarillo (April 27, 2018): No visit is complete without a stop at Edes Meat Market. Here is one of the mouth-watering rib-eyes we picked up this week. Yum!
From the 150 pictures we took in this magnificent canyon, it’s hard to edit down to just a few…
A last twist in the road. If your path is not straight, may it at least be eventful. Cheers!


Well yes, before Betty & I set out on our marvellous adventure, we both retired. In fact, we both failed retirement and had to do it over again. But this post is not about that experience. Yesterday began a whole new re-tirement experience.

Our tire has lots of tread. It’s just not in the right place. lol

We were on Interstate 40 between Fort Smith and Little Rock, Arkansas, when two men in a pick-up truck pulled up beside us and waved for us to pull over. We had blown a tire on our Smart car!

We were relying on our Tireminder tpms to keep us airy.

Given that we have a Tireminder tire pressure monitoring system (tpms) on all motorhome and towed vehicle tires, you might wonder why we didn’t already know that.  Well, let me explain.

We’ve added an iPad holder that can be swivelled to face Betty or me, and linked to our smart tv. Going down the road, we can use our Verizon jetpack to connect us to Google and other web sites. The curtains are open while driving, btw.

Nearly all summer long, the rear tire on the driver’s side of the Smart would lose about 1 -2 psi a week: Not much, but enough for the internal tpms to trigger every couple of weeks. I added a little air each time and we were good to go again. But before we left on this trip I finally took it into Fountain Tire in Winnipeg, where the tires had been installed (We installed all new tires on our motorhome and car last year), and they determined that the leak appeared to be from a loose external tpms sensor, not from the tire.

Our new Canadian Tire lithium battery air compressor has saved the day a number of times now.

So we left Winnipeg in an attempt to outrun the cold front that was moving in, and everything was good until yesterday morning. Before leaving the nice rest area in Joplin, Missouri (with dedicated rv parking adjacent to attractive picnic shelters) I ran the Tireminder through its cycle, to ensure that all tires were good to go. Unfortunately, that same rear Smart tire registered low. But fortunately, I had purchased a new lithium battery air compressor at Canadian Tire, to replace the compressor whose battery had finally died after over 10 years of use. I pumped up the tire, and off we went.

On the side of a busy Arkansas Interstate, Ken’s Towing hooks up our Smart for a trip to the tire shop.

Not far down the Interstate, I got a slow leak warning message from that tire. As soon as I could, I pulled over and topped it up again. When the slow leak warning returned a few miles down the road, we Googled local tire repair shops, and pulled into a small tire shop in Neosho, Missouri, to have it checked. A friendly staff member topped up the tire and did a quick check for leaks. He tightened the valve stem, and volunteered that he thought the tpms sensor was causing the leak. He recommended removing them from all tires, but then I would be flying blind.  Because he had tightened the valve stem and sensor, I hoped our problem was solved.

Our Smart is now at Murders Automotive in Clarksville, Arkansas. It’s a AAA approved shop, so we don’t expect Amy and the friendly staff there to kill our little ride.

When we got to Bentonville, Arkansas, the warning returned, and Betty & I pulled into a Walmart parking lot to check it out. While I re-filled the tire, Betty re-filled our wine rack with wally wine from the store. At that point I removed the tpms sensor and put a regular cap on the valve stem. We decided I would pull over again at the next rest area to check the tire with a gauge. But the rest areas on Interstates 49 and 40 were few and far between. Eleven miles from the rest stop we had programmed into our gps, the tire blew…

Our riverfront campsite in Clarksville, Arkansas is in a beautiful park setting.

With heavy traffic whipping by us at 70 mph, I pulled to the side and called AAA. They were great in getting a flatbed out to us, and we followed it and our Smart to Murders Automotive in Clarksville, Arkansas. That’s where our Smart sits, until a new tire can be delivered and installed, hopefully next Monday.

Betty, Charlie & I had a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery after a stressful day on the road.

In the meantime, Betty and I are enjoying a beautiful riverside site (D3) in Spadra Park, Clarksville. It includes 30 amp service and water for $17./night, a couple of cement patios and sturdy picnic table, and wonderful water and sunset views. It’s a very quiet park, except for the last train to Clarksville that just went by a few minutes ago. lol (For the younger crowd reading this, you may need to Google The Monkees, who sang about that in 1966.)  

We watched a gorgeous sunset last night at Spadra Park.

So retirement has its ups and downs for Betty and me. Sometimes we are deflated by unforeseen experiences, but for the most part we are pumped about our overlandish odyssey. Best wishes for enjoyable times without the blow-outs!

Betty & Charlie spent today out in the sunshine. The temperature is currently 15c with a high of 21c forecast for tomorrow. We are headed south to Texarkana next week and hope to outrun the coming cold front.


Before the sun set on Saturday, Betty & Charlie sat out on our patio, to enjoy the great Arkansas outdoors.

Trying To Outrun The Cold Front

As mentioned in our last post, a cold front is moving into Manitoba this week, so Betty & I have decided to move out. We are now in a race to stay ahead of the cold, which appears to be following us south. 

Lisa came to wish us well, before we headed out on the road.

We had one last enjoyable visit with some of our family before leaving Winnipeg. Our border crossing was uneventful, and we made our first stop in Fargo, North Dakota, to top up with gas and food.

Georgia is on the attack, while her Mom looks on.

After a quick power nap in the Walmart parking lot, we drove south on Interstate 29 to a rest area near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, arriving shortly after midnight. The next day we made it to Waubonsie State Park in Iowa, and felt the sun starting to warm us.

Our first stop: Fargo, North Dakota Walmart
Leaving the Sioux Falls, South Dakota rest area after our first night on the road.
Our Waubonsie State Park site 17 in Iowa included 50 amp service for $11. Most trees in the park still had their leaves.

Next was a side trip to Hamilton, Missouri, a small town that is home to 12 quilt shops! Who would have thought that people from all over the world would travel to this spot with a dozen stores focussed on all things quilting? I guess the answer to that is “Betty”. lol. 

Our full service site (#13) at A Country Charm RV Park came to $97.85 for 2 nights. If you want to see quilt pics, ask Betty. lol Note our guard dog on the dash..

After a couple of warm days at A Country Charm RV Park in Hamilton, the cold weather was starting to catch up to us, so it was time to leave. Passing through Kansas City, we headed down Interstate 49 to Joplin, Missouri. Thanks to a school project our granddaughter, Isabella, is working on, we stopped in at the National Cookie Cutter Historical Museum in Joplin, taking a tour, a few pics, and free cookie cutter samples along the way.

Betty stands at the entrance to the Cookie Cutter Museum. Despite the name, they don’t all look the same. lol
This vibrant maple tree was just outside the Joplin, Missouri museum. We passed many trees with beautiful fall colours along the way.

We had a warm night at a nice Interstate 44 rest area just east of Joplin, but the cold air continues to follow us. Time to keep going…

Andrew shared a warm laugh before we left.


Valerie contemplates the gathering at her home.
James watches as Charlie gives Nana a kiss.

Jersey cuddles up with Isabella as the cold weather approaches.

Change of Plans

One of the benefits of living in a home on wheels is we can move it if need be.

Too many negative numbers in the forecast. Time to leave…

This fall has been unusually wet and cold in Manitoba. Heavy rains in September caused the Red River floodway, that diverts water away from the City of Winnipeg, to be opened later in the year than ever in its history. Even so, the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, that converge in Winnipeg, are overflowing their banks. 

Even though Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park is only 5 minutes from our previous home in Winnipeg, Betty & I had never visited. We finally stopped by on one of the few nice days last month.

As previously mentioned, an early blizzard on October 11 brought down 3,000 trees in the city, as the leaves had not yet fallen and the weight of snow was too much for them. Thousands of residents lost hydro power, with some in the dark for almost three weeks. Some major city parks are still closed as the clean-up continues into November.

This old gate is all that remains of the original fort in downtown Winnipeg.

Betty & I had planned on leaving Manitoba on Nov. 8, after a Fleetwood Mac concert on the 7th. We have had good tickets for the concert since April and fully expected the weather to co-operate until we were ready to go. But then two nights ago the water froze in our motorhome. Time for a change of plans…

Where one of the old fort’s walls stood, this metal artwork, depicting the history of Winnipeg, lights up with thousands of LED lights at night.

The park where we have been staying this summer shut the water off to all of their sites a week ago, due to unseasonably cold forecasts. We have been drawing water from our fresh water tank and keeping our plumbing bay warmed with our furnace and a small supplementary heater. But somewhere between the fresh water tank and the water pump the line iced up, and we no longer had water to wash or flush.  Bad news!

One of Canada’s old railway hotels, the Fort Garry, overlooks the Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park site.

Looking at the long-range forecast, the temperature may go down to -12c or -13c during nights next week, with daytime temps never above the freezing mark. As much as we like Fleetwood Mac, and would have enjoyed further visits with family and friends, it’s time to get outa Dodge, as Betty would say.

As mentioned in our July 2, 2019 post on Truth & Knowledge, Louis Riel is now recognized as an early Manitoba leader, rather than a traitor.

Today we are parked at our daughter Valerie’s home. We have added another heater to our basement and topped up our fresh water tank. Tomorrow Betty & I have dinner reservations as we celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. And the day after tomorrow is splitsville!

The July 2, 2019 post also references how perspectives can change over time. This plaque at Upper Fort Garry acknowledges that fact.

Sometimes it’s necessary to carve our plans in sand rather than granite. This is one of those times when we need to just roll with the punches.  And as we roll on down the road, we hope you also can make the required adjustments to deal with whatever comes your way.


I took this sunset pic at our campground last week. It may be cold, but it’s still pretty amazing!

So long ago
Certain place
Certain time
You touched my hand
All the way
All the way down to Emmeline

But if our paths never cross
Well, you know I’m sorry but

If I live to see the seven wonders
I’ll make a path to the rainbow’s end
I’ll never live to match the beauty again
The rainbow’s end
” Seven Wonders, Fleetwood Mac