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volume 5                         March  1994                         number 2
Ron & Barb Talk About Lifestyle 
on Good Morning America
INSIDE
South & Central Texas
  Potpourri 
  Campground Update
  Good Places to Eat
  Enterprising full-timers pt 2
  Letters, Letters, Letters
  This' N That
  Potty Pointers
  Signs & Things
  Texas Word Search
The April newsletter will come to your from Las Cruces, New Mexico. We will report on the Coast to Coast Rally in San Antonio and Big Bend National Park. 
It was way back in September of '93 when Tyler Mathisen of Good Morning America first contacted the Hofmeisters. He had seen their book and wanted to know if they would be interested in being taped for a segment on the show. He explained that they were behind in taping so it would be a while and that producer Doug Dundas would be in touch with them. Ron & Barb in their excitement mentioned it in the newsletter, but then nothing happened. Everyone wanted to know; when would it be? Folks were taping GMA every morning just in case. The weeks turned into months and finally on January 20, a message was left on the Hofmeister's voice mail. Kathleen Friery, the new producer for Mr. Mathisen, wanted to set a time for taping.
Barb and Kathleen talked several times before her arrival at Outdoor Resorts on Thursday, January 27. She had explained that she and a crew of two (cameraman and soundman) would spend two days filming the couple at Port Isabel, Texas. Tyler would not be coming since he was scheduled to go to Hong Kong for 31/2 weeks. Besides asking questions about the area and what goes on during the day, she asked for directions from the airport and the temperature. She also asked Barb to try and find two or three other full-timer couples that she might interview. Right away they thought of Don and Kay Slattery who were new full-timers originally from the Chicago area. On Friday the 21st Kathleen left another message on the Hofmeister's voice mail. She needed another copy of the book by Monday and wondered if the Hofmeisters could have their publisher send it across town by courier. 

Barb said, "I had to chuckle. She thought we had a big New York publisher do our book. I sent her one overnight express from Port Isabel."

Meanwhile the Slattery's were excited and spent a day or two washing their motorhome; Kay even got her hair done the day before the scheduled taping day. 

At 4 a.m. on the 27th, Ron and Barb were awakened by a knock on the door. It was one of the security guards saying that Don and Kay just left for the hospital by ambulance. Don was apparently having a heart attack. Ron noticed that Kay's car was still there; she wouldn't have a way to get back to her house. He immediately drove to the hospital to be with her and drive her home later.Barb was awake so stayed up and got ready to meet the crew a  little after 12 noon. Ron & Kay returned at 10:30. Don was in ICU but was going to be okay.

Dave & Jerry
Dave Wachenschwanz and Jerry Lane, free lance technicians from Houston and Kathleen, from New York City, arrived about 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. Ron and Barb were ready for them and as soon as the formalities were over, preparations were made for the interview part. They positioned two chairs in a neighbor's driveway so that the Hofmeister's Bounder and its surroundings filled the background. After miniature microphones were attached to Ron and Barb's bodies with tape, Kathleen began asking questions. "How did you decide to go full-time?" Barb started by explaining Ron's heart attack, their trip to San Diego and the realization that this country is so big that they could  never see it all on even long trips. Kathleen said that it was good, but she wanted it shorter, so they did it again and again and again until it was just right.

Ron said, "We had to do that with every question, until we got the hang of it." 

The entire spot would only be 3-4 minutes long and they want to get a lot in; short, precise, answers were a must. The whole interview process took almost 2 hours by the time everything was set up and all. Neighbors watched from across the street. Curiosity brought many cars, bikers and walkers to the area. Every time there was a distraction (even sea gulls coming too close with their screeching call) the shot had to be re-done. It was amazing how much those small microphones picked up. One time a scene had to be re-done because someone way far away was using a power saw. Ron and Barb could barely hear it. 

Once the interview part was done, they did a few things outdoors. The couple came out of the motorhome and went for a walk, Ron put down an awning and Barb opened a compartment door to get out a book. Each setting took much filming; every action had to be done over and over again while Jerry shot from one angle then another and yet another. 

From the outside activities they went inside which presented a few problems. Number one, Jerry is a big guy. At 6'3" he barely cleared the ceiling under the air conditioner and with the width of the big TV camera, he had trouble getting through the narrow hallway. But he took a sequence of Ron reading on the couch, Barb at the computer, Ron and Barb making the bed and Barb frosting a cake, setting the table and getting ready to serve it to Ron. The cake had been made for that evening's pot luck so Kathleen thought it would show the Hofmeisters in a domestic scene. 

Barb said, "We would never just sit down to cake like that. If I had known ahead of time I could have made soup or something, but the cake was there and that is where she got the idea I guess. We never cut it---just pretended."    Jerry wanted to show the length of the motorhome so had Barb reading on the bed with Ron positioned on the couch. He filmed a few seconds of Barb then turned and walked the hall until he was at Ron's position. He kept bumping into things though, but finally after a dozen or so takes, he got through it without bumping into anything. 

Kathleen was then ready to interview the other full-timers. Barb had found several couples but was a little sad that the Slattery's couldn't be there. Ron & Barb were near and could just barely hear that they were asked what they liked about full-timing and so on. They did a great job.

Jerry got on the roof of the Hofmeister's motorhome and panned the campground then sat on the hood of the car filming as Dave drove the whole length of one loop (about one mile). The next area to be shot was the clubhouse. They wanted shots of people playing golf, on the tennis court, swimming and so on. By then it was 5:15 p.m. and people began arriving for the pot luck.

Barb & Ron had the cake with them so were filmed coming in and then sitting down at the table with some of their friends. 

With the filming for the day finished, the crew went to their motels after leaving instructions for Friday. They planned to film the moving process. Kathleen asked Ron and Barb if they could be ready to roll by 9 a.m. and added that they would probably not finish shooting until 2 p.m. 

Kathleen Friery

Barb said, "We set the alarm for 6 a.m. so we could have showers, eat breakfast and be ready when they came. We must be more efficient than we thought because we were ready at 8 a.m.."

The filming began with Barb pulling the motorhome out of its slot then Ron hooked up the car under the watchful eye of Jerry's camera. He got close ups of the couple going into the motorhome, taking their seats and pushing in the  Willie Nelson tape of On the Road Again, then did it again so his camera, positioned this time outside the passenger window, would get a different view. And as they were leaving the campground, he filmed from both in and out. Traffic got tied up a little with all of the stopping and starting. Once out of the park, instructions were given for the driving sequences. The Hofmeister's were to cross the causeway going to South Padre Island several times. Each trip was filmed from a different angle culminating with Jerry actually sitting in the trunk of their rental car just in front of the motorhome.


Jerry filming from the trunk
Ron said, "He kept motioning for me to come closer and closer. At one point there wasn't three feet between us." 

Another time he was sitting out of  the passenger window of the car, riding along to film the side of the motorhome while moving. 

"It was easy for us, we just had to keep making the loop. I think we crossed the bridge 6 to 8 times," Ron said. 

Jerry sitting on the hoodm motioning 
for Ron to pull out. 
The road north on South Padre Island is only 10 miles long. It ends abruptly on the sand. It was that road that they wanted to use next. Traffic was not heavy, but it is only a two lane road. Jerry wanted to film the motorhome from all angles again and used some of the same tricks he used before. Riding on the hood of the car, next to the motorhome was one. The crew set up ahead and had Ron drive by. Once Jerry and his camera were on the shoulder's white line when he asked Ron to come as close as he could safely come to the white line as he went past at about 20 mph. There was a lot of stopping and starting, but it was easy for Ron and Barb. They just sat in the comfort of the motorhome while the crew had to work in the cold wind. 

The driving sequences were finished at noon, and everyone took a lunch break. The crew went to a restaurant while the Hofmeisters drove their house to the Wal Mart shopping center in Port Isabel and made lunch at home.

The two remaining shots were done at the shopping center; Ron used the ATM to get money and Barb used the pay phone as if checking voice mail.

Back at the campground, the crew packed up their gear and took off to catch the 4:30 plane from Brownsville. Jerry and Dave would be getting off in Houston while Kathleen would go on to New York with four tapes that would be edited down to less than four minutes. 

Barb said, "When she came I told her that I was flattered that she thought we had a big publisher and then mentioned that she must not have known our book was self published. I then went on to explain how every page was printed on our laser printer, every picture pasted up in our motorhome and how it was delivered to our printer completely camera ready. She was surprised."

The segment was supposed to air February 9, between 7:30 and 8 a.m. and was announced at the beginning of that half hour. But the interview on prostrate cancer with the doctor at the Mayo Clinic was bad. Robert Goulet was next and was only supposed to be on for a minute or so, but he was so good talking about his bout with cancer that the producer canned the full-timing spot and kept Goulet on. 

Kathleen called and said it could be on any day and to keep watching. And on February 15, at 7:43 a.m. it was on without being announced at the beginning of the half hour. Just as Kathleen had said, they like to have taped segments that they can throw in "just in case...." and that is what happened.


Ron commented, "It cost them a bundle to film that piece. They had to fly the crew here, rent cars and so on. The short shots of Tyler were filmed in Virginia; Tyler and Kathleen flew there just for that "stand up" part. Add to that all the time spent in editing. Out of the 43,000 books published each year, not many make it to GMA. We really feel honored that they thought enough of our book to spend that kind of money helping to promote it." 

Did you see it?  What did you think?  The Hofmeisters were pleased that the book got good play but sad that their friends were cut. All in all it was a fun experience and they hope that it has given many who are about to retire a look at An Alternative Lifestyle.


CAMPGROUND  UPDATE
                                                by Ron
(Please remember that this report was written many years ago and the campgrounds may or may not be in business or as they were.)

Paradise South RV Park, Mercedes, Texas. You will find a lot of Winter Texans in this reasonably priced park. It is located in the central part of the Rio Grande Valley and has an excellent pool and recreational complex with lots of activities. Like many of the valley campgrounds, the lots are narrow (24 feet). The hookups are good and the location is great---about three blocks north of the main east-west valley freeway (83). The weekly rate was $74 and the monthly rate is in the $200 range.

Lone Star Corral, Hondo, Texas. This is an Escapee Co-Op Park and SKP members are welcome to stay here. Like all SKP parks it is very friendly and reasonable ($6 per night plus electricity). You can also boondock for free if you wish. This well managed park has excellent hookups and a large recreation hall with a complete library, laundry and kitchen facilities. The neatness of the park impressed us along with the abundance of concrete pads and landscaped sites. The nearby town of Hondo (7 miles east) with a population of about 6,000 has everything you need. About 2 miles west the little western town of D'Hanis is handy for small grocery items (see Barb's report on the Buckhorn Saloon). San Antonio is less than 50 miles away too.

Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park, Fredericksburg, Texas. We reported on this park before as one of the best bargains in the Hill Country. Unfortunately it has become very popular and is hard to get into for long stays. The monthly rate of $160 includes all hookups plus cable, so you can see that many Winter Texans make their headquarters here. It's not as warm as the Rio Grande Valley, but the temperatures are moderate and the surroundings are beautiful. The quaint German town of Fredericksburg is 3 miles away and the beautiful wild flowers start blooming in early March. Without reservations you can probably get 4 days at $13 a night. The park is in a pecan grove and right next to the municipal park which includes picnic areas, playgrounds and a golf course. 


Potpourri
              by Ron
It was nice to set still for 3 months at Port Isabel. I especially liked the convenience of having propane delivered to the site. Those who have had to maneuver a 34 foot rig around propane tanks at a gas station will understand what I mean.

South Padre Island is now welcoming spring break students with open arms while other areas are discouraging them. That may be carrying "Texas Friendly" a little too far.

Maybe my age is showing, but I used to have to work when spring break came around in order to pay my next semester tuition. 

In five years of full-timing I have never experienced a friendlier welcome than what we had at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Hondo, Texas. I came close to settling down and joining right then and there.

I sure missed my fishing buddy, Don Slattery, after he became ill. We'll do it again Don --- I promise. 

It's baseball spring training time again. The sport's writers say that the Detroit Tiger's camp resembles an old folk's home. That may be, but it's better than trying to buy a team (like Uncle Mike's Baltimore Orioles).

Our lifestyle puts us in touch with many different post offices. The Port Isabel post office goes to the top of our list. The efficient employees of this very busy post office always have a smile and a kind word. Their dedication under a heavy work load is really appreciated. 


Good Places to Eat
(Remember that this report was written many years ago and the restaurants may or may not be in business or as they were.)

Maria Bonita, Mc Allen, Texas. This small, very popular Mexican restaurant is tucked away on a side street. You won't find it by just driving around so those that come know about it and make a special trip. The menu was full and listed some traditional dishes plus many unique ones. Our friends, Bette and Clyde Salter introduced us to this excellent restaurant. My fijitas were yummy as was Ron's combination platter.

Buckhorn Saloon, D'Haines, Texas. Located about seven miles west of Hondo, this historic landmark is no longer a saloon (they don't even serve beer), but they serve wonderful food. We both chose the pepper steak which included a trip to the salad bar and their own "batter dipped french fries."  The salad bar was fresh, and their peppery parmesan dressing was outstanding. Dinner was served piping hot and each bite was followed by exclamations of wonder. The pepper steak is described as 1/2 lb ground steak stuffed with cheese and jalapenos then mesquite grilled and topped with salsa. The batter dipped fries were unique, hot, crunchy, and delicious. We took half our dinner home and couldn't wait until the next night when we could enjoy it again. The price was great too---only $6.99. We understand that everything they serve is just as good---especially their Mexican dishes. They have only been in business two years, and appear to be doing great.


Enterprising Full-timers part 2
by ron 
In our last issue we discussed the many opportunities for earning money while living as full-timers. Many with technical skills find that their mobility actually helps in securing employment. They work as consultants or free lance specialists. Sue and Doug (new full-timers) use their radio broadcasting skills to provide services that small stations cannot afford on a full-time basis. They carry the necessary equipment with them and can be found doing play-by-play broadcasts of local sporting events. 

Technical skills are not always necessary to earn money on the road and mobility definately comes into play. The most recent letter from Pam and Bob Flint, enterprising full-timers, bears this out. They finish this story best since they can report first hand. 

"The majority of the time, we head to the area we want to visit and then look for employment. We do go back each year in November to Louisiana and sell Christmas trees. We were hired to run a lot in Shreveport our first year on the road and now return each year. It has been an enjoyable and profitable job. 

Many jobs we have done we would never return to, but enjoyed the experience. Like sorting green beans in Washington. Oh how do people survive doing such boring jobs with out seeing an end to it?  But it was fun working right on the piers over the water and we both hated to leave the wonderful people we met there.

We do subscribe to the Workamper News and in every town there is usually a local paper and one of those free buy and sell papers. We have found not only the unemployment office to be helpful but also the Chamber of Commerce has always gone out of its way to help us. We usually go in and explain that we are temporarily going to be staying in the area and tell them that we are looking for work. They are familiar with the seasonal work in that area. I actually think they have sent us in the right direction and gotten us more jobs than any job service.

I guess we can't leave out laundromats! Once we found out about a job,just by talking to a lady doing her laundry (we were too). We also hired a young boy to help us on the tree lot when we got to talking to him in the laundry. I guess it could be just talking to people any place you go, but I thought it was kind of funny!

Right now we are working at a pizza delivery job. Not much, but I was surprised how much you make with tips and all. The reason we choose to do this job is because we are only going to be here six weeks. They always seem to need drivers desperately and we told them we could only work until March
3rd, but would more than likely return next winter. They let you pick your own hours (as few as 2 or as many as 40 hours a week) and we liked that idea. I work days only and Bob works evenings. We pick up a lot of weekends when kids don't want to work and we don't care about that. We always seem to get a lot of visits from family when we are out here. That is why we like the versatile hours. The casinos love to hire snowbirds. It is their busy time of the year. We know lots of snowbirds who sell change or do house cleaning in the hotels year after year. We've done it and can go back anytime but can't resist looking for something new. We are a strange breed. No getting in a rut for us.!"

So working on the road is easy, will add $ and adventure to the lifestyle.


LETTERS * LETTERS * LETTERS
Gave book as a gift

...Friends up here in the subdivision sold there house to do more traveling. For a "bon voyage" gift we gave them your latest edition and got one for ourselves. It is absolutely fabulous. I enjoyed reading the excerpts from your newsletters over again. They are just as interesting as when first read---timeless!  The people, personalities and perceptions give your writings something no other similar book or newsletter has captured. Trailer Life at one time had some of this magic in several regular monthly columnists, but they are long gone and I never even look at the cover. (Laurie might from time to time---mostly it lays at the bottom of a stack until thrown out.)....

Ed (& Laurie) Waples
Canyon Lake, Texas

Visiting the U.S.

...Although no change of fortune (yet) on the selling front we are saying "damn the consequences" and are coming over for a month or two in March and April. We are reasonably well organized and extremely lucky as we've been lent a lovely house in San Marino, California and a little later, an apartment in San Francisco. Then we will be going up to see my daughter in Trinity County near Eureka, Ca., and continuing on and up into Oregon to Eugene and Junction City. ...we will be principally visiting dealers and coach builders. Then at least we will have been able to decide precisely what we are getting when we are in a position to get it. 

I was watching television (CNN) as the earliest reports of the California earthquake came over the air...and nearly immediately my main thoughts revolved on the enormous advantages of anyone in an RV. Both at the time and, even more so, afterwards. And of course as the days have passed by it's been underlined again. Yet another argument of (if it were needed) for being a full-timer!...

Robin Jenkinson
Bourge De Visa, France

Like a visit with an old friend

We have enjoyed every issue of Movin' On. Each time we receive our new copy we both go through it from start to finish. From tips to trips, we read every word. It's like a visit from an old friend. We, also, have a copy of your first book. Your chapter about your experiences, switching from home owners with full time jobs to retirees and "full-timing," described the process we went
through as though we were using your book as a manual. In fact your book has become a manual for many things. Thank you so much....

Shirley (& Don) Keswick
Fenton, Michigan

Identical Plans

...When I started reading the book, it was really something. I told my wife how incredible it was reading this, like it was us and our exact plans being told.... We have 8 or 9 books on RVing or full-timing and I enjoyed yours more than any, I guess because it resembled our plans so much....

I am 52 years old and as of January 1, 1994 officially retired....We were planning on going full-time in 1996 or 1997 when I turned 55 and took early retirement. With our last contract in January, 1993 the company offered a retirement package for employees 50 years old with 25 years of service. It was really a long year trying to decide what to do; I lost many hours of sleep....I didn't really decide until about the last of October....

We are on our third motorhome, a 33 ft Southwind Eagle which we got in  May with our plans in mind. I recently purchased a Ford Ranger Pickup to tow....

We plan on selling our house and belongings this summer. We have so many things accumulated over the years to sell and give away. We have never had a garage sale, but we will have a few this year.

We have a budget planned out and everything else pretty well thought out ... would like to meet you somewhere down the road. Maybe it will happen, somehow, somewhere....

Larry (& Janice) Glader
Manteno,  Illinois

Know-it-alls don't know it all 

...Love your book. I was telling some of our closed minded RV friends about your book. I'm sure you've met the know it all type! They said, "Don't waste your time reading  that; you could write your own book and probably know more than the Hofmeisters." Not my theory at all. I bet I could learn something valuable from a homeless person  if I spent time really listening to one. 

I certainly learned some pointers from your book and not only found it helpful but enjoyable also. I hope I never know it all as our RV friends do!  Thank goodness that is not all of our friends, just one!

Pam (& Bob) Flint
full-timers originally from Michigan

Had a great time

....We sure had a nice time with you guys at  Christmas. I could get real used to the lifestyle---real easy....

We spent 2 days at Rainbows End in Livingston on our way home. It was "dine out" Thursday so we went with about 25 others. Lots of chit-chat. Met a neat couple who were on their way to the desert in Arizona for the rest of the winter. They dry-camp each year---very interesting---especially the way they "router-router" their black water and carry it away to town. Their grey water goes down a gofer hole!  Who knows---we may try it someday---but only for 2 weeks at a time. I don't suppose Wal Mart is too nearby!

It amazed me just how much work goes into your newsletter and book orders. You are SO organized.... 

Things I learned from Barbara:
  Cheap toilet paper from Wal Mart...(I'm on my 2nd 6 pak!)
  Use 6 bowls of water in clean tank to fill---not Tupperware bowls!
  Silk blouses make you feel feminine! 
  Delicious homemade soup (from a mix!). I ordered some.
  How to crash the computer in one easy stroke!
  How to paint frustrating tiny dots on dominos---again and again and again!!
Things I learned from Ron:
  That great little red shrimp peeler---a great invention!
  Watching Barb make endless trips to the telephone---hoping to fix her computer!....

Judy (& Wayne) Richards
New full-timers from Arkansas

Want info on travel to Alaska

We are sitting here by the fire on this snowing afternoon, planing our trip to Alaska for this summer. We are new to RVing and while in Canada we ran into a very friendly couple who gave us a copy of Escapees Newsletter and recommended we order your book. This man's name was Bob and writes for Escapee from time to time. I wish we had gotten their address as they had just returned from Alaska. We're not going with a caravan, but on our own, and believe the "Milepost" has about all the information we need. If you have any suggestions or know of anyone who has written a book of their first-hand information about traveling to Alaska, would appreciate the names.

Millie (& Paul) Mc Nary
Florissant,  Missouri

Millie,
We don't know of any such books but some of our readers might. We will forward any information we get on to you. Can't think of who the mystery "Bob" is either. 

Two of our friends are traveling to Alaska this summer and we have asked them to be reporters for us. We know this won't help you, but also welcome you to write us with reports so others can be helped. Have fun! Barb

People call us crazy

I am reading everything I can get my hands on about full-timing and beginning to plan---the more I read and hear, the more I can't wait to do it. I don't know how I'm ever going to be able to wait two years.... 

Ken and I went to an RV show in Tampa, Fl this past weekend. We listened to two lectures---one on full-timing and one on choosing the right RV. We "chose" the 37' Bounder---but again we can't do anything about making it a reality until we sell our home, etc. We have been selectively telling people about our plans---with few exceptions they all think we're nuts and they hope we come to our senses before it's too late. No chance!  Our plans are different than anyone that we've read so far---we plan to live full-time in our RV but continue to work our jobs and travel every spare minute that we can. Not as much fun as being free to travel at will, but the closest we feel we can come to that at this point in our lives.

I hope you don't mind my writing periodically---it gives me the opportunity to share with someone who doesn't think I should be "committed."  It's hard not to share my excitement and enthusiasm.

Maureen Brague
Fort Meyers, Florida

Maureen,
I can't tell you how much we enjoy letters like yours so keep on writing. Others are going through the same things you are going through and it helps them to know they are not alone. And we know several who live in their RV's, and continue working their old jobs. Maybe they will write to you through us and let you know that you are not alone. Barb 

Thanks, thanks and more thanks

Appreciate the tidbits like making us aware of the salt build up from the beach. I just added a power nozzle to the extra hose in the motorhome for washing vehicles---a suggestion from you also. Thanks for info on convection ovens also. Since our unit was previously owned that particular owners manual was missing....Enjoyed Ron's article on fishing!!! It's something I have very fond
memories of as a child and have always wanted to try my hand at it again.... 

We're the same as you about reservations and feeling shackled.... We decide where we are going on a particular day on the morning we wake up---that's how we met you....Only been foiled once...

Carla Stotts
Oceanside, California

Another article coming

Thank you so much for publishing my article [Reflections of a Full-timer--- Dec'93]....I had written it so long ago it even seemed like new material. I am working on some ideas for a piece called "Things other full-timers won't tell you."...I want to get this stuff down and then rush it off to you. It really is "stuff" that I wish I had know about.

Carol (& Dick) Stewart
Full-timers from California

House sold quick

We'll be watching Good Morning America every day we can!  Do hope you find out when so we don't miss it!  You must be proud 'cause there are lots of RVers out there and a few others have written books---but you must be special to be picked for GMA. Congratulations!

We sold our house---the day of the real estate open house! I thought I'd have lots of time to sort and pack and etc. as sometimes houses can take a long time to sell---but that was a shock!  Since we want a diesel pusher and every day there is a new one on the market, we haven't yet settled on one....will let you know what we get (must be before April 15th). Will send our change of address ASAP.

Terry & (Jerry) Rensink
Bainbridge Island, Washington



This 'N That
by Barb

We had a lot of great help the last time we printed the newsletter. Thirteen of our friends at Outdoor Resorts assembled early on a bright, warm, Saturday morning and pitched in. We folded, collated and tri-folded 800 newsletters in a few short hours. These kind people gave up precious hours when they could have been out playing and we thank them again.

There were a couple of scary events during our last weeks in Port Isabel. At a Saturday night Western Jamboree dance a 56 year young man dropped dead while dancing. We were very impressed at the effeciency of the staff. Before anyone really realized what happened an ambulance and paramedics were on the scene. CPR did not revive the man though. It was a sober end to the evening and serves to remind all of us how mortal we are. I'm sure I wasn't the only person who had a hard time sleeping that night.

The following Thursday our new full-timer friend Don Slattery had a heart attack and was rushed to the emergency room in Harlingen. Don's heart attack was really a blessing because while doing an angioplasty to clean out his clogged arteries, the doctors discovered a large aortal aneurysm just waiting to blow. Surgery was performed a week or so later and he is recovering nicely. 

Don wanted us to mention how important it is to know where the hospitals are when you enter an area and we can ditto that. When he woke up in the middle of the night with chest pain, Kay called security and moments later the ambulance arrived. The Slattery's were able to direct them to the hospital of their choice and it turned out to be a good choice.

It was fun to catch up with some of our friends who were also wintering in the Rio Grande Valley. And pleased that others traveling through were able to find us and spend a little time visiting.

I have become a little bit crafty. Or at least I tried to do the iron on things on tee shirts. I like the painting part best. It is fun to see a plain ole tee shirt transformed into something fancy. 

We saw a great live show while at Port Isabel. Social Security Scandels was well done, very professional and extra special for us since the troop was from Lansing, Michigan (our former home). We especially enjoyed talking to each of the entertainers after the show. Apparently the show is a regular event in Lansing in the summer so if you are ever in the area and see it advertised, make it a point to see it. They also appear each January at Port Isabel. Too bad that their week in Texas was a cold dreary one.

Everyone is different. Different folks have different likes, dislikes and so on. I have known that for a long time. Sometime I forget though. Last spring, for example, I printed a letter from full-timers who had visited the Escapee park in Hondo and were disappointed. They wrote "If I were you, I wouldn't even bother [going there] unless you just want to take a day trip down to look it
over." They didn't like the railroad nearby or the fact that it was near the highway. We just left that park at Hondo and found it very enjoyable. The trains do run regularly but weren't that bad. I kind of like the sound of a train anyway. We really enjoyed the park, the people, the area and would go back in a minute. In fact if we were ready to kind of settle down, we would buy a lot there. So you must realize that when we say something is good, or an area is extra fun, it is our perception. You may not like it, but we do. We will try to be objective in our reporting and just state the facts, but most facts are colored by each person's personal preference.

We're looking forward to meeting a lot of you at the Coast to Coast Rally in San Antonio which will be held March 15-17. Many have mentioned that they will be there. We will be at booth 330. The full-timing seminar which we are doing will be held on the 15th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Whee! I feel like a new woman. I got a proper hair cut and perm by Bonnie at Looking Good in Fredricksburg (a shop I had been to before). I am just so glad that GMA waited till my hair had grown a bit. Bonnie said that the hair cut I had before was really bad and that was a big part of the problem. She was able to fix it a little. By next perm time, it will be back to normal.


Potty Pointers
That RV dealers forget to tell you

Several of our friends (veteran RVers) recently experienced plugged black water holding tanks. We thought that it was time to discuss this delicate subject.

All of you have seen the expensive toilet paper on the market in RV stores, and if you are like we were, you probably think that you have to use that kind. It is important that the paper dissolve easily in water so make the test for yourself. To try several brands you'll need as many clear glasses of water. Label the glasses appropriately then place one sheet of toilet paper in each glass. Wait a little while. Swirl each glass slightly and see which has dissolved the most We bet it will be the cheapest brand you can buy. 

Most important is that you keep a good amount of water in your black water holding tank and never leave it open (no, not even when you have full hook up).  Let's start from an empty tank. Fill it with at least four gallons of water. We prefer to fill the tank a little less than 1/8 full.  It is easy to just flush and be pleased that you don't waste much water---as opposed to regular home toilets, but if you don't keep a little extra water after or with many flushes, you're going to end up with hard solid material (even the toilet paper won't dissolve without water). 

Keeping enough water in the tank will help a lot in the odor department too.  You won't need those chemicals sold in camping stores either; in fact, they do more damage than good in that they kill the normal bacteria. The normal bacteria and water break down the solids and you will have a good working black water tank. 


Signs & Things

Welcome sign at Hondo, Texas

This is God's country
Please don't drive 
through it like hell

Sign on a ruler at a craft show

Give a man an inch
and he thinks he's a ruler

Overheard Larry Hill of Syracuse, NY
explaining his philosophy

My parents ruled the 1st third of my life
My children ruled the 2nd third
and
 I'm taking charge of the last third.


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