February 23 San Antonio’s King William ‘hood

The strange, miserable weather continues. At midday today it was 44 degrees and raining. At 7:00 PM the air was up to 64 but it was still raining. We decided we had grumbled through enough crummy outside conditions and hopped into the truck and drove into San Antonio. Our target destination was the city’s King William neighborhood.
Due to the nature of Texas roads and ample highway construction in town, our route to the neighborhood was a bit circuitous but we persevered and eventually drove right down King William Avenue. The ‘hood has an absolutely stunning assortment of Queen Anne, Victorian and Art Nouveau residential structures lining the roads of the 12 block square district. Lots of gingerbread and snazzy masonry. A very few of the structures are falling into disrepair but the remainder are either plainly being reconstructed or are in magnificent shape. There are some that would qualify as “mansions.” Being architecture fans, we were delighted cruising this little enclave. The houses in the King William neighborhood are gorgeous.
We eventually found our way back to a highway and even got going the correct direction although the signs gave me some apprehension – we needed to go west and our first stint on the highway was on I-10 East but after much convoluted and disoriented shambling, we got back to the west side of town and on to Lakehills.
Check out some of the buildings. Click here

February 22 Still in Lakehills

The weather has been sort of miserable the last few days. Two days ago it rained all day. Yesterday a cold front came through; it was 68 degrees at half past midnight but 41 at noon. Today it didn’t rain although temperatures are still in the low 40s. We took advantage of the lack of precipitation today and drove into Helotes (on the northern outskirts of San Antonio) to pick up a few groceries, RV toilet paper and some dookie dissolver.
We knew from the outset we would be here a while awaiting warmer weather in states to the north and east. We got our trailer spring and tire fixed. We got a new RV roof. We did some sightseeing and some shopping but mostly we have lounged around the trailer. Fortunately, the Winter Olympics have been running and we got to see a bunch of that. Last night we watched the Women’s U.S. Hockey Team stuff the puck into the Canadians’ bottom for the first time in a couple decades. We have listened to considerable hype about Lindsey Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin and then watched them not perform in the skiing events. We got to see an almost unknown kid win the snowboard half pipe. It has been a good show. Our satellite receiver has worked flawlessly.
We have a few more days here before moving on to Columbus, TX, over near Houston. I hope the weather starts to cooperate because it is chilly now and we are reluctant to go north until things warm up. We don’t do icy roads at our age.
There are many deer here. Click here

February 19 Hill Country State Natural Area

The weather has been sort of crummy the last few days; cloudy in the mornings with high humidity which rises toward evening. We have done very little strenuous stuff to avoid getting sweaty followed by a faint odor of cheese.
Fortunately, there has been great satellite TV reception so we have been treated to about 8 hours per day of the Olympics which is nearly half of what we want. It looks like South Korea has put on a good show although there only seems to be snow on the one ski run. The surrounding terrain outside the Olympic venues seems to be brown, mostly.
Today we went on a drive to attempt to get to the west side of Lake Medina. It was much more difficult than it looked on the map. Many roads plainly shown on our GPS and our phone turned out to be non-existent, severely gullyed or dirt tracks which wandered off into pastures and locked gates. The terrain is rolling hills so getting to a high point of land in order to see the surroundings isn’t really possible without a horse or motorcycle. We ultimately used dead reckoning to find our way close to the western shore although we were unable to determine exactly where along the shore we might have been.
We passed through some very seedy-looking residential areas south of Bandera. One homeowner was proudly displaying not less than five toilets in his small but cluttered front yard. Others had their entire automotive ownership history strewn throughout their impalement hazard obstacle course and front yard. Some have truly giant piles of white plastic garbage bags and empty gallon milk containers. We spotted a structure where the owner has built a large second floor on top of an elderly single-wide trailer house. Building codes appear to be optional in Texas. Many structures are built here without the benefits of a foundation. However, we did pass by a few dozen gorgeous places but they seem to be the minority around the west side of Lake Medina, most of them on or near the shoreline.
On the way home, we pulled into the Hill Country State Natrual Area for a bit of exploration. The park charges $6 a head to use the facilities but they also offer a complimentary free pass if you just want to drive through and look around. We got one of those and took a spin down all the smooth park roads. The countryside is beautiful there. They have some small camping facilities, creeks, limestone cliffs and we spotted quite a few deer. It is not entirely “natural” since there is ample evidence of juniper (folks here call it mountain cedar) eradication programs and rural electrification. Nevertheless, it is still pretty country.
On the way back through Bandera, we noted that the city’s promotional sign said Bandera is the “Cowboy Capital of the World” although we only saw 13 cattle all day and no cowboys. We did spot many Texans who may fancy themselves as cowboys driving and walking about who were wearing big hats with brims like carrier decks. They must have found their hats because none had cows, chaps nor horses. We also noted some landholders seem to have a lot of fenced-in animals from Africa and other locations. I understand some of the local ranchers have converted their holdings to game ranches where rich folks and poor marksmen can kill a kudu while on safari inside a fenced enclosure in south Texas.
Some of the poor cannon fodder can be seen by clicking here

February 16 Moving without moving

We spent last night in our trailer despite it being like walking around in a fun house due to the sloping floor. This morning we disconnected the sewer, water, power and satellite dish, removed all the chocks and supports, hooked the recently repaired Barbarian Invader to our F-250 and connected up all the electrical and brake stuff and pulled ahead about 10 feet.
We then backed into the very same space and leveled up the trailer suitable for use by those who prefer not to roll into a corner of the living room. We re-connected all the utilities and, shortly thereafter, disappeared back into the trailer for reward cocktails. The recent weather has been sort of lousy here – cloudy, some sub-freezing nights, rain and miserably high humidity so we are trying to stay out of it as much as possible. At 90% humidity, just a stroll around the trailer will result in a sweat-soaked shirt and funny, old person odors emanating from someone.
For the last few days, we have been delighted to watch all the birds that come to our bird feeder, located right outside one of our living room windows. Today, during our cocktail rewards time, we had a big gang or herd of cedar waxwings stopping by at a water dish we have installed below one of the park’s many leaking water spigots. They are gorgeous little guys. They can hover. I wish I could.
We tried some photos of the fast moving little zingers. Click here

February 15 Repairs finally

The last few days we have spent anxiously waiting for our RV mechanic and our insurance company to do all their halting, spastic operations associated with our fifth wheel trailer’s repairs. We could not move the trailer anywhere until some of the work got done and we don’t cotton to having our travel agenda restricted.
All of that changed today. Personnel from Dale’s Fix It Right RV Repair service arrived at our current RV spot just after 8:00 AM and started on the variety of tasks associated with the bottom of our trailer. When we had our recent explosive fun with our rear left trailer tire and leaf spring, more than the spring and tire were affected. The nature of the spring/tire destruction was such that there was a lot of shrapnel that was discharged toward the rear of the trailer, taking out numerous flimsy trailer components before being shat out on the highway behind us. Our rear electrically operated stabilizer jacks were kaput. Many feet of soft weather seals that used to protect the interior from water damage were streamers. There was tire remnants twisted around brake and axle components.
After about an hour, the damaged wheel came off and was inspected for damage. There was some cosmetic damage but the wheel seemed okay so we drove into San Antonio and had Discount Tire mount a new tire on the rim. Returning to the campground, the mechanics took it back for installation after their other work was done. During our foray into San Antonio, more workers arrived and started stripping our old trailer roof membrane, removing air conditioners, operable vents and skylights for roof replacement. By the end of the day, Dale’s guys had fixed the spring, remounted the tire, fixed our rear stabilizers, installed new weather seals, put a new roof on the trailer, replaced all the roof mounted skylights, vents and A/C units and cleaned up. We had to cough up $200 for the tire and $500 for our deductible on the insurance claim but ended up with a new tire, a brand new locally forged leaf spring, a new roof, re-invigorated rear stabilizer jacks and new seals. If we would have been required to pay for this ourselves, the price would have been around $8,000. We are happy. The contractor did very well. The insurance (Good Sam Club) company, despite some slow motion at the beginning, ultimately came through with what we consider a very reasonable settlement. Tomorrow we will need to re-install the trailer in the same spot because when we pulled in last week, the suspension was collapsed on the left side and, now that everything is fixed, our home has a definite slant.
Our trailer looks newer. See by clicking here

February 11 BRRRR!

It was cold in San Antonio last night. In our campground in Lakehills it was one degree above freezing at 7:00 this morning. By noon, it was 35 and 39 by mid-afternoon. Peggy found a great thing to do to pass the time – she made cinnamon rolls. We aren’t going anywhere today. Maybe tomorrow. It is uncomfortable outside for those of us in the shorts-and-T-shirt crowd.
There are lots of animals here. Some can be seen by clicking here

February 10 Into San Antonio traffic

It is Saturday and our RV repairs are in limbo for a couple days since neither the contractor nor the insurance company work weekends and only do slightly more during the week. Since we didn’t need to talk with anyone or refer to our records, we decided to go into San Antonio, thinking traffic would be lighter on the weekend. We were wrong.
We stopped in at a Home Depot for some minor repair supplies and bird seed for our friends. We also tried out a restaurant called BJ’s Restaurant and Brew House which seems unlikely to get on our favorite restaurants list. The servers were nice enough but looked like tatted punks with funny hair. Our beer and appetizers selection was somehow bungled and we ended up with a proper appetizer but the wrong brew. The wait for our food seemed abnormally long. The food, despite the wait, was nominal, at best. The final insult was the $65 bill. We will find other places to eat that aren’t as snazzy, upscale or crummy.
The weather has been getting abnormally lousy for around here. It is mostly cloudy, some rain and temperatures are dropping, even during the daytime. We will cozy up in our traveling home and ignore the weather.

February 9 We may be slugs

We didn’t do anything productive today. We are slugs.
We did find out that there may be a communication problem between our RV repair contractor and our RV insurance company. Despite allegations from the contractor, the insurance company can’t seem to get it together on the estimate and picture arrivals in their system. Since we do not have any pressing engagements, we may just let these two snotty crybabies haggle it out without any of our help. So there!

February 8 Into San Antonio to shop

There was no progress on our maintenance or insurance coverage issues so we chose to avoid boredom while waiting and took a foray out into the San Antonio area to spend money.
San Antonio covers a monstrous area so we drove about an hour to a Camping World to acquire some stuff. Our current outdoor carpet for the RV was acquired when we purchased the trailer in ’14 and it was almost nominal at that time. It has been slowly disintegrating since then and now merely leaves tiny pieces of itself in our storage bay. Peggy picked out a new carpet to replace the future former unit.
We got a new screen door handle for me to install and, as always, we stocked up on tank deodorizer. On the way back across San Antonio, we spotted a Trader Joe’s and stopped in to buy a whole bunch of very tasty but probably not healthy goods. We managed to escape less than $200 poorer although we may soon be more rotund.
Considering the amount of time we had already spent on San Antonio’s roads, we then chickened out and headed back to Lakehills and our temporarily crippled Barbarian Invader. The weather has been sort of crummy so we are pretty happy just holing up in the trailer and watching movies. Additionally, there are lots of wild critters outside the trailer and we are quite content watching them.

February 7 Chores day

Today we figured we would be able to go exploring but reality set in and fouled up our lack of plans. We found out the roof portion of our temporarily wounded RV will require a separate insurance claim from our tire explosion issue (see 2/6 and 2/5 entries) so I spent a couple hours on the phone chatting with insurance company employees I don’t know. I also spent some time talking to our RV mechanic and giving him pertinent info from the insurance company. It is funny that when folks having some problem are shown on TV, they are smiling and looking quite satisfied when dealing with their insurance company. Our experience has been somewhat different; I have spent hours on the phone either wandering in answering machine mazes or leaving messages for my mechanic who probably cannot answer when I call because he is busy in some uncomfortable space under someone else’s RV. After many hours of fooling around with our cell phone and its charger, I may be done with today’s fun frustrated communication activity.
I dumped the waste tanks but when I pulled in into our current RV space with our trailer with its failed tire and suspension parts, I was unable to check out the sewer location. It turns out that it was at the maximum distance from our trailer that I can deal with but the hole was also a bit uphill from our campsite so dumping was a bit problematic. I am now convinced that shit won’t run uphill.
Peggy went over to the laundry and she did our laundry while I was fussing with the dookies. Only sharpening our knives remains to be done on my schedule for today and I will start on that as soon as Peggy returns and shows me where she has concealed our knife sharpener. I am such a helpless goob without her around.
We put out the bird feeder because we have spotted flocks of them around here. Even though we have been primarily tied up with insurance companies and RV repairmen today, we have identified some bird types we have not seen before and we always think that is good.
We got pictures of some neighbors. Click here