Tag Archives: Houston

Headin’ east

It’s time for us to turn eastward once again.  Tough to do, we’ll miss our Towerpoint and ham radio friends and all the great tennis and social events.  Duty calls and, hopefully, fair Florida weather will be welcoming too.

Friends from Calgary, JIm and Martha, were on an easterly course for Tallahassee FL from Las Vegas.  They arrived Wednesday afternoon at Towerpoint for a brief visit before they resumed their trip.  They’ll be joining an Airstream caravan about Florida a few days from now.  Our planned departure from Mesa was Thursday morning, a half day behind them.

Our travels have previously been altered by thunderstorms and snowstorms but this is the first time we’ve delayed a departure.  Thursday’s forecast for our trip’s first leg called for 3 to 11 degrees (Fahrenheit) overnight and snow and high temperatures in the high teens.  Our previous trip from Mesa to the east (Dec 2009) was so fast-paced we dedicated ourselves this time to planning an extra two days into the itinerary.  We looked at this weather outlook and dispensed with one of our zero days.  The weather would be better one day later.

We mentioned the weather outlook to Jim and Martha and they decided to wait their departure until Friday morning because the trip’s overnights would be too chilly.  They gained a relaxing Wednesday afternoon and all day Thursday in Mesa.  We joined Bob and Faith for a farewell celebration at Organ Stop Pizza .

Organ Stop is a must-see in Mesa, it has the world’s largest Wurlitzer organ complete with 23 ranks and an entire set of 32 feet long wood pipes. Wonderful organists do a wonderful job showcasing the organ by playing several sets of tunes including requests from customers.  We all enjoyed good pizza, salad, and wonderful music at Organ Stop Pizza.

The evening was still young and across the street is Pros Ranch Market, the largest Mexican grocery store we’ve visited.  Panederia, salsa bar, tortilleria, taqueria, cremeria, carniceria, and all sorts of produce we’d never seen are presented in colorful and appealing displays.  The sweet rolls and cookies are really tempting, the fresh tamales are excellent, the salsas are fresh and fantastic, and if we can catch the store with short check-out lines we enjoy sampling treats from Pros Ranch.

Towerpoint Resort’s gate guard welcomed us to a completely and very dark resort.  Colder than usual temperatures greatly increased electrical demand throughout the east valley and wreaked havoc with the local utility’s power distribution plan.  Rolling blackouts ensued and the resort’s power did not successfully reconnect.  People in some sections of the resort spent  several days without power.  Thursday evening everyone apparently was “in the dark” from before 2100 hours until sometime after 0400 hours.

It’s nice to wake up to full power.  And even nicer is our fully self-contained home.  Regardless of local utility power issues our batteries power lights, heat, fans, and  electronics.  Unfortunately for our park model (mobile home) neighbors their lights and heat are completely dependent upon local utility electrical power.  A few have gas furnaces, but their gas furnaces require 110vac to drive the fans and controls, whereas our furnace is battery-powered.

Good news is on the horizon for Towerpoint folks — their weather forecast is for 70 degrees by Super Bowl Sunday.  Wish we were there!  We have had a wonderful winter in Towerpoint with friends on and off the tennis court, and our Mesa weather overall was fabulous.  No matter how cool the temperatures the hot tubs were still steamy hot and it’s never too cold to play tennis.  Several of us gathered for a couple hours of tennis Thursday morning.  The captains had cancelled our inter-resort league match due to cold temperatures.  Our friendly game, an hour later, was very nice in sub-40 degree temperatures.

Our first travel day we left Mesa at 0530 hours caravanning with Jim and Martha.  We arrived almost fourteen hours later in chilly (27F) Fort Stockton TX.  Saturday morning we left at 0630 hours and drove just past Houston — at 545 miles a much shorter drive than Friday.  Houston is much warmer than Fort Stockton, we arrived to 60 degrees.  Sunday and Monday we’ll also have 400 mile drives, weather permitting.  We’re heading for Orlando FL for Hamcation, the best hamfest in the southeast.

We’ve been “out west” since June 2010, it’s time to head east again.  Even as much as we’ll miss everything western, the food, the weather, tennis, and especially friends, we have family and friends and doin’s back east.  And hopefully we can find our way westward later this year.

[Sorry no pictures this time — posting on the road with battery power only, glad to get the alphabet on this post.  Will post pictures of Organ Stop party later.]

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie

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How not to tour Texas

We missed Texas. We just sorta flew across, you know? Every time Jim would awaken from a catnap, Debbie would have moved the truck and trailer east another hundred miles or so. After one nap we were out of the desert and in grasslands with, get this, water in the river beds. What, not dry riverbeds? If you’ve spent any time in Arizona or west Texas, you know what we’re talking about.

Yesterday morning we drove 400 miles from Mesa, AZ, and entered Texas from below Las Cruces, NM. We then drove another almost 300 miles and were still in west Texas, in Ft Stockton. This morning we left the Wal-Mart in Ft Stockton, TX, at 06:00 a.m. and started our zoom eastward in the dark and cold morning. It stayed dark and cold all morning, too, aided by very nice cloud cover.

The cloud cover is great for easterly sunrise travel, no hour or two of driving into the bright light on the horizon. Unfortunately the lack of sunlight also meant the day didn’t warm up much. Jim checked Texas cities current temperatures at mid-morning — not a single reported city anywhere in Texas, among two or three dozen, had temperatures above 42 degrees. We would have enjoyed even 42 — we were driving through 25 to 30 degree zones all morning.

Every hour or two we stopped and checked the Airstream’s indoor thermometer. The temperature stayed above 40F, not too bad. We ran the furnace for five or ten minutes during two stops, just to warm the plumbing spaces in the cabinets and under the floors, and turned it off again before heading out onto the highway. Great news, no frozen pipes.

Again, we alternated driving a couple of hours at a time each. Interstate I-10 was great, again. And we schemed to zoom through San Antonio and Houston before their rush hours, morning and afternoon, respectively. It worked great, except for I-10 and I-45 ramps construction right downtown Houston. Small delay there and another one in the ‘burbs of Austin. No big deal, and we arrived almost without incident in Sulphur, Louisiana at 17:45 hours Central time. Zoooooom!

Almost without incident, you might ask? Well, there was this one moment in Austin, TX. . . You see, they also have a Clayton Homes i-House in Austin. And, like the others, they stage their iHouse in a prominent place on their lot. Everyone driving by can see it, stare (a replacement for texting while driving, we suppose), and hit the brakes to try and turn in and visit it.

So we have, as of today, seen the iHouse models in Everett, Washington; Mesa, Arizona; and Austin, Texas. Except for Clayton Homes staff, and possibly some support/install staff of Ikea, we think we might be the best visitors Clayton Homes has for iHouses. Unless, we suppose, they more highly regard the visitors who also purchase an iHouse. What do you think?

Back to missing Texas — we didn’t stop anywhere and eat Texas Barbecue. This isn’t actually much of a loss to most North Carolinians, since we have much better BBQ in NC anyway. We didn’t stop and visit the LBJ State Park, although it looked really nice. We would love to return to Johnson City and Fredericksburg some time when we can return. El Paso looked interesting. Tex-Mex food is one of Jim’s favorites, and how did we do sampling this while crossing Texas?

Let’s see, we stopped last night at a Sonic for a burger and fries. That’s it for Texas dining for us — all the other food consisted of snacks in the truck while driving. What would Ray LaHood, our federal Secretary of Transportation say? Well he already did, and we weren’t so much eating as snacking. The difference, we maintain, is the same as the difference between cell-phone talking and talking to each other in person.

We have only 1,000 miles remaining to arrive in Kannapolis. We’re only 150 miles ahead of schedule, not really a very big deal although it took part of three hours extra driving to attain. Before we hit the sack tonight we’ll check our distances to any rush-hour potentials between here and Montgomery, Alabama, and plan tomorrow’s drive accordingly.

Follow us next time, to tour Texas. We’ll take our time in Texas, and enjoy it. Next time we visit Texas, we want stopping time instead of driving time. There’s a lot to see, and a whole lot of it isn’t even on I-10. Don’t tour Texas on this schedule — too fast, too thin, nearly might as well have flown across.

Jim and Debbie
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©2009 Dreamstreamr