We returned to Weatherford Texas, where we discovered that Max Hendrix had NOT sold the bus, though he claimed the neighbors were interested. Not so interested, apparently, that the police were summoned.
While at the Max-cave, I completed the installation of our new BARBEQUE on a sliding shelf. Our previous unit, propane-fired, had been stuffed in a little bay, and was rotting/rusting – cheaply made. We seldom used it, at least in part because it was a PITA to get out, set up, cook, break down and re-store. Liz, of course, was not buying ANY of those excuses – she said I could have a new BBQ as a birthday present, and I did not need to make up such stories to justify the expenditure. THAT was unexpectedly magnanimous for our Secretary of the Treasury!
Anyway, I was able to identify a Traeger Wood Pellet Grill. The grill has an auger mechanism that feeds pellets to keep the appropriate temperature, and because this is done with smoldering wood, the taste is better than can be produced on propane. (or so I assured Liz…). As important as that, the grill would EXACTLY fit into a bay on a to-be-fabricated slide-out platform. I found some drawer glides that I could double up so they extend TWICE the depth of the bay, getting the Grill out away from the bus. Thus, grill could be used right on the platform – easy-peasey. I even wired an outlet into the bay so plugging in the grill for the fire-box mechanism is super-convenient.
So, I had BETTER enjoy (and use) it frequently!! Even though that is not the weirdest toy I have ever purchased.
They never got past the little dance about who was kidding whom!!
While I was working on the platform, Max was joking with Liz about mowing the lawn (he has a couple acres and a HUGE lawnmower/tractor). Liz was joking back that she’d LOVE to mow the lawn (drive the tractor!) … I don’t know Max well enuf to know if he was serious about asking (the twinkle in his eye would suggest NOT), but I know FOR SURE that Liz would have enjoyed the chore/Tractor! They never got past the little dance about who was kidding whom, so when we left, the lawn was unmowed and Liz has still never driven a tractor.
Our first “official” destination on the way to the summer’s adventure in Alaska is Santa Cruz, Ca. We chose to stay south as long as possible, to avoid “Bomb Cyclones,” and the route our GPS designed for us showed about 1,700 miles altogether. But before we did that, we decided to stop for a Bluebird Rally in Marble Falls, Tx. We have been to this rally before, put on by the “Lonestar Birds” group, and this year hosted (magnificently!!) by friends Carole and Charlie Mitchell.
You might wonder why we COULD attend a rally for this organization – we are HARDLY “Lonestars” – which implies “from Texas.” Rick Archie, whose company we enjoyed in Quartzite and who unexpectedly was also at this rally (he owns a Garden Store in Fort Worth – it’s kind of a busy time for him, but he managed to break away…), explained to us that our formal Texas-adoption was dependant on fulfilling THREE key prerequisites.
First, we had to learn the correct pronunciation and usage of “y’all.” That’s pretty easy…Liz and I have become facile in multiple dialects including Canadian (our favourite), Newfie and Southern. Many times we have said goodbye as follows: “Long may your Big Jib Draw” (that Newfie phrase often produces an interesting look, but it is really a very charming and positive thing to say), except in Texas where “Y’all be good” or “Hasta Luego” seem to work. Y’all have read about this before – part of the local colour we try to feature. Rick Checked that off!
We never had the opportunity to demonstrate this prerequisite, but Rick’s attitude is that a false positive here would be self correcting.
Next, we had to demonstrate instinctive awareness of Rattlesnake Sounds, no matter how much ambient noise there might be. Native, Texans, Rick explained, automatically freeze at the almost subliminal sound levels these snakes make, and are able to identify within a few degrees in which direction the noise originates (and therefore the snake lies in wait). Then RUN in the OPPOSITE direction. Clearly this prerequisite weeds out MANY wanna-be Texans because if you don’t hear the snake, or run the wrong way, well let’s just say your adoption ceremony may be distinctly wake-like.
Blue Spots in Texas come from outer space; possibly from a planet called “Beto.”
And, Finally, Rick said he needed to see my “Republican Card.” Well, that is a problem for this pretty-blue Yankee. Judging from the twinkle in his eye, I am pretty sure Rick knew this. I asked him if people from Austin, San Antonio and El Paso are therefore NOT Texans, because many of them carry the alternate, Blue card. No, they are, said Rick. So, there must be an alternate path to Texanhood, but Rick was not forthcoming about this. I think he believes that those Blue Spots in Texas came from outer space; possibly from a planet called “Beto.”
Ultimately, after some careful and pretty respectful political discussions (which happen RARELY on the road, but Rick’s good nature seemed to if not encourage at least allow this), we realized that our viewpoints on MANY things were not so very different. Both of us own(ed) small business and so many of our challenges are the same. Neither of us wants the government’s hand in our pocket any more than absolutely necessary – and it is that measure that can be rationally discussed if folks are willing. Surely solutions to meet those challenges can be found if we do?
Rick has other responsibilities besides managing Texas Citizenship AND a Garden Business. It seems he is the “unofficial” photographer for the Lonestar Birds group. Nothing is ”official” in this group. I learned that this is the LEAST FORMALLY ORGANIZED “club”on the planet. There are no officers. No dues. No Bylaws. No Rules or expectations. No dress code or secret handshake. Despite the name of the group, you don’t even need to own a Bluebird!!! They just get together several times a year, and Rick informally photographs the results.
This year, however, all the photos were coming out blurry!? Even tho recognizing that “Soft focus” can be beneficial when photographing old-farts, this was not the intention, or so said Mr. Rick. Further investigation revealed his camera was not set for “AF” (autofocus), but rather “MF.” Rick said he thot that meant “Magic Focus” but clearly NOT. We think “MF” may stand for the expletive that Rick may have considered after each fuzzy photo, but which Rick is WAY TOO GENTEEL to utter. We are not yet official Texans, and we struggle with the language, so who knows what “MF” means in Texas!
One night at the rally there was a group dinner at a local Italian Place, the selection of which was made because it was the only place that would take us – it was PROM NIGHT and all the “usual” restaurants were full! In about the middle of the meal, the waitress sheepishly said, “Someone’s Jeep Alarm is going off in the parking lot…”
AFAIK, everyone made it back to the campground, but perhaps there is still someone there looking for their Jeep.
Well, you have to understand, in a group of 25 Coaches, at least 20 tow some form of Jeep or another. She narrowed it down a bit, “I think it is silver.” It was dark, so that could include Grey, Gold (like ours) or even black. Still several folks had Toads matching the description. Eventually, before we could even decide WHOSE Jeep it was, the noise stopped. Some of us speculated that was because it had been towed away. We KNEW it wasn’t ours, because we had carpooled over with the Mitchells, who drive a RED COLORADO truck that could not be confused in ANY LIGHT with a Silver Jeep.
Texas is its own kind of place…I thought I would share a couple pics that might help foster an understanding. Maybe we aren’t, in the end, QUALIFIED to be Texans?
Leaving Marble Falls, we began our journey westward. The West-Texas and New Mexico Deserts were as previously experienced – dusty, dry and desolate. This time thru, they were also windy. VERY WINDY.
Driving even RV WHERE YET, whose low profile and high weight (compared to many RVs) is not as subject to wind loads, was a chore. Along the way we made a few stops (you cannot get through this region – especially Texas without at least a few). Ft. Stockton; this time uneventful – last time we blew an airbag and had to await a repair. Las Cruces, NM.
And eventually Phoenix, Az. Where we enjoyed dinner with Liz’s niece, Ellen, and breakfast with cousin Denise.
We did have a new driving experience just before Phoenix. All of a sudden, from nowhere we drove thru a swarm of some kind of insect. It sounded like someone threw a large handful of BBs at the windshield, and then it looked like someone had coated the windshield with melted Gummy Bears. Windshield wipers and wash had almost no effect for the longest time. Fortunately, before I drove off the road the solvent dissolved the insect-guts enuf to see.
We need a good rain to get the rest off, but we ARE in the desert, so the jelly might be there for awhile.
Leaving Phoenix, we still have 3-4 days ahead of us to Santa Cruz. We are moving more miles per-day than we usually do since we actually do have a “Deadline” of sorts…our Departure from Vancouver on May 15th. But our movement is designed to suck up the distance in bigger-than-usual chunks (there is not much to see…) so that we can stop along the way for a day or two here and there to visit friends.
As always, looking forward to that!!