12/31/11:  Nearly two months here at Grand Isle now.  Fishing has been fair but nothing like last year.  Still have managed to fill up the freezer though.  

We have decided to sell our lot at the Escapee park in Hondo.  We have had it for three years now and have only stayed there (maybe) three months.  Just does not make sense to continue paying annual maintenance fees.  When we purchased it (and the one in Sutherlin, OR) we had planned to sell our house and continue to travel full time.  Having moved back into the house for the last two summers adds additional incentive to divest ourselves of these two lots.

Had a quiet holiday season here with only two other campers in the campground.  The owners went to Florida for three weeks as well adding to the quiet.  


11/23/11:  From Ozark, AR we continued southeast to another Corps of Engineers campground (again along the Arkansas River) near Dumas, AR where we spent another two days.  From there it was on to Baton Rouge for a few days and visits with old friends living there.

On November 9th we headed on to Grand Isle where we are again staying at Bayou Jim's RV park right on the canal leading from Barataria Bay to the Gulf.  Fishing has not been great but catching a few.  Last night was by far the best with eighteen speckled trout in about an hour and a half.  Also caught a couple of smaller redfish last week.

 

Redfish

Speckled Trout

Our shrimping friend, Chew Chew, stopped by over the weekend and asked if we wanted some fresh shrimp.  Needless to say, the answer was YES!  Met him on the boat and picked up about sixty pounds of really nice shrimp.  Spent the rest of the afternoon and part of the evening removing heads and peeling them before we froze them.  Fish and shrimp fry coming up!  

They have now opened up Elmer's Island to the public.  You can drive out onto the beach and enjoy a delightful day there.  We drove out yesterday and found a flock of Rosette Spoonbills feeding in the marsh.  Sure are pretty birds.

Shrimp

Spoonbills


11/2/11:  We left Madras on the 18th of October.  Initially we had planned to visit Grand Teton National Park but when we got to Central Idaho the weather forecast called for cold and rainy weather for the duration of our planned visit.  Therefore we headed on over the Rockies via Ogden, UT and Cheyenne, WY.  Again we had planned to stay a few days in Cheyenne but the weather man decided otherwise with a forecast of 6-10 inches of snow the day we were planning to leave.  So we left a day early and headed on into Kansas and a wonderful visit with Len's old Navy buddy near Dodge City.  Always great seeing him again.  

From there it was on to southeast Kansas with two nights near Cherryvale. While there we had a day trip into the town of Parsons, KS.  We couldn't pass that opportunity up.  Not a bad little town but it shows the effects of the bad economy (as do many of the small towns in the Midwest).  Here we are under the town's sign:

From there it was on into Missouri and a brief stop in Joplin.  Really sad to see the devastation from last springs tornado.  Most of the debris has been cleaned up but the scope of the damage is incredible.  Here are a few thumbnail photos (click on each to see a larger version):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following are the High School

 

 

From Joplin we turned south and traveled to a beautiful Corps of Engineers campground on the bank of the Arkansas River near the small town of Ozark, AR.  Just a few days ago we were camped on the bank of the same river in Western Kansas and there was not a drop of water in it - nothing but a dry wash - and here there is barge traffic up and down the river!  

Ozark, Arkansas from Aux Arc Park

and a couple of photos of the campground itself:

 

Spelled Aux Ark Park but pronounced Ozark Park - go figure!

 


10/13/11:  Once again it has been a few weeks since I last updated this page - sorry about that.  We have been somewhat pre-occupied these last two months.  In late August Sylvia's one year checkup for the thyroid cancer revealed a new lump in her throat.  This required another radioactive iodine scan which meant three weeks of a special low iodine diet and no thyroid medication followed by a nuclear scan.  The wait was terrible for us not knowing what the outcome was going to be.  Finally this week her thyroid specific hormone levels were low enough to administer the radioactive medication and get the scan completed.  Today was the BIG day and the results came back negative - it is only scar tissue.  What a relief!  Now we can begin to plan our winter trip south.

As soon as Sylvia gets her energy level back to normal (the special diet and lack of thyroid med's takes the wind out of her sails) we will begin loading up the camper and winterizing the house and then watch out for the dust cloud behind us!  Hope to be in Louisiana by mid November.

I (Len) have been quite busy around the house the last few weeks.  First was a remodel of the barn to accommodate a double car garage door and a twenty foot wide by thirty foot long parking bay for our F150.  It had been pretty tight getting it through a nine foot door.  Then it was rebuilding a quarter mile of fence along the west side of the pasture.  

Also spent considerable time replacing the hydraulic brake actuator on the fifth wheel.  The original one I had installed back in 2007 had a very noticeable delay (better than two seconds) that I never liked.  Read about a new unit on the market and decided to give it a try.  First unit died after two brake applications.  Second unit worked great but after sitting in the driveway for two weeks it failed.  Manufacturer believes it was because I did not run a dedicated ground wire between the battery and the actuator so they sent me a third unit and plenty of wire.  So far it is working fine.  We will wait and see how it hold up.

We have had fresh tomatoes from the garden for the last month.  Can't keep up with them.  Hate to leave them behind but the neighbors will continue to enjoy them!


8/12/11:  The middle of June found us at Magone Lake with old friends.  Fishing was great this year with many trophy size rainbow trout caught.  Caught two that were so big they broke the stringer and got away albeit still attached to the lower part of the stringer!  Had a couple of great fish fries and potlucks.  Nephew Frank came up for a few days as well.  While we were there Frank and I were invited to take a plane ride.  Ended up going up in two different planes for a ride around the John Day area.  Here are a few photos..............

Franks Ride

My Ride

Canyon City

John Day

John Day River

Magone Lake

Strawberry Mountains

Strawberry Mountains

       
       

Returned to Madras in late June for a couple of weeks before heading west to the Willamette Valley.  Spent a few days in Lebanon before going to Sutherlin where we have a lot in the Escapee Co-op RV park.  It was annual membership meeting time so we felt we needed to attend.  It was then back to Sutherlin and then on to the Portland area for a few more days before returning to Madras two weeks ago.


5/27/11:  Been a few weeks since I updated this - sorry about that.  Things have been pretty busy around the house with various projects, a trip back to Medford for grand daughter's birthday, Len's mother passing in April and all of the hub-bub associated with the funeral.  Other than just being busy there really isn't much to share with everyone.  We did have a nice visit from our Canadian friends John & Donna - really enjoyed the few days we got to spend with them.

Had to replace the evaporator core in the big truck air conditioner system.  It had developed a leak last fall and kept getting worse and worse.  Dealer wanted over $1100 to fix it.  I chose to do the grunt work and got it completed for less than $600 - new core alone was nearly $400!

Picked up an old boat trailer to use around Central Oregon and have been working on getting it road ready this week - new wheel bearings/races, new lights, spare tire and of course adjusting it to fit my small boat.  Ended up costing more to get it road ready than I paid for it!

Also traded in our old Toyota for a new Ford F150 crew cab.  Sure is a lot more comfortable to drive!  Gas mileage isn't as good as the Toyota but not bad at 22mpg highway!


3/25/11:  Arrived in Medford, OR on the 13th in a downpour.  Had rain from Susanville, CA nearly all the way to Medford.  Fortunately no snow to speak of.  Had a great week with daughter and her family - kids are growing up fast!  Mostly rain and cold the whole time we were there.

Headed on to Madras on Monday the 21st and had about thirty miles of packed snow and slush to deal with.  Moved back into the house that evening and have gradually unloaded the necessities from the RV.  

House seems to have fared well over the winter.  Yard was a mess of leaves and pine needles but an afternoon on the mower cleaned that up.  Did have a minor leak in the washing machine water line faucet - tightened the packing nut and all was well.  The furnace decided to fail the day after we arrived - sure glad that didn't happen while we were gone!  Even though the water was turned off, I still wanted to keep the house around 45 degrees.  Simple fix of a new sequencer and all is well.  Now for all the other projects!

 


3/10/11:  We left Hondo on February 25th after getting concerned about both the price and availability of fuel for the trip back to Oregon.  We traveled west via US 90 and I-10 to Eastern Arizona where we turned north to visit friends at Roosevelt Lake east of Phoenix for a few days.  It was then on west to visit more friends in Salome and Fort Mohave.  Great seeing old friends once again.  Had a few evenings in the casinos in Laughlin to make our donations (as usual).  Great buffet at the Aquarius casino!   Today we continued northward and are stopped for the night in Beatty, NV.  Expect to be in Medford, OR early next week weather permitting.


2/21/11:  We have been here in Hondo for nearly a month now.  Somewhat uneventful month but it has been great seeing old friends again.  Had a fish fry with a few friends this past weekend.  Everyone seemed to have a good time and enjoyed the red fish, sea trout and a great variety of other dishes and deserts brought by all who attended.  Our annual Membership meeting is scheduled for this coming Thursday and we plan to stick around for that and then head west the following day.  Will head for Arizona and then north through Nevada towards Oregon.


2/7/11:  From the Shreveport area we headed west into Texas with a stop near Mineola at Hawkins Lake.  Nice county park right on the lake.  Had a nice visit with friends living nearby in Lindale.  Helped Mary celebrate her 29th birthday (again).  From there it was on to Fairfield Lake southeast of Dallas.  This one of about five lakes in Texas where they stock red fish.  Red fish are really a salt water fish but they thrive in the warm water of these power plant cooling lakes.  I had heard a lot about this lake and how wonderful the State Park was.  Sadly, we were a little disappointed - facilities there have not been kept up well over the years.  Didn't do any fishing while there because they had a large fish kill last summer when the oxygen levels fell.  Fish population is slowly coming back and perhaps I can catch a few next time we visit.

From Fairfield it was on to Georgetown Lake north of Austin for a few days before continuing on to our lot in Hondo where we currently are sitting.  Leaving Georgetown the truck gave us an "Engine" warning light and seemed to be underpowered all the way to Hondo (180 miles).  Took it into the International dealer in San Antonio where they found the injector pressure control sensor was defective.  As I understand it, this causes the oil pressure that drives the injectors to be too low resulting in the injectors not opening adequately restricting fuel - no wonder it seemed underpowered!


1/20/11:   We left Grand Isle with a freezer full of fish on the 11th and traveled to New Orleans.  Caught up with old friends Butch & Betty and Ron & Kay while there - great seeing them once again.  Managed to get one day in the French Quarter for some sight seeing and shopping.  From New Orleans it was on to Baton Rouge for a couple of days again seeing old friends Kent & Jan, Claude & Bonnie, and Glendon and Eleanor and, again, great seeing them all again!

We left Baton Rouge yesterday and traveled north toward Shreveport stopping at a small campground just of I-49 near Ajax, LA - about twenty miles northwest of Natchitoches, LA.  Spent a dreary, rainy day today touring around the area.  Would have liked to see more but the weather just would not cooperate.  Natchitoches (Nak-a-tish) is one of the oldest settlements in Louisiana and full of interesting places to see and do.  One very interesting (to me at least) was the oldest continuously operated hardware store in the state of Louisiana (since 1863) - many interesting goods from days gone by AND a complete selection of modern "stuff".  Should note that this is where the movie Steel Magnolias was filmed

Just north of Natchitoches is the old town site of Grand Ecore (Grand Bluff translated from French).  This was a major trading spot along the Red River but it was burned by Federal troops during the Civil War.  The Corps of Engineers maintains a visitors center overlooking the river there today.  Couple of photos from there:

The Drive Leading to the Visitors Center

Has this Beautiful Oak Tree with it's Spanish Moss

The Red River from the

Visitors Center

And a few photos from around Natchitoches:

Cane River Lake looking north

Cane River Lake looking south

Church Street from the Church St. Bridge

Front Street looking north

Front St. looking south

View from restaurant where we had lunch

Rue Beau Port

Rue Beau Port

Fountain & Buggy


1/9/11:  We have been here at Bayou Jim's RV park for about six weeks now.  Fishing has been pretty darn good for red fish in the canal right here at the park.  We have really enjoyed our stay here and getting to know the owners Jim & Dena King as well as one other couple who keep a trailer here but live in the French Quarter (Brian & Tiffany).  Several meals together has cultivated a lasting friendship.

Have had the boat out only a few times in the last month - just as easy to catch them here than launching the boat.  Usually find some speckled trout when out in the boat.  

We are planning to leave here on the 11th and head for New Orleans for a few day.