Bob Woodall's home page

Places Visited:

Oklahoma: Arrowhead State Park on Lake Eufaula

Texas: Livingston: Escapee's National Headquarters
Columbus: Colorado River,
Brenham: Blue Bell Creameries

There has been a large time gap between our Travelogue #16 and the current one, #17. As I mentioned at the end of #16, we would backtrack to Texas to take care of personal business and medical exams. This took longer than expected but with everything completed we are now on the road. The Travelogue format will be different from those previously, but we hope you will find them of interest.

Bob & Peggy Woodall


Places of Interest

Oklahoma: Arrowhead State Park on Lake Eufaula

Texas: Livingston: Escapee's National Headquarters
Columbus: Colorado River,
Brenham: Blue Bell Creameries

2003 Travelogue# 17 Texas: Lake Tawakoni, Livingston, Columbus and Seguin
October 23 - November 24, 2003

10/22 Saying our good byes to family in Marshfield, MO, we headed for Texas a little after 9 this morning. It's interesting how people plan or NOT plan their travels and ours is a good example. It took 3 months to meander 650 miles north sightseeing and "putzing" along the way, while sniffing out little fun places to eat. Now, we're returning to our starting point and we'll be there in two days.

We spent the night in Arrowhead State Park on Lake Eufaula, a few miles from Canadian, Oklahoma. The Park provided a comfortable halfway point between Marshfield, Missouri and our destination, Thousand Trails Preserve at Lake Tawakoni, near Point, Texas. Our campsite nestled in a small valley, surrounded by hills that opened onto the lake. A large gathering of equestrians with their horses was expected this weekend as evidenced by the advanced preparations in campsites throughout the valley. Small rope corrals were being made with feedbags dangling for a few of the horses already there and eating. The riders will enjoy following the many trails into the hills and around the lake. That afternoon we walked down by the lake, watched the horses and, generally, got out the kinks from the 5-hour drive.

10/23 After checking into the Thousand Trails Preserve around 1 pm, we found a campsite and were hooked up by 2 pm. The rest of the day was spent walking, doing light chores, and visiting friends.

10/24 Peggy took a long walk this morning while I worked on the computer. Later, we had lunch at one of our favorite little places in Emory, the "Ya'll Come Back Café" indulging in their "blue plate special", chicken fried steak, pinto beans, mashed potatoes, cream gravy, cornbread/rolls, ice tea, and a cut of their chocolate pie.

This afternoon Bill and Shirley Moser paid us a visit. They were the first couple we met when we discovered Thousand Trails in May 2001. Bill, in his former life, was a Dallas motorcycle police officer; plus, one of a small group of officers who started the Dallas Policeman's Choir. This choir now has more than 40 members and has traveled internationally. He said "getting new members was not that hard, once they saw ole Bill on stage with his black motorcycle boots, singing like a canary".

Being Fulltimers, they took us under their wing, telling us about the Park and the Thousand Trail system. They said the Lake Tawakoni Preserve was "like home to them", and we now understand what they meant… we feel the same way.

This Park is 50 miles from Rockwall, TX, our former home and 80 miles from Dallas where we lived before moving to Rockwall. All our medical services are located in the area and it was time to revisit the doctors and dentist before going to the Valley for the winter.

One of the things we enjoy most about this lifestyle are the wonderful people we meet. It's so different from living in a "stick house", because our neighbors are constantly changing and each has a story. Here is a sampling of several of our encounters.

A former career Navy and recent widower, named Dave, was making his way to San Diego for the winter to spend time with his grandkids. Dave sported a full, salt and pepper beard and mustache with a pipe, and came visiting each afternoon, in his shorts, T-shirt, and sandals. Peg said, "Dave, could be the look-a-like for the character in Hemingway's, "The Old Man and the Sea". On one occasion Dave took the time to make bratwurst stew and invited us to partake in his dining treat. Another next-door couple received a phone call while in Virginia, informing them their San Diego County home was in the path of the fires. They tried to call their neighbors but could not make connections. Talk about high anxiety! They had driven 3 days and took the next 2 days off to rest, camping next to us. Shortly after the San Diego couple departed, a couple from Oregon took up residence next door. While working on my laptop at the picnic table, Jim, a retired career Coast Guard, stopped by, introduced himself and our conversation soon drifted toward investments, which was my former life's occupation. We had several lively conversations over the next few days regarding this topic. Then there were Claire and Kaye going the other way in their motor home, toward Florida from Arizona to visit family. They have a home in the mountains around Flagstaff where she has a studio. She showed us photos of her beautiful Southwestern paintings. From Seven Points, TX we met Dick and Loretta who have a summertime home in Hunter, ND. She recently published a Tex-Mex recipe book, of which we bought several copies. This is just a sampling of the interesting souls that have crossed our path these last few weeks.

11/19 We were planning to leave Thousand Trails yesterday but the weather forecasted a front with 30 to 40 mph winds, so we decided to wait a day. Good that we did because by mid-afternoon, some of the gusts had to be 50 mph, with blowing rain…not the greatest time to be driving a big RV.

11/20 Rainbow's End Livingston, TX is the campground at the National Headquarters for the Escapee's RV Club. This Club offers various services for fulltime RV'ers, such as a street mailing address. I have mentioned before, that the IRS classifies folks like us as…"the moderate affluent homeless". In Rockwall County, we could not receive our voter's registration card or vehicle registration without a permanent residential address, and our private mailbox (PMB) didn't qualify. It was time to make a change and this was done, rather seamlessly, through Escapee's.

We are now enrolled in the Escapee's Mail Forwarding Service; considered the largest in the world, serving more than 12,000 RV'ers around the country. We have changed our permanent address to 156 Rainbow Dr. Livingston, TX and our voters and vehicle registrations are on the rolls in Polk County. To receive our mail we now call an 800 number at the Service and inform the operator to send our mail via General Delivery or Fed EX to the various towns we visit. This event was somewhat nostalgic for me, since I have been a resident of Dallas and Rockwall (adjoining county) Counties for 62 years. This completes our move to becoming "Fulltimers".

11/21 Escapee's has established a CARE (Continued Assistance to Retired Escapees) Center for RV'ers at Headquarters. This is a freestanding building used as a day care center with nursing care and a place where Fulltimers come to recover from an illness or surgery, and in the evening, still returns to his/her RV home. While the Center attends to the patient during the day, the caregiver has an opportunity to do chores, run errands, etc. secure in the knowledge that their loved one is safe. The facilities also provide a place for those suffering from Alzheimer, these patients come each day, and are provided activities, lunch, and fellowship.

Surrounding the Center are RV pads with full hookups (FHU) where the caregiver and care receiver park their RV. This is a wonderful service for folks like us and we enjoy going to the Center and volunteering. Today, Peggy worked with 6 ladies drawing pictures of Thanksgiving turkeys while I played dominoes with Ray. Ray has dementia, and would ask me each time how many dominos to draw. But, he could count, and by the time they called him for the fried catfish lunch, he was ahead 200 to 125. He kept saying it was luck…sure Ray!

With the lunch call, it was time for us to leave the CARE Center. W e had wanted to inspect a Thousand Trails Preserve on Lake Conroe about 50 miles southwest of Livingston and on the way we stopped for lunch in Onalaska, TX. We met a lady in the Livingston Post Office yesterday, who recommended this small Italian restaurant called Vinnie's, owned and operated by a young New Jersey couple. It was not one of our favorite dining experiences…Wished we'd applied the "ant test"...We were the only car!

Afterward, we were off to Lake Conroe and the TTN Preserve. We drove through the Park, becoming familiar with available sites and services. It was obvious the "snowbirds" were moving south, not many empty campsites available. Our drive back to Livingston was enjoyable, as we were close to the "Big Thicket" area of Texas, with dense trees and underbrush.

11/22 Today was one of leisure; just walked around the Escapee complex, visited with people and relaxed. We did the laundry, read a little and ended the day with a grocery run to Wally World. Tomorrow will be traveling day.

11/23 This morning was balmy with the temperature in the mid 60's warming up to the low 70's. I questioned whether to break camp or stay another day because a cold front was approaching. A 40-degree drop in the temperature was expected. It looked like, what we call here in Texas a "blue north'er" was approaching, consisting of gusty winds, a sudden drop in temperature with wind chill. However, it appeared the front would pass in late afternoon, after we reached our destination of Columbus, TX and the Thousand Trails Park on the Colorado River.

It began raining as we entered Houston on US 59 and by the time we hit Loop 610 over I-10 the rain was heavy. Continuing west on I-10, shortly after passing the Sam Houston Toll RD, the line winds hit us on the passenger side breaking my awning loose. I turned on the flashers and crept along the shoulder until reaching a turn into a business complex. Maneuvering the coach so the driver side faced the wind I was able to roll up the awning, put duct tape on the cover near the post, to hopefully block future wind attacks. An hour later, we were back on the road only to go about 20 miles before it blew out again, even worse than the first time.

Crept up the shoulder once again, with the wind blowing the awning across the top of the coach, making a hell of a noise. Pulled into a truck stop. Out came the ladder and utility knife to remove what was once a good awning. The only thing left was the cowling to the Carefree Colorado but with only 36 more miles to Columbus, we headed out. In just a few miles the cowling got caught in the wind, stood straight up, then fell with a crash. The noise kept getting worse as Peggy watch through the mirror. She finally said, "we've got to stop, it's coming off".... Back onto the shoulder with flashers going...Stopped in a "closed" truck weight station with the wind slamming us on the passenger side. The 20-foot-long metal cowling was coming out of the groove on the coach, half in and half out. Out came the ladder, work gloves, screwdriver, pliers, and rope. I had to figure how to pull it totally off, as the wind gusted 40 mph and Peg was freezing? About that time here came a car into the weigh station. A young couple on their way back to San Antonio saw us, backed down the shoulder, turned around in the weigh station and drove to us. They said their parents were Fulltimers and wondered if we needed help? I said," yes". So, he took the rope, applying tension to keep the cover from flying off the coach and onto the Interstate. I took another rope, applied pressure and literally pulled off the awning cowling. We then snaked it inside the coach, said good-bye to our angels, secured the posts and made it into Colorado River TTN at 4:30...We were exhausted...to say the least…

11/24 Awakening this morning was less traumatic than last evening. Looking out our windows we saw that a heavy frost had settled in overnight, giving a sparkling landscape. This Park is located on the banks of the Colorado River amidst majestic old (some 200-years-old) pecan trees and, as we watched, the deer grazed in the flats toward the River.

It didn't take long for Peggy to put on her Alaskan clothing and head out for her walk. She was so excited about the deer and all the little creatures that were stirring at daybreak, and had to get out "amongst" them. The day was spent enjoying the outdoors and exploring the Park.

11/25 The main event for the day was to drive 40 miles to Brenham, TX to visit the Blue Bell Creameries. If you've ever heard the words from one of Alabama's songs… "Well, if you ever live in Texas, you've got-ta have a"…it's really a Blue Bell Ice Cream Cone from "the little old creamery in Brenham". This creamery has been pumping out ice cream since 1907 and is an institution in "these here parts".

They have four tours in the morning and four in the afternoon, starting at 10 am then at 1 pm. Tickets are $3 and seniors $2. The tours are each limited to 45 people and begin with a short movie about how the Brenham Creamery began and evolved into the large privately held corporation of today. The tour was informative as the guide placed us on enclosed catwalks over and between two areas of the production facility. One side held the large mixing tanks of milk, cream, sugar, pasteurization, and homogenization and on the other side was the large 3000-gallon storage tanks. The cream flowed from these large tanks into smaller flavoring tanks. We happened to be standing over the flavoring tank where the ingredients for "Banana Split" were being inserted. Then the flavored cream flowed into the freezing tanks, and on to the filling and packaging area. The boxes then moved down a conveyer belt into a "blast freezer" for 6 hours with a wind chill factor of -100 degrees. The tour ended in the Blue Bell Store with a cup of the flavor of choice. Peg and I chose "Banana Split", and it tasted like an old fashion, real ice cream banana split with all the toppings. This is a fun stop for all ages (www.bluebell.com ) and their Toll free number is 800-327-8135.

After the tour, we drove around the old Historic Town Square of Brenham, where there appeared to be fun shops as well as quaint little restaurants. But, after having two servings of ice cream each, we were in no shape to think about foxy little restaurants. So, we worked at getting our seat belts around us and off we went through the countryside. Germans settled the area around Brenham and, as we made our way back to the Colorado River, we could see impressive Lutheran and Catholic churches in the various hamlets with their well established German limestone houses and farms in the distance.




Bob Woodall's home page