And……We’re Off!!!!!

DAY  1

LOCATION:  Laredo, Texas
CAMPGROUND:  Lake Casa Blanca International State Park.  Quite large.  Very dry.  Our site is on lake.  Water and electricity.  Pull-through. $18.  Nice bathrooms.  Quiet – not many people here.  Good TV and cell phone reception.  Would have been nicer but the campers before us left a lot of litter at the site.  3 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Overcast.  High 89

I wanted to leave Retama Village at 1:00;  George said 2:00.  We ended up heading out at 1:45 – not bad.  Since we were not in a hurry, I did water aerobics in the morning and George worked out in the gym.  We finished packing up and getting the house ready.  We moved all the outdoor furniture and bikes into the house, and grills/garbage cans into the shed. 

I nestled my flower pots into the mulch, next to the sprinkling system.  I hope they make it. 

My decor inside Joy is flamingos.  I don’t know why, but lots of Airstreamers decorate with them.  You often see plastic flamingos outside people’s trailers.  I am not over-doing it, so just have a few pillows.  This one was a former wind-sock that I repurposed.

This one used to be my purse.  I cut off the straps.  I filled it with plastic grocery bags to use for storing extra bags for our garbage can while traveling.

Hopefully we didn’t forget anything.  We have lots of lists – for closing up the house, and for prepping Joy and the pick-up. 

Our route from Mission to here followed the Rio Grande River.  We passed through a lot of forlorn towns like Zapata and Rio Grande City.  The bleak landscape is dusty with a few mesquite trees.  We arrived about 5:00 and got settled in.  We enjoyed sitting at our covered picnic table looking at the lake and watching a cardinal peck at our truck’s rearview mirror.  Obviously, he thinks he is seeing a rival in the mirror.  Cute!

DINNER:  I had made this casserole at home so just needed to warm it up.  It was truly a “Leftover Supreme”.  I sauteed onions, bell peppers, garlic, poblano peppers, and diced chicken.  I added tomatoes and wine to make a sauce.  I made it sort of like lasagne, but used spaghetti noodles instead.  So – a layer of chicken/veg mix, a layer of pasta, another layer of chicken/veg, then topped off with bread crumbs and mozarella cheese.  Tonight I baked it in the oven.  Side was a salad with steamed asparagus and arugula.  A nice merlot to accompany it.  Cheers for our first night on the road! 

Final road trip prep

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Same summer-y weather.  Sunny.  High 95

I got in my last pickleball game for the season.  I ended neither with a blast or a bust.  I will take my racquet with me, in case I can pick up a game on the road.

I did a water aerobics class, too – better that than working!

However, it was a very busy work day.  I emptied the casita’s refrigerator, cleaned it well, and loaded up Joy’s refrigerator.  Thankfully, everything fits!  I made umpteen trips between the house and the trailer loading, loading, loading. 

I made a mad dash for the grocery store to pick up a few last-minute items, mostly fruits and vegetables.  For our first week or so, we won’t be seeing many grocery stores.

I am also tending to my plants.  I am going to put them in the mulch and hope that the sprinkler keeps them moist enough to last the summer.  Highly doubtful, however.  I will miss this cactus planter….

The highlight of the day was an invitation to dinner at our friends’ house (the German/British couple).  I don’t think I could have gathered enough energy to cook.  She made Hawaiian poke’ bowls, just like what we ate in Hawaii.  They were fabulous! 

arly bedtime.  We head out tomorrow, probably about noon.  We still have more packing to do  – load the pick-up and its bed. 

Saying “Adios'” to our daughter

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Mostly sunny.  High 90

We enjoyed our last Sunday morning breakfast before our summer trip – eggs, bacon, and grits, all accompanied by CBS Sunday Morning.

Usually I hate Interstate 2 (sorry, but I seem to be a broken record about interstates), but today there was absolutely no traffic!  I guess people were either at church for Easter services, or at home baking for Easter dinner.  It was a breeze.

Then, off to Harlingen Airport to drop off Alexis.  Here is our farewell photo…

About a half mile from home, we encountered the “paddywagon” – the bus that the Border Patrol uses to pick up the undocumented immigrants.  Helicopters and jeeps were rounding them up. 

The vehicles are the Border Patrol (white) and the Texas National Guard (brown)

Back home, we started seriously preparing for the trip.  I emptied all the cupboards, refrigerator, and much of the bedroom closet.  It is a lot of work!

DINNER:  Our Airstream friends invited us over for brisket dinner.  It was absolutely delicious.  We also had pea salad, and macaroni & cheese.  They even made home-made ice cream with bits of Cadbury chocolates in it.  So decadent.  Back to more healthy eating tomorrow, I hope! 

Last day of fun with our daughter’s visit

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Same summer-like weather.  Mostly overcast.  High 90

I had a hair cut appointment early this morning to prepare for the upcoming trip.  I am always amazed at the amount of hair that falls onto the floor!

While I was out, George and Alexis biked over to  Bentsen State Park, just across the street from us.

The park is an international birding center, but they didn’t see any interesting birds this morning.  It is nesting season

While they were there, George chatted up one of the Texas National Guards who is there watching the border.  Alexis was not too impressed…

George and Alexis played some more pool, then tried bocci-ball.

Every day, we do a little prep work for the trip.  Today, I emptied my cupboards and loaded canned goods into a big plastic bin that will be my “pantry”.  George installed a new water pump.  It works wonderfully and is much quieter than the original one.

Then, off for the evening.  We tried Whistling Duck for drinks.  It had been recommended due to its selection of craft beers.  Pretty good, but not much atmosphere.  Then, we went to a sushi place.  I had a coupon for some free sushi, but realized too late that it is not good on Saturdays.  😦       We went anyway.  We had some beautiful sushi sitting at the sushi bar.  I had scallops…..

Alexis had avocado roll sushi and salmon roe (ikura) sushi….

And George had yellowtail sushi.  It was all presented beautifully.

We ordered some more food to go as we didn’t want to be out too late, and have to drive home in the dark.

A great thing about having Alexis visit us is that we can get her to help with technical issues.  She saved a bunch of old British TV shows on our computer and tied it to the TV screen.  So tonight we watched two episodes of “To The Manor Born”, popular in England in the 1970s.  I still love it! 

More fun with our daughter in hot Texas

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  About the same – sunny and 88

The heat and humidity were better this morning, so I got in a game of pickleball.  Alexis came around the court and took a photo of me.  I look pretty serious (and I missed this shot)….

I rushed from the pickleball court to the swimming pool for a water aerobics class.  While I was swimming, Alexis watched George and his friend Rob play ping pong.  They also used the gym a bit.

Then, off to run errands and to eat lunch.  We had some delicious ceviche at Mariscos Siete Mares (7 Seas Seafood)  Restaurant.  They have really good food.  No one there speaks English, which makes it fun.

Back home, I did some wifi work in the clubhouse while George and Alexis played pool.  I got in a shot, too!

Rush, rush, back home to get ready for a cocktail party.  We got spiffed up and walked a few blocks to the party.  Most everyone else came by golf cart…..

The people hosting the party just moved in and have made it a beautiful home. 

DINNER:  George grilled a bunch of veggies and vegan burgers on the grill.  They turned out really well.

Fun with our daughter in the RGV

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Not quite as hot.  High 87

It was too warm and humid to play pickleball, but I did do a water aerobics class.  Alexis took my photo “in action”.

Off to lunch – again to Roosevelts at 7 – where they have a really good craft beer section, and a surprisingly excellent chef.

Last time we were there, they gave me a free glass of wine, since the first pour was only 3/4 and they didn’t have a new bottle to top it off.  Today, I noticed there was a chip in my beer glass, so they gave me a free glass.  I am on a roll!

The food was really good.  We shared an order of stuffed mushrooms and a flat bread…

One of my “to-dos” to get ready for our trip is to empty my spice jars and put them in smaller containers for the road trip.  I managed to empty almost all of them..

George, Alexis, and our friend Rob played some pool at the clubhouse.

Then back home for cocktails and dinner.  I made my “world famous” margaritas..

The evening cooled off nicely, so we enjoyed dinner on the screened-in porch.

DINNER:  As a nod to our vegan daughter Alexis, I made a cauliflower dish.  You cut half of the cauliflower into “steaks” and the other half in pieces.  You boil them in vegetable broth for 15 minutes to soften.  While you saute the steaks until brown, you puree the pieces along with some of the broth, in the blender.  Then, you make a topping of browned bread crumbs, pumpkin seeds, 1 T horseradish, 3 T chopped parsley, salt, and pepper. To serve, place a big spoonful of the puree on a plate, then place a steak on top.  Top it off with the breadcrumb mix.   It turned out pretty well.

Greeting our daughter!

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot again.  Record-breaking 105

After my water aerobics class, we drove over to Harlingen to pick up our daughter who flew in from Minneapolis.  Sitting in the back of the airplane, she was one of the last off the plane.

We went to our favorite Mexican bistro for Wine Wednesday and a light, late lunch.  It really is a nice atmosphere.  We usually sit on their patio, but it was just too hot. 

Alexis had a beet salad that she loved.  I’m still trying to embrace beets…

George just had to chat up the owner’s son (a friend of our friends in Retama)

Then, back home to relax.  We went up to the pool.  We were the only ones there….too hot to swim!

DINNER:  I made Shrimp Barcelona with the recipe our friend made for us while visiting them in Florida.  Quite tasty!

2 pounds shrimp, peeled
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
10 cloves garlic sliced
large handful of parsley chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup white wine

Heat oil.  Add garlic to brown.  Add shrimp.  Cook until pink.  Add remaining ingredients, parsley last.

I served it over linguini.  Side was lettuce/tomato salad.

Surviving the heat! 123 degrees????!!!!!

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas

It was too windy and hot to play pickleball in the AM.  Water aerobics felt good.

I did the final scrubbing of Joy’s floor.  Enough!  It will get dirty very quickly again, once we hit the road.  It looks nice now!

I spent the hot part of the afternoon in the clubhouse using their wifi.  I continue booking places for this summer’s trip.

Then, a little bored and feeling cramped inside, we decided to go to the shopping mall.  I wanted to buy some sandals.  I ended up not finding any, but George bought a pair of deck shoes.  He has way more shoes than I do!

When we got in the truck, the thermometer read 123 degrees!  Wow!!!!  I don’t think I have ever seen it that high. 

At the mall, I bought a suitcase, in preparation for our Europe trip.  Exciting to think about!  Then, to reward ourselves after a rigorous shopping trip, we stopped at a bar in the mall that advertises offering the most craft beers in the USA. 

DINNER:  Bruschetta.  I baked a loaf of sourdough bread (previously frozen) and sliced it lengthwise.  I created a base with pesto and a bit of cream chedese.  Then, I  topped the slices with grilled chicken, green peppers, mushrooms, Italian seasonings, and onions.  After sprinkling on some mozarella, I baked the bruschettas a bit more, then served with fresh tomato slices. 

BOOK:  “Educated” by Tara Westover.  This is an amazing story, and I didn’t realize until the end that it is an autobiography.  It is about a girl growing up under a fanatic, bipolar, dominating religious Mormon zealot of a father, in a pretty dysfunctional family.  Wow!  5 stars out of 5

Fond memories of Augusta

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice again.  Very windy.  High 90

As usual, George made his Sunday morning special – grits, eggs, and bacon – for breakfast which we enjoyed with CBS Sunday Morning.

I zipped to water aerobics right after the show.  Even though we don’t usually swim on Sundays, we wanted to take advantage of the nice weather.

Before it got too hot, I did another round of trailer floor cleaning.  I am using a scrub brush, which seems to get out a lot of the sand and grit from the floor’s grooves.  George hosed down our back patio which is full of dust.  We seem to get more dust here than in our other house.  It is probably due to the construction around us and the open fields. 

The afternoon was spent reading and watching the Masters Golf Tournament.  Normally, I don’t like watching golf on TV, but since we used to live in Augusta, Georgia, it is interesting to look at the beauty of the course – azaleas, dogwoods, and camelias.

DINNER:  Leftover frozen pork chops and sauteed cabbage. 

Got the jab!

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Beautiful.  Sunny.  High 84

Due to the high winds, I did the AM water aerobics class this morning, not pickleball.  While in the pool, I saw 4 motor homes leave Retama.  It is really emptying out.

George got new tires for the pick-up and I did the 2nd go-round of scrubbing Joy’s floors.  The water is still turning black! 

Then, off to Roosevelts’ on 7, a bar/restaurant with a long craft beer list.  We sat out in the patio area along with their friendly cats. 

We had some drinks and really good hummus to start.

For our entree, George and I shared their ahi special.  Quite good. 

Back to Walgreens, where we were successful this time in getting our 2nd Covid booster vaccines.  A lot of people have commented about arm pain, but we were not affected.

DINNER:  Chicken tacos.  I baked some chicken breast meat, and stirred pieces into diced poblano peppers, green peppers, and red peppers that George had charred on the grill the other night.  I topped it with a salsa that I  made with tomato sauce, herbs, and cilantro.  After sprinkling on some cheese, I baked the taco dish long enough for the cheese to melt.  Side was cucumbers in Greek yogurt with a touch of cumin.