Sunday, April 30, 2006

Found Stuff


This is kinda funny...

Along with my little beach trinkets of a gun totin' cowboy,
a misplaced penguin (both an unlikely shade of
lemon yellow), and a few curvaceous seashells...I hit
the jackpot in St. Augustine.

Here's how fate stacked the cards in my favor...

A few days ago we were at Home Depot. On the way back to the truck
I felt something under my right shoe...which turned out to be this
dollar bill breezing across the parking lot.

When I picked it up, I thought to myself,
"Next time I'll find a Twenty."

This morning after our walk, we stopped at Wal-Mart. As we crossed
the parking lot, I felt something under my right shoe. (I'm NOT
kidding!)

Hmmmmm...

Lo and behold it was this $20 bill, wandering it's way across
the windy parking lot to me!

If this isn't an example of abundance thinking,
I don't know what is.

Ron says I'm sposed to start
thinking about Ben Franklin now.

I'll let you know what turns up...

Stormy Beach Day


Today we decided our trek would be to the beach.
The day started off with a stormy theme, blustery
breezes and churning grey seas, so not too many
pictures this time!

We still enjoyed the salty
tang of the air, freewheeling gulls and
pelicans...

and the little "road racer" sandpipers...

Of course, Rusty loves going to the beach too!

Did you know once upon a time Labradors were used to drag in
the nets for fishermen on the Atlantic? We always wonder if
there's still some salt running through Rusty's veins that
calls him to the sea...
Or maybe he just likes beachin' it!

Along the way, we stopped for breakfast at this little place on
the beach we remembered from our last visit.

We love it because it's tiny, the food's good, and it
feels like a real "locals" kind of place.
All in all, even with the grey day, it was still a
wonderful walk on the beach...



But Rusty's doggone tired now!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Let's Go To The Farmer's Market!



Happy Earth Day from the St. Augustine
Farmer's Market!

Boy oh boy, do we love to find a nice Farmer's Market in
our travels. And guess what? This one is right next door
to the Elk's Lodge! They're planning a full day of festivities
because of Earth Day, so I'm sure we'll wander back this afternoon.

I couldn't wait to get some fresh produce...we finished our
walk here and came back to the rig laden with plump fresh strawberries,
cucumbers, squash, orange tomatoes, grapefruit, the most equisitely
sweet cantalope, AND fresh baked multigrain bread. Yummy!

Here's the vendor row...

And here's where we shopped!
This is Nelson. He has 10 acres of citrus where his
family grows oranges and grapefruit. We sampled his wares
and bought pink grapefruit for fifty cents!


We stopped for appreciative sniffs of these fragrant herbs...

This nice lady's whole family bakes all night
long to prepare for Farmer's Market day. Her whole grain bread is fat free,
sugar and salt free, and jam packed with scrumptious home baked flavor.
Mmmmm-good!We resisted all the other tempting treats...



Hmmmmm, maybe we should stay a bit longer
in St. Augustine. Next Saturday the Farmer's Market
is setting up in the Elk's Lodge parking lot!

Morning Walk In St. Augustine


In our quest for fun and fitness, we try to
walk at least an hour every day. We've really
been enjoying heading out in different directions
each morning from our Elk's Lodge campsite.

Here's where we went today!

We found this lovely little park with a walking
path around part of it.


Then we headed down a side street...

through this leafy bower of moss laden oaks trees

Tomorrow we're heading towards the beach on our walk.
Why don't you come along too, OK?

St. Augustine Elk's Lodge


Here's why we like Elk's Lodges!

This is where we are staying in St. Augustine, Florida.

The birds are singing outside our windows, and
the state park is just a short jaunt down the
road.

The state park is beautiful, but it's almost
impossible to get in there without reservations
months ahead of time. To tell you the truth, the
office personnel there weren't exactly warm and
friendly when we inquired. It kind of felt like
the woman we were talking with enjoyed being able
to tell us NO! :0[ Plus the sites are very
engulfed by trees, making it impossible for us to
stay connected to the Internet with our satellite.

But it's only $15 a night for us here, and
we can still get satellite signal over the
top of the trees! And we can walk to the park
from here too. We're also here with just one other
RV, so it's very quiet and peaceful.

Aside from our grumpy state park lady, the people
in St. Augustine are extremely friendly and helpful.
We're enjoying it very much because it still retains
an "old Florida" flavor, rather than being jammed with
highrises and condos everywhere.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Playing Catch-Up In Florida



Yikes, it's been too many days since I've posted here!

We made tracks from Louisiana to Orlando, Florida for
our seminar, and have barely had a spare minute until
now.

So please pardon the tardiness, but hope you'll enjoy
a whirlwind tour of where we've been the past week.

Now we're up the road a bit in St. Augustine, Florida.
We'll show you where we're staying tomorrow, OK?

In the meantime, enjoy the virtual tour!

Enjoying a change of pace at
the Hard Rock Hotel
The Lobby

Early misty morning by the pool


Private Pool Cabanas With TV!


Watch Out For Lounge Lizards! :0)

Every Morning We'd Take A Walk
To The Porto Fino Hotel


Walking For An Hour Is Easy Here!


Peaceful Walking In The Midst Of Orlando


Odd Shopper In The Sam's Club Parking Lot...

Rusty Inspects Fish At The Bass Pro Shop

The Grand Finale Was A PRIVATE Party
At Universal Studios!


We Had Unlimited Use of The Incredible Hulk
Roller Coaster And The Spider Man Ride!


Ron (In The Green Hawaiian Shirt)
Waits With His Turn While I "Babysit" Rusty...


To Do This!


And There He Goes!! EEEEEK!

After Topsy Turvy Time...A Beautiful Buffet
Strategically Spaced Throughout The Grounds


Rusty Decided He
Liked Being A Star At The Hard Rock!



All in all, an eventful week in Orlando, Florida!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hot Stuff!


Rusty at the Tabasco Factory

Monday we drove to Avery Island to tour the Tabasco Factory.
Smelled good, and interesting too. We were surprised to learn that
all the peppers are picked by hand, even today. Then the peppers are
ground into a mash and put into oak barrels to ferment and
age to perfection for THREE YEARS! A thick layer of salt is spread
on the top of each closed barrel, to aid in the fermentation process.

Actually Avery Island is actually a huge salt deposit that is estimated
to be as deep as Mt. Everest is high...that's a lotta salt! In fact,
we sat at least 70 railroad cars go by, loaded with salt from the still
active mines.

Did you know Tabasco used to make canned okra and shrimp too?


Then we went to the Tabasco store and bought some funs stuff, including
the very latest "sweet hot" Tabasco. Yummy!

Never did figure out what this fiery fish was about...

On to Bird Jungle where the "Tabasco family" used to live.
Mr. McIlhenny built a fabulous garden with plants from all over the world,
but his claim to fame was the establishment of a nesting ground for the egret,
which was virtually extinct in North America at that time. The egrets had
been pillaged and plundered for their PLUMES to the point of no return.
But thanks to his care and efforts, now you can see the graceful white birds
nesting by the thousands.


The rest of the grounds were like a trip back in time.
A walk through the past on Avery Island.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Louisiana's Forgotten

This afternoon we decided to take a drive out into
the bayou country around Abbeville. As we headed south
towards the tiny town of Henry, we began to realize
what we were seeing...

This home had been pushed from it's piling foundation,
now crumpled and perched at the brink of the bayou waters.

Hard to see, but in the distance this home sags onto
itself. Note the huge dumpster parked in front of it.

Like some kind of "day after" scene, these mobile
homes and cars were "relocated" up the road and
abandoned.




Two more abandoned homes silhouted against
the sunset.


All along the way, the countryside is dotted with nondescript
white travel trailers next to empty homes. Huge piles of
debris are stacked next to the 2-lane road, depressing
piles of dented appliances, highchairs, sofas...
anything and everything that came out of someone's home
in a tangled mess of insulation, tree branches, and twisted
hunks of metal.

Nope, not Katrina.
This we soon learned, was the legacy of Hurricane Rita.
The tidal surge caused extensive flooding, even washing
salt water into the crayfish beds and rice fields. It will
be at least two years before they are clear of the salt water
infusion, which means there will be not "crops" of crayfish
or rice for that period of time.

It's eerie, sobering, shocking...and largely unnoticed
by the rest of the country. We were told those who didn't have
flood insurance are gone for good, with no hope or help
or assistance from any quarter.

We definitely saw signs of that sad outcome, with damaged
homes left abandoned...a forlorn elementary school
reduced to a muddy ghost town. The local Catholic church
had the doors propped open, through which we could see the
completely destroyed interior.

Everywhere we looked, signs of Katrina's partner
in crime abounded...mobile homes obviously moved a quarter
of a mile from their original foundations, homes caving in
on themselves, or dangling on the edge of the surrounding bayous,
where they had been pushed by the relentless floodwaters.

The "lucky" ones are those with the plain vanilla trailers
parked in their yards, who are slowly trying to put their
lives back together next to their tilted, crumbling, and
devastated homes.

We were judicious in our photo taking, not wanting to
offend or intrude on those who are trying to piece their
lives back together. But we felt it was important to
show what's these people are living every day down here,
with very little attention being paid to their plight.

Onward to Betty's!


Finally arrived at the famous Betty's RV Park in
Abbeville, LA. True to fable, myth, and legend, Betty
came out to greet us with a warm hug and even warmer
smile.

Following a recommend from Betty to try a restaurant
called the Riverfront, Ron and I went out for a great
dinner last night of a salad with grilled fresh gulf
shrimp and steamed vegetables.

We were very virtuous, passing up the fried catfish
and shrimp. Extremely delicious and only $14 for the whole
darned dinner! We did split the salad, which was huge.
But Ron also had a cup of gumbo with it, plus we had
little side dishes of "sticky" rice. Can't beat the quality
or the price.

As for Betty's, yes, it's a small park, but we are quite
happy with our site. A whopping $12 a night with our SKP
discount includes full hookups, Wi-Fi, and cable TV. We can
even get satellite signal from our site. It's very quiet
at night except for the whirring of cicadas and crickets.

Today we walked for an hour, and spent most of
the day washing clothes and visiting with our fellow
campers. A very nice group of people from Washington,
Maine, Utah, and Michigan.

We shared a potluck this afternoon, complete with
slow-BBQ'd chicken provided by Betty. She had marinated
the chicken all night in her "secret" BBQ sauce. The slow
part was indirect heat for almost 6 hours! Absolutely
yummy, plus the group offerings of various covered dishes
to go with it.

But the piece d'resistance was Betty's homemade bread
pudding with merinque on the top, accompanied by homemade
warm RUM sauce to spoon over the whole thing.

OH MY GOODNESS it was simply scrumptious! Virtuous
again, we split one small piece. Sigh.

We were too busy visiting to take a bunch of photos,
but here is the little patio where Betty reigns supreme
over daily happy hours and cookouts for her guests.

Separated At Birth?


While we were preparing for our departure from the
Wal-Mart parking lot on Saturday morning, a long
last "family member" pulled in right next to us!

Well, ok...maybe they're only cousins. This truck is
a Peterbilt who just popped in to say hello. You can
see our 5W peeking over his shoulder in the background.

Flurry of Freightliners




Time to catch up, now that we're sitting a spell in one place!

We arrived in Clayton, Oklahoma on Wednesday night for some service
to our new truck on Thursday. A very impressive sight to see row
upon row of Freightliner Sportchassis lined up 3 deep. We stayed
in the parking lot while the crew spent all day Thursday, and a few
hours Friday morning getting us squared away with our new tool box,
installation of our CB, and some other minor adjustments.

Finally got back on the road by 1 p.m. Friday, and made tracks
to the Wal-Mart in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Ever the eventful trip
so far, we had a blowout on a 5W tire on the Indian Nation Parkway.
Fortunately, it was still light out, so Ron was able to see enough
to get the tire changed fairly quickly. Also really good news that
this truck has a built-in air compressor, and Ron had just purchased
a new impact wrench, so he made short work of it. The blown tire
was completely shredded.

The tires still have at least 50% of their original tread, but that's
not gonna cut it for us. New tires this week when we stop at Betty's!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Amarillo Driveby

This is some CRAZY stuff, this is!

When we pulled into the rest area just East of Amarillo, these folks had
arrived a few minutes ahead of us. We'd all been traveling East on I-40 within
a few minutes of each other. When they checked their tow vehicle, this is what they found! Can you see the little bullet hole in their crackled window? Plus the line of indentations on their side panel from other hits they took...

Lo and behold, another rig was already parked here that had suffered the same weird event...take a look at their tow vehicle.

Their windows weren't left open...they are GONE!

It's kind of hard to see at this angle, but this window is completely
crackled as well.

Let me tell you, in over ten years of RV travel all over the U.S. and Canada,
we have NEVER experienced anything like this! The investigation began in the
parking lot, with the sheriff's deputy saying perhaps somebody was taking potshots from one of the overpasses between Amarillo and the rest area.

We checked out our rig stem to stern with no damage being found.
Looks like the loonie-tunes liked picking on cars being towed behind motorhomes.

These RV'ers (both happened to be from Washington State by the way) had been at the previous rest area 50 miles before, with no damage to their rigs. When Ron got to thinking about it, the theory he came up with really makes sense.

There's no way to get 4-5 shots off from an overpass, at rigs going 70mph below. Plus, the hits were all taken on the driver's side or back end of the rigs. So it would seem that the "shooter" was a passenger in a vehicle traveling in the fast lane, aiming out a window. Probably a pellet gun, or they would have blown holes all the way through the side of the car, not just dented it. Of course, the driver's never heard a thing.

All in all, a pretty unnerving thought. And hard to know if it was bored locals entertaining themselves, or somebody travelling cross country on I-40.

So, the GOOD news is...nobody was hurt. Everybody is insured. And both couples took it in stride, not about to quit RVing because somebody's out there with a few screws loose. After all, if we let one nutcase spoil the wonderful adventures of RVing, what kind of sense would that make?

The really cool thing is, we were able to pitch in and help these folks get some pictures of their rigs (because they didn't have digital cameras). Brooms, dustpans, and the ever present duct tape magically appeared for instant repairs and cleanup. Everybody spent some time talking together, and NOBODY was left alone to figure things out on their own.

THAT is the beauty of RVing. You have an instant bond and sense of community, even in the middle of Texas, next to a freeway. After we had lunch, our road buddy in the little yellow truck pulled in, so all in all, it was quite an eventful rest stop break!

HINT: Be sure to carry a cell phone and a digital or disposable camera with you when you go RVing! Not only is it a great way to communicate and share your adventures, it just might get you out of a jam, document an unexpected event, or summons help in an emergency.

Keep your eyes open on the road too. We can all support each other for miles and miles of safe RV travels.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

On A Lighter Note...




We shared the Gallup, NM Wal-Mart parking lot with this "big" little
yellow truck. The owner is obviously as crazy as we are, since we
were pulling out in the dark at 5 a.m. and he was the only one
moving about outside, getting HIS truck ready to go too!

When we encountered him again at the Texas Rest Area featured
above, we stopped to chat and grab some photos. He built the
whole darned thing from the ground up, by cutting down a full-size
Peterbilt truck body. Is this thing CUTE or what??

He's on his way back to Maine...maybe you'll see him on the road!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hello Roads To Adventure!

Ready to go...

"Camp Walmart" Gallup, New Mexico

That's us in the background (not the unhooked one!)


Gallup, NM is definitely RV friendly. We stopped early afternoon,
but by 9 p.m. the entire end of the parking lot is now filled with
RV's. There's a Cracker Barrel next door, as well as a Home Depot.

They've torn up the overpass at the exit from I-40, so you won't
be able to make the left turn at the light to access the
frontage road that leads directly into the Wal-Mart.
If you take the first left turn lane after the light, it will take
you through a mall parking lot, and you can access the frontage road from
there. Looks like we'll get detoured into town tomorrow morning.
They've torn out the entrance ramp back onto I-40!

One warning though...there are quite a few panhandlers in this
here. We were approached a couple of times when we were
outside the rig. They were polite, but it appears there are quite
a number of folks who are "working" this parking lot.

We've stayed in many Wal-Marts and this is a very unusual occurence.
Still, it works fine for a night's rest on our cross country trek.
As always, we picked up some trash from our corner of the lot, spent money
in Wal-Mart and the Carl's Jr. next door (very clean and good service
too by the way...try the grilled BBQ chicken sandwich! Quite tasty.)

Remember if you stay at a Wal-Mart to be a say "thanks" by shopping,
returning shopping carts, or doing a little general cleanup. That's
how we can keep the majority of Wal-Mart's RV friendly!

Tomorrow we'll cross New Mexico and start into the Texas Panhandle.
Yeehaw!

Goodbye Yuma...



It's been swell...but we're outta here! :0)

We were pushing for an end of the day departure
at 5 p.m. Guess what? We headed out at 10 p.m.
Not our usual style (4 a.m. is more typical!) but
we knew we wouldn't be able to sleep if we waited,
so away we went.

Pulled into the Gila Bend Elk's Lodge parking
lot about 11:45 p.m., back up and on the road
at 5 a.m. We're scheduled to be at the Freightliner
factory in Oklahoma by Friday, so it's serious
travel time right now.

Man oh man it feels GREAT to be on the road again!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

World Headquarters Fools The Eye

We've been having so much fun at world headquarters.
Check it out, but don't forget to read the explanations!

A clever corner and a fiberglass niche instantly aged to perfection.
Vintage Mexican "tree of life" candle holder adds a nice touch, Si?

The old white metal door transformed. This one even fooled our
woodworker! (see my 40's lamp from Mexico?)


Even the hallway is a walk on the beach!

View from the bedroom (could it really be a closet??)

The Cantina out back (or an old metal building reborn!)


Viejo Mexico...


Do you like our garden?

Window on the world from our courtyard


Boring white door becomes a courtyard gate with a view!

Thanks Debra!

Our good friend and "artiste" Debra has joined forces
with us to fool the eye with her gorgous murals.

Debra has the patience of a saint, as I hatch yet
another plan for a wall, door, or corner of our
little casita.

Right now we're frantically preparing to take the
Redneck Ferarri on a cross country jaunt. But before
we go, I wanted to give you a little virtual tour
of our winter project.

When we bought this place last spring, it was your
typical little box of a mobile home, with terrible fake
wood paneling, dull wallpaper complete with tiny brown
spice jars, and some Gawd-awful flowered paper in the
bathroom and bedroom.

Away we went on our travels, until we returned last
September and commenced to tearing the place apart.
The only thing left inside was the bathtub and the
fridge.

White metal doors were painted to look like old Mexican
wooden doors. The corner niche was built into a fake
corner and the white fiberglass transformed into a burnished
work of art. Closet doors turned into beaches, and the
bedroom closet became a Mexican courtyard. But the best
was saved for last, with the expansion of our backyard
garden and courtyard wall, plus our "cantina".

Hope you enjoyed seeing what we've been up to
here at Tina Writes International. ;0)

P.S. Check out the "window" in the back courtyard.
Can you tell what we did?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Goal Setting on Steroids











Do you know what happens when you
close the door on negativity and set
a goal firmly in your mind?

You can achieve it!

This just arrived last Friday,
"The Six Figure Copywriting Truck".

Our brand new 2006 Freightliner M2 Sportchassis.

Also known as a Medium Duty Truck.

Occasionally referred to as a Big Ass Truck! :0)

Ron and I have wanted one of these since we
started RVing, but once upon a time it seemed
beyond our reach.

Last November, we wrote down a list of our
financial goals, and some specific results
we wanted to come into our life from them.

One of the things on our list was this truck.
And I do mean, THIS exact truck, with all
the bells and whistles.

After all...if you're going to set a goal, why
not a HUGE goal? :0)

Ron made a photo of the truck into a screensaver.
The first photo on this page
is the image we've been looking at
for the past 4-months.

We looked at it every day, it was just "there",
like a fixture in our minds. Amazing things
happen when you start reprogramming your
thinking.

It's happening while you're sleeping.
It's happening while you're working.
It's happening as silently and reliably as
the blood coursing through your veins.

And almost like magic, the wheel is set
into motion. You begin attracting what
you think about.

The rest of the photos are of the truck
that showed up at the "winter office"
last Friday.

We'll be traveling in our new ride to Florida,
Washington D.C., and cross-country
back to Idaho and Montana...departure
in about a week.

Rusty's happy, and so are we!

He particularly likes the DVD/TV
in the backseat. It's even got gameports
for X-Box/Playstation/Nintendo with
wireless headphones.

Better keep my big kids out of the
backseat when they come to visit!

I'm not sure Ron won't start riding back
there with Rusty. :0)

Except when he's in the FRONT seat, Ron
can play with the onboard GPS system
or the built-in iPod holder.

Gotta tell you, this truck is pretty
darned incredible. I'm calling it
the "Redneck Ferrari".

So what does this mean to YOU?

Simple.

Set your sites on your goals.

Keep focused on the positive.

Refuse to let toxic people or
dysfunctional relationships run
your life.

Instead, take action every day and
transform your goals into your reality.

Believe in yourself enough to
go after what you want.

And then see what shows up at YOUR door.

To your massive success,
Tina, Ron, and Rusty the Wonderdog