Archive for June, 2011

Lola’s

Lola’s is by far the best dive bar in Houston.  John the bartender is tough, inattentive and makes a killer drink.  No sign outside, just a little purple building stuck behind a Chinese Restaurant and a NAPA Auto Parts store off Montrose.

Tell me if you find it when you hit Houston.

Cathy

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“Your car is on fire.”

Driving back to Houston from Galveston without remembering to take the car out of first gear was in retrospect a really stupid thing to do, but I did it anyway.  “Your car is on fire” not words we ever want to hear.  I pulled over to the side of the 610 loop and jumped out.  The car immediately gasped its last breath and spilled it’s oil all over the ground.  I put an engine rod through the oil pan, destroying the engine.

Sabino from the Shell station on the West Road exit off I-45 agreed to put in a new engine for $1,750 and get me going.  BTW, that is after Shalom Car Service, the shop AAA towed me to, quoted $3,959 and said the tranny was blown, it was not.

While the car was being repaired, we decided to take the RV to Dallas.  The RV backfired and stopped in the middle of 7 lanes of traffic on the 610 loop.  When the Houston motorcycle officer pulled up next to my window, I immediately started blabbering incoherently, he looked horrified, and asked me if I could back the RV to the side of the road if he stopped traffic.  After stopping 7 lanes of Houston traffic I backed the rv to the side of the road without power steering, glad I wasn’t towing the car.  A battery cable had shaken loose, we were on our way in minutes after David made the repair.

The Sunday edition…..

Hold onto your reins folks its going to be a wild ride.  Can you tell I’m in Texas?

Last time I wrote, my car was getting a new set of tires in Albuquerque, NM.  I have been texting and talking to my friend David, who I met in Portland, and he was in Houston, TX.  Come on down to Houston and visit, was the simple request. I checked my iPhone and Houston was only 884 miles and I figured, what the heck.

Well…….David’s dad sells RV’s and he had a 1986 Fleetwood Southwind 26′ fully equipped in his girlfriends driveway. ” I will let her go for $3,000 cash, and your sleeping in a tent, step up to luxury my friend ” David’s dad David, Sr. is truly a salesman who understands the correct buttons to push, I liked him right away.

So……….I now own a 1986 RV.  It did have a few problems and David and his dad agreed to help me work them out and get things in shape so I am safe on the road.  I had to have a tow bar attached to my car so I could bring it with me.  The generator needed repaired, we found some incredibly nice redneck southern guys who put in a whole new generator.  These two fine men made me feel like I was with my Dad and they even took the time to look over the RV to make sure I was safe.  Thanks so much to Mark from North Houston, you truly are a gentleman.

So, our first drive was from Houston to Galveston, about an hour south and a good test drive for me.  I was terrified to be driving a 26′ vehicle towing my car, are you freaking kidding!!  ok, I can do this, old folk do it all the time.  I got us to Galveston, we hooked everything up and turned on the water and the shower started to immediately leak.  Noticing the new handles in the tub, I opened the box and we repaired the shower, which is now working beautifully.

Texas is incredibly hot, humid and everything here sticks ya, stabs ya or grabs ya.  Galveston has lots of drive on beaches and having a rv, with all my stuff, my car and air conditioning, makes life much easier.  I am looking forward to setting it up on a beach in California.

Cathy

Tires and an Oil Change

I got a flat outside of Albuquerque and was glad for flat fix.   The curb I hit in San Francisco made the tires catywampus so add another $350.00 for alignment and some kind of shim thingys – I check it out on-line – totally legitimate charges.

The car is now riding on 4 new, aligned, Firestones.

The southwest desert is a big lonesome in the middle of nowhere.  Cell phone service is sketchy and towns are far and few between.   I would hate to be on the side of the road without water or shelter from the sun.

Since we are prepared it was just a hiccup on our road to everywhere.

Cathy

Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert

The high, dry grassland was once a vast floodplain crossed by many streams. Tall, stately conifer trees grew along the banks. Crocodile like reptiles, giant amphibians and small dinosaurs lived among a variety of ferns, cycads, and other plants and animals known only as fossils today. The trees, Araucarioxylon, Woodworthia, Schilderia, and others, fell, and swollen streams washed them into adjacent floodplains. A mix of silt, mud, and volcanic ash buried the logs. The sediment cut off oxygen and slowed the logs’ decay. Silica-laden groundwater seeped through the logs and replaced the original wood tissues with silica deposits. Eventually the silica crystallized into quartz, and the logs were preserved as petrified wood.

In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt set aside selected stands of the petrified trees as Petrified Forest National Monument. In 1932 53,200 acres of the Painted Desert were bought and added to the monument. In 1962 the monument was designated as a National Park.

It costs $10.00 (or use your handy National Park Pass) and takes about 3 hours to drive through the park.

Cathy

The Grand Canyon is indeed Grand!!

The Grand Canyon we visit today is a gift from past generations.  Just sitting and watching the changing shadows, wandering along a trail, feeling the sun and wind on your face and standing at the rim reminds me to give thanks to those generations.

Few places have provoked as much wonder as the Grand Canyon.  The rocks exposed within the Canyon range from the young to the old.  Kaibab limestone, the caprock on the rims of the canyon, formed 270 million years ago.  The oldest rocks, at the bottom, date from 1,840 million years.  Nowhere else on earth features such dazzling variety of colorful rock layers, impressive buttes, and shadowed side canyons.

Edgar was allowed to walk around with me on the paved trails, dogs are not allowed off trail.  It costs $25.00 and a long line to enter the park.  Buy a National Parks Pass on-line for $87.00 to gain admission to any of the National Parks and Recreation areas and bypass the long entrance lines.

The park camping was completely full so we went to the Ten X campground about 3 miles from the park entrance.  The camping was primitive – no water and a pit toilet – but it only cost $9.00 for a safe campsite.  In the morning I was able to re-enter the park and use their shower facilities – another reason to buy the season pass.

Cathy

The Stars go all the way to the ground

The best part of primitive camping is no lights.  The stars go all the way to the ground.

Do you remember when you were a kid there seemed to be more stars.  They are still there, our view blocked by ever growing urban lights.

The worst part is no water.  If you are primitive camping make sure you carry enough for drinking, washing, tooth brushing and cleaning.

Even though the temperature dropped to below 40, I had the rainfly off my tent, the stars shining above me and fond memories of childhood keeping me warm.

Cathy