Saturday, December 10, 2011

Trip to the Beach

Finally!  We made it to Port Aransas Beach on the Gulf of Mexico.  We drove to the ferry (free, can't believe it!) and quickly were taken across to this great little beach town.



We went to I.B. Magee Park, which allows leashed dogs on the beach and you can drive on the sand.  (Very cool, but we got stuck in New Smyrna Beach on the sand, so we're hesitant.)

It was Carmen's first trip to the beach and she was curious, but frightened, of the surf as the video below will show.  Walked for a good half hour from the inlet to the fishing pier and back.  Had to be careful of Jelly Fish occasionally, but a great walk.

We were still in search of our "Toni and Joe's" from New Smyrna Beach, but no luck.  We did, however, find the Port Aransas Brewing Company, which had a great blonde ale on the menu and allowed us to sit outside on their patio with the pups.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

RV'ers of a Feather.....

We've always noticed on all of our cruises that by day 2, we tend to see the same people in the same places we are.  That people of the same likes/dislikes tend to gravitate towards each other.

Such is the case in RV'ing.  Stay somewhere long enough, and sure enough, you'll start finding people of like interests.  Last night was no exception.

After getting the calendar and newsletter for the SeaBreeze RV Park, we noticed there was a social hour at 4p in the main hall.  We got there about 3:50p, stayed till about 4:10p and no one showed.  We're putting on our coats and see another couple with a cooler and a wine glass heading our way, so we stayed.  Turns out they had just gotten the calendar/newsletter and it was their first time at the social, too.

We stayed until almost 8p and had a fabulous time comparing our similarities that were many.  Small world, and we're not the only ones doing what we're doing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Off to the Coast!

With all the tearing down to get the rig fixed, and cold, rainy weather forecast for Friday, we decided to roll a day early (actually our original plan) and head out from the Dallas Arlington KOA.

Pretty uneventful ride except for bumper to bumper traffic in Austin. Carmen and Sloopy are terrific to travel with, just curl up on the back seat and "let us know when it's time to get up."

Got about 5 hours down I-35 to a little north of San Antonio, where we'll stay in a Wal Mart overnight.  Up tomorrow, and our new home for six months:  Sea Breeze RV Resort.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Homeless (for about an hour)

Well, our first major "we've got to keep it overnight" repair happened to the rig yesterday.  As we changed the tire that blew on the way into Dallas, we noticed that the leaf spring was broken that supports the frame.  Not good.

We did a tear down on Sunday, but kept everything that normally rides in the truck on the site at the Dallas Arlington KOA.  We made reservations at the Candlewood Suites in Arlington because they were pet friendly, and had a full kitchen available in the suite.

Could have been one, two or three nights max, so we packed clothes accordingly.  Cleaned out the whole fridge and freezer, took a few kitchen essentials and headed out Monday morning for Dan's Auto Repair to drop the rig off.

We got Dan's info from the KOA's info flyer, and they were prompt to call back when we initially called.  About all you have to go on, other than internet reviews when you're in a different city.

After we dropped the rig off, we were suddenly homeless.  Room wouldn't be ready at the Candlewood Suites, and we were just driving around in the truck.  A truly weird feeling with no place to go.  Fortunately, the room was ready around 10a, they let us check in, and we didn't have to sit in the McDonald's parking lot too long after breakfast.

We weren't sure how Carmen and Sloopy would react in a hotel room.  They both chirped a few times (to our horror), but quickly got accustomed to their new surroundings.  We were able to work the rest of the afternoon from there, watched the Urban Meyer presser and Monday Night Football.

With good fortune, all parts were available, installation was successful and we were able to pick the rig up this morning (Tuesday).  Back to the Dallas Arlington KOA for a few more nights before heading to Corpus Christi and the Sea Breeze RV Resort for the rest of the winter.

OK with us if it's the last time, but now we know we can handle major repairs to the rig.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving

We decided to go to the Arlington Elks Lodge for our Thanksgiving Day Meal.  They had a nice carry-in (we took hash brown casserole), with plenty of turkey, ham, fixins' and desserts.  Our best estimate was about 70-80 people were there -- mostly those with no family in the area, those with family coming in later, or those who brought their whole family.  And us.

Afterwards, Santa paid a visit for those with kids and hung around afterward at the bar to say Hi to the honeys.  :-)

After our 1p meal, we returned back to the rig and "the girls" for the rest of the evening.

The Dallas Metro KOA was actually pretty full for the weekend, starting around Wednesday and continuing through the weekend.  Today (Friday) we started thinking about decorating for the holidays at the Sea Breeze RV Resort in Portland, TX.  Seeing what we had kept, moving things into the rig.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Repairs Happen!

Just as we did when we lived in a brick and mortar home, there are just stretches when nothing is going on.  Similar here in the rig.

Not similar are the accommodations that need to be made when repairs have to happen.  While changing the tire last week that blew on the way here from Nashville, we noticed the spring leaf had broken (which might have been the root of the tire problem).  A simple search of "broken spring leaf Keystone" got a pretty good rash of problems from around this era.

With the Thanksgiving holiday upcoming, we decided to take it in next Monday, which begs the question:  where are we going to live for a couple of days while it's being repaired?  Easy answer:  find a pet friendly hotel in the area and work from there.  So, we'll be taking the show to a local Candlewood Suites and hoping for a quick turnaround at the repair shop.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Carnival Magic FUN in Galveston

Our job has some really great perks.  As travel agents, we get to experience some of the new travel products when they first come out.  Last Sunday, we were able to take advantage of one of those opportunities and attended the Carnival Magic Inaugural event in Galveston.  The ship made its US debut after being put in to service in May in the Mediterranean.

This is Carnival's newest and largest ship.  It certainly is beautiful.  For those of you familiar with cruising, and Carnival cruises in particular, will be pleased to hear that there are many new features on this ship.

One of the most popular new features is the Red Frog Pub.  This is an island themed pub setting that even has its own beer (Thirsty Frog) brewed exclusively for Carnival.  The pub area has indoor/outdoor seating and a game area complete with Foosball table and darts to name a few.  There is also an area for live entertainment.

The Cucina del Capitano is another popular addition.  The Italian restaurant offers free pasta bar for lunch and a specialty menu for dinner for $12 per person.  The decor is lovely with a lot of photos and momentos from the cruise line's past.

The Sports Square is a great place for kids of all ages.  There is mini-golf, a Sky Course (ropes), Sky Fitness and Sports Court to keep everyone in the game.  Also, an interactive EA Sports area is located here.

The adults only Serenity area that was recently added to many of the ships has been expanded.  The much larger area comes complete with large cushioned chairs and hammocks.  A very relaxing place indeed.

As you can tell, I can go on and on about all the fun things to see and do on the ship.  We will be posting a video where you can check it all out.  More to come on that later as it is still in production.

The Carnival Magic will be sailing 7-day E. Caribbean and W. Caribbean itineraries from Galveston.

Fun for all and all for fun!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What a Saturday in Big D!

First, the bad news -- Buckeyes lose to Purdue by having an extra point blocked.  <sigh>.

Plenty of good news, though.  Dropped Sloopy off in the morning at the Richter Animal Hospital to be boarded for the weekend.  Carmen was there a day earlier to be spayed and they'll spend the rest of the weekend there.  When people talk about how pets "tie them down", we don't get it.  If you have somewhere to go, there are plenty of great boarding places wherever you are.  We once boarded Sloopy for 14 days in Tucson while we cruised to Hawai'i.


We travelled to the other side of Dallas to the Texas State Fairgrounds.  Saw the Cotton Bowl, and my she's showing her age.  Still want to do the Texas State Fair someday.


Our purpose for our visit, though, was to see the Zac Brown Band perform at the GEXA Pavillion.  We arrived around 3:30p local time and after our walk to the Cotton Bowl, back to the truck to tailgate, only we were pretty lonely.  We walked to the other side and saw that the partying had started on the other side, but our parking location was going to be so good, we decided not to leave -- a good decision.


Been awhile since we'd traditional tailgated, including charcoal.  Had bought a little portable guy at WalMart for $5 and it included a package of charcoal, which was terrible and wouldn't light.  So we through the bag of Match Light on there, and we suddenly had enough charcoal to cook a turkey.  Plenty for our couple of hamburgers.

The GEXA Pavillion is a nice venue, with a large lawn seating -- our preference.  Can't estimate the crowd, but it was pretty full and Zac Brown said it was the largest sale they had had on this tour, so let's just say 'big'.

Concert itself was a great value -- two opening acts took us to an hour and a half, and ZBB played another two and a half with a special appearance by Randy Travis.
Traffic getting out was as you would expect from an older venue, lots of one lanes, lots of cutting into traffic.

Today, we're on the road to Galveston (about 5 hours from the Dallas Arlington KOA) for the inaugural event of the Carnival Magic.  Will have plenty about it for the ride back!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day Trip to Ft. Worth

The week has been kind of crazy here.  We were getting ready for our busy weekend. First up, Carmen goes to the vet Friday to get spayed.  Saturday, after college football, of course, we head out to the Zac Brown Band concert.  Can't wait!  And, last but certainly not least, Sunday, we will be going to Galveston to check out Carnival's newest cruise ship - the Carnival Magic.  We'll be sure to share our experiences at the concert and the ship, so be sure to check back next week.

Even with us trying to get ready for all the hubbub, we were able to slip away for an afternoon to Ft. Worth.  Anyone staying in the Dallas area should make a visit to Ft. Worth.  There is something for everyone.

Our first stop was a quick visit to the TCU campus.  The football stadium was getting renovated with a lot more seating.  The campus was very scenic and quaint.

After that, we made our way to the downtown "Districts".  They have three - Cultural District, Sundance Square District, and the Stockyards.  The Cultural District is home to the Will Rogers Memorial and several museums.  The Sundance Square is a nice shopping and eatery area.  Some of the merchants will even validate your parking garage ticket with a purchase.

Our favorite area was the Stockyards.  There are a host of restaurants and pubs located within a couple of blocks.  The streets are all brick and the atmosphere takes you back to the wild west days.  There is even a free Cattle drive daily (11:30AM and 4:00PM).  If traveling there, you must go in and check out the hotel too.  The decor and artwork inside are truly amazing.

We would have liked to have stayed longer in the Stockyards and enjoyed some dinner.  However, we had to get back to "the girls" so we stopped long enough to try a Buffalo Butt beer - brewed locally exclusively for the hotel bar.  It received two thumbs up!

Better get back to making sure we have everything in order for the rest of the weekend.

See ya down the road....

Friday, November 4, 2011

Texas Motor Speedway

Spent the afternoon at the Texas Motor Speedway today.  NASCAR is in town.  $30pp to get in for qualifying and the Truck Race tonight, and we didn't have provisions for the dogs, so we chose to walk around outside the track (the rumble from inside was outstanding) and get some freebies, see the layout for the RV's, etc.  Definitely want to come back and enjoy the whole weekend experience, but feel like that's what it is, a whole weekend experience -- not just a single event for a few hours.




Settling in to Big D

Getting settled in at the Dallas Arlington KOA here in Arlington, Texas.  Park had a bit of bad luck as soon as we got here.  A transformer back by us blew (it was a great light show for a while) and it was until Thursday at noon until we regained power.  Thursday morning, a pipe in the water broke up by the front of the park and it was connected to the rest of the park, so no water until around 6p.  Those things happen (usually not in the same day!) which is why you a) have a generator and b) keep water in your holding tank.  Check and check.

Nice having a bark park again, it's been since the Indianapolis KOA.  We were here about three years ago and since then, they've partitioned off for a large dog and small dog park.  Our "girls" prefer to run with the big dogs and they got to yesterday with a beautiful Alaskan Husky, Dakota.

Hopefully, last night was a low mark on the temperatures.  Got down into the low 30's with a freeze warning.  Warming up the rest of the weekend, which is welcomed.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Travel day

Left Two Rivers Campground this morning.  Very happy with that campground.  Friendly people, good location, will be happy to go back again.
Drove thru Tennessee and stopped for the night in Arkadelphia at Wal Mart.  Quiet, close to the highway.  Will be about 4.5 hours tomorrow to Dallas Metro KOA in Arlington.
Very happy with Carmen's first long ride.  Took her cue from Sloopy and just hung in there.  She's been terrific.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hockey Night in Smashville!

We did our first NHL game here in Nashville as the Nashville Predators took on the San Jose Sharks.

Again, free parking is located next to LP Field (where the Titans play) and it was a short, scenic walk across the pedestrian bridge and the Cumberland River of about 15 minutes.  There was a $3pp shuttle that we chose not to do.

Bridgestone Arena is located right in the heart of the Broadway District, which means you get the chance to have a dinner and a few adult beverages before the game -- which we did.  Had a great lager brewed here in Nashville, Hap and Harry's at the Broadway Brewhouse.



It was chilly in the arena, and had a great minor league baseball feel with the entertainment for the fans during breaks, and during the period intermissions.  The sound of the puck hitting the stick in the arena is terrific, plus you can just see the entire game instead of just the small box on TV.

Great times here in Nashville.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Couple of Buckeyes Visit Vandyville

As a couple of veterans of Big 10 College Football, we wanted to check out the scene at Vanderbilt University, here in Nashville, as they hosted the Black Knights of Army.  Vanderbilt is a member of the SEC, but their pregame scene is a little closer to the MAC.
We Parked at a garage about 1/2 mile from the stadium.  Knew from the Vanderbilt Athletics website it was free and a beautiful walk.  The campus has a ton of space that is pedestrian only.  There was a bar with a band across the street so we figured that was a good place to come back to.

Didn’t see anybody in game mode until a block north from the stadium where they had tents and tables set up to welcome alumni (it was homecoming).  




Across from the stadium was the "Star Walk" where the players make their entrance  one hour and fifteen minutes before gamtime from the practice facility/locker room to the stadium.  Had a few people lined up there, and there was 45 minutes left before they showed.



‘Vandyville’ is basically the place to tailgate.  They take a street on the West side of the stadium and block it off.  They have a stage for a live band at the far end that wasn’t playing two hours prior, and we were there for an hour, so not sure when they actually play.  



The University sells tent space for $600 for the season (which gets you two parking permits to the lot across the street from the stadium and that’s pretty much where things happen.  (We have a friend at Ohio State who pays about $3k for his tent space at an apartment complex about 1/2 mile from the Stadium). 


At the end close to the stadium, they have a video board showing the game ‘o the day, Chic Fila had a set up for the pedestrians.  Didn't see a lot of corporates taking advantage of the tents, and thought it would be a good money maker for them.  They were mostly groups of individuals who just went in together to have a tailgate.


Hell, even the cheerleaders had their own tailgate where they were just sitting around chewing the fat.
Lots of ties on the guys of all ages, boots and skirts on the girls.  Alumni and parents pretty much ruled the day.  We did see a few Army fans and current Army military scattered about.

There was a little NASCAR feel with the equipment trucks, both prominently displayed outside the stadium.  Never see this at a Big 10 game, as they're always in a pretty secure place less some chucklehead would hop in and take off.


 

The East end of the stadium were the Greeks and they were going at it hard.  Each one had a sound system blaring, hundreds of kids partying, Natty Light cans strewn everywhere.  Pictures really don't do it justice without the sound cranking.  A solid two blocks of kids destined to be puking later.

Big Boy Was There!
On the South end of the stadium is a parking lot for players families to tailgate.  We asked an alum who was walking with us where the bars were and there was just this dumbfounded look.  Nothing.  A place inside the Holiday Inn, he said.  No strip, no naughta.  “Never thought of it, to be honest,” he said.

It was a “real” game, because there were scalpers who 'needed' tickets and scalpers who needed to know if you needed tickets.  “sh*t man, ain’t nobody makin' no money here.”  Box office at the stadium had $30pp seats.  Please.  Wasn't going to drop 60 bucks for this one.

Decided to roll back to the bar at the parking garage — band had stopped playing and they were closing soon.  Damn.



Didn't really get a true SEC Football tailgate feel, and we're looking forward to doing one in the "real" SEC some day.  But, it was nice to see how the others live.