2012 January 26

2012 January 26

We began the day with pancakes and sausage at an event at Highland Lakes UMC.  The Cub Scout pack that they sponsor was selling pancakes and breakfast tacos as a fundraiser.  When we got there, there was a tangle of boys under one of the tables.  They were huddled under there watching cartoons on a laptop.  The parents and troop leaders were busy in the kitchen cooking pancakes and sausage.   It appeared that the breakfast tacos had been pre-made and kept in a warmer.  They were good pancakes (I ate mine without syrup … as usual … to help keep the blood sugar in line) and sausage.  The sausage was almost as good as what we get back at Cutty’s in one of the community breakfasts.

To get to the breakfast we had to drive in some misty fog that seems to have settled in over us for the morning … and maybe the rest of the day … we’ll see.

When we got back to Shady Oaks it was only about 8:00 so I stopped at the rec hall for coffee with the guys while Ella went on home.

I said that we began the day with pancakes.  Actually began the day at 4:30 by making coffee, doing dishes and emptying the holding tanks and working on the blog post about yesterday’s activities.  Ella began the day at 10 to 7 when I asked if she was going to go for pancakes.  She said, “Well I thought they were serving until eleven.”  I said that “Yes they are serving until eleven.  However, I was wanting pancakes for breakfast … not lunch.”  This isn’t that odd of an occurrence.  Because I rise early and Ella would rather not, there are times that I’m ready for lunch when she is ready for breakfast.

My daughter, Heather, called today and said that she has today and tomorrow off from work if we’d like to come visit.  Since it was already after one p.m. it was a little late for us to drive the nearly an hour and a half, visit for a short time and get back here before dark.  (I really don’t like driving these narrow twisty, hilly, deer infested roads at night.)  However, as it happens, tomorrow (Sunday) is the one Sunday out of the month that there is an early church service at 8:15.  We can go to that and then leave for Heather’s.  I said that I’d give her a call when we get underway tomorrow.  She said that she take us to lunch.

For the last couple of days I’ve been working on a business card for Ella and I to exchange with other RVers and friends we meet along the way.  After I’d printed some for us, Ella said, “You know what you forgot?  Phone numbers.”  A assured her that I didn’t forget.  I left them off on purpose.  I don’t want our phone numbers ‘out there’.  I’ll gladly write my phone number on the back of the card for people that I want to call me.  Otherwise, people can email me with THEIR phone number and I’ll call them.  Then I can add them to my phone’s phone-book.

If I receive a call from an unknown number, I don’t answer it.  And I don’t have voice mail for phone spammers, politicians and salespeople can leave messages.  When I see that I have a missed call from an unknown number, I MAY try a reverse look up. >>>note from 2017, The address on our cards has changed<<<

Do you screen your calls?  What method do you use?

2012 January 25 Friday

2012 January 25 Friday

The day started with this beautiful skyscape taken just before sunrise.

As usual, coffee with the guys from 7:30 to 9:00 and then the women had coffee from 9:30 to 11:00.  While Ella was at coffee I started working on the pasta salad for our “Suppers With Friends” group in the evening.  I cooked the spiral macaroni, drained, added some Italian dressing and let it cool.  Once it was cool, I added chopped fresh mushrooms, carrots, celery, and tomato.  I was going to add bell peppers until I realized that the pepper I had was ‘out of date’.  Once Ella arrived home we went to H.E.B. in Burnet for some peppers (red, yellow, and green).

By then it was lunch time.  We’ve eaten at the Whataburger, the McDonalds and The Highlander so we wanted to try something different.  We’ve been in and through Burnet a lot since we’ve been in Texas.  However, we’ve not strayed far from the two intersecting highways (29 and 281).  So we drove around town a little looking for a local restaurant.

When you go to a new area do you like to eat at national chains or local restaurants?

There are at least four Mexican restaurants in town.  However, I was really hoping to find chicken or fish for lunch.  If they are there, we didn’t find them.  We ended up at Storm’s of Burnet which I guess is a local burger chain.  I just asked for the day’s special (which is what I like to do when trying a new place).  What I got was a gawd awful big burger.  Seriously!  There were four beef patties in that thing.  It was topped with lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayo, ketchup and about a half a jar of pickles!  Ella had a regular burger which also came with all the fixin’s (the only differences were that I’d ordered mine with no onion and she’d ordered with no mustard).  She had a generous order of onion rings and I had the French fries.  With a couple of fountain drinks (and tax) it came to a little over $16.  I’d rate it as far better than McDonalds and Burger King but not as good as the Mushroom Swiss burger I had at the Central Market in Austin.

What is your favorite restaurant chain and why?

          Our forwarded mail package from the UPS Store came today so we spent quite a bit of time sorting through for bills and ‘important’ mail and tossing junk mail.  The few bills that we received had already been paid.  That is something that happens a lot when we only get our mail once a month.  Almost everything is auto-pay or we can go online and pay so we don’t get much in the way of bills in the mail.  These happened to be some doctor bills for appointments Ella had before we left Iowa.

That brings up a question.  Why do doctor’s take so long to send out bills?  We pay the co-pay at the time of service and then they bill the insurance.  But it seems that they always have some other thing that the bill for a month or so after the service rendered.

Have you had that same experience with health care providers?

              As I mentioned earlier, we had supper with some friends.  This is actually a program of the church we are attending here.  You sign up   and they dived you up into groups of three or four families.  You then take turns hosting a monthly evening meal.  It is a great way to build community within the congregation.  As it happened, we were grouped with the pastor and his wife and one other couple.  We had our first meal at the pastor’s home and we have scheduled the next one to be at our RV.

Do you belong to a club, church or other organization that does something along the lines of the “Supper With Friends”?  

2013 January 24 Adapting a small TV stand to bedding storage

Adapting a small TV stand to bedding storage.

I had this small TV stand/cart and have been using behind my recliner in the living room area of our Hitch Hiker 5th wheel.  I realized that nearly everything stored on it was extra bedding, the thought s-l-o-w-l-y sunk in that maybe it should be in the bedroom! Duh! Huh?

I measured the space next to the bed and the stand would fit nicely with about 3 inches to spare which would not get in the way of making the bed.  Cool!

Well … not quite cool.  The floor is uneven.  There is a ledge about 5 ½ inches high that protrudes from the wall about 3 inches.  No problem!  Buy 5 ½ inch legs and attach to the front of the cabinet.

Off we go to Lowes.  Legs?  Yes they had them. A very friendly store employee took me right to them.  Attaching hardware?  Nope!  On back-order.  Come back next week.

See, there’s here is the situation with that; I have to drive nearly 50 miles to ‘come back next week’.  The only reason I was near a Lowe’s in the first place is because I had other shopping to do in the area and THAT made the drive worth while.  The idea of driving 50 miles for a $10 purchase was not in my plans.

Stop at Ace Hardware.  A very friendly employee asks what he can help with.  5 ½ furniture legs and attachment hardware, if you have it.  He took me to them.  Asked how many legs I wanted and which type of hardware, straight or angled?  Straight.  Here you are, thank you for stopping in.

Today, armed with the hardware I began the conversion.  First, remove the castors from the cabinet.  Secondly attach the mounting hardware.  (you will notice that the hardware assumes a large flat surface to which it will be attached.)  I don’t have a large flat area.  I could go back and purchase some lumber with which to create a large flat surface …. Or …. I could just turn the hardware 45 degrees and use two screws instead of four. 

I know it’s not neat.  I’m not a cabinet maker.  I’m an RVer making use of what I already have.  I’m a conservationist!  A recycler!  A cobbler of junk parts into something useful.  And it works.


2013 January 24 Thursday

2013 January 24 Thursday

My day started with coffee with the guys as usual.  I returned home about 8:45 and went in an updated yesterday’s blog entry.  I also moved a few more of the 2012 files to the archive page.

Yesterday while we were in Cedar Park, the animal shelter called to say that Kramer the cat’s ashes were ready to be picked up.  They had called on Ella’s phone and she thought that they had said we could pick Kramer’s remains up after ten o’clock in the morning.  So about ten we drove to the shelter.  The gate was locked.  So we decided go into Kingsland for some shopping and try again later at the shelter.

On the way into Kingsland we decided to locate the address that we will be going to tomorrow.  The local church here (Highland Lakes UMC) has a program called “Supper With Friends”.  What it does is match up three to four families which get together for an evening meal.  One family hosts one month and another the next.  Being unfamiliar with this area, we wanted to be sure that we could find it before dark.  It is a good thing that we did the trial run.  I had received emailed instructions on my Droid Razor Max.  However, Ella was using MapQuest or Navigator and I was following her instructions.  So we went too far.

Llano River  We did not take this picture.  I found it on a website, http://www.castellcabin.com/ and it may be copyrighted.  So I’ve included the link to their site.

As it turns out it was worth going that extra mile in the wrong direction because we found a lovely river crossing on the Llano River.  We did not stop to take pictures this time … but we will certainly be back for some photo shoots.

After turning around and retracing out travels, we did locate the house and are sure we can find it again even in the dark.

Once we found our way into Kingsland by way of some back roads, we stopped at the H.E.B. and picked up some fresh fruit, sliced luncheon meats and some cake mixes.

The cake mixes are for a recipe Ella saw posted on Facebook.  It calls for mixing an angel food cake mix and any other cake mix (we chose yellow cake) and storing the mix.  When you have a hankerin’ for cake but don’t want to heat the oven and get out the mixer, you add a few tablespoons of the mix and a little water to a cup and microwave it.  It sounds simple enough and would make fixing a couple of single servings easy.  So, we’re going to try it.  You can too.  Here are the instructions:

Recipe 1-2-3 Cake*

Start with two packaged cake mixes.  One of them HAS to be Angel Food but the other can be any flavor you like.  Mix the packages of dry ingredients together.  We placed ours in a gallon size zipper locked bag.  Store the mix until you are ready to use it.

When you have the craving for cake, add 3 Tablespoons of mix and 2 Tablespoons of water in a coffee cup.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  You may have to adjust time according to YOUR microwave.

Top with frosting, fruit, or nothing at all.  Be creative.  We used Pillsbury Easy Frost.  It seemed like the perfect compliment to a one minute cupcake.

*I’d like to credit the person who came up with the recipe.  However, it is something that I’ve seen being passed around on Facebook so I don’t know where it originated.


After H.E.B. we went to Ace Hardware for some furniture legs that I’m going to add to the bottom of a small TV stand that I want to use for storing bedding.  The floor in the 5th wheel is uneven.  There is a ledge about five and a half inches high against the wall.  My solution is to add five and a half inch legs to one side of the cabinet.

By now it was lunch time and we had a coupon for Sonic and there was one very close.  We chose to eat at the drive-in rather than drive through.  The coupon was for the lunch sack special which included two cheese burgers, two tater tot orders and two drinks.  Made a perfect lunch for us and saved us $4.75.

Now we drove back to the animal shelter and found that the gate was still locked.  I was about to turn around when I noticed a second drive and three people sitting under a shelter beside the animal shelter.  I pulled into the drive and asked if they were open.  I was told that they were only open to the public from Saturday through Wednesday.  I said that we had received a call that our cat was ready to be picked up but that we’d come back on Saturday.  The gal said, “No that’s alright, we can do that.  It just isn’t open for viewing and adoptions on Thursday and Friday.”  So we now have a plastic bag full of cat ashes in a cardboard box under the head of our bed.  It’ll stay there until we go back to Cutty’s in the spring.

It is a lovely day with a predicted high near 80 degrees.  I intend to work on the cabinet outside where I can enjoy the weather.  I’ll try to remember to take pictures as I go so that I can post them later.

2013 January 23 my 66th Birthday

2013 January 23 my 66th Birthday 

            How is this for the way to start my birthday?  Getting blood drawn at the VA Clinic in Cedar Park this morning.  The trip into Cedar Park was ‘fun’.  We drove most of the way in a very dense fog.  I shot some video so that you can see what we saw … or more accurately what we couldn’t see. >>>note from 2017, the video didn’t import from the old blog<<<

After the blood draw, we stopped at Office Depot for some business card stock and software. As we were leaving there, we called Arik and told him that we were only minutes away.

He took us to Central Market in Austin for lunch.  Ella had the hamburger with mushrooms and sweet-potato fries and I had the Mushroom Swiss burger with brown rice.  After we ate we went for a walk around the lake at the park.  There was this amazing tree at the park.  If I was younger, nothing could have kept me from climbing that tree.

     After the walk, Arik said,”I’d like some coffee, how about you.”  Ella and I both said yes.  And he asked what kind of coffee.  I said just coffee with lots of beans in it.  He took us to a small Mexican coffee shop and I had the dark roast drip coffee and Ella had the medium roast while Arik had some foo foo drink with flavored soymilk.  (I tried to raise a hippy and ended up with a yuppy)

     We sat and talked for a good while before returning to his house.  He had worked the night  before and then been back to work for a managers meeting in the morning.  And then was going to need to pick his kids up from school in a couple hours.  So, we thanked him for the lunch and coffee and left him to take his nap.



     The zipper on Ella’s skirt had broken while we were walking around the lake.  (she hadn’t mentioned it until we left Arik’s)  She said she wanted to stop at Goodwill.  Cedar Park/Austin is a great place to shop if you like Goodwill … there are lots of them.  We stopped at several and she never found a skirt but did find a blouse that she liked.  I also found a juicer.  I’d been wanting one to have in our winter home because I’d really liked juicing on the one I left in Iowa.  We also stopped at several Dollar Generals on the way back to Shady Oaks.  I think we’ve managed to buy as many close out Christmas items as we really need!


2013 January 22

2013 January 22

This is Tuesday.  However, it has felt like Saturday to me all day.  I had coffee with the guys here at Shady Oaks Riverside RV Retreat this morning.  And then came home to find that Ella was eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  This is a break from routine.  Generally I fix breakfast (for both of us) eat mine and then go to coffee while she catches the last hour or so of sleep.  This morning I didn’t get up until a little after 7.  Well, the gang gets together for coffee at 7:30 so I didn’t eat before I went this morning.  I had in mind to come back and fry some sausage and eggs for our breakfast.  However, since she was eating cereal, I also had a bowl.  Strangely, I seldom eat cereal for breakfast.  I might have it for supper if we’ve had a large lunch or I might have it for a bedtime snack, but seldom for breakfast.

I spent most of the morning importing old blog entries from two of my preexisting blogs: Home Is Wherethe 5th Wheel is and North Pole News.  The original intent of the first one was to give advice to fellow RVers and encouragement and insight for newbie RVers.  While the reason for the second blog was to chronicle our daily lives (mostly for our family and friends).

These two blogs were both inspired by blogs that I formerly had through AOL.  However, AOL discontinued that service and most of the information I had posted there was not recovered.  (Lesson learned … back up everything)  At any rate, what has become evident over the last several years is, I can’t compartmentalize our lives that easily.

We are fulltimers.  We live in our RV(s) all the time, all year.  Therefore much of what happens in our daily lives is directly linked to RVing.  So, here I am creating this new blog, RVing Fulltime With Tom And Ella, which will be a more complete story of our lives.  I will keep the Home Is Where The 5th Wheel Is blog going and copy some of the articles from this blog back to there.  I plan to also add a “Page” on this blog that deals with some of the do it yourself, repair, maintenance, joys and problems of RV living.

This afternoon Ella and I drove to Marble Falls for some shopping.  I needed some items from Lowes and groceries from WalMart.

At Lowe’s I purchase Elmer’s wood glue and clamps to repair a broken cutting board/sink cover.  I also bought some Reflectix insulationwith which I will make sun-blocking window covers for the Hitch Hiker we will leave in Texas.  I’m told it gets hot in Texas in the summer!  I’ll post photos and more info on that project as I go.



We returned home from our shopping just about supper time.  We had pancakes.  And, as I was eating them, I remembered that I am to ‘fast’ after midnight for some blood work tomorrow.  I hope that the syrup is out of my system before they check my blood sugar (I’m pre-diabetic) and have been able to keep it in check with diet and meds.  And no, it wasn’t sugar free syrup, and I usually don’t put syrup on my pancakes.  I like them with just butter/margarine.

After (the unfortunate choice of) supper, I worked on moving more files.  I now have archives for 2010 and 2011 available for viewing by going to the ‘Pages’ tabs at the top of the blog.  It is now a little after nine p.m. and I’m going to post this and then get off of the computer for the night.

2013 January 20 Sunday


This is a panorama shot of the special missionary presentation during Sunday school time at Highland Lakes UMC

(I wasn’t as steady as I needed to be and ended up with the gal in the purple top, twice in the same shot.

This giant pink rabbit was my pew buddy for today in church. I say he was mine however the truth is that he sat on Ella’s lap most of the service.  These stuffed animals are scattered all over the sanctuary at this church.  How friendly is that!

Later we had lunch at 

Highlander Restaurant Llc

in Burnet.  Good eats and fair price make it a nice place to visit for a Sunday buffet.

The rest of the day has been spent transferring posts for the old blog to the archive section of this blog.  So far I have only gotten 2010 January through August transferred.  Still a lot to go.

>>>Note from 2017 I have been transferring posts from 2013 to this new new blog. Now I wonder where those posts from 2010 are?<<<

The rest of the day has been spent transfering posts for the old blog to the archive section of this blog.  So far I have only gotten 2010 January through August transfered.  Still a lot to go.

2013 January 19 Saturday

The photo makes this glorious pre-dawn look almost foreboding.  It wasn’t.

Yesterday (January 18 – Friday) after our morning coffee groups, we took a drive.  We ended up in Burnet (for those not from these parts, it is not pronounced Bur-net.  It is Burn-it and pronounced very quickly).  We stopped and refilled our empty 3 gallon water jug at Consolidated Water Resources.  (The water at the RV park is filtered and softened … which makes it technically potable but not very tasty.)

Across the street from Consolidated is the Knot Hole Antiques and More.  We wandered around there for a while and admired how clean and organized it is.  After our experience the other day with some “Junk” stores on highway 29, it was a pleasure to find such a nice place to shop.

From there we went to the Dollar General in Burnet.  They have discounted the Christmas items by up to 70%.  That made it perfect shopping for us.  Ella picked up a lot of items that will go into Christmas stockings (both for Christmas in July in Iowa and Christmas in Texas next winter.)

Today (January 19) after lunch, we again went for a drive.  We’ve been doing this every since we arrived in Texas.  It helps us to become familiarized with the area.  Anyway, today we ended up in Sunset Beach which is located along the shore of Lake LBJ.  We found many roads that ended in ‘dead end’ signs and one highway that just ends by going into someone’s drive.  We eventually found our way to an intersection with highway 71 which I knew went through Llano.  The sign at the intersection said that if we would turn left we would end up in Austin.

We turned left.  However, a short way down the highway was a sign saying ‘Austin 55 miles’.  We didn’t feel we had time enough left in the day to go to Austin and back.  So, we made a U-turn (actually a 3-point turn in a driveway) and headed back toward Llano.

     As we were coming into Llano, right after crossing the river, we saw another Dollar General.  More Christmas items and I also bought Christmas plates and cups which we will use as everyday dishes while in Texas.  Now I have enough for ten place settings.  The real trick is … I don’t know where I would set ten people in our fifth wheel.  But there is plenty of room in our “backyard”.

The Beginning Part Five

Friday, December 9


I had written earlier about the unpleasant surprise we had when we went to move our Road Ranger fifth wheel and how that was causing us to rethink our plans.  Since that time we have been looking (mostly online) at fifth wheels and travel trailers.  A couple days ago, while online, Ella found an older Excel at Plaza RV in Bondurant.  There were lots of photos of the trailer and it looks like it is very similar to the Road Ranger in size and layout.  The biggest difference is the placement of the entrance door.  The Excel’s is near the rear of the trailer (like the Hitch Hiker’s) instead of in the middle like the Road Ranger’s.  Today, being a bright sunny day, we decided to drive over an take a look at it in real life.  The battery was down and the slide out was in and the baggage door locks were frozen shut, so we didn’t see it quite as completely as we’d hoped.


I told the salesman that we were not ready to buy and that we’d check back in the spring.  If it is still there, we’d be interested.  The salesman said that if we’d take it now, he’d knock $1,500 of the price.  I said I did not want to have to store it until spring.  He said he’d store it for us.  Darn!  Now we have to decide what to do.

Insert passage of time here.

Later that same day.  We decided that we needed to take another look at the trailer.  I called the dealership and told them that we would like another look with the slide out and with the baggage doors open.  Dave, the salesman, said to give him an hour to ninety minutes and he’d take the trailer inside to thaw out.

So for an additional hour, we did some praying, soul searching, some considering “what ifs” and then went back to take another look.

We looked it over very carefully, looking for bowed or warped walls, soft spots in the floor, rust, damage, excessive wear etc.  We opened every door and drawer, tried every light and inspected all appliances.  The only thing I could not check was the roof, because there is no roof ladder.

We really liked it, partially I think because it is so much like our Road Ranger, which we really have enjoyed.  The only part that I’m not thrilled about is the ceiling height in the living room area.  The ceiling is only about 6’6”.  I’m 6’1” and a lot of my family are taller than that.  Well, I guess we just won’t be doing any jumping around it it.  Dave gave us a lot of ‘alone time’ to discuss it and we decided to buy it.  We’ll go Monday to get the money out of Ella’s retirement account.

We Did It!

We went to Plaza RV in Bondurant and wrote them a check for the 1995 Excel RLJM 5th wheel trailer that we looked at the other day.  This wasn’t a trade deal.  We still have the Hitch Hiker that we are living in.  Plaza RV will store the Excel until Spring.  At that point we will move the HH off of our seasonal site and set the Excel in place.  It will become our Northern/Summer home.  The HH will follow us to Texas in the Fall of 2012 and become our Southern/Winter home.  The plan is to leave the HH in storage in Texas when we return to Iowa in the Spring of 2013.