Windy days, lots to do and a flea market

Sher and I have been at our +55 RV Resort in south Texas for a week now. We are just loving the weather, even though most days have seen consistent winds in the 20 – 25 MPH range. Temps are in the 70’s during the day. We are kind of waiting to swim until we get a sunny day with light breezes.

Beautiful skies and waving palms make for a pretty view from our RV.

We are not that far from where Pres. Trump made his ‘trip to the border’. Local TV news really enjoyed all the hoopla involving the movements of Trump and his entourage.

The guard shack at the gated entrance of our park. Gates are closed at night, IDs required for entrance.

We really like the park here in Harlingen, Texas. We feel safe, as there is a guard gate manned 24/7. The park is really large. There are actually several miles of roads to walk and bike if you wind your way through. Sher and I are both riding our bikes and walking daily. Most exercise we have had in a long time. We both have commented that we do feel better.

Inside vendors at the local Don Wes Flea Market

We took a trip to a local Flea Market this past Wednesday. There were some vendors with used flea market type goods. However most of established vendors inside the buildings were selling a wide variety of new products. We bought some bananas, oranges and a pineapple. The vendor had a pineapple coring machine, so it was ready to eat when we got back.

Well, gotta go. There is another dance tonight we have to get ready for. Park Place Estates always has something going on.

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Our first day as Snowbirds in Texas

Our first activity at our new “home” for the winter of 2019 was a dance in the  large dance hall at our RV park. The Park Place Estates and RV Resort has great facilities, including their Friendship Hall. The music at the dance was provided by Leslie Blasing, a professional singer who provided a wonderful evening of song.  Sher and I met several wonderful residents of the park. All were most gracious and friendly.

Looking over our table at more of the craft sale

During a conversation someone mentioned that there was going to be a craft fair the next morning. Well, that peaked my interest as we had brought some of our jewelry with the plan of setting up somewhere and sometime down here. One of our new friends got me set up with the lady running the craft show, and yes, we could get a table for $5, a very reasonable fee for a four hour show.

This was how our jewelry display looked

Six o’clock came early for set up, but we’re used to early starts at markets and festivals. I was pleased with the number of vendors. All had good wares to sell, and our jewelry was a good fit.  The crowd wasn’t huge, but there were enough folks that liked our stuff. When it was all said and done, we had a respectable number of sales during the show.

After lunch Sher and I took a nap. Then we took a nice bike ride around the park. Then some reading, some blogging, and just relaxing. We are really starting to like this Snowbird lifestyle.

Oh, and the next seven days here in Harlingen, Texas will be partly cloudy with highs in the 70’s, rain chance 0%. It doesn’t get much better than that.

An RV Resort in the Rio Grande Valley

Sher and I decided that we wanted to flee the cold Indiana winters this year. Thus off we headed to the South Texas area known as the Rio Grande Valley. New Year’s Day seemed like a good day to not only start the new year but also start our journey south.

Our trip took us three days. Three wet, rainy, and drab days. Yes, it rained continuously from the time we left home base until just south of Corpus Christy, Texas. Finally some sun!

After 3 days of rain, we loved seeing a sunset north of McAllen, Texas

We arrived at Park Place Estates & RV Resort in Harlingen, Texas just at dark. I had talked to the office, and we were expected by the gate guard, who showed us to a spot with electric for the overnight. Come morning when the office was open, we toured the park. They had suggested two spots for us, and we were happy with one of them. As first timers at this park, we received a very good discount for our first month’s fee.

Nice concrete patio at our site. The weather for our first day was sunny in the low 70’s. We’ll take that!

This facility is designed with Snowbirds in mind. There are tons of activities planned, everything from horseshoes to making stained glass. An 85 degree heated pool and hot tubs are always available. We brought our bikes which will make getting around this large park easy. This park is one of several under the same corporate umbrella, and several other RV Resort companies are represented in the area.

This is our first time being true “Snowbirds”, that is in a warm winter climate in a park for +55 folks. We aren’t visiting family, nor are we traveling about doing touristy things. Sher and I are looking forward to a relaxed but sometimes busy couple of months. We’ll let you know how things are going…

Dodge City’s Boot Hill Casino

Dodge City, Kansas portrays itself as one of the historical sites of the old Wild West. In keeping with that tradition, the local casino is called the Boot Hill Casino and Resort. The site layout has the casino flanked by a large event center (for concerts, conventions, etc.) and a Hampton Inn hotel and suites.

We liked the casino. It is small compared to most, however it was clean and the staff was very friendly and helpful. What really stood out was the first time player Free Play program. When we signed up we both got player cards with $10 free play. We also learned that for our next four visits we’d get another $10 for each visit! That’s right, we went back the next day after we checked out of our campground. Yep, we put our cards into slot machines and Bingo! another $10 free play.

Casino entrance

That night we parked in the casino lot. The next morning before we headed out we went back into the casino and, you guessed it, we both got another $10 free play! We both got $30 in free play, and we each have another $20 if we ever go back. Best new player Free Play program we have ever come across.

We made our NOLA base at New Orleans West KOA

We had never been to  New Orleans before and we wanted a good campground that was reasonably close to the center of the action. We did our due diligence by looking at some RVer’s comments online, maps of the area and of course rates and availability of RV parks in the area.

Our site at the NOLA West KOA

We did settle on the New Orleans West KOA. This is the only KOA near New Orleans. We found the staff to be very friendly when we arrived and checked in. All of the sites are on concrete and are back in. Most are very deep, allowing for big rigs. All sites have full hook-ups including cable TV and WiFi, which worked sporadically. There is propane filling and a nice laundry room.

The office and store. Restrooms and showers are also in this building. The pool is open from April to October.

Interior roads are paved and plenty wide enough to allow backing in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The campground offers a free shuttle to down town next to the French Quarter. It leaves at 9 AM and returns at 5:45 PM daily.  The KOA staff will help you arrange different tours if you want their help. There are tons of tours of various New Orleans attractions, and the KOA staff can help with what’s good and what’s not so good! We did use the shuttle one day for the return trip. The driver was fun and gave us a narration all the way back.  Uber and Lyft drivers were within a very few minutes of the KOA both times we ordered them.

This is a comfortable campground. The roads are a little rough and some of the concrete pads need a bit of help in the levelness category. Fortunately ours was level, no need for tire blocking. Go ahead and book your stay at New Orleans at this facility.  The rates are reasonable, it is only about 20 minutes from NOLA, and the free shuttle is quite a nice a bonus. We give this park a 5 out of 5. Here is their website.

A shopping, food and music filled fun evening in New Orleans

Sher and I have been looking forward to an evening of New Orleans jazz music as well as some good food. We went to the east end of the French Quarter to do some shopping to begin our evening. The eclectic nature of a lot of the shops makes the exploration of them a real treat. We did catch the tail end of the French Market, a large open air lot, some of which was under roof. Many vendor booths were filled with folks selling their wares. You would see everything from imported T-shirts and other clothing to hand made jewelry, leather, or other quality art work.

Under the roof portion of the French Market’s Flea Market. You’ll find everything from quality hand crafted jewelry to cheap imported trinkets.

Frenchmen Street is just outside of the French Quarter’s Decatur Street. A short two blocks worth, Frenchman Street is known for its live music clubs. The first bar we walked into was Bamboula’s. This venue used to be an old printing shop, and the ceiling and support posts were covered with pressed tin panels. The band was already playing so we sat down and had a drink. During the next two sets we enjoyed the music and the ambiance of the bar.

The band at Bamboula’s

Dueling fiddles at Bamboula’s

After we finished our drinks at Bamboula’s we struck out to explore Frenchmen Street. As we had arrived early several of the jazz bars were either not yet open or the band had not yet arrived or started to play. There were not a lot of people out on the sidewalks yet, and the places that were open were not really into the evening yet. We sat for about 5 minutes at one bar after having to ask for a menu. No one came by so we left. This actually was a blessing as we then went to the Maison at 508 Frenchmen Street.

Signs on Frenchmen Street of both the jazz clubs we enjoyed!

The Baby Giants Jazz Band

The Maison was a great venue for the bands we heard. The Baby Giants Jazz Band was playing when we went into tho the bar. These guys rocked the bar with some amazing jazz. I especially appreciated the trombone, as I used to play. The numbers performed offered several chances for instrumental solos. This always gives you a chance to truly appreciate individual talent. We started with a couple of tequila cocktails called “Dixie Revival”. Oh were they good! We then ordered our meals. The food was excellent and very reasonably priced.

Winter storms kept us from reaching New Orleans

With good intentions we left Austin striking out for New Orleans. However, old man winter threw a monkey wrench into not only our plans, but just about the entire eastern half of the country! On our way east, we had stopped at a couple of casinos in the Lake Charles, Louisiana area. We were beginning to hear about the potential for bad weather, so we decided to make another casino stop and see what developed.

The casino is worth a stop. On Tuesday they offer their huge buffet to seniors (55+) for just $5.50. Can’t beat that!

The Coushatta Casino in Kinder is north of I-10. Not only is it very large (100,000 square feet according to the casino website) but is has an excellent RV park. The sites are all concrete, level and with full hookups including cable and a strong WiFi. Yes, I said a strong, reliable WiFi service! A shuttle bus will pick you up at your site for transport to and from the casino. And for only $22 a night, it is a great value.

The RV park was covered with a sheet of ice. You can see the sleet/snow falling. I took this picture from our RV.

The day after the storm hit at night, I-10 was closed in many spots from Lake Charles to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. What a mess! There was a sheet of ice throughout the RV park, and the shuttles had to take it very slowly. The temperature dipped to about 15 degrees. I-10 is closed again tonight, so we will have to decide if we need another night here at the casino.

 

Good bye Austin, New Orleans here we come

We said goodbye to family this morning and headed east. Our original plan was to drive to Lake Charles, Louisiana and stay at a casino tonight. On the way we made some cool stops, saw some neat things, and we ended up deciding to stop at the Rio RV Park again for the night. (See our review of Rio RV here.)

Burton, Texas train depot. Built in 1898 to the specifications of the Southern Pacific Railroad, this structure replaced the original from 1870 that had burned.

Neat old building with signage stating “Burton Auto Co.”. Might have been an early gas station.

Burton Farmers (Cotton) Gin built in 1914. Originally steam powered, it continued in operation until 1974.

New Mural in Brenham, Texas

Detail of mural painting

Built in 1870 for prominent banker, lawyer and landowner Jabez Giddings, this historic mansion in Brenham is known as the Giddings-Stone house.

Sandpiper RV Resort on Stewart Beach at Galveston Texas

You can’t miss the Sandpiper RV Resort after you get off the free ferry and drive towards Seawall Blvd. Sher and I saw the large sign for the park as we headed towards a local CVS store.

When I stopped later at the office, a very nice fellow told me that yes, they did have a back in space available. At $40 (using a 10% senior discount) we decided to stay, considering that I was told that the park WiFi had been upgraded last summer and was very strong.

Paved roads, level concrete pads.

This is a nice park. The sites are all on concrete with paved roads. It has full hook-ups including cable TV and the so-called upgraded WiFi. Yes, that is our only complaint about this park. When we were able to connect to one of the several routers, the load speeds were very slow, and connections kept cutting out. This was very disappointing as the office had said the WiFi was strong.

If you don’t care about having good WiFi then staying at Sandpiper RV Resort is a decent choice.

On the road to Galveston, Texas via the Bolivar Peninsula

Today we headed to Galveston Island from the town of Winnie, home to the large flea market known as Larry’s Trading Days. The direct route took us down to the Bolivar Peninsula, a very narrow spit of land with the Gulf on one side. Most of the way the road ran right next to the Gulf shore.

We stopped at the sign for a historical marker and ended up at a fascinating park that was once an artillery battery that was built in 1925. Fort Travis had several gun emplacements and several magazines.

There’s our RV on the ferry

View of Galveston from the ferry

We then went on down to the free ferry that runs daily from the south end of Bolivar across the water to Galveston Island. We had a little delay for the ferry, as we did not make the cut for the first ferry that came to the dock and had to wait for the second ferry boat. The ferry ride was really pretty cool as we saw lots of large ocean going cargo ships.

This is a Pilot boat that leads the huge cargo ships in and out of the harbor

Sher and I are planning on seeing the sights here in Galveston for at least a day or two. We’ll let you know what we see, and we’ll give you all another campground review as well.