Thursday, December 31, 2015

We were hoping to avoid snow...

We had waited for 3 more days in Dallas in hopes that we could avoid running into snow on our way west. After spending last night east of El Paso, we decided to take a route around the city to avoid the busy I-10 right in town, and we ended up in this:

Oh my goodness, is that snow?
Completely covering the road - hard packed....

Well... maybe not... exactly... snow....

Rather, it was gypsum, at the White Sands National Monument.

Given that the temperature was near freezing, and there were folks all around on plastic "saucers" sledding down the hills of sand, it was easy to think that we were in snow!

Behind us and in front!

Dwayne at the top of a dune!

We had a fun time taking a break from our dedicated trek west to see this National Monument. It made for a shorter driving day, but was well worth it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Our view for this evening

A few weeks ago, I read with interest a Facebook post from fellow Wanderlodge owner, Dan Dial, about a steakhouse on a working ranch that he visited. He mentioned that they stayed overnight in the parking lot and could see the lights of El Paso in the distance.

When we stopped to change drivers earlier in the afternoon, I noticed that the next exit was Fabens, and that was the town name that Dan had mentioned. I looked up his Facebook post, got the name of the restaurant (Cattleman's Steakhouse), called to see if we could park for dinner and the night, got the ok, and changed our plans from driving on through El Paso today. Instead, we're staying just east of El Paso up on a hill overlooking the ranchland and El Paso beyond (we can't see El Paso yet, maybe when it gets darker it will be more obvious).
View out our front window

We are doing a little cleaning on Miss Doozie and the Jeep - they are both rather filthy from the remnants of snow removal chemicals on the roads through west Texas. In this picture, we had pretty much finished what we were going to do on Miss Doozie, but the Jeep is still covered in white filth.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Finally on the road again!

We really enjoyed the hospitality of the folks at National Indoor RV Center, but we're glad to be on our way again! We got a late start today after packing up the WiFi Ranger antenna, putting the ladder back on, dumping, etc. - leaving Lewisville at about 11am. After a couple of stops along the way, we pulled in to the WalMart in Midland, TX at about 5pm.

There was snow dusting on the grassy areas as soon as we got west of Fort Worth, and there is steadily more snow in evidence as we've headed west. There is a large pile of snow next to us here in the WalMart parking lot.

Lord willing, we hope to get past El Paso tomorrow, and continue on our way toward Arizona.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Storms and storms and storms

We are still in the DFW area, electing to stay put and hope that some clear weather will appear for our trek through El Paso and the southern part of New Mexico... so we were here last night when big storms went through Dallas. They were a good distance east of us, but still close enough to be a concern.

An RV park on the eastern side of Dallas was hit, and it is clear from the video what kind of damage a tornado can do to RVs...!/news/local/Raw-Video--Storm-Damage-at-Plantation-Place-RV-Park/363587061
Even though Miss Doozie is a heavyweight bus, I suspect she could be tossed around if we end up in the path of a tornado - praying that won't happen!!!

We are still experiencing strong winds, and we are in an area with flash flood watch, but I think we're relatively safe here. Still hoping to be able to leave either tomorrow or Tuesday!

Friday, December 25, 2015

The True Gift of Christmas

A reminder of the true gift of Christmas ---

We are so thankful for God's blessing our lives with Jesus!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

SuperPhoto App

Here at the RV Service center, we have access to really great WiFi with the WiFi Ranger - and there are very few people here, so I'm not sharing it with many. This makes it possible to check out things that I might avoid due to bandwidth costs otherwise...

A friend posted a picture that she had specially processed on FaceBook, so that made me look into the SuperPhoto app.

I had taken this photo of Miss Kitty yesterday, enjoying the sunshine:
Original photo

I downloaded SuperPhoto and applied the "Painting" Filter and got this:
SuperPhoto filter "Painting"
Pretty cool, huh?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

RV instructional videos

I attended a video chat recently with Technomadia and the RV Geeks. Their conversation encouraged me to look at videos provided by the RV Geeks - just watched one on "Off-Tracking and Rear Overhang" which was really well done:
The use of the drone to get the overhead shots made it really great!

I'm hoping to get to watch more of them and thought others might enjoy them.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Water over the Lake Tawakoni spillway

When we were at Lake Tawakoni in November, Dwayne took this video of the water coming over the spillway one night. It was so beautiful - we went back the next day and the water level was higher, so it didn't have the "dancing" that this video shows.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Christmas Greetings from the Cartwrights - Part 1 - Traveling with Miss Daisy

December, 2015
Dear Folks - we're writing our Christmas letter within the blog this year, and hope to transfer to e-delivery of our Christmas communication in the future!

We have seen a lot of changes this year. We started the year in our 2004 Safari Trek motorhome, Miss Daisy. At the beginning of 2015, we were beginning a 4 month trip in her, trying to determine if living fulltime in a motorhome was for us. The 4 month trip caused us to determine that we did like motorhoming and would like to do it fulltime, but not in Miss Daisy. 
Miss Daisy at Balmorhea State Park, December, 2014
 She was a 32 foot motorhome with two slides in the living area - we found that the space was a bit small for fulltime, slides weren't helpful to us based on our usage of the space; we don't stay in one space very long, and the slides meant that we would pull a lot of stuff out and then have to put it all away when it was time to move again; we found that the bed that came down from the ceiling wasn't working well for us - Patti had to climb underneath it to get up in the night, and her knees weren't happy with that plan. We considered some changes to it to make it more liveable, like putting a bed on the floor in the back room, but decided the better strategy was to get a rig that was better configured for our needs. We sold Miss Daisy in May.

Miss Daisy and "The Jee-rage" (Jeep+garage) in Quartzsite
Christian Birds-of-a-Feather Escapees group at Quartzsite, January, 2015
 In January, we visited Quartzsite, AZ. This is a small town on the western edge of Arizona with a small year-round population that plays host to about 500,000 RVs in January each year for a big show and rally. We joined up to spend one week with the Christian BOF from Escapees and a second week with a group of Trek owners in Quartzsite.
Gathering of Treks in Quartzsite, January, 2015

Part 2 is here:
Part 3 is here:

Christmas Greetings from the Cartwrights - Part 2 - People and Places along the way

Part 1 is here:

Our travels enabled us to visit with quite a few friends and family…
We got to see niece Ginny at her volunteer position with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum...

... and have dinner with Ginny and Josh while in Tucson.

We met up with former co-workers –
Sue Bennett....

Mai Quach (at Lee's Sandwiches in Westminster)

Joe Krenek and his wife, Barbara, in Temecula

JoAnn Woodruff with Dave in San Diego

Church family members, Nancy and Burton Hill in Roswell, NM

 Along the way, we saw beautiful examples of God’s handiwork.
Red Rocks near Sedona, AZ

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ

Fields of "greens" near Yuma, AZ

Patti's favorite picture - Dwayne took of the Milky Way while we were at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Christmas Greetings from the Cartwrights - Part 3 - Miss Doozie and going fulltime

Part 1 is here:
In looking, we ended up deciding to get a BlueBird Wanderlodge. It is built on a BlueBird bus chassis (the same folks who make school buses) and is very solid (and heavy!).

We bought the BlueBird in July.

Right after we purchased it, we took it to the Talley farm in Virginia and did a lot of work on it - including getting 6 new tires for the duals and tag axles. Just removing the tires and wheels, and moving them to a trailer to take them to the tire shop was a big piece of work - so Jimmy suggested that, in light of our previous motorhome being called "Miss Daisy", that this one should be called "Miss Doozie", because everything about it was big and heavy! The thing that Patti really likes about it is that we don't have weight problems; with Miss Daisy, we were always close to or over the weight limit on the back axle. With Miss Doozie, we don't think we'll ever have that kind of problem! She also has a comfortable ride.
Dwayne "helping out" on the farm in Virginia
So, in the time when we were getting Miss Daisy ready for sale, and buying Miss Doozie, we were also getting our house ready for sale. What a job that was! We had a friend from church who is a real estate agent, and he came by with another lady from church who worked for him and gave us input on what we needed to get out of the house for staging. Dwayne's garage workshop equipment was going to go to Virginia because we knew we were going to need to do work on the bus, and other furniture and decorative items were identified by various family members as pieces they wanted. Everything else we planned to get rid of at an estate sale. Items that were to go to Virginia were in one part of the garage and items for the estate sale in another area of the garage; the huge oversized 3-car garage was packed full! Jimmy came down to help with packing the moving truck of things going to Virginia and also drove the truck to Virginia.
Jimmy and our friend Grant starting the packing of the moving truck

The house went on the market in August. Our area has a pretty hot housing market, and we had an offer within about 10 days, which we accepted. However, that couple decided to back out of deal (there were some odd circumstances) and the house went back on the market. Though it was getting lots of showings, no more offers came in. We started praying earnestly about whether God might want us to do something else with the house, and through a series of events ("God-incidences" instead of coincidences), found a couple who would value living in our area and help us with expenses and care for the house while we were gone. That seemed like the thing that God would have us do with the house, so we arranged for the estate sale to occur near the end of October, and the new residents to move in early November.

We moved in to Miss Doozie fulltime on October 9 and headed out. We've met up with rallies with new and old friends - Coaches for Christ in Montgomery, TX, and a couple of BlueBird rallies in Georgia and North Carolina. We visited back at the Talley farm and got some more tasks completed. Jimmy has created a nice pad for us to use next to his shop.
From the kitchen door, Jimmy's shop, the Jeep in the foreground, and Miss Doozie around the right side of the shop on her "pad"
It is now just before Christmas, and we are at a RV service center in the DFW area getting some last items completed before, hopefully, heading west to Arizona for the winter. God willing, we hope to visit friends at Quartzsite, and then spend a bit of time in Yuma.

We don't have a lot of specific plans; DFW will continue to be our domicile, and we'll be back through the DFW area probably twice a year for doctor's appointments and just to keep up with things. We'll continue to visit the Talley farm -- but we're hoping the visits can become more "visits" and less "service calls"! We hope to visit the northeast during next summer. We would still like to visit family, friends, former co-workers in our travels. And we are praying that God will use us as we travel.

We hope you have enjoyed this update of our year. Patti tries to keep this blog / online diary updated every day or so with what we are doing; keep up with us, and let us know how you are doing also!

With Love -- Patti and Dwayne


Friday, December 18, 2015

The challenges of marshmallow farming

Sharing this story on the blog since my brother doesn't use facebook...

I'm concerned about what this will do to the price of marshmallows at the grocery store... and whether the North Carolina marshmallow industry's problems will cause any problems in Virginia too.

Dwayne wants to get a marshmallow tree for the bus.

He said that the farmers in North Carolina need to invest in umbrellas to put over the groves.

Another day, another movie...

While everyone else in movie-viewing-land was lining up to see the new Star Wars movie, we went to "Bridge of Spies". We really liked it! Tom Hanks just does good movies - I don't know whether he makes every movie he is in better, or whether he only chooses to do good movies.

"Bridge of Spies" was based on a true story and set in the late 50s in the midst of the cold war with Russia. It was interesting to see the concern of folks that the Russians would be dropping a nuclear bomb on major US cities... and to compare to current fears of terrorism.

In the promos before the movie, there was a promo for "The Lady in the Van", a BBC production.

I just looked up the synopsis of the movie and found this:
"A big screen adaptation of writer Alan Bennett’s iconic and celebrated memoir, directed by long-standing Bennett collaborator Nicholas Hytner. The film tells the true story of the relationship between Alan Bennett and the singular Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins who ‘temporarily’ parked her van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years. Their unique story is funny, poignant and life-affirming."

It seemed to me that it might be a popular movie for RVers...  ;-)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cleaning a tiny house

A tiny house gets dirty pretty quickly, particularly when two (maybe 3) of the occupants shed a bit.

The nice thing is, it is also pretty quick to clean!

Partway through cleaning - I clean 1/3 at a time - the front, the kitchen area, then bath/bedroom. Everything comes up off the floor that I can get off the floor, vacuum, then steam mop. Kitties don't like it!!! But since they contribute a large amount to the requirement, I can't take their feelings into account by too much...

Weather forecast for RVers?

Dwayne and I wanted to check the weather for Florida versus Arizona for this winter, I was looking at the site:

Down at the bottom, under "Forecast", in very small type, it has a number of options... "Local Forecasts", "International Forecasts", etc.

I'm reading down the list and saw (what I thought said) "RVers" - "Wow!", I thought, "A forecast tool for RVers, how nice!"

Unfortunately, it was for "Rivers"...  but I'm laughing at myself thinking that the National Weather Service would have a forecast for RVers!!!  ;-)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"Alabaster" - Simple Second Guide

I can't get these lyrics out of my head - our children's choir sung them Sunday night; the song is beautiful, and the story in Luke is too!

I am broken at Your feet
Like an alabaster jar
Every piece of who I am
Laid before Your majesty

I will bow my life
At Your feet
At Your feet
My lips
So lost for words
Will kiss Your feet
Kiss Your feet

Oh the gravity of You
Draws my soul unto its knees
I will never be the same
I am lost and found in You

If you want to hear it:

This is story from Luke's gospel is one of the stories of hope that we share in the Simple Second Guide:


Monday, December 14, 2015

"Woodlawn", the movie

I had been wanting to see the movie, "Woodlawn", and thought that I had missed my opportunity, but it opened at additional theaters this past weekend, so we went to see it this afternoon. We really enjoyed the story! I recommend that you see it!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Prices for doing laundry...

You know... I should start a spreadsheet to start tracking prices for doing laundry... There really doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the prices.

At campgrounds, there are generally just one size of machine, 4-6 washers, maybe the same number of dryers (sometimes only one or two of each - I tend to pass if that is the case - if I have to single thread, it takes too long!).

At laundromats (or lavanderia in Texas), there are usually a large number of machines, and many different sizes. Some places will have the front loaders labeled as "2x", "3x", "4x", I have even seen "5x" - the size of a top loader wash load.

Now... given our storage space, the only way I would have enough laundry for a "5x" would be if I did all our laundry, including all linens, in one big load without any sorting - so the larger capacity washers aren't very useful for me.

But I do like the ability to do 2-4 loads all at the same time (in different washers) and get all of my laundry day done in the space of 2 hours.

Yesterday, Dwayne dropped me off at the laundromat near the RV service center while he went to do other chores. Right after he left, and I had put the wash loads on, I realized that I should have gotten a second roll of quarters to take in with me (I had used almost all I had in the washers). But, this laundromat had a change machine, so I got $5 in quarters to have a ready supply.

That's when I noticed that the dryers were indicated as "free" and this sign:
Free Dry with Wash
Whoo-hoo!!! and the wash prices were pretty reasonable too - $2 for a regular top-loader and $2.25 for a front-loader that I could put a comforter in.

The free dry seemed to be only for the "regular" size dryers (which are still plenty big to dry a comforter in). I couldn't quite figure out - there were some folks who were using the 2x dryers - for which they had to pay... but maybe they were the guys doing bulk laundry (many laundromats will do laundry for you for so much per pound).

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Motorhome storage at National Indoor RV Center

One of the things that I have been so impressed with while we are staying at National Indoor RV Center is their indoor storage facility. I was asking the lady at the desk about how many units they store, and she said that they have about 300 (and have many requests that they cannot satisfy since they are currently full).

Looking in one of the side doors at the rigs that are stored

This is the set of rigs that are in the area between the service area and the storage area.

Looking down between two of the "front" buses - it looks like there are 10-15 lined up between this area and the back of the storage area.

This is the back of the storage area of the building
Stephanie, in Sales told us more information about the benefits for folks who store here: For folks who store their rigs here, they call in 24 hours ahead of the time they need their rig, and NIRVC gets the motorhome ready to go, including topping off fluids and starting the refrigerator so it is ready for the customer. While the rig is in storage, it is plugged in, and the building is heated if the temperature goes below freezing so the rigs don't have to be winterized.

They also have outdoor storage, I think - but I think it is pretty much full too.

And... they have a "campground" for folks who are getting service done. It isn't fancy, but it is nice to be able to hook up to electricity. There is a place for us to dump and to fill up with fresh water too. And, we get to chat with other "campers" too!

We are really quite pleased with the service we are getting from them. If RV'ing friends need a place in DFW for service, we would recommend National Indoor RV Center!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Estate sale today - but not ours

A member of our church passed away a few months ago and left her home to the church. I found out on Wednesday that they would be having an estate sale to sell many of the things in the home on Friday and Saturday, and volunteered to help out. Dwayne and I both went today to help... Dwayne worked with Clif in the garage, but Lynda assigned me to one of the rooms inside... the book room...

Many of you may know that Dwayne and I had many bookcases full of books that we got rid of when downsizing (I think I counted 60 shelves of books in the house)... so putting me in a room full of books, and books that I would like to read... ooooohhhhhh - the temptation!

I managed to leave this afternoon after only acquiring one book... but... there are still a lot that I would like to have, and I'm not sure my resistance will hold up through tomorrow.

Someone of my Dallas area friends, please come to 127 Ireland in Irving and buy books so I don't have to!!!!

Energy Ogre for Texas Electric bills

We went out for dinner with friends a few nights ago and they told us about signing up with Energy Ogre for their electric. He said that he figured he was in one of the worst possible scenarios as he had just signed a contract with an energy provider for the next year... and there would be a cancellation penalty to get out of that contract. But, he did the request-for-information with Energy Ogre, and figured at worst he would break even for the next year so signed up with them.

To his surprise, his energy bill has been below $40 for the past 3 months; his usage is in a range that happens to provide a $50 rebate from the company that Energy Ogre has him with, which has resulted in incredibly low electric bills!

We don't have an electric bill anymore, but I thought I would post this information in case someone in my Texas friends wants to look into this for their electric bill.

By the way, if you do nothing else, read the FAQs about 1/3 down the page...
Someone has an interesting sense of humor...

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Some other pictures - GWB Presidential Library and Museum

These were pieces of metal from one of the World Trade Center buildings. The events of 9-11 and afterwards were a large part of the museum. I was surprised by how emotional I got in this area of the museum - I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. Behind and around on the walls around these pieces of metal are the names of all the individuals who were killed in the airplanes and the buildings that were destroyed by the acts of terrorism.

One of the docents who was in this area of the museum particularly pointed out this to me, with the comment, "I didn't know that there was a 'Bush Doctrine' until I started working here." I didn't know either.

There was a replica of the Oval Office as it appeared at the time of the Bush Presidency. We were encouraged to sit at the desk and have our picture taken, and to make ourselves comfortable in the room.

Afghanistan Painting - GWB Presidential Library and Museum

The docent called my attention to this painting in the "Liberty is the Hope" wall of the museum.

"Windows of Opportunity"
You can see a better representation of it here:

I copied the following from Major (Retired) Steven McAlpin's LinkedIn page:
Taking advantage of a transfer to Kabul, I painted a picture of American soldiers delivering some of the 208 desks and benches made for the school by the 92nd Engineer Battalion. I framed the acrylic on plywood painting with a window frame I purchased from the newly-renovated Teacher's Training College, also in Kabul. I mailed the painting to President and Mrs. Bush where it was warmly received.
I was surprised to learn in mid-2013, that the painting was to be featured at the G. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. I traveled to Dallas to see the painting for myself. As I was describing each of the 17 details to some friends, the museum director, Mr. Alan Lowe approached me with some unbelievable statistics: of the roughly 43,000 gifts the First Family received over 8 years, only 300 were selected to be in the opening exhibit of the museum. I found my painting protected in a glass case nestled just above a shawl from the Dalai Lama, and a hand-written poem by Cuban dissident, Oscar Bissett.
Needless to say - I am thrilled that my painting had been recognized in such a prominent manner.

White House Pets - GWB Presidential Library and Museum

It was fun to see the involvement of the White House pets...

In the Christmas, 2003 exhibit, it seemed that Barney, the black Scottish Terrier, had been given the responsibility for overseeing the decorations, but had to be constantly reminded to keep on task. (If you want to see the video of his activities, I found it here:

There were commemorative statues of other first pets too:
India, the kitty had fallen asleep while reading "If You Take a Mouse to the Movies"
This Wikipedia article says that India, also sometimes called "Willie" was overshadowed by the White House dogs - but of course, kitties would not be stooping to the juvenile attention-getting schemes of dogs!

Barney and Miss Beazley


Gifts from the Middle East - GWB Presidential Library and Museum

In the main hallway, they had an exhibit of gifts that were given to the Bushes from various countries. I found a few items in the "Middle East" gifts that I thought were particularly interesting.
Sculpture, Saudi Arabia - Golden desert scene with Bedouins, camels, and a tent given to Mrs. Laura Bush by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, October 23, 2007
Jewelry Set, Saudi Arabia - Sapphire and diamond jewelry set presented to Mrs Laura Bush by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, October 23, 2007

Sculpture, Israel: Sterling silver and gold representation of Jerusalem given to President Bush in December, 2001 by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon