January 20 to February 14, 2014 NOMADS Project, Mercedes, MS

February 15 (Approximately) to June - Gate Guarding, TX or LA.

June, 2014 - Up to Alaska!

September - NOMADS Annual Meeting, Branson, MO

Monday, March 29, 2010

Needed back in Louisiana

This has been quite a week.

Friday, March 26. Having the day off, we took off for a ride south of Jacksonville, TX. This is a picture of Caddoan Indian Mound. Burials of ancient Indians have been found in three such mounds in the area.

We took a ride through Davy Crockett State Park. We followed signs to an "overlook". As trees have grown up around it, little can now be seen.

Satuday, March 27. We drove up to Tyler, Tx. Each year they have an Azalea festival. We drove the Azalea Trail but due to the cool weather, few flowers were in bloom. A few backyards were open for visitors.

One of the few bushes in bloom.

A little outside of Tyler there was a Civil War campout.

Getting ready to fire the cannon.

The surgeons office.

We just left the campout headed back to the Fifthwheel when Len got a call from his brother Jerry. Len's mother had been unresponsive all day. We immediately packed up and headed back to Louisiana. We arrived in Vinton after 8, quickly set up at the campground and went to her house. Most of Len's siblings were there. Mom had come around and was sitting in her chair. We wonder if the problem was over medication. That night brother Bobby and wife Charlotte stayed with her. Brother Jerry is staying every night since.

Sunday, March 28. We attended church services in Vinton then spent the day at Mom's. She had a good day.

Monday, March 29. Another day at Moms, another good day for her.

Tuesday, March 30. Mom slept most of the day. The Hospice nurse called and from symptoms relayed, says that her systems are shutting down. He will be here tomorrow and meet with the family.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Second week of work completed

Sunday, March 21. Being Sunday we attended, as a group, the First United Methodist Church of Jacksonville.

This church is of a nice size with auditorium type seating, large foyer with fireplace, offices, meeting rooms, classrooms, common areas and even a room off the foyer with coffee set ups and donuts. We all feel quite welcome in this church.
Monday, March 22. This starts our second of three weeks of volunteering at Lon Morris College. Our group of 16, had accomplished much the previous week but recognized there is still a lot to be done.

These are the four flags flying over the campus. The United Methodist flag, the American flag, under it the Lone Star/Texas flag and the green Lon Morris College flag.

This is the Administration building. It looks to be the newest building on the campus. So far we have not done anything there.
I am spreading adhesive on a classroom floor. Following that chore, I layed tile. This is a project I had never done before. It really is not that difficult. Len replaced some of the ceiling tiles in this room that were mold damaged. Steve and Wayne also worked on the floor tiling. Once we saw how good the floor and ceiling looked, Bonnie and Karen decided they needed to paint the walls.

Thursday, March 25. Len and Bonnie power washing the front steps of the Chapel

Tomorrow is Friday. We all look forward to a well-deserved three day weekend. Time for dinner now. Let's go!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Catfish and oil in East Texas

Friday, March 19. Yesterday we noticed the truck was slow to start in the morning. In the evening it would not at all. So, today's first chore was to find a Sears to check the batteries. After getting the truck jumped, we headed to Tyler and the local Sears store. When we got there we were told it would take a while as they were busy. We settled in for a wait. But almost immediately someone came over, checked the batteries and found one was bad, but the main battery was good. Diesels have two batteries. After considering all options, Len decided on the 900 cranking amps battery at a total cost of $221. Another hit to the budget. The battery was installed and we were on the road about 45 minutes after arriving. Great service there.

Plans had been made for the group to go to a local basket factory on this, our day off. As we had more immediate concerns with the truck, we could not join the group. However, in the late afternoon we all went to Franksten, Tx where we met up with another NOMADS couple at 7 B Restaurant for a buffet dinner.
Here is our group of 18. Plenty of gumbo (quite spicy) grilled and fried catfish, boiled and fried shrimp, seafood salad, potato salad, cole slaw, rice, beans, hush puppies, green salad, green pea salad, french fries and the traditional Southern desserts of banana and bread pudding.

I just had to take a picture of the toilet seats. I bet everyone does a double-take on this one. Actually the barbed wire is encased in Plexiglas.

Saturday, March 20. We woke to cool weather and rain setting in. We went outside to wish safe trips to two couples. Our leaders, Jerrell and Linda will return next Saturday after attending a family commitment up in Arkansas. Leaving the project were Jan and Forrest Riley who are returning to Michigan to attend to family matters. We hope to meet up with Jan and Forrest on future NOMADS projects and look forward the Jerrel and Linda's return next week.

Then we set off to Kilgore, Tx about 50 miles away. We heard about the East Texas Oil Museum on the Kilgore College Campus. The cost was only $6.00 a person and well worth the trip.

At the entrance of the museum is this oil rig. Under it was an old Ford truck van that Len would love to own.

Len standing next to another smart looking vehicle.

Inside the museum is a life size "Kilgore Boom Town" including a replica of a muddy street.

Len checking out the General Store.

Another view of Boom Town main street.

A view of a 1930's modern home.

We would encourage anyone traveling through East Texas to seek out this museum. Closed Mondays.

As we are sitting here this afternoon, the winds are really whipping. On a great note! I just got a phone call from the vehicle insurance agent we are using to help us change to South Dakota residency. The actual cost of our truck insurance will be ONE HALF of her original quote. No claims are now showing in our records. YIPPEE! We will be saving a bundle in changing our domicile from Texas to South Dakota. Sure wish I had investigated further prior to becoming Texas residents. Oh well, we are now cutting our losses and moving on. Live and learn.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's Thursday! (Jacksonville, TX)

Thursday is our last workday of the week. As usual, we start off with a great breakfast at the Student Center. Then it is off to work.

Steve getting my power washer ready for my days work.

Getting some mulch unloaded for our landscaping crew.

Again today I spent hours power washing. By the end of the day I was really feeling it. I just DARE anyone of ever walk on the sidewalks again.

This is our group. Forefront couple on right is Jan and Forrest from Michigan. Behind them are Karen and James from Iowa. Next to them are Steve and Luanne from Minnesota. Hiding behind Steve's head is Linda and on the left of her is her husband Jerrel (our team leaders) from Arkansas. Behind our leaders are Carol and Ray from Texas. Next to our leader is Bonnie and behind her is husband Darwin from Illinois. Next to Bonnie is me and next to Darwin is Leonard. The couple in the right corner in the back are Regan and Wayne from Georgia.
Every one of us are thankful tomorrow is Friday and the start of our three day weekend.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Oh my aching bones (Jacksonville TX)

We are getting well settled into our routine here in Jacksonville.

Sunday, March 14. Following church at the First United Methodist Church, we came back to the college for lunch. After lunch, Len and I took a ride to see the immediate area. Three miles from the church on the west side of town they have a park area for swimming, boating, picnicking. This is a picture of Jacksonville Lake

About 5 miles on the north side of town is Loves Lookout. This is actually a roadside rest area. There are picnic areas, a very nice welcome center with information on the area and a view that they say on a clear day you can see Louisiana. The literature says during the early spring the dogwoods are in bloom. Still even though it is somewhat bleak right now, it is still an awesome view.

Monday, March 15. On our first day on the job, Len was assigned to work on the exhaust system over the science room. I assisted in power washing the Quad, a sitting area between several buildings. I still have the bridge and some area in the middle to do. We were both exhausted at the end of a satisfying day.

Tuesday, March 15. As it rained most of the day, work on neither the roof exhaust system nor finishing power washing the deck could be done, both Len and I were assigned the tear up carpet in preparation of tile being laid in a class room. I was the only woman working with 5 men on this project. The other women were painting in the Chapel. Believe me, I would rather scrape padding and glue from the floor than paint. Although right now I really am feeling my age.

It looks like there will be a new challenge every day. GOOD! We are so glad to be here with these good people.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

NOMADS and High Tea

At last - our first NOMADS project. We left Livingston yesterday morning and traveled a short 111 miles to Jacksonville, TX. We had a heck of a time finding the parking lot that would be our home for the next three weeks. While driving and towing our 38' rig up and down narrow streets, we were seen by our fellow workers. The President of the College tracked us down and led the way. Had we looked to the right at one point we would have seen the other rigs.

The project includes painting of the inside of the chapel, landscaping and other miscellaneous jobs at Lon Morris Junior College. Lon Morris in the only 2 year United Methodist College west of the Mississippi. The college predates the Civil War. It's enrollment has been around 300 students. This year they added a football program and the ranks have swollen to 760.

Here we are lined up with the other rigs. We are the rig on the far left. How neat that we are right next to another Montana fifthwheel.

We were warmly welcomed by and became acquainted by those workers already present. Two more rigs arrived a little later. It was close to lunch time. Imagine our surprise and delight when we found out the college would be providing us with 3 meals a day Monday to Friday and lunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday. WHAT????? No shopping, no cooking and no washing dishes for three whole weeks. And the food has been quite good. There is a variety of hot dishes, a salad bar, a dessert table, a sandwich station, ice cream and the trimmings and lots of other great selections.

After we got settled in, one of the leaders of the project told me that the Musical Director of the college had invited all the NOMAD ladies to a High Tea at his house later that day. It seems there was some type of raffle and the person who won it asked that we be invited. The college was providing transportation as the Tea was held about 45 minutes from the college. Here we are in front of the van. I am the third person from the left.

Now for the High Tea. The homeowners daughter lives in Germany. She was coming home for a visit recently. They decided to keep all Christmas decorations up until she came home. The picture below is in their den. It is only one of the many decorated trees thoughout the house.

This is looking from the den into the kitchen eating area.

This is the formal living room.

Here is looking into the main dining room.

Well, we sure did have a great welcome to Jacksonville Texas. We are so looking forward to what will be next.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Last day here (Livingston, TX)

We bought our rig one year ago tomorrow. We figured it was time she got a complete bath. So, here is Leonard doing the deed.

WARNING ---- A Rant to follow........

As we had planned to fulltime starting Oct 1, 2009 I applied for Medicare Part B on September 2. Right after I sent the forms, we were told that Len had skin cancer and we should cancel our plans. (Thank goodness no cancer but we had decided to not leave until after the first of the year.) On September 9 I called Social Security to tell them I did not want the Part B until further notice. I was told that when I got the Medicare card to return it with a note explaining what happened.

I received the card early in November and did as I was told. In the meantime, Medicare took two payments from my Social Security check - one for October and one for November. Come December another payment was deducted. I then went to the local Social Security office in NJ and they had me fill out a form stating I did not want coverage until further notice. Right after that I received a refund via direct deposit of approximately $84. This was strange as the monthly cost is around $96.00. What happened to the other $12? I expected I would be later refunded the two more months of premiums.

In mid January I sent a new form to Medicare requesting coverage starting March 1. I received my March payment on the 10th but no Medicare was deducted. So, yesterday Len and I went to the nearest SS office about 45 miles away up in Lufkin TX.

A real nice lady assisted me. She saw where three payments were deducted totaling over $288 but only $84 was reimbursed. She found the form online that I had filled out at the NJ office in December asking that coverage be stopped. Apparently they consider December to be when I made the request. So they would not refund the October and November payments.

I had a copy of the letter I sent when I returned the card and the name of the person I talked to in September. She wrote a letter explaining all this and will send it to Medicare but she does not believe that I will get any money returned. She said there are lots of issues with this type problem with Medicare. She also said they make mistakes and leave it to Social Security personnel to handle. She also told me my March and April payments will come out of my April deposit.

Speaking of the Government - many people here at the Escapees Park are like us, fulltime RVers. We use their mail forwarding service as our legal address. The management of the park has been working on having Census forms for each person they represent. Up until yesterday they were told this was going to occur so everyone on their mail forwarding service would be counted. They now are told that someone from the census will be here one day next week but they are only permitted to bring 10 forms at a time. When those forms run out they must wait for more to be delivered. Does this make sense to anyone??? Mail forwarding customers would have to be here in Texas to be part of the census and then hope they were one of the few to be provided with a form.

Two more examples of Government inefficiency. And these are the people who want to be in charge of every one's health care? Yes, the system needs changing. But, in my opinion, having the Government run the program is not the answer.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Back in Livingston

We left Vinton, Louisiana today around 8:30. We went directly to the Montana dealer in Orange Texas and had the right front landing gear replaced. Only took them less than an hour. We arrived in Livingston, TX around 11:45 and had lunch.

Today was an absolutely beautiful day out. In the mid 70's with a calm breeze. We attended the usual 4:00 meeting at this Escapees Park where they announce upcoming events. Since we just came in again today, we had to go up front and introduce ourselves even though we were just here last month.

We are waiting for a response about where we have to be on Saturday or Sunday for our first NOMADS project. I am getting worried. I expected to know by now as I am a planner and like to know well in advance about things like that.

On another note, daughter Terri's friend Sharon now lives outside San Antonio. I talked to Terri earlier and she is looking into she and Steve flying out from NJ around April 5 and staying for a week. If so, we will meet up with them at Sharon's, stay the week there and then head up to the Texas Hill Country for a week to finally get to see our new Great Grandson.

Then we will have one week the get ourselves to El Dorado Springs, MO for our next NOMADS project. As I said, I am a planner. I like knowing where we will be for the next several weeks.

Len tried but he can't receive any TV at all here at this time. So, he is reading. I think I am about ready for my shower and to settle in for the night.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Making plans

On Thursday night when Cassie and the children were here, Clara asked to stay overnight. We decided instead that we would get her Friday morning, spend the day with her, she would stay overnight and Cassie would pick her up Saturday morning. As agreed, Len and I drove the one hour to her house Friday morning. Well, (almost) 4 year olds tend to change their mind. We were disappointed that she would not come with us. We could not blame her as she is really just getting to know us. We still enjoyed the time we did have with her.

Cassie and Clara

Our friends Diana and Don had talked about us getting together to go out to dinner. I called Diana and we decided we would meet them at their house and then decide where to go eat. A short time later Don called Len. He has a friend who was looking for someone to drive a dump truck for a few days. GREAT! Len still has his CDL. Len left me at Diana's and he and Don went to see the friend. Len is working for the friend today and expects to work Monday and Tuesday. This will help our pocketbook.

We came to this area thinking that Len would work for 4 or 5 weeks doing what he did way back when we met. He was supposed to have a job in Houston starting 3/9 but that fell through. Other leads have fallen through also. This down economy has hit this area hard too. The money would have been nice and then there would be the unemployment benefits once the work ended. We will be fine with what we have but gosh ---- it sure would have been nice.

Since he is not going to be working, we decided why hang here any longer? I looked at the openings for a NOMADS project. EUREKA! One in Jacksonville TX only 5 hours from here starts on the fifthteenth and there appeared to be an opening. I called Carla who is the NOMADS administrator in Kansas and asked if they needed volunteers. She checked, called back and yes they do.

Our plan: the part for the Montana came in yesterday. We will leave here Wednesday, stop at the RV dealer, have the part installed then head north. The Escapees Park in Livingston TX that we stayed at a few weeks ago is about 1/2 way between here and Jacksonville right on the route we will be traveling. We will stay in LIvingston on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. Then we will head on up to Jacksonville. Aside from meeting great people and doing something worthwhile, there will be the financial benefit. NOMADS provides a campsite in exchange for each of us working 6 hours Monday to Thursday for three weeks. We look forward to our first project and visiting that area.

BTW, in deciding where to eat last night, Len wanted a steak. Diana and Don went along with the streak idea and we went to a steak house in Lake Charles. Len had his fill - a HUGE prime rib cooked perfectly medium rare. He was one happy camper!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The original girlfriend

First I welcome John and Terri Shea. Good to see you here.

As I said in an earlier blog, on Sunday Len got reacquainted with his very first girlfriend Diana and we met her husband Don. We went to their house on Tuesday for coffee and again on Wednesday for a great lunch of rice and gravy, pork and the best lima beans I've ever had. We thank Diana and her husband Don for their hospitality.

Here is Len surrounded by his last girlfriend, Me, on the left and his first, Diana, on the right.

This is Len with Diana and her husband Don Johnson.

This is Welsh United Methodist Church in Vinton, La. We have attended twice and will attend whenever in Vinton. We really like this church.

Right now it looks promising that we will be changing our domicile to South Dakota from Texas. Changing will save us $540 a year on my Medicare supplement; $781 a year on insurance on the fifthwheel and $426 a year on truck insurance. As of now we don't know the costs of the mail service, vehicle registrations and Len's health insurance. We are awaiting forms to arrive in the mail with info.

If we decide to change, we will head to South Dakota in mid May. I understand most of the changes can be done by telephone, mail or Internet. But we need to go there in person for drivers licenses. To be a resident you need only stay one night and have an acceptable address. The address of the mail service suffices. Of special note there is never any vehicle inspection on either the truck or fiver. Ongoing annual registrations can be done by mail.

Len will be making a pot of shrimp and okra gumbo tonight, Thursday. We are expecting daughter Cassie and grandchildren Hunter, Nathaniel and Clara for dinner.

At this time we are still up in the air on a temporary job for Len. There are a couple of possibilities but if nothing materializes by Friday we will plan to leave Louisiana next Wednesday when our campground rental is up. We both have hitch-itch.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The solution to our problem....

We had a beautiful Sunday. Last week and this week we attended the Methodist Church here in Vinton, La. Yesterday a lady turned around in her pew and asked Len what his name is. When she heard it, she turned to her husband and said, "that is my first boyfriend". When Len realized who she was he turned to me and said "this is my first girlfriend". They were 5 and 6.

She and her family lived next door to Len's Aunt and Uncle. He spent much of his childhood at their house. Diana gave Len her Mom and Dad's phone number. They now live with her sister in Lake Charles. Len called Diana's mother and we went right over to visit. All were so happy to get caught up with each other. Tomorrow we will spend some time at Diana's house.

We really like the church we have been attending. It is a very welcoming congregation.

Now, for the down side of the last few days. We are still having issues in getting health insurance for Len. It is possible he might keep what he had in NJ at a cost of almost $700 a month! We are also looking into changing residency to South Dakota. We know the truck and fifth wheel insurance will be much cheaper. We will look into the cost of health insurance. At this point I sure wish Len was old enough for Medicare like I am.

I told him there is one other option. We can ditch this 38" fifth wheel and go smaller. Then our costs of travel will be less. Something small will be cheaper to pull. Insurance costs and registration will be less. We can sell the rest of our "stuff" to get some money. What do you think? Will he agree to travel in this?????

My guess is NO!