Galveston – Big Bend National Park

4/13 – 4/25 Galveston

Nothing to report – me in Galveston, he in Annapolis, Iceland and Amsterdam (is it me and he or me and him ?- I missed the grammar lesion in doggy obedience school).

4/26 Galveston

He’s back – I was really enjoying life here in Texas where I was borne but all good things must end so we’re off tomorrow to pick up the trailer in Katy and continue westward.

4/27 Galveston – Kerrville, TX

Although I would have been perfectly happy staying another month or so in Galveston he told me the best was yet to come and to get my butt in the back seat for the interminable ride across Texas. The repair guys in Katy ($130/hr labor rate, this is more expensive than owning a boat!) had the hole closed up and we rolled west on the I-10 around 2 pm.

The score so far: two trailer repair shops, one tire place and zero national parks; this has to get better, right?

Well maybe, as we put into another Walmart around 7:30 in Kerrville about 100 miles west of San Antonio. The highlight of this stay (beside the free parking) is the shopping experience early in the morning when he has the entire store to himself. He remembered my doggy treats this time so maybe things are getting better.

We study the map and notice Big Bend National Park about 300 miles to the southwest of Kerrville, so the score was about to improve.

4/28 – Stillwell Store & RV Park, Alpine, TX

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The view across the street from the RV park in Stillwell

We arrived late in the afternoon after a half-day drive from Kerrville. Temperatures were near 100 degrees and the RV park guy warned him to be aware of bobcats, rattle snakes, coyotes and wild pigs, all critters that could make life miserable for me.

 

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Stillwell Ranch, Alpine Texas

After a gourmet meal on board the trailer (he had a steak, I ate my usual dry food and some table droppings, we broke out the flash light for an evening walk in the desert. I love this place as its full of jack-rabbits, quail, lizards and other small game that I love to chase but never catch. No snakes or bobcats tonight thankfully. Also very few people as its the end of the winter season and we had the place to ourselves. The road leading to the RV averaged a car every 3 hours.

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I have this road all to myself every morning and evening
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He took me on this nature walk and all I wanted to do was chase rabbits and birds

4/29 – Stillwell Store and RV Park – Big Bend National Park

We spend the day driving throughout the park with numerous stops for hikes, water, lunch, and peeing (mostly him). This place is remote, empty, hot and beautiful, all at the same time. The geology ranges from all sorts of igneous rocks in the eastern half to the sedimentary layers outcropping along the western portion of the park and near the Rio Grande River.

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Big Bend National Park – late spring flowers
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Erosional remnant

Mountain ranges are everywhere including the Sierra Del Carmen to the east, The Chisos to the south, and the Sierra Del Caballio Muerto in the park. After getting a glimpse of the harsh conditions that characterize the US-Mexico border it’s hard to imagine how any of the IA’s survive the crossing. If the desert doesn’t get them they should have no problem with Trump’s wall.

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Rio Grande River – Cretaceous limestone walls
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Early morning mist in Big Bend

New Orleans – Galveston

4/7 – 4/10 NOLA, French Quarter RV Park

This strategically located RV park is 2 blocks from the FQ and therefore allows him to ditch me during the day in the trailer (complete with AC and a soft bed) while he and Joyce take in the 25 music stages and countless food, beer and booze stalls along the river and throughout the quarter. They (mostly he) stagger back for occasional naps and to make sure I have not found the hole in the bottom of the trailer and made my escape. After 3 days of music, dancing (mostly him alone), eating and drinking we drive to Kent’s lakeside house in Metairie for a quiet night of recovery.

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Joyce in Jackson Square, nice hat
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My Master and me in the FQ RV Park

 

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Burbon St. – where else?

 

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French Quarter Fest
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Ariel, Jeff and Emily – his beautiful nieces
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Andy would be right at home with these dudes

 

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New Orleans health food

One night during the festival, after he had consumed many adult beverages and Joyce was asleep, he told me about how 36 years ago he arrived in New Orleans on his home-finished 31’ Southern Cross sloop after a 1,200 mile river voyage from Parkersburg WV with first mate Andy White and his father as crew. He intended to continue sailing to “the islands of the half-naked women” (this quote appeared in the November 7, 1979 edition of the Marietta Times who sent a reporter to cover the launching) but ran into a girl named Lilly and the course of his life was dramatically altered.

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Bare hull, deck and engine delivered to Signal Mtn, TN 1976
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Starsplitter launching, Marietta, OH – fall 1979
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Captain and crew (Andy White in beard, reporter from the Marietta Times) can’t remember her name Mississippi River 1979
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Steve Korte and Lilly, Dry Tortugas, FL 1979

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4/11 – NOLA – Galveston

En route from NO to Galveston, TX via Katy, TX where he will drop off the trailer for final bottom repairs. Joyce is with us now, thank god (yes dogs believe in god too) as she is there to remind him to drive carefully and feed me twice a day. Galveston is the home of Christina, Joyce’s good friend and old sailing and MRE buddy in Annapolis and her husband Bob. They kindly offered to take care of me while my master takes a vacation from his vacation.

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My favorite person walking me on in Galveston
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Blue crabs are big in Texas

 

 

 

 

 

4/12 – Galveston

 

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We found these guys in the yard of a downtown Galveston house. Coach now wants a pig

After a morning walk they ditch me at the house and drive to Houston to meet Christina for a tour of her workspace. As she is employed by NASA and hopes to go to Mars one day so I’m sure they saw a lot of cool stuff during the visit. If he doesn’t improve his RV driving skills soon I would be glad to sign on to the Mars trip just to remain safe.

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Joyce at the controls of the space shuttle – watch out below
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Christina with here fellow astronaut buddies
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Inside the Soyuz space capsule – not much room for 3 people
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Taken in the actual Apollo control room. Houston – we have a problem

4/15 Annapolis – Iceland – Amsterdam

He and three college buddies (Tom, Bill and Steve) decided it would be fun to re-live their youth and return to Amsterdam to celebrate the 45th anniversary of a previous trip. Since I stayed in Galveston enjoying walks on the beach and park and two squares a day plus treats, I am not able to provide any details of the “Amsterdam four”.

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Steve, Bill and Tom – Wittenberg U class of 69
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The Tulip Fest
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Amsterdam after dark
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More flowers
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Iceland or Amsterdam – I forget

The Journey Begins – Annapolis to New Orleans

 

April 4, 2016 – Annapolis, MD – Bristol, VA

The big land yacht adventure begins and it’s our first night on the road. We are spending it in a friggin Walmart parking lot in Bristol Virginia, surrounded by a who’s who of fast food restaurants (Taco Bell, Applebee’s, McDonalds and a Golden Corral to name just a few). The view from our door includes four parked tractor-trailer trucks, the Walmart automotive center and a Motel 6 across the street – at least he didn’t get us a room there.

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First night out – what have I gotten myself into?

After a quick walk around the lot he spots a non-franchised Mexican restaurant so he dumps me back in the trailer while he dines on tacos, enchiladas and a pitcher of margaritas (judging by his slurred speech upon his return). It will get better tomorrow, right?

April 5 – Bristol – Tuscaloosa, AL

Wrong…

After a brief walk around the Walmart lot he again locks me in the trailer while he goes shopping for a few groceries and some spare fuses. He returns gushing about the wonders of Walmart shopping “they have everything a guy could need under one roof – food, clothing, auto parts, beer and wine, plus there was a McDonalds right in the store!!!” Notice he didn’t mention doggie treats (he’s very self-centered).

After gassing up at the nearby Pilot station ($1.90/gal for regular – he uses the cheap stuff as the rig only gets about 11 mpg at 60 mph in the interstate). The day was sunny and cool and the east Tennessee scenery was right out of a picture book, rolling hills, old barns and blooming trees and bushes – things are getting better.

Five hours later, after several pit stops for my walks and snacks (I have to admit he makes sure I am a happy companion so all you PETA people can just shut up) we are rolling down I-20, 22 miles south of Tuscaloosa, Alabama (where Joe Namath played his college ball) and the trailer began to wobble. Of course he tried to ignore this by blaming it on the inferior Alabama interstate highway system, but when a car passed him with a guy hanging out the window shouting and pointing to our trailer he figured something might be wrong (what a genius) and pulled off the highway to discover a blown-out tire on the right side – as a bonus the force of the blowout destroyed the wheel fender which in turn took out the bottom of the trailer under the galley sink and destroyed three feet of heating duct, the water pump and two feet of water line.

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Alabama air conditioning
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RV repair shop #1, Tuscaloosa, AL

 

I heard him mumbling something about having over 55 years of sailing experience and never once did he put a hole in the bottom of a boat; two days into the land yacht experience look what happens. I’m starting to get nervous.

After discovering that AAA Basic does not cover trailer tire damage he immediately upgraded to AAA-RV to avoid, in the future, the $180 fee charged by the “good old boy” who came to our rescue. We had to backtrack 20 miles to Tuscaloosa to find a reputable RV service shop that would enable us to continue to NOLA with running water – the hole in the bottom needs a new wheel well cover shipped from California so the journey to New Orleans continued with a well ventilated trailer (driving in rain would cause flooding so weather forecasting was important).

4/6 Tuscaloosa – New Orleans

On the road again bound for NOLA after trailer repairs and 4 new tires. I received many nice compliments from the RV repair staff and tire installers in rural Alabama (“what a pretty dowg, I betcha he’s a good hunter…”). I really appreciate all the positive comments as I’m not sure what my master has gotten me into and I may need to be shopping for another owner soon (Joyce is due in NOLA later today, she can’t come soon enough).

First Blog Post – Read Me

Preface

Thanks to my friend Mike Lange for this literary idea.

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The author looking a little apprehensive

Do dogs understand the English language, or any language, for that matter? As a famous Far Side cartoon demonstrated, the answer is that dogs are very selective in their understanding of language.

People say “Skipper! Get off the couch or you won’t get your food tonight. Quit chewing on my underwear or I won’t take you for a walk today” What dogs hear: “ blah, blah, blah, blah, food, blah, blah, blah, walk, blah, blah, blah”.

Most dog owners agree with this assessment. My dog Coach is no different, however I recently discovered him at the keyboard of my laptop banging out an email to his brother Chessie (the fancy-ass show dog) asking him how his breeding session was going (Coach used much cruder language, which I will not repeat here). Once I realized that Coach could write I thought, wow, now I have one less task to do each day as the dog can now write my travel blog and all I have to do is spell check, delete the bad words and post it! Let’s see how this goes; remember the following blog is authored by a dog.