Well , we’ve been here at Lake Texana now for a little over a week. It’s been pretty good so far!
On arrival, I noticed a warning sign about snakes posted on a wall. I said, “So I can assume we’re talking about poisonous snakes, right? Which ones?” The woman behind the counter sort of chuckled and another woman yelled out from the office in the back, “All of ’em!” Counter-lady said, “Weve got rattlers, cottonmouths, copperheads, coral snakes … take your pick.”
My first thought was “run”. But realistically, we’ve camped in other areas with that risk, so I figured that we just needed to be smart. That said, I wasn’t that happy with our individual campsite. Lots of heavy brush, not much distance between the brush and where the tent would be set up, and no place to stake Frank out where he wouldn’t be spending most of his time exploring the brush, neck deep in prime serpent areas. A little ways down the road though, I noticed that the brush disappeared and opened up into a big expanse of short-cut grass … plenty of room for my little buddy to explore without any nearby bushes. It even has a little view of the lake, across the road and through the neighboring campsites. Counter lady was more than happy to change our spot.
Pitching the tent proved a little tough. I ran into some issues with it leaning again and discovered why – one of the main support beams running out from the center hub (which in turn supports the two front legs) looks to be bent about 18 degrees! I didn’t try to bend it back … I couldn’t risk snapping it. So, it’s still the Kevin Costner tent, leaning back and to the left … back and to the left. We still can’t use the tent’s main font door … too much pressure on the zipper. The side door is useable, but the material is loose because of the bent beam. it’s manageable, but what it means is that I have to use two hands to unzip it, holding the material taut with one hand while working the zipper with the other. The trick is doing both while holding Frank’s leash. At first I was ready to throttle him and his “We gotta get out of the tent now” exuberance. For the most part though, he’s done a pretty good job learning to hold back until I tell him, “Okay Frank … go ahead now,” before making that mad dash out to survey his domain. :o)
We’ve not done much except relax. Frank made a new friend … there’s a guy camping down the road a ways who’s stopped by a couple of times with his dog … I think it’s a Jack Russell mix. He and Frank have really enjoyed playing together. I’ve enjoyed having someone to talk to every now and then, too. Other than that, I’ve been taking adavantage of the Kindle that Larry bought for me as a Christmas present. I downloaded Michael Connelly’s “The Poet” and am a few chapters into that. I’ve read it before but enjoyed it enough to do another read. I like Connelly’s stuff. Some of you might be familiar with “Blood Work,” which was made into a film starring Clint Eastwood. My only complaint about the movie was that it completely changed who the protagonist was! Other than that minor detail, it was very true to the book. (The web is in dire need a sarcasm font … but I digress …)
Frank’s managed to find the one tree within the 25-foot circumference of his lead and requires unwrapping about two or three times an hour. Untying him, plus the short walks we’ve been taking most mornings is the bulk of my exercise. I say “most” mornings … we’ve had a couple of days of rain and at least three days of really cold weather. I think it was Friday morning when we woke to 30 degrees! Thank God for the sleeping bag! Frank now sleeps curled up next to me with his head draped over my neck … whatever fear he once had of my C-pap mask has gone completely by the wayside! He’s also figured out how to crawl in from the bottom of the bag, inch up inside and then put his head on the pillow so that he’s completely covered up. I tell ya, that is one smart pup!
And then there’s the wind. Still. Following us everywhere. Frank and I spent two of the cold afternoons in our tent, with at least two hours each day kneeling against the west wall, buttressing the front corner pole with my weight. The rain fly blew loose a few times, but fortunately it didn’t come completely off, thanks to a little forethought. I used some extra rope to tie the fly directly to the tent poles in addition to staking it out to the ground. At least it’s not as bad as in La Feria, where the wind was so strong that it took the stakes right out of the ground. It’s still been a royal pain, though.
So all of that leads to a decision I’ve made. I need to ask for some help. It’s going to be tougher and tougher as we continue over the long term relying solely on this tent. First off, I don’t know how much longer it’s going to hold up with the bent frame. Secondly, I’m not sure a replacement is going to fare that much better, given what we’ve been through only eight months into our journey.
I had been doing research on teardrop trailers after a number of friends sent me links to various websites. Most of them were unaffordable. They’re great, but have way too many bells and whistles on them. Either that, or they’re too heavy for me to tow behind my Hyundai Azera. I’ve been on Craigslist and Ebay and while I’ve found a few that were low in price, they were home made and I felt it sort of risky to put any money into buying them.
Finally, I found a manufacturer out of Denver with a nice product. They’ve delivered over 200 of them since the middle of 2014 and have ramped up to deliver another 250 this year. Their smallest model is 4′ x 8′ and comes with an optional galley in the back where you can store your stove and other cooking necessities. It’s basically a travelling bedroom. It’ll hold the equivalent of a full-size mattress, my clothes and not much else inside. But at least it’ll take the wind and rain and will keep us warmer than the tent. I got a quote from the company and it comes to a little over $3,900, plus tax. I’ll need to buy a mattress (the trailer doesn’t come with one) and have a hitch installed on
the car. I also found a tent that would attach to the back galley and give us about another 60 square feet of space to retreat to in daytime rain without having to feel like we’re getting into a coffin. The tent is lower in profile than our current one and should hold up a lot better in the wind (along with having the support of the trailer).
The total cost for all of this is about $5,500. I feel uncomfortable asking for help from you readers, but I think I have to. I can put about $2,000 towards this. After that (and after not being able to work the first half of 2015 before my social security kicked in … and then paying for all our supplies and other needs for the trip), my life savings will be down below $20,000.
I’ve set up a page on youcaring.com, with an appeal for $3,500 in assistance – the link is http://youcaring.com/frankandjeff . It’s geared towards charitable fundraising instead of business ventures the way gofundme is. If you can see your way clear to provide a little assistance … if you’ve enjoyed following along as we head down the road … your help will be most appreciated. If you can’t, you can’t. I totally understand. This trip was my decision and I take responsibility for it. I would just appreciate the help. We’ll continue on one way or the other, teardrop trailer or not. It’ll just be easier to manage.
One last thing … there’s a bit of a time constraint here. We’re leaving Lake Texana in the latter part of March. In order to have the trailer ready by then, I have to place an order with the manufacturer and pay for it by February 22nd. Not much time, I know. But it is what it is.
Thanks again for any help you might be willing to provide. It will certainly be appreciated on our end.