East Texas Catch Up

14 Mar

We’ve had an “interesting” time since our last post.

Saturday a week ago, old high school buddy Mike drove up from his home in Houston and spent the afternoon in camp.  I can’t speak for him, but I had a wonderful time.  Mike brought barbecue brisket and sausage with him, along with some IPA beer from around Texas.  I’ve visited wineries and sampled a variety of wines before, but this was the first time I ever did a flight of beers.  He also brought up his guitar and while I was still unable to play because of my bandaged finger, I had a great time learning some new chords and watching him play.  I would love to be able to play guitar like Mike.  I’m fairly limited in my style of finger picking and my musical knowledge.  Mike’s given me something to shoot for.

The only thing better than the food, beer and music was the conversation.  All in all, it was a well spent afternoon and I am eternally grateful he took the time to come up for a visit.

It’s a good thing Mike came when he did … had we made plans for this past Saturday, he wouldn’t have been able to reach camp.  Starting last Monday, we had three solid days of rain.  When it finally stopped, the rainfall gauges in camp said we had gotten 14 1/2 inches of rain and the road was completely washed out.  I tried going out on Thursday afternoon and only made it about 200 yards before having to turn back around … the rain had washed a gully right across the road that was at least 2 1/2 foot deep and more than a yard across, and there was no way my little Hyundai was going to make it.

We did get out on Friday and took some photos of the road as they were working to repair it.  They’re posted below.  I’m sure hoping we don’t have any issues like that next week, when we’re scheduled to leave for Dallas!

Right now, we’re back to sunny days again.  I’m sitting out at our picnic table with Frank right next to me and there’s not a cloud in the sky!  These posts have become a bit difficult to write. Hell, doing anything on the laptop has become a bit difficult while sitting at the picnic table!  Frank has decided that the table is there for one reason – so he can sit right directly in front of me and get scratched!  It’s pretty funny.  He starts out sitting on one side og me and then starts moving his head over between me and the screen.  I’ll push him back … which is difficult in and of itself because he puts all his weight into resisting my push.  And once I take my hand away, he’ll wait a few seconds and then do it again.  I’ll move my head over to try and see around him, but he’ll keep coming … and then comes the foot.  Most days, I just give up and move the laptop away. And then he just smiles and moves all the way in front of me, putting the crown of his head on my chest and wagging his tail a mile a minute.

You’d think he was starved for attention, but I son’t know why because he gets a helluva lot of it.  Not just from me, either.  We get at least three or four visits a day from other folks in camp … and I’m pretty sure they’re coming over primarily to see Frank!   Bob (from Oklahoma) comes by every morning with his dog, Rufus.  He and I share a bit of coffee talk while he makes Rufus jealous by showing a lot of attention to Frank.

Bob’s a bit of a challenge – he wants to talk politics while I keep trying to steer him into different conversations.  I figured that was the best tact to take since he came over on March 1st and asked if I had voted in the Texas primary (I had).  “Who’d you vote for?” he asked in a manner that almost seemed like he was demanding an answer.  “Bob, I don’t share my vote with anyone,” I replied. “That’s why they have a curtain on the booth.  Besides, I used to get really worked up about it and part of the reason for this trip is so I can get away from all that political bullshit. I want to see the good in people, even when we don’t agree politically!”  He accepted that, but not before offering up a racial epithet that pretty much summed up his feelings about our current President.  The only thing I could think of saying was, “Bob, regardless of how you feel about who is or who isn’t in office, we need to start pulling together as a country, otherwise things are only going to get worse.  Now tell me, do you follow baseball?”  Like I said, Bob’s a bit of a challenge!

Rick’s son, Ricky Jr., comes by every now and then. He’s not very talkative, but he sure loves Frank!  And when Frank sees him coming, he starts getting excited because Ricky always brings him a dog biscuit.

Bob from western Pennsylvania’s driven by on his golf cart a few times.  He stopped by with his wife Peg one afternoon to get a tour of the Nutshell.  They’ve been on the road for the last 15 years, in everything from a camper on the back of a pickup to a 35-foot RV.  Peg loved the Nutshell and lamented about how they didn’t know about them when they were younger.  She said it wouldn’t suit them now because he’s 82 and she’s 76 and she didn’t think they’d be able to manage getting in and out of it too well.

I have to say that I had no idea they were that old … you sure couldn’t tell it by looking at them, or by how well they got around!  Maybe I’ll be able to keep this lifestyle up longer than I was originally thinking.  Which sort of brings me back around to one of the conversations I had with Mike when he visited last Saturday.

I feel like I’m at a crossroads.  I’ve felt that way since picking up the Nutshell a few weeks back.  I told Mike that my original plan when I started this little journey was to keep going until my funds ran out. I’d then find a home for Frank, drive to the west coast and jump off a bridge or a cliff into the Pacific.  But that’s not how I feel now.  I’ve been able to find enough peace on the road that I want to keep going.  The idea of suicide has left me … if anything, I owe it to the people who helped fund the Nutshell purchase to keep going (to which he replied, “You damned sure do!”)

But along with that comes the recognition that deciding to keep going bears a responsibility to take better care of myself. To eat healthy. To get in more exercise. To lose weight … none of which I’ve done to any great degree, especially since leaving Colorado.

So, I’ve started.  I’ve not had fast food for the last couple of weeks.  I’ve been using the crockpot on a routine basis.  Knowing the storm was coming last week, I cooked up some seasoned ground beef and a chicken and rice dish to have on hand.  I’ve also made up chili and stew … and portioned them out in plastic containers … in order to get back on the right course.  Frank and I have been taking two walks a day (except for the storm days).  I know I’ve lost a little bit of weight – I can feel it in how my shirts are fitting. We’ll see how it goes.  All I know is that I’m in a pretty good place right now, mentally. I’m more at peace than at any time in recent memory.  And I don’t have this sense of “dread’ hovering over me … the one I used to have when things were going good and I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We’ll see how long it lasts.  Knock on wood.

Here are the road photos … note that these were taken after they had been working on repairs for a day.  They were taken while heading back into camp, having made it out earlier. The last photo was taken the closest to camp and was where I had to turn around the day before because that gully was all the way across the road.






Posted by on March 14, 2016 in Travels


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5 responses to “East Texas Catch Up

  1. dale isom

    March 14, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    nice to hear you are feeling more at peace–it’s one of my many prayers for you and Frank. I know you can find joy in living–it’s a choice and it’s up to you but you have support to help you keep that choice–take care–hollar when you hit Texas We will catch up! Hugs and blessings


  2. Donna

    March 14, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Sounding good, Jeff, keep on truckin’! As I’m sure you’re finding out, there are MANY people who live “on the road” and “off the grid” so to speak. As we talked about before, my Aunt and Uncle retired, bought an RV (a 5TH wheel along with a diesel truck) and worke national parks across the country. My aunt said those 15 years were a wonderful time for her and my uncle, they loved the experience, the parks, the people. Of course, my uncle was full of the “wanderlust”, so it was definitely up his alley! Peace, my friend.


  3. jeanie maginness

    March 15, 2016 at 8:02 am

    It does my heart good to hear how well you are doing…mentally and physically. Seeing you go from total despair to looking forward to the next adventure is what you were searching for….By George you’ve found it. Keep on keeping on my friend ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bettyboop101853

    March 15, 2016 at 9:17 am

    So glad to read that Suicide is off the table. Keep up the good work on yor health. I found eating Salmon or Tilapia twice a week really helps take off those pounds. You can put the fish in the crockpot on low with some Chopoltle seasoning. It is really good!! Then steam some broccolio or cauliflower to go withit. Drink lots of water too.I found That Walmart is rhe cheapest lacee to buy the fish in the frizen section.


    • ustabe

      March 15, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion, Betty. I love both of them, but I’ve never done them in a crockpot before. I’ll definitely try that.

      I used to bake tilapia and would almost always top it with a salsa of some sort (Costco had a wonderful mango salsa that I especially liked on it). And few things beat salmon cooked on a grill, in my opinion.

      Still need to figure out an easy way to steam veggies. It means firing up the propane stove and for some reason, i have a mental block that I need to overcome for that. I don’t have any way to do an open fire down here … maybe when I get to my next campsite. :o)



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