Day 4. January 31. We crossed into Texas today on the longest day of the entire 2,300 miles of this road trip. It was 325 miles from Baton Rouge to Houston and the toughest part of the trip was navigating Houston at the end of the seven hour trip (but more on that later). We left our campsite at Farr Park and Equestrian Center in Baton Rouge on a lovely, cool morning and crossed the beautiful Mississippi River. It is actually spring time in Louisiana and I am keeping the header photo above because it speaks so powerfully of leaving the “east coast” behind and looking west in the early morning hours just after the sunrise.
The drive west requires using I-10 and sections from the Mississippi River west to the Texas border are probably the worst interstate roads we have driven. Granted, we have just been on the road two years and we have more interstates to explore but folks, this one is nasty. From pot holes in the travel lanes, to shredded tire treads along the roadside, to uneven pavement and road construction, and the intimidating rush and pressure of tractor trailers, it’s not the best of Louisiana. The vibration in the truck and the trailer reminds us that we have to check tires and lug nuts and connections after a grueling drive like this. Take a look at the mayhem I discovered inside T2 when we stopped for a break!
Before leaving Louisiana, Peter wanted to find a grocery store and stock up on the brand of seasonings he likes to use for gumbo. We found what he likes and at the same time bought a box of Cafe du Monde beignet mix. There wasn’t time to stop in NOLA for fresh beignets so we figured we’d make our own sometime down the road, most likely with our California friends when we are there in a few weeks. While in the parking lot we had an Airstream moment: a truck with Illinois plates pulled up next to us and said they had an Airstream just like ours back at a campground and after chatting, we learned they were on their way west to Texas and are actually now in the same campground from which I am writing this blog. Peter caught up with them last night and again today and we’ll peddle our bikes over later to say hi.
We crossed into Texas and began the loop around Houston in a hair-raising amount of fast moving traffic. Not the best part of the day but we made it onto the state highway which led to Brazos Bend State Park. We’ve been here once before and liked it a lot and this time we are staying three nights. When we arrived we got a nice surprise knowing that our Annual Pass was still good (in Texas there is a daily fee of $7 for every day you spend in a state park so the Annual Pass gets you free admission and hits a break-even after ten nights). Plus, we had a coupon for a reduced price for a campsite. Here in the Texas state parks, you get a guaranteed reservation but you pick your spot when you arrive (think Southwest Airlines). We love our site (see photo below), settled in with a short bike ride, and early night.
Day 5. February 1. This was a really busy “details of life-on-the-road day” for us. Since I had three appointments on the books and no reliable cell service in the campground, we headed into town early. I dropped Peter off at Panera Bread and conducted my appointments from the quiet of the truck. At Panera, Peter connected to their wifi and was able to write to Airstream with the detailed list of items we want addressed when we have our final warranty service, set for June 1.
In addition, we are seriously considering Phase I of some interior renovation: removing the door-side bench seat, installing a recliner, and cutting down the dining table. The Airstream community shares ideas and we found an approach we really liked. We can order the recliner and Airstream will do the renovation for us. We are working on some pricing now to see if it’s financially feasible. This could be a much more comfortable living and reading option for us when compared to the one that we currently have.
The big project for the day was to check back with the Ford dealer Peter spoke to on Monday about addressing the lug nut problem that was discovered in Florida. The dealer said he would order parts that should arrive on Wednesday and when Peter called him, he said they were in and to come right over. Great news! The replacement took about two hours since they had a difficult time removing the lug nuts, but it’s now done and Peter can conduct his own safety checks with his new wrench. This in-town good day included a trip to Whole Foods for a great cafe lunch and food shopping for the week.
While I completed my last appointment of the day (had to be re-scheduled after the truck repair ran over time), Peter got in a long bike ride. We watched a Humphrey Bogart movie (Peter found a selection of four movies for $9 at Target) and headed to bed.
Day 6. February 2. Another “details of life-on-the-road day”. Today it was laundry and advance meal prep. Peter ran to the store for some things he needed for cooking some freezer meals. I took care of household business and bookkeeping since I had a good wifi signal in the campground. Worked on this blog in order to keep us current. I finished some more research on the renovations of T2. I am trying to solve the need for storage space that we will be losing when we remove the door-side bench. More work to do there and Pinterest might be a source of ideas.
One of the other tasks for the day involved cleaning out our reading library. I’m really into keeping things organized (ok, family, stop laughing!) We take books specific to the region we are visiting and so Florida just went out to the tote bag in the truck and the desert southwest came in. We also periodically weed out the books we have picked up in other campgrounds and donate those back to the reading rooms at new campgrounds. We just gifted some of those itinerant reads.
The day’s next task was vacuuming the truck. We bought a little Black & Decker lithium hand-held vacuum which has made cleaning the inside of T2 great. The truck is carrying some remnants of our Florida time (read palmetto leaves, some sand, and bits of Spanish moss) and we did a tidying up, including washing the floor mats that were pretty dusty and dirty. Peter went into town to fill up the gas tank for the next day’s drive, a much easier task when we aren’t hooked up.
At about 4:30pm, in the cool of the late afternoon, serenaded by the springtime birds and peepers, we went for a bike ride down to the lake. The grass is yellow-green this time of year and lush. It was lovely. I love the smell of springtime and here in Texas it has a sweet scent. On the way back to our campsite, we peddled over to visit the folks from Illinois, getting a tour of their Airstream and admiring the customized dining table they installed. Turns out they were in Gros Ventre in Kelly, Wyoming a few days after we were last September, once again proving that Airstream people often have the same ideas about places to visit. We exchanged contact information and invited them to follow our blog (hi, Tim and Jim!) and hope to meet them again down the road.
Liz and Peter continue their pilgrimage to here across Texas in their Airstream, on the way to the Davis Mountains and Super Bowl weekend. Go Pats!