Back in Blighty……….

Well I am happy to say it all worked out and we have now been back in the UK for 5 days, but the weather !!!!!  Oh for Dallas and 90F!!

We had a lovely weekend with Tim, but picking him up was an experience. It seems Dallas wants everyone to pay for their airport so there is a toll to pay for going there which is payable when you leave. However, muggins decided to set the satnav to avoid tolls, but the problem is there is no way of doing that without going round and round in circles, with the satnav thinking it is avoiding the tolls by taking roads that are there but either closed because of road works or only open to airport vehicles. In the end I gave up and told it to use the toll road!! Will know not to do that in future!!

Anyway having picked Tim up we took him back to the RV where we showed him around and how the powered bunk worked as this is where he had decided to sleep. We then had a meal and watched the progress of Irma on the TV all the time wondering if it would delay our return to the UK.

On Saturday Anne wanted to go shopping before she returned to the UK, but Tim and I were not very interested in that, so we went to visit a Gun Show in Lewisville. Well that was quite and experience, almost every gun you could think of from a .22 revolver to a 3 inch smooth bore cannon firing steel balls!! Plus about every kind of knife under the sun, as well as bayonets, stun guns, various sprays (pepper, mace etc.). If you could think of it you could buy it there!! Took us about 3 hours to walk around all the exhibits. As we left Tim spotted another gun store that was advertising a virtual shooting gallery to use for practise. So we had a go!! Very interesting as you used a laser sighted hand gun to practise at shooting various targets.

We then went back and picked up Anne before going out for a meal for the evening.

Sunday saw us take a trip down to the Fort Worth stock yards, one of the few working stock yards left in Texas. It had some very interesting Western gear shops (everything from boots to Stetsons!!) and a live longhorn cow drive. On the day we visited there also was a vintage and custom car display.

Don’t mess with him, he is an Outlaw!!
Vintage cars
Custom car
And another
Long Horn cattle
Those horns really are long!!
Cattle drive.

Interesting place with lots to do and we will have to go back again if we can.

On the Monday we took Tim back to Dallas airport for his return to Vancouver, paying the toll this time, and then looked at the TV to see what devastation Irma had caused to Florida. Orlando airport had been closed since Saturday, but they were hoping to reopen on Tuesday, so we kept our fingers crossed and started packing.

Tuesday dawned and we completed the packing and American Airlines was still saying we were ticketed to Orlando and the flight was on time, so we put the RV and Spark into storage and stayed overnight in a hotel near to Dallas Fort Worth airport.

On Wednesday we caught the shuttle to airport and sat in the lounge waiting for our flight. At that point I was phoned by Expedia to say that our hotel in Orlando had cancelled our room due to water damage. Managed to re-arrange another room at a different hotel and kept our fingers crossed that our flight was still on.

Well it was, and we boarded it and flew into Orlando on Wednesday afternoon. I must say from the air it looked remarkably undamaged considering a hurricane had blown through only 3-4 days before, perhaps some extra water standing around. And so it proved when we landed and got the shuttle to our hotel, odd trees down and lots of leaves and branches around but not much else.

The only damage we saw at Orlando Airport
Everything looks normal!!

And then on the Thursday we began our two hop trip back to Heathrow, Orlando to JFK New York with Delta Airlines, and the JFK to Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic, arriving at Heathrow at 6am.

After getting a hire car to Burnham we quickly sorted ourselves out in order to get ourselves back up to London to see our new granddaughter on the Sunday. Anne is now staying there for 4 weeks helping our daughter Caroline.

Proud grandmother.
Granddaughter Zara

So the first part of our adventure is over, but we are due back in Dallas on the 1st November to continue our expedition, and early in 2018 we will start the journey north up the West Coast to visit Tim in Vancouver.

So my next post will not be until we return, I hope these posts have not been too boring!!

Taking stock…….

Thought it was about time I brought the blog up to date!!

I said in the last post that we would start exploring Dallas on the Monday 28th August, but it didn’t quite work out as we expected. We were still worried about our friends daughter Nikki and watched the horrendous results of Harvey hanging around for 5 days as it dumped over 52 inches of rain on Houston. Very luckily, although their street flooded, since their house is higher up they escaped any water entering their house, but had to sit it out until the water went down a bit so they could replenish their food and water supplies.

Another consequence of Harvey was that I10 (the main Interstate between Texas and Florida) was flooded at Beaumont and a lot of water had also fallen on Louisiana all the way up to Shreveport in the north, and to cap it all they were beginning to mention another hurricane called Irma that could at that point hit Florida. It was starting to sound like it was not a good idea to take the RV back to Orlando to store it especially as the roads being flooded meant we had to go a long way north to get there.

So we started to investigate alternative storage locations here in Dallas and seeing if we could re-arrange flights. So Dallas visiting took a back seat while we sorted all this out.

We, first of all, managed to extend our stay at Shady Creek until the 13th September which meant we could start planning. Shady Creek RV turns out to be a very nice Park with walks around it, and the facilities and the people in the office are first class.

Main entrance.
Pool, Rec Room, Laundry etc.
Bridge on the internal walkway.
Fire pit and barbeques and Rec Room.
Anyone know what the heck these are? About the size of an orange but obvious not edible as no one is picking them.

Then we sorted out the storage for the RV and the Spark, at a very reasonable rate per month and only about 35 miles away.

After that we had to decide how do we get to Orlando to pick up our homebound flight? So we booked a hotel close to Dallas Forth Worth and flights the next day (13th) to Orlando. and a hotel overnight in Orlando so we can catch the flight home on the 14th. Well that is the current plan but with Irma barrelling in towards Florida that might change.

Tim also decided to come and visit us in Dallas from the 8th to the 11th, and to cap it all, late Friday night (1st September) we got a telephone call from our daughter Caroline saying her waters had broken and she was on her way into hospital. This was a bit early as she was not due until the 16th September, which was the reason we had booked our return flight dates!!

Two days later our 3rd grandchild was born on the 3rd of September, a baby girl that Rashied & Caroline have called Zara.

Proud Dad, Mum and Zaid.

Now we knew all that, we could start planning our return to the USA so flights have now been booked for 1st November, plus a visit to Jamaica for a wedding, and then return again to the UK for Christmas. It’s busy when you are retired!!

What about visiting Dallas I hear you all cry!! Well we have done quite a bit of that as well.

But first just to show you that our RV is really quite small, this monster pulled into a space near us!! 45ft of diesel pusher (engine at the back), towing a Cadillac Escalade (huge 4×4), with smoked window slides and LED lights all over the place (looks like a Christmas tree at night).

A 2017 model costs (take a deep breath) $1,795,000

I guess at that price you can afford the Cadillac!!

I gave our modest RV a clean to get rid of all the accumulated mess from the Harvey exodus.

Nice and shiny.
Must get a ladder and Tim to get to the bit above the windscreen!!

And Dallas. Well we have done the Trolley Bus tour, which was quite interesting but Dallas is a bit of a concrete jungle with not many old buildings as they seem to have a penchant for ripping things down that are older than 50 years!!

We did find the Dallas Heritage Village where they have grouped together various houses, shops and farm buildings that were due to be demolished but were moved to this park to preserve them. Makes a very interesting exhibit, with everything from a Hotel, to a School, Farm and Doctor’s and Dentist surgeries.

Rail Depot
Hotel – very small and guests shared rooms!!
Doctors Surgery
What is wrong with this Flag (hint count the stars).
Mansion House
Original Dr Pepper advert

We then visited the Texas Book Repository Museum which was very good indeed and brought back all the memories of hearing about the assassination of JFK. Unfortunately they do not allow you to take photos, but you can take photos from the window on 7th floor rather than the 6th and of course the Grassy Knoll is open to everyone.

Clever photos recreated with miniature JFKs.
View from the 7th floor from the corner where Lee Harvey Oswald was on the 6th floor.
Plaque on the building
Position the car was in when bullet struck.
Memorial plaque.
Words from a speech JFK was going to make later that day.
Looking back up the road to the Repository.
Where they initially thought the shots came from, behind the fence on the Grassy Knoll. Graffiti on the fence.

The next day we visited the Old Red Museum which gives a detailed account of Dallas and how it became the city it is today.

One of the few really old buildings in Dallas.

Behind this is the main JFK memorial.

An finally we visited the rather misnamed Dallas World Aquarium, as it is rather more than an aquarium, as it has fish, but also birds, amphibians, snakes, panthers, so it more a zoo than an aquarium, but it is well worth a visit and takes quite a while to get around all the exhibits.

Anne loved this one.

Just a few examples of the animals, birds, etc. in the “Aquarium”.

So today we have picked Tim up from the airport and we have our first visitor to the RV!! Hopefully the situation with Irma will sort itself over the next few days and we can get back home to the UK next week.

So we may be updating this from the UK next time.