grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

16-21FEB12 - Houma, LA (happy fat tuesday!)

We returned to Rebecca & Raymond’s driveway Thursday, 16FEB, which was also the big end of the Mardi Gras festivities! The parades throughout Louisiana on the upcoming Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday (lundi gras) & Tuesday (mardi gras) are usually the oldest and/or biggest krewes. We won’t bore you with details of this unique southern Louisiana cultural event that we have covered in previous BLOGs over the years.

However there was something we noted that made more of an impression on us than when we lived here – the extensive news coverage devoted exclusively to Mardi Gras starting with the Feast of the Epiphany & continuing to Ash Wednesday. Once the parades start rolling, every news cast starts with the weather & go on for almost ten minutes about the possibility that a parade (or parades) might be cancelled. In addition, every station will have a mardi gras “expert” discussing the history of the krewes parading that night & the “signature” throw for this year for each krewe. One night the entire hour newscast of a local station was devoted to the super krewe of Endymion rolling into the superdome on their floats for their gigantic end of parade party. Nothing about the Republican primaries, problems in the middle east, etc.

Anyway, on the last day of parading, ie Fat Tuesday, 21FEB, it was decided to take baby Jaxson to his first Mardi Gras parade. Up to this point we had avoided the night parades for obvious reasons, & the earlier day parades had been rained on. Wanting not to deal with drunks & wanting a family atmosphere, we decided to view the parade with our old friends at ReMax. Thankfully the weather was great on Fat Tuesday & Jaxson went to his first Mardi Gras parade. Dan did have one disappointment. Several of the floats celebrated the men & women of the Armed Forces. Dan saw one of the floats with a CG “figure head”; unfortunately, the float said US Navy? Other than that, it was great day with friends enjoying the unique culture of southern Louisiana.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

14/15FEB12 - Marksville, LA (possible RV repair)

14FEB, Valentine’s Day, we fired up the RV & headed to Camping World in Hammond, WA. We have been experiencing problems with out right, rear, leveling jack & wanted it checked out by professionals. Jacking systems are pretty common on most Class A motorhomes, & are used to level the RV if the camping spot is not 100% level. Of course there are limits to how “unlevel” the camping spot can be! Anyway, our right, rear, jack has not retracted the last two times we have moved the RV, forcing Dan to pry it up with a 2by4. Naturally it worked perfectly on our departure! Anyway, the technician tested all components, checked the hydraulic fluid, & cleaned all the cylinders. No obvious problem(s) could be found; let’s hope that routine maintenance was all that was needed.

We had planned on devoting two days at Camping World for them to find & fix the problem. So having “unplugged” from Rebecca & Raymond’s, & driven two hours to Hammond; we decided to spend two days away from Houma at Paragon Casino in Marksville, LA. You may remember we previously visited this casino 16/17NOV11. To us one of the prime benefits of fulltiming RV’ing is the flexibility when plans change. So rather than viewing the drive to Hammond as “wasted”, we just decided to turn it into a mini-excursion.

As we said this our second visit to this casino & we really like it even though it is “out of the way” in regards to being near a city of any size. But since we did this on the spur of the moment, we didn’t have their latest booklet of coupons. So Corrie went to the Players Desk to see if we could get more coupons; the answer was no, but we did score a free lunch buffet coupon. In the atrium of the casino’s hotel they have a large display of live gators. Apparently if you don’t pay your gambling debts they don’t take you out in the desert like in Vegas, they just throw you to the gators. Thursday, 16FEB, its back to Houma.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

05-13FEB12 - Houma, LA (misc & more jaxson photos)

If you read our BLOG back in DEC11, you may remember Dan & Corrie decided not to get each other Xmas presents. Sometime after the New Year, Dan mentioned that he had “planned” on purchasing a tablet computer for Corrie. All of a sudden Corrie was very much interested in the Xmas gift she didn’t get! So after a little research Dan purchased a Samsung 7 inch Tablet at Best Buy. As with the camera Dan purchased in our last BLOG entry, it was much cheaper to order online for store delivery & pick-up. In fact, he ordered it at lunch time & it was ready for pick-up one hour later (obviously it wasn’t shipped in; so what is the price break based on?).

Now after decades of ignoring computers, Corrie is in danger of becoming a geek. In fact, she now has a Facebook page & is learning how to post pictures of our new grandchild. At the same time she is starting to use her new cell phone to text to her friends. Dan even created a Facebook page, but his intention is just to link in back to this BLOG.

Meanwhile we finally called for the final inspection of the shed that Raymond, Joe & Dan recently built. At the start of the process Dan specifically asked the Parish what the “inspection” would entail. He was told not to worry; the inspection would only check that all the “setbacks” were correct at the end of construction. In fact, no one had to be home for the inspection & the shed could be locked! Unfortunately someone was home & the Inspector asked to look inside. He then come up with a really BS requirement concerning the ridge vent that is not even applicable to a newly built house! Rather than argue, we’ll get’r done.

Saturday, 11FEB, we (Dan, Corrie, Raymond, Rebecca & Jackson) decided to have an early Valentines dinner at one of the better restaurants in Houma. Why? Because there was a good possibility that Raymond would be working late on Valentines Day; and this way we could beat the crowds. Because it was the first weekend of Mardi Gras, many people were eating dinner out before catching that night’s parade. Although busy, it was not nearly as bad as we have experienced on Valentines Day. The best part was that the kids paid!

13FEB was Rebecca’s birthday & we were prepared to spring for a birthday dinner; but all she wanted was a home cook meal (specifically Dan’s garlic chicken), & no cake. So we cooked her meal, & Corrie even bought a small chocolate cake because we needed a place to light the candles. Rebecca is now 29 one year from the big three “O”; just another sign of how old we are getting!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

26JAN-04FEB12 - Sultan, WA (skiing & boarding)

Thursday morning, 26JAN, bright & early Dan & Joe headed to the New Orleans airport for nine days of skiing in the Seattle area. The plan was to use our credit card airmiles for the plane tickets, & use our recently built house in Sultan, WA, for “free” lodging. Upon arrival at the airport they learned that there were severe thunder storms threatening & their flight was delayed. At the counter they learned that they were rebooked for 10AM departure. But when Dan pointed out that they then would miss their Houston to Seattle connection, they rechecked the computer & got placed on an earlier flight that barely allowed them to make their connection. During the flight Dan remembered that he had brought everything needed for the trip, except the house key!!!

After picking up the rental car Joe started whining that he needed food now, so they stopped to eat at the Pancake Chef just like we did with Rebecca & Joe two years ago (see our BLOG for 07AUG10). We made it to the house in Sultan, where everything was ok & Dan figured out how to get into the house without a key. The two feet of snow from last week was gone but the house was surrounded by large pools of water. After unloading their luggage they headed to cousin Paul Peters in Lake Stevens to borrow sleeping bags. On the drive there the rental car shut down on its own, right in the middle of a right hand turn, almost causing a rear end collision. Dan restarted the car & safely made the remaining short drive to Paul’s & & called the car company. Their decision was to see if it happened again & then they would swap out the car. They had an excellent dinner prepared by Shanna, & a too short visit before grabbing the sleeping bags w/pillows & heading back to Sultan.

Returning to Sultan the head lights starting dimming & brightening on their own. Then they went out!!! There they were driving along at 55mph, on a pitch black night, on a major highway, & no lights, but the engine was still working. Joe suggested they pull over now! But they were on a portion of US 2 with minimal shoulder & Dan was afraid that if the flashers didn’t work, they would get rear-ended. Having driven this road hundreds of times Dan knew they were within a 1/2 mile of a major turnout & decided to go for it. Once safely off the highway & with flashers working, another call was made to the rental company. There was no question about a replacement car being dispatched immediately; however, Dan insisted that another Jeep product was not desired & that a Subaru would be acceptable.

Finally by 10PM the swap out is done & Dan & Joe were the first people to sleep in our house in Sultan. Friday, 27JAN, they headed up to Stevens Pass Ski Area. It was a beautiful day & with great snow! Dan opted for skiing, Joe for boarding. Dan lasted until 1400 & decided to go home. By this time Joe had discovered the “terrain park” & had signed the necessary releases & waivers to ski the park & see how much “air” he could get. The terrain park has many jumps, rails, half pipe, etc, for those that want to kill themselves. The plan was for Joe to ski until closing, 10PM, & Dan would time his return drive to pick him up. But at 8PM Joe called Dan to come pick him up because the mountain was shut down! Turns out there were so many accidents at one time (including three kids falling off a ski lift & falling 25 feet) that the ski patrol was overwhelmed & the mountain was shut down for because no ski patrol left on the slopes. In all his years of skiing Dan has never heard of this ever happening before!

Saturday they got a late start & got to Stevens Pass for night skiing at 3PM. It was raining on the drive up, which turned in sleet on the hill. This resulted in an ice build up on the front of your clothes on the chair ride, than this ice would melt on the ski run down. This also resulted in making their goggles useless. Dan even considered purchasing new ones at the ski area store; but when he saw the cheapest was $105, he changed his mind. Conditions improved throughout the night, & the skiing actually was very good.

Sunday they awoke to steady rain in Monroe/Sultan. By using highway cameras on the internet Dan could tell the conditions at Stevens Pass were very wet. He decided that he would take Joe up if he wanted to ski in the rain, & Dan would skip a day. Joe got up later & seemed to be hurting a little, & not too enthusiastic about skiing. It was decided by all to skip skiing that day. And early in the evening they decided to head to K1 Speed for go-kart racing. This is an indoor track that uses electric karts that supposedly go 40mph. Everything is computer controlled; so that if you misbehave, they can start slowing your kart down until they get your attention. The best Dan could do was third, Joe eventually came in first. During one of the races Dan slammed sideways into the wall & could immediately tell that he had injured his right, back ribs. In addition Dan had his brand new camera fly out of his pocket & run over, destroying the camera.

Monday, 30JAN, they got-up early & made the long drive to Crystal Mountain on the backside of Mount Rainier. You may remember that back in July, Dan & Joe skied there during the longest ski season on record. This is the largest ski area in WA state & has always been Dan’s favorite. The had varying weather conditions – sunshine with great views of Mount Rainier, biting wind, fog, sleet, etc. Even with the variable weather, it was good skiing still, with Dan using the long cruising runs to work on his rusty skills. Joe was not impressed, especially when he discovered that the terrain park did not have any jumps. On the drive back they stopped at Best Buy, to replace Dan’s camera which he had ordered online the night before for store pick-up. The funny thing is that by purchasing it this way, you save almost 50% over the price on the shelf?

Tuesday morning Dan awoke to extreme pain. Seems the kart crash, followed by skiing, had finally taken its toll. So Dan took Joe to Steven’s Pass at 11AM. Dan then seriously considered going to the emergency room, but instead got stronger pain pills & stick-on “heat” patches. Wednesday Dan was feeling much better, but decided to give his body one more day of rest & once again dropped Joe off at Stevens Pass in the morning. But this time when Dan picked up Joe in the evening, they continued driving east on US 2 to the town of Leavenworth. Where they planned on staying two nights with cousin Sheila (ie freeloading). Sheila is a tenant at her landlord Laurie’s. Apparently there is a constant flow of visitors (ie freeloaders) at Laurie’s, & as a result her establishment is now called “North Road Basecamp”!

Thursday morning, 02FEB, Joe & Dan headed to the Mission Ridge ski area; a ski area Dan has heard good things about for years but had never skied. After a couple runs to warm up, they met up with cousin Sheila who was already on the slopes as a Ski Patrol. She then took Joe on the black diamond runs leaving Dan on the blue runs. One very unique ski run is “Bomber Run”. This run is named in honor of a B-24 Bomber on a training mission in 1944, crashed into the mountain in bad weather. At the start of the ski run is a section of a wing of the bomber from the crash; which skiers & boarders “touch” for good snow. Another unique thing about Mission Ridge, is that at the summit you can see the snow covered Cascades Mountains to the west, south & north, & see the snow “dusted” Columbia River basin to the east.

Eventually Joe & Dan hooked-up with Sheila’s daughter Tessa (also a Ski Patroller) for a few runs; once again everyone else headed to the black diamonds, leaving Dan to the blue runs. Eventually they all stopped for lunch & where they were joined by Marco (a displaced French Acadian). After a great day skiing/boarding it was back to Laurie’s where Joe attempted to light a fire; thankfully our survival did not depend on his fire building skill. That evening was another great home cooked meal by Sheila. It was a fantastic time, next year we need to spend more time there (ie more freeloading!)!
Friday morning we said our goodbyes to Laurie & Sheila, & headed west on US 2 back to the house in Sultan. Enroute Dan dropped Joe off for one more ski day at Stevens Pass; while Dan headed back to the house. Joe called it a day at 1700, wrapping up a great ski “vacation”!! Saturday, 04FEB, bright & early they had to run the borrowed sleeping bags back to cousin Paul’s. Followed by driving to SeaTac Airport for the flight out to New Orleans. Thankfully there were no complications & they were back in Houma & their own beds at 2130.