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Lamesa to Dallas, TX
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 … 333 Camper Miles – Total 12,077
Overcast, low 70s, no rain but threatened

Back on US-180, there were cotton fields for as far as you could see. Then, suddenly, the land became too rolling to irrigate and we were into cattle country. But the highway didn’t change character at all, its two lane road stretching straight ahead, a speed limit of 75 and no traffic. The road finally merged into I-20 and we negotiated the urban highways, arriving at the apartment of Bev and Bob, friends we met cruising in the Bahamas a couple of years earlier.

We parked the camper in front of their garage and took up residence in the apartment. We decided on dinner at one of their favorite Mexican restaurants and, later, had a pleasant evening catching up.


Dallas
Thursday, October 26, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 12,077
Beautiful, clear day, high of mid 70s

Bob and Bev are Dallas natives but we’d never been to this city. So, we decided on a morning of touring. We got adventuresome and boarded a DART train, their light rail system, and headed downtown. We walked the area where Bob used to practice law. It turns out that it was a short walk to the infamous Book Depository and the site where President Kennedy was shot. Even after all these years, it was surprisingly moving to be on the spot where all those events took place. We looked at the displays and the nearby Kennedy Memorial. We also walked around the old courthouse, Big Red.

Infamous Dallas Book Depository
Infamous Dallas Book Depository

Kennedy Memorial Seems Disappointing
Kennedy Memorial Seems Disappointing

Next on the list was to see the area where Bob and Bev are building a new home. It’s one of many new developments in the northwest section of the city. This one is restricted to 55 and over and is built around a golf course. The development seems very nice. We toured the model homes and got to see what they will be building. Neat! From there we drove to meet daughter Jodi and her kids.

Driving around the area, it is very evident that the businesses of the Dallas area are no longer centralized downtown. There are high-rise office buildings everywhere, which should help reduce rush hour traffic congestion.

Early that evening we walked to son, Brian, and his wife’s new apartment to help hang a couple of things on the wall and to borrow a small propane grill on which to make our supper.

With Bev And Bob At Their Apartment
With Bev And Bob At Their Apartment

Supper was Bill’s teriyaki shrimp. We thought we made plenty to eat but, later, we got the hungries and went out to get ice cream. The Carvel shop was closed so we went to a supermarket and each got a pint of our favorite flavor … four people, four pint-sized flavors … why not!


Dallas to Houston, TX
Friday, October 27, 2006 … 266 Camper Miles – Total 12,273
Overcast, chilly and very windy, high of 70

It’s Dallas, so how best to start your day? Bev, Bob & Sandy started theirs by all going out for pedicures for the girls and a manicure for Bob. Bill didn’t think that sounded too manly, though, so he stayed back at the apartment to write.

We bade farewell to Bev and Bob about noon and left for our next stop, Houston. It was a simple interstate drive and went very smoothly except for minor construction slow-downs during rush hour. Dave and Lois are our neighbors at our marina. They are like reverse snow-birds. They spend winters at their home in Houston and spend their summers based on the Chesapeake Bay. We arrived at their home just about dark.

We had a great evening catching up with happenings around our marina and admiring their lovely, contemporary home. Dave and Lois are students of design and each piece in their home is exquisite, has a pedigree and has a fun story to go with it. Oh, yeah, Lois had a great chicken dinner waiting when we arrived! Life is good.


Houston
Saturday, October 28, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 12,273
Clear, sunny, a bit chilly, high 60s

Lois and Bill had a relaxing morning while Sandy and Dave took a walk through the neighborhood. After breakfast we took a driving tour of downtown Houston. We were impressed with the city, driving through places like their mega-medical complex including the M. D. Anderson cancer treatment center, a mega-shopping area including places like Saks, Niemen Marcus, etc. We even did some shopping, ourselves, at one of Dave and Lois’ favorite trinket shops.

Dave, Lois And Bill At Houston Home
Dave, Lois And Bill At Houston Home

Lunch had been at a wonderful Vietnamese restaurant. On the way back to the house we made a stop at a Whole Foods, There, Sandy was able to purchase a couple of their excellent store-brand pizza crusts and we made pizza for dinner.


Houston to Pensacola, FL
Sunday, October 29, 2006 … 538 Camper Miles – Total 12,811
Clear & sunny, high 70s

Another day, another farewell! We faced a long day of driving, but at least the trip went smoothly. We did the easy thing, following I-10 and I-12 to the Pensacola area. There we found a Wal Mart parking lot at about 8:00 pm, set up “camp” and headed out for dinner at a Cracker Barrel across the street.


Pensacola to Grayton Beach SP, Grayton Beach, FL
Monday, October 30, 2006 … 106 Camper Miles – Total 12,917
Clear & sunny, high 70s

We were up by 6:30 and on the road by 7:15. Except for a couple of FEMA trailer parks along the road, yesterday, we didn’t see much evidence of hurricane damage. (Of course, we’d avoided the New Orleans’ area on purpose.) However, we did cross a temporary bridge section on I-10 in Pensacola.

By mid-morning we had set up the Tin Tent in Grayton Beach SP along the Florida panhandle, planning to take it easy this day. This is a really pretty place with a lake/bay, sand dunes beyond the bay and then Grayton Beach, itself. The beach is beautiful with sugary, white sand. This area is termed the “Emerald Coast” and the water is, indeed, emerald green in color!

Tin Tent On Gulf Shore Sand
Tin Tent On Gulf Shore Sand

We spent the rest of the morning making notes for our log. In the afternoon Bill wrote while Sandy walked the beach. Dinner was turkey tenderloins with a veggie stir-fry.


Grayton Beach SP to Estero, FL
Tuesday, October 31, 2006 … 561 Camper Miles – Total 13,478
Clean & sunny, mid 50s am to high 80s in afternoon

Happy Halloween!

Sunrise Over Grayton Beach SP Bay
Sunrise Over Grayton Beach SP Bay

We had another early start, getting on the road by 7:00. We were headed to visit Sandy’s brother, Charlie, and his wife, Sis, at their winter home in Estero well down the west coast. Again, we took the easy way out, heading east on I-10 and south via I-75. The roads were good but there were lots of trucks, RVs and billboards. We finally arrived in Estero about 6:30.

The development where Charlie and Sis have their house started out as an RV park and is now mostly converted to houses. They have a friend who has an unbuilt lot that he still rents out as a camper site. We were able to set up there, just across a lot from Charlie’s place.

Sis had a tasty meal of pork tenderloin ready for the grill when we arrived and we had a pleasant evening catching up before heading off to bed.


Estero
Wednesday, November 1, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 13,478
Cloudy early am but cleared, low 80s

While Sandy went to yoga with Sis, Charlie and Bill went out to breakfast and then visited the boat to get it ready for a day on the water. Charlie’s development has a boat storage and launching ramp right on the Estero River, across the road from the development … very convenient! We launched the boat, a sleek fishing platform. Charlie believes in keeping everything simple and clean and the boat is no exception. Except for the electric trolling motor, nothing clutters the boat’s edges. There is nothing to snag a fishing line on and the side decks are clear so Charlie can walk around the boat at will. With a shallow draft, including a hydraulic device to lift the 100 hp 4-stroke Yamaha vertically when necessary, it is ideally suited to the shallow bays in this area.

Serious Talk Among Sis, Charlie And Sandy
Serious Talk Among Sis, Charlie And Sandy

We ran down the Estero River into Estero Bay and ran up to Ft. Meyers via the gulf. After lunch at Matanzas, we explored the back bays around Ft. Meyers and then headed down to New Pass before returning to the boat launch. The water was smooth as glass all day. It was a beautiful afternoon!

Birds In Civilization Birds In Civilization
Birds In Civilization

That evening, Bill prepared sautéed shrimp over beans. Sis and Charlie’s neighbor, Ellen, joined us for dinner. The shrimp dish was a real hit!


Estero
Thursday, November 2, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 13,478
Overcast all day

Bill spent the day working on the web site. Meanwhile, Sandy went to yoga and water aerobics with Sis and then got in a walk. Afterwards they did some shopping … how can they find the energy?

We had dinner at the local Carrabba’s. The food was very good and Sandy was pleased that they, like their corporate partner, Outback, have a gluten-free menu.


Estero
Friday, November 3, 2006 … 0 Camper Miles – Total 13,478
Cooler this am and breezy, warmed to low 80s and sunny

Sandy and Charlie walked in the morning while Bill finished working on the log. We then went out for a late breakfast at First Watch in Ft Meyers.

Charlie and Sis then took us on a driving tour of the area. The pace and scale of development on this coast is absolutely amazing! We thought that northwest Dallas was developing fast but this area seemed to put Dallas to shame. Housing developments and retail centers are building everywhere. Charlie and Sis say that the traffic during the winter is already almost unbearable and the pace of development is still accelerating.

Neighbors, John and Jan, had a cocktail hour to celebrate another neighbor’s birthday. Afterwards, Charlie grilled fresh scrod for dinner. Yummmmm!