Thursday, December 30, 2021

We Now Are In......Lake Conroe, TX

Lake Conroe, TX.   High: 81  Low: 68.  Site: G-57. FAST AT & T, FAST T-Mobile Hotspot

The Pinnacle has landed...In Lake Conroe, TX at the Thousand Trails Park Lake Conroe location. We love this park because: 1) It's a nice semi-wooded, shady park in the middle of civilization! (She means EVERY SINGLE STORE YOU WOULD WANT TO SHOP AT IS HERE NEARBY, within 10-30 minutes. Every single chain restaurant, specialty restaurants and every single craft store, it's all here, laughs Eldo.) Sparky is going to blow her food and discretionary spending budget within a very short period of time. (BUDGET???? She has a budget????? wonders an incredulous Eldo.) Uh, no comment. 2.) It's VERY close to Sparky's family, one daughter and grandson, who is growing up so fast. 3.) Sparky can still get some nice bike rides in on very wide residential sidewalks that run for miles near the TT park and go for a nice walk/short hike inside a small city park just down the road.

Now, the park itself has not the greatest interior roads...rutted gravel, with lots of potholes USUALLY, and the gravel sites for the RV's are not very level in a lot of sites, but we managed to get a decent one this time on the second try. The first try was in the new section which on first inspection looked terrific! Cement pads, wide lots, and highly desirable AFTER the summer months. (The concrete is HOT in the summer and you bake your rig and you on those sites in the summer.) The problem with some of the sites in there is that there is a pretty big concrete "ramp" up onto the concrete level pad. We started to back the fifth wheel up and very quickly Sparky realized the RV was going to bottom out on the inclined ramp, so she hollered at Eldy, "STOP! It's not going to work!" We pulled out of that section and started driving around the park. Thousand Trails doesn't assign you a spot, but sometimes they will name some spots that they think MIGHT be open. So you drive around towing your RV looking for a good site. And off we went. Thousand Trails has quite a few pull through sites, but they are the type that pair two sites together ("buddy" sites) so that when two units pull into their respective pull throughs,  their living areas are facing each other. So your front door faces their front door and the common area between the rigs has two picnic tables and the living area in the same "corridor" or space. 

It's a much tighter use of space and hopefully, you get nice neighbors because you'll be seeing a LOT of each other if you like to be outside. Normally, pull thru sites have the outdoor living areas all on the same side going all the way down the row, so you don't normally see your neighbor (unless you go over and talk to them) because they are using their living space on the opposite side of their rig just as you are using yours.  Hope that makes sense!

We found a decent site, a back in, and got leveled pretty quickly. (Your rig has to be level for the fridge/coolant to work properly). It has 4 landing jacks that come down and adjust up or down or from one side to the other side and from front to back to level the rig by pushing a button. If you've placed wooden blocks properly under the landing jacks, then two additional central stabilizing jacks come down to act as additional supports so you don't feel movement inside the rig when walking around. That's Sparky's job to place several wooden blocks in different combinations or the same number under each jack depending on how the rig is sitting on the site and if the site is level or unlevel.  If she has eyeballed it correctly, then ALL the jacks, all six of them come down. If she doesn't view the site and how the rig is sitting on it correctly, then the stabilizer jacks don't come down and we live with more movement inside than we like. And Eldy is one unhappy camper. That doesn't happen too often, thank goodness!

Thousand Trails Lake Conroe has a    beautiful big pool, (unheated, though), a nice laundry room,  nice showers/bathrooms and lots of great space to roam and play for families, nice cabins AND the beach down at the lake! It's a nice place!

What have we been doing for the weeks we have been here? A little bit of maintenance, among other things. We had our two air conditioners cleaned by 4 Girls Ranch maintenance service (next door to the park) and recommend them if you are in the park and need help with a problem in your rig. To no surprise to us, they told us that we had lots of Asian lady beetles up on top with quite a few stink bugs as well hiding out under the shroud cover of the AC. Yep, we are still vacuuming those little buggers every day and until now, have not wanted to use chemicals. BUT--the time has come! Those little buggers stink, and Sparky is tired of craning her neck and sucking them off the ceiling and screens with the heavy vacuum hose. We'll see if the spray works or not! Note: yes and no. The spray has a pleasant odor but you are not supposed to breathe it in. It took all afternoon with the fans blowing to air the rig out, and the ladybugs are still coming in, although not as many.  But the main thing is only SOME are dying, so Sparky is going to spray again, and we need try and get up on the roof to spray around the AC's to try and diminish the entry point interest they seem to have!

Grandson took this photo!

On another note...Christmas came and went. The park had some fun activities like a snowball fight with big fuzzy pom pom balls....Sparky and grandson had a great time!

Gotta love those special decorated cookies....

Gotta love a card game called Exploding Kittens......
Grandma sucks at Connect 4. Grandson won 5-1.
Sparky and Grandson are tied at Spiderman Monopoly, which is a cool game by the way.....
Eldo (Eldy) had a great time, too!
Eldy and his daughter Kristi
Eldo loves his pizza burgers, a family recipe that has LOTS of cheese in it and on it....
Eldo got to see his grandson's new car, too! Pretty snazzy!

The three weeks went by very quickly. It's almost time to go....We start planning in the next day or two for about an 1100 mile drive spread out over a few days to get to Tucson, Arizona, our next destination. We hope you have a blessed New Year and safe travels and visits wherever you are....

See you on the road again......

Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Asian Lady Beetle Battle

Well-l-l-l-l....Texas sure is an interesting state, and we are not even talking politics, that's for sure! Sparky says it's interesting because we've seen some exotic wildlife ranches in the area and she wondered a little more about them--are they for hunters? Are they refuges? Can you go visit them?.... So here's what she found out.....

First, there's the Hatari Wildlife Park...You can go visit this one. It's a little on the pricey side, (28.00 for one senior) but it sure looks interesting! There are four unique ranges--dunes, lower grasslands, lowlands forest, and the sahel. It's a drive thru tour that minimizes contact between you and the park personnel and the park takes great precautions during this COVID time to safely allow the public to come and visit. There are places where you can get out and walk...In the lowland forest, there's a 3,000 foot boardwalk. In the Sahel range, you can feed a giraffe on an elevated platform! The park is in Weimar, TX which is 21 min. or 18.3 miles from the Thousand Trails Colorado River RV park. There are species there at the park that we have never heard of, (and Sparky was a teacher! laughs Eldo). Here are some of the more exotic ones that you might see at the park: Bongo, Addax, Roan, Eland, Barbary sheep, Nile Lechwe, Scimitar Oryx, Sika, Sitatunga and the Sable. They are only open Thursdays thru Sundays from 9:00-4:00. Sparky thinks she might just have to check this out!

We saw some other exotic wildlife ranches in the area, and some in Texas are for sport hunting. The exotic animal industry is big in Texas. (Isn't EVERYTHING bigger in Texas?) Without going into the ethics of balancing conservation by raising the animals and then hunting them, we'll just say it's a BIG business.

And on to other things...There's not a lot to do in Columbus, TX, but several day trip ideas would be San Antonio and their Riverwalk, (2 hour drive), a trip to Katy (57 min.) for Camping World supplies and necessities and Hobby Lobby and Joann's, haha...(HA! We don't need anything at this point from Camping World OR Hobby Lobby OR Joann's, says E. Sparky has already thought of everything!) But--but--she ALWAYS needs craft supplies.

We like Beckey's Cafe for a very reasonable breakfast (but small portions), Schobel's for a nice breakfast but more expensive, and Los Cabos for decent Mexican food. AND--Nick's Italian Restaurant for very good pizza. Do you like brisket? Peter's BBQ in the next town of Ellinger, TX.

Asian lady beetle
In the meantime, we continue to battle the ASIAN LADY BEETLES. They look JUST LIKE ladybugs but they range in color from red to orange and have varying spot patterns. They eat other ladybugs and they infest some fruits. They are an invasive species. THAT'S THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR. They CAN bite, and they emit a stinky odorous yellow fluid when they are dying, like if you squish them. Ask Sparky how she knows that!

The beetles are currently winning. Apparently, they swarm every year about this time, in November, and they are only going to be a nuisance for a short while, the office says. How long is a short while? Inquiring minds want to know. Probably as long as we are here in the park, three weeks? Sigh.....OK....We have tried or are going to try, 1.) vinegar spray on the screens, (the jury is still out on that one but WE hate the odor, so we're not going to do that. Internet gurus say spray it all over your walls and windows! Uh, nope. 2.) bay leaves--we tried that (not enough smell), 3) vacuuming them up (works great but Sparky is vacuuming several times a day....Enough already!) AND---it will make your vacuum hose stink because when the beetles are stressed, they emit stink and little poopy trails behind so the vacuum hose is probably contaminated by now.  Eldo held out some popcorn for Sparky to suck thru the hose to push those little boogers through the L-O-O-N-N-G hose to the vacuum bag canister in the bay, the logic being the beetles will stick to the popcorn and get pushed through to the very end. Hmmmm...maybe. 4.) Blast 'em with the AC. That has really helped! If it's warmer inside than outside, the beetles want in. If it's colder inside than outside, the little varmints will want out. That's the logic. So far, the AC method is working pretty well. We're freezing, but that's ok. We are down from more than fifty a day to about half that.

You CAN buy this spray from Amazon and so it will be #5 if we continue to be harassed by them almost flying up our noses in the house or creeping down Sparky's neck.

Sparky is still crafting up a storm and is currently working on a set of three fabric wine bottle carriers to put in her Etsy shop, JeanBeanGifts.

(She really hops around from project to project, explains E. Very short attention span means lots of projects going at once.) Yep, and a cabled headband is in the works, too. And a knitting stitch row counter, and....

So, here we are, still in Columbus, TX for another two weeks, providing the lady beetles don't run us out of town. Nah, they won't. They aren't as bad a big ole stink bugs. Wel-ll-ll-llll....the beetles DO stink! Time for the scented pine candle wax. Isn't this cute? Sparky's daughter gifted us this little Scentsy Christmas camper wax burner last year...Maybe the beetles won't like that scent! One can only hope.....

And with that...We will see you on the road....or in town, we're not sure where we will be next. Oh! Eldy says, Sparky forgot we were going to be in Lake Conroe, TX for a nice visit with Sparky's daughter and grandson. How could she forget THAT! She didn't, she just wasn't sure if we were going to make any day trips out of Columbus, TX. Lake Conroe....Where the shopping is terrific, there are restaurants galore, and oh, man....There goes the food budget!