SOWER projects last for three working weeks. After a project SOWERS may stay on at a host site for a week. We did.
It was a good period of relative downtime with one early morning run to meet family for breakfast and Sunday School south of Houston and then more family after that, before heading back north to Huntsville, by way of the Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Game at Texas Roadhouse. We also puttered around the rig, did some pruning of low hanging branches on the road to and from the RV sites and so on.
We even took time for some sunset walks and sitting in rocking chairs on the dock feeding the ducks and goose.
We planned to leave on Thursday, the same day the incoming SOWER GL (group leader couple) would be arriving. The Vander Veldes were listed as GL for March for Forest Glen. We called them on Wednesday to get an idea of arrival time to avoid meeting them on the one lane road. Unfortunately they had had to cancel due to problems with their rig and they were "in northern Texas" awaiting repairs. Guess we would have to take our chances with the new GL's.
We took out time getting ready to leave on Thursday. We didn't want to get to Onalaska before check-in time and hopefully things would work out and we would be at a wide spot if we met. It worked out okay. We only had to back up about 150 feet.
Travel to March SOWER Project
Once we backed up to let the arriving GL couple past and we had all got out and met and visited we were on our way slowly over the eight or so miles of dirt and broken road to a highway and on the way to Onalaska, Texas. Even with taking our time traveling on the dirt it was less than an hour and a half to the Lakeside RV Resort and Marina on the shores of Lake Livingston.
After parking the rig in the waiting area I walked into the resort office and the lady being waited on at the counter said "you're Paul Alton, aren't you?" Denial was pointless. It was Jan Vander Velde. Jim was outside in their car. The rig was being worked on at a shop and they were about to go get it and check out the repairs while staying close to the shop in case the repairs were as ineffectual as previous shops' attempts. We agreed to go out to dinner when they got back and they left. I took my place at the counter.
At the Houston RV show in March Juanita had won a free night's stay at this resort. There was quite a range of prices for parking spots depending on the area of the park. The coupon was good even for the ones right on the water. We opted for a site next to Vander Veldes in the "Tall Timbers" area. Good thing, too, the sites by the lake were nicely placed, but the contour of the road away for those sites would have given me fits.
The Dodge dually is so high and the clearance between the box sides and the underside of the fifth wheel is so limited that there have been past incidents of them rubbing or dinging each other. I was so concerned with getting out of the site at Forest Glen I had raised the hitch bed an inch, and thus had no problems leaving Forest Glen, but would still have not wanted to attempt the double shift in road slope on that particular road.
Juanita and I had a pleasant afternoon, which included a walk around the resort and marina and restaurant. After a while the other couple showed up and we agreed on a time to leave for dinner. I chatted with the neighbor on the other side. He has been to Edmonton a few times staying in the RV park on the river near Devon.
When I inquired, the resort receptionist had given directions to Florida's Kitchen in nearby Livingston. We drove there. It was unprepossessing in external appearance. Actually, it was downright scary to this sheltered Canuck. If a Sunday School attendee had not raved about the ribs when he heard we would be in Livingston we certainly would have not picked it as a likely dinner spot based on a drive-by glance. We`all settled on smoked ribs either small or regular according to appetite. Portions were big enough to make "anyone for dessert?" academic despite the tempting selections of pies and cakes themselves served in wedges too big for one person. From the moment we waddled away I have been scheming on how we can go back.
The next day we were up relatively early and on the road in reasonable time. We drove through the pine woods and Lufkin and Nacogdoches and pulled over for lunch at a Sonic at noon in Gladewater, Texas. After lunch we drove the last eight miles to ALERT Academy outside of Big Sandy. After we set up the rig Juanita went back to Gladewater for groceries and I took a long nap. A happy marriage is one that shares responsibilities.
March (sort-of) SOWERS project at ALERT Academy
After the February project we looked at alternatives to fill the time between leaving Forest Glen and having to leave for Canada. The SOWER project at ALERT Academy for March was not full and we received permission to work there for one week before making our dash across the plains.
ALERT always has a special place in our hearts both with the home schooling connection and the unparalleled work they do in training young men for useful, needed occupations. They do this based on biblical principles and without compromising Godly standards. Go to their site and read up on their training programs for search and rescue, firefighting, aviation and more. Pass on the link to others who have young men at the stage of their life when they are considering their career options.
While we were there, the ladies helped prepare for the March SOWERS reunion banquet which is held in the formal dining room at ALERT. The men worked on staff housing and, deja vu all over again, started running fiber optic cable to extend the network from the lake water pump house to staff housing row. This will allow some of the staff ladies to continue their office work and also be at home with their children.
The fiber optic cables between the library (near the administration building), the water treatment plant, and the lake water pump house were run by Von Edge, Rick Young and myself at Juanita's and my first SOWER project in March 2006. That cable pulling job was brutal. This year is not so bad. There are more of us and the cable is skinnier. That said, it is a big job, the SOWER men and even the April project SOWER men will be kept busy doing it.
Travel to Canada
The current plan is to Leave ALERT early on the 13th and head north from Big Sandy to Gilmer and Paris, Texas and across Oklahoma to Joplin, Missouri, then Kansas City, Council Bluffs, Sioux Falls, Fargo and Grand Forks crossing the border south of Winnipeg. Then we plan to drive to Regina and leave our rig there while we visit and take care of business in Meadow Lake and Edmonton. Then Paul will come back to Regina for the CCRL shutdown and Juanita stay in Fort Saskatchewan to mind Ezekiel so Nick and Rebekah can both work for a while.
Western Development Museum (Moose Jaw)
We kept to our travel plan mentioned above, dropping the rig in Regina and carrying on to spend a movie and pizza night at Weldon and Alice Gray's in Saskatoon. Then we went to Meadow Lake briefly and then to Fort Saskatchewan where I left Juanita to mind Ezekial when I returned to Regina for orientation and other training before the CCRL shutdown. She returned to Regina for the weekends including the weekend I had off between orientation etc. and the first work day.
One thing we did that Saturday was to visit the Western Development Museum in Moose Jaw. It's theme is "The History of Transportation" and it has trains, boats, planes, automobiles, travel trailers and other vehicles and related artifacts. We happened to show up on a day when they were hosting a number of model railroad displays. Model train enthusiasts had some fairly large working layouts in a wide variety of scales. My favorite was all (including the operating model trains) made of Lego. Obviously not a purist.
What's Next ?
Wait for Spring to catch up with us again?
A bit of travel?
Back to work on Shop/Studio - add porch, frame inside, maybe add wiring
Work on property - build wood shed, fill it, drill well, build fire pit and maybe ferro-cement gazebo over it <vbg>