After 2 months in the Rio Grande Valley, time has come to head out. My two main Mission missions were accomplished. Avoided snow (what snow I did get wasn’t enough to cover the paint color of the Jeep and was gone by 9am.) and I got my 2 COVID inoculations). Have no immediate destination in keeping with my wandering philosophy. I do have a couple of plans though.
To finish the story in this location, weather has finally changed from northern winter to TX winter weather or warmer. Highs in the 70s and 80s. A treat after a full week below and well below freezing. Local crops have been devastated (citrus, broccoli, onions etc). Power has been restored after 4 full days and nights without electricity (though I did run my generator continuously). A week after the restoration of power, there was a water main break serving a huge area of this city and so I was under a boil water notice for 5 days. That resulted in a lot of dishes to wash when the boil notice was lifted. Following on the heels of the freeezing weather, the grocery stores etc never got restocked with water and I was down to my last bottles.
My fridge is fixed. Tiny $80 part plus labor. Feels great to have it back. I had forgotten that I have a second dorm room sized frig in one of the basement areas I never use. So I could have kept my meds there🤪. My wash machine also had stopped working so when the frig appliance repair guy was here, I asked him to listen to the loud noise I was hearing. My washer is again working. He explained, with a chuckle, that what I was hearing was the sound of the evacuating pump trying to suck out the last of the water after it was already empty. The giant sucking sound. Apparently I’ve never been back in the rear of the bus before to listen at the end of the wash cycle. A bit embarrassing. Gringo!!
I also received my two vaccination shots while here. They were very efficient in TX rolling out the vaccines. Good move to leave AZ and come to TX. They may not be able to keep the power on during a winter freeze but they do know how to facilitate the efficient, non hysteria distribution of vaccines. Even heard on the news that two counties have opened up vaccinations to everyone. I also found a very good chain fish restaurant (Mambo) nearby. It’s a treat from my cooking. Excellent shrimp and fish grilled over mesquite with a large helping of shrimp-fried rice and a salad.
FUN NEWS! Also before I left, I got my settlement $ plus return of the gross overcharge of SD fees from Avis (Avis collected and identified SDak title transfer and plating fees of approximately $800 vs the actual SDak imposed fees of less than $40. and then refused to return the overage).
If you’ve been following the blog, you may remember that last May I bought my Jeep from Avis Used Cars in Orlando but then Avis Corporate for months and months failed to issue title. I had to drive for 4 months after the expiration of the temp title and temp paper plates. Avis, based on internet chatter, was in the same trouble with a great number of people such that, in FL, the DMV had a special process for such stranded FL Resident Avis buyers.
You might also remember my sitting on a mountain top at the border of WY and UT with a non operable motorhome waiting for a tow truck with a WY State trooper parked for 3 hours behind my illegal car waiting with me. Each time the trooper got out and stretched his legs and walked up to my window, I worried if it was for the purpose of ticketing me and impounding the Jeep.
During those months, the Jeep was subject to a claim from my insurer that having it on the road illegally voided my insurance. During those months, I restricted my driving. During those months I would be unable to sell the vehicle if I wanted to. During that time, Avis was aggressively unhelpful as was FL DMV which licenses used car dealers. I finally got thru to Avis’s General Counsel but with little success. I contacted the Better Business Bureau and the FL Attorney General’s office responsible for making a FL regulated business follow FL laws.
Last September I finally got to have a person to person conversation with Avis’s General Counsel (still not plated etc at that time) and impressed on him my unhappiness and my allegation fraud, embezzlement and elder abuse. We agreed on a settlement payment to me. He drafted a Settlement Agreement which was signed and which called for wire transfer payment within 10 days. Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec., Jan. and Feb but Avis was nowhere to be found. Avis reneged on its Agreement.
Those who know me know I can be like a dog with a bone when wronged. Time for Avis to get to know me and understand that it doesn’t pay to mess with an old fart who has nothing but time to make life miserable.
During the entire time since late September Avis has involved outside counsel to stall and stonewall me. I’ve been ‘transferred’ through 3 separate named partners of the outside counsel’s firm plus a 4th attorney specialist who works regulatory affairs with the FL Attorney General’s office (the FL AG has not been helpful at all while the BBB has been really good about timely follow up to Avis and, in particular, publishing my long detailed communications online for the world to see).
Anyway a new avenue to pressure Avis was found. My daughter Deb went to U of M law school with now US Congressman Ted Deutch (D) FL. So his Chief of Staff was contacted, given the information on both the Avis’s issues (its seizure of my funds under guise of governmental authority – specifically against FL law and the extreme difficulties experienced with the non responsive Republican AG office). The Democratic congressman’s office was asked if they’d like to make a political issue out of the FL Republican AG not protecting the voting citizenry whilst protecting the corporate interest of a New Jersey company -Avis. The congressional office apparently ‘liked’ the idea and contacted both the FL AG’s office and the FL DMV.
Don’t know if it represents ‘cause and effect’ but 2 days after corresponding with the Representative Duetch’s congressional office one of the named partners of Avis’s outside counsel emailed me (first time in 5 months I was actually contacted directly), acknowledging the Settlement Agreement and wanting to confirm the wire transfer instructions. By early afternoon the next day all the moneys due were comfortably ensconced in my bank account. The great price that I paid for my Jeep had just got substantially even more reduced. 😎 👍
Leaving here I want to slowly meander to VA and spend some time with Vic and her family. Looking forward to that if they’ll have me😂
Though I generally don’t do much advance planning I have given thought generally as to a plan for the summer after the VA visit. I’ve often seen signs saying “Camp Host” in various parks. Michigan State Parks utilize Volunteer Hosts in their parks. Observing the hosts over time, it appears their duties are nominal such as putting a large pot of coffee, paper cups, sugar and cream out in the morning on their site for campers to come if they wish for morning Java; advice to campers about attractions in the area or travel, etc. and a walk around to see if maintenance needs to be called to address some problem etc. A short work week in return for a non taxable campsite.
I found a Facebook site of Michigan SP hosts to get some idea of their duties etc and found a ‘crowd sourced’ info table they put together of which State Parks had what amenities for host sites. I made a list of those parks which had full hookups for the host site (not many), that could accommodate a 40’ motorhome and which were located on a body of water.
I pulled a Volunteer application and wrote a little accompanying blurb about my camping/travel history and sent it to a half dozen MI State Parks. I recd emails asking me to interview by phone from two parks. One park, it turned out, really only had electric, no water or sewer on the host site. The other resulted in my first, as far as I remember, interview for a ‘job’ in my life. I’ve interviewed 100’s of others in my career but never have been the recipient of a formal interview myself. Bottom line I got an immediate offer. I’m going to be the Camp Host from May 28 through June 30th at Silver Lake State Park near Mears, MI. A bonus is that it appears there is lake view directly from the host site!
It’s a busy 150 site park on Silver Lake which is nestled in extremely popular (amongst all the dune ride companies and ATVrs) State owned sand dunes between Silver Lake and Lake MI. It’s about a 40 minute drive from my favorite Grand Haven’s Fricanos Pizza (yes, I asked), maybe 20 minutes from Pentwater, MI and 40 minutes from Ludington, all ports of call frequently visited by us on our boat many years ago. When my girls were young, we rented a cottage on Silver Lake for a summer week so I’m heading to very familiar territory. I’m going to have to seriously practice not being a ‘grump’!
I had planned on leaving Pleasant Valley RV Park Friday morning. I had steaks (to replace the ones lost when my fridge stopped working) ordered from Snake River Farms to be delivered Thursday. SRFarms screwed up and sent them a day late so they weren’t going to arrive until Friday. I decided to wait in my site until Fed Ex delivered them on Friday. Well, Fed Ex didn’t show at all on Friday so I called and cancelled and instead headed out on Saturday. Not a good start to my travel as I try my best to not try to join the hoards checking into a campground on the weekend.
I arrived early afternoon on Padre Island just east of Corpus Christi. I elected not to go to So. Padre as the camping there seemed to be a heavy mix of trailers and fixed mobile homes and many parks had crowd sourced reviews that were ‘seedy’. At the end of Dec when driving to TX, I was pleased to leave arid AZ, No and southern UT behind in favor of green TX. Today I didn’t see green. After the very hard week plus freeze across the entire State, there was no green, most dead grey.
Crossing the bridge from Corpus Christi over the Tx ICW and onto S Padre Island reminded me of crossing onto NC’s Outer Banks and into Nags Head. Miles of commercial beach attractions and restaurants. Ten miles south I entered S Padre Island National Sea Shore — again just like passing the OBX Pea Island and into the OBX National Seashore. Thirteen miles further south in the SPI Nat’l Seashore I reached my campground destination – Malaquite Campground. 50 sites right on the Gulf. No water sewer or electricity but with the Sr Pass, only $7.00 per night. My generator provides all the power I need though the Gulf breeze is cool so no AC is needed and the occasional ‘pop’ from the AquaHot diesel boiler will keep it as toasty as needed overnight. Campground also is reminiscent of the OBX National Park campground at Ocracoke minus the vision obscuring sand dunes. I got the second to last available campsite.
There are 4 additional camping areas in the National Seashore. Two are tent areas on the Intracoastal side and the other two, on the Gulf, are camping on the beach areas assuming you’re not worried about getting stuck or about high tides.
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