We REALLY dislike drama.
Answer me then, O gentle readers, why have we had so much drama this spring?
(A rhetorical question, but essential for setting up this chapter…)
We rolled into April keenly anticipating an upcoming rally near Cleveland, Texas, held by the Texas Vintage Camper group, and had reserved and paid for our campsite, made the arrangements for everything and were more than ready to dive into our first rally. I had installed a front mount hitch receiver on our truck, in order to accommodate our bikes when the trailer was attached, and a few days before the weekend of the rally I drove over to our ranch where Tallulah Belle was stored, to clean, polish and get her into rally-ready condition.
Our plan was for me to do the prep work and on the Thursday drive to the rally location, where Melinda would meet me, as it was less than an hour’s drive from Houston and she had to work on Thursday. After two long days of fixing minor issues and polishing exterior trim, the whole rig was packed and loaded and ready to roll for Thursday morning.
The next morning, I awakened to find my right foot swollen and very painful, to the point of almost unable to place any weight upon it. Not Good. The closest medical care was in Goldthwaite, Tx, about 30 miles away, and so I drove the rig and my mother took her Tahoe as she was very concerned, and we drove into town. After being examined it turned out that my foot was badly infected with a large abcess on the sole and I would need hospitalization.
I was told that I could NOT drive, and so we worked out a way for me to be driven halfway to Houston and my wife met us there, with her driving the rest of the way, and then I was admitted to the hospital in Houston that night. I’ll save you the long medical soap opera but my foot was operated upon and had multiple abcesses caused from a bit of bone which was left behind following an operation in 2006. I had a week long stay in the hospital and then began the wound care and hyperbaric treatments to speed the recovery process.
Obviously we did not attend the rally. That made two rallies paid for and unable to attend.
Memorial Day weekend is special to us, as it is our anniversary, and we try to go camping or travelling as an anniversary gift to each other. We decided to take the trailer to Galveston Island for the holiday weekend.
My foot was still an issue but by now I can move about well, with bandaging and an orthopaedic shoe/slipper to cushion the sole. So once again I drove to the ranch and retrieved Tallulah Belle, drove back to Houston (8 hour round trip) and on the Thursday night, May 21, we drove into Galveston after Melinda got off work. We had booked a reservation in a brand new RV park–this was it’s first weekend open–and in fact the clubhouse/showers/pool were not yet completed when we arrived!
No matter, we were there to relax, to decompress, from the doubled and redoubled stresses of the last few months. We set up in a site in the front of the park, and of course, plenty of big white saltine box RV’s filled the park, with us and a single lone pop-up camper the only exceptions. The weather was lousy, as heavy overcast skies, rain and continuous 25 MPH winds were forecast for the entire weekend.
NOTE–Our fridge had just quit cooling on this trip.. lights still work but it did not cool at all, so apparently it died and we will have to replace it as soon as we can. We also had issue with the gas water heater, it would ignite and provide hot water for a few seconds and then the flame would go out. This may be a solenoid, and be replaceable, but I will have to research and gather more info before I can do anything.
The high winds were too much for us to set up our awning, at least on Friday, so we just made do without it and enjoyed being on Island Time. On a drive into town we passed by Jamaica Beach RV Park and noticed not one but TWO of the new 2015 reissue Shasta campers in the park so of course we HAD to investigate!
This was our first time to see the reissue campers in person, and the park owner had purchased them to keep in the park and rent them out by the night/week. We have sort of a mixed reaction them as they LOOK great, but the interior fitments and finish do not–in our humble opinions–warrant the 19K price tag these babies sell for.
On Saturday the gusty winds had dropped down a point or two and so the awning would actually stay up, but the skies were still overcast and leaden. No matter, we always have a great time camping no matter what. We of course had brought the cats and they lounged around, as they always do, and looked out the door in bemusement at the dogs on leashes being walked by their respective owners.
Saturday night a STRONG storm front was scheduled to blow through so we deployed the heavy tarp and wrapped it securely, and at 5 in the morning when 35 MPH winds and sideways rain hit we were not worried. By noon the skies had cleared and winds were almost calm so we enjoyed the rest of the day, and set out our American flag.
Sunday and Monday were pleasant, and we took our bikes into Galveston to ride on the seawall (but throngs of shambling zombie tourists staring at their smartphones make riding dangerous), enjoyed the ambiance of the city and had a great time.
Unfortunately Monday came wayyyy to soon, and so reluctantly we packed up and set out for Houston before the Wild Wild West traffic wars began. We got back to our place by mid afternoon with no problems, and unloaded the camper and the truck, which we have to park in the street, with the plan that I would take the trailer back to the ranch the next morning. It had been a great weekend.
This should have warned us.
In the evening, Melinda left with our laundry from the trip to wash at a laundromat, since the washers at our apartments were small and slow. About 7 P.M. the rains started, falling heavily and continuing to fall with no letup. After two hours with no end in sight, I got online to see what the weather radar looked like.
Suddenly, things got bad. The weather site noted that rain was falling at the rate of 3-5 inches per hour and would continue for several hours. Melinda was still gone, and I could not get her on her cellphone. About 10 PM she called and told me she was stranded at a store about 2 blocks away and the water was too deep to drive in. She left her Mustang there and waded home in 2-3 foot deep water, and when she arrived, a neighbor told us that the road where our truck and Tallulah Belle were parked was flooding badly.
Remember that whole ‘open wound in the bottom of my foot’ thing?
In near panic, we wrapped my leg to the waist in several layers of huge plastic storage bags, (think giant heavy duty Baggies) and wound tape around my leg, in the hope that the foot would not be soaked in the flood waters. We waded to the truck which was up to the doors in water and to our relief, it started up, and with Melinda and our neighbor wading in the water to each side, we set out to find a dry place to park. Melinda tripped and found herself completely submerged in the middle of the street at one point, and the truck was leaving a bow wake in the 3 foot deep waters (still rising). We drove thru the water for several blocks until we found a parking lot that seemed to be above the flood, and we gingerly pulled the truck and Tallulah Belle into this lot, where we unhitched the trailer, secured her locks and chocks and prayed for the best. I could feel water sloshing in the bags on my leg and was about to completely despair. We drove/floated as best we could back to where our apartment was, and I nosed into the parking lot which was jammed up with other tenants’ cars, and we left the truck.
Once inside, fearing the worst, I unwrapped my leg to find that the outer bag had leaked and filled with toxic water, but the inner bag had not and my foot had NOT been soaked! HALELULAH!
The next morning we awoke to see news of record flooding in Houston, and yet more rain forecast for the day. We left Tallulah in the parking lot until the afternoon when it seemed that we would not have a repeat of the flooding, and I hitched up and dragged her back to the apartment complex. We were too heartbroken and exhausted to attempt to assess damage, but left her covered with her tarp, and two days later on the Thursday, I towed her back to the ranch and parked her under the barn, immediately driving back to Houston, as I had wound care appointments for my foot the next morning.
As I write this we still do not know the extent of the damage, as this will require a round trip back to the ranch, but priority is trying to get my foot healed and get back to work ( I was laid off in March). If you’ve read this blog you KNOW how much work, blood and soul we have poured into Tallulah Belle, and all I can say at this point is that we are just crushed.
I hope things get better.