Tuesday 24th Feb
A bright sunny morning, looking like winter wonderland everywhere. By lunchtime we had defrosted the car and got it back on the dolly and the RV ready to go. The weather warning was for snow tonight and we were eager to get on our way. The main roads had been treated with a mixture of brine and salt which seems to have been very effective breaking up the ice. We turned left out of Rustic Creek Ranch - our home for nearly three weeks and headed towards Interstate 45 on our way to Livingston in Polk County, South Texas. Our route took us via Waxahachie, Ennis, Corsicana and Huntsville. As we got further south the countryside got greener and more picturesque with trees and forest areas. We stopped at a petrol station to fill up and waited behind a stationary car at the pump for an age. We eventually realised this person was not coming out and had probably stopped for coffee. The vehicle and dolly cannot backup therefore we could not move to another lane of pumps. We moved on down the road to the next station that was much quieter but more expensive and our elongated vehicle (51 feet with the car) took up both pumps. We came off the I-45 at Huntsville and picked up the US190 that wove its way through the Sam Houston National Forest which was very pretty with lots of trails leading off the main road. Eventually we came to Lake Livingston and crossed a causeway to the other side. The lake looked vast but the day was grey with low cloud and I have no doubt we were not seeing the lake at it's best. We reached Livingston and the Escapees RV park at 6pm just as it was getting dark. The office was closed but information on which sites were available and a map of the park were in a box outside the door.
Wednesday 25th Feb
'Escapees' is an RV organisation we have joined that provides us with a US domicile address and post is forwarded from the U.K. The insurance company that helped us find our vehicle cover is also on site. As members, we also benefit from cheaper daily rates at their RV parks across the country - Livingston RV Park is $23 per night. The site is approx 7 miles from Livingston set in a wooded development with quite a few single story wooden houses as well as RV's. We thought we should sample some southern food and went into town to Shrimp Boat Manny's, Cajun restaurant on West Church Street, Livingston. We had sausage and chicken gumbo, shrimps, catfish and Cajun potatoes, all delicious. Followed by deep fried cheesecake and Pecan pie would you believe! Whilst we are here we have taken the opportunity to order some more goods for the RV e.g. outside table and chairs etc. We joined Amazon Prime therefore the goods should be delivered within two days.
Thursday 26th Feb
Most of the people on site were Escapees members, some used it as their long term base and all were very friendly. I had a good chat with a couple of our neighbours about RV life and good places to go and see around the country. One was from Wisconsin and taking a year out of work, spending some time with her parents in their RV whilst deciding what to do. She liked to hike and go bear hunting! We talked about some of the places she had been in Canada and California. I met another person in the laundry room - always a good place to chat - she and her husband lived in California for 30 years and she gave me some pointers on where to go, particularly in the Napa Valley. They have now sold their home and are full time RVers. They plan to spend the summer at an RV park on the gulf coast near Galveston where they will act as volunteers in the park. Later in the day we went into Livingston, a small town with the railway running through it. Wherever we have been in Texas there has been the plaintive cry of the train hooter as the mile long cargo trains move through town, just like in the films it's a back drop to the day - and night. The older area of town was a little run down in parts with some interesting old buildings and a cinema. There is a fine county court house building with four Palladian pillars at the front and information and photos re the history of the town posted outside. Further down the road was a history museum in a nice old wooden house. Most of the main shops are now modern and situated along the US Highway 190 out towards the interstate.
Friday 27th Feb
The "Escapees" have a weigh station on site and today we arranged for the RV to be weighed to see how we were doing. Met up with Chris from Smart Weight the company operating the system. We were well under weight and the axles were evenly loaded. Chris lived on site with her partner and had lived there for twelve years and had five dogs. There was a problem in the area with strays and she had taken a few in. When we arrived there was a friendly dog running around that we were told had been roaming for a while with a collar but no tag. Lisa our neighbour opposite had taken her for a few days but no owner had come forward and she couldn't keep her. It looked like the dog could be part pit bull which seems to be popular as a cross breed in Texas. She is a lovely dog, intelligent and very friendly and looked as if she has been well looked after. However, there was a happy ending when someone found her a home with a person in the area who rescued dogs. Lisa was really upset to lose her and said she would follow up and check she was okay. In the evening we went to a Mexican cantina called Pueblo Viejo. It was absolutely packed but as it was just for two they found us a table quite quickly. The atmosphere was buzzing with lots of families having dinner and people at the bar drinking margaritas. The staff were very attentive and we had our spicy nachos starter very quickly, followed by quesadillas, proper TexMex. We noticed on our way into town that along the road were wooden houses and shacks some pristine and others the worse for wear. Also, there didn't seem to be any particular planning regs or zoning as it's called here. On one plot would be a family home the next plot would be, for example, a scrap yard. Quite often signs would be outside homes advertising business's being run from the house. On the way home after dark we would notice what we thought was a derelict property in the day, had a light on and there was obviously someone home.