Getting ready to hit the road

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Retama Village in Mission, Texas

WEATHER: Same heat. 105 ish

We are doing last-minute errands and packing the Airstream, although we can’t load too much ahead of time as things might melt!

The truck had an oil-change and check-up, as did George at the doctor’s office (check-up only, no oil change). 🙂

In the evening, we had some Retama Village friends over for cocktails. I introduced them to spritzers which we learned about in Venice, Italy. Very refreshing on a hot day.

We finished mapping out our first leg of the trip. We will be staying mostly in Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds. We also hope to stay in a few Harvest Host sites along the way. Our destination for this first part of the trip is Edenton on the North Carolina coast, where we have a housesitting assignment.

DINNER: I tried a recipe that someone on a no-carb diet posted. It was a casserole of sauteed onion, bell pepper, garlic, hamburger, riced cauliflower, canned tomatoes, and taco seasoning. After cooking, I topped with Mexican and cheddar cheese. Yummy, and no carbs!

Countdown to take-off!

LOCATION: Mission, Texas

WEATHER: Hot – 105. Unlucky us – record-breaking high temps this week

Most of our time this week has been spent preparing for the trip. We can’t actually load the Airstream yet, as things will melt! Instead, I’m making endless lists. We’ll load up everything on Saturday and hopefully will hit the road on Sunday AM. I had a panic attack last night when I could not find my detailed list, either paper or online, where I had written our itinerary with all the campground reservations. I found it this morning. Life is good again!

We are also keeping busy with activities in our community. Most of the “Winter Texans” are gone, but a few hardy soles live here year-’round. Since it is a small group, they plan quite a few activities. I did Wine Wednesday yesterday, and plan to go to the Saturday breakfast pot-luck. Everyday I have been doing water aerobics, which I really enjoy, although the swimming pool is rather tepid…

We are only about 1/2 mile to the Mexican border. The closest safe crossing is about 15 miles away, in Progreso. We went there today to buy drugs – legal ones, that is. While we are traveling, we will only have 3 months of prescriptions. In case we are somewhere where we cannot get new prescriptions, we like to take a few extra pills with us. You can get just about any prescription drug in Mexico without a prescription. It is crazy. As soon as you cross into Mexico, you are overwhelmed with people shouting at you to come buy Viagra at their pharmacy, or to get cheap dental work, or a hair cut, or a massage, etc etc. It really is something else. We said “no gracias” a lot, and rushed to the pharmacy that we like. We also stopped in two veterinary pharmacies to look for some meds for one of our neighbor’s dogs.

George stopped along the way to buy a belt..

Then, an air-conditioned oasis. Aaaaahhhh! We stopped at a nice place for a margarita and a huge order of guacamole.

We showed our passports, paid 25 cents each, and re-entered the USA. Successful trip!

DINNER: Shrimp in an Asian sauce along with ginger/soy vegetables.

LOTS OF TO-DOs

LOCATION: At our tiny house in Mission, TX

WEATHER: HOT! 105 high. Sunny

We will be at our tiny house for about a week, preparing for our next trip. We both have long to-do lists.

The Airstream is in good shape, just dusty after sitting in the heat for 3 months. We will be packing it up soon.

I’m still decorating the tiny house. One wall has pictures of some of our housesitting assignments through Trusted Housesitters.com

Our “bar” area is complete. George bought a bar towel at Black Sheep Brewery in England, which he has now added to the decor.

I hibernated inside most of the day. I can’t even walk to the clubhouse due to the heat, so I drive.

DINNER: We are going to try to reduce carbs for awhile, after eating a lot of chips (french fries) and bread throughout Europe. So, I made a new no-carb recipe I found. It is very simple: Layer chicken breasts in a casserole dish. Add a layer of sliced mushrooms and a pile of spinach leaves. Mix up a sauce by whisking together some cream cheese, olive oil, and chicken broth. Pour over the chicken and back covered with aluminum foil for about 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook another 10 minutes. Add a layer of mozzarella cheese and back another 10 minutes. I broiled it for a few minutes to brown the top. Very good!

Back to the USA~

LOCATION: Mission, Texas

WEATHER: HOT HOT HOT

We had to get up early to catch a bus to Gatwick Airport in London. Everything went smoothly. We flew Norwegian Airlines, a new no-frills inexpensive airline. We were quite impressed. Knowing that we wouldn’t get any meals, we bought a to-go lunch at “Jamie Oliver’s Deli” in the airport. Otherwise, we could have pre-ordered/pre-paid for 2 hot meals onboard. As with all the no-frills airlines, you have to be careful about the add-ons. Since we didn’t have any checked luggage, we saved on having to pay for that. They are quite generous with their carry-on policy (unlike Ryanair and Easy Jet, 2 other cheapo airlines). Also, they try to get you to pay extra ahead of time for seat assignments, but we didn’t. We still got seats together.

Once on board, we took off on time. Surprisingly the flight was almost full. Who knew that so many people would want to fly direct from London to Austin?

The food/drink service was brilliant. I don’t know if other airlines do this or not, but it is so much better than the traditional method. If you have pre-ordered, then they just bring you your meal and drinks after take-off. If you have not pre-ordered, you can order on the computer screen at your seat. They have snacks, sandwiches and drinks. You swipe your credit card on the screen. Then, a few minutes later, the steward brings you your order. So, there is no need for endless carts going up and down the aisles. Brilliant!

We arrived on time in Austin, and since we didn’t have any checked bags, we were whisked through customs. We picked up the rental car and took off.

Five hours later, we arrived in our tiny house in Mission. Everything seems to be in order in the house. By this time, it is 8:00 PM, but our bodies are screaming 2:00 AM. It is HOT here. This is the week’s forecast. We will be here for about a week, prepping for the road trip. I can’t wait to leave this heat!!

On the bus – all night and day

LOCATION: London, England

WEATHER: Ok (we think) as we were in a bus all of the time!

We boarded the bus in an empty parking lot in Bordeaux at 10:20 PM. We were in the last row, so we were able to spread out a bit. We arrived in Paris at 6:20 AM – right on schedule. This time, we were at a regular bus/train schedule so it wasn’t creepy like last time.

We found a Parisian cafe and had a coffee and croissant – our last one for a long time. Then, we stopped at a patisserie to buy baguette sandwiches for the bus trip.

We then boarded a second bus bound for London. This one was a double-decker and most of the passengers were upstairs. We had the downstairs almost to ourselves.

All went well until we hit the French border. We had to get out for passport control. They pulled one guy aside for questioning. We had to wait about 45 minutes, then he was cleared. Then, on to the English border for a second passport control. This time, they pulled the same guy aside, along with his traveling partner and an American girl. This time, we had to wait about an hour until they were cleared. Meanwhile, we lost our place in line for the English Channel train. Finally, we got through, and on to London.

We disembarked at Victoria Station. Our hotel was just around the corner. It is probably the worst/smallest hotel we’ve stayed in. The room fit our bed, just. Toilet and shower down the hall. The hallways reeked of cigarette smoke. Oh, well. Perfect location, as we have an early morning bus to Gatwick from Victoria Station tomorrow.

We found a proper English pub for dinner. Being Friday, it was packed. We had a chicken and ham pie, as our farewell meal in England.

Wine and more wine!

LOCATION: Bordeaux, France

WEATHER: Cloudy but nice. High 70

After a quick croissant and coffee, we were off to the Cite’ de Vin (City of Wine) museum. Our tram trip and entrance fees were free, included in the 24-hour pass we had purchased. The museum is supposed to look like a wine carafe on its side.

It was quite well-done, with a self-guided tour about all aspects of wine. A reward for finishing the tour was a glass of wine on their top, 8th floor, with a panoramic view of the city.

Then, a tram (free) back to the city center. Lucky us – there was a food and wine festival going on. Lots of restaurants were featuring their best menu items under huge tents. We found a Basque one for lunch.

We shared a tapas platter, full of different kinds of meat, pate, calamari, cheese and olives.

Then, we boarded the tourist bus for an afternoon in the Medoc wine region.

But first, our bus got stuck in Bordeaux! There was a detour due to street construction, which took us down a narrow side street. We couldn’t make the turn, so had to back up about 3 blocks. The bus driver was amazing. Then, we couldn’t make the other turn, so he had to back up again. Another turn he couldn’t make. Frustrated, he got out of the bus and tracked down the construction guys. They helped him make the turn. By this time, we had quite an audience. Forty-five minutes later, we were on the road to Medoc.

Our first stop was a family-owned winery. The owner’s wife, 6th generation, gave us a tour and then we did a tasting.

Then, on to a more commercial winery with a beautiful chateau used for events.

The grapevines are seriously pruned and are about 60 years old.

Back in Bordeaux, we walked along the riverfront, with lots of cafes’ bursting with people. Tram back to the train station area where we had a leisurely meal.

DINNER: We shared a country pate made of foie gras, pork and mushrooms. White I asparagus pizza with thin slices of Serrano ham. And a little bit of wine……

Then we walked to a parking lot where we boarded our bus for Paris at 10:30 PM. And we are off!