A bit of this, a bit of that

According to our grand plan, during the past three weeks we were supposed to be touring Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Things didn’t quite turn out that way… sometimes life gets in the way of plans, but we tend to just go with the flow!

We were surprised to find that Thanksgiving week is a big camping week, at least here in Texas. Our Houston stay was cut down to just a day due to unavailability of RV park sites after Monday, and none of the RV parks in Austin had availability. Fortunately, for our day in Houston we got to visit with an old friend from Virginia who had moved to Houston a couple years back. As for Austin, we found a campground about 30 minutes south in San Marcos that had one campsite left, so we booked it for the week, figuring we’d move closer to Austin after the holiday.

During our day in Houston, our elder dog Max took unexpectedly ill. He was very lethargic and wouldn’t get up, and more worrying, he refused to eat or drink for probably the first time in his 12+ years of life. Max has always been an extraordinarily healthy dog. After an after-hours trip to the emergency vet in Houston, exams, blood tests, and the following day a trip to an animal hospital in Austin (since we had to leave the full RV Park in Houston), his x-ray and ultrasound showed a lot of fluid both in and around his lungs: Max had pneumonia.


Max the dog, on the road to recovery!

Due to his deteriorating state and his not eating or drinking, we had to leave him overnight and the next day to spend the night on an I.V. along with some antibiotics. We were able to take him home the next evening, but back the following day for more treatments. Fortunately, the antibiotics did their job and within about 10 days Max was 90% back to his old self (and still improving), and a follow-up x-ray came back clean. As an aside, we can’t say enough good things about South Park Animal Hospital in Austin—they were fantastic!

During all this, Thanksgiving came and went. Thanksgiving (and Christmas) have always been Kathie’s day to cook for the whole extended family (with lots of help, of course), so this year was quite a change for us, being away from family, and having a tiny kitchen. Instead, we found a nice restaurant in San Marcos (Palmer’s) that offered a complete Thanksgiving buffet dinner all afternoon. So, we had our turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, bread, cranberry sauce, and more, but without all the work, and no clean-up! Of course it wasn’t quite as good as home-cooked, but we weren’t complaining!


It may not be home made Thanksgiving dinner, but it was tasty, and nothing to clean up!

Once Max started improving, we looked into campgrounds closer to Austin, but we found that we rather liked where we were in San Marcos at Pecan Park Riverside RV. It was quiet, spacious, very inexpensive… and we were already there. There’s something to be said for inertia! Instead of packing up and driving someplace new, we decided to stay put for a while. We were in a brand new section of the RV Park, so once the Thanksgiving campers cleared out, we had the place almost to ourselves.


The view out our living room window… at an almost empty RV park.

Since we’re traveling all over the country and want to ride as many roller coasters as is feasible, last month we bought 2015 Six Flags Gold Season Passes when they were on sale. For less than the price of two admission tickets, a gold season pass gets us into all Six Flags parks for free for the remainder of 2014 and all of 2015, and gets us free parking at all parks. Parking alone costs about $20 at each parks, this is a deal where we’ll save a lot of money and have a lot of fun!

About an hour south of San Marcos is San Antonio, home to Fiesta Texas, one of the 12 Six Flags amusement parks in the U.S. Since it’s winter now, the park is only open on weekends, from 4pm to 9pm, so we took a drive there one Saturday after we were comfortable leaving Max alone for a few hours. We arrived when the park opened, and it was pretty deserted! By the time we left at 7pm though, it was more crowded and full of activity. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality and fun-factor of the coasters we rode. The three that stuck with us, and which we look forward to riding again some day are Iron Rattler, Goliath, and Boomerang. By late winter we should be in southern California, and we’ll be sure to visit Magic Mountain (especially since it’s free free free with our passes!).


Fiesta Texas… we didn’t have the highest expectations, but came away pleasantly surprised.

Also once Thanksgiving was over, we decided that even though we no longer live in a big house, we should still have a Christmas tree. Since the weather here has been in the 60s and 70s, I think the tree is even more important as a reminder us that it’s actually winter! We went shopping and chose the second-smallest artificial tree we found (another first for us—all our trees before have been real ones that need water and smell like pine), one string of lights, and one pack of miniature ornaments. The tree fits perfectly on Rover’s dashboard and is like a little reminder of home.

It may not be big, but it does the job!

It may not be big, but it does the job!

We used the rest of our time in San Marcos to catch up on our hobbies (sewing and baking for Kathie, programming for Mike), see a couple movies (Interstellar and Big Hero 6), get some minor work done on Rover, get Red waxed, replenish our supplies at Costco and the supermarket, give Max a bath, and generally relax. We never actually made it into Austin (except to the animal hospital), instead opting to take it easy. We’ll keep Austin on our list for next year!

First Kathie made coffee cake, then cinnamon rolls!

First Kathie made coffee cake, then cinnamon rolls!

Michael Fischer

After a high-tech career spanning software development and systems administration to leading hundreds of engineers across cities and continents, I'm now slowing things down a bit. Traveling full-time in an RV with my awesome wife Kathie and our two big dogs Max and Opie, I'm now pursuing smaller personal software projects while seeing North America up close.


  1. Jonathan Scharf   •  

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve been following you guys for some time and I am very relived to hear that Max is recovering. My wife and I are envious of the quality time you spent in San Marcos. Looking forward to the day(s) when we can just kick back and enjoy all the things we love to do.

    Peggie likes the tree you picked up, we have a slightly smaller one that sits on the server just above the computer keyboard pull out.

    Keep on enjoying and give ol’ Max a hug for us! Safe journeys and a Happy and healthy Seasons Greetings from Long Island NY.

    • Mike   •     Author

      I think after our San Marcos time, we’ve decided that every few months we need to just stop somewhere, pause, and do nothing for a little while! If nothing else, it’s nice being able to go to the same grocery store more than once, and know a little bit about the local roads and how to get around! Stay warm up there…

  2. Timojhen   •  

    Wow, glad Max is on the mend. Sturdy guy…. his not eating would certainly ring all of the alarm bells!!

    Really interested in the pure “off the grid” time. Been many years since I’ve done it, but still holds a fascination for me. May do a bike trip next year to try it again. :-)

    • Mike   •     Author

      Will let you know how it goes! Of course, we’ve got 80 gallons of fresh water, 220AH of usable battery power, a 7000W generator, and 20 gallons of propane for the water heater and furnace, so things shouldn’t be all that rough :-)

  3. Vicki   •  

    So sorry to hear that Mr. Max was under the weather, but so glad to hear you were fortunate to have found a good vet to treat him. Hoping to hear that he’s all recuperated in your next blog entry.

    I wanted to let you know that we “borrowed” your idea for covering the step well. It has helped significantly during our 20° nights here in NY.

    Loved the Christmas tree! I may “borrow” that idea too!!!! My evergreen-scented candle just isn’t doing the trick.

    Keep blogging.

    • Mike   •     Author

      Wow, does the step cover help keep the coach warmer? We definitely lose a lot of heat through the entry door, but hadn’t though about using the cover to help with that. We also found that the dashboard vents allow lots of cold air in. We rotate them so they’re closed… I should see if switching the vent to “recirculate” mode helps too.

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