Monday, September 12, 2005

Beaumont, Texas

Well, we actually did make it to Woodville Friday afternoon in time for the birthday festivities.

We rose early on Friday, mostly because of anxiety about Opal and her condition. Given the situation, we thought it best to get under way, and we broke "camp" at the Wal-Mart before eight, possibly a record for us.

A station in town had diesel at a good price, and we decided to fill up before getting back on the parkway. We pulled up to the pump and went inside to pay, only to find that the entire town of Kosciusko could not accept credit cards, with the possible exception of Wal-Mart. I'm not sure I understood why -- probably the local merchant bank was still having telecommunications problems post-Katrina.

In any case, it was cash only, and we were down to our last $50 or so, whereas we needed about $200 worth of fuel. A gentleman sitting in the c-store/cafe reading the paper and drinking his coffee overheard my exchange with the cashier, and offered to cash our personal check so we could buy fuel. There is nothing like southern hospitality.

Even with the fuel stop, it was hardly past eight when we rolled back out onto the Natchez Trace Parkway. The road was absolutely deserted, and we dialed the cruise in at the posted limit of 50mph and sailed all the way to Jackson.

The parkway is incomplete through Jackson, and the work-around involves a brief westward jaunt on I-20. Our routing software had suggested that remaining on I-20 all the way to Shreveport, then heading south, would be a faster alternative, even though the parkway was more direct by some 70 miles. However, I-20 was in such bad shape that we had to drop our speed to less than 60mph just to make it tolerable. When the exit for the southern portion of the Trace came up, we bailed off the interstate, and were quite glad we did so. The pavement remained smooth and empty all the way to Natchez.

After crossing the Mississippi into Vidalia, we followed US-84 west to LA-28 into Alexandria, the crossroads (and center) of the state. In spite of rumors and dire warnings about fuel shortages and gouging in southern Louisiana, we saw the lowest diesel prices in Vidalia that we have encountered for weeks: $2.599/gallon. We have not seen that price since, and I am sorry we didn't top off there.

We followed LA-28 to its end in Leesville, intending then to follow LA-8, the Nolan Trace Parkway, all the way to the Sabine river and Texas-63. Turns out, though, that the bridge over the Sabine at that location, while a truck route, has a clearance of only 12'3". Fortunately, it was so posted in Leesville, so we had ample opportunity to detour south to US-190, which took us all the way to Woodville. This detour ate up 30 miles of what we "saved" by bailing off I-20, but we still made Woodville by 6:00pm.

You may recall that we were pushing to Woodville because the vet there was only open till noon on Saturday, and we thought Opal would at least need another liter of ringers. However, her condition improved markedly throughout the day, and by the time we parked, she was her usual self again, other than being extremely itchy from the skin condition and infection. We also discovered that her paw was soaked, and, upon inspection, we found that the drip line had snapped off at the catheter. We removed the catheter and discarded the remaining 300cc's or so of solution. By Saturday morning, she was so chipper and drinking so many fluids that we decided the drip was probably not doing anything further for her.

We left Odyssey in the parking lot at the Woodville Wal-Mart (map), and our friends picked us up by car for our weekend at their ranch, which is pretty much inaccessible to the bus due to low-hanging trees and soft spots in the road. We had a nice visit, tooling around on the ATV's, swimming in their private lake, and even shooting a few clays. We returned last night to the coach and spent the night there at the Wal-Mart.

We had intended to devise our plan for the next week before leaving that spot, but, once again, circumstances supervened. When we awoke this morning, a hissing sound was coming from the neighborhood of the toilet, and we traced it to the air pressure regulator. This device regulates the air to the toilet down to the required 60psi from the 80-120psi that is normally found in the coach air system. It is possible that this regulator has been one of the sources of leakage that we have been trying to track down for some time; in any event, this morning it was leaking catastrophically, to the point where we had to close it off to keep the coach from losing all air pressure, which made the toilet unusable.

Now we have many backup systems and contingency plans, but a working toilet is pretty much a requirement unless we are in the deep backwoods or parked next to a restroom, and even then, who wants to have to trek someplace at 3am just to take a leak. So the first order of business this morning became finding either a rebuild kit or a replacement for the regulator. The closest item turned out to be at Grainger, and the nearest Grainger was here in Beaumont, so we set a direct course and headed south, with only a brief stop at the Big Thicket National Preserve visitor center en-route.

Even though I had pre-ordered the regulator on-line (selecting "Will-Call" instead of shipment for delivery), we nevertheless had some hassle at Grainger picking it up. Grainger only sells to businesses, not retail to individuals, and somehow our previously entered business information got deleted from our on-line account. After signing triplicate forms in blood, they gave me my $10.45 part (sheesh), and we fixed the air system right there in our on-street parking space (in case I needed any other parts).

That taken care of, we made our way here, to the Beaumont Elks Lodge (map). They are well set up for rigs here, with both 30 and 50 amp pedestals, and we are happy to have the juice to run all our air conditioners in the south Texas heat and humidity.

Tomorrow we will turn our attention to further plans. We are hoping to volunteer at one of the shelters, possibly even the one here in Beaumont, but we need to find one that is in need of walk-in help. Until we complete our official training at the end of this month, it is the only way we can assist.

1 comment:

  1. remember, Beaumont is neither, beautiful nor a mountain.


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