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Hawaii Cruise–The Beginning

It has been 2 years in the making but the day finally came for our 15 day Journeys cruise to Hawaii. A Journeys cruise is a longer than usual cruise to different ports than usual with educational seminars and port specific activities onboard. They only happen 2-3 times a year with Carnival Cruiselines. After setting up a substitute in my RV to handle my gate while I was gone, I donned my Hawaii Bound T-shirt and drove off to the airport in San Antonio. As usual, I parked my truck at Budget secure parking and hopped their shuttle to the airport.

Hawaii Bound

When I arrived at the airport and checked the bags, I had to go to the Clear booth to finish registering and scan both my eyes and fingerprints. Now personally, I find this very intrusive and normally would not go for this service but since I am ex-military and ex-NASA, the government already has all my personal info, fingerprints, eye scans, etc. so for me it was not a privacy issue. My privacy is long gone! With a little searching online, I found a 3 month free trial online for this service and then a significant yearly discount on top of that. The service costs $159 a year I believe but only $99 a year if you are a a member of one of the airline sky miles clubs. It was either American or Delta (I don’t remember which) but joining airline miles clubs is free. What Clear does for you is get you concierge service that takes you to the head of the line at TSA security scanners. Having TSA precheck is great and I highly recommend that but at some very busy airports even that line may be long so Clear will get you to the front of both the precheck and non-precheck lines. If you fly a lot, it is well worth it. If you fly only 1 or 2 times a year, it is not worth it. I had booked a return flight out of LAX with a very tight timeline from the time my ship docked so I thought I would try Clear to make sure I made it to the gate in time. I must say I enjoyed it very much! Getting through security was a breeze on both ends.

I flew Southwest to Los Angeles, CA. I LOVE Southwest! It costs a little more but they let you check 2 bags free and carryon 2 bags free. They also provide beverages and snacks like in the good old days of flying without charge. Getting a good seat is also pretty easy if you remember to login exactly 24 hours before your flight’s departure time. The sooner you login, the better your assigned place in line to board and better your seat choices. Since I was going to be very busy on the gate that day, I paid the extra $15 to have them check me in automatically. I paid it again for the return trip since I would be out at sea the day before my flight back. I rarely pay for auto check-in but for this trip it was necessary.

At LAX, I met my cruise buddy, Bernie Ludwick, at baggage claim and we hopped a pre-paid Super Shuttle ride to the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The Queen Mary ship/hotel is berthed right next to the Carnival cruise terminal just a short walk away or a quick hotel golf cart ride.

The Queen Mary is very old so staying there is a look into the past at cruising in the days before airplanes. Many famous people traveled back and forth between the continents on her. Cary Grant loved cruising on it. What was once considered the ultimate in luxury, by our standards today, is just average. Yes, it seems a bit rundown. The plumbing and AC are weird. The rooms are small. The diner is expensive though the food is quite good. Getting to the various tours requires a LOT of walking. I can’t say I would necessarily want to stay on it again but it was great this one time to see the exhibits and how people used to travel. The Queen Mary is about history, not modern accommodations so adjust your expectations and attitude while onboard.

The Queen Mary floating hotelQueen Mary stateroomQueen Mary room

The next morning, we waited in line for our turn to get a ride next door in the golf cart. We had a lot of luggage with us for the longer cruise or we might have walked over instead. At the Carnival terminal, the lines for the staggered check-in moved very smoothly and we quickly got onboard ship. We ate lunch at the buffet and toured the ship until our room was ready. As usual, we brought our bathing suits, electronics, and medicines in our carryon so we would have them immediately rather than waiting until our luggage was delivered to the room.

More coming soon!

For pics of our Hawaii trip click here.

Quartzsite News

For those who don’t know, we have a sister site, , to report on the goings on at Quartzsite, AZ this time of year and provide info on staying there. Many RVers spend their winters there boondocking in the desert very cheaply and enjoying all the sales, shows, events, and each other’s company. They are called snowbirds as they migrate south to warmer climates to avoid the cold and snow. Even if you only weekend camp, you may enjoy spending a few days there during the big RV show in January when the population of this small desert town swells to thousands and vendors are everywhere for anything you can imagine and specifically items and upgrades to make your RV life easier. To RVers, Quartzsite is like Mecca. It’s a place you should experience at least once in your life and you will likely come away with many new friends and ideas. Check out the event schedule NOW!

Supporting Your Lifestyle With Fairs

Florida Swap MeetThere are lots of ways to make money on the road depending on your talents. After many years of traveling all across the country, I now make my living as a gate guard in the oilfields of Texas which requires living in your own RV onsite. While I do it full time at the moment so I don’t move around much except for my three to four vacations a year, others do it only in the cooler winter months and save their money to get through the rest of the year with other workamping jobs, pensions, or Social Security. If you don’t like working for others, a good option is to work for yourself by selling at fairs and festivals. If you have a toy hauler or a motorhome that can tow a utility trailer, this can be a great and lucrative option. The first year or two may be tough as you learn the ropes and figure out which ones will be profitable and which ones are mostly lookiloos. In the long run though, if you can find hot products with a good profit margin that are easy to carry and sell well, you can make a living this way. Don’t leave out swap meets. I wrote previously about selling at a swap meet in Salt Lake City, Utah where we did very well and it was easy to get in to sell.

If this interests you, please see for an excellent article on doing this and what is required. Now that it has become so easy to accept credit cards anywhere via smartphone and tablet dongles for Paypal, Square Up, etc., there is no reason you can’t make good money selling handmade crafts and purchased products. I would add that once you have a business setup in your place of residence with a tax resale certificate in hand, it is possible to buy goods wholesale or purchase from the many liquidators spread out all over the country. The key is in spending the time to do your research to find out what people are buying and what people are buying at a particular fair or festival you may be interested in. I would attend a few festivals/fairs before getting started to get an idea of what is selling and what is involved. Perhaps later in the afternoon near closing time when the crowds have thinned you might speak with some sellers to get their take on this lifestyle.

Don’t forget, the purpose of this lifestyle is usually to travel and see new things. Don’t get so caught up in traveling to the next fair that you forget to schedule some time off to see the local area. Remember why you wanted to become a full-time RVer in the first place.

Corpus Christi Splashdown

If you have ever been in Texas in August, you know it is crazy hot down here then and living here is crazy. Unfortunately, I have to be here because this is where my work is. I try to make it through this time every year by taking a week vacation I call my Annual Splashdown. For that week I spend most of my time at Schlitterbahn waterpark and the beach or rivers. In other words, I stay wet and cool for an entire week (and sunburned), completely oblivious to the heat. I usually go to my favorite Texas city, New Braunfels. This year I decided to change it up by going to a Schlitterbahn in a different city I have never been to before, Corpus Christi. It is a large city with way too much traffic which I generally would avoid but it serves the purpose and I can handle it for a few days. I wouldn’t care to live there.

I chose a very inexpensive Howard Johnson motel on the eastern side of Corpus 20 miles away from Schlitterbahn due to the high cost of closer motels and an expensive cruise I am going on later this year. I was a little concerned about a $35/night booking but the reviews were pretty good so I took a chance. Sooo glad I did! The room was very clean and nice. Bed was fine, TV was huge and got HBO, there was a small fridge as well as a stove and kitchen sink, parking was easy, breakfast was average but fine, and the pool was clean and warm. There is also a Mexican restaurant next door.

I got a chance to try out my new full-face snorkeling mask for cruising in the motel pool and purposely kept it on for half an hour. It works! Breathing is easy and does not require anything in my mouth. The view is very wide with no issues at all with fogging. Very little water got in the mask and it stayed away from my face then was expelled by the mask. Diving was a little weird because it puts a lot of pressure on the face and the breathing tube immediately plugs up blocking all air and water from getting in. Of course, snorkeling does not actually involve diving so that is okay. You just need to be sure to take a breath before going under water.

Full face snorkel mask

Off to Schlitterbahn my first full day off. As usual, I got a yearly pass and thankfully they had just changed them to cover the rest of 2017 and all of 2018 so I am good for next summer too. The lockers are interesting as they are completely computer controlled with no keys needed. They are also very expensive at $10/day for small and $14 for large!!! Ouch! After having my things taken last time by some git who didn’t check to see they had the right bag (they later turned it in to Lost and Found), I paid the piper anyway. Rackas frackas frickas frackas!

The way this park is designed is terrible. To get from one side to the other you can walk a very long distance through a maze or ride the longest and slowest chute over. At one point, everyone hops out of their tubes and walks through the chute. The two best attractions were broken that day so that was a bummer. The wave river which is always lots of fun is rather hidden back there. You have to get out of that long chute and walk around till you find the not very obvious entrance to a wide beach to get into the wave river. They were smart enough to put bathrooms down there but the refreshment stand there has no refreshments or food despite its signs. You have to go back to the front entrance to eat. On the good side, parking was very easy nearby and the park is not at all crowded. That I liked a lot! I also liked the one roller coaster-like ride they have and rode that several times. The twin buttilators (they call them aquaveyers) were cool too as they kept the line moving to haul us back up to the upper lazy river. This park is nowhere near as good as the New Braunfels park but I did enjoy not having to wait in lines at all. Unfortunately, I accidentally left my wet bathing suit in one of their bathroom stalls when I changed to leave and some disgusting criminal stole it rather than turning it in. Seriously? A wet, worn bathing suit?! Aargh! I had to find a cheap pair of swimming shorts at Walmart and since they had no decent tops left at season end I wore my black sports bra and a Tshirt for my next visit.

Schlitterbahn surfingSchlitterbahn AquaveyersSchlitterbahn slide

Schlitterbahn lifeguardSchlitterBar?Schlitterbahn burger

Aside from all the usual shopping I do on vacation since I rarely get into a big town, I took time to drive over to the Padre Island National Seashore. They have a nice interpretive center next to the dunes. For fun, I opted to do the Junior Ranger program which also included volunteering for beach cleanup. I picked up plenty of plastic bottles, bottle wrappers, bottle caps, cigarette butts, and even the water bobber from a toilet! I also answered questions on a sheet of tasks they gave me. I saw black clouds headed my way but I just had to get those two last eyesores off the beach. Stupid me. The skies opened up with buckets of rain and soaked me thoroughly before I could get back. At least I got to help out and earned both a ranger badge and a cleanup patch while enjoying a walk on the beach. I also got my National Parks Passport stamped and bought the Padre Island sticker for it.

I'm a ranger!Padre Island National Seashore

One good thing about the motel location is it is near North Beach and the USS Lexington museum. I just can’t stay off ships, especially aircraft carriers. They were kind enough to give me a veteran discount too. This museum uses smartphones and QR code technology to conduct a virtual tour. Nice! They have lots of hands on photo opportunities for some cool pictures for you. They have a flight simulator that is only $5 and sure takes you for a ride alright. As usual, I made one silly comment and got thrown in the brig. Dang! I had to walk the plank too. LOL. I would have preferred eating a home cooked meal in the officer’s mess like I did on another carrier but the food at the snack bar on the Lexington is still pretty good for lunch. BTW, the Lexington was majorly involved in the search for Amelia Earhart and several other big times in history. I checked out every inch of it I could until the last minute before closing. They were having some kind of fancy dinner onboard that night and there was a group of people, possibly scouts, staying onboard for the night. Others can pay to stay too.

USS Lexington aircraft carrierCarier deckMine!

USS Lexington brigWalking the plank

After the Lexington, a walked next door to play on the beach and wade for a bit. As usual, I had no bathing suit with me and got my clothes wet. Nothing stops me from having fun when an opportunity presents itself. I got a picture of a couple burying a guy in the sand and creating sand boobies on his chest like my family and I used to do at the beach. Some things never change. The water is so warm there it is like taking a bath. You can’t really cool off in it unless there is a breeze. It is so different from the Pacific Ocean where I was raised. Not freezing your butt off in the water is kind of nice though. With lots of oil refineries in the area, I wouldn’t suggest spending a lot of time in that water or swallowing it.

North Beach, Corpus ChristiBeach burying

For my last day in Corpus Christi, I went back to Schlitterbahn again and spent all day until around 4pm before I went grocery shopping then headed back to my gate. Driving high speed 2 lane roads for 3 hours in the dark with stop signs thrown in for fun a couple places is no fun at all. I’ll have to leave earlier next summer but I sure had a good time.

For more pics click here.