Bound for Texas

bound-for-texas1And so it was, that on Christmas morning a small RV pulled out of an icy lot in Kansas, and sensibly, made a beeline south for warmer weather.


The temp finally creeps above freezing around 11 am and shortly after I’m on the road, having spent a good part of the day before using my windshield scraper like an ice pick to free my hitch lock, power cord, wheel chocks, and other various RV goodies that need to be moved to leave but which were frozen in place like elaborate ice sculptures.

Just south of Coffeyville Kansas becomes Oklahoma, it’s easy to forget how near the boarder I am when I never venture south of the town. Northern Oklahoma has a good deal of ice as well, and I take a video of sunlight glinting off the frozen trees, turning them into a light show that rivals the most fervent Christmas decorator.

bound-for-texas2Farther south the ice is all melted away, but there’s a good 20-30 mile stretch of road where the trees are showing considerable damage, most with large limbs or tops missing. At first I wonder if it was a wind storm, but it’s too big of an area. It must have been ice, more than the ½ inch we saw in Coffeyville. I wonder if it happened in this most recent storm, or the one earlier in the month that just brought snow to Coffeyville where it was too cold.

My first stop on the road to Florida is Little House Customs, a RV shop and store that caters to the Casita community, with the occasional other molded fiberglass trailer thrown in for variety. My appointment is on the 27th, so even though I could make it that far today, it would do me no good to show up early. Right before sundown I pull into Shady Lake RV Park, located just south of Sulphur Springs, TX. Despite showing up on Christmas day and in the evening, the owners are friendly and helpful. By the time I get settled in night has fallen. I read my Kindle for a while, and enjoy how much easier it is to keep Cas warm when the low is only 30 instead of 20 or colder.


Hmm, I’m already nearly at Fork Lake, which means today won’t be a driving day but a find something to do day. Just north of Sulphur Springs sits Cooper Lake State Park, which lists hiking as an available activity. Sounds good to me!

bound-for-texas3Every now and then, my GPS tells me to do something silly. Normally it’s not worth a mention here, but this time it took me on little one lane county roads which isn’t so bad in itself, except I missed the turnoff for one of them. “Recalculating route” pipes my GPS. I sigh and continue forward while waiting for it to give me the next turn.

“In a quarter mile, make a U-turn” the pleasant voice says. I’m on a dead end road. Single lane, ditch, trees on both sides, there’s no way I’m making a U-turn on this road hitched up.

Under these kind of circumstances, the best thing to do is not panic. If you find your way into a tight spot, you can get out of it. There’s always the option to back up. Backing up for a half-mile down a one lane road might not be pleasant, but if you keep your cool and take it slow and keep a good eye on your mirrors you’ll get there. I’m about to follow this advice myself when I see a little leaf covered driveway with a gate across it about 30 feet back from the road. It’s up a hill and I have no idea what the road quality is like under those leaves, but it’ll be quicker than backing up so I give it a shot.

bound-for-texas4By now I’ve got enough experience at Y (or maybe ‘T’ is a better letter) turns with Cas that it doesn’t take me long at all. The dirt under the leaves is packed and gives good traction and in less than 5 minutes I’m on the road facing the other direction, success.

Onwards to the park.

The day use fee for Texas state parks is five dollars. When I get in I discover I have the place all to myself, the two day use areas I stopped at anyway.

Coyote Run is my destination, it’s a 4.7 mile round trip hiking trail through a terrain consisting of mostly young oak forest with semi-open fields between. I stop at one oak that has a large sturdy branch at waist height and climb up in it to take some pictures. I’ve always enjoyed climbing trees, even now that I’m an adult.

bound-for-texas5It’s sunny out and in the mid 50’s, good weather for hiking. The short day keeps me from finishing the whole thing, but after sitting in the truck for a day it feels nice to walk. This park is named after the lake it sits on, which use to be called Cooper lake but is now known as something else. The water level in the lake is extremely low, a product of the severe drought that plagued the state last year. The swimming area is closed because there is no water in it at all, the boat dock overlooks dry land.

When the sun is hanging low in the sky, it’s time to find a place to stay the night. This time it’s a Walmart in Sulphur Springs, as the low is going to be above freezing so I won’t need electric for heat.


The first summer I had Cas when I needed to replace a bad rivet, it was LHC I ordered the rivets from. Larry runs the shop full-time out of a large barn on his property on Lake Fork, near Yantis, TX which is about 90 miles east of Dallas. His wife Debbie runs the store, which carries replacement parts and modifications for Casitas. While the place can be hard to find even with GPS, anyone heading out there to get work done is given written directions from Larry and I find it without issue.

Calling Little House Customs a barn is a disservice. It’s got a full kitchen and guest quarters built in for people who are getting work done on their RVs. The shop floor can fit five Casitas at once, and there are doors on both sides, making it a pull through. For the first time since I’ve had Cas, he’s blending into the crowd instead of standing out. Inside the shop when I arrive is Larry and Debbie’s Casita, a 1996 model that is in excellent condition. Later on they will be joined by the 2000 Freedom Deluxe owned by Reine and Paul, followers of this blog.

bound-for-texas7I’m here to get the city water connection inlet and the fresh water outlet replaced, and to get my water heater looked at and possibly the anode changed if necessary. Before any of that can happen, Larry notices how hard it is to move the tongue jack up and down, it’s rusty and has been getting harder to move for some time now. LHC carries electric tongue jacks, and customers will often pay Larry to put them on. Because of this he has a lot of manual tongue jacks just laying around, taken off for people who wanted the upgrade, and he takes pity on my full body unhitching experience and offers to replace it with another manual one and only charge for the labor, because that’s the kind of guy he is.

If you need work done on a Casita, you really need to look Larry up. His prices were much better than I would have gotten at say a Camping World, and unlike just any old RV tech he knows and is passionate about Casitas and doing the job right. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get RV work done at a place that cares and knows what they’re doing, that fresh water outlet I needed replaced for instance I’d had done at a Camping World just earlier this year and it was already failing because the job had been rushed.

Now I can use my fresh water tank again because water put in it does not immediately flow out of the city water connection. The water heater anode was still in good shape, but sadly the water heater itself wasn’t, which I kind of expected.

I haven’t fired it up since last February because the flame (it’s an old propane only model) was burning irregularly and making popping noises, it didn’t seem safe. This time the pilot would light but it wouldn’t light the main flame at all. The gas valve needs replacing, and it’s a $200 part and requires disassembling most of the water heater to change out. At the kind of price all of that would cost, the best option is just to replace the whole thing. I didn’t have that in my budget this time, but I know I’ll be going back to LHC to get it done when the time is right. I’ve been living in Cas for well over a year now and have never used the shower, preferring the larger hot water capacity and more space to be found in the shower houses of whatever campground I’m staying in, so continuing to not have a functioning hot water heater is truly no big deal to the way I currently travel. When I get around to boondocking it will be, but as that time is still a ways off there is no rush.

bound-for-texas6Just as valuable as the work I got done was the information I gathered by finally getting to chat at length with other Casita owners. Larry let me watch him while he worked and ask questions. Reine was happy to show me how she hangs things on the carpeted walls with drapery hooks (brilliant), and that night the five of us went out to eat at a local cafe and were joined by three other local Casita folks. I got the fish fry, which was excellent. The company was excellent too.

After dinner I spent the night in Cas, who was still parked inside LHC making it the first time I’ve slept in him indoors. With the blinds drawn though, it makes no difference where you park on any given night – you can imagine yourself anywhere. Personally though, I was quite happy to be there, what a nice visit it turned out to be.

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29 Responses to Bound for Texas

  1. Jerryc January 1, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    I was wondering how your journey South was going. You are correct on LHC. A great bunch of folks. Glad you were able to meet more of the Casita community. safe travels….
    Jerryc recently posted..Slip, Slipping Away!My Profile

    • Becky January 2, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      The journey south is going quite well, I’m ringing in the new year with friends in South Carolina and will be making Florida before long. Safe travels to you as well.

  2. Marvin January 2, 2014 at 7:25 am #


    Becky ,

    Glad you had a safe trip , now bundle up and stay dry until the storms roll thru . At least the temps are in the 40’s and 50’s .


    • Becky January 2, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      I left Texas the next day and missed the storms luckily, I hear Texas gets some wicked storms at times.

      I’ll definitely need to head back to Texas for a longer stay sometime, I saw such a small piece of it and there seems to be so much to do.

  3. Furry Gnome January 2, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    Glad you survived your amazon stint and are in warmer climes. Every time I read your posts I think ‘what a life you lead!’ You’ll be glad to know that I have sorted out my writing goals and am making good progress. Best in 2014.

    • Becky January 2, 2014 at 11:14 am #

      Glad to hear it Gnome! Goals help big time.

      At least once a week and usually more often I’ll stop in the middle of something and think “Wow, my life is pretty awesome”. That’s a far cry from what it was like a couple years ago, and I only hope I can inspire and help others make the change to a life that suits them better too, whether that’s full-time RVing or something else.

  4. MarciaGB January 2, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Glad you got your Casita looked at by LHC. Those in the know only have good things to say about them. Drapery hooks are a godsend for hanging stuff up on the carpeted walls. I use them to hang my curtain rods and they work great.

    • Becky January 2, 2014 at 11:16 am #

      Yes Marcia I’ve been carrying finished curtains in Cas since I left to travel over a year ago and I was completely stumped on how to hang them up until Reine showed me the magic of drapery hooks. This is why I wanted to spend more time with Casita owners, I knew I’d learn some things.

      • MarciaGB January 3, 2014 at 2:10 pm #


  5. Susan January 2, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    Becky, so glad all is going so well for you. Was a joy to meet you in Coffeyville.
    I hppe your trip to FL is enjoyable.

    • Becky January 2, 2014 at 11:17 am #

      So far so good Susan. It was great getting to know you too. I hope you’re off in warmer places now and enjoying the start of a new year.

  6. longdog2 January 2, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    Glad you have reached relative warmth in your Casita. The day use fee at Texas State Parks varies by park as does the camping fee. It sounds like you have found a good place to get work done. The poor work you received at Camping World is unfortunately not an isolated experience.
    longdog2 recently posted..A Camping World Experience to RememberMy Profile

    • Becky January 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

      Too bad the chains are such a gamble, since they’re the ones you can find about anywhere. It takes extra time and effort to track down the smaller locally owned joints that tend to have better reputations but I’d say in most cases it’s worth it.

  7. Ron January 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    Hi Becky,

    I’m happy to hear that you are getting closer to your winter destination. I have been following your blog from ever since you were at the point of riveting the new vent flange onto Cas. This, as you know, was before you ever took to the road. I have commented occasionally, but not often. However, I feel compelled at this particular time in your RVing journey to tell you how much respect and admiration I have for you in what you have accomplished in the relatively short amount time you have been full-timing. A good two full seasons, but in the grand scheme of things, a relatively short time.

    You display a positive, can do, attitude and make the most of your circumstances no matter the situation with grace and poise beyond your years. When I looked at the selfie you took while on your hike, the things I have mentioned came to mind… plus, I saw complete honesty, happiness and contentment in your face. What a remarkable young woman you are. I have no doubt that you will make the full-time RVing lifestyle work for you.

    Best wishes for good health and safe travels in 2014 and beyond.

    Ron Hutchison

    • Becky January 5, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

      Thanks Ron, I’m glad that you’re continuing to find IO entertaining and helpful. You have a great 2014 as well.

  8. Roger in SoCal. January 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Hi Becky,

    Now I really envy you, I lived in Fort Worth for 3 years and I Love Texas.
    Well this weekend I get my new-to-me Rig. I look forward to getting it setup and take my first trip.


    • Becky January 5, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

      Sounds like fun Roger! The first trip can be a little nerve wracking, but it’s also so exciting. Enjoy.

  9. David Michael January 2, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    Like you, I left Fernley (Amazon) when it was freezing in the midst of a whiteout after Christmas and visit with my daughter’s family. Eventually I hit sunlight as I travelled south through beautiful country (Rt 95) on the way to Pahrump, NV. I was so cold that I failed to stop for photos of frozen, white frost coated trees and glistening landscape around me in Fallon. It was stunningly beautiful.

    The first thing I did for the freezing weather in Fernley while at Amazon, was shut off the Water Heater. I had a mobile tech person place a movable valve so that in the future I can switch it off or on at will. When boondicking we do use the shower but otherwise we use the campground facilities when needed. I had to laugh when several women complained when their washer and dryer in their Class A or Fifth Wheel failed to work because the water hose had frozen. Fortunately, the units in the campground facilities worked perfectly well.

    I mention the water heater because mine cracked on a freak storm in Oregon early in the season and I failed to winterize the rig (Class C Motorhome). I learned my lesson with a $800 new water heater.

    Have a Great New Year travelling with CAS in 2014.
    David Michael recently posted..Eastern Sierra NevadaMy Profile

    • Becky January 5, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      Shut it off as in bypassed and drained it to winterize? My trailer has a bypass valve too so that’s what we ended up doing at LHC, just drained it out and bypassed it to cut it out of the system. That way I don’t need to worry about water sitting in it and possibly freezing or eventually rusting through it – I’m pretty sure the enamel coating was coming off (flecks in my hot water, got some debris out when I drained it) and I don’t think it wouldn’t have lasted too much longer anyway.

      I’m glad you made it out of the bad weather okay, sorry to hear about your previous water heater, simple mistakes can be so costly with a RV. You have a good year too.

  10. Todd January 2, 2014 at 6:02 pm #

    Hello Becky,

    Thanks for putting forth the effort to share your experience with us all. To write well is no small undertaking.

    I am glad for you that you were able to head south. Here in Madison Wisconsin, it will be -11 degrees F tomorrow morning!


    • Becky January 5, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      Your forecast tomorrow (Monday) morning looks even worse, -45 to -55 with the wind chill? Geh, that’s really cold, even for Madison. Stay warm and thank you for following along.

  11. Bill January 4, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    Hey Becky,
    You can run your hot water heater on pilot light alone in warm weather, unless it gets down near freezing you should have plenty of hot water for a shower and dishes. It’s been over a year since I’ve turned mine totally on here in Ocala Florida. Have a safe trip to G’ville


    • Becky January 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

      “Near Freezing” or colder was the norm in Kansas, I tend not to winter in truly warm places, haha. Thanks for the tip though, although I’ll keep using campground showers as long as I can, I just like having more space and hot water. Take care!

  12. Debbie Granger January 4, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    Hi Becky! Sounds like you’re having a lot more fun than your ‘visit’ in Coffeyville! And even better times are awaiting. Stay safe.
    We’re still looking for that picture of ‘the group’ in our email!

    Debbie@Amazon 🙂

    • Becky January 5, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

      Hiya Debbie! Yes I still have to get that picture to you all, I haven’t forgotten I promise. I hope your extended stay with Amazon went well and you’re on your way to warmer places now, safe travels and happy trails.

  13. Rob January 4, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    I was reading your blog & something popped out of my memory, I had to look it up. “GTT”

    >Thus the legend of the notes found on so many abandoned front doors “GTT”, Gone To Texas.<

    Save travels…
    Rob recently posted..I find myself waitingMy Profile

    • Becky January 5, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

      Huh, interesting Rob. Take care.

  14. Dawn from MI January 4, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

    Glad you’re on your way to a warmer winter. It’s frigid up here right now…typical MI winter. Enjoy the south!

  15. Becky January 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    Stay warm up there Dawn!

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