May 19-23 - Fort Worth TX Area
After Houston, we had no next destination in mind until we spotted a $2 discount offer on a Pepsi can for Scarborough Renaissance Festival in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Combined with Six Flags Over Texas and the prospect of roller coasters, we set our sights on the "Metroplex", choosing to park at the Fort Worth RV Ranch, just south of Fort Worth in Burleson.
Fri 5/19 - We tow our PT Cruiser behind the RV using a "Falcon 2" towing package made by Roadmaster, of Portland, OR. One of the features of this package is the variable-length struts that connect the car to the RV - because the struts are adjustable, you don't have to line the car up perfectly to hook up. Once you start moving, the struts extend to full length and lock into place. Neat system. Somehow, in hooking up to tow, Al neglected to hook up one of the struts. So, shortly after pulling out of our space, there was a horrible grinding noise from behind us. We stopped, of course, and it didn't take long to see that the unconnected strut had dropped to the pavement and was scraping the concrete. Plus, when we stopped, the car rode up over the strut, meaning we had to unhook everything and back the car off to free it. That done, we hooked everything back up and started out once again.
It didn't take long to realize that the affected strut hadn't fully extended and locked into place as we drove. The result was that the car kept coming forward and bumping the back of the RV (not really, but that's what it felt like). It took about 40 miles to find a place we could safely pull over on the freeway and check it out again. Sure enough, the strut wasn't locking. We contemplated driving the car separately to Fort Worth or someplace else where we could get it fixed, but finally figured out how to manually lock the strut in place. The ride was much smoother after that. After we got to Fort Worth, we figured out how to fix the strut - took a 16 cent lock-washer from the hardware store. It's working just fine now, but looks a little the worse for wear. After getting the strut locked - a delightful drive, including a stop at a Russell Stover Candy Factory Outlet. Yes, you can buy factory seconds. We bought way too much.
Fri 5/20 - We headed for Scarborough Faire, located in Waxahachie, TX, about 45 miles from our RV park. This is quite an operation - 26 years old, covers several acres (not counting a huge parking area), and draws a huge number of people, many of them in period dress. There are about a hundred shops and lots of entertainment, but the biggest fun is people-watching. This weekend was "Pirate's Landing", so there were a lot of folks walking around going "Arrrrr". Good fun, but hotter than the proverbial hinges. We finally pooped out around 2pm and retreated to our air conditioned car and thence home. Fun day.
Sun 5/21 - Lazy day. We had a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel, just up the road, and did a little restocking. Spent the afternoon working on our trip log and went to see "Over the Hedge" in the evening. Pretty good movie. Amazing what they do with computers these days.
Mon 5/22 - We figured that Six Flags Over Texas would be the least crowded today, so we aimed to get there for the 10AM opening. We figured well - there were no lines for anything until well after lunchtime, so we were able to walk right on to all of the roller coasters. Unfortunately, the second one we rode - a wooden monster over 3/4 of a mile long - rattled us pretty well. We were both pretty sore after the ride, and by lunchtime it became apparent that Judy had bruised her tailbone. Pain ensued. Plus it was getting hot, Al had some equilibrium issues, and by the time we'd ridden all but one of the coasters, it was evident we needed to quit. We pulled out just before 3pm and headed home. Around sundown, as it cooled off, we hooked up everything and made ready to pull out in the morning. We doublechecked everything. Twice.
Tue 5/23 - We needed to head north if we had any hope of getting to Michigan before Thanksgiving. Surveying the maps, it seemed like Branson, MO would be a good place to hunker down for the Memorial Day weekend, as we didn't particularly want to be on the road looking for a campground over the weekend. It looked to be a two-day drive via Oklahoma and Arkansas - two more states for our map. We made some reservations in Branson and hit the road after buying a lot of $2.57 gasoline at Wal-Mart.
Al's Highlight - Despite the pain, I liked Six Flags just a hair more than the Ren Faire - maybe it was because the ice cream didn't melt as quickly. Sometimes big amusement parks are confusing and daunting. This one wasn't. It may have been the first Six Flags park, but they did it right. We'll heal, and we'll do more of that, I'm sure.
Judy's Highlight - Scarborough Faire was wonderful - there were craftsmen/women, musicians, demonstrations, performers of every stripe, and food vendors galore. It was very hot, but as it has been there many years, all the trees are mature, and there is lots of shade. We lasted until just after 2 o'clock, but saw only about half of the available wonders. I bought some scrumptious hand made soap and a harper CD and a glass harmonica CD. I have to get some pseudo-renaissance garb, so I won't be so out-of-century at the next Ren Faire we attend!
Click here to see a slideshow of some of our pictures from this leg of the trip.
Stay tuned . . .