View from our hike near Beauregard-Baret, France.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Saint-Côme-et-Maruéjols, France.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Towards Andorra.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Near George West, Texas

Yesterday's blog got posted late, so you may want to check it out first before reading the story below.

Yesterday's blog post

So we left the tire shop yesterday morning, and arrived at the alignment shop just before 8:00am. The guy said Sherman would be there for 2 to 3 hours. That would still give us time to get to Laredo before supper. They pointed us to a parking spot and said to wait there. I figured it might be an hour before they got to us, so got out the laptop to write yesterday's blog post. But never got it done because it was only a few minutes before the guy came to get Sherman.

This alignment and spring shop looks like it's been there since the 1950's. They don't really have a waiting room, although there are a couple of chairs in the inner office. We stood outside in the shade with Whiskey, and tried taking her for a walk beside the busy road, but eventually I asked if we could sit down. No problem.

But then the news came. "Could you come out so we can show you something on your vehicle?" I was waiting for this. Nothing is ever simple when you're working on an older vehicle. They brought me into the alignment pit. At least the equipment was modern, unlike the office furniture! And the guys seemed to know what they were doing, explaining why the tires were wearing and the problem with the ball joints. I hadn't mentioned anything to them, so it confirmed what the guy the day before said about the one lower ball joint, but these guys also showed me why the other one needed replacing too. Said it could have been from driving on too many bad roads. Well I tell you, Nova Scotia alone could have been responsible for that!

Also showed me where they needed to put in some shims, but that the bolt at that location wasn't long enough and they would have to put a different one in there. Bottom line for all of this...$645, and it wouldn't be ready until late afternoon. So that changed our plans a bit.

We couldn't sit around there all day, and there was nothing in the neighbourhood to do. We decided to make the best of it, and we took the city bus to downtown. Whiskey was allowed to stay behind and guard Sherman.

There was a city bus stop right outside, and it turned out that the one bus went right downtown. Austin is the capital of Texas, and has a population of about 800,000. The city bus costs $1 for a one way trip or $2 for an all day pass. Our home city of Ottawa could learn a thing or two! But then Austin probably doesn't pay it's bus drivers $60,000 a year either.

We got off the bus at the downtown visitors center and they suggested a bunch of free things to do. We walked for an hour or so and across the river and along the riverside park to the Botanical Gardens..

Looking down Congress Ave at the capitol building.

Can you find the 9 dogs in this picture?

There is a huge off leash dog area right across the river from downtown. Again, Ottawa could learn a thing or two. Oh, and we watched a dog get on the bus with his owner. Imagine that happening in Ottawa??!! It was so much fun watching all of the dogs playing, and we were surprised at the number of people out jogging and biking in the heat.

There are a lot of new condos built in downtown.

The Austin Botanical Gardens.

Ruth at the gardens

We used our pass and took the bus back downtown. Then we walk up to the capitol building where they give free tours.

Where all the big decisions are made!

After that, we had pretty much had enough. We walked back to downtown and found a telephone. By this time it was about 1:30pm. They said they were just putting the wheels back on and were moving it back to the alignment bay. We figured we'd head back so we made it to the bus stop. Our bus rides for the day cost $4. In Ottawa it would have cost $15 for two day passes. 

Back at the alignment shop we waited another hour or so until they were done. They kept taking Sherman for a test drive and then bringing him back inside. Eventually, they said they were finished and we paid the bill.

By this time it was almost 3:30pm and there would be rush hour traffic. We decided to take a route that would go around San Antonio avoiding any traffic problems. We drove for a few hours and found a city run RV park in Three Rivers, but it had no time limit so was full of oil workers and people staying long term. No Vacancy! That's not right, but what could we we drove on. Eventually we came to a fairgrounds. It was getting close to dusk and we were glad to get parked up. Now we will get to Laredo later this morning and cross into Mexico early tomorrow morning.

Sherman, parked for free at the fairgrounds near George West, Texas

Despite the disruption to our plans, we enjoyed our day visiting Austin and we liked the city. It was a long day though, and we were exhausted at the end. Slept great, and now it is off to Laredo!

Yesterday's drive 146 miles (234 kms)


  1. Good thing you now have Sherman's front end in good shape, tires and all, probably drives almost like a new coach now! And the delay allowed you to tour Austin, where you probably would not have otherwise. Enjoy the warm weather as I know you will.

  2. Oh yeah and any place named George has to be a good place!

  3. Better to have everything taken care of before going into Mexico and breaking down there. Sure does put a dent in the budget though. We're taking our fifth wheel in for an alignment on Monday. Hopefully ours will go for a little cheaper than yours. Drive safe and hope your border crossing is swift and easy.

  4. The ball joints on our diesel pusher are cracked ( probably due to Mexican roads & topes) but we have been given to okay to drive the rig another year. Our cost to replace the ball joints will be close to $2000.00 so you did good.

  5. Ball joints aren't bad to change as long as you have a dry place to work jacks and stands and a good stout 1/2 inch or larger drill to get the rivets out and then put bolts back in their place.Glad to see you guys will have a tight front end to bounce around in Mexico. I don't like the topes they put here to slow you down in Malls.Be safe out there. Sam & Donna..

  6. good that things are fixed before your entrance into Mexico. We would gladly pay the Ottawa bus rate, in order for a driver to make 60K a year and be able to support his family.

  7. We are looking forward to reading about your travel sinto Mexico again this fall and winter. My how time seems likek only yesterday we were reading about your time there. Safe travels!

  8. We don't like cities but Austin was very nice (except for rush hour traffic when we arrived). It sounds like you're crossing at Laredo. We were told when we were in Laredo (I think in 2004) that it wasn't safe on the other side of the border there so good luck. I know you're experienced with Mexico!

  9. George and Suzie...You are right about seeing Austin, as I am sure we wouldn't have but very happy that we did make the trip in. It is a really nice little city.

    Jim and Sandie...Sure hope your alignment went better than ours. Sherman is definitely driving better and Kevin said he handles much better, probably due to the new tires. He is pulling too much to the left though so we will keep our eyes open for a truck centre that can do the work on him while we are in Mexico.

    Contessa...Yikes, that is pretty pricey lucky that you have a year to save up for it.

    Sam and Donna...Kevin can do a lot of things to fix Sherman but the ball and joints is a little too much plus the fact that he doesn't have the correct tools to do the job properly, better to have the professionals do it, in our case.

    K and D...The problem with paying those high prices for bus fares in Ottawa is that the ones who really need to use the bus are the ones who can't afford to take the bus.

    John and Carol...We said that to ourselves only just the other day. Time does fly. Sure hope you will enjoy this year's travels.

    Sandra...We are much the same way but there are some cities that need to be explored. We think that Austin is a gem and are happy we made time for a trip downtown. We took the Columbia crossing which is well away from the actual city. In our mind it is a great crossing and not a lot of traffic.

    Kevin, Ruth and Whiskey


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