1,000 Foot Ore Freighter, Soo Locks, MI

1,000 Foot Ore Freighter, Soo Locks, MI

Near Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Near Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Colorful Truck Sales, Weed, CA

Colorful Truck Sales, Weed, CA

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign

Mackinac Bridge, MI

Mackinac Bridge, MI

Pelicans, Grays Harbor, WA

Pelicans, Grays Harbor, WA

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Catching Up . . . Again

A couple of funny things happened the other night at the Bernadette Peters performance down in Galveston.

The guy sitting in the aisle seat right in front of me, seemingly there with his wife and another couple, looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there.

He was really hitting his large wine cup and looking around everywhere, but at Bernadette up on the stage. And if he clapped at all, it was just a perfunctory two claps and that was it.

Don’t know if he was looking for someone specifically, but he kept turning his head all around. And when everyone stood up to applaud after the last song, before the encore, he was just gone, leaving his wife and the other couple behind.

Then a few minutes later, as Jan and I were leaving, we exited off to the side rather than the center aisle, which was more crowded. And as I turned the corner at the end of the aisle and started up the ramp, I bounced off the wall a couple of times due to my wimble-walk. And as I did, I felt a hand on my back steadying me, which I appreciated.

But then the hand became an arm around my back holding me, and a female voice in my ear asking, “Where do you live?” When I told her that we lived up in Santa Fe, she then asked, “Are you driving home?”

With that, I suddenly realized that due to my ‘bouncing’ off the wall a couple of times, she thought I was drunk. So I turned to her and said, “I’m not drunk, I’m just crippled!”

She blushed bright red and stuttered, “That’s . . . that’s not what I meant.” and her arm left my waist.

So if she didn’t think I was drunk, was she just offering to come home with me? Jan might want to say something about that.

Then this past Sunday, our ex-Texas Huddle server, Juana, texted us that she was working a shift that afternoon at her new spot, BoomerJack’s. So we headed up there for lunch.

It was really good to see Juana again, and it looks like she’s fitting right in her new place.

While Jan had the Blackened Catfish with Double Grilled Veggies,

I got the 5 Wings with the Mango Habanero Sauce.

I was kind of surprised to find out that BoomerJack’s doesn’t allow you to order ‘all drums’ with your wings. You just get what you get, I guess. They’re the first place that’s ever told me this.

More Catching Up Tomorrow.


Thought For The Day:

These Two Stories Were Published On The Same Day A Few Weeks Ago.

So does it just cancel out?

Your Retro-Preview Highlights –

2012 – Our very first gate in our Gate-Guarding Adventures

2013 – Our visit to Organ Stop Pizza with the largest Wurlitzer Pipe Organ in the world

2014 – Flashback to 2008, our first year on the road to Alaska

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™


April 16, 2010

Under the weather…

Jan woke up with a migraine so we decided to not do any sightseeing today, But by noon she felt like getting some lunch, so we went out for soup and sandwiches from Crazy Otto’s. We ate here last Sunday on our first night here and wanted to try it again. They make a great chicken salad sandwich.

When I got back we had an email from The Bonnie Hunt show saying they had some extra tickets for the 6pm show and would we like to also attend that taping as well as our 2pm one?  We, of course, said yes.

About 6 pm Jan heated up our leftover Famous Dave’s BBQ from earlier in the week. Just as good as the first time, too.

Tomorrow we’ll probably do a day pass to the Good Sam Rally that’s right next door.


April 16, 2011

A Day of Ear-Popping Fun . . .

This morning was another early one. That makes two in a row. This has got to stop.

The reason for this early start was that this was another road trip day, this time north to Flagstaff.

Our first stop was about 2 miles away for two fill-ups, gas, and a quick breakfast at the Mcdonald’s next door. Then it was out onto I-17N heading for Flagstaff, a little over 50 miles away.

The trip was a really spectacular drive, especially when you take a curve and get your first glimpse of San Francisco Peaks that loom over Flagstaff.

San Francisco Mtns 1

This shot, taken in early April 2010, shows a little more snow.

San Francisco Mtns 2

Humphreys Peak, on the left, is over 12,600 ft. high, and is the highest peak in Arizona.

Our first stop as we came into town was the parking lot of Bookman’s, a really great used bookstore. Really a used book, used magazines, used toys, used video games, used small appliances, store.

While Jan and I enjoyed Bookman’s, we noticed outside Bookman’s was the local version of the town mascot. In this case, it’s a mountain lion.

Flagstaff Mtn Lion Mascot

We’ve seen javelinas in Sedona,

Sedona Javelinas 2

moose in Coeur d’Alene, ID, (I’m not sure if this guy is chained down because he keeps wandering off, or he gets moose-napped.)

Moose3

and mermaids in Beaufort, SC.

Mermaid 1

After we did the bookstore thing, and Jan and I shared a cappuccino in the coffee bar, we piled into our truck to drive around.

Old Route 66 passed through Flagstaff so we took some time to drive the old downtown area, checking out the little shops and stores. Heading on out on 66, we stopped off at an Office Max for a few things. There were still some snow banks in the parking lot, left over from last week’s snow, and by the exit, this indication that they weren’t sure that last week’s snow was actually the ‘last’ – a snow shovel and a bag of salt for the sidewalk.

Flagstaff Snow Shovel

Our next stop was right down the street. where I did the Best Buy, while judging by the large bags she lugged back, Jan tried to buy out the World Market store right next door.

By now it was almost 1:30, and with us getting hungry we decided to have lunch at Salsa Brava, a Mexican restaurant that we really liked when we were here in March of 2008.

And apparently, we weren’t the only ones who liked it. A while back, Salsa Brava was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins’ & Dives, and you can check it out here on Salsa Brava on Diners, Drive-Ins’ & Dives.

The food was delicious, in fact so much so, that Jan and bought a copy of the Salsa Brava Cocina Cookbook shown here.

Salsa Brava Cookbook

After a great meal, we drove back to the Bookman’s parking lot for a quick stopover at the Michael’s store right next door.

We decided to return to Verde Valley by way of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon along AZ-89A

Listed as one of the Top 5 Scenic Drives in America, the switchbacks through Oak Creek Canyon only cover a little over 2 miles, but drops you over 2600 feet in elevation.

Talk about your ear-popping!

Oak Creek Canyon

In fact the whole trip was ear-popping. Starting at about 3200 ft. in Verde Valley to a little over 7000 ft. in Flagstaff, and of course, back again to Verde Valley.

The stop-and-go driving through downtown Sedona took a while, but we got back to the rig about 5 pm, after another long, but very enjoyable day.

Tomorrow we’ll be Skyping with Brandi, Lowell, and of course Landon. We can’t wait.


April 16, 2012

Gate Guarding – Day 1

We were awakened yesterday morning about 7:45am and told we had a gate waiting for us.

We were given our hats, orange safety vests, login forms, clipboard, and a hand-drawn map to the gate. Jamie said our supervisor Larry would be waiting for us.

We were ready to roll a little before 9, with our first stop right across the street at the Exxon station to top off my tank with about 80 gallons of diesel for $4.10 a gallon. When I’m going to be parked for a while I always like to do it on a full tank to cut down on condensation and algae growth in the tank.

About 9:15 we were on the road heading to our gate. Our route took us on all two-lane roads from Whitsett southwest over to Fowlerton, about 45 miles away. But it was the last 8 miles of dirt road that was a problem.

It was so bad that I was only able to do 8-10 mph. And even then we had drawers come open that hadn’t come open in 5 years. It almost 45 minutes to finally get to the gate site, where our supervisor, Larry Ross, was waiting for us with our utility trailer just as promised.

It only took us about 10 minutes to get parked and set up. Larry pulled the generator trailer behind the rig and got us hooked up with AC power to the coach.

STS Gate 2

A little later Larry headed back to town to bring out our sewer trailer, while Jan was up and running on her new Gate Guarding career.

STS Gate 1

And we quickly had our first visitor, not a truck, but a friendly roadrunner. He walked back and forth right in front of us, just a couple of feet away.

Roadrunner 4

Roadrunner 5

Supposedly they’re really good about keeping snakes away. Jan certainly hopes so.

The only downside to our location is we not only have no Internet service, we have absolutely no Verizon cell service at all. NONE.

In fact I had to drive to Cotulla, 35 miles away to get a good signal. Apparently, AT&T works in this area, so I’ll have to see about getting a cheapie phone at Wal-Mart. But I’m still not sure what I’m going to do about Internet. I’ll have to work on it.

UPDATE:

We only had about 20 vehicles in and out yesterday, and the site was closed from 7:30pm to 6 am.

Nice!


April 16, 2013

Third Time’s the Charm . . .

This is Annisten Robinson, Jan’s great-niece and granddaughter to Jan’s sister, Debbie. She’s really growing up fast.

Annisten Robinson

And this red-haired beauty is Zoe Nadeau, two days old and Landon’s new 2nd cousin.

Zoe Nadeau - Red Hair

About 4pm we headed out for dinner at Organ Stop Pizza. And it turned out to be a real experience.

What you’ve got is a pizza place, putting out very good pizza, and, oh by the way, they’ve also got the world’s largest Wurlitzer Pipe Organ.

Organ Pizza 2a

Originally built for the Denver Theater in 1927, and used into the 1930’s, talkies and the Great Depression led to its silencing. Then it was purchased by Organ Stop Pizza in the early 70’s and installed in their restaurant. Since then, parts from other ill-fated Wurlitzers have been added on, making this almost 6000 pipe organ, the largest in the world.

In 1997 the restaurant commissioned the building of a new console to better support the many controls, keys and pedals.

Organ Console

The console resides on an 8000 pound hydraulic elevator that raises, lowers, and rotates the console, allowing it to appear and disappear from the stage.

Organ Pizza 3

Organ Pizza 4

The organ also has a lot of lighting effects, and other things like bubble machines.

Organ Pizza 5

This final photo shows how the pipes and other instruments cover the entire rear wall. It also shows the stage with the console retracted.

Organ Pizza 7a

Oh, and the pizza was pretty good, too. A crispy, thin-crust pizza, it wasn’t doughy or crunchy. Very good, especially for a place that you also go for the entertainment.

Well worth a second visit.


April 16, 2014

On the Road to Alaska . . .

Thought maybe I’d relate some of our travels during our first year on the road. We weren’t blogging then, so all we have are all the photos we took, and some emails Jan sent to friends and family.

Although we left Houston on February 6th, the Alaska part kind of started on April 9th, 2008. But between then, we did Las Cruces, Casa Grande, Yuma, San Diego, Long Beach, Las Vegas, Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, Casper, Billings, Sturgis, and Coeur d’Alene.

After Coeur d’Alene our first stop was Cle Elum, WA. The attraction for Cle Elum is the fact that it’s right down the road from Roslyn, WA, which stood in for the fictional town of Cicely, AK, in the TV show Northern Exposure.

And it’s all still here.

The Roslyn Café.

Roslyn WA 1

Chris’ KBHR Radio Station

Roslyn WA 2

The Brick Bar

Roslyn WA 3

But the inside is completely different from the show.

Roslyn WA 6

Roslyn WA 8

And here’s Ruth-Anne’s General Store.

Roslyn WA 4

The first thing you notice is that Cicely (Roslyn) is much hillier in real life than on the show.

Roslyn WA 5

And you remember Maurice’s big house on the lake. Well this is what it looks like in person. It’s actually pretty run-down. No lake anywhere nearby, either. Just goes to show you how TV shows can fool you.

Roslyn WA 7

Northern Exposure was supposedly loosely based on Talkeetna, AK, but the town did not want the TV show filmed there, so Roslyn was selected. All of the inside scenes were filmed in a converted warehouse over in Redmond, WA.

On April 13th we entered Canada at Sumas, WA, about 25 miles northeast of Bellingham, and spent our first night at the Brookside Campsite in Cache Creek, BC after a 172 mile trip.

Cache Creek 1

Note Mister out front wondering what all the fuss is about Canada.

One funny thing we found when we got up the next morning (note the time) was Mister sound asleep atop the kitchen cabinet. We’re not even sure how he got up there.

Cache Creek 2

And from the look on his face when he finally woke up, neither was he.

Cache Creek 3

We spent the second night 269 miles away at the Southside RV Park in Prince George, BC, and saw our first Moose Warning sign.

Prince George 1

Prince George 2

And then a 254-mile trip took us to Tubby’s RV Park in Dawson Creek, BC, the official beginning of the Alaskan Highway.

Dawson Creek 1

Dawson Creek 2

Dawson Creek 4

We also saw our first Magpie’s there.

Dawson Creek 3

We ended up spending 3 nights in Dawson Creek due to bad weather and very high winds. In fact semi’s were banned from the highway.

And if the semi’s ain’t going, I ain’t going either.

I’ll follow up with more Alaska another time.


April 16, 2015

Resting Up . . .

Jan and I did so much walking yesterday during our visit to the Out of Africa Wildlife Park, that it was really nice to pretty much goof-off all day.

I came across an interesting article the other day called The Real History of Fracking. Amazingly, fracking is not the recent invention that most people think. Would you believe the Civil War?

A interesting article. Check it out.

I spent a couple of hours this morning working on some web client stuff, after which I called our daughter Brandi to ask why she and Lowell and Landon were in Washington, D.C. this past weekend.

Her response was “What . . . what do mean? Washington?”

I laughed and said,”Well, I heard on the news that a 4-year-old boy crawled under the White House fence and then led the Secret Service on a merry chase through the bushes before they finally rounded up the wily culprit. Brandi agreed that it certainly sounded like something Landon would do, but it wasn’t him.

First this, and now a gyrocopter. The Secret Service just can’t win.

Later in the afternoon, I painted Jan’s toes for her. First, a clear base coat, then two coats of polish, and then a clear top coat. She says I do a better job than the salons because I take my time. I haven’t told her that’s because I enjoy playing with her toes.

Like yesterday, today was another beautiful day. It finally crept up to 61 degrees here, but with the sunshine almost all day, it was really nice.

And tomorrow looks to be more of the same.


April 16, 2016

Always Be Prepared . . .

Or Oops!

Nothing much new this morning, just the same old, same old. Coffee, breakfast, and webstuff.

About 3:30 I headed into Conroe and the Sam’s Club to pick up the prescription I dropped off yesterday. And always being prepared saved me $73.62.

For some reason every time I pick this one up, the price is all over the place. Sometimes it’s $25, sometimes it’s $42.17, and today, it was $83.62. But it should only be $10.00

So I always carry a printout of my Walmart/Sam’s Club prescription history when I go to pick up this particular one. It shows the price I’ve paid in the past. And strangely, the clerk couldn’t find the $10 cost, until I showed him my list, and then he found it immediately.

Funny how that worked out.

On the way home, I made a Kroger’s stop to pick up a couple of Kroger-specific items – 2 bags of their Private Selection Coffee, and a couple of containers of their really good Cranberry Fruit & Nut Salad.

Then it was home just in time for Jan to have a great dinner ready for us. One that starts with Chicken Rice-A-Roni, adds large chunks of grilled chicken, and some extra spices, and gets served with a side of the Cranberry Salad, and some sliced tomatoes. Really good.

Tomorrow night we’ll finish off the Cheesy Beef & Potato Casserole from the other night., with hopefully, some more of the Cranberry Salad. Looking forward to it.

Under the Oops! heading, here’s how to destroy your company with one line of Unix code. And this is it.

rm -rf {foo}/{bar}

‘rm’ is the ‘remove’ command, I.e. delete
’r’ stands for ‘recursive’ which deletes this directory
and every subdirectory below it
(the article has this command wrong)

‘f’ is the ‘force’ command, which means ‘Don’t give me any of those pesky “Are You Really Sure You Want To Delete This?” messages.

But that wasn’t his only mistake. Because he had an error in the script he wrote that contained this command, the variables ‘foo’ and ‘bar’ were undefined.

So when he ran the script, ‘rm –rf’ started at the very top directory (called ‘root’) and began deleting everything under it. In other words, EVERYTHING!

But wait, it gets worse.

He had correctly done his backups before he ran this script to clean up some old Temp files and other unwanted stuff, BUT he left them mounted, I.e. online. So when ‘rm –rf’ was finished with his main drive, it moved over to his backup drives and started deleting everything on them too.

OOPS!

And it was the owner of the company who did this. He owned a small website hosting company with about 1500 customers, so he actually deleted all of his customer’s websites.

This is the reason that, although I host all my websites on Godaddy, where their backups have backups, I have full copies of all my client’s data on my hard drive, which is backed up on two different external hard drives.

You can’t be too careful.


April 16, 2017

A Real Do-Nothing Day. . .

We never left the rig. In fact we never even opened the rig door.

Very nice.

I did spend a good bit of time working on a new website, trying to configure a lot of photos so they can be posted. I’ve got a ways to go.

Still enjoying my new Jetpack MiFi. I checked the speed this morning about 2:30am and got over 30 Mbps.

Looking forward to picking up my new Galaxy S8+ this coming Friday. Of course, then I’ve got several days work loading and setting up a lot of apps. But this will be a good chance to weed out programs that I really don’t use anymore.

Following the recent story of the doctor who was thrown, literally, off a United flight. I’m always interested in how the story changes after one of these big events break, and this one has been all over the place.

But right now the consensus of the many law blogs I read is that he’s in line for a big payday, maybe as big as 8 figures ($10,000,000), but we’ll see.

Initially, everyone pointed to what’s known as the Contract of Carriage, the 30+ pages of Federal rules, the fine print on your ticket.

Because the initial story said the flight was ‘overbooked’, people looked at that section of the rules. And if you’re still at the gate on an ‘overbooked’ flight, they can deny you boarding for pretty much any reason. But the kicker here was that the flight was not overbooked, but was fully booked, with every seat filled.

And all the passengers, including the doctor, had been seated.

Then four United cabin personnel showed up at the gate and needed to get to Louisville so they could work a flight the next morning. The gate agent then went on the plane and asked for four volunteers to take a later flight (at 3:45 the next afternoon) and offered up to $800 in compensation.

When no one volunteered after repeated tries, they had the computer pick four passengers at random, who were basically told to get off or else. The ‘else’ being they would be forcibly ejected. At this point, two passengers left.

Turns out that the ‘at random’ picking wasn’t really random, but used an algorithm that looked at what class they were flying, (economy class got kicked off before business class who got kicked off before first class, etc.), what clubs they belonged to, how many miles they had, and how early they had checked in for the flight. The problem with all this was that once the Doctor was on board and seated, a whole new set of Federal rules come into play.

Under Part 21 – Refusal to Transport, there are 19 specific reasons a passenger can be ejected from a flight, like being drunk, barefoot, smelly, 9 months pregnant without a note from your doctor, blind with no escort, etc.

But not one of these reasons is needing his seat so a company employee could fly instead.

So then when the Doctor refused to deplane the ‘police’ were called  The problem here was that the three gentlemen were NOT really police, NOT Law Enforcement Officers. They were Chicago Aviation Police, I.e. they were licensed non-armed security guards, just like Jan and I are for gate guarding. In fact it is questionable whether or not they had any legal right to even be on the plane.

According to eyewitnesses and the several videos, when the Doctor refused to leave the plane, he was tazered, punched in the head several times, dragged from his seat, hitting his head on the opposite armrest, and was knocked unconscious.

At this point, he was dragged out of the plane and left bleeding and still unconscious in the jetway while the three ‘gentlemen’ went to find a gurney or stretcher. I guess they figured that just continuing to drag him through the terminal would be bad form.

At some point, he came to, and dazed, confused, and bloody, stumbled back onto the plane, mumbling both that he had patients to see tomorrow morning and he wanted his laptop.

At this point, he was once again dragged from the plane.

He ended up hospitalized with a severe concussion, a broken nose, and two missing teeth.

At first, the United CEO blamed the whole thing on a ‘rowdy’ passenger that they were required to ‘re-accommodate’. But that didn’t stick, as the videos of the bloody, unconscious 69-year-old Asian doctor went viral on the Net.

Then it was a ‘sincere’ apology. And when that didn’t help, the CEO promised to never, ever throw a passenger off a United plane again.

At this point, the rest of the Internet piled on with some really hilarious themes.

Fly Delta – We Beat The Competition, Not Passengers!

United Airlines – We have an offer you can’t refuse. No, really.

Flight: $400, checking a bag: $25, getting dragged down the aisle: priceless

And even new seating charts.

United Flight Club

So that’s pretty much the story at this point. The three ‘gentlemen’ have been suspended and will probably fired. But we’ll see how it plays out for the rest.


April 16, 2018

The Texas City Disaster . . .

Not much new at work today, mostly just looking at some YouTube videos on different WordPress themes. When I finally move our two company websites from our in-house server up to Godaddy, I want to change the WP theme to something new, and a little easier to support.

I did get some use of my Spanish when we had an order from Zaragoza, Spain. We needed some clarification on the order so I gave it a shot. And I guess it worked because I got an answer back that I could also read.

I did have to be careful, because Spain Spanish is different from Mexican Spanish is different from South American Spanish. And South American Spanish is what I’m most familiar with.

Even the address can be strange. In Colombia, South America, where I lived, 3rd floor would be translated as ‘3er Piso’, or ‘Piso 3’. But in Spain, 3rd Floor is 3°.

Yes, that’s a degree sign. It actually stands for the ‘o’ in ‘piso’ or ‘floor’. And since many apartment buildings don’t have numbers on the doors, you can also see an address like 3°, 5a. This means ‘3rd floor, 5th door’, with the ‘a’ coming from the word ‘puerta’, the Spanish word for ‘door’.

The other problem is getting the USPS online shipping software to take these strange addresses and print out a shipping label. But we finally got the package on its way.

When we moved to Texas and Houston in Dec. 1978, we very quickly heard about the 1947 Texas City Disaster.

On April 16th, 1947, 71 years ago today, the SS Grandcamp, tied up in the Texas City Harbor and loaded with 2,200 tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, caught fire and exploded. It sent a 15’ wave of water for 100 miles,  leveled over 1,000 buildings, destroyed the Monsanto Chemical Company plant, and 1000’s of cars.

Texas City Explosion 1

Then 15 hours later the nearby cargo ship High Flyer, also loaded with ammonium nitrate, exploded, killing many of the police, firefighters, medical personnel, and even sightseers, who had rushed into the area.

Officially 567 people were killed, with 63 never identified.

Texas City Explosion 2

Additionally, 113 people were listed as missing, since no body parts were ever found. And it is speculated that there might be 100’s of other dead, visiting seamen and their families, travelers, etc.

On a more personal note, 27 of the 28 members of the Texas City Volunteer Fire Department were killed.

So imagine how Jan felt when years later our son Chris announced that he had just been hired as a Texas City Fireman.

Tomorrow Jan and I are heading up to Baytown for a consulting gig. A friend of a friend has an access gate that is controlled by a WiFi/Internet phone app. But it doesn’t work. In fact it seems it’s never worked right.

I’ve done some research, including downloading the manual, and I’ve got some starting ideas on what the problem is, or at least one of them. I suspect that this might be one of those cases where it’s a two-part problem. So we’ll have to see.


April 16, 2019

Not Worrying About The Brakes Anymore . . .

I spent the morning on and off making changes via email for the new ad card for our upcoming May sale, which we didn’t find out about until this past Friday. So it was a rush to get it done ASAP to get it out for May, and also to get it done before I leave town.

Also talked to Chantelle Nugent, our travel agent, about what we needed as far as luggage tags, passport wallets, etc. Turns out that she has included all that in our box of documents that goes in the mail today, and we should have it Friday.

Jan and I headed out about 1pm with our first stop at the Cheddar’s in Webster for lunch. Then it was on by my clients to pick up a bunch of Amazon stuff that had come in.

We had also planned to have my client and the office manager witness our wills, but it looks like we will still need a Notary, so I may just have it done at the bank on Thursday.

Then it was on over to WalMart to stock on B. C. (Before Cruise) stuff, and a few things to take with us. Last it was by the dry cleaners to pick my blazer and Jan’s pashmina for the trip, and then we headed home.

But ‘headed’ is all it was. Although I can’t see exactly what’s happening, it looks like we have a leak in a bottom radiator hose on the truck. I tried to limp it home, but finally decided to just call our roadside assistance and get a tow home.

Getting home and thinking it over, I decided that this was a straw/camel situation. With both the radiator problem and also needing a disc brake pad replacement, I just don’t have time to fix both. So I’m renting a car from Enterprise starting tomorrow and then I’ll drop it off Friday morning before we leave for Budapest.

Wrapping up, we saw this interesting cargo coming up the Interstate from Galveston, or maybe Texas City, last weekend.

Refinery Reactor on Trailer 1

Refinery Reactor on Trailer 2

That’s just one long, long trailer. Must be interesting on corners.


April 16, 2020

Less and Less . . .

Needing some groceries, and Jan not having been out of the rig since last Saturday, we headed out for WalMart about 1pm,

And it looks like less and less people are worrying about using masks, just a small minority, and I saw no one wearing gloves this time. And although the rope entrance lines were still up at WalMart, people were just bypassing them and walking straight in and out. And nobody was stopping them.

And looking at the news around the country, more and more people are starting to rebel against some of the overly strict rules. One web article talked about the rise of petty tyrants all around the country.

For example, Calvert County Maryland is proposing that people only be able to shop for groceries on certain days depending on the first letter of their last names.

Or the two churches in Greenville, MS where the police raided two drive-in Easter church services and gave people $500 tickets (later dropped). And then there’s the governor of Michigan who started declaring some items sold in WalMart as essential and others as non-essential.

I’ve seen PSA’s on TV telling you to use your time at home to plant a “Victory Garden’, but Gov. Whitmer banned the sale of plant and vegetable seeds. Or the people decided to use their stay-at-home time to do some home remodeling. However the governor banned the sale of many building materials.

Or if you want to do a little solitary recreational fishing out on the lake, you can only do it in a canoe, or kayak, not any kind of powered craft, even if it’s electric.

And with all the kids at home needing things to keep them occupied for your sanity, let’s ban Arts & Crafts supplies, and of course, Toys & Games. That makes sense, right?

And, unfortunately, it’s not just the governor. A Michigan judge has issued an order authorizing a county health officer and police to arrest and jail anyone they suspect of being sick with the coronavirus.

So, let me get this straight. They’re letting real criminals out of jail to protect them from the WuFlu, while throwing WuFlu sufferers into jail. Yeah, that makes sense.

Well, all these draconian rules garnered the governor a big protest where 3000-4000 cars clogged the streets of the capital to vent their frustration.

To paraphrase Star Wars, “The more they tighten their grip, the more people slip through their fingers.”

And then there’s the county in Montana that wants residents to wear pink armbands to be allowed to shop in local stores. At least it’s not a Yellow Star.

Yikes!

Before we left the WalMart parking lot, I put in an online order to the Black Bear Diner right across I-45 to pick up on our way home.

I got my favorite Bacon Cheeseburger Salad,

Black Bear Diner Bacon Cheeseburger Salad Takeout

while Jan tried something new, their Roasted Turkey Dinner.

Black Bear Diner Roasted Turkey TakeOut

Both as good as the in-house versions.


April 16, 2021

it’s A Box . . .

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday about our get-together at the El Palenque restaurant up in Spring is that like many other places here in Texas, masks were optional, even though they still had the signs up, and the staff was still wearing them.

It was interesting to watch people walk in the front door, look around, and then off come the masks.

Another thing I forgot to mention about yesterday’s get-together is that our friends Janice and Dave Evans are the reason we’re here at the Petticoat Junction RV Park in Santa Fe. They’re good friends with the owners, Rob and Debra, the park owners, and so Janice and Dave recommended them when we were looking for an RV park down in this area.

And we’ve been here for about 3-1/2 years so far.

For the last year, there’s been a new home going up about 3 houses down from our park entrance. Set on a large lot, it looked like it was being built by the owner since the progress was so slow. We drive by it almost every day, and it seemed like we wouldn’t see any real progress for days(weeks?) at a time.

Since there were usually a couple of boats, and a camper parked on the property, we figured it was just going to be something like a vacation cabin. I mean it was pretty plain, just a big rectangle with no real pizazz.

5525 Ave L - 1

But then in the last month, they really started sprucing it up, with shutters, trim, shrubbery, and an entrance path.

5525 Ave L - 2

And then one day a For Sale sign appeared out front.

Since it was so plain vanilla on the outside, just a big box, we wondered what it looked like on the inside, and what they were asking for it. So I Googled 5525 Ave L, Santa Fe, TX, and found this.

5525 Ave L - 4

5525 Ave L - 3

A very high-end build, that really looks nice. It’s a 1500 sq. ft., 3 bedroom, 2 bath, but the real surprise, to Jan and I at least, was the price.

$289,900

For a box. A nice box, but it’s a 30’ x 50’ box!

It will be interesting to see how long it stays on the market.


April 16, 2022

An Onerous Task . . .

That turned out to be relatively easy.

Jan and I headed out for lunch about 12:30, after loading up the Jeep with a lot of winter stuff destined for the storeroom.

Lunch was at Yummy Yummy once again, our favorite local Chinese Buffet place.

We thought we’d lost it for a while when it closed down during the height of the virus stuff, and it was closed for almost 18 months. But when it finally reopened last September, we were there as soon as we heard it was back.

Yummy Yummy

After Yummy’s we drove over to the big HEB on Hwy 96, hoping to get our weekly HEB visit out of the way.

Now being the day before Easter, we expected them to be busy, but not overflowing parking lot busy. So we came in one side and went out the other, without stopping.

Another day, I guess, but not tomorrow either. All HEB’s are closed on Easter.

Coming back toward Santa Fe, we got a close-up look at the new Amazon warehouse at the corner of Hwy 96 and FM1266. The gates were open, and it looked finished, but there was not a Prime truck in sight.

Amazon Warehouse Hwy96

With this one, and the one down on I-45 in La Marque, we now have two Amazon warehouses in our vicinity.

As it is right now, I ordered something at 2pm today, it was shipped at 4:15, and I got it at 8pm. If it gets much faster, I’ll be getting stuff before I even order it.

On our way back toward home we made a storeroom visit and dropped off two heaters, two large bags with our winter blankets, and my Rollator, which I haven’t used since Branson back in December. It’s nice to have that stuff out of the way. At least until next Fall.

The onerous task I mentioned was defrosting our freezer. And it turned out to be easier than I had hoped.

The last time our freezer was defrosted was in 2017 when a repair place in Louisiana turned off the rig’s 12 volt system to work on it, and did not turn it back on when they were finished. And without 12 volts, the gas function of the refrigerator doesn’t, well, refrigerate.

So we picked up a rig with a refrigerator with a lot of spoiled food in it.

But this time things worked out better.

We got a large Styrofoam Crawfish Cooler from HEB, as well as a couple of blocks of dry ice that they also sell.

HEB Crawfish Box

At about 2 cu. ft. the cooler was large enough to hold everything from the freezer, with a dry ice block on the bottom. underneath the food, and another block on top. I also put a remote-read thermometer in there too.

At about -100°, the dry ice kept the food frozen solid for more than 24 hours. And by cold, I mean very cold.

Dry Ice Thermometer Reading

Yes, that’s -38°. And it was down to –46 with the lid closed. A lot better than using bags of regular ice. And a lot less messy.

After we removed all the food, and turned the fridge off, we repeatedly heated up Corning Ware casserole dishes full of water in the microwave, placed them in the freezer and closed the door. After we did this 5 or 6 times, I was able to start using a plastic chisel to carefully help the defrosting along.

All told, the total job only took about 4 hours, with most of that just waiting for the hot water to speed things along.

Finishing up, I wiped everything down to dry it, and then then turned the fridge back on. At that point the fridge temp had only climbed up to 40°, not a problem.

Since the stuff in the cooler was staying nice and cold, we decided to let the freezer cool back down, so we waited until this morning to restock it.

Hopefully, that’s done for another few years.

With Brandi and her family up in OK with Lowell’s parents, Jan and I are just doing lunch at Saltgrass for our Easter. I figured they might be pretty busy, so I made a reservation for 2pm.

Mmmm! Steak!


April 16, 2023

Hardly A Day Goes By . . .

Lunch today was at Denny’s once again, with Angie taking her usual great care of us.

Denny's Omelet 20230416

And once again we both had our usual Ultimate Omelets, both pretty much the same, except Jan’s has no Green Peppers and mine has added Ham.

Then it was right across the Interstate for our weekly HEB stuff, and then home, just in time for today’s Amazon Prime delivery.

Hardly a day goes by.

The other day I received a couple of items from Amazon to let me bump up my Amazon Firestick. It only comes with 8GB of internal RAM, which sounds like a lot. But after installing a lot of apps like YouTube, YouTubeTV, Apple+, Pluto, Crackle, etc., you start running out of room to install anything more.

The Firestick has a way to add more memory, but rather than make it easy by just being able to plug in a micro SD card, you have to do it externally, using a USB flash drive and a special cable.

Firestick Cable

OTG Cable

Firestick USB Flashdrive

128GB USB Flashdrive

Then there’s a whole rigamarole on hooking it up, partitioning, and then configuring it. Here’s some more info on how to do it.

How to Add Storage to Fire Stick OS

And for you Mrs. Maisel fans out there, if you didn’t already know, Prime Video started off the 5th (and last) season this past Friday by posting the first 3 episodes. Then they’ll release one new episode a week for the next 6 weeks, which will wrap up the 9 episode season.

One thing new this season is a number of flash-forwards to the 1980’s when, by then, Midge is a big star.

Check it out.

And don’t forget, tomorrow morning at 7pm starts the first launch window for the Starship Heavy down at Boca Chica, TX.

Starship Launch Tower

 

 

 

 

 

Good To Go . . .

For Another Year.

We were up at about 6am this morning, and on our way a little after 7, heading up to Friendswood for our yearly Doctor’s appointments set for 8am. We always schedule these appointments for the first thing in the morning, since it seems as the day goes on, things fall further and further behind. But this way we were on our way a little after 9:30.

I had mentioned before that, due to the discontinuation of our Kroger’s Pharmacy Plan, I was looking for a new drug provider. And after a lot of research, I settled on Mark Cuban’s Cost Plus Drugs.

The prices were even better than Kroger’s, so I set up accounts online for both of us a couple of days ago. And it looked like our doctor would just have to send our prescriptions into them like they now send them into Kroger’s. But then the nurse who took the CPD info checked her system and said they couldn’t submit prescriptions to them because they weren’t in her ‘system.’ Well, bummer!

But then a few minutes later Dr. Spuhler stuck her head in the door and said the nurse was incorrect, and that they could submit them with no problems.

Everything looked good for both of us, at least until they get our lab tests back in a couple of days. She was really happy with my blood pressure, which came in at 122/71. Which is almost exactly what my smart watch tells me.

Yay Me And Jan!

And the prescriptions showed up in our CPD’s account before we even left the office.

Finishing up we made a Dollar Tree stop for some things that Jan was looking for, and then a quick visit to the office to install some panel bulbs that had come in.

Then it was on over to our reward for our good doctor visits, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.

And after our salads, we got our usual 18” The Don pizza. It comes with Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, and Meatballs, to which we add Mushrooms, Bacon, and Jalapenos.

And we get the 18” one so we have half of it to take home with us.

Our server this time was Emily, a very nice young lady who took great care of us. Hopefully, we’ll see her again.

Hi, Emily!

As we were leaving after our delicious meal, I saw these 40# bags of coal stacked out front, as in their coal-fired pizza ovens.

I thought it was interesting that this is Santa Claus-brand Coal. So I guess Santa has some left over after Christmas each year. You can only fit so much in each stocking, I guess.

Later this evening, I logged into our CostPlus accounts and got our prescriptions on the way. And even with the $7 shipping fee, it was still cheaper than Kroger’s.

The only problem is that it seems that two of Jan’s scripts didn’t come through, so I’ll call the doctor’s office tomorrow and get it straightened out.


Thought For The Day:

All men like to think they’re marrying nymphomaniacs. The problem is, often after a few years, the nympho leaves and the maniac stays.


Your Retro-Preview Highlights –

2010 – Our Tour of the Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles

2015 – Our Second Visit to the Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Arizona


Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™


April 15, 2010

Warner Bros. and Baja…

We left for Hollywood and our Warner Bros.Studio Tour about 9 am, about 3 hours before our tour was to start.  And I’m glad we did.

I figured it would take us about an hour and 15 minutes to get there and that would give us plenty of time to walk around and then eat lunch before our 12:00 noon tour.

But we hit a lot of traffic after we left the freeway, so it took us almost two hours to get there, get parked, and get checked in. That left us an hour to find a place to eat.

One of the problems with the traffic turned out to be the fact that Hollywood Blvd. was shut down on the block in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. At first, we thought they were filming a movie due to all the production trucks It turned out to be a promotion for the upcoming Long Beach Grand Prix.

Graumans

Looking around we decided to try Baja Fresh Mexican Grill right across the street. We’d seen the restaurants around but never tried one, so this seemed like a good chance. According to their ads, everything is fresh. They say they don’t even have a can opener.

Lunch was very good. Jan had a two-taco plate and I had a bowl of chicken tortilla soup and a pork nacho burrito.

Walking back across the street to Grauman’s we looked over the footprints in the courtyard. Here’s one for Roy Rogers and Trigger.

RoyRogers

We were supposed to leave on our tour at noon, but didn’t get picked up until about 12:30. The bus drove us over to the Warner Bros. studio to actually begin our tour.

The first thing we saw was the iconic Warner Bros. water tower.

WaterTower

It’s no longer a real water tower. It’s really just a sign now.

The first part of the tour took us through some of the many backlot sets.

Backlot 3

And here is a backlot used in the TV show ER.

It shows the EL train trestle and the ambulance entrance to the hospital.

Backlot 2

Unfortunately, with much of the really neat stuff, we were not allowed to take pictures.

We visited the set of one of our favorite shows, “Two and a Half Men”, which is on hiatus. It was interesting to see how different the sets look when you’re sitting in the audience instead of watching on TV.

Next, we watched an outdoor shot being filmed for a new TV show called “Pretty Little Liars” This is a pilot show developed from a series of young adult books.

Then we visited a car museum showing cars from movies and TV shows filmed at Warner Bros.

Here the Sunbeam Tiger used in the recent “Get Smart” movie

Get Smart

Here’s one version of the Batmobile.

Batmobile 1

And here’s another.

Batmobile 2

And here’s a scene showing the car from “Harry Potter”.

Harry Potter

Next, we saw the General Lee from the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV show. During the show’s run, they went through 257 of these.

General Lee

In the General Lee pic above, notice the green screen in the upper right. They used this to show us how they can insert something into a scene that’s not really there.

They photographed us in front of the screen and then put a movie scene in with us.

WarnerBrosPic

The last thing we saw was the complete “Central Perk” coffee house set from “Friends”, using all the original furniture and props.

Friends

We really enjoyed this behind-the-scenes type of tour. We had done one of the special effects tours at Disney World last year that showed all the stunts and tricks, so it was nice to see something different.

By 4 pm we were on our way home. Heading out this late I was worried about going-home traffic, but it wasn’t too bad. We were home by 5:30 and in from the night.


April 15, 2011

Prescott and the Dells . . .

(Sounds like a 60’s singing group, doesn’t it.)

BTW it’s ‘Prescut’, not Pres Scott.

Anyway, today was a road-trip day, so we got on the road about 10 am for the 50-mile trip to the Prescott and Prescott Valley area.

Getting there, we first headed out to the Granite Dells area.

Granite Dells 1

Granite Dells 2

Granite Dells 3

Granite Dells 4

Granite Dells 5

Granite Dells 6

The Dells are a 1.4 billion (that’s Billion with B) year-old formation that was upthrust from the volcanic magma underneath. It was a mixture of softer rock, along with the harder granite, all bubbling together. Over the past hundreds of millions of years, the softer rock has eroded away, leaving only the ‘bubbles’ of granite.

The granite rocks here also have an unusually high amount of uranium, so any houses in the area must be regularly checked for radon.

After leaving the Granite Dells area, and taking a drive through the local VA Hospital, looking at some of the old buildings left over from when it was Fort Whipple, an Army base, we drove through the downtown area, taking in the sights and checking out some of the many Victorian-styled houses in the downtown historic district.

This one was the home of Barry Goldwater’s parents.

Prescott House 1

By then it was lunchtime, so we headed back out to a Fuddruckers in the Prescott Valley area. Our burgers were great as usual, and although, we didn’t try them, they now have burgers made with Buffalo, Elk, Ostrich, and Wild Boar.

After lunch, we took in some of the many shops in the downtown area around the courthouse known as Whiskey Row. Whiskey Row got its name because in the late 1800’s it was home to over 40 saloons. It was also a notorious red-light district until the middle 1950’s. Sounds like a place where a guy could have a really good time.

Jan did find a very nice bead and stone Indian-styled necklace at one of the shops that we got a really good deal on since it was the end of the season.

Before leaving the downtown area, we drove around for a while, looking at more of these really beautiful homes.

Prescott House 2

Prescott House 3

I was wondering why you would find so many of these Victorian-styled houses out here in Arizona. It turns out that the area was originally settled by folks from the Northern and Mid-Western states, who brought their favorite architecture with them.

Prescott was the first capital of the Arizona Territory, starting in 1864. It was also the 3rd capital, but that’s another story.

Finally heading for home, we stopped off at the Sam’s Club in Prescott Valley, and then checked out the RV facilities at the local Elk’s Lodge. You can never tell when we might want to stay here.

Our last stop in the area was a very large Ace Hardware that we saw on our way into town.

Getting back into Camp Verde about 6:15, we made a DQ stop for a little frozen refreshment, before heading home about 7:30.

A long, but very fun day.

Tomorrow it’s another road trip. This time up to Flagstaff. Coming home, we’ll probably come back the longer, scenic route through Sedona.


April 15, 2012

Out In The Middle Of Nowhere!

Well, we’re parked at our first gate out in the middle of nowhere.

No Internet.

No cell phone.

Fun, fun, fun.

Will post a full blog tomorrow.


April 15, 2013

OK, Now I’m Confused . . .

Jan’s been wanting to have breakfast some morning, and today was the day. We decided to give Over Easy a try. A new entry in the “breakfast and lunch only” field, along with places like The Egg & I, Jimmy’s Egg, Le Peep, and others,

Over Easy

and it turns out to be a pretty good entry, at that.

Jan went old-school with scrambled eggs, bacon, and hash browns, but went a little wild with brioche toast, which she said was delicious.

Brioch French Toast

I, on the other hand, went with the Caramelized Banana and Pecan Brioche French Toast, and WOW, was it good. Hopefully, we’ll go back.

Now that’s just pitiful!

Mister in Small Box

I’ve mentioned before how much Mister likes boxes, especially Amazon boxes like this one. He likes to curl up in them, and he likes to snack on them. But sometimes it’s a futile attempt.

He did try with this one, though, a valiant effort, but he just won’t fit. He’d sit in it, get out, turn around, look at it, then try it again from the other direction. Finally, he just gave up and started chewing on it.

Whatever works, I guess.

It seems like every time I talk to Thousand Trails, I get more confused. I called today to first book the rest of our time here at Countryside and then book our two-week stay at Tahoe Valley RV Park in South Lake Tahoe from 5/16 to 5/30.

I had been told last week that I could stay two weeks here at Countryside at $3 a night and then I would have to be out of the park for a week before I could come back in.

As it turned out, being ‘out of the park’, just meant paying the $140 a week Passport America for one week, and then I could come back in for $3 a night until we leave the first of May.

Even though this was supposedly all set up, it still took about 15 minutes to get it finalized, and they still got me booked into the wrong park to start with.

Then I tried to book the two weeks at Tahoe Valley and ran into another problem. Although I could see Tahoe Valley in my TT park list online, I couldn’t access it or book it myself.

When this happened when I tried to book our stay here at Countryside, I was once again told that we could use any park that was on our list, but if I couldn’t do it online, just call TT and they would take care of it.

But when I tried today, I was told that I couldn’t stay at that park. When I said I had repeatedly been told by them that if I could see a park I could stay there, the lady went off for about 10 minutes, before coming back and saying, well, I COULD stay there, but only in a tent. WTH?

When I asked her what good was the list if it wasn’t correct, and how we could plan our travels under those circumstances, she didn’t really have an answer.

Finally, I gave up, and figured I’d try again tomorrow and hopefully get someone else who could be more helpful.

A little later I started going through the online list, trying to determine what parks I could and could not visit.

I played around for a while, checking out different areas of the Thousand Trails site. And then all of a sudden I could access the Tahoe Village Park. And the other ‘forbidden’ parks too.

But I thought I’d made a mistake when I started trying other things, going in and out of the program, and then suddenly it didn’t work anymore. And I hadn’t taken time to go ahead and book Tahoe Village while I could. But I keep on trying things and discovered the secret.

When you log into TT, you first see your profile page with your name, address, etc. A little further down the page, you find a drop-down box saying Select From Your Preserves. And note it says “Your” preserves.

When you select a regular TT park, you are taken to another page telling you about that particular park. Then up on the top left is a box that says Make A Reservation where you can do just that.

But if you first select a ‘forbidden’ park from the initial profile page, it doesn’t go anywhere. It merely refreshes the page and puts you right back where you started.

However on that same profile page, up on the left side, under the heading Quick Links, there is a Book A Reservation link at the very top. If you go here, you can select one of the ‘forbidden’ parks and book it. And I did.

And it’s not a Tent site either.

With that done, I went down to the office to pick up our Amazon package, and also be sure that when we change sites next Sunday, we go right back next door to #441 from #440. I’m glad I did because the computer had us moving to 507.

That taken care of,  I dropped off some mail, including the taxes, at the PO.

On the way home I stopped off to fill up the truck and discovered that overnight, unleaded had jumped 10 cents a gallon. It was $3.49 yesterday and $3.59 everywhere today.

But diesel stayed the same. ???

6000 Miles to Go:

2013 Trip Map

This map diagrams our travels for pretty much the rest of the year. Leaving here at Apache Junction on May 1st, this 6000 miles gets us back to Houston on August 16th, just in time for Landon’s 3rd birthday.

After that, we may gate guard for a few months before coming back to Houston right before Thanksgiving where we’ll spend the winter.

For dinner, we ended up at our favorite local Chinese Buffet, #1 Eastern Super Buffet. And it’s our favorite for a good reason. A really, really good reason, especially for the Hot & Sour Soup and the ribs.

Getting back to the rig, Jan and I headed out for our 1 mile+ walk before calling it a night.


April 15, 2014

Blood Moon Rising . . .

I spent some time outside last night getting some pictures of the Blood Moon Eclipse,

But the photos didn’t come out as well as I had hoped, for two reasons. First off, I couldn’t find either my monopod or my tripod. I suspect they got packed away when I was going through the bins. And second, it was 40 degrees outside which made it hard to hold the camera steady. And I can’t really operate it with gloves on.

Blood Moon 1

Blood Moon 2

About halfway through the eclipse, the red started coming out.

Blood Moon 3

Here it’s almost done. I couldn’t get a good photo of the full eclipse because there wasn’t enough light for my camera to focus on.

Blood Moon 4

I’m glad the weather cooperated in seeing this. And even better, there are 3 more coming in the next 18 months – Oct. 8, 2014, April 4, 2015, and Sept. 28, 2015.

To see all four and collect the entire set.

A little after 5pm Jan and I headed over to Vernon’s Kuntry Katfish for supper. We first ate here a couple of weeks ago when we were here at the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails for the first time. This time Jan had the Grilled Catfish Filets, and I had the Fried Catfish and Shrimp. The catfish is as good as the Sealand Seafood Restaurant over in La Grange, but I think the shrimp here is frozen, not fresh. It had that very slight mushy texture that’s usually a giveaway.

Vernon's Katfish Platter

We also got an order of their Fried Green Tomatoes. Again really good.

Afterward we drove across the road to the Wal-Mart to get the ingredients for the dishes we’re taking to Brandi’s Easter dinner this coming Sunday. By popular request, Jan’s fixing her Squash Casserole, and of course, her Sausage Balls. Those are the first things everyone asks. Is Jan bringing her Sausage Balls?

The recipes for both of these can be found under the Jan’s Favorite Recipes tab.


April 15, 2015

On Safari . . .

Since we were starting out early on our African safari today, we decided to have breakfast here at the park’s Homestyle Grill before heading out. Except for the funky biscuits, the food here is delicious, and very well done.

We headed out from the park about 9:15, but on our way, we had to make a detour and render unto Caesar by making a stop at the PO in Camp Verde to put the tax stuff in the mail. Ugh!

Then it was on to Out of Africa, getting there about 10am, leaving us plenty of time to catch a tram to the other side of the park for our 11am Unimog Adventure.

Out Of Africa Entrance

You’d think they could at least buy a vowel, or a consonant, at least.

The Unimog Tour is an upgrade from the standard Safari tour using an MB vehicle like this one, but ours had a longer passenger area.

Unimog_700x467

Erin, our guide, took us through the park, stopping off to feed many of the predators, usually just tidbits of meat using long tongs, of course.

Erin and the Hyenas

Erin and the Hyenas 2

Erin Feeding First Tiger

Erin Feeding Tiger

Erin Feeding Tiger 1

Erin Feeding Tiger 2

CATCH!

But rather than meat, the Ringed Tail Lemurs got grapes.

Erin Feeding the Lemurs

Next driving around to the other side, we passed Jericho, the 5000 pound Southern White rhino. The last time we were here in 2011 they had a 41 year Southern White rhino named Boom-Boom, but he died a couple of years ago.

Jericho the Rhino

Finally, we drove through double gates out into the Serengeti area that mimics the plains of Africa. Many of the animals here are out in the open and can, and do walk right up to the bus.

Asian Water Buffalo

Gemsbok

Zebras

OOA Watusi

OOA Camel 1

OOA Giraffe 1

OOA Giraffe 2

Finishing up our tour, we got a cold drink, and just sat and people-watched for a while before walking over to the Tiger Splash area a little early to get a good seat.

Tiger Splash 0

The Tiger Splash was our favorite attraction last time, and this visit was no different. It’s really amazing to see the handlers inside the enclosure, swimming, playing, and wrestling with these two big cats.

Tiger Splash 1

Tiger Splash 2

Tiger Splash 3

Tiger Splash 4

Tiger Splash 7

Tiger Splash 5

Tiger Splash 9

Tiger Splash 8

Tiger Splash 6

You can even play ‘Tiger Tug of War”.

To paraphrase Star Wars, “Let the Tiger win.”

One thing different about the Tiger Splash this time, is that afterward, for $5, you can feed a tiger yourself.

At least with a long stick, and a fence between you and the tiger. Probably a good thing.

Jan Tiger Feed 1

Jan Tiger Feed 2

Jan really enjoyed this part.

One of the reasons we picked today to visit is that Wednesday is one of the park’s predator-feeding days. And being Wednesday, it’s Turkey Day.

No dressing, just turkeys.

Whole or half ones, thrown over the fence.

Predator Feed 2

See, turkeys can fly!

Predator Feed 1

As the park guys drive slowly around the predator areas, you can follow them on foot or in a tram and watch the big animals get fed.

Another one of our favorites.

Finishing our visit a little after 4pm, we, of course, hit the gift shop. I thought about getting this enormous white tiger for Landon,

Gift Shop Tiger

but it was $595.00. And that didn’t even include the snake.

I was wondering how they shipped it, but a little closer reading revealed the trick. The tiger has a strong air bladder inside, when collapsed, allows the tiger to fit inside an 18” x 18” shipping box. And when it’s delivered, you use the included air pump to ‘pump it up’. Touching it, you would swear it’s completely solid. Neat!

Leaving the park about 4:30, we decided to end a great day with a great meal, and so dinner at La Fonda fit the bill.

Just as great as last time.

Tomorrow will be another stay-at-home day, if only to rest up from all the walking we did today.


April 15, 2016

A Daddy’s Girl . . .

Nothing much this morning except coffee and web stuff. It was kind of overcast and fairly cool all day, but no rain. But it’s coming.

About 4:30 Jan and I headed into Conroe for dinner at Golden Corral and a few errands. It’s been a few months since we’ve eaten at this one, and it’s always been a good one.

It was nice to find that they’ve added some new specials, including Sriracha Chicken Tenders and Garlic Parmesan Sirloin Steak. And the Hot Mango Habanero Chicken Wings were really good too. The Sriracha Tenders were especially good.

We’ve been to some really bad Corral’s around the country, so we’re very happy to have a good one in our area.

After dinner, we circled around to the PO to drop off the taxes (yeah, I know they’re not really due until Monday, but why wait) and some other letters. Then it was right across the street to the Goodwill store to drop off the clothes we had recently purged from our closets. Jan has a lot more room now. Me, not as much.

Then it was on to the nearby Sam’s Club to drop off a prescription and pick up a few things. But first I had to get a replacement Sam’s card. I guess the last time we were here, I didn’t get my card back. Customer Service checked to see if it had been turned in, but no luck. So they just made me a new one.

Our son Chris called a little after 7pm, wanting to know if we still loved him. Said he’d called around 10:30 this morning and it had gone straight to voicemail, and we hadn’t called him back.

But checking my phone I showed no call and no voice mail from him this morning. So I guess it’s Verizon that doesn’t love him. and not us.

He said Miss Piper is still loving her new apartment, and her job as an ER Tech at UTMB Hospital, so everything’s good on that front.

The park water was off most of the morning. Don’t know if it was scheduled or not, but we always keep our fresh water tank pretty full, so it wasn’t a problem. Just turned on the pump and lived with it. But it came back on later in the afternoon.

Speaking of water, it looks like we’ve got a lot of it coming our way in the next week or so, with thunderstorms forecast for just about every day for the next two weeks. It’s going to be a bumpy night . . , and day.

Karma’s still getting bigger. Of course, she’ll never be Mister-size, but she’s certainly not a scrawny little kitten anymore.

Karma 2_thumb[1]

She’s turned out to be a real Daddy’s Girl. She’ll jump up on my leg and then climb up on my shoulder and just snuggle down. But Jan only gets to hold her when I’m not around.

Tomorrow, probably more of the same.

Nice.


April 15, 2017

Beauty No More . . .

While Jan spent the morning reading, I worked on a new website for a client, and played around with our new Jetpack MiFi.

After lunch, later in the afternoon, I went outside to cut out the crimped section of my genset’s exhaust pipe.

The pipe was twisted toward the front of the rig, which could only have happened as the rig backed up and the pipe hung up on something. But then something caused it to be bent back to the rear, crimping the pipe.

Genset Tailpipe Cutting 1

I used my jigsaw with a metal blade to cut the pipe off above the crimp, the only problem being that the blade was a little too short to cut straight through so I had to rotate the saw around the pipe until I was done.

Genset Tailpipe Cutting 2

Then I took the crimped piece back to the picnic table and cut off the crimp.

Genset Tailpipe Cutting 3

Monday I’ll take the pipe down to Home Depot to find a coupling and maybe an extension piece to be sure the replacement extends out past the side of the coach like it’s supposed to vent the exhaust fumes.

When we bought our coach around the end of 2007 and picked it up on January 6, 2008, Jan immediately named it ‘Beauty’. And when I set up our first Cradlepoint AirCard router I named our WiFi SSID ‘Beauty’ and it’s been that way ever since.

Until now.

Our new WiFi SSID is now ‘Verizon-MiFi7730L-7901”. I think I can change it but I’ve already connected my Galaxy S5 phone, my desktop computer, my laptop computer, 4 Kindles, an Amazon Echo, an Amazon Dot, and a Galaxy Tab 4. So I’ll wait a while to change the SSID to ‘Beauty’  because I’ll have to do this all over again.

Jan is going to take over my old S5 to replace her LG Revere flip phone, with just changing the S5 to her old phone number all that’s needed.

Depending on the time of day, I  get somewhere between 10 and 25 Mbps. After getting used to pages coming up on 3G, they now seem almost instantaneous.

Very nice.


April 15, 2018

A Great Trip, But The Homecoming, Not So Much . . .

We both slept late this morning, probably because it was so cold, and the bed was so warm with our heated mattress pad. And even after we got up it was slow going, but finally, about noon we started getting ready for our afternoon drive.

I guess we weren’t as out of practice as we thought after our 5-month sojourn here at Petticoat Junction because we were pulling out about 5 minutes after 1.  But we didn’t get far. Not even out of the park.

I noticed that my Delorme Street Atlas program was not getting a signal from the GPS antenna. Now my normal remedy for this is to unplug the USB connector and then plug it back in, but when I did this I got the dreaded BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death).

BSOD2

This is what shows up when Windows runs into an error that it absolutely can’t handle, throws up its hands, and says “I’m out of here.”

So I pulled over to the side and spent about 10 minutes rebooting several times, all with the same result. So finally I just set up my Silverleaf Engine Monitor Display and did it without the GPS program.

Normally I have a display like this on the laptop that sits to my right.

Silverleaf 2

It gives me both audio and video route information, as well as expanded info on the rig and the engine. But now I’ll just have the computer display.

We finally left the park about 1:20 and got out on Hwy 6 south for about 10 miles until we crossed under I-45 and onto the feeder and headed back north. We did miss the first turn to get on the feeder, but apparently, a lot of people do because it comes up so fast on a blind curve. But they have a handy-dandy U-turn right down the road for people just like us.

We then had a 12-mile run at Interstate speeds up the FM517 exit at Dickinson. From here we had planned to turn left and take 517 all the way up to Alvin and then back down Hwy 6 to Santa Fe and the park.

But we had done 30 miles with absolutely no problems so we decided to just turn onto FM646 and make a straight run home.

Getting parked back in our site I quickly discovered that we had no power at the pedestal. And it seemed like the problem might be in the breaker. When you turned it on, it didn’t make that sharp ‘clunk’ that you expect, but just a dull ‘snap’.

Now normally when a breaker really goes bad, it has a spongy feel, but this one didn’t. But it just felt ‘funny’.

I texted the park owner about 3:15 who said he would be there shortly. But his definition of ‘shortly’ must be different than mine because he didn’t show up until about 6:30, 3 hours later.

He seemed pretty skeptical that a breaker that worked fine this morning would just die. But after measuring the voltage at the receptacle 2 or 3 times and taking the cover off, he finally admitted it was a bad breaker. And luckily he had a spare, so we did have to wait until tomorrow for him to pick one up. So about 7pm we finally had power.

Lucky for us was the fact that the temp never made it about 65° today so we were comfortable waiting without needing to run the generator for the AC’s.

Finishing up, our test drive, the purpose of all this today, went off without a hitch, with the rig running fine. So we’re all set for our Illinois/Alabama trip in June. The only other prep thing is to have the RV Mobile Lube guy come out in May to change out all the filters and fluids on the rig and generator and we’ll be good to go.


April 15, 2019

It’s In Ripper-Vision . . .

Strangely enough, I spent most of today at work ordering baby furniture. My client and his wife are fostering a two-week-old baby, so I’m apparently in charge of the Amazon Prime ordering.

I did get my tax forms in the mail today. Nothing like waiting until the last minute. I hate to give money to anyone before I have to, especially the government.

Following up on our LegalZoom wills, Jan and I will stop by my client’s tomorrow afternoon to get him and the office manager to witness our wills. Also, if after you do your will, download it, and then find a problem, you have 30 days to make any further updates or changes at no charge.

Right now I’m printing 3 copies of our wills and affidavits for tomorrow, and I’m really surprised that I’m able to do that. On our trip up to Kingsland last weekend my HP 4650 Inkjet printer took a header off the computer desk. Scared the barf of Karma (literally) because she was sleeping between our chairs about a foot away.

I had pulled it out to the side so I could access the printer’s document feeder and forgot to push it back into place. So I was really surprised when, after I popped the document feeder lid back in place and powered it up, it printed and scanned fine.

HP builds them tough, I guess.

As if I didn’t have enough to do right now, this weekend the front disc brakes on our Dodge Dakota started complaining, so I stopped off at O’Reilly’s on Saturday to order a set of ceramic pads, that I picked up on the way home from work today.

Ideally I’d wait until A.C. (After Cruise), but right now I’m still on the warning area of the worn-down pads and don’t want to start scarring the rotors. So it looks like Thursday will be the day.

But since my jack stands seem to have moved up to Kingsland with Chris, I’ll pick up a couple tomorrow at WalMart. Only $8.83 each, so not bad.

Ever since our rig’s blowout in May 2015, our windshield has leaked around the top outside corners. And it had nothing to do with the actual blowout.

When the repair place was replacing the dented diesel fuel tank, they lifted the front of the rig up about  4 feet using one of those vertical lift jacks. And when they let it back down they torqued the frame enough to crack the passenger-side glass. And it’s leaked ever since. But we didn’t discover it until months later when we were back in Texas and had our first heavy rain.

I had it looked at several times to have it resealed but it never fixed the problem. So after trying to caulk it a couple of times with no real luck, I got out the big guns.

Gorilla Tape Waterproof Patch and Seal Tape

Like Eternabond Tape, it has a peel-off release liner that covers a super-strength adhesive that once stuck in place, stays in place. And the outer black layer is waterproof and UV-resistant.

Rig Windshield Gorilla Taping

So I cut strips to fit, peeled off the liner, and stuck it in place. Looks pretty good too. You have to be up close to see the difference. Now I’m really looking forward to the next big rain.

I booked what is probably our last post-cruise London tour this morning. Any others we will probably wait until we’re in the area. Long-time friend and blog reader, Jim Hamm recommended that we check out one of the many Jack the Ripper tours.

Most of them seem to be in the morning or afternoon, but who wants to take a spooky Ripper tour in the daylight? So we picked one that starts at 7:30 at night.

Jack the Ripper Tour with RipperVision

And this one comes with Ripper-Vision.

Ripper-Vision

Apparently ‘Ripper-Vision’ is some sort of projector system that shows what the buildings and areas actually looked like at the time of the murders.

This still leaves us one completely free day in London, and, of course, the morning and afternoon of the Ripper Tour.


April 15, 2020

The Poop is in the Mail . . .

Well, as of this morning, our September 2020 Alaskan cruise has been canceled. Holland America says no more Alaska cruises for the rest of the year, so we have a couple of decisions to make.

We can, and will rebook the the same cruise for next year, but maybe for May 2021, rather than September 2021. On the plus side of this, we will get a 125% credit toward our replacement cruise, which we may use to upgrade our room from an Inside one to an Ocean View one. Or maybe some upgraded excursions. We’ll just have to see.

But our big decision is whether or not we’ll still head on up to Fairbanks anyway. We had planned to fly up a week before our cruise started so we spent extra time there, checking out our old haunts and favorite joints from our 5-month stay during the summer of 2008.

So one thought is that we go ahead and use our very cheap, but non-refundable plane tickets to spend our already-booked time in Fairbanks, and then book a new flight from Fairbanks to Vancouver, B.C. At that point we’ll spend a few days checking out Vancouver before flying home on our very cheap, but non-refundable plane tickets back to Houston.

That way we wouldn’t lose our tickets. But when I talked to Chantelle Nugent, our family friend/travel agent, she said that under the circumstances we may be able to rebook them for our new cruise for free, or maybe a small charge.

A possible problem with doing the Fairbanks-only trip, is that we don’t know what will actually be open when we’re there. With all the cruises canceled, there may not be a lot of the tourist stuff open. Many of the attractions and hotels are actually owned by the cruise lines, and the lines have already said that they will all be closed too. So we’ll just have to see how it goes.

I got an email from our family physician yesterday saying that they had received a limited number of CoVid-19 Antibody Tests, and to call them if I was interested.

So now I have an appointment for Monday morning to get checked to see if I had the WuFlu back in February like I thought. They said the test only takes 15-20 minutes, so I should know before I leave. The cost with Medicare is $50, so if I’m positive, we’ll get Jan tested to see if she had it too, but was asymptomatic.

Jan and I sent off our Cologuard colon cancer tests this morning. Though it’s certainly better than a full-blown colonoscopy, it was a lot more involved than the one we did a few years ago. But at least it’s done for another couple of years.

So the poop’s in the mail.

People have started receiving their Stimulus Checks, with the first bunch going out through the IRS, based on tax refunds, in the last few days. Supposedly if you’re receiving Social Security and have direct deposit, you will receive yours in the next bunch.

Or if you’re really lucky you might be like this guy who, hoping his Stimulus Check had come in, checked his ATM and found it had.

Eight Million Stimulus Check

But along with his check. he apparently got a whole lot of other people’s too. Unfortunately, when he checked with the bank the next morning, it had disappeared.

Bummer!


April 15, 2021

From Start To Finish . . .

Looking forward to our get-together, Jan and I were on our way up to the Spring Cypress area to the El Palenque Mexican Restaurant where we were meeting up with long-time friends Janice and Dave Evans, and Debi and Ed Hurlburt for lunch at noon.

Our Garmin GPS said it would take us about an hour, but with Houston traffic, you never know. Normally I would check Waze to see if we needed to take the Hardy Toll road bypass around downtown Houston, but today I decided to live dangerously and just wing it. And it all worked out.

This time.

It was really good to see everyone, especially Janice and Dave, since it’s been a couple of years since we’ve seen them. And of course, it’s always good to see Debi and Ed too.

Everyone had something different I think, with Jan having their Rancho Grande, a grilled chicken breast with grilled shrimp all smothered in cheese.

El Palenque Rancho Grande

And if you’ve got to be ‘smothered’, cheese is the way to go. Plus Jan said it was really good.

I decided to try the Garden Fajitas, with beef, chicken, shrimp, bacon, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and zucchini, also smothered in cheese.

El Palenque Garden Fajitas

Really, really delicious, and after I’d eaten all I could hold, I had even more left over for, well, leftovers.

We all had a great time catching up, so as usual lunch was over two hours long, but it seemed like a lot less since the company was so good.

El Palenque Bunch 20210415

So good, in fact, that we made a date for another get-together about a month from now. Already looking forward to it.

That’s Dave and Janice on the left, and Ed, my Jan, and Debi on the right.

As we were leaving the parking lot, we discovered that it seems that Batman has upgraded his Batmobile.

El Palenque Batman Bus

I wonder if he now just has Robin drive him from crime to crime, or maybe Alfred, I guess.

Coming home was also a smooth trip, with only a couple of slowdowns. and after a HEB and a Cowboy Coffee stop, we were home a little before 4pm.

A very nice day from start to finish.


April 15, 2023

It’s A Go!

Lunch today was up in Webster at Texas Huddle once again. With Juana taking her usual great care of us, we got our usual.

Which she always remembers exactly what we get.

For Jan, that’s her Keto (Bunless) Mushroom Bacon Cheese Burger and a Side Salad.

Texas Huddle Side Salad and Keto Burger 20230415

I got the Five Wings (All Drums)  done with their Flaming Raspberry sauce along with Celery and their really good homemade Jalapeno Ranch for a dipping sauce.

Texas Huddle Wings 20230415

Then it was on back down to our area for our weekly WalMart visit.

Well, this past Friday, SpaceX finally received a 5-Year FAA Launch License for Starship down in Boca Chica, TX.

They had to jump through a lot of hoops, mostly environmental, it seems. That’s because SpaceX’s Starbase is built in the middle of a couple of Wildlife areas. And in fact, several environmental groups are still trying to get a judge to cancel the license.

A bunch of us were discussing this on another forum I visit, I posted that Starbase was really no different than Cape Kennedy (Canaveral). Here’s what I posted.

Starting in the early 60’s, Cape Canaveral was built in the middle of several big ‘wildlife’ areas. Of course back then they were called ‘swamps’ and were the perfect places to launch big containers of fuel into the sky that were probably going to blow up, at least in the early days. Probably wouldn’t be able to build there today.

Elon Musk said he figures this first flight has about a 50% chance of success.

“I’m not saying it will get to orbit, but I am guaranteeing excitement,” Musk said in an interview at the Morgan Stanley Conference on March 7, adding: “Won’t be boring!”

The Starship Launch Window starts Monday 17th, running from 7am to 9:30am, with possible launches through the 24th.

The video link below will be live-streaming the launch whenever it happens.

There is also scheduled the first Orbital Launch of the Falcon Heavy (that’s the one with two boosters that come back and land) on Tuesday the 18th from Cape Kennedy, with the Launch Window starting at 7:29pm EDT.