Monthly Archives: October 2018


Happy Halloween!

In the Halloween theme, Brandi sent over a couple of photos of her family’s costumes.

Here’s Landon in his school’s winning costume parade.

Landon's Robot Parade

I do like the unicorn right in front of him, though it looks like she’s thrown a shoe.

For her part, Brandi and her friend’s won the ‘Most Entertaining’ prize at her office for her Mariachi Band.

Brandi's Halloween Marachi Band

I was wondering why she wanted me to bring my/our trumpet when we came up to Katy on Sunday. In fact, it’s kind of a family heirloom.

I got this Olds trumpet in 1960 when I join the Junior High Band at Foley High School in Alabama. Then years later, I played it in high school, and a couple of college bands. Normally played guitar, but some songs like ‘Ring of Fire’ just need a trumpet.

Then Brandi took up the horn in high school and carried on the tradition.

So, is Landon next?

After putting it on hold Monday and Tuesday, today’s rainy, gloomy weather was perfect for a big batch of Jan’s famous chili.

Jan's Chili 3

Tomorrow we’re getting together with Miss Piper for dinner and then we’ll go by and pick up her Schwinn Mongoose bike from the Bike Barn where I left it Saturday for a flat tire repair and a tune-up.

As expected, I didn’t hear anything from Snider Transmission today, so I called Enterprise Rental and extended the Malibu for another week. Besides I’m having too much fun driving it.

If we didn’t need more room to carry stuff, I might actually consider getting a Malibu for our new toad. Blue Ox does make a baseplate for it and the Dinghy Guide does say the 2018 model is towable. But only the 1.5 L engine without Active Shutters.

I had to Google what Active Shutters are, but now that I know I don’t understand why it would make any difference if the car had them or not.

Active Shutters are a feature that opens and closes ‘shutters’, kind of like blinds behind the grille and in front of the radiator. When the system senses that the outside temps aren’t too hot, or the system is not under heavy AC use, it closes the shutters to make the car more aerodynamically smooth, increasing fuel mileage.

Otherwise, in hot temps, they stay open.

Of course, back in the day, we did this with some cardboard and duct tape.

But as I said, I don’t understand what all this would have to do with towing. Otherwise, all you have to do to tow it is to remove a couple of fuses.

But however this works, it does seem to. So far I’m getting 31.1 mpg, about twice what I get in the Dakota.

Thought for the Day: 

If you’re buying ‘Smart Water’ for $4 a bottle, it’s probably not working.


Decisions, Decisions . . .

Really looking forward to our El Bosque get-together with RV friends, we were out the door about 11 am, a little earlier than needed because I wanted to make a quick stopover at my client’s in Webster to go over some things.

Then it was back on I-45 for the ~70 mile run up to Conroe and El Bosque. And believe me, our 2018 Chevy Malibu rental car makes the trip a LOT more fun. I’ve been really impressed by the handling and acceleration of this car. Especially in the mid-range.

When you punch it at 40mph to accelerate up to 70 to merge into traffic, it’s really startling. I’m assuming it has the standard engine, which means it’s a 1.5 liter, 163hp turbo 4 cylinder with 184 lb-ft of torque, and a six speed automatic.

But whatever it has, it really moves out. I even made Jan squeal a couple of times.

There are only a couple of things I don’t like about it though, both small. First, the Cruise Control buttons are just not very well placed. Unlike our Dodge Dakota, I have to move my hands on the steering wheel to either Set or Resume the wanted speed.

The other one is the Auto Stop feature. It’s supposed to shut the engine off while you are sitting at a stop light, and then seamlessly start up again when you take your foot off the brake and go for the accelerator.

But it doesn’t. It stumbles, stutters, and hesitates, making you think it’s going to stall. It never does, but it’s annoying. Of course it could just be out of adjustment. You can slip it into Neutral and it won’t Auto Stop, but then remembering to put it back in Drive doesn’t always happen.

After a fun trip, we got there about 12:45 to find Ed and Debi Hurlburt waiting for us. Among other things, Ed runs the RV Tips Facebook group, now with over 134,000 members. If you’re not a member, why not?

And Debi, not to be outdone, runs Debi’s RV Cooking on FB, with over 13,000 members.

We were still getting our hugs in when Wil and Cyndy Olsen showed up. After getting getting everyone acquainted, we asked the hostess to seat us in a back corner since we were prone to get rowdy. Luckily she listened to us.

Jan ordered the Shrimp, with Chicken and Beef Fajitas, kind of unusual for her.

El Bosque Shrimp Chicken Beef Platter

Although these were listed as Jumbo Gulf Shrimp, they looked more like the Rock Shrimp we saw so much recently in Florida. But whatever, Jan said they were delicious.

I thought I’d try out their version of the Beef Fajita Taco Salad.

El Bosque Beef Fajita Taco Salad

And although it was pretty good, it didn’t compare to the ones I’ve been getting recently at Los Ramirez Mexican Restaurant

Los Ramirez Beef Fajita Taco Salad 2

And at $11.95 it was over twice as expensive as the Los Ramirez version.

But the food was more than outdone by the friends.

El Bosque Group 2

That’s Wil and Cyndy closest to the camera, and then Ed and Debi. And then, of course, my Jan.

Finally, we said our goodbyes to everyone, and Jan and I headed south for home, getting back a little after 5pm.

Decisions, Decisions . . .

Snider Transmission called me this morning with an update on our Dodge Dakota problems. And as I thought, after 282,000+ miles, the transmission is just plain worn out and will need a complete rebuild. But he said the rest of the truck seems to be in pretty good shape.

Told him I’d call him back and Jan and I talked it over.

First off, if we don’t do the rebuild, we’ve got a dead truck. There’s no way to get it back the way it was, i.e. able to drive it around at 40mph, unless it’s rebuilt. So then we’ve got to find something new to drive, something towable.

When we started looking for a possible toad in 2007, we spent about 2 months before we found the Dakota. So we’d be looking at 2 MONTHS of car rental, which would total a large percentage of what the transmission rebuild is going to cost.

The problem with finding a replacement is three-fold. Finding something we want/like, finding something we want/like that’s towable, and finding something we want/like that’s towable, and that Blue Ox has a base plate available for.

So there’s a lot of back and forth between and, the Motorhome Magazine Dinghy Towing Guides, and the Blue Ox website. All in all, very time consuming.

I think we’ve pretty much resigned ourselves that we’ll be replacing the Dakota in the near term, but getting the transmission fixed will give us some breathing room while we’re looking, and we can take our time finding something, without rushing into it.

If we later use the Dakota as a trade-in, we probably won’t get all the money out of it that we put in on the rebuild, but I think the total equation balances out in our favor in the long run.

So I called Snider back and gave him the go-ahead. He said it might be ready by Friday, but probably Monday. So I’ll get the Malibu for another week. More fun!

Thought for the Day: 

Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Halloween. I guess they don’t appreciate random people coming up to their doors and ringing the bell.


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