Monthly Archives: September 2020

Re-Tired . . .

When we got home from Galveston on Monday evening, I noticed that my right rear tire on the truck had a tiny bit of cord showing in one small spot. So I told Jan that I’d take it by NTB this weekend to get a new tire.

Well, the tire had other ideas.

Just a couple of minutes I got on I-45 heading into my client’s this morning, the tire came apart. In fact it looked like the tread itself just peeled off like you see on semi tire recaps. Luckily for me, I thought, when I got pulled over onto the narrow shoulder, I was just opposite the aforementioned NTB tire store, which was just across the feeder from me.

Thing this would be easy, I put in a call to NTB to ask if they could send over a tire guy to put on my spare. But I was quickly told that due to insurance regs, they couldn’t do that. They were only allowed to work on vehicles on their lot.


So why didn’t I just change it myself, you might ask? Well, two reasons.

One, I was wearing my only pair of nice slacks, left over from our Anniversary day, and Two, the large fiberboard mats I normally keep in the back of the truck just for times like this, were underneath the rig for my ongoing oil leak repair. The problem is not actually changing the tire, it’s getting down on your hands and knees to struggle with getting the spare lowered down from underneath the truck bed.

So I resigned myself to calling Good Sam Roadside Assistance for a tire change. And apparently you no longer get to actually talk to anyone. When you call their automated system sends you a link to an app where you do it all yourself.

Now that’s real customer service.

But about 20 minutes later, before I had heard anything back from Good Sam, two guys pulled in behind me in a pickup truck and asked if I needed help. When I said, “Yes”, they went right to work.

One of them use my tool to start lowering the spare while the other one bought out their floor jack and lug wrench. He started by loosening the lugs and then moved jack under the truck and started raising up. This, just in time for the first guy to now be able to pull the spare out from under the truck.

Then in about another 15 minutes, they had the old tire off, the spare on, and the carcass in the back of the truck.

I45 Trie Change

Like well-oiled NASCAR pit crew.

They seemed very happy with the $20 each I gave them, and said they seemed to be awfully well-prepared for this, with the floor jack, big lug wrench, and their coordinated changeout. That’s when they sheepishly admitted that this is how they make their living.

They cruise the interstate helping people out. They never ask for money, but just depend on people’s good nature and gratitude. When pressed, they said that almost everyone gives them something, and they’ve even had people insist following to an ATM. And others have mailed checks. They said they make enough to make it worthwhile.

They carry several 5 gallon cans of gas and tools for simple pairs, and they often ferry people to their destinations.

Nice guys.

And I got to work only about an hour late.


Jan’s sister Debbie and her husband Jim are down visiting from Illinois

September 30, 2010

Penzey’s and Katz’s . . .

We picked up Jim and Debbie at the motel about 10 am and headed downtown to The Heights area to visit Penzey’s Spices.

Penzey’s has pretty much every spice and seasoning you can think of, and some you probably didn’t know even existed. Jan and Debbie had a blast running around looking at and showing things to each other. Jan also had a shopping list from our daughter-in-law Linda, who also loves the place.

Eighty dollars later we were out the door and very well spiced. It was a little early for lunch so we drove around The Heights area for a while looking at all the neat old houses.

Finally, we headed down to the Montrose area to eat lunch at Katz’s Deli, a New York Jewish-style deli right here in Houston. We’ve eaten here several times and have always enjoyed it. They have the best Rueben you’ve ever wrapped your mouth around. And that can be difficult because the sandwich is about 4 inches high. And delicious, too.

Katz’s Deli has been famous in New York since 1888, and about 10 years a family member decided to bring the New York deli experience to Houston. And it’s been a booming success ever since.

A funny tidbit is that the Katz’s Deli in New York was the site of the famous scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan proves to Billy Crystal that women can successfully “fake it”, and Estelle Reiner says “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Leaving Katz’s we took the long way home to show Jim and Debbie the Astrodome area and other parts of Houston. Coming back to this area we took a detour through the Kemah Boardwalk before getting back to the rig about 3:30 pm.

Then about 5 we drove up to Webster to have dinner at Genghis Grill, a Mongolian BBQ place that we’ve eaten at many times.

When you’re seated, you’re given a stainless-steel bowl and directed to the food line.

Your first selection is your meat, or meats. They have beef, chicken, pork, sausage, pepperoni, ham, shrimp, scallops, tofu, etc. Take your pick.

Genghis Meat

Next, you pick your choice of spices, from hot to spicy to savory.Genghis Spices

Then it’s on to the Veggie area. This photo shows only about a third of what’s available. You just keep piling everything in your bowl.

Genghis Veggies

Finally, you have your pick of sauces, some sweet, some tart, and some very, very spicy. Your sauce selections go in a separate small bowl.

Genghis Sauces

Then you hand your food bowl and your sauce bowl into the guy at the grill, and tell him what kind of rice or pasta you want. He gives you a number and you head back to your table. A few minutes later your meal shows up.

You can either have a single bowl, or for $3 more, you can go back as often as you want. But one bowl has always filled us up.

Heading back we dropped Jim and Debbie off at the motel and got back to the rig about 7:15.

Tomorrow we’re going to take a boat cruise on Clear Lake and then take Jim and Debbie to Outrigger’s for lunch.


Thought for the Day:

“I don’t like country music, but I don’t mean to denigrate those who do. And, for the people who like country music, denigrate means ‘put down’.” — Bob Newhart

Gate Guarding in North Zulch in east Texas

September 30, 2014

Ganging Up . . .

Well, this afternoon they finished massaging our dirt wall, the one I was hoping would help keep the north winds off us this November.  Before it was high enough that we could only see the very top of the red fluid trailers.

412 Dirt Wall

Plus it was also high enough to block the bright light from one of the big floodlight towers, but that’s no more also. Ah, well, it’s the life of a gate guard.

Probably 95% of the people who come through the gate are really nice, really friendly. But there’s always a few that are just grouchy. For them, inside every dark cloud, there’s just another, darker cloud.

And what they’re usually mad about is that they have to sign in at two gates to get here instead of just one. And the reason is that there are two separate landowners, two separate oil leases, and two separate companies along this road.

So they have to login at the first gate up the road, come another 1/2 mile or so, and then log in here. Normally, by the time they stop at the gate, I’ve already got their tag number (except those people from OK or LA who don’t have front tags), and then all I need is their first and last name, the company they work for, and what site they’re going to. In addition, I will also note how many other people are in the vehicle with a +1, +3, etc.

This usually takes about 15 – 20 seconds, but the grouches turn the whole process into a minute or two, because they won’t shut up long enough to give me the info I need. So I just stand there and stare at them until they finally wind down, and then I get my info and send them on their way.

Now, in more and more cases, I recognize their tag number and know I have their info in my computer database, (except for those OK and LA folks) and then all I need to know is what site they’re going to. That might take 5 seconds, unless they stop to chat.

At this point everyone who comes through our gate goes into the database. Right now I have 489 vehicles and 142 companies listed which makes it pretty easy to get people through the gate quickly, which it seems they appreciate.

Well, except for the grouches.

With them I take it really, really slow, and take extra special care that I’ve logged them in absolutely perfectly. Got to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ with them.

The other thing I’ve noticed about gate traffic is that they gang up on you. I can set here for 30 minutes and see nobody, and then all of a sudden I’ve got 6 vehicles coming in and three trying to leave, and a traffic jam right here at the gate.

The only thing I can figure is that there’s a big staging area out on the highway somewhere, where everyone gathers, and when they’ve got a big bunch of vehicles lined up, someone waves the green flag and off they go.

That’s the only thing that makes sense.

I got really excited about 4pm when our first catering truck showed up. Rupp’s BBQ, with a big BBQ grill trailer behind. I wasn’t nearly as excited when they left at 7pm with nary a word, or a meal.

Oh, well, this is what we had for dinner anyway. A big plate of Rudy’s BBQ and all the BBQ accessories.

Rudy's Dinner

Almost certainly better than Rupp’s. Not like we’ll ever know, apparently. In fact, I Googled Rupp’s BBQ and found absolutely no info for them in this area. Just places like Wisconsin and Michigan. Doubt they drove that far.

Brandi sent over a photo of Landon at his latest T-Ball game.

Landon at T-Ball

Looks like he’s really getting into it.

Jan and I are still trying to line up a relief guard to give us a day off. We’ve talked to several people who might do it, but no one’s given us a date yet.

Hopefully soon.

Last up, sometimes Mister comes out with me when I come on shift at 11pm. Then after he checks things out, just curls up and goes to sleep.

Mister at Night

Must be nice. But somebody has to work to buy his Meow Mix


Thought for the Day:

If at first you don’t succeed, put it out for beta test.

More Gate Guarding near Carthage, TX

September 30, 2015

Bits and Pieces . . .

I say Bits and Pieces because nothing much happened today, so this blog is a little of this and a little of that.

First off, I want to thank everyone for the many great suggestions about fixing my rig door handle. Several people suggested I just drill through the wall and use machine bolts and decorative nuts on the inside. This one I had thought of, and it wouldn’t be a problem for the top two bolts. But the bottom three would come out right in the console where all the switches, wiring, and battery disconnects are. So I’m somewhat hesitant  to try that, except as a last resort.

I think the best one, which came from 3 or 4 readers, follows up on my Plastic Wood or JB Weld idea, but uses Gorilla Glue instead. Another reader suggested I fill in the hole with toothpicks soaked in Gorilla Glue, to provide some extra support, and I think this is the way I’ll go. I’ve done something like this before, repairing door hinge screw holes, using Elmer’s Carpenter Glue and dowel rods, but it didn’t occur to me to use the idea here. That’s what I have smart readers for.

I did check my several-years old bottle of Gorilla Glue and found it hard as a rock, so a new bottle (and toothpicks) are on my list for Friday’s Wal-Mart run.

Thanks again, guys.


What the #$^*&* is up with Starbucks? Or at least with the Starbucks phone app?

Last night I got a text message from Verizon saying that I had hit 75% of my data allowance for this month. Now, since I only have 4GB of data on my phone, this happens sometime. But usually I don’t go much over 2GB.

My plan starts over on the 8th of the month, so I just figured I’d hold off on any large updates like Angry Birds, or a couple of other games until then. But then this morning I got another text message saying I had now used 90% of my 4GB.


So I went into Settings/Data Usage on my phone to check things out.  And the culprit was immediately obvious since it was at the top of the list. While things like Gmail, Kindle, and Dropbox were .09 GB, .14 GB, and .12 GB, respectively, my Starbucks app had used 1.6 GB, almost half my monthly total, in the last two days, and it was still doing more in the background.

So the Starbucks app is gone. I only used it occasionally to find a nearby Starbucks anyway, but OK Google will do that just fine.

A lot of you have been snapping up the KJL Cree LED 900 lumens Flashlight I told you about, and I mean a lot. As I said, one reader bought 10. Thanks.

Flashlight 900 lumens

It’s a great Coyote Silencer.

I’ve mentioned before that I regularly hear coyotes yipping and yelping in the area, and about 3am this morning, they were at it again. But this time, rather than sounding a pretty good distance away, they sounded like they were right next door.

Coyote Pond

About 50 yards away, just over a small rise, there’s a good sized pond, one of several around here. And it sounded like the coyotes were right there. So after listening to them going at it for about 30 seconds, I swept my light back and forth in that direction, looking for glowing eyes. No eyes, but it was like I had flipped a switch.

The coyotes went dead silent and I never heard another yip or yelp the rest of the morning. Who knew?


I finally got around to replacing the battery in my Galaxy S5 phone this afternoon. It wasn’t holding a charge all day like it used to, so I included a new one in my last Amazon order. But then I kind of forgot about it.

But today I noticed it was getting hot in my hand when I talked for very long, and even hotter when I plugged it into the charger. So not wanting my head to burst into flames at some point, I thought this would be a good time to change it out.

As I expected, it took longer to get the Otterbox case off than to actually replace the battery, but that’s a good thing. If it’s hard for me to get into the phone, then it’s hard for anything else like dust or water to get in too.

So now, hopefully, I’m good for another 18 months or so.


And lastly, the magic elixir strikes again.

We’ve got one of those Holmes bullet-shaped turbo fans that we use in the rig and on the gate, but the speed control button on the base had gotten very difficult to use. You had to really push on it to get it to work, and then sometime it would skip speeds, or just shut off. So this was a job for Strike Hold.

Strike Hold

I first saw this stuff at an FMCA rally up in Goshen, IN a couple of years ago, and was really astonished to see the vendor dip his hand holding a running electric drill into a vat of the stuff, along with a lit light bulb.

It was originally developed for cleaning and lubricating guns for the military, but it’s also great doing the same for any electrical connectors, too. I’ve used it to resurrect a lot of electronic stuff, including charging port on Jan’s Kindle Paperwhite, and the power connector on my ASUS laptop.

It cleans off rust and corrosion, and leaves a dry lubricating film on metal parts, protecting against moisture.

And as I had hoped, I sprayed it on the switch button, let it soak in for a while, and the problem was fixed.

Try it. It’s good for what ails you. Or your electrical stuff, anyway.


Thought for the Day:

“When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.” – Winston Churchill


At The Thousand Trails park in Conroe, TX

September 30, 2016

A Rest Up Day . . .

I got my first real full night’s sleep last night and I’m about back to normal.

One thing the Rest Up Day consisted of, was no washer repairs. I decided to take the day off from that as well. But tomorrow it’s back at it.

About 2pm I drove down to the Ranger’s Office to settle up and get our car pass and the gate code, and then it was on to Wal-Mart to drop off a couple of prescriptions resulting from Jan’s recent ER visit., and pick up a couple of things.

Back at the rig, I spent the afternoon working on a new website for a client, setting up the Shopping Cart on PayPal. and trying out some different design ideas. I’ll be previewing it here as soon as it’s done and online. It’s a really neat product.

Besides the washer repair, it looks like I’ve got another thing on my plate. The other day when Jan was following me in the truck, she noticed that my right turn signal wasn’t working on the rig. The last time I checked them, which was about five weeks ago, on our way to our gate, they were working fine.

So, figuring it was just a bulb I removed the lens cover and pulled the bulb, which turned out to be a standard #1156. But the bulb looked good, and checking with my meter showed it was good.

So hopefully it’s just a dirty socket that a squirt of Strike-Hold will fix. I know the signal is getting back there, because the turn signals on the truck work fine, and both are fed from the same line.

Strangely enough, if this had been a bad bulb, it would have been the very first bad one since we bought the coach in December 2007. I have replaced a couple of the side marker lights, but never headlights or signal lights, front or rear. Of course they’ll all go out now.

A number of you have been asking for updated Karma pics so here’s a couple.

From being pretty much scrawny runt, she’s bulked to a full size kitty. I guess we feed her better than the mouse/grasshopper diet she was on when she was feral.

Here’s one with her ‘laser’ eyes,

Karma with Laser Eyes

and here’s another one.

Karma with No Laser Eyes

She’s actually bigger than she looks in these photos, but I haven’t had a chance to weigh her since we had her spayed back in May. Then she weighed 7# 9oz, but she’s a good bit more than that now, possibly twice as much.

One final thing, when you leave a comment, be sure and leave your real email address. I don’t do anything with them, and they don’t show up on the blog. But I usually try to reply to you both on the blog and via email, so it helps.

This means you, Orlyn. The email address you left didn’t work.

Thought for the Day:

“To lose 
one parent may be 
regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.” —Oscar Wilde

An Anniversary Surprise

September 30, 2017

Cruising Down The River . . .

For our 50th Anniversary I gave Jan two gifts, one small one that you’ve already seen – the thermal mug that  displays a cat when hot liquid is poured in,

Cat Mug 1

Cat Mug 2

and then the big one.

In 1997 on our 30th anniversary, I gave Jan an Holland American Alaskan Cruise/Tour, something that she had been wanting for a while. As an Air Force brat she had lived in both Fairbanks and Anchorage back in the late 1950’s and always wanted to go back. And we did make that trip in May of 1998.

So this time I gave her another cruise that she’s always wanted to take – a Viking River Cruise in Europe.



So we spent today looking over various websites. Turns that there’s more than half a dozen different companies that do European River Cruises besides Viking.

However we did narrow things down to either a Rhine River Cruise or a Danube River Cruise. These two rivers cover what most people think of when they think of river cruises , the fairytale castles high on the hill, the large cathedrals and monasteries, and the scenic rivers winding through age-old forests.

We’re probably going to go about a year from now, in September or October. And besides picking a cruise line, a river, and a date, we also want to schedule a side trip either before or after our cruise. Jan has also always wanted to see Versailles, so we’ll make time for that with a couple of days in Paris. And hopefully, we’ll also have time for a visit to the Louvre, on my wish list.

I did finish up the wiring of the remote control system for my exterior lights. So now I can turn on the outside lights when we pull up to the rig after dark. And I also wired in the front interior lights inside the rig. So one click of the remote turns on both outside and inside lights.

While I was finishing up on the remote stuff, a young lady walked by and we started talking. Turns she and her husband are real RV newbies, only on the road for about a week and a half. They’re from Wisconsin, and have come down to Texas to work, she as an Occupational Therapist, and her husband as a Social Worker.

Our short conversation turned in to a couple of hours, as Ed Hurlburt came by walking one of their dogs. Then later Debi came out with the other dog, wondering what happened to Ed. So I called Jan outside, and then a little later, Dawn’s husband showed up, wondering what had happened to her.

Ed, Debi, Jan and I spent time giving Dawn as much RVing info as she could absorb, and then some. Hopefully it will help.

Tomorrow we’ll be moving back to the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails for the next two weeks, but since it’s only about a 45 minute trip we won’t leave until about 1pm. So Jan and I, along with Debi and Ed Hurlburt, are all heading back over to Coldspring and the Paradise Grill to have the Turkey and Dressing Sunday Special about 11.

The Word of the Day is:  Jollification

Thought for the Day:

Very Funny!

At The Texas Renaissance Fair

September 30, 2018

Winged Warriors and Chicken Ladies . . .

Jan and I were out the rig door this morning about 8:45, heading for the Texas Renaissance Festival up in Plantersville, about 100 miles north of here.

We were supposed to meet up with Brandi, Lowell, and Landon, but they decided to try again another weekend.

We did make a Valero stop here in Santa Fe for gas and then got to the Festival about 10:45. We learned last year to pay the extra buck for Preferred Parking, which includes a golf cart ride to and from your vehicle to the front gate..

Much more important for the trip back to your car at the end of the day, believe me.

Since we hadn’t had breakfast . . . or coffee this morning, pretty much our first stop inside the gate was to get something to eat.

Jan went with a new treat for her, Avocado Toast.

TexasRenFest 2018 Avocado Toast

A new treat, and now her new favorite.

I started with my Renfest fav, Sausage on a Stick,while Jan got her protein fix with Chicken on a Stick.

TexasRenFest 2018 Chicken and Sausage

While we finished eating, we watched the Clan Tinker Circus troop. Made up of the Tinker brothers and sisters, they do magic tricks, and other acrobatic feats.

They picked this poor lady volunteer out of the audience to juggle knives around her,

TexasRenFest 2018 Clan Tinker 1

and later did a neat fire trick.

TexasRenFest 2018 Clan Tinker 2

We pretty walked the place from one end to the other, with Jan checking out the many shops, but only buying some new lotions and creams from her favorite shop.

Later we split a Funnel Cake from the Black Forest Inn area.

TexasRenFest 2018 Funnel Cake

The perfect amount of sweetie goodness.

We also checked out our favorite Birds of Prey area with this King Vulture.

TexasRenFest 2018 King Vulture

Not sure if he’s trained to do this, he was sunning himself, or he died a few years ago, and then they had him stuffed and put a small motor in his head. But whatever, he just stands there like this and let’s his picture be taken.

I did notice though that he kept checking out any small kids around him, and drooling.

One of the fun things about the RenFest is people-watching. You never know who, or what, you’ll see.

Anybody from Lady Godiva,

TexasRenFest Lady Godiva

to the Chicken Girl,

TexasRenFest 2018 Chicken Lady

to a Winged Warrior Princess.

TexasRenFest 2016 12

We really lucked up on the weather today. Yesterday it was forecast for 90% chance of rain, but that percentage started dropping this morning, and finally went away. This left us with beautiful weather all day and not a drop of rain.

So much for The Weather Channel forecasts.

By the time we had finished seeing everything we wanted to see, we found ourselves at the far end of the park, a VERY long way from the exit. So we hired a rickshaw to carry us to the front gate, giving all the peons our ‘royal’ wave as our driver (puller?) yelled at people to get out of the way because important people were coming through.

We finally headed out about 3:15, getting home about 5. And not a drop of rain.

Tomorrow it’s back to work for one day until we head out for Florida on Wednesday. I’ve still got some things to finished up on Tuesday, but not a lot.

Thought for the Day:

I know from personal experience that a mad hornet is much faster than an old Ford tractor.

September 30, 2019

SpaceShips, Old and New . . .

Today it was back into the fray trying to figure out why our new Win10 machine won’t connect to one machine on our three machine network. And of course, it’s the one I need to connect to, the UPS Shipping machine.

I’ve posted some inquiries on several of the Tech Forums,  but I’ve heard nothing back yet. But I’ll keep trying.

I do have a couple of other ideas that I’ll try on Wednesday.

I put in a call to local Cummins Dealer up on the North Loop this afternoon, and ended up leaving a voicemail for the Service Manager about my oil leak problem. But I haven’t heard back yet.

I still plan to mount the oil filter back in place and lower the rig to see if I can reach the adapter by hand and see if I can pull, push, or twist something to release the adapter. But that will have to wait until Thursday. Or next weekend.

I came across a couple of new photos of the SpaceX’s Starship Mk1 down in Boca Chica, TX

Now that’s a spaceship

SpaceX Starship Mk1


SpaceX Starship Mk1-2

Makes you think of those space ships from the 1950’s

Destination Moon

I did come across this trailer for a new version of H.G. Well’s ‘War of the Worlds”. Unlike the previous movie versions, this three part series is set in England in the 1890’s, just like the original book.

It really looks good, and should be out on BBC later this fall.

And if you let the trailer run, it moves on to the movie theater trailer for the 1953 version of WOTW starring Gene Barry. Check it out.

Thought For The Day:

“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself, with desire for what its monstrous laws have made monstrous and unlawful.” – Oscar Wilde


On To The Next 53 . . .

First off, Jan and I want to thank everyone for the dozens of emails, Facebook posts, and blog comments congratulations on our 53rd Anniversary yesterday.

To celebrate we spent the afternoon down in Galveston, first driving along the Seawall several miles to the west, before coming back and stopping off at Murdoch’s Souvenirs right on the Gulf. Then after spending an hour or so just driving up and down the residential streets, checking out all the many beautiful homes, finally ending up at the Seawall Saltgrass Steakhouse for dinner about 4:30.

My Beautiful, Sexy Cougar.

Galveston Saltgrass 53rd Anniversary Dinner Jan

Unfortunately, a neighboring diner got a shot of both of us. Sorry.

Galveston Saltgrass 53rd Anniversary Dinner

As far as Murdoch’s, it started out in the late 1800’s as a bathhouse. They rented bathing suits and provided showers for tourist visiting the beach. At its peak, it had 542 shower / changing rooms, 251 for women and 291 for men.

Destroyed in the Great 1900 Hurricane, it was rebuilt after that hurricane, and other storms in 1909 and 1915.

After the 1910 rebuild, two things happened. Mr. William J. Guyette Sr opened a gift shop in the bathhouse, and then Gaido’s Seafood Restaurant opened there the next year.

Gaido’s still exists further down the Seawall, and is considered one of the best restaurants in Galveston.

Murdochs 3




The bathhouse lasted until 1961 when it was finally destroyed by Hurricane Carla. Since the days of bathhouses were pretty much over, it was rebuilt as two separate buildings that housed gift shops, both named Murdoch’s.

In 2005 the two separate buildings were joined by a walkway / breezeway that allows you sit out and enjoy the ocean view.

Murdochs 4

On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike destroyed Murdoch’s once again.

Murdochs 1

Murdochs 2

But not to be overcome, a little over a year later, Murdoch’s reopened with an exact copy of the old one.

Murdochs 6

Because the state will not allow anyone to sink new pilings into the beach, and some of the pre-storm ones were destroyed by Ike, they actually reused pilings from the original 1890’s bathhouse.

We’ve been visiting Murdoch’s for over 30 years, and it’s nice to see it’s still around.

We always enjoy driving around to check out all the many remodeled homes, some of them very striking,

Galveston Home 1

and some of them really standing out.

Galveston Home 2

But of course, some of them still need a little TLC.

Or a lot as the case may be.

Galvestion House 1

A really great time, and getting a start on the next 53.

I checked the South Dakota Absentee Voting website and found that our Absentee Ballot requests had been received yesterday, and our actual ballots lso went back in the mail yesterday.

I had expected to be back under the rig drilling and tapping the flange mounts for the Helicoil installation. But despite receiving several Amazon orders in yesterday, the one I really needed, the 24’ drill bit extension, did not come in, but did finally show up today.

So it looks like I’ll be back at work under the rig on Thursday.

Thought For The Day:

“Isn’t it great to live in a society where the penalty for lying to a congressman can be up to 30 years in jail, but the penalty for a congressman lying to you is another two years in office.”  Peter Schmuck

September 29, 2010

Remember the Alamo. . .

Brandi had a doctor’s appointment up in the Memorial City area, so Jan and Debbie rode up with her to take care of Landon, and of course, do some shopping at Memorial City Mall.

While Jim vegged out at the motel, I did some errands, and then finished up some computer stuff with a client.

Brandi, Jan, and Debbie got back home about 2:30, and I showed up a little later. We all got some Landon time until about 5 pm.

Obligatory photo of Landon getting burped.

Landon getting burped

At 5 pm we drove down to the motel, picked up Jim, and then came back up the road to Floyd’s Cajun Seafood, our favorite local Cajun place. I love their seafood gumbo and boudin, and Jan says their chicken fried chicken with sweet potato fries is fantastic. And as usual, the meal was great. We’ve been eating here for years and have never had a bad meal.

The ‘Floyd’ in Floyd’s is Floyd Landry, one of the Landry boys that started the Landry’s Seafood Restaurant chain. They sold the chain years ago and then went out and started their own new restaurants. Floyd owns two here in the Clear Lake area and one in Beaumont, TX.

And now back to our day trip to San Antonio and the Alamo. We picked up Jim and Debbie at the motel about 7 pm and hit the road. But, on the way, we stopped at the Buc-ee’s at the Luling exit on I-10.

Buc-ee’s goes all out on their stores. They just enlarged this one again, adding to the store inside, and doubling the size of the bathrooms. Outside, they made the parking lot much bigger, and can now accommodate many more buses and RV’s.

Inside, the store has very large gift shop, in-house candy factory, coffee/cappuccino bar, a bakery, a deli, and a small grocery store. On one side they have an outdoor area that sells firewood, and deer and animal feed. Jan loves their kolaches, and I always get a coffee for the road.

Bucees 1

Their gas station has 32 pumps, and, everyone had diesel. Their store in Madisonville, TX has 40 pumps.

Bucees 2

We got to the Alamo a little after 11 and were able to park only a block away. Luckily it wasn’t a big tourist day.

You always see this view of the Alamo, but if you’ve never been there, it’s hard to imagine that it’s right in downtown San Antonio.

Alamo 1

Here’s what’s right across the street.

Alamo 2

And here’s a wide view.  Note that there are no tall buildings near the Alamo. By law, no building can be built that ever casts a shadow on the Alamo.

The tower on the right is the Tower of the Americas, built for Hemisfair 68, the first world’s fair in the southwest US. It has a revolving restaurant at the top that Jan and I ate at several years ago.

Alamo 3

This is the back side of the ‘chapel’, the front of which is the familiar façade that everyone knows as the “Alamo”.

The Alamo was originally a Spanish Catholic mission, but the chapel was actually just a small part of  the mission grounds.

Alamo 4

Alamo 5

The well in the center of this photo dates from the mission era, but the large oak tree is only about 140 years old, planted about 35 years after the battle, which took place in February and March of 1836.

Alamo Well

Alamo Tree

Leaving the hallowed ground of the Alamo, we walked across the street to San Antonio’s other famous landmark, the Riverwalk.

Formed originally as a flood control project by the WPA in the 1930’s by concreting and damming the San Antonio River, the Riverwalk has been extended several times to access new hotels and tourist area such as Hemisfair 68.

The city of San Antonio was actually named for the river, and not the other way around. The river was named after Saint Anthony, the patron saint of the area.

Riverwalk 1

This is the display in a window of one of the many high-end shops along, and adjacent to the Riverwalk. It’s all made of glass.

Riverwalk Glass

Most of these trees predate the Riverwalk, but were kept for their beauty as it was built around them.

Riverwalk 2

We took a barge tour of the river, which lasts about 45 minutes and gives a lot of history of the Riverwalk and the area. The many vistas are really scenic, with new sights around every bend of the river.

Riverwalk Barge

Riverwalk 3

Riverwalk 4

Riverwalk 5

After our barge ride, we ate a late lunch at the Hard Rock café right on the Riverwalk, although we ate inside to be a little cooler.

Riverwalk Hard Rock Cafe

We were back on the road to Houston a little after 3 and got back home about 7:30 pm, with a stop at Buc-ee’s on the way, of course.

It was a long day, but we had a great time, so it was worth it.

More tomorrow…

Thought for the Day:

The past, while much studied, is little read

September 29, 2012

Dragon Boy . . .

Well, someone’s all ready for Halloween.

Landon’s having so much fun Brandi will be lucky to get him out of it between now and Halloween.

Landon Dragon 3

Landon Dragon 4

Today was another of those dreary, overcast, do-nothing days that we like so much. Jan and I spent most of it catching up on some old TV shows on our DVR, some of them dating back to our gate guarding time. I watched very little TV during that period, spending most of my time either outside on the gate, or inside sleeping. And I was surprised how little I actually missed it.

As we were leaving Texas Roadhouse after dinner we saw this beautiful 1949 Hudson in the parking lot. Unfortunately this nighttime photo doesn’t really do it justice. But it really is a beautiful car.

1949 Hudson

Thought for the Day:

“Moderation is a good thing. If you don’t overdo it.” – Hagar the Viking

September 29, 2014

Taking a Walk . . .

Scotty, our Gate Guard Services support tech, showed up today with water, diesel, and . . . the dreaded memo. The one that ‘officially’ notifies us of the new uniform of the day, I.e. hot, ugly, uncomfortable blue shirt, and boring, dark blue pants.

We had to tell them how many and what size shirts we want , and then sign it acknowledging we’d seen the memo. Bummer.

But supposedly there may be some sort of mini-revolt going on about this at Corporate with a lot of gate guards complaining. So we’ll see what happens.

Last night as one of the rig hands came back in after his week off, we were talking about his rig, and fracking. He works on the rig about 1/2 mile down the road from us, and I was wondering about when they were going to skid it to the 2nd hole.

He said they were supposed to do it a few days ago while he was off. I said I didn’t think that they’d moved it, since no big cranes had come in. He then told me proudly that his rig didn’t need cranes. It walked to the next hole all by itself.

Wow! I knew there were rigs that could do this, but I thought they were pretty new and not in much use yet. So it looks like I was mistaken.

I did find this video of another rig showing how it actually walks. It can go forward and backwards, sidestep, and turn in place. And it does this carrying a full rack of drill pipe and weighing 2.5 million pounds. That’s 1250 tons.

WOW again!

He also confirmed what I’d been told about them not wanting to frack too close to active drill sites, so between his rig and ours, that may delay fracking here. Hopefully, maybe, until we’re gone for the year.

Later this afternoon a big excavator showed up and started tearing down our windbreak.

Big Backhoe 1

Big Backhoe 2

I was looking forward to having that high wall of dirt to help shield us some from the north winds we’ll start getting in November. Cold north winds.

All I can say is that this guy must have a really good union, because he’d work for about 10 minutes and then take a 10 minute break, leaning back in the cab, and putting his feet up, as you can see here.

Big Backhoe Feet Up

Of course I could be kind and say his hydraulic pump was overheating and he had to stop and let it cool off.

I could say that, but it’s not really in my nature.

Thought for the Day: is like Facebook for dead people. (thanks, Stahlie)

September 29, 2015

Another Repair Job . . .

Still in progress.

About 11:30 I headed in to Carthage to the Ace Hardware to get some larger screws for another repair attempt on my lighted door handle.

Rig Door Handle

When the repair place in Prescott removed it last June to replace the wiring leading to the light inside after it damaged by our blowout, they stripped out several of the 5 screws that hold it on. This of course put extra stress on the remaining ones and they started coming loose too.

The ones that are holding the handle on now are #12 Bevel Head Sheet Metal Screws, so I thought I’d try #14’s to see if they would work.

Of course, from the Ace Hardware parking lot I could see the Whataburger, so a stop there to bring back lunch was in order on my way home.

Later, after lunch and I was on the gate, I tried out the larger screws . . . with mixed results. I did have to drill out the holes in the handle slightly for the larger screws, but this was no problem.

But the problem was that only one new screw tightened down. The rest still just spun. So now a little further inspection was in order. Using a flashlight and a right angle probe, it looked like the backing for the handle is a block of wood. This is what the screws fastened into behind the fiberglass siding. And it looks like the wood block has split vertically, which is why the screws aren’t holding.

So at this point I’m in a quandary. I can’t use larger screws because the heads would be too large to recess into the handle. I can’t use see how I can use any type of molly or wing bolt because there’s no room for it to expand, and I think that trying to use some sort of plastic or lead anchor would just cause the wood to split more.

I’m still mulling this over, but one idea I’m thinking about is to squirt as much Plastic Wood into the holes as I can, let it dry thoroughly, then drill a starter hole and try screwing into that.

Or similarly, try to fill the holes with one of those JB Weld Steel products, then drill and tap it, and then use machine bolts instead of sheet metal screws.

In other words, it’s problem still in work.

Anyone have any ideas? Let me know.


Thought for the Day:

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals. – Sir Winston Churchill

September 29, 2016

Washed Up . . .

Normally on a travel day I’m up at around 6:30, but since we have only have a 70 mile, two hour drive over to the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, and we didn’t need to leave until the 11am checkout time here at the park, I slept in . . . all the way until 8:30.

About 10:30 I pulled the rig forward enough to allow us to hitch up, and we pulled out of the Timber Ridge RV Park a little before 11, and headed southish on Hwy 6, down to Navasota, where we turned east on SR 105. 105 would have taken us right into Conroe, but we turned north on FM149 to cross over the top of Lake Conroe and then down around to the RV Park.

We got checked in and drove over to the ‘G’ section to find a spot. As we turned down a row we’ve stayed on before and a took a small curve, Jan said, “There’s one, and, OH, there’s Janice and Dave Evans right next door.” And it was.

While I was getting us unhitched, parked and set up, Jan and Janice were planning our evening dining pleasure, which turned out to be El Bosque, our favorite local Mexican place, one that we’ve eaten at for years, even following them when they moved to a new location a couple of years ago.

But that wasn’t until 4:30 or so, so by 2pm it was time for a nice nap, so I headed back to the bedroom for my nap, while Jan stayed out on the sofa for hers. A bout 4:30 Jan and I walked next door to meet up with Janice and Dave and headed out for El Bosque for dinner.

Jan got the Pollo ala Parrilla,

El Bosque Pollo ala Parilla

while Janice and I both got the Beef Fajitas Poblanas.

El Bosque Fajita Polbanos 3

I don’t remember what Dave got, but it sure looked good, with Beef, Chicken, Shrimp,and a lot of other stuff.

And as usual with RV’ers, we spent a lot of time catching on everyone’s travels, talking long after we were finished eating.

Coming home we made a Dollar Tree stop. It’s amazing how you can go in there and buy a big bag of stuff, and it comes to only $7.32.

Wrapping up, we once again have washer problems. Jan did a wash load yesterday morning with no problems, but when she did a second load in the afternoon, it started washing and then stopped, with the timer not advancing. And even when you manually advanced the knob, it just washed. The only position that did anything else was the OFF position.

The first thing I thought of was of course the timer itself. And although like the water pump I replaced earlier this year, the timers are no longer available, I stripped a spare out of Nick’s old Splendide when he bought Miss Terry a new one.

So this afternoon, pre-nap, I put a call into Westland Sales out in Washington state. They’re the go-to people for all things Splendide, and have been a big help to me in the past. And so it was this time.

When I described the problem, the tech guy immediately said “you’ve got a pump problem, and they’re not available any more.” I told him I knew that because I had replace my old one with a new one from a different make of washer back in February.

He said, “Well you’ve got the same problem again.:” Well THAT wasn’t very helpful.

He said that at the end of the wash cycle, the pump is supposed to start up and drain the water out. This is the signal to the washer to start letting water back in for the rinse cycle.

But if the pump doesn’t pump, then the washer stays in the wash cycle waiting for the water to empty out.

So once again, I’ve got a pump problem. And since it’s not leaking, that means it hasn’t come loose, and I don’t hear the pump running, which means it’s probably not clogged with a lost sock or something. But, just in case I did ask Jan if she was missing a sock or anything, and she said No, that they all matched up.

So I’m left with either the new pump has gone bad, or it’s not getting power for some reason, like a loose wire or a bad relay.

This is how I kludged a new pump into the washer. This is the new pump after I had it plumbed in.

New Washer Pump Install 7

Then I mounted it on the crossbrace running diagonally across the bottom of the washer.

New Washer Pump Install 8

And this is what it looked like after was tied down and hooked up.

New Washer Pump Mounting 2

So yeah, it looks a little kludgey (well, a lot kludgey), but it’s worked great for over 6 months and saved me over $1000 dollars from buying a new one.]

BTW here is a graphic of the online prices for a new Splendide.

Splendide Prices

Let’s see. Should I buy a new one from PPL, or should I buy it from Camping World for only $172 more. Decisions, decisions.

So even though the problem could be something as simple as a loose wire. I’ve still got to drain the washer, pull it out of its cabinet, and then turn it upside down in the middle of the kitchen to take a look at the problem.

And then hope we don’t get another gate in the middle of all this.

Thought for the Day:

“Cats are definitely smarter than dogs. You won’t see eight cats pulling a sled through foot deep snow.

September 29, 2017

Catfish and Gators . . .

About 2:30 I went outside to start on the rewiring of my toad  taillight system.

Somewhere along the line during our trip back to Houston after our breakdown in Louisiana last month, I think a road gator popped up between the rig and the toad and shredded the wiring harness between the two.

In case you’re wondering what a road gator is, it’s not this.

Road Gator Real

This is a gator in the road.

No, this is a road gator.

Road Gator

It’s a large piece of tire tread spun off a large truck tire, just waiting to leap up and rip into something, kind of like this.

Road Gator Damage

I also heard of rigs getting air, brake and fuel lines torn out and fuel tanks punctured. So I guess I got off lucky.

First I cut off the old wire and then spliced the new 5 pin connector into the harness, the four light wires, a 12 volt charge wire, and a secondary chassis ground.

The charge wire runs from the rig engine batteries to the truck’s battery, keeping it charged during our trips. This is needed because the Brake Buddy braking system works off the truck battery, and if we’re doing a lot of stop and go driving, sometimes we would arrive at our RV Park to find a dead battery in the truck. But no longer.

So first I cut off the old 4 pin plug and then spliced in the new 5 pin plug and cable.

Toad Tailight Repair 1

Next I worked the wire loom along the cabling and then tied it in place using tywraps.

Toad Tailight Repair 2

Finishing up, I wrapped it around the tow bar connection which is where it stows away when the truck is not being toad.

Toad Tailight Repair 3

Tomorrow I plan on doing the rig end of the cable.

About 4:30 we headed over to Coldspring to meet up again with Debi and Ed Hurlburt at the Paradise Grill.

Paradise Grill Debi and Ed

We were there for their Friday Night Special, All You Can Eat Fried Catfish. And it was well worth the trip.

We all had the Catfish, Jan’s regular and mine crispy.

Paradise Grill Catfish

Both were delicious.

And we wrapped it all up with a piece of their made-in-house pie, Chocolate for Jan and Bread Pudding for me. All very good, and we had enough to bring home.

Paradise Grill Chocolate Pie

Paradise Grill Bread Pudding

And it sounds like we’ll be coming back here for their Turkey and Dressing on Sunday morning before we head back over to Lake Conroe.

The Word of the Day is:  holus-bolus

Thought for the Day:

“Nearly all men can stand adversity…to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln

September 29, 2018

Morays and Memberships . . .

Following up on yesterday’s anniversary celebration, Jan and I had dinner last night at the Aquarium Restaurant on the Kemah Boardwalk.

We’ve eaten a number of times over the years, but not since we started RV’ing in 2008.

Kemah Aquarium

The place is built around a 50,000 gallon seawater aquarium filled with everything from sharks to moray eels.

Kemah Aquarium 2

Kemah Aquarium Moray Eel

We started off with a dozen Oysters On The Half-Shell. We’re both always careful to count them so the other one doesn’t get an extra one. And of course we have to have a lot of horseradish to mix in with our red sauce.

Kemah Aquarium Oysters

Next up was one of our favorite Wedge Salads.

Kemah Aquarium Wedge Salad

Good, but not as good as other places that use the Blue Cheese crumbles. This one just used what seemed to be Ranch Dressing, and not as good.

For the entrée, we split the Broiled Captain’s Platter, which had a little bit of everything.

Kemah Aquarium Broiled Captain's Platter

The place wasn’t busy on a rainy Friday night, so we took our time and just enjoyed the ambiance. We also spent some time talking about our upcoming trips, and what we still needed to get done beforehand.

Kemah Aquarium Jan and Greg

We also spend some time talking about our future, and have decided to go for another 51 years together.

So far, so good.

Today, I spent the morning out in the drizzling rain, taking care of a number of pre-trip chores like adding air to the rig tires, cleaning up around the rig, and getting some yard stuff ready to take over to the storage room while we’re gone.

I also got two of the old rig batteries loaded into the truck to drop off at Lowe’s this afternoon so I could be my $20 chore charge back.

We finally headed out about 2pm with our first stop at Denny’s for lunch/breakfast. and then on over to the nearby Lowe’s to drop off the batteries.

Then heading up to Webster, we made a stop at the Rudy’s BBQ so I could pick up a bottle of their coarse ground pepper, before looping back around on the feeder at Bay Area Blvd to stop off and get a Costco membership. Our new Costco is set to open Oct. 19th, but the membership store is located in a nearby Baybrook Mall storefront.

We brought Costco membership years ago when we were out in Yuma, but let if drop because there weren’t any locations near us here in Houston. But now with one so close we’ll give it a try again.

Coming back toward home, we made a stop at the Santa Fe O’Reilly’s Auto Parts to get new bulbs for the rig’s rear turn signals and the license plate lights for the truck. And after a quick PO stop, we were home for the night by 6pm.

Tomorrow, we’re heading up to the Magnolia area to take in the Texas Renaissance Festival. Family Brandi, Lowell, and Landon, and Friend’s Chantelle, Eric, and Maddox will probably be meeting up also.

It will probably be kind of wet since there’s a 80% change of rain, but we won’t melt.

We’re just not that sweet.

Thought for the Day:

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.

September 29, 2019

Thanks To Everyone . . .

Thanks to everyone for all the kind words and congratulations on our 52nd Anniversary. We really appreciate it.

We headed up to Katy about 10am to meet up with Brandi, Lowell, and Master Landon to celebrate Brand’s much delayed Birthday get-together. She’s been traveling so much recently that it’s sometime hard to match our schedules up.

We had planned to have brunch at the nearby Black Walnut Café but when we got there we found a line out the door, so we moved on. And ended up at a nearby Mexican place, El Asador. Which turned out to be really, really good.

They had eaten right after they closed on their new house last year, but hadn’t made it back since.

Jan had the Beef Taco Salad with Queso, unusual in that it wasn’t in a taco shell, and it used a Spring Mix salad mix , but it was delicious.

El Asador Taco Beef Taco Salad

I had the same salad, but the Beef Fajita version, but with Ranch along with the Queso.

El Asador Beef Fajita Taco Salad

Really, really good.

El Asador Brandi Lowell Landon

And so was getting together with everyone.

This evening we got to check out two more of the new TV shows.

Carol’s Second Act is the latest from Patricia Heaton of Everyone Loves Raymond and The Middle fame. She plays a woman who retired after teaching for many years, and then decides t o become a doctor. The show starts with her first day as a new resident, with this pilot episode spent largely establishing the many characters.

A slow start, but it has a lot of potential.

We really liked the other one, The Unicorn, starring Walter Goggins of Justified and The Shield fame. He plays a widower with two young daughters who’s wife died from cancer a year ago.

His friends are now trying to get him back in the dating world. And he’s a hot commodity, known as that rarest of rare animals, a Unicorn, because of his widower status. And when his family talks him into signing up on a dating app, he’s overwhelmed handling his new popularity, as well trying to stay on top of his daughters growing up too fast.

Check it out.

Thought For The Day:

Marriage: An Endless Sleepover With Your Favorite Weirdo.



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