Daily Archives: October 14, 2020

The Devil’s Due . . .

Spent today finishing up our taxes so I can the U.S. Government a lot of money tomorrow.

Still No Ballots.



Up In Elkhart

October 14, 2009

Legends of the Fall…

Today was another “tour the countryside day”.

We headed north at the crack of Noon up to Edwardsburg, MI for our first stop.  We’re only about a mile and a half from the Michigan border here in Elkhart.  In fact, because of this, the area is called ‘Michiana’

Our first stop was a restaurant called Legends that we had seen earlier. Turned out to be pretty good, too.

After lunch we drove over to Lunker’s Sporting Goods, one of the largest fishing, hunting and outdoor stores in the country. They had a little bit of everything.  Neat store!

And since they had a moose,  Jan had to get her picture taken with it.



And they had a nice bear too.

Lunker Bear

Next we headed east about 25 miles out through the country to While Pigeon, MI and Bontrager’s RV Surplus.  I love wandering through these places.  I think you could probably build your own RV with all the parts they have here.  Of course, since all the parts are from different models and different years, you’d end up with a ‘FrankenRV”.

Now we headed south back into Indiana and on to Goshen, IN.  That’s where the nearest Dunkin Donuts is and Jan wanted a pumpkin latte and a pumpkin muffin.

They were out of pumpkin muffins, but did have pumpkin donuts, so we muddled through.

Heading toward home, we stopped off at another natural foods store, still looking for Aunt Gussie’s Sugar Free cookies.  And again with no luck.

Coming home, we stopped off at the park office to pick up our mail. Then we settled in for the night. And it looks to be another cold one.

Our daughter Brandi called to say Hi and it was good to talk to her.  Only about 6 weeks until we see her, and Chris, Linda, and Piper, our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter.

Tomorrow night they’re talking about the possibility of snow showers!

I want my Global Warming and I want it now!

Thought For The Day:

Back Home In Houston For The Year

October 14, 2010

Old Friends and Cracker Barrel . . .

The cooler weather at night means good sleeping weather, consequently Jan and I slept until about 9 am.

Then about 12:30 pm we headed up to Clear Lake to drop Jan off at Brandi’s for a little Landon time, and so Brandi could get a little extra rest.

In the meantime, I went over to work with a client for a few hours.

I then picked Jan up about 4:30 and we drove down to League City to meet our friend’s Bob and Maria Sutton for dinner at Cracker Barrel.

It’s Thursday so it’s Jan’s favorite Turkey and Dressing, and I enjoyed a vegetable plate, with Green Beans, Pinto Beans, Turnip Greens, and Sweet Potato Casserole.

All good.

We got home about 7:15 pm and that was it for the day.

We’re still hoping to see the guy in our old site pull up stakes in the next day or so. We should know something by Saturday.

More tomorrow…

Thought for the Day:

”Personally I’m always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.” – Sir Winston Churchill


Up In Elkhart Again

October 14, 2011

The Bad Weather Fairy . . .

Despite the forecast, the BWF (Bad Weather Fairy) was so hung over this morning that he forgot to make it rain. So the sun was out, and although it was a little cloudy, all in all, it was a nice day.

After coffee and lunch I headed back over to the RV/MH Hall of Fame to get the last of the new computers configured for them. I’ll probably go back on Saturday afternoon to install them on everyone’s desk so I won’t disturb their work

I got back to the park about 4:30 and then we quickly piled into the truck and headed off for dinner at Ryan’s. Love that fried chicken!

A few minutes after we got there, Al Hesselbart, the RV Historian at the Hall of Fame, joined us. And as usual we spent a good while after we finished eating, just talking.

We got back to the rig a little after 7, and then about 9 the BWF finally sobered up and the rain started coming down hard, and kept coming down hard for the next couple of hours, hard enough to knock out the satellite a couple of times.

Things Every RV’er should have:

The last couple of days I’ve talked about things RV’ers need, and this is another one.

A VOM, or Volt-Ohm Meter. Every rig should have one, or more. And they’re not expensive.

This one costs about $5 on Amazon.


They’re good for a myriad of uses. Checking for a blown fuse, checking to see if a light bulb is bad, checking to see if voltage is getting to a switch or socket. I even used one under the rig to find a broken wire on my starter when my Cummins diesel wouldn’t crank.

Get one today!

Thought for the Day:

Some of Murphy’s Other Laws – Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don’t have film.

On A Gate In East Texas

October 14, 2014

The Problematic One . . .

Well, we have a new gate record, at least for us. 332 vehicles came through our gate today. Our previous best was last year’s frac gate, with a total of 291. It does keep us on our toes.

After previously making some snide comments over the last few weeks about the lack of ‘gate food’, we’ve now got it coming out our ears, or rather our fridge. Three days, three meals each. And since each one can feed us both, we’ve actually got 6 days of food. And of course we’ve still got some Rudy’s BBQ that our friends Pat and Judy Benson brought on their visit this past Sunday.

I did establish that the name of the restaurant that’s delivering the food is not Oma’s like I thought, or Anna’s like Jan thought, but it’s Ama’s Mexican Restaurant, apparently out of Hearne, TX. And the Yelp reviews are really good. And so is their food.

We had their seafood pasta this evening, with corn on the cob and bread. Really good, with large chunks of shrimp and fish, and maybe some chicken thrown in for good measure.

Ama's Pasta

And it looks like tomorrow night’s meal will be beef fajitas with all the fixin’s. YUM!

I had a new dog visit last night. All white, and looks like a Great Pyrenees.

New Dog

He’s very friendly and came right over when I called. But then suddenly Old Dog showed up and didn’t like me having anything to do with New Dog. He started growling, and even through he’s smaller, he ran New Dog off.

For a while. But later in the early morning, New Dog came back to visit. But he must have been playing somewhere because he came back pretty muddy.

Around 12:30 this afternoon, our rig (oil, not RV) had a ‘mud explosion’, as in drilling mud. They apparently blew a seal and mud went everywhere, even over here where we are, getting a fine splatter on the logs and on Jan’s glasses.

Glad it was just mud.

Then later tonight, a little before midnight, a young lady came through the gate in her car. She had a French-sounding name and slight French accent, and when I ask her where she was going, she pointed at our rig, and said, “Is that the problematic one?”

I laughed and said, “Well, that’s a diplomatic way of putting it. Maybe snakebit or cursed might be better.”

She laughed and said, “Well, I’m going there.”  She came out a couple of hours later, so I guess she got everything fixed.

Charlotte, our relief guard, called today to confirm gate sitting for us on the 25th of October, which also happens to be Jan’s birthday. So that works out perfectly.

Looking forward to it.


Thought for the Day:

Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs.


More Gate Guarding

October 14, 2015

Where The Heck Did This Come From?

For the last week or so, our temps have stayed in the high 80’s/low 90’s, with night temps in the high 50’s/low 60’s. Really nice overall.

Then last night, it dropped into the high 40’s, still OK. I just turned on the 2nd heater. But then today, out of nowhere, the high was 97, and tomorrow’s high is supposed to be 98 degrees. But our night temps are supposed to stay in the low 50’s. What the Heck?

If that holds, it will be the hottest day we’ve had since we got here the 25th of August. And even stranger is that after this two-day spike, the next few day’s go 89, 81, 80, 82, etc., all the way through next week, when it drops into the high 70’s. Now that’s the Fall I’m used to.

Apparently my stubborn, lazy Mule is now a dead Mule. It has just quit working all together.  As I said the other day, after I swapped receivers, it was working fine. Then all of a sudden, it just died. I went out this afternoon, replaced the batteries, and moved the sensor a little closer to the street. But nothing.

“It’s dead, Jim”

BTW, in all the Star Trek TOS (The Original Series) episodes, Bones never actually says the words, “He’s dead, Jim”. Just like Bogie never actually says, “Play it again, Sam.” in Casablanca.

My new one should be in tomorrow (Thursday), but I probably won’t get it until Friday when the landowner’s son brings by our order.

Besides my new Mighty Mule Driveway Alarm system, I’ve got a few other goodies coming too.

The first one is a new power jack for my ASUS X53E laptop.

ASUS Power Jack

It’s become very hard to get the power plug in just the right position so it will charge the battery, so a replacement is in order. But the laptop has to be almost completely disassembled to get to the jack. And then the old one has to be unsoldered and the new one soldered back in.

Because something like this can end up being all day job, I’ll probably just try to keep the old one working until we’re off the gate, but have the replacement on hand in case it dies completely before then.

I also ordered another 3 pack of these lighted 8” extension cords.

Lighted Extension Plugs

Power Strip Liberator Lighted Extension Cord 3-Pack

Besides being a solution to the problem of a wall-wart power supply taking up two plug spaces, I keep one of these in my rig’s electrical bay as a pedestal power indicator. I plug one into the 20 amp socket and let it hang outside the pedestal cover. This way, if the power goes off in the rig, I can just look outside to see if it’s a park problem before I check further.

And of course, I ordered another of those great KJL Cree LED 900 lumens Flashlights before the price goes up again.

Flashlight 900 lumens

That was the original order I placed on Tuesday to be here on Thursday. But then this afternoon I was playing with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 camera. We’ve had this one since the beginning of 2009 and it’s been a real workhorse. But a couple of months ago it fell off the seat (I say it jumped) and broke off the little button that lets you look at the picture you just took on the display screen.

The FZ28 is 10MP with an 18X optical and 4X digital zoom, really good specs for 7 years ago (I didn’t realize it had been that long until I counted it up). It replaced an earlier Lumix model that I had for 3 or 4 years before that.

So I decided to check Amazon for a replacement, once again looking at the Panasonic Lumix line since I’d had such great luck with them. And this is what I decided on.

Lumix DMC FZ70 camera

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ70 16.1 MP Digital Camera with 60x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom

As the link says, it has a 16.1 MP sensor with a 60x optical zoom, over 3 times better than my old one. It also has a 5x digital zoom, which under good lightning conditions, can give you an effective zoom of 300x.

Wow! Definitely going to need a tripod, or at least a monopod, for that.

I also ordered a Class 10 (fast!) 128 GB memory card to go with the new camera. The 32 GB one in my old camera will hold over 5000 photos, so nominally this new one will hold about 20,000. But since the photo file size will be larger due to the 16 MP’s, maybe 12,000 to 15,000 is a better estimate. We’ll see.

I paid $8.98 to get Next Day shipping on these two items, so it will all come in together with tomorrow’s delivery. And in Amazon’s inimitable style, I ordered these about 15 minutes before the cut-off time for Next Day delivery, and about 30 minutes later I got an email saying the camera and card had been shipped.  Nice!

New Toys in the mail!


Thought for the Day:

“…though it cannot hope to be useful or informative on all matters, it does make the reassuring claim that where it is inaccurate, it is at least definitively inaccurate.” – Douglas Adams

Waiting At the Colorado River Thousand Trails

October 14, 2016

SiteWatch Waiting . . .

After our move yesterday, today was a rest up / goof off / wait to hear from SiteWatch day.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

We did rest up. We did goof off. But we didn’t hear from the SiteWatch guy.

But in fairness, we were told it might be Monday, anyway.

One thing we’re going to have to do is to get our Level II Security Guard Licenses redone/renewed or whatever. We both first applied for them in April 2012 when we first started working for Gate Guard Services.

What was kind of strange about this is that my physical license came back very quickly, being issued on 5/1/12, just a couple of weeks after my application went in.

I don’t know if it had anything to do with how quick it came back, but I wondered if that was because of all the security clearances I’ve had with the DOD and NASA over the years.

But Jan’s license was a whole ‘nother story. First off, she had to have her fingerprint card done twice more after the original one. And all three were done by the police. But finally, 17 months after her original application in April 2012, her license finally came through on Sept 9, 2013.

So while my license expired two years later in May 2014, Jan’s expired in Sept 2015. But back in 2014 when I talked with the Gate Guard Service office in Whitsett, TX, I was told that since we would still be working for them, they would take care of renewing them when the time came. But that didn’t happen.

When Mike Crosby, the SiteWatch guy, ask about them, I told him GGS said they would renew them, he kind of laughed. Apparently he’d seen this before.

And when I went here:


and checked the status of our licenses, I found both of them had expired and had not been renewed. Oh, well.

And from what Mike says, it looks like we’ll have to start all over with it. Oh, well.

So it looks like we’ve been UN-Licensed Level II Security Guards for the last couple of years.

But then no one has ever ask to see them in the entire 5 years.

The more Jan and I hear about the guard shack deal, the more we like the idea of it. Of course that may be because we haven’t done it yet. But after going through a 25 degree sleet and ice storm down there in 2013, a heated and cooled guard shack, with a microwave and a refrigerator sounds kind of nice.

I spent the morning and early afternoon working with an old client, and a website I last worked on for him in 2010. But now when you Google his site you get this.


And when I logged in to his account, I found his site HAD been hacked, with some malware files left on there. But there was no sign that they had been, or could be, activated. So I cleaned everything out, double-checking any possible access openings, and then I changed the master password.

Later, as the client and talked things over, he decided that now would be a good time to redo the site, since it was actually about 8 years old and looked pretty dated.

So we’ll be talking that over the next couple of days.

About 4pm Jan and I headed up US 71 to Ellinger to have the Friday buffet at Peter’s BBQ. But before we left I got our South Dakota Absentee Ballot Request Forms ready to mail off. That way we can drop them off at the Ellinger PO on our way.

Thought for the Day:

Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac? — George Carlin



October 14, 2017

Her Name Is Helena . . .

Jan and I headed out about 2:15, first down to the Sugarland area and Floyd’s Cajun Seafood.

I didn’t realize it until the next day, but when we were here a couple of weeks ago, I lost my checkbook there. Or at least I thought I did. And when I called a couple of days later, and talking to the manager, I found it had been turned in, and by another manager. I told them we were in Conroe and it might be a couple of weeks before we got down there.  They said no problem, and it would be in the safe. Then leaving Floyd’s we headed back up Hwy 6 and the Grand Parkway to Brandi’s in Katy.

We were all getting together at Little V’s Vietnamese Bistro for dinner to give them a try. Yes, we’ve eaten there many times in the past, but things have changed since then.

The last time we ate at Little V’s was March 8 of this past year. the night before we left on our big 3 month out west travels. And since then, Tuen, the owner, had sold the place. And the reviews since then have been mixed, some good, some not-so-good.

So this afternoon we were going to give it a try.

We got to Brandi’s a little after 4pm and got a look at her new baby.

Brandi's Helena

Brandi says her name is Helena, though I don’t know why. She’s a fully-loaded 2017 Ford Escape to replace her slightly long-in-the-tooth Lexus. Really nice, and red, Jan’s favorite color. A very nice ride.

As far as Little V’s goes, it was really delicious – if we hadn’t eaten at Little V’s pre-sale. But in comparison it just didn’t quite match up.

We started off with our usual Pork Spring Rolls.

Little V's Spring Rolls

The insides were good, but there was a more chewy wrapper with a different texture. Just not quite as good.

On the entrée front, Lowell said his Phở was good, but something was ‘missing’. As far as my Shaking Beef Vermicelli Bowl, it was the same theme.

Little V's Shaking Beef 2

The ingredients and the ‘taste’ was the same, but the beef, which was melt in your mouth tender and unlike any I had ever eaten, was cut differently and not near as tender, but more chewy.

Jan and Brandi always split an order of the Chicken Curry.

Little V's Chicken Curry

And Jan said the same thing. The Curry was good, but just didn’t have the intense favor of Tuen’s version.

Finishing up, the Crème Brûlée spoons were the only thing that lived up to the original.

Little V's Creme Brulee

Smooth pudding with a crunchy sugar crust. Just perfect.

Little V's Brandi and Landon2

Wrapping up, if we hadn’t eaten here under Tuen’s regime, it would be one of our new favorite places. And I guess it still is.

But it’s just not the same.

The Word of the Day is: Pestiferous

Thought for the Day:

If fighting fire with fire is a good idea, why do the pros use water?



Traveling Through North Dakota

October 14, 2018

Prairie Dog Dinosaur Redux . . .

A long day, so I thought I’d repost our visit to North Dakota in August 2011. Prairie Dogs and Dinosaurs. What more do you need?

After checking local reviews, we decided to try Country Kitchen, a national chain. They have locations in 22 states, but we’d never heard of them. But luckily for us, the reviews were right. I had a double cheeseburger and Jan had a Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Both very good.

As far as the movies go, we didn’t have a lot of choices – Cowboys and Aliens, Captain America, and The Smurfs 3D.

But two out of three weren’t bad. We saw Cowboys and Aliens last night and decided to see Captain America tonight. And we did.

We both really enjoyed C & A. Good story, with a lot of twists, great effects, and anyway, any movie with Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and big, nasty aliens, has got to be good.

This morning was a tourist day, so we started it off with breakfast at Country Kitchen. After all, if it was good for dinner . . .

And after a great breakfast, our first stop was Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND, about 35 miles west of here on I-94.

After getting our National Park Passports stamped at the Ranger Station, and checking out Teddy’s Maltese Cross cabin on the grounds, we headed out on the 36 miles scenic loop around the park.

And of course the first thing that caught Jan’s eye were the prairie dogs. Lots and lots of prairie dogs.

Whole towns of prairie dogs, as a matter of fact.

Prairie Dogs 2

It’s like they have their own personalities.

Here, the wife is giving her husband a smooch before he goes off to a hard day of finding seeds, leaves, grasses, and roots, and also dodging hawks. Life can be rough on the prairie.

Prairie Dogs 1


These three neighbors had a spat over who went down the wrong burrow, and now they’re not speaking.

Prairie Dogs 3


The guy on the right just discovered he’s on camera.

Prairie Dogs 4


These two are getting ready to race. and the other is doing the “Ready, Set, GO!”

Prairie Dogs 5


And we did see some really beautiful scenery. This park is part of the Dakota Badlands and it shows.

TR Scenic Loop 1

TR Scenic Loop 2

TR Scenic Loop 3

There are several herds of wild horses in the park, and we saw quite a few.

TR Wild Hoses 1

And toward the end of our drive we also saw this female deer high up on a ridge grabbing a snack.

TR Deer

Leaving the park we headed back east on I-94 a few miles and stopped off at Painted Canyon, which is really just a continuation of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Painted Canyon 1

It’s easy to see why they call it Painted Canyon.

Painted Canyon 2

Painted Canyon 3

Painted Canyon 4

Again heading back toward Dickinson, but still within the park boundaries, we saw one of the several large bison herds in the park.

TR Buffalo 1

TR Buffalo 2

Passing through Dickinson, and going about 10 miles out the other side, we turned south on the Enchanted Highway.

This grasshopper was huge, but I kept looking for the giant seagulls.

Enchanted Highway Grasshopper

A pheasant family, complete with chicks.

Enchanted Highway Pheasants

And Jan got this great shot of a field of sunflowers.


Again coming back into Dickinson we checked out the Dakota Dinosaur Museum.

Although not as extensive as the one we saw in Thermopolis, WY last week, they did have some interesting stuff like this cast of a T-Rex skull, found just 200 miles from here in Montana.

T-Rex Skull

And this very nice display area.

Dakota Dino Museum 1

This is a REAL Triceratops skull, weighing about 1500 pounds. The weight of these fossils is why most of the assembled skeletons you see in museums are fiberglass casts. They would weigh 10’s of tons and would be very difficult to suspend safely. It’s not really purple, it just looks that way under the light.

Triceratops Skull

And Jan and I both really liked their large collection of beautiful rock specimens.




By the time we left the Dino Museum it was almost 5 pm, so we decided to check out a place others had recommended,

It turned out to be the Dakota Diner, and once again the recommendations were spot on. The place was jam-packed and really, really good.

After dinner we came back to the rig for a while and then headed out to see Captain America at the movies.

The movie, subtitled “The First Avenger”, was very well-done, and held very close to the original comic book origins. I hated it when they take a known character and then just completely change the storyline.

This Captain America movie is the final one that will unite Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America, along with other superheroes in next summer’s “The Avengers” movie.

Tomorrow . . . Fargo.  The city, not the movie.

Thought for the Day:

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Martin Luther King Jr.



October 14, 2019

The Taxman Cometh . . .

I’m still finishing up trying to give the Devil his due, by tomorrow. So you’re getting a colorful repost from 9 years ago, during our 3rd year on the road.

April 4, 2010

Petrified Forest and Great Pie…

Today, after spending the night in Gallup, NM, we headed back to Las Vegas on the tail end of our road trip.

After having breakfast at the hotel, we headed out about 8am to drive the 65 miles to the Petrified Forest National Park. I had visited here with my parents during our Out West trip during the summer of 1964, and was looking forward to seeing it again.

The Petrified Forest is a 28 mile loop that that also takes you through part of the Painted Desert. So it’s a twofer.

And the Painted Desert certainly lived up to its name. You can click to enlarge any of these pictures.

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Then it was on to the Petrified Forest itself. And the colors of the petrified wood almost  matched the Painted Desert.

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This area is known as the Crystal Forest and lives up to its name.

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Below is Old Faithful, the largest, most complete petrified log in the world.

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This the skull of a Phytosaur, a crocodile-like animal that lived in the area when this was a forest during the Late Triassic period 200 million years ago. It was about 17 feet long and weighed 2100 pounds.

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And here’s what it probably looked like.

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And these are some of the other animals roaming here back then.

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And, for what it’s worth, here’s a picture of Albert Einstein and his wife visiting the Petrified Forest. Based on the age of the car, this is his 2nd wife, Elsa. Elsa was Albert’s first cousin on their mother’s side and second cousin on their father’s side. Talk about the possibility of inbreeding!

Maybe that’s why they never had kids.

Albert Einstein

Leaving the Petrified Forest we passed thru Holbrook, AZ and stopped to get gas. Holbrook used to be a main stop on Route 66, and still seems to be a vibrant tourist town. As we were almost to the Interstate I saw something on the left hand side of the road that brought back a flood of memories.

A Wig Wam Motel. And it’s still in business.

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I had forgotten until I saw the place again, but we stayed here during our trip in 1964. It’s good to see that see that it’s still up and running. I also remember staying at the Wig Wam Motel in Bessemer, AL in the late 50’s, early 60’s.

Coming into Flagstaff, we always enjoy the view of the snow-covered San Francisco Mountains. It’s amazing how much snow is still there this time of the year.

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Passing thru Flagstaff, we got into Williams, AZ about 12:30 pm. Based on the recommendation of friends , we wanted to eat lunch at the Pine Country Restaurant. They said the food was OK, but the pies were fantastic. The slices were enormous, and they were delicious, too.

On our way into Kingman, AZ we saw signs saying the route back to Las Vegas over the Hoover Dam was very congested due to Spring Break crowds.

Well, that was just dam inconvenient.

So we decided to come back the slightly-longer way over to Laughlin and then up through Searchlight and home.

Getting back into Las Vegas we decided to stop for supper at the IHOP right down the street from the RV park before heading back to the rig.

Arrived home to find that the rig and the cats were all OK.

Although we enjoyed our trip, it’s good to be home.

Thought For The Day:

The opinions expressed here have not been peer reviewed, fact checked or focus group tested.

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