Daily Archives: November 22, 2020

Now To See How It Sleeps . . .

With Brandi, et al., heading up to Oklahoma to have Thanksgiving with Lowell’s parents, and Chris’ wife, Linda having to work on Thanksgiving, Jan and I are on our own for this Thanksgiving.

So Cracker Barrel it is.

But when I asked Jan when she wanted to to, at 11 when they started serving TG dinner, or later in the afternoon, she said “Neither.”

“So you don’t want to eat around all those people?”

She said it wasn’t that, since we eat out all the time. She just didn’t want to have to eat that early, or wait in line for an hour or more if we wanted to eat later in the afternoon.

So ‘call ahead and pick up ahead of time’, it is.

But when I used the CB app to try and place my order, it gave me a Order Error, saying that orders at this location could only be placed between 11:59 pm and 12:01 am, in other words, the 2 minutes around midnight.

Now that’s a tight timeframe.

Next, I tried to call the store itself, and after getting switched around a couple of times, I placed my order and said I wanted to pick it up at 3 pm on 11/23, this Tuesday. But I was told that I couldn’t pick it up at 3. However, I pick it up at 2:15 or 5:45.

Obviously this is something new, since we’ve picked up stuff for Thanksgiving and Christmas a number of times and never had a time restriction like this.

But it explains why the app didn’t work. If you don’t happen to pick an open timeslot, it won’t let you order.

So Tuesday at 2:15 it is.

A few days ago we ordered a new mattress topper for our bed here in the RV. Our old 2” one seemed to be wearing out and getting thin in places, so I ordered a 3” one this time.

Inside the cover it looks like this.

New Mattress Topper 1

Hopefully it will be a lot cooler than our old one. And couple with Jan’s new Moose Quilt, it looks like this.

New Moose Quilt


Thought For The Day:

Someday all of us will be dead. But only some of us will die as cowards.




November 22, 2009

Last Day in Paradise…

Today is our last full day in Gulf Shore for a while. It will probably be this time next year before we’re back.

About 11 or so we headed out to have lunch at one of our favorite places here, Lulu’s.  Lulu is Lucy Buffet, whose brother Jimmy is a little more well known.

Her place is right on the Intercoastal Waterway with a great view of passing boats and tugs.


And the food is great too!

Jan had the Jerked Chicken Salad Sandwich and I had the Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas. And we always save room for dessert.

And the dessert is great! Jan and I split the Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding, made, of course, with Krispy Kreme Doughnuts as the bread.  MMMMM!  MMMMM!  GOOOD!

Before going back to the rig, we decided to drive down West Beach to see what was new.

The first thing we saw was this sign.

Mouse Sign

What’s up with this?  Now we’re worrying about mouse habitat?  Don’t they sell traps for that?

Nearby we got these great pelican shots. They were all sitting on large pipe, paralleling a bridge, just feet from the road and the inlet bank.

Pelicans Gulf 1

Pelicans Gulf 2

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Jan is crazy about pelicans…and moose…and flamingos…and octopus…octopuses…octopi…whatever.

Heading back toward the rig, we stopped off to walk down to the beach.

Gulf Waves

A lot of nice waves due to the storm last night.

Getting back to the rig, I got the satellite dish set back. Hopefully no more high winds tonight.

Next I wanted to check the water level in the coach batteries. I tried to check them at least once a month, and the last time I’d done it was about a month ago while we were in Elkhart, IN.

Upon opening the compartment door I immediately noticed a problem with a battery cable.

Battery 1

The lead connected the two 12 volt banks was broken off.  At first I thought it had burnt thru.  But on looking closer I was able to tell that it was probably broken off by age and vibration.  Something similar happened back in June with a control wire on my starter solenoid.

Due to the remaining length of wire I could see I  would probably need to replace the entire wire. And this would be difficult on a Sunday afternoon.  And we would need the batteries tomorrow night when we Wally Dock in Breaux Bridge, LA on our way back to Houston.

Thinking about it for a minute, I decided to do this.

Battery 2

I used one of my jumper cable sets to temporarily make the connection until we get back to Houston and I can make up a new cable.  I think it should hold OK.

About 5:30 we drove back down the beach to DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen. They always have great food, but we especially like one of their sides, Sweet Potato Casserole with Caramelized Pecans. You almost want to just order a whole plate of it.

Tomorrow we will start back toward Houston, stopping in Breaux Bridge, LA about 300 miles from here, so we’ll get an early start, probably about 8am.

Thought for the Day:

“When faced with a problem you do not understand, do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again.” – Robert A. Heinlein




November 22, 2010


Our day started early, and with two problems. Brandi called to let us know Landon was not feeling well and she was taking him to the doctor. She wondered if Jan could babysit today so Landon wouldn’t have to go to daycare.

And, of course, Jan said ‘Sure!”  More Landon time.

But the second problem was that despite her eagerness to Landon-sit, Jan was in the second day of her usual 3 day migraine sequence. But she took another Imitrex which helped a lot and we were on our way to Brandi’s by about 10:15 am.

The doctor said Landon just had a slight head cold and would be fine. She told Brandi to just stop and get some Triaminicin for him.

I got this picture of him after we got there.

Landon - Sick Day

One thing we’ve found out about Landon since he’s been in daycare the last two weeks, is that apparently he’s crazy about cows.

They actually start showing babies Landon’s age (3 months) flash cards with large pictures of animals, and telling them the names. They have about 20 different animal cards, and when the girl would show Landon a cow, he would start laughing and giggling. But only for the cow.

She thought maybe she was imagining it so she got another girl to try it, and Landon did exactly the same thing.


While Jan was Landon-sitting, I visited a couple of clients, and then on the way back to Brandi’s I stopped off and picked up the Honeybaked Ham we’ll take up to Shawna’s for Thanksgiving.  While I was out and about, our friend Gina called to check in. She was in town for her sister’s memorial service and wanted to get directions to a favorite restaurant of ours, Floyd’s Cajun Seafood.

I also stopped off at Sam’s Club to picked up some more Imitrex for Jan, and a couple of pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving too.

After Lowell got home, Jan and I headed over to Jason’s Deli for supper. She had her favorite Turkey Muffaletta  and I had a bowl of their great Southwestern Chicken Chili.

We got home a little after 5 pm and sat out drinking coffee and just relaxing.

That’s about it for today.

Thought for the Day:

Sometimes the good you do doesn’t do you any good.




November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving . . .


This morning started real early for some of us. Landon gets up very early, 6am this morning, so no one stays asleep long. Lowell went down to the local Starbucks and brought us back coffee so that helped some.

And yes, Starbucks was open from 5:30 to 9 this morning, and Lowell said they were pretty busy, too.

Jan and Brandi, with Lowell and I helping, got the green bean and broccoli casseroles started, with Jan also working on the cornbread dressing.

We sat down about 1pm for a Thanksgiving meal of Honeybaked Ham and Turkey, Cornbread Dressing, Mashed Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Broccoli-Cheese Casserole, Heavenly Hash, and Rolls.

Thanksgiving at the Lake

Then for dessert, we had the Pumpkin and Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pies we picked up from Brother’s Bakery and Café yesterday on our way into town. We pretty much all stuffed ourselves silly, of course, but boy was it good.

Then after lunch we all spent a good bit of time sitting on the dock just enjoying the sun and the nice breeze. And of course Landon’s antics as he ran around.

Landon at the Lake 1

Landon at the Lake 2

Landon at the Lake 3

About 6:30 we all headed into Marble Falls to see the Christmas Walkway of Lights they have set up along the banks of the Colorado River.

The last time Landon was here he was only about 4 months old so it was all new to him. And he really enjoyed it, pointing at everything and naming them.

Marble Falls Lights 1

Marble Falls Lights 3

Marble Falls Lights 4

Marble Falls Lights 5

Marble Falls Lights 6

Landon had so much fun tonight we may have to take him back again.

Thought for the Day:

“Only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy. One is to let her think she is having her own way, and the other is to let her have it.” – President Lyndon Johnson




November 22, 2013

Almost Done For This Year . . .

Today was our last full day here on the gate, and it was really pretty quiet. And cold.

Actually very cold. The temp finally inched its way up to about 42°, but didn’t even hold that for very long. And the 20 mph didn’t help out at all.

So while I started breaking things down outside (with frequent inside trips to warm up) Jan handled the gate by just coming out when a vehicle came though. And it certainly helped that we only had about 40 vehicles today.

A lot of people stopped off to say goodbye, and some with more “lovely parting gifts”, in this case a couple of beautiful ribeye steaks. How about a new tradition – Steak for Thanksgiving.

I picked up the truck from the repair shop about 3pm, and it cost about what I thought – a little over 4 gate days. The repair guy said the water pump was the original one, so not bad for a little over 208,000 miles. Our truck, a 2004 Dodge Dakota, had 101,000 miles on it when we bought it toward the end of 2007, so we’ve put another 107,000 on it in the last six years. And that doesn’t include the 60,000 miles that we’ve towed it behind the rig.

Once I got the truck home I could really start loading things up, and by about 7pm and after stopping for supper, pretty much everything was done except for taking the canopy down. And we’ll do that tomorrow morning.

The reason we didn’t finish it up tonight is that it started to SLEET!  I’m sorry, but I didn’t come back to south Texas for the winter to have SLEET! 

We plan on heading over to the Gate Guard Services lot around 10 am tomorrow after our relief arrives. A blog reader, Jim Mossman, commented yesterday that he might be our relief. If so, we look forward to meeting them.

That’s about it for gate guarding this year. Next up, home to Houston for holidays with the kids and grandkids. YAY!


Thought for the Day:

“I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” – George Mason, who along with James Madison, is called the “Father of the United States Bill of Rights.




November 22, 2014

Happily Ensconced . . .

We pulled out of our site at Omega Farms RV Park about 10:15, on to Livingston, about 50 miles away. We wanted to get an early start because of all the bad weather that’s supposedly coming our way this afternoon and evening.

And after an easy hour and 15 minute trip through the rolling countryside, we were quickly and happily ensconced on Chris and Charles Yust’s lot, right next to their rig here in the Escapees Park.

Then after some ‘catching up’ time we all headed out to Chris and Charles’ favorite Mexican place, La Casita.

La Casita - Livingston

And it was the perfect ‘trifecta’; close by, cheap, and good, especially the salsa, with a real ‘smoky’ chipotle taste. Jan had the Beef Fajita Nachos, while I had the Beef Fajita Lunch Plate, both very good.

After a nice ‘after lunch nap’, Chris and Charles and I spent several hours going over changes and updates to their C and C RV Insurance website. We’re adding several new products, as well as online quote forms, and more.

By the time we wrapped up for the day, it was after 6pm and time for dinner, so it was off to Florida’s Kitchen, another of their favorite places.

Florida's Kitchen

And it was easy to see why. Or maybe, taste why.

Written up in Texas Monthly, Florida’s is known for their ribs and their fried catfish. And luckily for Jan and I they have a Sample Platter with some of both, plus two sides and hushpuppies, perfect for Jan and I to split. And that left us enough room for ‘takehome’ desserts of Italian Cream Cake and Chocolate Pie for later.

The food here is well worth the rave reviews. Hopefully we’ll be able to come back to both places.

Under the heading of ‘Our Future Van Gogh’, Brandi sent over this picture of Landon’s latest artwork. She said he drew this from scratch in about 10 minutes. Drew, not traced, not colored in. Drew.

Landon's Turkey

Wow! Not bad for 4 year old. In fact, much better than a lot of the ‘modern’ art I’ve seen. Thought it does look like some of the NBC Peacock slipped in.


Thought for the Day:

“It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent.” – Vincent van Gogh




November 22, 2015

Off the Gate . . .

We were up about 5:30am for our last morning on the gate for this year. When I checked the outside temp, it was 30 °, a little colder than the 33° that was forecast. In fact when I went out about 20 minutes later to turn the lights on, everything was covered with a thick last of frost.

And of course on our last  day here, the workover crew has to change everything up. Normally the first one doesn’t come in until about 6:15am, but today he showed up about 5:50, just what we needed this morning while we’re trying to get on the road.

But as the other mornings, the last guy was in by 6:40 so I was able to get back to finish up packing, mostly a combination of both ‘leaving the gate’ stuff and normal ‘pack up and leave the RV park’ stuff.

But it all was complicated by layer of frost covering all the stuff I had positioned outside to be packed away this morning. I set some things out in the sun, or at least out where the sun would be when it got up over the trees, hoping to thaw things out.

Giving up for a while I went inside to finish up putting away the TV’s and other regular travel day stuff. Then taking a break, I made coffee and Jan heated us up some Sausage and Egg biscuits for breakfast. While we ate we talked about all the stuff we planned to do in our post gate time. Back at work, and finding the stuff outside a little less frosty, I finished up stowing everything away from the gate.

I had planned to move our rig out of the way between 8:30 and 9:00, expecting our replacements to show up around 10. This would let them pull straight into the site and get hooked up. But I guess anxious to get started, Donna and Jim showed up a little after 8am.

One funny thing that did happen, at least funny to us, was that they first went to the wrong gate, the frack site up the road, guarded by two women, Brenda and Patsy. So Jim and Donna pull up and tell them, “We’re here to replace you.” Apparently there was a look of surprise and panic on the other guard’s faces until they got things straighten out.

We spent the next 45 minutes or so getting them briefed on what to expect here, and then I got the our rig pulled off to the side about 9:15, allowing Jim and Donna to pull their camper into our old spot.

The first problem I had was trying to wrestle a frozen power cord into the electrical bay, kind of like throttling a python with your bare hands, but finally I got it stuffed in and the bay door shut.

Then as soon as I started backing up, I kept getting a ‘Jacks Down’ alarm. I knew the jacks were up, so I figured the system was just a little low on fluid, and the cold weather probably didn’t help either. Normally when you get an alarm like this, it means that you need to add hydraulic fluid to the reservoir, and this seemed to be the case today, since I didn’t have any more problems with it after we got on the road.

In 24 hours our gate went from this,

New Old Canopy

to this,

Last Day on Carthage Gate

and then to this.

Sheltons on the Gate

We were hitched up and on our way by a little after 9:30, taking SR 315 south until we picked up US259. In Nacogdoches we turned onto US59 which took us through Lufkin and on to Livingston, home of the Escapees RV Club. Then a series of FM roads and SR roads took us through the countryside into Willis and then across I-45 and to the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails.

Lucky for us, we got the last 50amp site in our favorite ‘E’ ring, so we were happy about that. We’ve been here enough times that it seems like a home base for us. Kim, the head ranger even said, “Hello stranger, where have you been?”

But I bet she says that to all the guys.


Thought for the Day:

Napping Semi's




November 22, 2016

That’ll Teach Me . . .

Just as soon as I told you how much I liked my PowerMax Power Converter that I got from Amazon, it cratered.

Well not completely. It’s still putting out 13.2 VDC and keeping the house batteries charged with no problems. But it’s no longer running through its 3 voltage level cycle.

When it’s first plugged in, the power converter starts up in ‘Boost’ mode at 14.4 volts to quickly bring a battery up to full charge. It then switches into ‘Standard’ mode at 13.6 VDC. This mode is where the converter stays when there is a steady drain during normal use.

When there is little or no drain, the converter drops back to ‘Trickle’ mode at 13.2 VDC, and then toggles back and forth between ‘Standard’ mode and ‘Trickle’ mode as needed. By itself that’s fine and dandy. But I need more.

Because the isolator between the house batteries and the engine batteries only pulls in above 14.0 VDC, that means that the engine batteries only get charged when the converter is first turned on and is in ‘Boost’ mode. And since the converter normally stays on all the time when we’re on shore power, that means that the engine batteries weren’t being kept charged.

But I had a plan. (I always have a plan. Often three or four of them) My idea was to just put the power converter on a heavy-duty timer. Initially I set the the timer to turn the converter off  for 30 minutes (the minimum the timer allows) every 8 hours. After a couple of weeks, I backed it off to powering off only twice a day. And that’s the way it’s been for the last two years. This keeps the engine batteries topped off with no problems.

Until a few days ago. Coming in the rig I noticed that the engine voltmeter was showing only about 12.4 volts, lower than it should be. Thinking maybe there was a timer problem, I restarted it manually. With no luck.

The power converter was stuck in ‘Trickle’ mode at 13.2 volts and would never run through its cycle. I even unplugged for a couple of hours, but that didn’t help either. So this morning I put in a call to PowerMax to see if there was any thing else I could check. Turns out, No.

Right now I’ve got my auto battery charger keeping the engine batteries charged, while I see about getting the converter replaced. When I purchased the converter from Amazon in December 2014, I did purchase an extra 2 year warranty for only $9.90. Seems like a really good deal now.

My next call this morning was to the McDonald’s in Cuero, TX to see if they were going to be open Thanksgiving morning. Finding out that they would be, we’ll stop there for a breakfast sandwich on our way to our daughter Brandi’s in Katy for Thanksgiving.

Then it was outside to install my new Sylvania SilverStar Ultra headlight bulbs. Unlike many vehicles where you can access the bulb sockets from under the hood, with our Dodge Dakota the entire headlight assembly has to be pulled by removing 3 bolts from around the outside of the lens.

Headlight Replacement

One thing you need to watch with these halogen bulbs is that you don’t touch the glass with your fingers. The grease from your fingertips will burn black and create a hotspot, cracking the glass. If you do it accidentally, use an alcohol-soaked cloth to clean the glass.

I finished up by adding a quart of oil to the truck. Even at almost 250,000 miles it only uses about a quart every 1000 miles, pretty much the way it’s been since day one.

A little after 4pm Jan and I headed out to have dinner at Bella Sera once again. We’d always heard how good their pizza was, so this time we wanted to give it a try.

Bella Sera Pizza

We got the large (16”) Meat Lover’s Pizza, adding mushrooms to the pepperoni, Canadian bacon, hamburger, and Italian sausage. We always get the large so we have leftovers.

Jan and I both agreed that this was probably the 2nd best pizza we’ve ever had, second only our number 1 favorite, Grimaldi’s. The only thing Bella Sera misses out on is the coal-fired brick oven that Grimaldi’s uses. You can taste the difference.

Before heading home, we made a Wal-Mart stop to pick up a prescription for Jan, gas for the trip, and finished up with a carwash to get all the dust and grime off before our trip on Thursday.

Thought for the Day:

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ― Jack London