Jan and I headed out for about 2pm for lunch at Los Ramirez Mexican, our favorite local place. We’ve been going there for 3 years now and pretty much always ordering the same thing. So much so that all the waiters know what we’re going to order when we sit down.

Jan gets the Pechuga Rellena, a grilled Chicken Breast with Shrimp and Broccoli, all covered in cheese, no rice,

Los Ramirez Pechuga 1-05-20

while I had my usual Beef Fajita Taco Salad.

Los Ramirez Beef Salad 1-05-20

Just as delicious as always.

And we’re very happy that Los Ramirez has survived during this recent unpleasantness, especially since we’ve lost several of our other favorites since this all started.

Then it was on to WalMart for a few things, including some new floor mats for our Jeep. And coming home we made a Cowboy Coffee stop for some caffeine replenishment, a sugar-free Hazelnut coffee for Jan, and a cold sugar-free Pumpkin Spice coffee for me.

This past Thursday I was flushing our toilet, and when I pushed down on the foot pedal, it just went ‘KLUNK!’, not a noise you really want your toilet to make.

And after it went ‘KLUNK!’, the pedal just laid there. And it didn’t flush either.

So getting out my socket wrench I removed the two screws that hold it all together.

Sealand Dometic Toilet Valve and Pedal

Pulling the water valve aside, I removed the spring cylinder,

Sealand Spring Cartridge 2

and the pedal itself.

Looking things over I expected to find that the spring cylinder had failed, since it’s the part that both turns the flush valve and then the spring returns the pedal back up. And these have failed before.

But there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with it. So I took a closer look at the the pedal.

Sealand Toilet Foot Pedal

And inside I found that part of the pedal had broken loose.

Toilet Pedal 1

This is the area that turns the spring cylinder and makes it flush.

So just get a new pedal, right? Easier said than done.

I checked several local places without any luck. And going online on Amazon and ebay, I found a few, but all showed delivery dates after Thanksgiving, and were in the $45-$50 range. For a piece of plastic.

So being cheap, (but you knew that, didn’t you) and knowing Jan did not want to be flushing the toilet with a pair of Vice Grip pliers for very long, I decided to see if I couldn’t repair the pedal using JB Weld Steel Epoxy, giving me this.

Toilet Pedal 2

I layered the epoxy into the broken-off area, raising it a little above the surface where the spring cylinder is supposed to ride. Then after it hardens, I’ll file it down flush with the rest of the rim.

So we’ll see how it works tomorrow. Hopefully no more Vice Grips.

Thought For The Day:

Early Killing Christmas




November 21, 2009

Old memories are the best…

Our day started when about 11:30 am we headed over to Pensacola, FL to eat at Sonny’s BBQ for lunch and then visit one of Jan’s favorite gift shops, Artisana.

Coming home we drove past one of my favorite childhood playthings.

Pensacola Train

When I was a kid I loved to play on this locomotive. Of course it didn’t have a fence around it then.

A little Googling tells me that #1355 was originally built in 1912 as a 2-8-0 Consolidated and operated mainly in Missouri.  In 1945 it was converted to a 2-8-2 Mikado and ran the St. Louis – San Francisco – Pensacola line until 1952.  It was stored until 1955 when it was mounted on what was then the main street into Pensacola.

I was always fascinated in these big machines. Up close, they’re even more massive.  I mean, these drive wheels are over 6’ in diameter.

Pensacola Train Wheels

It’s always good to see stuff from your childhood still around.  Makes you feel not quite so old!

Heading back toward the rig, we passed another series of the mascot statues.  We’ve seen pelicans in Seabrook, TX,  moose in Coeur d’Alene, ID,  mermaids in Beaufort, SC.

Here in Perdido Bay, FL they have more pelicans.

FL Pelican

Getting back to the rig I installed the new metal drain plug in my water heater. The old one was plastic and was leaking. Besides that, it had become rounded off so it was hard to get off and impossible to tighten.  The metal one works great.

About 5:30 we headed out for supper at Sea N Suds, a place we had seen here in Gulf Shores, but had never eaten at.  I guess we kind of figured it was just another bar on the beach.  But we saw a recommendation online and decided to check it out.  And boy I’m glad we did.

Not only was the food good, but looking at some of the old pictures on the wall, I discovered a picture that I didn’t know existed anymore.

It’s a picture of my parent’s motel here on the beach, circa 1955.


I know this is 1955 because that’s when we built the new bigger house/office and two more cottages on the back row. In 1956 we added three more cottages on the back row for a total of 10.  The pier at over 300 feet long, was the longest one on the Gulf Coast at the time.

Here’s a picture of the pier during a storm.


It turns out that the Sea N Suds was built on the site of my parent’s motel. (They sold it in 1958). I had lost track of exactly where it was because all the old landmarks that I remember are gone. And it’s possible that the Sea N Suds building is built around our old “Tackle Shack”

Here’s what the area looks like now.


Here are some other pictures.  This first one was taken about 1954.


And this one, taken about the same time (Note I’m still wearing my favorite cowboy suit), shows me and my best friend, David Duddy, and gives a view of the cottages from the street.


This next one was taken in early 1951, a few months after we moved to the beach.


And this last one was taken in the summer of 1952.


Coming back from Sea N Suds we hit the the thunderstorm that had been building all day.  By the time we got back to the rig, it was pouring and blowing.   So much so that the satellite dish had blown over.

So it was reading and computing for the rest of the night.




November 21, 2011

Musical Chairs . . . er . . . Sites . . .

We headed out about 10:30 for a day of errands. And our first stop was at the park office to see if we could stay where we were, or not.

Apparently it’s, “or not.”

There is someone coming into this site tomorrow so we’ll have to move over to site 4 in the center area in front of the office. Then as soon as it’s open, we’ll move into in site 77.

Site 77 is on the water, and about halfway between our two past sites, 80 and 73. But it has two problems.

This site is configured for a 5th wheel as a back-in, so if we want to have our windshield facing the water, I’ll have to run our hookups underneath the rig. Not a big problem, but I’ll probably have to buy another section of sewer hose.

The real problem is that the site may be too short. It looks like that if we park far enough back so that we’re not sticking out in the street, my wheels will be at the edge of the concrete pad and my levelers will be on the grass. Not good.

I’ve got a 100 ft. tape measure in one of the bays so I may dig it out and measure the site and see.

Otherwise we could wait until December 10th when we could move into site 81, right next to where we were parked the first two years.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Our next stop was lunch at Monterey’s Little Mexico, one of our favorite local Mexican places. After a few months on the road we start to crave their Chicken Tortilla Soup. We’ve had good Tortilla Soup other places, but none quite measures up to Monterey’s. After that was done we headed home for the afternoon.

After a nice nap, Jan and I met our son Chris, and his wife Linda, at Tookie’s, a fabled local hamburger place where we’ve been eating since we moved to Houston in 1978. However it was badly damaged by Hurricane Ike in 2008 while we were in Alaska, and it never reopened.


But it was purchased by a new owner, refurbished, and reopened this past July. And we found it certainly lived up to its past reputation.

Tookie's Double-Meat Burger

Their Double-Meat Burgers are a full pound of hand-formed lean ground beef, loaded with your choice of goodies, like bacon ground in with the beef, burgers soaked in wine, covered with jalapenos, mushrooms, cheese, onions, picante sauce, BBQ sauce, or chili.

Your choice of artery-clogging, heart-stopping, stomach-filling meaty goodness.

Tookie’s is back!

On another note, we traveled 9,924 miles this year, for a total of 47,455 since we picked up the coach January 6th, 2008. We traveled more the first two years since we went to Alaska in 2008, and Newfoundland in 2009.

And since the coach had 62511 miles on it when we bought it, we’ve now got 109,966 total miles on the coach.

So far, so good.

Thought for the Day:

“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” – Oscar Wilde




November 21, 2012

They Want Us Back . . .

After having a breakfast of the Buc-ee’s Sausage and Cheese Kolaches we picked up when we got gas last night, we headed out for Marble Falls about 8:45am.  We made a brief stop at Brandi’s to pick up the cooler with the perishables, since we had more room in our truck, and then we were back on the road.

Our first stop was in Brookshire about 80 miles down the route at the Flying J, with the second one at the Buc-ee’s at the Luling exit on I-10. These two stops are the same ones we’ve been stopping at for years, even in the RV.

About 10:30 I got a call on my cellphone that I didn’t recognize. It turned out to be from one of the supervisors with Marathon Oil that we had worked with this past summer. He wanted us to take over a gate for them, and sounded really disappointed that we weren’t gate guarding right now. Guess this bodes well for us getting another gate next year.

This stop was also where we left the Interstate and headed north on US-183. A little later we got on the new TX 130 Toll Road that took us on into the outskirts of Austin. The thing that really makes this Toll Road worth it is the fact that the speed limit is 85 mph. Nice!

Then we hooked up with SR-71 and headed west. This is where we ran into our first traffic problem. SR-71 starts out as a limited access 4 lane divided highway but deteriorates into a 2 lane road with a stoplight. This means that the traffic starts to back up at the light, such that it took us 20 minutes to go just a little over two miles.

But finally we were out in the country for the last 30 miles. We got into Marble Falls about 2:30 and first stop was Brother’s Bakery and Café. Brandi had called ahead to reserve a couple of their pies for our Thanksgiving, a pumpkin and a chocolate bourbon pecan. We know they’ll be delicious because Brother’s is the bakery that did Brandi’s wedding cake a couple of years ago, and it was great.

Then it was only about 15 minutes to our rental lake house. As advertised, it’s right on the water and really nice.


Jan and I got unloaded and then took it easy for an hour or so until Lowell, Brandi, and Landon showed up.

Since everyone was getting hungry, we all headed right back down the road to a place we saw on the way in, the Farm House Restaurant. And it turned out to be a really good idea.

The Farm House Restaurant has been famous in the Texas Hill Country for more than 30 years, and has hosted customers such as Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, and Tommy Lee Jones. We all had Chicken Fried ‘Something’. Lowell had steak and the rest of us had chicken. And we all agreed it is was some of the best Chicken Fried ‘Something’ we’d ever had.

Getting back to the house Landon played for a while before it was bath time. And since the two bathrooms here have only showers, Landon got his bath in the kitchen sink. He was a little unsure at first, but quickly decided he liked it.

Landon with Fig Leaf

I had to add the green fig leaf to the photo to avoid any legal problems.

Watching Landon running around the house while Lowell and Brandi were trying to get him dressed and down for the night, really brought back memories for Jan and I.

When Brandi came back out of the bedroom, hot on Landon’s heels as he ran naked and  squealing down the hall, I told her that watching all this brought a phrase to mind.

When she ask “What phrase?”, I said,

“Payback’s a Bitch!”

For some reason she didn’t think it was as funny as Jan and I did.

Thought for the Day:

Procrastination is (I’ll finish this later)




November 21, 2013

Getting back in the habit . . .

and no, a nunnery is not involved. That would be kinky.

I’m just trying to get back to doing a blog every day now that we’re coming off the gate on Saturday.

We got some good news about our Houston home yesterday. No, not the one we still own, but Galveston Bay RV Resort, where we’ve spent the winter the last 5 years.

Galveston Bay RV Resort Upgrade

They’ve finally got their big expansion under way, adding 54 new sites to the 80+ they already have. The 54 will be a mixture of pull-thrus, marina, and waterfront sites, and are greatly needed. Several times over the past years, blog readers have wanted to stay at Galveston Bay on their way through the area, but found the park filled up.

Master Landon is going through this phase where he doesn’t want his picture taken and turns away anytime he sees a camera. Here’s the latest two examples during Turkey Day at his daycare.

That’s him in the very center with the blue bat on his shirt.

Landon at Turkey Day 1


And here he is, second from the right.

Landon at Turdey Day 2

School pictures are going to be loads of fun for the photographer, I bet.

Well, the saga of the truck continues. Orlyn, the gate guard down the road, took me into Pleasanton to pick up my truck from the “Complete Auto Repair” place that doesn’t do water pumps, so I could drive it over to another place that does do water pumps.

Luckily it was only about a mile or so away so I didn’t have to worry about overheating. In fact the temperature gauge never got off the stop. I was happy to see that the new place is a NAPA repair shop, so I’ll have some recourse if I have a problem down the road, and somewhere else.

When I talked to the shop yesterday, the guy said he probably wouldn’t be able to get to it until Friday morning, but then this morning he thought he’d be able to get started this afternoon. And about 4:30 I got a call and they said they were working on it, and said they recommended that I have the radiator hoses replaced because both of them were hard and brittle. I told them to go ahead since they were already replacing the drive belt because it had stretched from being soak in the coolant. That’s why it was squealing.

They should have it ready sometime tomorrow morning, they think. They didn’t say, but I figure the repair will run $400-500, or as we say, 3 to 4 gate days.

Well, our flare put on another great show this afternoon. Crude (black gold, Texas tea, etc.) got backed up in the system and started coming out the stack along with the gas. The first thing that happened was the flaming oil came pouring down the sides of the stack like molten lava, starting fires on the ground. Then the sirens started going off.

Flare 3


You can see in this next photo the reddish glow of the fire on the ground through the trees.

Flare 4


Next we got fireballs and big ‘booms’ shooting out the top.

Flare 5


Reminded me a lot of artillery fire.

Howitzer 1

Howitzer 2

Just glad there was no ‘incoming’ associated with the show. The only thing that would have made it better was if it had been night time.


Starting to break down our site tomorrow is probably going to be interesting.

And cold.

And wet.

Right now at about 2am, it’s 76°.

At 7am it supposed to be 70, but it’s forecast to be 57 by 8am when the ‘arctic blast’ cold front moves through.

Then about noon we’re looking at 49°, and 45 by 3pm. And then there’s the 70% chance of thunderstorms and heavy rains to add to the fun.

Oh boy!

Thought for the Day:

There’s a difference between a hand-out and a leg up.




November 21, 2014

Out with Tamoxifen . . .

In with Anastrozole.

This morning Jan and I left the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails about 10:45 and headed 1.66 miles down the road to the Omega Farms RV Park, our shortest campground to campground move ever.

This was done to preserve our ‘out’ days at the Lake Conroe TT, so that we can come  back in the day before Thanksgiving for a full two weeks before moving on to the Colorado River TT in Columbus.

The park was/is completely full and pretty much stays that way all the time apparently. Since it’s so close, a lot of TT members use it for their week out. He even has a special rate for TT members.

Since it was very overcast and raining when we came in this morning, we couldn’t tell a lot about the place, but when we drove through the other day to make our reservation for today, it looked to be really nice. With a fishing pond,

Omega Farms 1

60 full hookup 50 amp sites (30 pull-thrus),

Omega Farms 2

and enough trees to be nice, but not enough to block your satellite view, it’s one of the nicest small parks in the area. And if you need some ‘out’ days from the Lake Conroe TT, you can’t get much closer.

As soon as we got parked, I plugged in shore power, set up the satellite, and then we headed down to the Clear Lake area primarily so Jan could talk with her doctor about the side effects she was having on Tamoxifen.

The doctor already took her off it about 10 days ago, and the improvement has been dramatic. Jan and I discussed ahead of time about her just not taking anything at this point, because when you actually dig into the statistics, it’s not exactly cut-n-dried about the benefits.

Case in point, one combination study of studies shows that 3.74% of women taking Tamoxifen had a reoccurrence of the cancer, and 6.71% not taking Tamoxifen had a reoccurrence. So when you look at this alone, you have a 44.2% decrease in cancer reoccurrence while taking Tamoxifen. Other studies put the percent decrease closer to 50%, which all sounds pretty good.

But now turn the percentages around. This also says that 96.3% (100% – 3.74%) taking Tamoxifen did not have a reoccurrence, but neither did 93.3% (100% – 6.71%) of the women not taking Tamoxifen.

So either way, you’ll looking at a better than 90% chance of no reoccurrence whether you take Tamoxifen or not. Looking at the stats this way lines up with what one of my first Statistics professors said. “In the last two years the unemployment rate in Luxembourg has doubled. Sounds really bad, doesn’t it? But what it means is that last year Luxembourg had 4 people unemployed, and this year they have 8. It’s all in how you look at it.”

As a side note, all these studies define a ‘reoccurrence’ as a new cancer in the same breast. If you get a new cancer in the other breast, that doesn’t count and all the stats start over.

One last datum point is that all these percentages are done for the first 5 years. For the 2nd 5 years, you’re looking at 97.4% vs. 96.5%, less than 1% difference. And after that, completely even, no effect.

So based on this, there’s a pretty good case to be made for not taking Tamoxifen at all, or to stop taking it if the side effects are too bad. It’s up to the individual.

All this being said, Jan decided to try the other breast cancer drug, Anastrozole, for a couple of months. It does the same thing as Tamoxifen by blocking the estrogen receptors, but does it in a different way. So it’s possible that it would have some of the same side effects, but maybe not.

Jan will be going back to her doctor in February for her annual checkup and they will reevaluate then.

Finishing up on a high note, we later met Chris, Linda, and Piper at King Food for dinner. Piper’s left arm is still in a cast from her ATV accident a couple of months ago, and she will probably have to have another surgery on it before all is said and done.

But her really exciting news is that she’s starting a new full-time job next month as a Patient Care Technician at UTMB hospital in Galveston. This will let her get experience in the medical field while she’s still continuing her schooling. Way to go, Piper!

Tomorrow we’ll make the 45 mile drive over to the Escapees Park in Livingston to stay on Chris and Charles Yust’s lot, and visit with them and Dennis and Carol Hill for a few days. Really looking forward to it.


Thought for the Day:

Yep, that’s exactly how it happened.





November 21, 2015

Last Day and Counting . . .

Well, at 3:30pm we finished up our last full day of this year’s Adventures in Gate Guarding. And Jan and I both agree that this was our best gate yet.

We were in a very nice location with trees, grass, cows, and donkeys. No scorpions, no tarantulas, and no snakes. We also had good cell and data services, and we were only about 7 miles from Wal-Mart and Whataburger.

What more could you ask for?

We did manage to dodge the really cold weather this year, with our lowest temperature about 40 degrees so far. Tonight’s low is supposed to be 32 degrees, but then we won’t be out in it , now will we? One of the many advantages of being a 12 hour/10 hour/8 hour gate, take your pick.

Today was sunny and about 55 degrees, unlike two years ago when we were packing up to leave our gate down in Whitsett, TX, and it was 25 degrees and sleeting. And it never got out of the 20’s all day. Can you say FUN?

We did have a good bit of wind this afternoon, but by that time we already had the tarp off the canopy frame so it really didn’t matter.

By 4:30 I had everything stowed away, except for the foldup table we used under the canopy, and few odds and ends I’ll find a place for tomorrow morning. The table goes in the same bay as the satellite dish stand so they’ll all be stowed away at the same time.

Earlier in the afternoon our landowner came by to say goodbye since he’ll be out of town tomorrow. We’ve really enjoyed being here on his land, and he’s been a big help to us. His son Billy has been our mail drop for receiving Amazon packages, which has been a big help for us.

I finished up everything I was going to do today about 4:30, so to celebrate we’re heading into Carthage about 4:45pm to have one last meal at Jalapeno Tree. We’ve eaten here twice before and really enjoyed it. And tonight was no different.

It was the perfect end to what turned out to be a very nice gate guarding experience. Too bad they’re not all this way.

Tomorrow morning will be mostly just regular ‘getting ready to leave the RV park’ stuff. By about 9am I plan to have the rig moved over to the side road, while Jan runs the gate out of the truck. But if that’s like today, she’ll have 5 vehicles in between 6:15 and 6:45, and maybe nothing more until they leave around 4.

We did have a few more vehicles today, but those were mostly one-time things with them coming in to take out the last of the frack pond pumps and equipment. So that probably won’t be a factor tomorrow.

Having the rig out of the way will allow our replacement gate guards to just pull right into the parking area and get set up. Then while Jan is going over the gate stuff with them, I’ll pull the truck over behind the rig and get hooked up. Then all we’ll have to do is say our goodbyes and hit the road for Conroe, as a another year of gate guarding comes to an end.

We’ll have about a 4 hour trip down to Conroe where we’ll stay for two weeks before we move over to the Colorado River Thousand Trails. Then it’ll be the same routine back and forth for the next couple of months.

As far as I’m concerned, it’ll be nice to sleep longer than 4 hours at a time.


Thought for the Day:

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it. Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”- George Washington




November 21, 2016

Snow Plows and Pumpkin Pie . . .

It was really nice to sleep in this morning and not have to be up at 4am.

But I’m sure it won’t the last time I have to get up that early. Even this Thursday we’ll both need to be up by 6am to be on the road by 7 to make our trip back to our daughter Brandi’s house in Katy for Thanksgiving dinner.

But today was a little more laid back. After our morning coffee and some conversation, we headed out a little after noon, first for the lunch buffet at Barth’s once again. It’s hard to top soup, salad, chicken fried steak, chicken fried chicken, and veggies, all for $6.50. Then after a great meal, it was right up the road a short way to Great Clips so Jan could get her hair cut.

Next we drove out to the site where I’ve been working for the last three days. I wanted her to see it in case she ends up working there at some point so she’ll know where it is.

We ended talking to the guard on the gate, Joe Speed, for about 45 minutes, getting to know him, since we hadn’t met him before.

Next up was a trip to Wal-Mart for Thanksgiving dinner stuff, and a few other things. Then it was a last stop at HEB for the pumpkin pies we get there.

Tomorrow I’ve got a few things to do on the truck, install the new headlight bulbs, and then get it gassed up and washed down at the HEB.

Finally, what’s up with ‘Gender-Neutral Snow Plowing’ in Sweden?

Apparently last year the government of Stockholm, Sweden’s capital, declared that all of the city’s snow plowing should be done on a gender-neutral, or gender-equal basis.

Formerly Stockholm plowed the main roads and streets, and then he construction sites first, before they then moved into side streets, sidewalks, public transport facilities and bicycle lanes.

But looking at it from the gender point of view, plowing the main roads and highways first benefits men, since men do more driving than women. But women, who supposedly use the sidewalks and bike lanes, were being ‘dissed’ because the side streets, sidewalks, etc., were left until later.

So this year it was decreed that the side streets, sidewalks, public transport facilities, and bicycle lanes first, before the highways. Can you see the problem here?

Anyone? Anyone?

So when the first major snowstorm hit Stockholm this year, the heaviest one in 111 years, chaos erupted. With the highways not plowed, nothing went anywhere. No one could even leave the now-plowed side streets because there was nowhere to go. Everything just ground to a halt.

Who could have seen that coming?

Thought for the Day:

“There are no good girls gone wrong – just bad girls found out.” ― Mae West