Daily Archives: May 7, 2022

Winning The Toilet Wars . . .

I mentioned yesterday that I finally come out on top in my recent Toilet Wars.

To recap, the flange underneath our toilet had broken at one of the mounting bolts, making the whole thing loose and wobbly. And when I pulled the toilet up, I found that one section had broken off, and in fact, it looked like the material was kind of flaking on and decomposing.

So my first thought was to pull the flange and just replace it with a new one. I did have a little trouble finding the right one because as I mentioned before, my Dometic/Sealand toilet is mounted using 4 bolts, and most new toilets mount with 2 bolts. But I finally found one, but when I tried to replace the old one, I found it was not screwed down to the rig floor, but instead they had epoxied it down. So it wasn’t coming up.

After running through a number of ideas that didn’t work, I finally found this flange extender.

Oatey Toilet Flange Extender

It’s made to raise your toilet if you’re installing a new thicker floor in your bathroom. You can actually stack up to 3 of these if you need to. But the problem was that the holes didn’t line up with my toilet base. So it took a little work with a jigsaw made it work.

I then drilled pilot holes down through the old flange and into the wood underneath, and then screwed down 2” wood screws to hold it down. Then came the next problem. Getting the toilet down while getting the bolts lined up with the holes, since I had to hold up the toilet at the same time.

And after several fails, I laid my drill across the opening, which let me set the toilet on it, then rocked it forward while lining up the bolts and getting the nuts started. Next, keeping the toilet rocked forward, I removed the drill, and was able to let it back down to the rear as I lined up the bolts through the toilet base. Then tightening them down, I was down.

With that part.

My next problem was to hook up the water feed, always a problem with the rigid PEX pipe. The original toilet’s valve was in a slightly different position, making it hard to connect to the new one. But after heating the PEX slightly with a heat gun, I was able to bend enough to get it hooked up with no leakage.


Today was lunch at Spring Creek BBQ with Ribs and Brisket for me, and just Ribs for Jan. Then it was on to WalMart right next door for a few things, and then home.

A nice day, and so good to have Jan back home.


Our First Year Gate Guarding in South Texas

May 7, 2012

Super Moon and Super Storm . . .

Last night was certainly a two’fer. We had a Supermoon, and a little later, a super storm.

A Supermoon is when a full moon coincides with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit. It’s about 12% larger and brighter on average. Here’s a comparison photo from the Net.


The photo Jan took looked like this.


But the real fun came later, around 4am when a line of very strong thunderstorms unexpectedly rolled through the area. They came as a complete surprise since nothing was forecast and, in fact I had checked the weather radar a little earlier and nothing showed up then either.

My first clue was the pitter-patter of a light rain on the canopy. Then within about 5 minutes the bottom fell out. However the real problem was not really the rain, but the high winds, VERY high winds, probably in excess of 50 mph.

I’m pretty certain about this because the rig shuts down when the wind exceeds 45 mph, and after the alarm sounded and everyone cleared off, the winds continued to increase. There were lightning strikes all around, and one very close by behind us. But the rig itself never got hit.

Just to be on the safe side, I finally moved the truck and tied the canopy frame off to it.

Storm TieDown

Even after the rain subsided the winds stayed pretty high all morning. I didn’t realize when I bought this canopy that it doesn’t have a roof vent on the cover so it tends to lift and bounce around a lot. We do have 6 kitty litter buckets filled with water for about 200 pounds of weight to help keep things grounded. So far it’s worked out.

The rig drill bit was at 11,518 night before last, and still only at about 11,600 tonight. They been having a lot of bit problems as well as other things too so they’re behind schedule. That works out well for us since it means we won’t have to move as soon.

Speaking of moving or not, there’s a new pad cleared right down the road from us, looking like this.

New Pad

The fenced-in area in the center is where the derrick will go, and then the pad will look like this.

Rig Overview

If we’re lucky we might just be able to move to this new site down the road. We’ll see.

I got these rig night shots the other morning. It really has its own beauty.

Rig At Night 1

Rig At Night 2

And this rear shot shows the ramp that’s used to raise the drill pipe and casings up to the rig. You can see the pipe stacked in rows at the base of the rig.

Rig From Back

Yesterday I went in to Kenedy, about 10 miles away and picked us up dinner from Polak’s Sawsage Farm Resturant. (yes that’s the way it’s spelled). A place that looks like this has to be good.

Polaks 1

Polaks 2

Several of the rig workers had recommended the place and they were right. Although not real busy when I was there on Saturday, during the week the parking lot is full and vehicles are parked out along the highway.

Kind of unusual for a BBQ place (they also have steaks and seafood), they only have beef brisket and sausage (well, sawsage, anyway). No ribs or pork. And their sides include Hot German Potato Salad, and Kraut, along with the usual. Even better, they make all their own bread, and even their desserts, like Turtle Cheesecake and Coconut Cream Pie.

Jan had the Chopped Beef Stuffed Baked Potato and I had the Beef and Sawsage Plate with German Potato Salad, Kraut, and Pinto Beans. Very, very good.

Especially with Turtle Cheesecake and Chocolate Pie for dessert.

On a last note, I’ve seen a number of comments on other blogs and forums about the pay rate for gate guarding, and even a comment on our blog about how when you divided the $125 a day by 24 hours, it comes out to about $5.20 an hour pay.

Here’s how I answered that comment.

Yes, and we knew that going in.

But that’s not the way we chose to look at.  LOL.

We look at it as where else can we make $4000 per month actually working about 45 minutes a day (Approximately 90 vehicles a day at about 30 seconds each)?

The rest of time we talk, read, nap, listen to the radio, eat dinner, and enjoy the outdoors.

And every 8 days another $1000 goes in the bank.

That’s the way we choose to look at it.

And here’s another answer I gave.

Actually we make more here than do couples that work for Amazon over the holidays, and do a lot less work.

Amazon pays about $11/hour, so for 80 hours (2 people at 40 hours/week) that gives $880/week total.

For that same 7 days, we make $875 a week, and for a whole lot less work.

Amazon workers will tell you that they’re on their feet and on the go the whole time and come home pretty exhausted..

We sit outside, talk to each other, read, drink coffee, eat meals, and just enjoy the scenery and the wildlife.

Yesterday we had about 90 vehicles come through, and I went for 5 hours this morning (from midnight to 5am with no traffic.

And of course the company furnishes everything except food.

And even better, for the last few days we’ve only been getting about 60 vehicles a day.

So our workload is down to about 30 minutes a day.


BBQ in Las Vegas

May 7, 2013

Road Kill and Belt Clips . . .

About 12:30 this afternoon I walked over to the park guard house to pick up the Amazon package that had come in for me. I had ordered s new belt clip for my Samsung Droid Charge.

Droid Charge Shell/Holster

Droid Charge Belt Clip 2

My original one had finally given up the ghost and I thought about not getting one since I’ll probably be getting a new phone later this summer, but I don’t like carrying my phone in my pocket. For one thing, I can’t hear it ring in my pocket.

Our daughter Brandi called about 2:30 to check in and let us know that the closing on their new home has been pushed back because all the cabinets haven’t come in, and the mortgage company keeps asking for additional paperwork. Lowell said he wants to know why they don’t just ask for everything need at the very beginning.

We had the same experiences when we bought our homes too.

About 3:30 Jan and I headed out for the afternoon. Our first stop was the Camping World down in Henderson . . . again. I’d been looking for the Bulldog panel latches that I needed, but I didn’t find them. But this time I knew what they were called and had a Camping World part number. And with those I had no problem finding them,

As I was leaving the store, I got a call from Jim Dean, He and his wife Peri are blog readers and just arrived here at the Thousand Trails park today. So we’re going to try and get together for dinner tomorrow

Finishing up at Camping World we then headed up to north Las Vegas to check out John Mull’s Meats and Road Kill Grill. We had seen a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives episode about this place and wanted to give it a try.

John Mull’s

The place is pretty unassuming, and is actually in what seems to be a residential neighborhood.

John Mull's Roadkill Grill 1

And as it turns out, they only have outside dining.

John Mull's Roadkill Grill 2

They were pretty busy when we got there, with two lines inside, all waiting patiently for this really good BBQ.

The menu is pretty basic, with just Hot Links, Brisket, Pulled Port, Ribs, Grilled Chicken, and BBQ Chicken, and of course, the sides.

Jan had a Brisket Dinner with Green Beans and Mac N Cheese, and I had a two meat combo with Hot Links and Ribs, with Green Beans and Baked Beans.

John Mull's Roadkill Grill 3

Really, really good, and the servings were big enough that we had leftovers to bring home.

Well worth the trip up north.

Heading home we made a stopover at a Wal-Mart for a few things before finally getting back to the rig a little after 6:30.

May 7, 2014

Urinals as Far as the Eye can See!

Off on another busy day, we headed out about 9:30 this morning with the first stop at the Chinese Consulate near downtown Houston. Based on my experience last Wednesday when I dropped off the applications, I was expecting another “Lost in Translation” situation today, but it actually went very smoothly. I waited in line for about 10 minutes, handed the young lady my claim slip and my credit card, and about two minutes later, was heading out the door. All told, I was only in there about 20 minutes.

Like last Wednesday, we couldn’t pass up another chance to have lunch at Katz’s Deli today. I had my usual Rueben, but Jan went with a Chunky Chicken Salad Sandwich this time, which she said was delicious. And this was all topped off with a delicious cupcake.

Then it was off to another client about 35 miles south. They were having trouble coordinating their email between their laptop, their iPhones, and their iPad. I of course blame the Apple stuff.

We’ve known Tom & Lyn since 1979 just a short time after we moved to Houston, and always enjoy getting together.

As we were coming down the Interstate before turning off on FM517 on our way to Tom & Lyn’s, we noticed that a big Buc-ee’s billboard that previously just said 2014, now said “NOW OPEN”.

So after leaving their house we went a few miles further south on I-45 to check out the new Buc-ee’s.

Buc-ee's Giant Beaver

Buc-ee’s are the world’s largest convenience stores, and this new one is no different. It’s the new ‘largest’. But it’s a split victory.

Previously, the largest Buc-ee’s was the one that opened on I-35 in New Braunfels, TX in 2012. With 68,000 square feet of store and 120, yes, 120 gas pumps, it’s a small city.

But this new one is a little larger, at 69,000 square feet, but a little smaller, with only 56 pumps.

And as it turned out, the new place just opened at 6am this morning. There were TV remote trucks all over.

Buc-ee's Texas City 1

Buc-ee's Texas City 2

You walk into one end of the place, and you literally can not see the other end.

Buc-ee's Texas City 3

And what other convenience store has a big fresh produce section.

Buc-ee's Texas City 4

When you go in the Men’s Restroom, it’s urinals as far as the eye can see. There are more than 30 of them. Buc-ee’s is known for their large, clean restrooms.

And of course we can’t visit a Buc-ee’s without stocking up on their Cranberry muffins.

Leaving Buc-ee’s and heading back up to Clear Lake to make two more client stops. The second one was to convert two Canon printers from wired USB connections to wireless connections.

I had set these up like that previously, but they had recently changed Internet providers from Comcast to Verizon, and that necessitated a new Wi-Fi router. And that meant setting up a new connection.

Finishing up there, it was time to head over to Ichibon in Kemah. This is a place that does the hibachi grill cooking, like Benihana.

It’s been a number of years since we’ve been to one, but we always enjoy the show . . . and the food. We were getting together her to celebrate Chris’ birthday, which is not for a couple of weeks, but we thought we’d do it early since we’re still here.

Here the chef tries to teach our granddaughter Piper how to flip a spatula around a large meat fork.

Ichibon 1

Ichibon 2

Ichibon 3

All she managed to do was send the spatula flying my way. You can see it bouncing off the grill and heading for my head in the above photo.

I told Piper she needs to stick with medicine.

And here’s a shot of the every-popular onion volcano.

Ichibon 4

And how better to finish up with three pretty women.

Ichibon 5

After a great meal, a good time, and a lot of hugs, we headed back to Lake Conroe, finally getting home about 8pm.

Hopefully tomorrow will be less busy.

Jan’s Magic Pill

May 7, 2015

Well, It’s A Start . . .

Well, they came by this morning and ripped our mirror off to try and order a new lower one. At least I hope that’s what happened to it.

Rig Mirror Repair

BlowOut Mirror

Since no one said anything to us, it might have just been stolen.

Stan, the Service Manager, said that things are going slow due to trying to find parts and get prices on 16 year old rig stuff.

I did find out that one thing I thought was broken in the blowout, wasn’t. I had thought that some of the wires that were torn out were the ones feeding 120VAC to my computer desk. But I wondered why I never saw any sparking or got shocked when I was fooling with the wires. And this evening I found out that what happened wast the multi-plug, like this,

AC Multi-Plug

had simply fallen out of the wall socket due to the vibrations from the blowout.

One thing that I was sorry about after our blowout and the subsequent rough ride as we came to a stop, was the fact that I didn’t have my A118 Dash Cam mounted in the rig. I had moved it to the truck while we were driving up and down the Vegas Strip and never got around to setting it up again in the rig.

Too bad. It would have been interesting to relive it, at least on video.

* * * * *

Several readers have asked me about Jan’s ‘magic’ pill that she takes for her migraines. The pill she takes is Sumatriptan, the generic version of Imitrex. Available by prescription only, it normally knocks out Jan’s migraine in just an hour or so. But as I said, she normally wakes up with successively lesser ones for the next two days and then it ‘s over.

For dinner tonight we drove over to the nearby Red Robin for burgers, one of our favorite burger places. We got there just in time to beat the rush, because by the time we left about 6:30 the place was just about full.

Jan went with her usual Mushroom-Swiss Burger, but since she has them replace the Swiss with Cheddar, itls actually a Mushroom-Cheddar Burger/

Normally, I always get the Burnin’ Love Burger, but a new addition to the menu caught my eye – The Southern Charm Burger.

Red Robin Southern Charm Burger

It has a Black Angus patty glazed in brown sugar, and topped with candied bacon, honey BBQ Sauce, sharp Cheddar, and caramelized onions. Talk about a burger for your sweet tooth. But oddly, it didn’t really taste sweet at all, just very, very good.

Jan and I were sitting in one of  those part booth/part table things when about halfway through our meal a pretty blonde lady came over and set down right beside me in the booth. I recognized her as having been sitting in a booth about 15 feet away with her husband and son.

Before I could say anything, she leaned over and said in a rush, “My father lives in Colorado, and I haven’t seen him in a long time, and you look just like him, even your mannerisms, and could my husband take our picture together?”

Before I could say more than, “Sure”, she leaned her head up against mine and her husband, who was standing beside Jan, snapped our picture. And then with a “Thank you”, she was gone.

Well, that was strange.

And I didn’t even get to tell her how sorry I was that her father looked like me.

The other strange thing that happened was that when we went to pay, my VISA debit card was rejected. So without worrying about it right then, I just paid cash.

When I got home, I called Chase Bank and found out that my card had been invalidated due to a fraud alert. Now when I bought $260 worth of diesel last Sunday in Las Vegas, I quickly got a text alert asking me if I had just bought that amount. And when I texted back a ‘1’, I got a text back thanking me for confirming my purchase.

But I’ve used the card 3 or 4 times since we got to Prescott, including yesterday. And I’ve had no problems or alerts during that time, and the bank lady wasn’t able to tell me what happened. But she reset things, and a little later, I made a Kindle purchase and it went through, so I guess it’s all good now.

I’m sure most of you have heard about the tornado that hit the Road Runner RV Park south of Oklahoma City yesterday. Well, after hearing that name a couple of times, I realized that was the RV park I was planning on Jan and I staying in a couple of weeks on our way to Illinois.

RV Park Tornado

As they say, timing is everything.

May 7, 2016

Landon Sitting . . .

Landon Sitting . . .After our coffee this morning we headed into Katy about 1pm to meet up with Brandi so she and Jan could go get mani-pedis (pedi only in Jan’s case). Lowell was doing some trucking stuff, so I was going to be Landon-sitting.

The hour trip was smooth, but there was a lot more traffic than I expected. Hopefully there won’t this much tomorrow when we move to Lake Conroe, since it will be earlier, but then it is Mother’s Day, so you never can tell.

Jan and Brandi headed out a little after 2pm leaving me on guard duty. Landon was playing with his friend Junior who lives diagonally across the street. Luckily I was backed up by Lowell’s sister Sherry, who came home right after Jan and Brandi left.

At least now I’m not outnumbered.

When we got there, Landon and Junior were in the backyard playing on Landon’s waterslide, but then came in and played doing artwork at the table.

Then later, around 4 they were outside playing in the cul-de-sac in front of the house.

Landon and Junior

About this time Jan and Brandi showed up with pretty toes, so we headed out for dinner, along with Aunt Sherry, to La Finca, a nearby Mexican place that we ate at once before, and really liked.

Lowell was still at his show and wouldn’t be home until late, so he lost out.

La Finca 1

Jan had a Beef Chile Relleno, along with a Chicken Enchilada,

La Finca Chile Plobano

while I had the Fajitas Poblanos.

La Finca Fajitas

Brandi got the Beef Fajitas, with enough to take home to Lowell, and Sherry, who eaten earlier, only had an ‘Italian Margarita’.

I’m sorry. But that’s just wrong.

After a really great meal, and getting our good-bye hugs, Jan and I headed home, finally getting back about a little before 7pm.

I then spent some time prepping for our departure tomorrow morning. Since we’ll be doing our normal breakfast at Schobel’s before we leave here, I always try to get as much done as possible before then.

Yesterday, on our way back from Peter’s BBQ, we drove down to the recently flooded C and D sections here at Colorado River.

Colorado River C&D 1

Colorado River C&D 2

It was really strange to see all these spaces completely empty, when normally they would be really full right now.

Supposedly the problem now with getting sites back open is with the sewer system. So we’ll just have to wait and see.

Bend, OR

May 7, 2017

20° !

Well, with 20° last night, we survived our 3rd lowest temperature since we’ve started RV’ing. But it was sunny and 52 today. So, nice.

And tonight’s supposed to be 29 with a 66 tomorrow.

The lowest temp we’ve encountered was in April 2008 when it was 6° while we were at the Riverfront RV Park in Garrison, MT. Not unexpected, as just a couple of days before we had this in Billings, MT.

Jan in Snow at Billings

Our 2nd lowest was 17° a few winters back when we were staying at Galveston Bay RV Park down in Dickinson, TX south of Houston. But with all these, we’ve never had any problems with anything freezing.

About 1pm I walked over to the park office to pick up our revised car tag and pedestal tag reflecting our one day extension to make our stay here a full two weeks. We lost a day due to our transmission problem down in Weed, but we had enough slack in our schedule to make it up.

The other thing I was trying to find out if they had any suggestions about how to receive Amazon packages here. The park itself will accept nothing, no mail or packages of any kind. And there are no Amazon Lockers in this area either.

Bend/Sunriver TT is completely at odds with the Las Vegas TT, which accepts any kind of packages, and even calls you when they come in.

I’ll check some of the mailbox stores in Bend tomorrow, but I’ve never had much much luck with that. It seems like they want you to get a PO Box for mail, but Amazon won’t ship to a PO address

And many of the mailbox stores are affiliated with either UPS or FedEx and won’t accept packages from the other one. So we’re stuck until I work something else out.

I do know that when we were here in 2011 and 2013 that they did accept packages, but don’t know when it changed.

Later in the afternoon I tried to take down the bracket that holds Sony rear camera so I could remount it using rubber washers to hopefully eliminate the rattle when we’re on the road. But as seems to always happen, out of 5 screws, only 4 would come out.

The remaining screw either came pre-stripped from the factory, or a previous owner had wallowed it out for me. So tomorrow I’ll have to take down the TV so I can get a better angle at it, or drill it out if necessary.

Friday I called Jay with Allison Transmission to thank him for all of his help, and to tell him that replacing the sensor had fixed the problem. He was really patient helping me work through the problem, and more importantly, didn’t question my sanity because I wanted to replace the sensor without hooking the transmission up to their diagnostic computer first.

I also made a couple of more reservations for our upcoming travels, all of them under Passport America. By the end of this segment of our trip finishing up back in Houston toward the end of June, we will have saved over $1000.

Not bad for $44 a year.

Several readers have asked for a Karma update.

She’s really mellowed over our last few months of travel. When we first took her in, she would run and hide as soon as she heard the rig engine start  up.

Emma at Bend

Emma at Bend 1

Now she is normally out and about when we’re on the road, sometimes sleeping on the rug on the floor between our chairs.

May 7, 2019

Bamberg, Germany . . .


Our ship docked in Bamberg, Germany for about an hour or so, long enough to let off those of us who were doing the daily excursion, Then, as they’ve done before, they sailed off down the Main River, where we will meet up with them again at dockside in Zeil Am Main.

They do this to allow the ship to make better time along the river, while we’re taking in the city.

Our tour started about 9:15 with a walk from the bus stop into town. Luckily our guide was on crutches, and although I think she was trying to hide it, I believe she was a few months pregnant. I say ‘luckily’ because it meant she walked a little slower. Nicer for us.

One thing we again noticed here is the availability of cigarettes, with machines right out on the street in front of businesses.

Bamberg Cigarette Machine

And there’s a lot more smokers on the street.

Bamberg is another one of the towns in this area that dates to the early 900’s. And for hundreds of years it was an important city of the Holy Roman Empire, and for a short time, the main center.

Bamberg sits on the river Regnitz, near where it branches off from the Main. And by ‘sits on’, the old town hall actually sits on a island in the middle of the river.

Bamberg Town Hall 1

The story goes that the local religious leaders wouldn’t give the town leaders property to build a town hall, so they expanded a small island in the middle of the and built it there.

Here’s what it looks like from in town.

Bamberg Town Hall

The view from the bridge highlighted the waterfront and its importance to the city.

Bamberg Waterfront 1

Bamberg Waterfront

Coming across the bridge, the first thing we saw was what’s nicknamed the Wedgewood House,

Bamberg Wedgewood House

and it’s easy to see why. Known as the Hellerhaus because it was last owned by a famous art collector named Heller, it actually dates from the middle ages. Like pretty much every thing around here, I guess.

Our next stop was the Bamberg Witch Trials Memorial.

Bamberg Witch Memorial

During the early 1600’s Bamberg was the location of over 1000 witch trials and executions, peaking between 1626 and 1631. Apparently, one of the reasons it stopped because people started to realize that anyone could be accused and executed, even themselves.

The memorial doesn’t have a lot of impact in the daytime, but it’s more more impressive at night.

Bamberg Witch Memorial At Night

We also got a look at St. Martin’s Church.

Bamberg St Martins Church

Built in the classic Baroque style, it was completed in only 7 years and finished in 1693.

Taking a break, we decided to try some of Bamberg’s famous Smoked Beer.

Bamberg Smoked Beer

We had already seen the location of the 600+ year old brewery so we had to try it. Or at least I had to try it. Jan had to try the Strawberry Shortcake.

Bamberg Strawberry Shortcake

And ‘Smoked’ is a very apt description. It tastes like a wood fire. Very unique, and very good.

By this time it was back on the buses so we could meet up with our cruise ship at Zeil Am Main. We got there just in time to watch the Skirnir dock. It pulled right opposite the dock site, only slightly bigger than the ship,

Bamberg Docking 1

and then using the Auxiliary Control Panels I mentioned the other day,

Bamberg Docking 2

just slowly moved sideways until it gently touched the dock.

Then without even tying off, with only the thrusters to hold it in place, they lowered a portable gangplank into place,

Bamberg Docking 3

Bamberg Docking 4

and we all boarded.

Bamberg Docking 5

Fifteen minutes and we were back under way again. They don’t mess around.

Dinner was my favorite Angus Ribeye, one of the permanent items on the menu,

Bamberg Angus Ribeye

while Jan tried one of the daily items,

Bamberg Fried Cod

the Fried Cod.

Then for dessert we both had this delicious fruit pudding.

Bamberg Dessert

It’s easy to see why everyone says you’ll gain 10 to 15 pounds on one of these cruises. Yikes!

A number of readers had suggested we bring along magnetic hooks, since the cabin walls are all steel. So the wall underneath our window became our auxiliary closet.

Bamberg Aux Closet

Or rather my closet since just about everything on there is mine. No room left in the real closet for me.

Also I had mentioned the other day about how the wheelhouse on the top deck can retract down to allow passage under the low bridges, and it suddenly dawned on me where it goes.

Bamberg Wheelhouse Housing

I had assumed that this area at the back of the bar was just a storeroom, but actually it’s where the wheelhouse ends up. The door that you see just opens to a shallow closet that holds the controls for the room’s audio/visual equipment.

Tomorrow: Würzburg

Thought For The Day:

Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.