Counting Down To Thursday . . .

Since I work tomorrow, today was our last free day to get some things done before we leave on Thursday morning.

Leaving about 11:45, our first stop was at The CookShack in Webster, home of really good, and really hot Chicken Tenders.

Jan got the 3 Tenders, Mild and Sweet Potato Waffle Fries,

while I decided to try the 2 Tenders and a Half Rack of Ribs.

I got the Ribs in Hot, and the Tenders in Texas Hot, along with what they call Texas Caviar, which is Black Beans, Corn, Red Peppers, Purple Onions, Tomatoes, and Cilantro.

Really good. And I had Ribs leftover to bring home.

Texas Hot is their hottest normal version of Hot. Their Hottest Hot is actually called AMF, which stands for Adios MF. You fill in the blanks.

I’ve done AMF Level 1 and AMF Level 2. And supposedly there’s a Level 3, but the owner said it takes a month to make it.

Actually I think he’s making that up.

Finishing up our delicious meal, I dropped Jan off to do some shopping while I ran by the office for a few minutes. Then after we were both done, I dropped Jan off to get a pedicure while I went over to get my hair cut.

Apparently, it takes Jan a lot longer to get her toes down than it takes me to get my hair cut.

Probably because she has more toes than I have hair.

Another Day In The Life Of A Gate Guard


May 24, 2012

Ka-Boom!

is the sound a large crew trailer A/C unit makes when someone accidentally hooks up a 3-phase 480 volt generator to the power input instead of the single phase 120 volt unit that should have been used.

Marathon Crew Trailer

Other items that joined the fun were the water heater, water pump, microwave, LCD TV, satellite DVR, washer, dryer, refrigerator, and various and sundry light bulbs which reportedly blew up like firecrackers.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the pad here is a little smaller than normal so they put the crew trailer over behind us right outside the gate. Well, the story goes that the diesel generator that supplies power to the trailer quit and wouldn’t restart. So someone drove over to the pad and bought back another generator, apparently not noticing it was a 3-phase 480 volt unit that is used to run some of the big rig pumps. How they got it hooked up I don’t know, since the plugs are not in any way compatible, but hook it up they did.

And then they cranked it up.

And then they threw the breaker.

And then guys came running out of the trailer like they were under attack!  You know, the exploding light bulbs, the smoke pouring out of the TV, the bright flash of light and loud pop from the microwave, that kind of stuff.

It’s never a dull day here on the George Long Ranch and drill site.


For lunch today (Thursday) I made the 8 mile trip into beautiful downtown Charlotte (pop. 1637) to pick up some tacos from Tita’s Taco Stand for lunch. Ryan Etheridge, the Marathon Safety guy has brought us back breakfast tacos from there a couple of times, and they were really good. So we thought we would try them for lunch.

I was disappointed that they only did breakfast tacos until 11am, especially since the breakfast items are the biggest part of the menu. And I think this is the first time I’ve seen SPAM as an ingredient for tacos. But apparently it’s pretty popular since I heard several people order them while I was there.

Titas Menu

I got us two chicken fajita tacos and two beef fajita tacos, so we could have one each. They were plain and simple, and really good. Just the meat wrapped inside the tortilla with your choice of a red sauce, or a really good, really spicy green sauce. We’ll go back.

Last night when I drove over to the office to drop off the previous day’s logs, I asked Boone Williams, the night Company Man, if he would have one of the big water tankers soak down the road in front of our gate. Yesterday it was like being in a dust storm.  Vehicles would stop in front of the gate and you would have to wait for the dust cloud to settle before you could see who it was. But three times during the day we got our road watered down which took care of the problem for now.


This time next week Jan and I will be in Houston for our granddaughter Piper’s High School Graduation. We plan on leaving next Wednesday afternoon and staying two nights before coming back to our gate on Friday afternoon. Gate Guard Services is arranging for someone to cover our gate while we’re gone.

Piper’s graduation is Thursday night, but Thursday morning we’re taking Landon to the Houston Zoo. It’ll be his first trip, and the way he loves animals, it ought to be fun.


As the days get hotter here in Texas I’m thinking about putting together a cheap Swamp Cooler, or Evaporative Cooler, to cool us down in the hottest part of the day. Swamp coolers are those doghouses you see on rooftops in Arizona. They’re really very simple, consisting of a fan, a water source, and a porous material like burlap.

Swamp coolers will only work in low humidity areas like Arizona, and not places like Houston. But where they will work, they are much cheaper to operate than conventional air conditioning.

Here’s a link for a simple Swamp Cooler you can build yourself. I’m going to see how the mister units that I’m going to pick up at Tractor Supply tomorrow work before I proceed with the swamp cooler idea.

And ironically enough, a swamp being very humid, would not be a good place to use a swamp cooler.


May 24, 2013

A Bridge Too Far . . .

I’m sure you’ve all seen the news reports about the bridge collapse up in Washington state. It was hit by an oversize truck and it’s really lucky no one was killed, even though a number of vehicles went in the water.

In checking the location of the bridge, on I-5 between Everett and Bellingham, I was curious if we’d ever crossed it. And, as it turns out, we had. Three times, in fact.

In 2008, on our way to Alaska, we were staying at a nice little Passport America park in Cle Elum, WA. The real reason we were here was to visit Roslyn, WA, the town where one of our favorite shows, Northern Exposure, was filmed.

While we were there we drove over to Bellingham in our truck to pick up four new house batteries for our rig. The Trojans that were in the rig when we bought it were pretty much shot, and I wanted to replace them with Interstate U-2400’s. The nearest store that had four in stock was over in Bellingham, so off we went, crossing that bridge both ways.

Then about a week later we crossed it one more time, in the rig this time, on our way to Alaska. We were entering Canada at Sumas, about 20 miles north of Bellingham.

So the last time I was on the bridge was five years ago, so it’s not my fault.

Our daughter Brandi called this morning with the latest new house update. They did the walkthrough yesterday with closing scheduled for next Thursday. One of the few things not finished yet is that the custom shower doors haven’t come in yet, but soon.

A little later I called Tahoe Duck Tours to get tickets for the 3:00 tour tomorrow afternoon. We’ve taken the Duck Tours all over the country, so this lets us check another one off our list.

Later Jan started up a batch of spaghetti sauce with ground beef and mushrooms in the Crock Pot. It should be ready to eat for supper.

About 2:30 Jan and I headed out for some sightseeing and a few things from Raley’s, a local supermarket. I also wanted to see how much worse the traffic would be over this holiday weekend.

While we were out and about, we drove down by the lake and I came across something I hadn’t seen before. A Dog Water Park.

Dog Water Park 1

And it looks like it was being put to good use.

Dog Water Park 2

Dog Water Park 3

And even as cold as the water was, there were still people out on their Jet-Skis.

Dog Water Park 4

Hope they’re wearing a wetsuit.

By the time we finished up at Raley’s. it was about 4:30 so after we got home Jan got started on the garlic bread while I got the spaghetti going. And in this case it was really easy using the Microwave Pasta Boat.

Pasta Boat

We got it several years ago and it’s great for any type of pasta.

You can use the round, hollow handles to measure your spaghetti. One handle-full is a serving for two. You can cook as much as 8 servings at a time. Then just place your spaghetti in the container, add water to the correct level, and set your microwave for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, your spaghetti is ready, no fuss, no muss.

The holes in the lid let you drain the pasta quickly, and then you’re ready to go. You can cook any kind of pasta, and even steam-bake potatoes, both plain and sweet.

A really neat item, and only about $12 from Amazon. Check it out.

Thought I’d you a heads up on a new RV show that starts this coming Sunday night. I’m sure you’ve seen the shows where a group goes in and remodels someone’s bathroom, kitchen, backyard, whole house, or even their car. But now we got one for remodeling RV’s. It’s called Rock My RV with Bret Michaels and it comes on Sunday nights at 6pm PDT on the Travel Channel.

Bret Michaels, is known for a number of things: lead singer for the rock band Poison, winner of Celebrity Apprentice, and now for being a avid RV’er. He grew up RVing with his family, and still vacations in one today, plus he’s traveled millions of miles touring for concerts in buses he has designed. And he’s designed travel buses for many of his friends.

The early online reviews of the series seem to only have good things to say about it. So give it a try.

No More Magic Smoke


May 24, 2014

The Smell of Campfires . . .

The aroma of charcoal lighter fluid.

The screaming of kids.

That means that it’s a holiday weekend, and the campers are out in droves. But overall it’s been pretty quiet so far. We have a large camper next door, along with a large tent full of kids. Looks like several families together.

But unlike past experiences, everyone’s been well-behaved. Even the parents. A pleasant change.


Our son Chris and his family are spending the weekend up at Inks Lake near Burnet, TX, so he’s getting a chance to try out his sailboat.

Chris' New Boat at Inks Lake

Looks like the weather is pretty good.


When I went out to get something from the back of our truck today, I discovered that sometime in the last two weeks, since we left the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails, someone hit the rear bumper, causing enough damage to push the bumper into the tailgate preventing it from being lowered.

Truck Bumper

I know it took place since we left Lake Conroe because that was the last time I used the tailgate. And it looks like it was maybe a week ago at least, due to the amount of rust.


I had to say some last words this afternoon for our late, beloved Black & Decker Convection/Toaster Oven. It was Jan’s Christmas present in 2011 and it’s always worked great until now.

But this morning, a couple of minutes after I started our English muffins, all of a sudden, the magic smoke came billowing out the side vent where the electronics reside. And its little light blinked off for the very last time.

B&D Toaster Oven

Because, as everyone knows, when the magic smoke escapes, that’s all there is.

It will be missed.

At least until we visit Wal-Mart tomorrow.

The oven is dead. Long live the new oven.

Finally In Vandalia IL


May 24, 2015

Where Everyone Knows Your Name . . .

Well, after our 15 hour drive on Thursday, it would have been nice to sleep in a little more, but we were excited to get together with the family, or at least the first part of it. So we were out the door a little before 9 to meet the group down the road a couple of miles at the Denny’s.

The Denny’s here in Vandalia is pretty much the local hometown diner, not only where everyone knows your name, but you’re probably related by blood or marriage to three quarters of them. But the food is good, the service is great, and the manager stops to chat with everyone. Just a really great place.

After breakfast Jan rode back with her sister Debbie to her house while I came back to the hotel to catch up on some client computer stuff, (and to also catch a nap) finally heading down to Debbie’s about 3pm. Tried to get some shots of all the hummingbirds around Debbie’s flowers and feeders, but they were mostly too fast. Did get one though.

Debbie's Hummingbirds

Debbie's Hummingbirds2

Later in the afternoon we drove south to Salem, IL to Debbie and Jim’s son Jason and his wife Laura’s home. Laura and Jason have 3 daughters close to Landon’s age so they all had a great time playing on their trampoline.

Jason's Trampoline

Then it was off to the Village Garden, a favorite restaurant in the Salem area. Once a defunct Golden Corral, it’s now a great dinner location.

And this little cutie is Annisten, Jason and Laura’s youngest, who just sat across from me and stared. All night. I guess she was wondering just who the hell I was. But she’s a real beauty.

Village Garden 1

This is Ella, Annisten’s older sister, who looks more and more like her mother Laura every day.

Village Garden 3

Another cutie.

The oldest, Avery Jane, I never did get a good picture of because she never stops moving. I’ll try again later.

Then after a great meal, it was back to Debbie’s for a while, and then on to the motel.

Sleep at last.


May 24, 2017

Back Home in South Dakota . . .

By ‘Back Home in South Dakota’, Jan and I have been official South Dakota residents since March 28, 2008.

We bought our 2004 Dodge Dakota toad in Pearland, TX on December 15, 2007, and our 1999 American Eagle coach in New Braunfels, TX on December 28, 2008. But we didn’t register them in Texas, but in South Dakota.

I had already established an SD address with MyDakotaAddress in Madison, SD so all I had to do was to send them my bills of sale and other paperwork, and a week or so later I received my tags in the mail.

At that point we had 90 days to actually get to South Dakota to get our Driver’s Licenses, which we did on March 28th on our way to Alaska. And to do this, we drove from Billings, MT to Sturgis, SD on the afternoon of the 27th.

Unfortunately we had to make the trip in the middle of a snow storm. In fact it got so bad that I think the only way we made to Sturgis was that we were able to follow a snowplow into town. We spent the night in a motel, planning to get down to the community center the next morning to get our licenses.

But the next morning, we came out to this.

Stugis Ice 1

Stugis Ice 2

That’s ice, solid ice. It took me almost an hour to chip my way into the truck.

Because they have so many small towns out in the middle of nowhere, South Dakota has traveling licensing offices that move around the state on a regular schedule. And in this case they were in Sturgis on Friday, March 28th.

The traveling office consisted of two ladies and six big equipment cases, about 3’ x 3’ and about 18” high. The cases contained everything they needed to process and check your old licenses, administer the vision test, and then print and laminate our licenses. So 45 minutes later, after filling out our voting registration forms, we were on our way back to Billings, early enough that we thought about detouring out to see Devil’s Tower, but the roads out there had not been plowed yet.

Around 4pm we drove into Rapid City to have dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. Our last visit was in Las Vegas a month or so ago so it was about time. Unfortunately we missed Half Price Wings Tuesday, but it was still delicious. Just a little more expensive.

Buffalo Wild Wings Rapid City

Jan got her wings with Asian Zing Sauce and a side of Mango Habanero while I got mine with Mango Habanero and a side of Blazin’, their hottest sauce.

One thing I like about BWW over Hooter’s is that they don’t nickel and dime you. I got my wings all drums, and also asked for an extra Ranch dressing. Both would have been extra cost at Hooter’s, but not at BWW.

Tomorrow we’re driving down to Hill City to ride the 1880 Train from there to Keystone and back, a two hour round-trip. Leaving at 1:15 and back at 3:30, we’ll then have linner at the Alpine Inn, a well-known German restaurant in the area.

We chose to ride one of their steam locomotives rather than the diesel models.

Black-Hills-Central-110

It will be interesting to see if they’re still using the original link-and-pin coupler, or the Miller hook & platform on the passenger cars. But it will probably be the Janney coupler, since they also have to hook up to the more modern diesel. (Big Bang Reference)

And Not An Alligator, Either


May 24, 2018

Bucky is a Dog . . .

Not a Beaver.

Jan and I headed out about Noon for a client visit. I got a call from a long-time client on Tuesday needing some help with their DSL service and their Netgear modem.

A client for my pre-RVing days, I hadn’t heard from Arlene in several years. But it’s always nice to hear from an old friend. But just about the time we were leaving, I got a call from my main client saying that the Shipping computer in the back had lost its WiFi Internet connection. So I made a detour by the office first.

Normally I just have to unplug the WiFi USB dongle, wait about 10 seconds, and then plug it back in. But not this time. The WiFi drivers seemed to have just disappeared. I even tried plugging in a spare dongle, again with no luck.

So then I pulled out the big guns. I rebooted. And that fixed the problem. So I was off to my scheduled client.

Arlene has phone service / Internet service through Frontier/Verizon. Then a couple of weeks ago everything quit. The repair guy fixed something outside, hooked his test meter up inside, said they had phone service and Internet service, and then left.

And yes, the phones did now work, and by not the Internet. They could connect via WiFi via their Netgear DSL modem, but there was no Internet. But when they called Frontier they were told that the company would not do anything with a non-company modem and they were on their own.

Checking the modem, it had a green DSL light, and an amber Internet light. But the amber should have been green. So I started changing out the DSL cable, the DSL/Phone Line splitter, and even did a full reset on the modem. All with no luck.

So it sure looks like the modem is bad, but the only way to tell would be to swap a new one in its place. But that would mean buying a new one for ~$200. I suggested that they call Frontier and have them bring out a new one.

That way Frontier will be responsible for everything, and let them fix it.

Wrapping that up, Jan and I headed back into Webster, but before that we made a bathroom stop at a new convenience store near Johnson Space Center, called Bucky’s.

No, not Buc-ee’s, but Bucky’s.

I had wondered about the closeness in the names, especially since Buc-ee’s just won a lawsuit against Choke Canyon Travel Center, because they said Choke Canyon Alligator looked too much like Buc-ee’s Beaver.

Choke Canyon vs Buc-ee's

Not sure I can see the similarity.

But Bucky’s doesn’t have an animal in their logo,

Bucky's 1

and their Bucky is a dog.

Bucky's 3

But the place sure looks a lot like a Buc-ee’s, just not quite as big. Yet.

Bucky's 4

Bucky's 5

Then it was on over to Floyd’s Cajun Seafood for lunch, with a quick stop at the Webster PO to drop off a package.

And after our usual delicious meal, it was on up to Sam’s for a prescription and then the WalMart next door for a few things before we headed home.

Lady Sam


May 24, 2019

Afternoon Tea

Two years ago today, Jan and I were having Afternoon Tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel in London, something Jan had always wanted to try.

Looking at the guidebooks there were a number of places supposedly well-known for their Afternoon Tea, but figuring the locals would know better, I asked around at the hotel, and 3 for 3, they said the Chesterfield Mayfair. And since it wasn’t being flacked in the guidebooks, we had no trouble getting a reservation, so off we went today.

OK, you know you’re at a snotty British hotel when you pull up in your Uber and this guy greets you.

Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel Afternoon Tea 1

And it was just as elegant inside as you might expect.

Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel Afternoon Tea 2

Glad we dressed up.

And the dining room was a beautiful, sunlit, glass-enclosed atrium.

Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel Afternoon Tea 3

Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel Afternoon Tea 5

And though we could have ordered an afternoon meal, here was our Afternoon Tea menu.

Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel Afternoon Tea Menu

And here is what you get for your £80.

Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel Afternoon Tea 4

You’re supposed to start at the bottom and work your way up.

It would probably be gauche to mention here that it’s actually all you can eat. They will just bring you an entire new stand, or you can ask for a couple more of your favorites like we did.

Needless to say, this was our meal for the day.

And, of course, there’s tea with your Afternoon Tea. And not tea bags like us uncouth colonials use. But loose tea, a strainer, and a big pot of hot water.

Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel Afternoon Tea Tea

And you can try a lot of different teas, just like the selection of tidbits.

Now, though this was Jan’s first Afternoon Tea, I had Afternoon Tea with the Duchess and Lady Samantha (Sam, to me) a number of times. In fact the very first time I met the Duchess was for Afternoon Tea, and that’s also when I found out that the young British girl I had been hanging out with while we lived in Colombia, South America was a future duchess, and actual royalty.

I’ve blogged about this several times in the past, but if you missed it, here’s where you can catch up and find out the rest of the story

Robbing Peter To . . .

It’s down in the blog post after our visit to the Tower of London.

Anyway, I remember asking the Duchess one time, noting how fancy it all was (in fact I think hers was probably fancier than the hotel’s), just how fancy was ‘High Tea’?

I mean, ‘High’ is better, right?

Like High Mass and Mass in the Catholic Church. But No.

The Duchess just looked at me and said, “Oh, we would never have High Tea.” and left it at that. But later Sam explained it to me.

But this graphic probably does it better.

High Tea

Basically it’s a working man’s after-work meal where you sit around a tall counter in high chairs. Hence, High Tea.

See, the things you learn reading this blog.

Extra-Fudgy


May 24, 2020

Torchy’s And Brownies . . .

Jan and I headed up to Katy to have a Memorial Day Weekend get-together with Brandi, Lowell, and Landon. It wasn’t anything fancy, Lowell and I ran out and picked up Torchy’s Tacos and Brandi baked up a big pan of her extra-fudgy brownies.

All simple, but delicious.

We mostly just sat around and for some reason watched a replay of last year’s Indy 500. Then around 4pm Landon’s Bestie, Sophie and her mother biked over so Sophie and Landon could spend the afternoon together.

Landon and Sophie 20200524

Which they spent gaming each other sitting side by side, the same way they play each other when they’re at their homes.

Sophie and Landon have been friends for years, and their birthdays are so close that they usually celebrate their birthdays together. They’ll both be 10 in August, and it was a real surprise to see what a growth spurt she’d had since last August.

Then she was about an inch taller than Landon, but now she’s almost a foot taller. Of course that’s not unusual since girls usually get that spurt before boys do.

Don’t know if I’ve told this story before, but a couple of years before this, while Jan and I were up in Katy Landon-sitting, we were out driving around and Landon was on his iPad and talking to someone while he was sitting in the back seat.

When I asked him who he was talking to, he said, “Sophie.” So I said, “But isn’t Sophie in Sweden visiting her grandparents?”

And he said, “Yeah, so?”

Kids today have it so rough.

Before we headed home about 5pm, Brandi showed us all the improvements they’d made to their backyard pool area.

The fence on the right is new, finally replaced after it was taken out by Hurricane Harvey.

Really looking forward to a swim when the weather’s better.


Thought For The Day:

 

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