Daily Archives: June 11, 2022

Never, Never, Never Again . . .

Everyone started heading home this morning, reluctantly leaving our beach-side slice of paradise. Since we only had a 260-mile trip to Baton Rouge, we were the last ones to leave, so right before I locked up, I took one last look.

We hadn’t planned to leave until about 9, but were on our way a little before 8, with our first stop planned for the Robertsdale Buc-ee’s about an hour away, right before we got on I-10.

Big Mistake!

As I mentioned in a previous blog, we tried to stop there last Saturday on our way here, but it was just too busy, with cars lined up down the feeder and alongside the Interstate shoulder. But I was hoping that since we were getting there a lot earlier that it wouldn’t be as busy.

Big Mistake!

Getting into the place wasn’t really a problem, and we found a handicapped space right in front of the door. And between a bathroom break, coffee, and kolaches, we were back out in the Jeep in less than 20 minutes.

But kind of like the Hotel California, we could check out, but we could never leave. Or at least it seemed like it.

I don’t know who designed the traffic flow for this place, but it’s one big bottleneck, The In and Out lanes criss-cross several times, plus the gas pumps allow people to enter and exit all willy-nilly. It took us almost 45 minutes just to get out of the parking lot, and most of that time we were just sitting still, not moving an inch. Just one big gridlock.

Never, Never, Never Again. At least until they get their traffic problem fixed.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, it took us another 45 minutes to get across the Mobile Causeway and through the tunnel under Mobile Bay. But once out on the other side, things picked up to normal speed.

We finally got into Baton Rouge about 3pm, with our first stop at the Sonny’s BBQ just east of the I-10/I12 split. As we normally do, we eat before we check in to our hotel so we don’t have to leave again.

We both got our usuals, with Jan’s Sliced Pork Sandwich with BBQ Beans and Mac N Cheese,

and my Pork 3 Ways, with Ribs, Pulled Pork, and Sliced Pork.

Tomorrow we’ve got about a 6-hour drive to get home, hopefully with not as much slow down like today.


Thought for the Day:

Somewhere, someone out there is doing something without permission and having fun.

They must be stopped.

 

Rumble…Rumble…Brarummmmm!


June 11, 2009

Pizza and Solenoids…

Well, we left the park in St. Augustine about 10:30 am heading north.  We had planned to stop for lunch north of Jacksonville and then head another 100 miles further north to overnight at a KOA park just south of Savannah.

The stopping for lunch part went just fine.  We stopped at Boston’s Pizza, a chain that we first discovered in Dawson Creek, BC, Canada.  Later on, we found them in Whitehorse, YK, Canada, and Fairbanks, AK.

We ate at the one in Fairbanks regularly when we were there for 5 months last year.  They have great pizza, probably our favorite.

As I said, the stopping for lunch part went just fine.  However, the heading further north part didn’t go so well.

When we got ready to leave the restaurant, the coach wouldn’t start.  Or rather, it wouldn’t crank.  Everything seemed to be fine, otherwise.  No error messages or warning lights.

I even tried the Aux Start system, in case the engine batteries had run down for some reason. 

Our coach has 6 batteries.  2 12 volts batteries provide the starting and engine power just like the single 12-volt battery in your car. (big diesels require more starting power than your car).

Our coach also has 4 big 6-volt batteries that power the coach when we are not plugged into shore power.  Normally these two battery systems are completely separate.  However the Aux Start button lets you use the coach batteries to start the engine in case the engine batteries are dead.

With no luck.

I then checked the voltage at the engine batteries while Jan tried to start the engine.  The voltage did not change.  This told me that the starter was not pulling any current. 

Normally when you start your car, the battery voltage will drop significantly while the engine is cranking.

After taking to Cummins Diesel to confirm that I hadn’t missed anything obvious,  I started checking out the starter system.

First, I had Jan try to start the coach while I listened back by the engine.  I heard fuel and lift pumps starting up, and other noises, but no starter or Bendix noises.

Luckily we were in a large shopping center parking lot, and not by the side of the road.  And since we had been parked for an hour, both the engine and the pavement underneath were cool.

Next, I crawled under the engine and checked the voltage at the starter while using a walkie-talkie to tell Jan to try to start the engine.

No voltage.  This told me that the starter wasn’t getting any power.  It also meant that the starter itself probably was OK.

Next, I checked the voltage at the starter solenoid that controls the power to the starter itself.  Again, no voltage.

I then tried to check the two smaller wires that feed the signal from the key switch to the starter solenoid.  One of the wires was on top of the solenoid that I couldn’t easily reach, but when I touched the one that I could reach, it came off in my hand.

The ring terminal that was used to connect the wire to the screw terminal was broken.

A ring terminal looks like this.

ring terminal

Mine was broken right at the base of the circle inside the plastic crimp. The plastic was all that was holding it together.

Things were looking up.  There was a really good chance that this was my problem, and it was something I could fix.  Maybe.

The problem was that I really didn’t have a lot of room to work in.  The wire was only about 3″ long and I needed to be able to splice a longer wire with a new ring terminal to it.

If that didn’t work, my fallback plan was to hold the wire on the terminal by hand while Jan started the engine.  This would get us on the road since the wire only needed to be connected while starting. not running.  However, I would have to do this every time we started the engine until I could get it fixed. 

Bummer!

It took about 15 minutes of struggling, but finally, I had the new wire spliced in and connected to the solenoid terminal.

Crawling out from under the coach and going back into the coach, I crossed my fingers and turned the key.

Rumble…rumble…Brarummmmm!

So only an hour and a half late we were finally on our way.

Two uneventful hours later, we pulled into a nice site at the KOA park in Richmond Hill, GA.

KOA

We’ll only be here one night, so it was nice to have a long pull-thru site so we didn’t have to unhook the toad.

Tomorrow we head out for Hardeeville, SC for 4 days or so to spend some time in Savannah, GA, and in Beaufort, SC, where we used to live.

 

On To The Wedding


June 11, 2010

Work, Work, Work…

Today I spent some more time working around the coach and getting us ready to travel.

First I finished cleaning the bugs off the top of the front cap and windshield, and then cleaned the side windows.

Next, I set up a new hose reel to store the air hose that I use to add air to my rig and toad tires.

About 2 pm I went down to the Elk’s Lodge office to pay for an extra day here. Originally we were going to leave tomorrow, Saturday. But now we’ll be leaving Sunday on a 6-day, 1000-mile trip back to Austin for our daughter Brandi’s wedding. We’ll probably do it in 5, but I like having an extra day just in case we have problems.

Around 4 pm I saw a news story in the Internet about a plane crashing into the Round Valley High School in Springerville, AZ. We passed through Springerville a few days ago on our sightseeing trip out to Greer and back, and we drove right by that high school. It looks like only the two occupants of the plane were killed.

Here’s a picture of the video camera I mounted on top of the engine under the bed to monitor the operation of the PacBrake exhaust brake. That’s it being held in place by the two white TyWraps.

As I said when I posted the resulting pictures a few days ago, I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to proceed next. I probably won’t worry about it until we’re back in Texas and the wedding is over.

VideoCam

About 5 pm we all drove over to Licano’s Mexican Restaurant here in Show Low to have what turned out to be a great Mexican meal. And we got home a little before 7 pm and were in for the night.

 

First Time In Bend


June 11, 2011

Even the Weeds were Delicious . . .

For me, this morning started about 7:15 when I got up before Jan and started getting us ready to roll. I took down the sat dish and got everything done outside except for dumping and unhooking power.

About 8:15 I woke up my sleepyhead so she could get ready to go to breakfast at the Hi-Lo Diner, as we’d decided to have one last meal there before we left.

Getting back to the park, we dumped our tanks, said our goodbyes to some new friends, unhooked power, and hit the road.

Right down the block to the Pilot to take on some diesel. In checking my Silverleaf, we did 882 miles on this tank and used 109.6 gallons for a little over 8 MPG. Not bad considering all the hills we’ve climbed since I last filled up in Las Vegas on May 10th.

About 10:45 we hitched up and pulled out down the road. Taking a back street, rather than getting out on I-5 and then right back off, we drove thru downtown Weed and then out of town on US 97, heading north. For the first 12 miles or so we were retracing our route to the Mt. Shasta Lavender Farm, but after that, it was all new scenery for us. And very scenic it was.

We gradually climbed up through 5000 feet and then the land started to level out, with light to medium forest cover. About 70 miles before we reached the park, we could see Mt. Scott off to the left, which marks Crater Lake, one of our sightseeing destinations while we we’re in this area.

The road, although mostly two-lane with a lot of passing lanes, was overall pretty good with no real bad spots. A good day’s travel.

We pulled into the Bend/Sunriver Thousand Trails at about 2:45. To make it easier to find a site, we pulled into a large parking lot to unhitch the toad and drive it around.

Since we won’t have sewer hookups I wanted to try to find a site near one of the 2 dump sites. Looking at the map, we drove to the rear of the park and found the perfect site. Although there are some other rigs within a few hundred feet of us, we can’t see them and they can’t see us.

Perfect!

Here we are all tucked in, nice and cozy.

Tucked in Nice and Cozy

When we were looking for a site, I was careful to pick one where I thought I could get a satellite view. Here’s what I ended up with for 85% signal.

And as happens occasionally, I set the dish down on the picnic table, leveled it, and went inside to turn on the sat receiver. And it came up locked on the signal.

Also nice.

Sat View

Here are a couple of views of the roads leading away from our site.

Sunriver 1

Sunriver 2

Of course, if you’re a little more sociable, the sites toward the front of park are less forested and closer together.

But who wants that?

Sunriver Front

And I have 4 bars of 3G with good Internet service.

All in all, a very nice park.

About 5 Jan and I headed out for dinner. We decided to check out a place called Boondock’s that was advertised in the RV park brochure. We always try to patronize these places and let them know we’re from the park

Inside and out, the place was nice, but nothing fancy. But boy, was the food delicious.

Boondocks

Jan ordered the Captain’s Seafood Platter with Beer Battered Cod, Scallops, Prawns, and Clam Strips, and I had the Pork Loin Marsala with Pears.

When our salads came, Jan looked at it with some trepidation. This is not Jan’s kind of salad, as there’s not a piece of iceberg lettuce anywhere in there.

As Jan said, “These are weeds”. But after tasting it with the homemade Bleu Cheese dressing, and sprinkled with candied slivered almonds and Craisins, she had to admit, “Even the weeds here are delicious.”

Weed Salad

Our meals were fantastic, and we’re definitely going back before we leave in 10 days.

Since we’re about 200 miles further north, we’re running into colder weather again, with mid 30’s expected here tonight.

Nice!

 

A Really Neat Cat


June 11, 2014

And Now We Know . . .

A little before noon, Mister and I headed down to the Animal Care Clinic – North, a nearby vet clinic to have his infected ear looked at.

First off, he made a real impression, walking into the clinic on a leash, and then once inside. he looked around and then just walked over to one of the couches, hopped up, and laid down.

He even stayed there when I went over to the desk to check in. The receptionist called to several of the other ladies to check this cat. And when a couple of them came out to the waiting area to see him, he sat up on his haunches and waited to be petted.

When I took him into the exam room to see the vet, I put him down on the exam table and he just laid down. Didn’t try to jump off, or anything.

He let the vet check him over with no fuss, and we found out he’s down to a svelte 24 pounds from his high of 29+. We knew he’d lost some weight when he had that bad reaction to a flea infestation. The vet said there’s no problem with his weight, he’s just a big cat.

She took a swab of his ear and mentioned he had a growth in his ear about the size of a pea. I had thought it was swollen from the infection, but she said a lot of cats get these, and most of the time they go away on their own.

But in Mister’s case, his is partially blocking the ear canal, keeping fresh air and sunlight from reaching in there, encouraging the growth of bacteria. And after looking at the results of the swab under the microscope, she gave me a much stronger solution to put in his ear that will hopefully take care of the problem.

Mister then followed me out to the truck on his leash, and when I opened the door, he jumped in and then went over his side of the seat.

Smart Cat!

Since Jan was feeling a lot better, we made our Mishawaka run today, dodging intermittent heavy rain the whole time.

First up, we spent some time checking out Barnes & Noble, and then drove across the parking lot to have dinner at Famous Dave’s BBQ, one of our three favorite BBQ chains(Famous Dave’s, Rudy’s, and Sonny’s)

I had my usual (and delicious) Ribs and Sausage Combo, with Corn, Wilbur Beans, and Firecracker Green Beans.

Famous Dave's Mishawaka 1

Jan had their Ribs and Sweetwater Catfish combo with Wilbur Beans and Fries.

Famous Dave's Mishawaka 2


Our daughter Brandi called this afternoon and insisted I print an update on Landon’s dirty shirt in yesterday’s Darth Vader photo.

Landon as Darth Vader

She said that’s not food all over his shirt, but washable marker stains. He loves to draw and apparently is very good at it. But he does get the markers all over him.

At least that’s her story and she’s sticking with it.

 

S mutans And S aureus


June 11, 2015

Make Up Your Mind, Part Deux . . .

After another nice, quiet morning, Jan and I headed out about 3pm for an afternoon of fun and folic. As we were leaving the rig, the service manager came by to let us know that it looked like everything was on schedule for Monday morning to take our rig into the shop to finish our repairs. So hopefully we will be on our way by the end of next week. Maybe.

Our first stop was the Sears at Gateway Mall to pick up a new tool kit. I saw an ad that Sears has a $99 42 pc. 3/8” and 1/4” driver set on sale for $30, so I thought I’d get my Father’s Day present a few days early.

Sears Driver Kit

I’ve got several different sets of drivers scattered over several sets of tools, but this will consolidate them all in one set.

Our next stop was the Harbor Freight Tools at the other end of the mall, I was looking for a buffer wheel kit for my drill motor. I want something that I can use to buff up my aluminum wheels and get them shiny again, and they had just what I wanted. Along with a couple of other things, too.

Our last stop was the Golden Corral right down the road. The food was good, but unlike our previous visits, as they got busy, they fell behind on getting food out on the buffet. So things I wanted seconds on, like the Tempura-Battered Fish, Mandarin Orange Pork, and Corn on the Cob, weren’t available.

Or maybe they were just trying to tell me something.

Make Up Your Mind, Part Deux . . .

Remember when you were a kid, and you were told that eating too much sugar would cause tooth decay? Then a while back they discovered that tooth decay is actually caused by the bacteria Streptococcus mutans. If you don’t have colonies of S mutans in your mouth, the amount of sugar you consume doesn’t really matter.

The S mutans bacteria is passed on to babies by the mother. So if the mother doesn’t have it, then the baby probably won’t either. This explains why some people just don’t get any cavities, ever.

Remember when they told us that people got stomach ulcers from too much stress, and/or eating too much spicy food? Well, then they discovered that stomach ulcers are actually caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. So now a treatment of antibiotics will usually take care of your ulcer.

Now we’re told that it’s very possible that Type II diabetes may very well also be caused by a bacteria, and not really from obesity. This time the culprit is Staphylococcus Aureus.

By exposing rabbits to S aureus for a long period of time, the rabbits appear to develop all the symptoms of Type II diabetes. This explains some skinny people get Type II also. You can read more about this at the link above.

Makes you wonder what they’re going to find out that they don’t know next.

 

“Can You Hear Me Now?”

June 11, 2016

I Guess His Non-Compete Expired . . .

Have you noticed that the “Can You Hear Me Now?” guy from the Verizon commercials a few years ago, is now doing commercials for Sprint, talking about how much better it is than Verizon? Some lawyer must have left a clause out of his contract.

A month ago when we were here at Lake Conroe, I tried the new in-park Wi-Fi called Fast Wave, and was very disappointed in both the speed and the connection quality. Costing $14.95 for a week of service, at about 2.5 Mbps, it was not much faster than my Verizon 3G AirCard, but even worse, it was start/stop. We couldn’t even watch a 30-second Facebook video without it jerking on and off.

So when we got back here this time, I called their Tech Support to ask about the problems I found. Several people had told me they didn’t have any problems so I wanted to inquire further.

When Tech Support got back to me, they said I should have been getting better speeds than that, without the start/stop. They suggested I try it again and they would refund my full fee if I wasn’t satisfied. So last evening I signed up again.

And so far, so good.

I’m getting 3.0+ Mbps with no jerkiness, and an 8ms ping, which in itself is amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ping that low, even on cable or DSL. And FWIW I’m connected to the same access point I was last time, with 5 bars of signal strength.

Hope it holds out for the next week.

About the only thing I did do today was to replace the battery in my Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone. I try to do this about once a year, since my S5 starts to lose charge time, and a new one only costs about $8 and only takes about 5 minutes to swap out.

Right now the S5 is the last of the line with a replicable battery. And although the S5 is pretty waterproof, the S6 and S7 are even more so. And to that, the case has to be sealed such that it would be a lot more difficult to make one that could be opened and not lose its waterproofness.

And that’s about it for today.

Tomorrow we plan on heading down to The Woodlands to see a movie and then have dinner at Torchy’s Tacos. Really looking forward to it.

 

The Nice, Even Road Selection


June 11, 2017

Glad I Waited . . .

We slept in this morning, not getting up until about 8am, and then had a leisurely breakfast of orange juice, coffee, and bacon/egg croissant sandwiches.

Since we hadn’t unhitched the truck last night and didn’t unpack a lot inside the rig, we really didn’t have a lot to do to get ready to roll. We pulled out of the Belvidere KOA about 10, one of the last RV’s still left.

Five miles down the road it was suddenly 11am, when we entered the Central Time Zone once again. We followed 1-90E for about 20 miles till we turned south on US83, heading for North Platte, NE, about 200 miles away.

The first thing we noticed was that as soon as we turned on 83 the road went to crap. And stayed crap for the next 67 miles until we entered Nebraska  Then it was like we flipped a switch over to the Nice, Even Road selection. Then it was smooth sailing for the remaining 125 miles.

Soon after we entered Nebraska we encountered the Sandhills, an area of sand dunes covered in grasslands, that occupies over one-quarter of the state.

Nebraska Sandhills

There have been unsuccessful attempts to farm parts of the Sandhills since the 1870’s, some lasting until the early 1900’s. Today the Sandhills are home to over 530,000 head of cattle, and we saw many large herds as we came south.

We pulled into the I-80 Lakeside Campground, a Passport America park, about 3:30, and were led to our grass site by the owner’s granddaughter on her go-kart, a first for us. And by 4pm we were all set up and watching TV. Nice.

Tomorrow afternoon we plan on checking out the Golden Spike Tower that overlooks the Bailey Yard, the largest railroad switching yard in the world.

Finishing up, when we leave here Wednesday morning I want to get more diesel since I wasn’t able fill up on Saturday, due to only being able to use each credit card once. So, using Google Maps, I’ve already scouted out a place to for us to hopefully fill up when we leave.

It looks to have plenty of room to get the rig in and out, and probably even hitch up. And even better, diesel is only $2.25 a gallon.

Glad I waited.

 


June 11, 2021

City Museum of St. Louis . . . continued

Finishing up our rooftop visit, Gwen and Landon both tried out the smaller of the 3 slides, the largest one, as I mentioned being 10 stories high.

Gwen was too quick for me,

City Museum Slide Gwen

but I did manage to get a video of Landon coming down,

The rooftop has a little bit of everything, and a great view of the city, Well, a great view of everything EXCEPT the St. Louis Arch, which was blocked by another building.

The highest point on the rooftop is this globed spire, that you can climb up inside.

City Museum Rooftop Spire 1

So of course our group took up the challenge to see how many they could cram into the spire.

City Museum Rooftop Spire 2

Starting from the bottom, that’s Landon, Avery, Ella, Alexa, and Gwen.

Back inside, we came across more and more animal motifs, of every different size, shape, and color, some real and some fanciful.

City Museum Fish Railing

City Museum Seahorse

City Museum Fish 2

City Museum Maze 2

City Museum Maze

City Museum Fish

City Museum Crab

Back out on the side of the building was more and more of a little bit of everything.

City Museum Outside Columns

City Museum Outside 3

City Museum Outside Spire

City Museum Outside2

City Museum Ostriches

City Museum Outside1

While we were sitting inside and the kids were getting drinks, I noticed I had 5G again on my phone, so I thought I’d give it a try.

And WOW!

5G St Louis

You’re reading it right. That’s 151 Mbps, the fastest I’ve ever seen anywhere. And the 36.1 Mbps upload speed is faster than most download speeds I’ve seen.

Finally, about 4pm, we herded everyone together and started back toward home, but with a planned dinner stop along the way. And boy, I’m glad we did.

Bandana’s BBQ is a medium-sized chain with 30 locations, mostly in Missouri and Illinois, with a few in Indiana, Iowa, and Kentucky. And they’re a favorite with Debbie and her family. And now a favorite with ours.

We had called ahead, so they were ready for the 18 of us, and we were seated immediately. And the food came out very fast too.

Jan got the Smoked Pork, with Sweet Potato Fries and Fried Green Beans, and an add-on Rib,

Bandana's BBQ Jan

while I got the Pork and Brisket Platter, with BBQ Beans and Fried Okra, and also with an add-on Rib.

Bandana's BBQ Greg

That’s about it for yesterday, so tomorrow I’ll try to catch up with what happened today.

Our Karma-sitter Jennifer did send over this photo of her in her favorite bed which we took with her.

Karma at Jennifer's

Seems to be doing OK.


Thought for the Day:

“After you pull the pin, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend.”

   

    …..

 

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