I’m Still Not Impressed . . .

Since Jan’s Landon-sitting up at Brandi’s in Katy, things have been pretty quiet here at the Casa Blanca RV. Just me and Karma.

I should be getting the Jeep back tomorrow, since the bolts came in today. But they got delivered to the wrong shop location, so someone had to go and pick them up.

Ole Smokey/Ole Reliable hit 309,000 going into work this morning. And that’s with another 120,000 mile on it being drug around behind the RV. Like a Timex, our Dodge Dakota just keeps on ticking.

I’m still not impressed with Verizon’s 5G speeds. At least around Houston. Maybe they’re better somewhere else, but not here.

When we were at the Cheddar’s up in the SH Tollway/Westheimer area yesterday, I checked 5G there and got this.

Cheddar's 5G

Not as pitiful as the other day over in the League City area, but still.

And when I used my Samsung Band Selection app to drop back down to 4G, I got this.

Cheddar's 4G

More than triple the 5G download speed and double the upload speed.

So what’s the big deal?


Thought for the Day:

Abraham Lincoln might have been a cannibal!

The Donner Party, famous for their culinary tastes, left for California from Springfield, IL in 1846. James Reed, one of the organizers of the ill-fated group, was a close friend of Lincoln, and they had served together in the Black Hawk War.

Reed encouraged Lincoln to travel west with the group and Lincoln was inclined to make the journey, but his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, put her foot down.

So instead, he decided to stay and run for office. Probably for the best.


July 6, 2009

Lake Fairfax and The Cheesecake Factory…

We left our site in Louisa, VA  about 11:45 am and headed north about 100 miles to the Lake Fairfax Campground in Reston, VA.

Lake Fairfax County Park

We’re really out in the woods here and our site proves it.  Although we have 50 amp electric, we’ll be without water and sewer for the next 6 days.  We should be OK.  I topped off our water tank to the full 100 gallons, instead of the 25 gallons or so we normally carry.

We don’t normally carry a full load of water because we only really need it for the few hours we’re on the road,  and a full tank weighs 825 pounds.  And the less weight we carry, the better gas mileage we get.

As far as our waste water tanks, our grey water (shower, sink, washer) tank holds 60 gallons and our black water (toilet) holds 40 gallons.

We shouldn’t have a problem with our black tank, but we have to be careful with the grey water because we use more of it.  Showers are the big culprit, so we try to take quick ones.  And using the washer is out.  It only takes a few loads to fill up the tank.

If worse comes to worse, we can just unhook and drive a few hundred feet to the dump station, but hopefully we won’t have to .

We’re going to spend the next 6 days seeing the sights in Washington, DC.  I think tomorrow we’ll do the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum and maybe one of the  trolley tours to help us get our bearings

Tonight we ate dinner at the Cheesecake Factory a few miles down the road in Sterling, VA.  I think it’s the first time we’ve ever eaten that we weren’t celebrating someone’s birthday.  Jan had the Chicken and Biscuits, and I had the White Chicken Chili.  Both excellent.


July 6, 2010

Last Day in the Texas Hill Country…

Today’s our last full day here in the Texas Hill Country, and, although we’ve had a great time during our 10 days here with our friend Gina, we’ve both got hitch itch so bad that I think I’ve actually got a rash.

At least I hope it’s from the hitch itch!

This morning we picked up Gina about 10:30 am and headed into San Marcos to have lunch at Red Lobster. Jan loves their Cheddar Bay Biscuits.

After lunch we drove over to the feed store in Sattler and picked up 160# of raccoon (dog) food. Apparently Purina doesn’t make Raccoon Chow, so dog food it is.

Getting back to Gina’s I cleaned up my tools and stuff, and took some photos of my deck project.

Here’s the ceiling fan I installed on the deck.

Deck 1

Here’s one of the flood lights. One points out into the yard, and the other lights the front of the deck.

Deck 2

Here’s the other light. One light illuminates the parking area to the right, and the other one lights the deck from the other side.

Deck 3

This is the waterproof switch box that controls the lights. The orange extension cord is not part of the switch box.

Deck 4

This is the connector box that hooks everything into the power.

Deck 5

And here’s where Gina moved the hummingbird feeder, away from the new ceiling fan, hoping to forgo that messy ‘hummingbird cuisinart” effect.

Deck 7

About 4:30 pm we headed over to the Lucky Sailor Restaurant on Canyon Lake for dinner. Jan had the Hot Wings, Gina had Fried Shrimp & Oysters, and I had a Grilled Chicken Breast. All good.

Dropping Gina off at her place, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the rig. Jan fed the last of the corn to the deer and we were in for the night.

Tomorrow we’ll head north on I-35 to a little past Waco for the night. I thought about going all the way to Dallas, but didn’t find any RV parks along our route that I was happy with.


July 6, 2013

Making Our Beauty Feel Old . . .

Well, as I mentioned last night, Jan headed out about 9am for the local Farmer’s Market, but she had gotten some bad info on the date.  As it turned out, the Farmer’s Market doesn’t start until July 20th and then goes every Saturday through September, and not the 1st Saturday of the month starting today as she was told.

So next it was off to the Gillette Cheese House to check out their large selection of Wisconsin cheeses, honey, and many other local products. But apparently the Cheese House isn’t open on weekends. Bummer!

About noon I went over to blog readers, Rich and Mary Coppens’ Alfa See Ya to take a look at some computer problems Rich was having with his Asus laptop. His printer wasn’t printing, and his machine was running really slow, with a lot of strange error messages.

It took a while, but after getting the old printer driver completely uninstalled and cleaned out of the registry, I then downloaded fresh Win 7 drivers from the Internet and got the printer reinstalled and working again.

Then I started cleaning out all the ‘gunk’ (yes, that’s a technical term) from his machine. When I started, the CPU usage was running about 50% just sitting there. But after deleting a lot of extraneous, unused programs and add-ons, and then cleaning out the registry, the machine was running much faster, the strange error messages were gone, and the resting CPU usage was bouncing between 0 and 3%, just about normal.

A little after 4pm we all headed out for dinner and a couple of errands. Our first stop was Wal-Mart to pick up a prescription before the pharmacy closed at 5pm. Then it was across the street for a return visit to Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant. We really enjoyed it when we were here the other day and everyone wanted to go back.

After a relaxing dinner, we headed home for the night.

At our site we had a new neighbor, a much newer, longer American Eagle. American no longer makes a 40 foot Eagle like ours, but only 42 and 45 foot tag axle models. We were happy to have Beauty’s cousin parked right next door,  but there was a problem.

Since we never had anyone parked south of us, I had placed the satellite dish over on that side. But now with a neighbor over there we no longer had a sat signal. But moving it out it out in front of our rig fixed the problem.

Tomorrow we’ll start getting ready to travel on Monday, with Jan and I heading east to Sioux Falls where we’ll spend about 4 day getting our drivers licenses renewed and take in some movies.


July 6, 2014

No Drones were Harmed in the Making of this Video . . .

First up, I thought you might want to check out this video of a drone quadcopter flying around and through a fireworks display. Supposedly it was done off West Palm Beach, FL, but I’m not sure if it was done this 4th of July , or a previous year. But it is amazing.

And if you want to try this yourself, and have about $1300 to spare, this is what was used.

DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter

DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter 2

New DJI Phantom 2 with GoPro Hero 3+

And amazingly enough, the drone survived this experience to fly another day.


On our last day here in Elkhart, the weather was still nice enough to once again sit outside with our coffee and muffins. And Mister decided to catch some rays.

Mister in Nick's Chair

We also had a number of these guys running around, poking up out of their holes and looking around.

Elkhart Prairie Dogs 1

Elkhart Prairie Dogs 2

They seem to be some sort of prairie dogs. Both chipmunks and ground squirrels have pointy ears, and chipmunks also have stripes. But these have no stripes and no ears, but they’re smaller than other prairie dogs we’ve seen around the country.

For his part, Mister finally just laid down in the grass and went to sleep, oblivious to all the wildlife around him.

Mister in the Grass 3

Since we were supposed to have rain later this afternoon, I went ahead and started putting away the chairs and other outside stuff so it would stay dry. I also packed away some stuff inside that I could go ahead and put up.

Later, after a nice nap, we headed out about 5pm to have dinner at Culver’s. We really like this place and I’m glad to see they’re coming to Texas.

After dinner, we made a quick stop at the nearby Wal-Mart. I wanted to get a new water filter to start using as soon as we get away from the bad, iron-rich water here in Elkhart. And I also grabbed a bottle of Diesel Kleen to dump in the fuel tank when we fill up tomorrow on our way to the Indian Lakes Thousand Trails down in Batesville, IN

When we got back to the rig, I had planned to go ahead and hitch up the truck, but I quickly realized that when we came back from having our windshield replaced I didn’t pull far enough forward to leave room to hook up without hanging over into the access road behind us.

So tomorrow it is.


July 6, 2015

So-so Food and Bad Coffee . . .

We pulled out of our site a little after 9am, with Jan following in the truck. Our final destination for today was Sun Valley, AZ. about 160 miles away. But right now we were heading for the Camp Verde shopping center parking lot.

We were leaving the rig there while we drove back up the road about a mile to have what unfortunately turned out to be a so-so breakfast at the Denny’s.

So-so service, so-so food, and really bad coffee. So bad that I only drank about 1/4 of mine, and I think Jan even less. I actually tried to redeem the coffee situation as we left by walking right next door to the Starbuck’s. But apparently the word was out about the bad coffee at Denny’s, and there was a line almost out the door. So no coffee for me today. At least it will be my coffee tomorrow morning.

Coming back to the rig, we stopped off at the Maverik station to top off the truck before parking behind the rig to get hooked up. I had left the fans running and a couple of windows open while we were gone, so it was still nice inside.

But we figured we’d need the AC’s today so I started up the generator to warm up while I hooked up the truck. And as I was finishing up, I heard the generator doing its speeding up and slowing down thing that it did when it didn’t work when we left Prescott a couple of weeks ago. So I was not surprised to find no power to the coach when I came back in.

Since it was now about 11am, the time I wanted to be on the road, we just went with the fans and windows.

Regular readers will be remember that I tested the generator a few days after we got to Verde Valley from Prescott, and everything worked fine, so I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working now.

As we drove along I was thinking about the problem. Why did it not work in Prescott,  then it did work in Verde Valley, and then it didn’t work today? After some further mulling, the only differing factor I could think of was that the two times it didn’t work, we were NOT plugged into the shore power when I started the generator. But at Verde Valley, when it worked, we were plugged in.

So tomorrow I’ll try starting the generator before I unhook shore power and see what happens. If it now works, then I’ll get on the phone with my transfer switch’s manufacturer and see what’s up. If that does work, at least I’ve got a workaround until I get a permanent fix.

We pulled into the Root 66 RV Park in Sun Valley about 3pm and were quickly pointed to our $20 FHU pull-thru site. This is not a destination park. It’s a two minutes off the Interstate to the spend the night, park.

Oh, and it’s also a petrified wood store.

Tomorrow we’ve got a 216 mile run to Albuquerque where we’ll stay for a couple days before moving on to Amarillo.


July 6, 2016

Apparently We Missed It . . .

Or we didn’t get the memo (or the flyer).

Well, we survived another day of Texas temps, but it really hasn’t been quite as hot as the 99+ temps that have been forecast for the next week or so. We’re actually seeing more like 95 to 96° here in Columbus.

Which means the AC’s are still cycling on and off. Which is very, very important now that we’re paying for our electric. In fact I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to got outside and check the power meter to see how many KWH we’ve used in the 4 days we’ve been on the meter so far.

That will give us some idea of what kind of ‘surprise’ we’re going to get when we leave on the 31st. Just hope it’s not a BIG surprise. At least the 100+ temps that they were forecasting for later in the week have disappeared.

After I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post about nothing going on here for the 4th, Ranger Barbara Spade quickly corrected me. Turns out we didn’t get the flyer. Or at least not the one for July.

We got the one for June in our packet when we checked in three weeks ago, but didn’t get the July one on Sunday when we re-upped for our month here.

Barbara said there was a golf cart parade and they drove right passed our rig, and even waved. But they were certainly quiet about it. I mean, what’s a 4th of July parade without a marching band?

Miss Karma is really growing up, certainly a good bit heavier that the 7# 9 oz. she weighed a few months ago when we got her spayed.

Miss Karma in Chair

I’ve tried tried to weigh her here in the rig, but she won’t have any part of it, even if I try to weigh us both together.

Sorry about the sparseness of the blogs recently. We’re just hunkering down to avoid the heat.


July 6, 2018

Last Day In My Old Hometown . . .

it’s our last full day here, so I wanted to do some prep work around the rig so we can get an early start tomorrow morning.

Since I still don’t  have the generator working so no AC, we want to get an early start letting us get  to Meridian between noon and 1pm, before it starts getting too hot.

First off I buttoned up the generator since I probably won’t look at it any more until we’re back home in Santa Fe. Then I crawled under the rig and replaced the slobber can on the engine.

I figured it was gone since I was getting some oil spotting on the front of the toad on this trip. And it had fallen off, so this time I replaced it with a larger can, one that peaches come it and tried to fasten it down a little better. We’ll see how it works now.

A little before 4pm Jan and I headed back over my Aunt Virginia’s for supper.On the way I made a quick detour through the Marathon station on the corner where we plan to diesel up tomorrow morning. It’s changed hands and brands since we were here last year, so I to be sure that my entry/egress points were still OK and also wanted to be sure they would be open by 7am or earlier.

Jan will follow me down in the truck and then we’ll hook up there.

Everything looked good so we headed on over to Ninny’s for the afternoon. We had decided to try a local Mexican restaurant called Las Trojas Cantina, but Ninny didn’t get finished doing her hair in time so I called ahead and picked up our order.

Turned out to be pretty good, especially considering it was ‘Ala’-Mex and not Tex-Mex. We finally left a little after 7pm, after saying our goodbyes until next year.

Aunt Virginia Calvin

And as usual Ninny sent us home with a lot of fresh-baked food. And we’re already looking forward to next year seeing everyone.


July 6, 2019

So Far, So Good . . .

About 4pm Jan and I drove over to the Victory Lakes/League City Denny’s for dinner/breakfast.  Normally I just have the 2 eggs, bacon, English Muffin, and fruit, but for some reason I’ve had kind of a sweet tooth the last week or two, so, uncharacteristically, I went with the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes.

Denny's Pancakes

Really good, but I think I’m in Sugar Overload Mode.

Then it was across the street to WalMart for a couple of things, but mostly for a temporary TENS unit like this one.

IcyHot TENS Unit

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve got one on order from Amazon that should be here on Monday, but after reading all the raves online from people with Sciatica using a TENS unit with great success, and having such a rotten time trying to sleep last night, I didn’t want to wait two more days.

Getting home, and unusual for me, I opened the box and read the directions. But then I am connecting my body up to a battery.

But it turned out to be pretty simple. Just connect the control unit to the electrode patch, stick it in place, turn it on, and press the + button to set the output between 1 and 63.

I increased the level to about 15, to the point where I could start to feel it. But it was not a shock but more of a vibration, or buzzing. The unit runs for 30 minutes and then shuts off. They recommend letting the battery rest for 5-10 minutes before restarting.

The unit seems to cycle in 15 second intervals, starting slow and light, and getting stronger and quicker.

I did start it up, and laid down for a couple of hours, and felt fine. But tonight will be the real test. I’m going to bump it up to 30 and see if I can get through the night without the burning pain?

We’ll see.

By the way, I also picked up a package of the refills.

IcyHot TENS Unit ReFills

Turns out the refills are just new electrode patches to use when the sticky wears off the first one. Seems like that’s what duck tape should be for.

Also, when I was checking this unit out online, I found a wide variation in pricing. While WalMart had it for $28.88, Walgreen’s had it for $39.99. And WalMart has the refill pack for $9.88, at Walgreen’s it’s $15.99.

So shop around.

If these things work, I’ll probably use both of them at various times, especially since the IcyHot version has no wires to get in the way when I’m out and about.


July 6, 2020

Another Day, Another Kludge . . .

Recently the dryer part of our 21 year old Splendide washer/dryer quit drying. Well, kind of.

The heater part was still heating, but the blower part quit blowing. So I pulled the unit out of its cubbyhole and popped the top off. Then the first thing I did was to spin the little fan on top of the blower unit, expecting it to be seized up like the last one was about 10 years ago. But it spun freely.

So maybe the motor was burned out. But when I checked the continuity across the motor terminals, I got the 7.5 ohms that the manual specified. So I hooked my voltmeter up to the wires coming into the motor. And got only about 50 volts, not the 120VAC I was expecting.

Tracing the wires back, I found they went right to the timer switch that directly controls the dryer. So now it was time to get on the phone with Westland Sales, the Splendide tech support/parts people to ask some questions, and order a new 88°C thermostat.

When I told the guy my problem he first ask me if the dryer timer was working and counting off the correct amount of time. When I told him yes, and that it was also turning on the heating coil like it was supposed to, he told that it was a known problem and that the contacts inside the timer had started to come apart. And he said that new timers were not available anymore, which is what I already figured.

And that even if I did find one, it was really a PITA to change out. Then while I had him on the line, I ordered a new thermostat from him. Which they did have in stock.

The reason I was replacing was that I noticed that one of the terminals was kind of loose and burnt-looking. And when I got it in a few days later and tried to pull the wire off, it just came apart like this.

Dryer Thermostat 1

So I took out the two screws holding it in, leaving just this.

Dryer Thermostat 2

And then popped the new one in place and fastened it down.

Dryer Thermostat 3

But while I was waiting on the thermostat to come in, I worked on my blower problem. The first thing I did was to put 120VAC directly to the motor to test it, and it worked.

And after thinking about it for a while I came up with a solution. A kludge, but a solution. I wired a power cord directly to the motor terminals like this,

Dryer Switch Wiring

and then ran it out the back panel of the dryer.

Then I plugged it into the same outlet the washer is plugged into through one of the these Alexa WiFi controlled switches.

TanTan Alexa Computer Switch

Now when Jan uses the dryer, she just sets the timer on the panel as normal, and then says, “Alexa, Dryer On’ and the blower motor starts up. Then when the clothes are done, she just says, “Alexa, Dryer Off’.

And if she forgets and leaves the blower running for a while it won’t hurt anything. Plus as soon as you open the washer door, you can feel it blowing so it’s hard to miss.

A kludge, but it works. And I didn’t have to spend $1300 for a new one.

At least not yet.


July 6, 2021

It’s Just Peachy . . .

Wrapping up yesterday’s Rib Fest, I’m very happy with our Inkbird Sous Vide Immersion Cooker.

Inkbird Sous VideAnd at about $55 after the built-in discount coupon, it’s a great deal.

It’s very quiet, and very fast to raise the water temperature to the desired point. And I was surprised at how tightly it held that desired temp.

During the 24 hour cooking cycle I never saw it deviate even 1 degree from the 150° set point. But it was very sensitive, because when I added a couple of cups of water, the temp would drop to 149° for a few minutes before popping back up to 150 again. And without any overrun up to 151 or so.

The phone app was very easy to set up, and even warns if it should run low on water. You can monitor it from anywhere you have a phone connection. And it texted me when the cooking cycle is done.

So as I said yesterday, sometime in the next couple of weeks, it’s Steaks.

A little after 1pm Jan and I headed over to Gator’s Bar & Grill for lunch, and then it was on up I-45 to WalMart for a few things before heading back toward home. But on the way we gave ourselves a special treat.

Whataburger has been advertising another of their limited-time shake flavors, and this time it’s Peaches & Cream. And the shakes were fantastic, like biting into an ice-cold peach.

If you have a Whataburger near you, give it a try. You won’t be disappointed, believe me.

Recently I came across a site called Daily Time Waste, and it is that. One of the areas is entitled PHOTOS THAT SHOW THE BREATHTAKING POWER OF NATURE.  And here’s an example.

Fernandina Beach Shells

This is Fernandina Beach, FL at the first low tide after Hurricane Matthew. Just WOW!

Check it out.

This is a photo of a brand-new SpaceX Falcon 9 before its first launch, and after 8 flights into space.

Falcon 9 New Vs Old

I guess it doesn’t need to be clean to fly into space.

And here’s a great video of a recent Falcon 9 landing back at the Cape. On most flights the first stage has to land on one of the drone ships out in the Atlantic because they don’t have enough fuel to make it all the way back to the Cape. But this launch was to put satellites into a polar orbit. So it was able to come back to the Cape.

The first part of the video shows the Falcon 9 on a tracking camera as it comes down to land. For the first 6 seconds or so, it’s just free-falling down from space. Then they ignite 3 of the 9 engines to bring it safely down to the landing pad.

Just amazing.


Thought for the Day:

Nobody realizes the tremendous energy I expend every day merely to appear normal.

  

   

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