It ‘s Here . . .

Jan’s new Chromebook came in today and I spent the evening getting it all set up for her to take with her on Sunday when she goes up to Brandi’s for a week of Landon-sitting.

Still got a few more things to finish up tomorrow.


Thought for the Day:

“Why is our memory good enough to retain the least triviality that happens to us, and yet not good enough to recollect how often we have told it to the same person?” — Francois de La Rochefoucauld


August 5, 2009

There be Whales here…

Today we took a whale watching tour boat out of Barnstable Harbor and unlike our whale watching tour in San Diego in February 2008, this time we actually saw whales… lots of whales… humpback whales everywhere.

We headed out to sea about 2:30 pm on the Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises boat, named what else, ‘Whale Watcher’.

Whale Watcher

It’s a 130 foot jet boat that can carry almost 400 people.

It was specially built for whale watching, and the fact that it’s a jet boat means two things.  It gets out to the whale area, the Stellwagen Banks, a lot faster,  and once there, the fact that it has jet nozzles and not propellers, means that it can get in closer to the whales without worrying about them getting hit with the props.

And we did get close,  like right along side.

Stellwagen Banks is a National Marine Sanctuary about 40 miles off Barnstable, MA harbor.  It covers about 800 square miles and is basically an underwater mountain ridge that comes to about 120 feet of the surface.

The surrounding seabed is almost 400 feet deep. This means that ocean currents upwell along the steep sides of the ridge, bringing with them nutrients and minerals from the bottom, feeding the local ecosystem and attracting larger animals to the area.

On our way out to the banks, we past by Sandy Neck, an isolated but picturesque vacation area.  And by isolated, I mean it can only be reached by boat or ATV and has absolutely no utilities. I guess if you really want to get away from it all, this is the place for you.

Sandy Neck 1

Sandy Neck 2

The lighthouse dates from 1852 and is still in use, but now it’s solar powered.

It took us about an hour to get out to the whales, but when we got there, they were everywhere.

At first we just saw tails…

Whale 1

Whale 11

and fins !!

Whale 2

Everyone crowded to the sides of the boat trying to get the best view.

Whale Boat 1

And then there they were…

Whale Breaching 1

Whale Breaching 2

And then they were all around us…

Whale 3

Whale 4

Whale 5

Whale 6

Whale 7

Whale 8

Whale 9

Whale 10

We saw several different pods, or groups of whales, and about 15 or 16 individuals.

The whales are identified by their tail markings and the naturalist on board said they have a catalog that lists over 1000 whales that have been spotted in this area since 1972 when they started counting.

Jan and I had a great time as you can see from the smiles on our faces in this pic.

Jan And Greg Go A Whaling

It was almost 7 pm by the time we got back to the dock with more scenic views of the small fishing village.

Docking

Whaling Dock 2

Whaling Dock

On our way back to the rig, we stopped for supper at a really good Chinese buffet place called Cape Cod Super Buffet. By the time we got home was almost 9pm and time to call it a day.  A great day!

Tomorrow is our last full day here on Cape Cod.  Friday we will head out for Woonsocket, RI.


August 5, 2010

You can go home again…kind of…

We left for Logansport IN about 10 am, first stopping by McDonald’s for a chicken biscuit breakfast for Jan.

We made the 90 mile trip in about two hours and started driving around town. Our quest was to find the house where Jan lived in 1956 when she was 8. Her father was stationed at Bunker Hill AFB for about two years, after about a year in Logansport they moved to Peru, IN to be closer to the base.

Jan remembered her house was a block or so from the Eel River, and several blocks from Riverside Park, and its carousel. After 15 minutes or so we found her house, still at 75 18th St. The only real change beside the new siding was that when Jan lived there the front porch was screened in.

Logansport House

It still had the same barn-shaped garage in the backyard opening on the alley behind the house.

Logansport Garage

And across the street, what was just a vacant field when she lived there, is now a city park.

Logansport Park

Next we headed about 3 blocks away to Riverside Park, where Jan, her sister Debbie, and their friends, would walk to ride the carousel there in the park.

And the carousel was still there too. But now it’s inside.

This carousel had a long and rich history. It was built around 1885 by Gustav Dentzel. Dentzel’s family had been building carousels in Germany since the early 1800’s. Gustav came to America with a carousel and set it up in Pennsylvania, PA in 1861, possibly the first carousel in the Western Hemisphere. And the Dentzel family still builds carousels today, with more than 30 carousels in places like Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, San Francisco Zoo, and Dollywood.

Logansport Carousel 1

This carousel is one of the most complete Dentzel carousels in the world.

Logansport Carousel 4

This ride still allows you try and grab the brass ring from this arm. If you grab a ring, you get a free ride.

Logansport Carousel 2

In 1919 the carousel was moved from Fort Wayne, IN and placed in Spencer Park in Logansport. Then in 1949 it was moved to Riverside Park and placed in this building, where it was when Jan was riding it in 1956.

Logansport Carousel 3

In 1987 the carousel was declared a National Historical Landmark and was moved inside a beautiful new building in 1995, where it resides today.

Jan also used to ride a train around the park, and it still runs today on this same track. The locomotive and two cars is stored in the small green building in right rear of this photo. When the train is running the buildings doubles as a ‘tunnel’.

Logansport Train

We also found that Logansport has its own set of city mascots, and, of course, theirs is a carousel horse.

Logansport Mascot

After a so-so lunch at Broadway Cafe in downtown Logansport, we headed back to Elkhart about 2 pm. We got back about 4, but stopped off at the new Martin’s Supermarket near the park. Very nice store.

Tomorrow we’ll do some more chores around the rig, and just enjoy the nice cool weather. Tomorrow the high is supposed to be 80 and the low tomorrow night 57. Just great!


August 5, 2011

On Wisconsin . . .

We pulled out of our site at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds a little after 9, and then pulled into a large parking lot next door to get hitched up, and by 9:25 am, we were back on I-94 east heading to St. Paul, MN area.

After checking out the area, I finally decided to get us a reservation at St. Paul East RV Park. They had a 50 amp and water site, and it was the last one.

The trip was easy. the roads mostly good, and we made good time, at least until we stopped for diesel in the community of Rogers, about 25 miles west of Minneapolis.

The area was very busy with stores and shopping malls, and we spent about 15 minutes just driving around, trying to get into a station. There was a TA in the area, but we were never able to get to it. We ended up at a Holiday Oil and got fueled up very quickly.

And then it took another 15 minutes or so to get back on the Interstate because the signs leading us there took us around thru neighborhoods and then up hill and down dale. But finally we were back on I-94 heading thru downtown Minneapolis.

My Silverleaf computer interface said we had driven 948.2 miles since we left Cody, WY and used 98.9 gallons of diesel for an average of 9.6 miles per gallon.

See, driving 55 really works.

We pulled into the St. Paul East RV Park about 3:30 and got set up.

We were given a nice pull-thru site with 50 amp and water. Of course it is kind of intimidating being parked next to this beautiful 45’ Marathon Coach

St Paul East RV Park

Of course, maybe not as intimidating as on our first RV trip in a rental Class C in Las Cruces, NM.

Las Cruces RV Park

About 4:30 we headed out to have dinner at an Applebee’s right down the road. They’ve got some really good items on their new menu.

After leaving the restaurant we stopped off at a nearby Gander Mtn. and then it was back to the park.

As usual I have no idea where we’ll be staying tomorrow night. We’re heading to the Wallace, MI and there are not a lot of RV parks in the area.

We’ll see how it goes.


August 5, 2013

The Circus is in Town . . .

We had hoped to leave Elkhart at 9am, but we did a little better, pulling out about 8:45. Our first stop was about 3 miles down I-90W at the BP Travel Plaza to top off our diesel tank. $345.00, 87 gallons of diesel, and 2 Starbuck’s Cinnamon Dolce Lattes later, we were back on the road by 9:40am. Of course it was 8:40 Central Time where we were headed, Vandalia, IL, about 330 miles away, so we were actually a little ahead of schedule for a change.

The rest of the day was two toll roads, and four Interstates; I-90, I-80, I-57, and finally I-70. Once we got on I-57S Jan took over for about 130 miles. I think she’s driven more this year than the past 5 years together.

Just north of Effingham, and about 50 miles from our destination, I took back over for the last section. We pulled into Timber Trails Campground in Mulberry Grove about 3:30 and went directly to our site. We’ve stayed here a number of times while we visited Jan’s sister, Debbie, and had talked to the campground early in the day today, so we just went straight there and parked.

After getting set up, we headed over to Debbie’s about 4:15, to meet up with everyone except Jason’s wife Laura, who was working. But we got to see all the rest, Debbie, her husband, Jim, son Jason, daughters Tana and Christina, and the kids, Gwen, Avery Jane, Ella, and Annisten. And of course, the dogs, Murphy, Nacho, and Phoenix.

Yes, it was a circus.

Debbie had put together a great meal of Beef Stroganoff and Green Beans from their garden, along with hot buttered rolls to round out the feast.

Tomorrow, we’re meeting everyone at Denny’s for breakfast at 9am.

Oh boy! Another morning to get up early.


August 5, 2014

Banana Nut Bread . . .

I was up about 10am with a problem to work on. My kind of day.

So after coffee and cinnamon toast, I was outside ready to go to work.

But, dang it ‘s hot out here. It’s only a little after 10:30 and it’s already 87 here. I want my Polar Vortex back. I like the 70 degree days and the 50 degree nights. And because of the temps, I really need to fix my problem. When we went to supper last night, the AC in the truck was dead. Nothing but hot air.

I had noticed the last couple of months that it seemed to take a little longer to cool down than usual. So I was hoping it just needed some Freon. But after some checking, I’m not sure. When you turn the AC on, the compressor isn’t kicking in. I should hear a loud clunk and the center of the compressor pulley should rotate. That’s not happening. So it could be a problem with the electric clutch.

There are several reasons for the clutch not pulling in. The first one is no power. The second one is that the clutch is defective.

The No Power problem can have several causes: blown fuses, bad relay, or the low-pressure switch. So I checked the fuses, and swapped the relay out with an identical one on another circuit. No luck.

As far as the low-pressure switch, it opens and shuts the compressor off if the Freon level gets so low that the compressor can be damaged if it runs. But the gauge that comes with the Freon can shows pressure on the system, enough pressure to not be a problem.

So to double-check all this, I disconnected the power connector coming to the compressor clutch and found 13.6 volts. This eliminates all of the above problems.

And at this point I ran out of time. The next thing I was going to check would be to use my ohmmeter to check the resistance of the clutch coil. If the coil reads open then that’s the problem. And on most compressors you can replace the clutch without replacing the compressor. Much cheaper

But this will have to wait until tomorrow because I had to get ready so Jan and I could go pick up my Aunt Virginia. We’re going with her over to Huntsville to visit my Uncle Theo who’s in the Veteran’s Home there. Luckily we are going in her Lexus so we’ll be cool.

We spent about hour with Theo before we said our goodbye’s and headed out.  Our next stop was Rosie’s Mexican Cantina, our favorite local Mexican place. We always try to eat here every visit.

After a great meal and a lot of catching-up conversation, we came back to Athens to my Aunt Virginia’s house for a while so I could check out her computer for any problems. And the only real problem is that she’s still running Windows XP. But it works for her and there’s no need for her to change now.

Ninny and Jan

As we were leaving Virginia’s, she gave us a loaf of her delicious homemade Banana Nut bread. So I know what we’re having for breakfast tomorrow.


August 5, 2015

The Rest of The Story . . .

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog that Landon had lost two front teeth.

Landon last two teeth today

At the time, we assumed he had lost them naturally, though Jan thought he was kind of young (5) to start losing his baby teeth. Turns out she was right.

The real story is that Landon and Kitty were roughhousing and Landon managed to smash his mouth into Kitty’s hard head. Kitty, being their 125# Black Lab, his head won and Landon knocked out his two teeth.

Amid all the bleeding and crying, there was some thought to saving the teeth to see if they could be replanted by the dentist. But Kitty took care of that problem.

Kitty regards anything on the floor as hers, so when one of  the teeth fell on the floor, Kitty immediately ate it. Landon grabbed the other one to save it, but it being kind of slippery, he dropped the tooth, and Kitty immediately gobbled that one down too.

No one seemed to want to search through Kitty’s poop over the next few days to try and find the two errant incisors, and I’m not sure Landon would want them back anyway.

Once he got over the shock, Landon’s first worry was the Tooth Fairy, i.e. No teeth, no Fairy. But thinking quickly, his Grammie Sonja said they would just write the Tooth Fairy a note explaining the situation and leave that under Landon’s pillow.

And it apparently worked.

The Tooth Fairy Came

Awww! Our little hillbilly.

Sonja ask if he wanted to stay home from school, but Landon insisted he wanted to go. When he got to school, it was like he was a Rock Star. All girls were fawning over him, and the guys all wanted to look in his mouth.

* * * * *

About 1:30 pm Jan and I headed over to my Aunt Virginia’s house to take her to lunch. It was our first time to see her since her husband, my Uncle Theo, died May 13, 2015.

Unfortunately that was the time period when we were stuck in Prescott, AZ waiting on rig repairs after our blowout on May 3rd coming back from Las Vegas.

Here’s my blog post from that day.

R.I.P. To A Real American Hero

After talking for a while, we drove to a nearby small restaurant called Suzanne’s. Kind of like a tea room, they had really great sandwiches, and desserts as it turns out.

After a good lunch, we drove over to the nearby cemetery to visit my Uncle’s grave. Sure wish I could have been here for the funeral.

Going back to Virginia’s, I spent a couple of hours going over some of the pharmacy bills from my Uncle’s last few months. There seemed to overcharges, double charges, and applying copays to the wrong area. I hope I was able to straighten things out enough so she knows what questions to ask now.

Coming home we spent an hour or so visiting with my Uncle Ed and Aunt Janis who own the Northgate RV Travel Park where we’re staying. Had a really good time catching up.

Tomorrow’s a long day, a 375 mile run down to Gulf Shores, AL where we’ll spend a week at the Gulf Shores State Park, before heading back to Houston next Friday. Really looking forward to it.


August 5, 2016

Flying Squirrels and Embalming Fluid . . .

I was looking over our rig’s Silverleaf computer interface readings from our trip from the Colorado River TT to the Gulf State Park here in Gulf Shores.

Turns out we used 72.6 gallons of diesel, out of 150 gallons, and we traveled 610.9 miles, giving us an average of a little over 8.4 mpg. Not bad at all.

Especially since due to the fact that I bumped my normal 55mph up to 61- 62 due to not wanting to slow down surrounding traffic too much. The traffic is so heavy on I-10 east of Houston that even on a 4 lane traffic builds up behinds us. I wouldn’t mind pulling off occasionally, but then it’s almost impossible to get back on the road – due to all the traffic. So I try to pick it up a bit.

Of course we actually used more diesel than that, since we ran the generator for the AC’s the entire way.

A couple of things I forgot to mention yesterday.

In talking with Jeff, our Lambert’s waiter, it turns out I knew his grandparents. They owned the Kastrup’s Motel just a mile or so south of Lambert’s. It’s no longer there, but they also had a restaurant there called the Koffee Kup. They had great food, and we always stopped there for Sunday dinner coming back from church in Foley.

Years later, when my mother, Jan and I came down from Birmingham, we stayed there.

And later, driving around Foley, we drove past my grandmother’s house on Rose Ave. Although it looks small, it actually had 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.

Nana's House Foley

She lived here from around 1957 to 1960 until she had a stroke. We ended up moving up there from our house on the Bon Secour River to take care of her. Unfortunately after about another year, her health deteriorated to the point she had to be put in a nursing home.

But two unusual things stand out for me while we lived there. One was that I had a pet flying squirrel who live on that screen-in front porch. His name was . . . wait for it . . . Rocky!

I got him as a baby, and whenever he would see me, he would come flying over and land on my shoulder, and I would feed him pecans and peanuts.

The other unusual thing was that on the other side of the alley behind the house was a home where a girl my age (12) lived. And we use to pal around a lot. But the unusual part was that her home was a funeral home. And when we went in and out the back door, we walked right through the embalming room . . . with the bodies laid out on the tables. But since she wasn’t grossed out by them, neither was I.

No way a 12 year old boy would let himself be grossed out by something that didn’t bother a GIRL.

And after a while I didn’t pay any attention to them anymore.

Or at least until one day I walked by a table that held someone I knew.

Around 6pm it started raining pretty heavily and went for almost half a hour, all the while the sun was still shining brightly. Strange.

For dinner tonight, Jan heated up our Lambert’s leftovers, and like I said in yesterday’s blog we had more food tonight than we ate last night. A very good meal. Again.


August 5, 2018

Rhine vs. Danube . . .

Our last morning together until next Saturday, Jan and I spent most of it talking about our European River Cruise trip.

One thing I wanted to check out was which river, the Rhine or the Danube, was the prettiest. They have cruises on both rivers, and both end in Amsterdam. A little Googling told me that they’re both about equal in beautiful castles and neat old cities, but the consensus seems to be that, overall, the Danube is more scenic along the way due to the heavy industrialization along the Rhine. So that’s settled, I guess.

Maybe that’s why they wrote a waltz about the Danube and not the Rhine. I guess The Blue Rhine Waltz just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

I did this from one of the cruise emails we get. Words to live by, I think.

10 Things Not to Do on a Cruise Ship Balcony

A couple of them are kind of obvious, but might be highly entertaining for the neighbors. As long as you don’t fall overboard.

For some reason, Fry’s Electronics does not like my PayPal Debit Card. It works everywhere else, but this is the 2nd visit to Fry’s that it’s been declined. On my side it just says ‘DECLINED’, but on the cashier’s side it says “Incorrect PIN’. But I know the PIN is correct.

In fact when I pulled out the PayPal card and stuck in my Chase card (they both have the same PIN) it immediately went through without my having to reenter the PIN. It took the number from the just Declined PayPal entry.

Even stranger, if I tell them to run the PayPal card as a credit card, then it works fine.

The reason we stopped at Fry’s on the way to meet Brandi, et al. at King Food was that Jan decided to take our laptop with her so she wouldn’t have to go all week without getting online. But I couldn’t find the mouse that went with it, and Jan doesn’t like to use the Touchpad/Keys that are built in. Of course I found the missing mouse as soon as I got back to the rig.

But before I even got to the credit card problem, I had a very difficult time find a mouse to buy. Or at least one I wanted to buy.

Fry’s had two long shelves of mice . . . mouses?. . . meese, whatever. The first shelf I found was the gaming mice. Did you know you can pay $260 for a mouse? And it has more buttons, dials, lights and sliders than you can imagine. Even the cheapest ‘gaming’ mouse started at $49.95.

And then for some reason, they hid the regular mouse shelf three rows over from the gaming ones. So now I’m looking at a 25ft row of mice, with every possible color and decoration, and ones with graphics for pretty much every TV show and Internet meme you can imagine.

Want a pink Hello Kitty mouse? They’ve got it. How about a Simpson’s mouse? That too. Captain America? Got it, etc. But the big problem was that they were all wireless’.

Now I hate wireless mouses and keyboards with a passion. I have been burned so many times over the years. And it’s not just dead batteries at the most inopportune time. That would be too easy.

No, it’s things like a worker’s keyboard and mouse randomly locking up or putting garbage on the screen multiple times during the day. Usually while they’re trying to finish up the Annual Report late on a Friday afternoon. And this was even after swapping out the keyboard, the mouse, and Bluetooth dongle.

I even temporarily swapped out the computer. All with no luck.

Finally I discovered that the cheap microwave on the other side of the wall in the break room was putting out so much RF interference that it was blanking out nearby Bluetooth signals. Even people a couple of cubicles over realized that the occasional weird garbage on the screen and momentarily freezing of their cursor they were seeing was from the same cause.

So obviously I wanted a wired mouse. But it took me almost 15 minutes to find one. Out of the 25ft row, and probably at least a 100 different mice, they had two wired versions, a Logitech for $9.95 and a Microsoft version for $14.95. And since Bill Gates doesn’t need any more of my money, I grabbed the Logitech one.

After our usual great meal at King Food, I sent my Sweetie on her way with Brandi and her family, and then I’ll pick her up on Friday afternoon.

Love you, Sweetie.


August 5, 2019

Oil Leak Redux . . .

Spend most of the day at work designing new labels and printing up a lot of other labels using Avery’s free Design&Print program. We have a number of products we buy in bulk and then bottle ourselves, or buy bottled, but unlabeled.

Here’s a sample

Avery

When I got home this evening I realized I had left my phone at work. My client had stopped me on the way out the door and asked me to take a look at something, and apparently I laid it down.

So, though we had planned to eat at home, this seemed like a good excuse to go back up to Clear Lake to retrieve it, and of course, stop off at Yummy Yummy Chinese Buffet along the way for dinner.

I need to get back on my continuing rig oil filter leak saga, so tomorrow I’m going to put in a call to Cummins to get some more info.

Back this past March, I pulled the old oil filter off the engine and did my best to clean the area where the rubber gasket seats. I was able to clean the mount except for what looked like some discoloration on the bottom of the seat. I’m calling it ‘discoloration’ but I could feel it .

However I was afraid to do any real scrapping on it since I wasn’t sure what the flange was made of, aluminum or steel.

So I put the new filter on after soaking the gasket in oil as recommended. And a 15 minute high-idle test showed no leaks.

Then the next day Jan and I took the rig out for a test drive. We did a little over 50 miles, at both Interstate speeds and side roads. Getting back home and taking a look, I found no oil spray on the rear of the rig, and none around the filter underneath the rig.

So we were good to go, right?

The next Friday morning we headed up to Kingsland for our family get-together at Chris’. Along the way we made a stop at the Buc-ee’s up in Katy, about 70 miles away.

And found oil on the truck and on the rear of the coach.

WTH!

So either the filter suddenly started leaking between 50 miles and 70 miles, OR the extra load from towing the truck, (the only real difference from our test drive) caused the filter to leak.

Which is the one I’m going to talk about with the Cummins’ Tech.

And while I’ve got him on the line I also want to talk about flushing the green coolant out of the engine and replacing it with red. It’s getting harder and harder to find the green now, so I want to know the flush procedure.

You’re not supposed to mix them, but I’m not sure how much ‘flushing’ I actually have to do. Can I just drain the green and replace it with red, or do I need to flush it out with water first, or what?

I guess I’ll see tomorrow.


August 5, 2021

A Blue Streak . . .

I was out about 10:45 this morning under very overcast skies, hoping the rain would hold off until I finished changing out the Ignition Coils in the Jeep. But enjoying the low 80’s temps in the meantime.

I was hoping this would be all the tools I would need, and it was,

Jeep Ignition Coil Replacement Tools

except for a 10mm box wrench that I would need to remove the radiator reservoir tank from the firewall.

I did buy the top of the line Blue Streak coils which run about $33 each. The cheap ones are about $18. Hopefully I’ll never have to do this again.

Thought I would start with the easy ones first, the ones on the driver side. Which starting here,

Jeep Ignition Coil Replacement 1

took me only 10 minutes to get here.

Jeep Ignition Coil Replacement 2

The changeout of the coils is actually pretty quick and easy. Just remove the 10mm nut, unplug the electrical connector, and then just pull the coil up and out. And then just reverse the process.

So quick and easy, in fact, that those 3 coils only took me 10 minutes start to finish.

Now the other 3 were a different story.

Even with the air cleaner hose and the radiator reservoir out of the way, only 1 coil is really visible.

Jeep Ignition Coil Replacement 3

And due to the access problems, the last 3 took me an hour, with most of that time coming from trying to get the electrical connectors unplugged.

You have to press down on the little plastic tab on the top of the coil, and then pull and wiggle the connector until it comes off. Which sounds simple, and is, if you have enough room. But in a tight area it can be very difficult to press down, wiggle, and pull it sideways.

But finally, an hour and 10 minutes later, I was done.

And cranking up, it was fine. But I couldn’t really depend on this, since unlike the last igniter problem back in July, this time the problem doesn’t start until the engine warms up.

So it would have to wait until our trip up to the Almeda area to once again have lunch at our new favorite seafood place, The Catch. And it was Two’fer.

The Jeep ran fine the whole trip up there and back, and our lunch was as delicious as before.

The Catch 20210805

Blackened Catfish, Shrimp, and Green Beans, with Rice and Hushpuppies. And today’s free margarita flavor was Watermelon-Strawberry.

Really good, and worth the trip.

Coming home we made a quick WalMart stop, and then getting back to the Santa Fe area, we made a detour over the Tractor Supply Store on FM1764 for a few things.


Thought for the Day:

“Think of how stupid the average person is. Then realize the bottom half is stupider.” – George Carlin.

And then there are politicians.

  

  

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