Daily Archives: September 9, 2022

It’s Alvin Opry Night . . .

Tonight was Alvin Opry, so we didn’t get home until after 11pm.

Alvin Opry 20220909

More Blog tomorrow.

Thought for the Day:

Is this any way to handle a secret identity?

Batman Phone Listing

September 9, 2009

Ferry, Ferry Bad…

Today is our day to catch the ferry back to North Sydney,  NS,  and the 30 mile drive back to our coach & cats in Louisbourg.

And we had another great view out our hotel window.

View from Hotel

We’re supposed to be at the ferry by 10 am for a 11:30 departure so we head down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast about 8:30.  While we were eating we overheard someone saying the ferry was running late,  about 6 hours late.

It should have been here at 7:00 am to get unloaded and ready for us to start loading at 10 and sailing at 11:30.  But it wouldn’t be here until 1 pm with our departure scheduled for 3:30 pm.

We’ll see.

Since it was bright and sunny today,  we decided to kill time by taking the 30 mile drive out to Rose Blanche Lighthouse a ways down the coast.  We didn’t do it yesterday afternoon because it was so foggy.

The drive was really something.

Rose Blanche 1

Rose Blanche 2

Rose Blanche 3

Rose Blanche 4

Rose Blanche 5

Rose Blanche 6

Rose Blanche 7

After driving out to the lighthouse,  we didn’t actually SEE the lighthouse. Jan didn’t want to make the long walk up the hill, and I didn’t want to pay the $5 admission to make the long walk up the hill to SEE the lighthouse.

But the drive was worth the trip, and it didn’t cost me $5.

We got back to the hotel and checked out about 11:30,  and after waiting about an hour we saw our ship,  the Atlantic Vision, come steaming in. She maneuvered into the harbor and then turn around and backed in, smooth as can be. Bow thrusters are amazing.

Atlantic Vision Arrival 1

Atlantic Vision Arrival 2

So now our truck is parked in the boarding line and Jan and I are sitting in the terminal lounge waiting to board…and waiting and waiting…

In Line

FLASH… We just heard over the PA that boarding will now start at 3:30 pm and the ship will depart as soon as it’s loaded. This will probably take at least an hour. It’s now 2:45 pm. We’ll see.

Well,  they called us to our vehicles about 3:30 and we started actually boarding about 3:45 pm.  By 4:00 pm we were setting in the lounge aboard ship.  And about 4:20 we finally left the dock.  This ship is very nicely decorated,  almost like a cruise ship.  Which I guess it really is,  only for shorter cruises.

AV Interior

The Captain came on the PA and said we would be traveling at full speed (27 knots) to try and make up some of the lost time. Yeah, like the extra 5 knots is going to make up for the fact that we are running 5 hours behind schedule.

Well, Bummer!  I’ve just found out that I’m Internetless and CellPhoneless.

Although this ship is 15 years newer than the one we came over on,  and has electrical plugs everywhere,  it has no Internet access or cell phone service.  It has been down all summer since the satellite uplink/downlink is broken.

This trip just keeps getting better.  A little before 6:30 pm Jan and I went down to the restaurant to try out the great buffet we had heard about.  Where we discovered that they were closing because they had run out of food!

I guess it was really great…for some people.

So it’s off to the snack bar for cold sandwiches.  Oh boy!

It’s now about 7:15 pm.  The Captain just came on the PA and said we will be docking in about an hour.  Let’s hope so.

8:15 pm.  Well, we’re kind of here.  But it seems like they’re having trouble getting docked.  They keep starting and stopping and moving around.

9:00 pm.  They just called us to our vehicles so there’s a mad rush for the stairs and elevators.

And at 9:15 pm we finally moved off the ship.  At least the truck started this time!

Got home a little after 10 pm.  Cats were OK.  Everything is OK.

Tomorrow we have a long 300 mile trip to Halifax,  NS

Long day.  Going to bed.

September 9, 2010

A Trifecta of Threes . . .

We left the Vandalia IL Walmart about 9 am

Vandalia Walmart

and headed a whole 2 miles down the road to McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin.

We don’t usually eat breakfast on travel days, but since we wanted to eat some good Memphis BBQ, we figured we’d have breakfast, skip lunch, and have plenty of room for BBQ at dinner.

But it didn’t quite work out like that.

After breakfast it was on down the road toward West Memphis, AR 310 miles away.

About noon we started seeing signs for Sikeston, MO.

Now Sikeston has a claim to fame for us. It is the location of the only one of the three Lambert’s Throwed Rolls that we haven’t eaten at.

Strangely enough we were just talking about this last night at my sister-in-law Debbie’s. The mug she served my ice tea in was from Lambert’s and we commented we had never eaten at the one in Sikeston.

So now we had a dilemma. Do we stop at Lambert’s in Sikeston and risk being too full for BBQ? Or do we blow this chance to complete our complete set of Lambert’s?

Of course, anyone that knows us knows we stopped !

They have Bus and RV Parking so we had no problem getting in there. And as usual, the food was great.

If you’ve never been to one, they really do throw the rolls, across the room if you can catch one. All you have to do is call out and hold your hands, and here comes a hot roll sailing over the crowd. And if you miss it, heads up, cause a replacement will be right behind it.

We both had the fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, and of course, the ‘passarounds’ like black-eyed peas, fried okra, and fried potatoes and onions. All delicious!

Leaving Lambert’s, the light sprinkling of rain we had encountered became a much heavier drizzle, but it never got too bad. And by the time we got to West Memphis it had cleared up nicely.

We pulled into the Tom Sawyer RV Park about 4:45 and got set up.

Tom Sawyer 5

Tom Sawyer is a beautiful RV park right on the Mississippi River across from Memphis, TN.

And this is the view out our front window.

Tom Sawyer 4

Barges go back and forth all day and all night. Sometimes they’re small, like this one, and sometimes they’re much bigger.

Tom Sawyer Barge

About 6 pm we headed out to a BBQ place we heard about near here, Ray’s World Famous BBQ. It’s a small place, only about 6 tables. But they have 4 delivery guys on the go constantly, so it’s certainly popular.

Ray's BBQ

Jan got a pork sandwich with two sides.  I got the rib and pork combo plate, but I wasn’t expecting this!

No, this is not TWO orders. This is just one dinner.

Two meats and four sides, potato salad, BBQ beans, coleslaw, and BBQ spaghetti.


On checking the menu again, I found it also called “The Trucker’s Special”. Maybe I need to read a little closer next time!

Ray's Combo Plate

And here’ the big man himself, Ray of Ray’s World Famous BBQ.

Ray's World

We got back to the rig a little after 7 pm, and thus completed our ‘Trifecta of Threes’

3 meals today

3 states today (IL, MO, AR)

and our complete set of 3 Lambert’s Throwed Rolls.

Ok, it’s a stretch. But you try coming up with a clever title every day.

September 9, 2014

Spudding . . .

Well, another bump up in the vehicle count today, with a total of 233. I think a lot of the increase was due to the ‘Spud’ meeting at the new rig across from us. And no, it didn’t have any thing to do with potatoes.

‘Spud In’ or ‘Spudding’ is the term for when the drill bit first touches the ground and they start drilling. So I guess they’re getting close, though as of 1am Wednesday morning, they still haven’t started yet.

This is what we have now.

Rig 9-9

We did have an interesting situation with the cattle guard gate that we guard. The big, heavy rigs coming over it, broke it. And I mean just about in half.

A couple of days ago, as a rig was crossing it, I heard a loud crack. And after the rig was gone, I checked it out. This is what I found.

Broken Cattle Guard 1

Broken Cattle Guard 2

It was just about cracked in half, with only the support beams holding it together.

I tried to warn them, but they didn’t listen.

Then last night a rig came through and dropped about 6 inches as it crossed the cattle guard. I told the driver he might want to say something to them about it. So this morning someone finally came out to look at it, and it was an ‘Oh Crap’ moment.

And after a lot of hemming and hawing about how long the gate would have to be shut down, 3 hours, 30 minutes, 2 hours, etc., they shut it down at a few minutes after 2pm and really went to work.

They first ripped the old guard out of the ground and set it aside.

Cattle Guard Repair 1

Next came the wooden support beams.

Cattle Guard Repair 2

Then after digging it out, they laid in new concrete beams.

Cattle Guard Repair 3

And then the new, larger, stronger cattle guard.

Cattle Guard Repair 4

And they had the gate back open in less than an hour. Fast work.

Tomorrow (Wednesday) I’ll make our first grocery run over to the Wal-Mart/Sam’s in Bryan/College Station. about 18 miles away. The Wal-Mart in Madisonville is 3 miles closer, but it’s not a Supercenter. And there’s not a Sam’s there either.

But there is a Buc-ee’s. Decisions, decisions.

September 9, 2015

The Perfect Rain . . .

I headed into Carthage a little after 11am to pick up one of Jan’s prescriptions that wasn’t ready last week, and once again I had problems with the Wal-Mart pharmacy.

Last time they gave me a problem getting my GoodRx discount applied to a couple of our prescriptions. This time they suddenly decided that Jan’s thyroid medicine, which is on Wal-Mart’s $4/$10 prescription list, was going to be $52 this time, instead of the normal $10.

When I asked why, I was told that this was from a new manufacturer, and cost more. Seeing a stack of $4/$10 prescription lists at the end of the counter, I showed them the $10 price, and said that there was no mention of different manufacturers.

Next they said that the lists were printed up sometime ago and were just out of date. So pulling out my phone, I pulled up the list on Wal-Mart’s website and showed them the same price.

Then we were back to the ‘different manufacturer’ meme. Only when I mentioned that this might be a good time to call the store manager, did they finally give up and give me the ‘$10 for 90 days’ price.

I really hope this doesn’t become the norm, but since it’s happened here and only here, twice, maybe it’s just this pharmacy.

I hope.

Before leaving Wal-Mart, I stopped off to get gas. But I had mixed emotions about the price. At $2.02 it was down another 3 cents from last week, and about 15 cents since we got here. As far as the ‘mixed emotions’ go, remember the old joke about mixed emotions being watching your mother-in-law drive over a cliff in your new Cadillac.

Well, that’s how I feel about falling gas prices. Yeah, it’s nice when you’re at the pump, but not so nice when you and other guards are looking for gates amid the falling oil prices.

Maybe there’s a happy medium somewhere in there.

Around 2pm the clouds rolled in and brought about 20 minutes of the perfect rain. At least for us.

It was light, but steady, with no wind blowing it under the canopy. But the best thing about it was that it was just the perfect amount to settle all the dust that’s being kicked up by the big trucks coming in.

One thing nice about the roads up here is that they’re gravel/dirt and not caliche like in south Texas, so they don’t go from rock hard to ‘slicker ‘n snot’ at the first few rain drops.

As far as the frack here, it looks like more prep work tomorrow, with the frack starting on Friday, and lasting about a month. But we’ll see. It seems like they always run long, which is great for us.

September 9, 2016

Sometimes You Just Have to Talk to the Boss!

After a very busy (for this gate, anyway) day yesterday, with 68 vehicles coming in, today was a very nice slowdown with only 38 through the gate. Don’t know why since Friday’s are normally pretty busy with salesman trying to get in their calls for the week, etc.

Last night I set up my Wilson DB Pro Cellphone Amplifier system, having given up on using the pad’s Wi-Fi connection. Or at least one of them.

There are 7 Wi-Fi signals here on site, but I’ve only been able to find the owner of one of them, the one from the oil company in the Company Man’s office. And if I could stay connected, it would be fine, a real improvement. With 2.5 Mbps download and 1.0 up, it would be very usable for us. But the signal strength is borderline and I frequently lose the connection.

But there is another one, a much stronger one. COMLINK_DIST is a solid 5 bars here at the rig, but I haven’t been able to find out who owns it to see if I can get a password. I’ve ask a number of the workers coming in, but no luck so far.

Anyway, I bought this Wilson amplifier system in 2012, our first year gate guarding . . . and on our first gate.

Wilson dbpro Cell Phone Booster

It was the best one they made at the time, and if I remember correctly, it was about $400. But it was worth it.

My Wilson model has now been replaced by this one, and it’s a little cheaper too.

Wilson WeBoost Home 4G Cell Phone Signal Booster

We were parked out in the middle of a big ranch near Fowlerton (pop. 62!) in south Texas with absolutely no Verizon signal whatsoever. Zero, Zip, Nada. I was told that you could kind of get a AT&T signal if you were lucky, but that didn’t help us.

So my first trip in to Pleasanton (50 miles away) for groceries, I checked Amazon, found the Wilson amplifier and ordered it overnight, having it delivered to the Gate Guard Services office near Whitsett. Picking it up the next day, I detoured back through Pleasanton, to the Radio Shack and got 4 – 5 foot antenna pole sections. Getting back to the rig, I had it set up and working in about a hour, and for the first time in 10 days we had cell phone and internet service. And of course we immediately checked in with the kids to let them know we were still alive. An hour later we got our first incoming call.

It was from Gate Guard Services telling us to pack up and get ready to move, because they were sending us to a new gate to follow a Marathon/H&P drill rig, which we did for the next 3-1/2 months.

At our first gate with Marathon, we didn’t need the Wilson amp system since we were only about 5 miles off I-37, actually right down the road from the GGS Whitsett office.

But our second gate was another story. We were in the middle of a game ranch about 20 miles south of Charlotte, again with no service at all. Not even AT&T this time. And once again the Wilson system did the trick.

I was able to pull in a Verizon tower an amazing 19.5 miles away with 3/4 bars of signal. I had the ‘indoor’ antenna outside under our canopy and rig workers would come by to make phone calls through it.

The strange thing was that although I had cell and data service, my data was only 1x, not the 3G/4G I would have expected. This didn’t make sense because the type of service is not really dependent on signal strength.You may be so far from a tower you have a crappy signal, but it will still be 3G or 4G. It won’t drop back to 1x

But a week later I was driving by that tower on I-37 and noticed my phone drop back to 1x as I passed it. But I guess as they say, “They’re Working On It”, because suddenly about a week later, I now had 3G service at our rig.

But as it turned out, that was actually the last time we’ve needed the Wilson amp in 5 years. It’s been packed away since then, only brought out to display at a couple of my Escapade rally seminars, “Gate Guarding for Fun? and Profit.

So I was expecting big things last night as I set up my system. I used 15 feet of antenna pole and mounted it off to the rear of our sewer trailer like this.

Blue Moon Antenna Setup

Hooking up, and powering up the Wilson amp, I was happy to see the 2 flashing green lights on the amplifier just as I was expecting. But I was not seeing any better signal on my phone. But of course I hadn’t really aimed the antenna yet.

So the first thing I did was to use the Open Signal app on my phone to find the nearest tower and aim the antenna in that direction.

And again, no luck.

Next I rotated the antenna through the 8 compass points, checking the signal level after each adjustment.

And again, no luck.


One thing I noticed is that adjusting the gains on the amp makes no difference in the lights. They just stay green.

After rechecking my connections this morning, with no luck, I put in a call to Wilson Tech Support and talked to Patrick, who gave me some good ideas about things to check out. So that’s up next.

I’ll let you know.

On a good note I think I may have our package delivery problem solved. And all it took was talking to the boss.

Checking my phone this morning, I noticed that my Jet.com order was Out for Delivery by the USPS this morning, and figuring it would come back as Undeliverable like my Amazon order the other day, I put in a call to the Post Office to ask them to hold it as before and I would be by to pick it up.

The guy who answered turned out to be the Postmaster, so I told him my problem, and ask about putting up a mailbox at our site, explaining that there was no way to put one on the side of the roadway, and could I put on the fence?

He said that by the rules there is supposed to be a ‘permanent structure’ at the location to receive mail at a mailbox. Apparently a 120 ton oil rig doesn’t not constitute a ‘permanent structure. Nor does the fact that there are people living in trailers here.

Although I didn’t ask him, my question is then why is a house trailer on a lot considered a ‘permanent structure’?

I had told him physically where we were located, and he then said he would call our carrier and see if they could work something out. And about 20 minutes later, while I was now on the phone with Wilson, our carrier showed up here at the rig.

Turned out to be a very nice young lady who said she actually hadn’t brought our package today, since they told her I was going to pick it up at the post office.

Since she now knew where we were, she said she would delivery it tomorrow. And that she would be looking out for any more of our packages and get them to us. Sometimes the Government works after all.

So hopefully that fixes that problem. At least until we move again.

Tomorrow is Blue Moon BBQ. YUMMM!

September 9, 2017

What To Do, What To Do?

It was really great to have Jan home again, at least for a couple of days. I got tired of just talking to the cat. And I think she’s tired of listening to me.

Jan and I may be rethinking our winter stays here as we bounce back and forth between Lake Conroe and Colorado River. If I run the numbers (and I do like to run the numbers, especially when $$ are concerned), it looks like it would be cheaper to spend our out-week from Lake Conroe at the Hillcrest RV Park over in New Waverley about 20 miles away.

I talked about this a couple of days ago in relation to us going over to Medina Lake vs. staying here, while Colorado River is offline. But here’s how it works for Colorado River.

The round-trip over to Colorado River is 240 miles, so figuring 8mpg, that’s 30 gallons of diesel. At $2.50 a gallon, that’s $75.

Since we’re out of our 50 TT free days, we pay $5 per day, plus $3 a day for 50 amp, so that’s $112, and $187 total w/diesel for our stay.

Now for a stay here at Hillcrest, it’s

$14.50 a day x 7 = $102 + 40 miles / 8 = 5 x $2.50 = $12.50

So that’s $102 + 12.50 = $114.50 for our out-week.

That means a savings of $72.00, plus the wear and tear savings on the rig.

So now it kind of depends on how we like Hillcrest. I guess we’ll see.

And now I have another decision to make. The black ink cartridge in my HP 2542 printer is skipping and the color cartridge is running low as well. So I have a choice to make.

I can buy a set of of Black and Color XL cartridges from Amazon for $62, Or I can replace my 3-1/2 year old HP 2542 printer


with a brand-new HP 4650 . . . for only $70.

HP 4650 Printer

So $8 more gets me a new printer.

A new printer that’s faster, has automatic two-sided printing, a document feeder, a touchscreen, and does borderless printing.

Not bad for $8.

Of course I could try a set of these remanufactured LxTek cartridges that are guaranteed to work and not hurt the printer.

LxTek HP 61XL Cartridges

Only $20.

What to Do, What to Do?

Tomorrow afternoon I’m going to take Jan back down to Brandi’s where she’ll stay until Wednesday, when I’ll pick up on my way back from Clear Lake.

September 9, 2018

Nary A Drop . . .

With Jan up at Brandi’s in Katy so she can attend Landon’s school’s Grandparent’s Day tomorrow morning, today was a chore day around the rig.

Unfortunately the afternoon rains kept me from getting a chance to get back on the generator, but there’s always Tuesday.

First up though, I wanted to double-check that my oil leak had been fixed by changing out the filter, so after crawling under the rig to get a ‘before’ photo of the oil filter and positioning one of my mats underneath to catch any drips,


Rig Oil Filter Before

I cranked up the rig and let it run at low-idle for an hour.

I did check the mat after about 30 minutes and found no oil . . . yet. But I let it run for another 30 minutes just to be sure.

When the time was up I checked again, and again found nothing. No leaks, drips, or drops. Nary a drop.

Just this.


Rig Oil Filter After

We’ll probably do a test drive for an hour or so in the next couple of weeks for a final check, but for right now I’m calling it FIXED.

As to what the problem really was, I don’t know. It was obviously the filter, or at least something to do with the filter. But it wasn’t loose, and the filter and the gasket all looked fine, even upon closer inspection.

I’ve had the same thing happen in both computer and mechanical repairs. You have a component that tests fine and may even work in another unit, but replacing it fixes the problem anyway.

I had mentioned before that I was thinking about replacing the house batteries in the rig with two of these Deka Farm Equipment batteries.

Deka 12 v battery

Though they’re not deep-cycle units, at 1005 Amp Hours each, two of these should handle any short periods of battery usage. We don’t boondock so it shouldn’t be a problem.

But when I double-check the measurements this afternoon I found that two of them would be a little too wide for the tray they sit in. But then I noticed this one.

Deka 12 v battery 2

Not only is it smaller, but at $124, it’s also $25 cheaper, and at 1140 amp hours, it’s a bigger capacity. And another plus is that  all these batteries are maintenance-free, so little or no terminal corrosion problems.

They’re available at Lowe’s and should be in in a couple of weeks, maybe sooner.

Tomorrow after work, I’ll head up to Katy to bring my beautiful bride back home. A good thing since Karma and I are really lonely.

September 9, 2020

One Down . . .

And Two (or Three?) to Go.

My taillights now work.

Or at least they will when I get new bulbs tomorrow. I’ve got some LED 1157 bulbs coming in from Amazon. These are the fancy ones that the brake light part flashes on and off when the brakes are applied.

When I got home this afternoon I turned on the rig’s headlights and went outside to check. And I did find 12v on both sockets.

Tomorrow I’ll try to check the brake lights, but I’m not sure if the brake lights will function without the engine running and the brakes aired up. But I’ll try it and see,.

As far as the turn signals, I know they work from the rear PDC, so I’ll start up front by replacing the flasher and then swapping out the relay. Then I’ll go from there.

Stay tuned.

Our son Chris sent over a couple of photos of his and Linda’s birthday present to Miss Piper. Not only is Chris an ace mechanic, but he’s also an excellent woodworker. So he made Piper a new bed.

Piper Birthday Bed 1

Piper Birthday Bed 2

Really Gorgeous!

September 9, 2021

Well, It Started Off Nice . . .

Though not quite as nice as yesterday morning’s 72°, this morning’s 80, with a cool breeze, was still really comfortable to sit outside with our coffee.

Later, back inside, Jan and I started looking at other shows we want to see in Branson this December. I set up a spreadsheet laid out by day and time, putting in things that we’ve already have scheduled, which showed us where openings were.

Then we went through a list of shows on our December dates, noting ones we wanted to see. Next, checking those shows/times against openings in our schedule, we came up with 9 additional shows/attractions that we wanted to see and that fit into our schedule.

Branson Trip 500

Everything in BOLD is already scheduled/booked, and the non-bold are the ones we added this morning. Now I’ll started booking them, BOLDing each one as I go.

Note we’ve still got a lot of open times for the important things like goofing off and shopping.

About 1pm we headed up toward Webster to have lunch once again at Jan’s favorite, Twin Peaks. Then it was over to the other side of I-45 to Costco.

Our first stop was to get gas there before doing some shopping, but it didn’t quite work out that way. When I tried to start the Jeep, all I got was a ‘click.’

My first thought of course, was the battery, so I got out my Tacklife Jump Starter to give it a jump.

Tacklife Jump Starter

I was happy to see that it was still holding 100% charge since I last used it about 8 months ago. But it didn’t do anything. In fact it didn’t show that the starter was pulling any current from the battery at all. And checking that with my voltmeter, it showed 12.6VDC on the battery, and no drop at all when I tried to start it.

So now I’m thinking solenoid/starter. Which means I’m on the phone to Good Sam Roadside Assistance for a tow. And Rick, the tow truck driver, showed up about 30 minutes later. Not bad.

Agreeing with my starter/solenoid diagnosis, he crawled under the Jeep and banged on the starter while I tried to start it. Again no luck.

So while he was winching the Jeep up on his flatbed,

Jeep Towed 1

I got on the phone to my mechanic to let him know that my Jeep was on the way, since they would be closed by the time the Jeep showed up.

And since the tow truck could only hold one of us, we decide to let Rick drop off the Jeep by himself and take an Uber home.

So as we waved goodbye to our Jeep,

Jeep Towed 2

Jan and I walked across the parking to do our Costco shopping. I mean, we were already there, right? Then once we were done I used the Uber app on my phone, and 8 minutes later, our driver, Samir, showed up and we were on our way home.

I think this is the first time we’ve used Uber since our Christmas visit to NYC in 2019. And before that, we Ubered all over Europe, Austria, Germany, Amsterdam, Paris, and London. Everywhere except Budapest, Hungry.

Uber/Lyft are not allowed there. We were told that the Mob controls the taxi business there, and in fact, we’re were warned about getting taxis from certain areas due to the possibility of being held hostage until you paid them exorbitant sums for your ride.

As soon as we were back at the rig, Jan and I got in our Dodge Dakota truck to go down to the mechanics to pick up some stuff from the Jeep and leave Joe a note about the problem.

Hopefully, Joe will be able to get it fixed tomorrow, but if not we’ve still got Smokey the Truck as a backup ride.

Well, it started out nice.