Monthly Archives: April 2024

Fine Corinthian Leather . . .

Saw an ad on TV the other night for a Polestar 3 EV.

And one of the big selling points was a “Leather Free Interior”, i.e. Vegan Leather. Of course, this is nothing new, just a new name. In fact it was used on Ford’s Model T’s back in the day.

It’s been called synthetic leather, faux leather, leatherette, and even the infamous Naugahyde. But I wonder what all the people who are thinking that they’re saving the planet with vegan leather, would say if they found out that their ‘vegan leather’ is petroleum-based, i.e., fossil fuels.

And cows are vegan, aren’t they?

Kind of makes you long for the days of “Fine Corinthian Leather”, doesn’t it?

I went online today and got Jan, our office manager Jennifer, and my boss’s wife Cindy tickets for Dominique Sachse’s Over 50 And Flourishing Tour that will be in Houston on June 20th, as well as New York, Washington, D.C, and Dallas on other dates.

Dominique was an evening news anchor on KPRC Channel 2, the NBC affiliate here in Houston for 28 years before retiring to become a blogger, Podcaster, YouTube influencer, and beauty encourager.

Jan has been a fan of hers for years, so she’s really looking forward to this. So much so that she signed up for the Meet and Greet afterward. When Jan said she wished she had a physical copy of her book to get signed, I said, “Take your Kindle and let her sign that.”

The Headline of the Day:

Sometimes you’re not sure if you want to read the article or not.

Women in Sumo wrestler suit assaulted her ex-girlfriend in gay pub after she waved at man dressed as a Snickers bar.

Your Retro-Preview Highlights –

2010 – Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park

2011 – Bearizona And Las Vegas

2012 – Settling In at a New Gate

2014 – New Rig Batteries

2017 – Mt. Shasta And The Grapevine

2019 – Short Skirts And Tight Jeans In Budapest

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

April 30, 2010

Some Really Big Trees…

Today we headed out to visit Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. Leaving about 9 am we drove 70 miles south thru Fresno to the entrance to Sequoia National Park.

But before we left we set the crockpot on a timer so that when we came home we’d have a big pot of Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti waiting for us. Then we hit the road, heading toward Fresno, about 30 miles south.

Leaving Fresno, which is at 300 ft. elevation, we starting the climb up into the Sierras, with some great views along the way.


And just like yesterday, we ran into snow. We started encountering it about 4500 feet, and it just got deeper the further up we went.



SnowPile 2

When we got to the Ranger Station at Grants Grove at almost 7000 feet, we really saw the snow in deep drifts.


There was a lot more snow here in Sequoia than in Yosemite yesterday.


After checking in at the Ranger Station and checking out the Gift Shop, we had to change our travel plans. We had planned to drive the big 60-mile loop thru the park and come out down south near Visalia. However we found that the loop was closed due to the heavy snowfall and would not be open anytime soon. That meant we would not be able to see the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. Bummer!

But we would be able to see the 2nd largest tree, the General Grant tree, so we headed over to Grant’s Grove a couple of miles away to take a look.

This is the first big tree we saw right in front of our truck when we parked. It’s hard to convey how really big these trees are. The pictures really don’t do them justice.


And across the parking lot were these twins.


And here is the General Grant tree. It’s 267 feet tall and about 35 feet in diameter. It is estimated to be over 1600 years old.

Grant Tree 3

And here is an internet picture of the General Sherman that we didn’t get to see. It’s about 275 feet tall and about 40 feet in diameter at the base. That’s as wide as our RV is long!  It’s between 2300 and 2700 years old. The spread of the branches at the top is almost 110 feet wide.

Sherman Tree

After viewing the trees, we went back to the lodge for a really good lunch at the restaurant, much better than the one at Yosemite yesterday.

Then after lunch, we drove out into the forest for about 10 miles just taking in all the great scenery along the way.


SnowRoad 2

Then it was time to head home. Coming back down through the mountains, we went through several cloud layers, but by the time we got down to the bottom, it was clear and sunny again. And going from almost 7000 feet to 300 feet really makes the ears pop.

We got back about 3:30 to a coach filled with the wonderful smell of our dinner cooking away.

We ate about 6 pm and it was great. It’s the first time Jan’s fixed this Tuscan Chicken Spaghetti, but we’ll definitely have it again.

Tomorrow is a take-it-easy day. We’re going to get together with some friends, George and Sandy, whom we’ve corresponded with for a while, but didn’t actually meet until a rally in Yuma this past March. We discovered yesterday that we’re both in the same park here.

April 30, 2011

Bearizona and Las Vegas . . .

Today was a travel day, from Williams, AZ to the Thousand Trails RV Park in Las Vegas. But before I tell you about that, I wanted to recount our visit to Bearizona yesterday.

Bearizona is a drive-thru/walk-thru wildlife park that just opened last year, and new exhibits are being built even now.

Bearizona Entrance

Here’s my sweetie with the park mascot.

Jan and Her Little Bear Friend

These are American Burros who are apparently more interested in dinner than us.

American Burros

Next, we had the American Bison or Buffalo.

Bison 1

This guy was only about 20 feet from the truck, and I think he was bigger than the truck.

Bison 2

These are Gray Wolves. When we pulled up to their area, they were just laying around under the trees until one of the park guys went by on his ATV. They all perked up and came running over to the road, I guess thinking they were going to be fed.

Wolves 1

Wolves 2

Wolves 3

In the next area, we had Dall Sheep. We saw a lot of these along the roads in Alaska.

Dall Sheep

And more sheep, this time Big Horn Sheep. We’ve seen these a number of times traveling out west.

Big Horn Sheep 2

Big Horn Sheep 1

This is the fabled White Buffalo. True albino buffalo are extremely rare, but I don’t know what these are. They could be leucistic, which means they would have blue eyes instead of the pink eyes of an albino, or they could be a buffalo/cow cross.

White Buffalo

Finally, we saw bears, lots of bears. Black ones, brown ones, little ones, big ones. All around us.

Black Bear 1

Black Bear 2

Brown Bear 1

Brown Bear 2

But the cutest ones were the four 3-month-old cubs. They were playing, falling, and wrestling like a bunch of puppies, into everything.

Bear Cubs 1

Bear Cubs 3

Bear Cubs 2

I even shot some video of them.

They even had a baby javelina, with his own bed.

Baby Javelina 1

He even has his own toy to play with. I wonder if the Big Horn Sheep have a toy javelina to play with?

Baby Javelina 3

Another one of those ‘so ugly they’re cute’ animals.

Baby Javelina 2

In the Petting Zoo area,

A baby fox.


But, besides the bear cubs, I think everyone’s favorite were the Bobcats. It was almost like they enjoyed posing for us.

Bobcat 1

They would sit on the rock for a while, take a break and wander off, and then come back and sit on the rock again.

Bobcat 5

Bobcat 2

Bobcat 3

Just beautiful animals.

Bobcat 4

We all had a great time at Bearizona and look forward to visiting it again next year to check out the new animals.

Bearizona is well worth your time if you’re in the area.

Now back to today.

We left the Canyon Gate RV Park in Williams about 9, heading for Las Vegas 213 miles away.

We were a little worried about the high wind advisories we were seeing, warning of bad conditions crossing the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, but except for the occasional ‘interesting’ wind gust, the trip was smooth and the scenery was great.

Jan had worried about crossing the new bridge, but because the sides are high, and RV’s are supposed to stay in the left lane, you never realize that you are almost 900 feet about the Colorado River as you cross.

It’s really kind of disappointing.

We got into the Thousand Trails here in Vegas a little after 1 and got set up. Then about 3 we drove down to Boulder Station Casino to check out the buffet there.

And it was just as good as last year. As usual, we sat around talking for a good while before heading home about 5 pm.

We’re going to be here for two weeks, and hopefully, we’ll have as much fun as last year.

April 30, 2012

Settling In at a new Gate . . .

Well, we’re finally starting to settle in here at our new gate. We’ve got our canopy up (held down by 5 40-pound buckets. The wind here never stops.) and are getting used to the routine.

Marathon Gate 2

Although this is a 24-hour gate, overall it’s not that busy. We did about 90 vehicles yesterday which is less than we had some days at our old gate. But then our old gate was shut down between 10pm and 6am.

When we got here, they were cementing the casing, but now they’re drilling again so there’s a lot more activity on the rig. And noise.

The noise never stops. It’s a dull roar from the generators, coolers, chillers, and all the other equipment they use. In fact, all the power for the site comes from their own generators. There is no power coming in from outside.

We’re now located about 8 miles west of Karnes City about 3 miles off FM 99. And the road is so much better than our other gate. You can actually drive 30-40 mph on it with no problems.

Here’s what it looks like directly across from our site.

Marathon Gate 3

They’re hard to see, but there are two more drilling rigs visible in this photo to the right of the big tree. We don’t have near the wildlife here as we did the other gate, but Jan has already killed two brown scorpions. I guess they count as wildlife too.

Our generator here runs slow, frequency-wise. It’s running at 57.5 Hz instead of 60, so our AC-powered clocks lose about an hour a day. I’ve looked for a frequency adjustment on the generator, but haven’t found one yet. I’ll ask our support guy, Mark, when he comes by.

I’ll probably only be posting every other day while we’re at this gate, and I’m still going through the over 1100 emails that accumulated while we were off the grid, so it will take me a while to get back to everyone.

April 30, 2013

Last Day in Apache Junction . . .

A little after 9 I went outside so I could clean and protect my house battery terminals. The positive terminals had a good bit of corrosion on them, though the negative poles were pretty clean.

I turned off the battery power to the coach, and then I removed all the wires, scrubbed them with a wire brush, and then sprayed everything with NAPA Battery Cleaner.

After letting them sit for about 10 minutes, I scrubbed everything again with the brush, and then sprayed it again with the cleaner. This time nothing turned from yellow to pink so I knew I had all the corrosion off.

Next, I put everything back together and tightened it down. Then it was time for two coats of NAPA Battery Terminal Protector, and then everything looked nice and shiny like this.

Nick's Battery Cleaning

I’ve used this terminal protector for years and it does a really good job keeping them clean if you’re careful to get all of the corrosion off to start with.

Getting back in the rig about an hour later, I made coffee, and Jan and I enjoyed our last day in Apache Junction.

Then about 1pm we headed over to SanTan Village for a Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart run.

Finally getting back to the rig about 3 I started getting some outside things packed away for our departure tomorrow.

About 4:30 we headed out to try Elvira’s Mexican Food, a place that we’d heard about.

And it turned out to be really good. Good enough that we kind of wished we had tried it earlier so we could have eaten here more than once.

Tomorrow we’ll leave here about 9, get diesel at a CircleK two exits down, and then head for Las Vegas about 320 miles away. We plan on spending two weeks at the Thousand Trails Park there before heading out for South Lake Tahoe and then Bend.

Our next ‘hard’ date is the Escapade in Gillette, WY June 30 through July 5.

After that, who knows?

April 30, 2014

Batteries Not Included . . .

Where’s the only place with worse government bureaucracy than the US Federal Government?

Try the Chinese Consulate.

Chinese Consulate

We got there about 10:30 to drop off the visa paperwork for my great-nieces, Darby and Stahlie for their upcoming trip to China. First off, it would help if the clerks handling my paperwork spoke better English than I speak Chinese. And I think most of my Chinese would probably get me slapped. It was funny though, that there were a lot of Asians in line who were having the same language problems that I was.

It would also help if the instructions on the Chinese website about how to get a visa actually matched up with what the clerks wanted.

We had planned to do a same-day pickup, but despite what the website says, they don’t offer that anymore. And since this was not a last-minute application, we were told to pick up the visas next Wednesday. So we’ll have to make other arrangements to pick them up.

Finally leaving the Consulate, we drove a few blocks away to have lunch at Katz’s Deli, a Houston tradition.


A spinoff from the famous Katz’s Deli in New York City, it’s a favorite of ours here in Houston.


Where else can you get a real Rueben like this? And this is only the half-sandwich lunch special.

Katzs Reuben

Now that’s a Heart Attack on a Plate.

Our next stop was the Interstate Batteries store. Both my engine batteries and my house batteries started to die at pretty much the same time. My engine batteries were AC-Delco 1150’s and were in the coach when we bought it in December of 2007. They appear to have been installed a couple of years earlier.

My house batteries were installed by me in March 2008 to replace the weak Trojan 105’s that were in the coach when we purchased it. At that time I installed 4 Interstate U2400’s that I’ve been very happy with. So based on this experience, I wanted to use Interstate’s again.

First up, before replacing the engine batteries, I switched off the master disconnect in the engine compartment.

Engine Master Switch

My engine batteries are on a swing-out frame that makes them easy to get to. And the coach has these connection buss’ that make it really easy to disconnect the wires.

Engine Battery Change 1

Just unscrew the four nuts and you can lift off the connections.

Engine Battery Change 2

Engine Battery Change 4

Next, I removed the old batteries and cleaned the frame.

Engine Battery Change 5

Then it was just a matter of setting the new batteries in place, made easier by the built-in carry straps. Next I fastened down the retaining frame.

I’m replacing the AC-Delco’s with Interstate 31-MHD’s. They’re a little lighter, slightly smaller, but have 925 CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) instead of the 700 CCA of the AC-Delco’s. Smaller, lighter, and more powerful. You can’t beat that.

Engine Battery Change 7

After getting everything tightened down, and the Master Disconnect back on, I went inside and fired up the Cummins 350 to be sure it’s ready to go on Friday.

Engine Battery Change 8

These are the 4 Interstate U2400 6V batteries. Since we very seldom boondock and I’m cheap, I’m going to try it for a while with only 2 batteries.

Chassis Battery Change 1

I  pulled all four out (these suckers are heavy at 75 pounds apiece.) and then cleaned the plastic tray.

Chassis Battery Change 2

Getting the batteries out and separated, I discovered something interesting. Only one of the four is really bad. Three of them read 6.2 volts, but the fourth one read 4.5, and it’s kind of swollen.

Chassis Battery Change 3

I had already planned to keep two of the old ones as placeholders, so I kept two of the good ones. You’re normally not supposed to put old and new ones together, so I just wired the two new ones into the system. But I may experiment a little when I have time. All I have to do is connect two cables to add them back online. We’ll see how it goes.

About 6pm Jan and I headed up the road to have dinner at Hruska’s. We’d heard how good their burgers were, so good that they were even written up in Texas Monthly. So we had to give them a try.

Hruska's Burger

On one level they were very good. I mean this Double Bacon Cheeseburger was over 5 inches high, and it was all fresh and hot.

But the disappointment was that it was overcooked to the point of the meat being almost crumbly. Jan had ask for hers well-done and the clerk said they were all cooked well-done. So I don’t know if we just got ones that way overcooked, or if this is the way they all are.

Maybe we’ll have a chance to try them another time.

April 30, 2015

A Mass Exodus . . .

The park here has really emptied out in the last couple days, presumably the temps are now in the mid-90’s and going higher. And to think that just a week daytime temps were struggling to make 70 degrees and we had night time temps running from the high 30’s to low 40’s. That’s a real change.

Not sure what’s going with gas/diesel prices in the last week, but unleaded has gone up 22 cents a gallon in the last week, and 15 cents in the last two days. Diesel hasn’t gone up quite as much, and strangely, it’s still 25 to 30 cents a gallon cheaper than unleaded.

Jan and I headed out about 4:30 to have one last dinner down in Henderson at our favorite Las Vegas Mexican place, Lindo Michoacan.

Lindo Michochan 1

We went early to beat the rush and also to sure of getting a window seat overlooking Las Vegas, previously our favorite view of the city. Of course, that’s now been replaced by the High Roller Observation Wheel.

We both tried something new tonight with Jan going with the Pollo a la Parrilla, and forsaking my usual Carnitas a la Coca-Cola, I went with the Carne Asada.

Lindo Carne Asada

We both really enjoyed our changeup meals, and their chips and salsa were great as usual. And even better, as well as the bowl of salsa that comes with the chips, you also get a bowl of very tasty bean dip. Really good.

I forgot to mention on our last visit to Lindo Michoacan that we also get a cup of Fideo Soup like this with our meals.

Lindo Fideo Soup

Fideo means ‘noodle’ in Spanish, and that’s what it is, a noodle soup made with a light tomato-based broth. Really good, and a great way to start our meal.

After a great meal, and as we had planned, we went back to the rig for an hour or so. Then after it was dark, we headed back over to the Strip to take in another of our Vegas favorites, the Bellagio Fountains.

We’ve done this a number of times, so we know exactly where to park in their parking garage, and the route to take through the casino and hotel, and out the front to the walkway around the fountains.

We got there a couple of minutes into one show, and then stayed for two more full shows. The shows run about every 15 minutes, and each one of the three we viewed were different, so I don’t know how many different shows they have.

Here are some of the photos I got.

Bellagio 0

Bellagio 1

Bellagio 2

Bellagio 3

Bellagio 4

Bellagio 5

Bellagio 6

Bellagio 7

We finally got back home about 9:45 after another very nice day here in Las Vegas. And we’ve only got two more to go, since we’ll be leaving here on Sunday, and heading back to Cottonwood for a week or so.

April 30, 2016

Wheels within Wheels . . .

I spent most of the late morning and afternoon working on a new website for a client, trying to get it finished up and online before we travel tomorrow.

I’ve still got more to do on the wheel logo, but it’s pretty much done. Except, as usual, I’m waiting on content from the client. In the past, I described this as like pulling teeth. But at least they’re not my teeth.

Ezekiel Transport

I’ve still got some more work to do on the wheel logo. I want to completely outline all the struts in yellow so it will stand out more from the background. I’ve been looking for a way to automate this, but I may end up doing it one pixel at a time. We’ll see.

Later in the afternoon I went outside and stowed away the sewer and water hoses, prepping for our trip back to Colorado River Thousand Trails tomorrow morning I first filled the fresh water tank so we’d have enough for our showers tonight and tomorrow morning.

But back inside I discovered that I had a water pump problem. Or at least I think I do. I’m not getting much flow from the pump, but since shore water works OK and the fresh water tank fills pretty quickly, I suspect the inline filter on the pump may be clogged. But I’ll wait until Colorado River to check it out So for now I went back outside and hooked the shore water back up.

For dinner tonight Jan fixed Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs, along with a salad and garlic bread. Really good.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about how they’re finally starting to clear the snow from the Beartooth Highway.

You can read it here – Bearteeth and Landstars. And you can read about our drive along the route in 2011 with our friends Al and Adrienne Cox here:

The Last Time I Was At 11,000 Feet, I Was In A Plane

Well, this video shows how they do it. Check it out.


April 30, 2017

Land of Fruits and Nuts . . .

With a 345 mile trip ahead of us on Saturday, we left the Soledad Canyon TT about 8:15am and headed south on the Antelope Valley Fwy about 17 miles until we got on I-5 and headed north toward Lodi, CA.

And then it was up one mountain and then down the other side. and again, and again, and again. About 75 miles worth.

The fabled Grapevine. Which pretty much ends at Grapevine, CA where things started to level out.

When they replaced the diesel tank on our rig after our blowout in 2015 the fuel gauge has been very squirrely, not that it wasn’t kinda squirrely before. But now when it gets to half tank it pretty much just falls to the empty peg.

But since I have the very accurate fuel monitor on my Silverleaf Computer Display, I haven’t had a problem. Until now.

My tank holds 150 gallons, and the last time I got diesel in Tucson, the Silverleaf said I had 30 gallons on board and I was able to put 120 gallons in the tank. And it’s always been very accurate. Until now.

So about 250 miles into our trip, and with 28.8 gallons on the Silverleaf, I ran out of diesel.

Long story short, by the time we got 15 gallons of diesel in the tank (Cummins says you need 15 gallons for priming and restart) and FINALLY got it started, it was going on 9pm and we still had 95 miles to go.

Even using the priming instructions that I had gotten from Cummins years ago it took a long time to get the engine started. Long enough that the battery was dragging. We finally got it started with the Good Sam’s RV mechanic jumping the rig batteries and then using a squirt of starting fluid.

It’s kind of funny about the use of starting fluid. Everyone, including Cummins, tells you not to use it because it can damage your engine, including blowing it up. But everyone uses it, including Cummins dealers. And it definitely worked in our case.

I knew the office at Flag City RV Park in Lodi closed at 9 so I called ahead and they said they already had our site info in an envelope taped to the door and I could settle up in the morning. Great!

We finally pulled into the park about 11pm and found a very nice turban-wearing Sikh gentleman waiting for us with a golf cart ready to lead us to our pull-thru site, long enough that we didn’t have to unhitch. Much appreciated after our long day.

We slept in this morning, not getting up until after 8, and not getting on the road until about 10, OK since we only had a 245 mile run up to Weed, CA this morning.

Heading out we stopped at the office to settle up and then it was back on I-5N just a couple of blocks away. And this time rather than hills, we had miles and miles of fruit and nuts . . . and olives. Well, olives are fruit, so just fruit and nuts.

Jan and I both agree it should be a law that farmers have to put signs along the highway telling you what they’re growing. I mean, I can recognize corn, soybeans, cotton, alfalfa, and a few other crops, but fruits and nuts, not so much.

We had grapes, pistachios, walnuts, cherries, and olives. Now grapes we recognized, and I assume the cherries were the ones that were covered with nets. But the rest are just trees to us.

We want signs!

We first started seeing Mt. Shasta rising above the horizon about 140 miles out, and got these photos at 100 miles.

Mt Shasta 100miles 2

After a long climb back up into the mountains, we pulled into Friendly RV Park in Weed, CA about 3:30 and got parked and set up. And this is the view out our windshield.

Mt Shasta RV Park

Tomorrow we’ll spend some time driving around before heading up to the Bend/Sunriver Thousand Trails on Tuesday for a two-week stay.

April 30, 2019

Short Skirts and Tight Jeans . . .

Not That I Have A Problem With That.

Breakfast this morning was splitting a Chocolate Croissant that we had bought previously at a bakery, and coffee and orange juice from the Aquavit Terrace Breakfast Bar.

Then at 8:30 we were out and about on a tour of Panoramic Budapest.

Panoramic Budapest

Some of this we’d already seen since it was near our hotel, but that just gave us more free time for exploring on our own.

We did learn a lot about the history of Budapest and Hungary from our guide. Later we stopped off at a pharmacy for a few things before heading back to our rendezvous spot, and then back to the ship.

When we were ready to board we found we had to pass through another Viking ship that was moored between us and the dock. Apparently, this is not unusual, due to so many different cruise ship lines and a limited amount of dock space along the river. Sometimes as many as four ships are docked side by side.

Then after another great lunch, we were off on our afternoon adventure, a trip to the famous Grand, or Central Market. Rather than a bus, this time we all took the electric tram 4 stops down the line to the Market.

Tram To Grand Market

The Market turned out to be an enormous glass-roofed building, with three floors of shops selling mostly food items.

Grand Market 1

There were a couple of places selling souvenirs for the tourists, but most of the people seemed to be locals doing their food shopping.

Maybe the most interesting was the way meat was displayed and sold. Nothing was neatly packaged and wrapped in plastic like the States, but laid out in neat, raw rows, with pretty much any type of fresh sausage or meat that you could want.

Grand Market 2

Grand Market 3

Grand Market 4

Even the fish were fresh. They were kept in large tanks, with many different species all lumped in together, packed in so tightly that they could hardly move. You just pointed out what you wanted, and they would ‘fish’ it out and then kill and clean it on the spot. Now that’s fresh.

Viking had a number of ‘tastings’ set up for us around the area, letting us try different types of honey, sausage, pastries, wine cheese, and pickled veggies and fruits. It seems like the Hungarians will pickle just about anything. And it’s all good.

Getting back to the ship about 5pm, we met up for dinner about 7 with the group of friends we’ve accumulated. And a diverse group it is.

We’ve got the couple from Memphis that I mentioned yesterday, a couple from San Francisco, another from Illinois, two couples from Australia, Perth and Melbourne, and another couple from Houston. She’s Filipino and he’s Thai.

For dinner, they have two different menu sections. The one on the left never changes, with Angus Ribeye, Roasted Chicken, Poached Salmon, and Vegetarian Lasagna.

But on the right side are regional specialties that change every day. Each side also has its own Starters, I.e. Appetizers and desserts as well. And you can mix and match as much as you want, jumping from one side to the other. You can even get one entrée from both sides if you want.

Tonight Jan and I both ordered from the Regional menu, she got the Seared Divers Scallops,

Seared Diver's Scollaps

while I got the Hungarian Goulash.

Skirnir Goulash

For dessert, Jan got the fresh-made Peach Sorbet from the Regional offerings, while I got the Bourbon Crème Brule from the Standard side.

Bourbon Creme Brule

Every evening before dinner they have the Port Talk, a synopsis of life on the ship and what’s happening the next day. One thing discussed was getting back to the ship too late.

They will wait for you a maximum of 5 minutes, and then they’re pulling away from the dock. The reason for this are the 67 locks they have to work through on the Danube (which is not Blue by the way, but a dirty greyish brown), the Main, and the Rhine on the way to Amsterdam.

The waterways are so busy that you have to have an appointment for your lock transition time. And if you miss your window you will have to wait, throwing you minutes, or even hours behind schedule, each delay cascading into the next one.

So they will leave you.

I don’t know who makes the fashion rules in Hungarian, but I’d like to shake their hand. Because the clothing de rigueur for young, beautiful women here seems to be skin-tight sprayed-on jeans, or short skirts with or without leggings, but both in high heels.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Not a thing.

That’s about it for Monday, so keep checking back for our latest adventures.

April 30, 2020

Oops! Wrong Girlfriend . . .

In another one of those moments that seems to be occurring more and more in these ‘reporting from home’ situations,

Here’s a Spanish reporter whose mostly-nude girlfriend dashes by in the background. Unfortunately for the reporter, it was quickly obvious to many viewers that this girlfriend was not his other ‘very famous’ real girlfriend.

Naked Lady on Spanish News


We’re in the middle of our usual spring bipolar weather patterns here in Texas, with nights in the low 50’s and days in the 80’s. Actually, not too bad, really.

Won’t be too long until we’re solidly in the 90’s.

April 30, 2021

Swimming In The Sky . . .

Elon Musk launched another 60 satellites into his Starlink constellation yesterday, and it can’t become fully operational soon enough for Jan and me. Our Comcast/Xfinity Internet here at the park is great . . . when it’s working. But often it’s hit or miss.

And it’s not the fault of the park, either. The WiFi signal will still be fine, and I can connect to it with no problems. But as they say, there’s no there there. In other words, a connection, but no Internet signal.

And it may be off for 5 minutes, or in at least one case, 5 hours or so.

So, as I’ve mentioned before, we’re on the list for Elon’s Starlink Internet system, supposedly later this summer, or the early fall. As I said, it can’t come fast enough

Well, that was quick.

Late this afternoon I uploaded the requested photo of both broken cups to Wish.

Wish Cups Both - 500

And about 4 hours later, I had the refund in my PayPal account.

However, even with the quick refund, we won’t be ordering anything else from Wish on Facebook. This was our second order from them, and the second one where we needed a refund, though the first one was only a partial one.

We ordered two Van Gogh decorated canvas bags, but only received one of them. So in this case, it’s two strikes and you’re out.

As usual, tomorrow will be another of our lunch/errand days, this time with a first visit to Pop Top Burgers, a new place over near our old house.

And I’m really looking forward to trying their Big Bubba Burger.

PopTopBurgers Big Bubba

It’s got a Beef Patty, Bacon, American Cheese, Grilled Philly Steak Meat, Grilled Onions, Swiss Cheese, Shredded Lettuce, Tomatoes, Pickles, Special Sauce And Topped With A Thick Onion Ring.

Can’t wait to try it.

A new condo complex in London lets you swim in the sky.

It’s a completely glass swimming pool 82 ft. wide and suspended 175 ft. above ground.

Swimming In The Sky

The pool connects two blocks of the luxury buildings, and holds 400 tons of water. And the pool is constructed to move with any sway of the buildings.

Swimming In The Sky 2

So it looks like you could suffer from motion-sickness, seasickness, and acrophobia all at the same time.

April 30, 2022

Sometimes She Wanders Off . . .

After a delicious lunch at Pho Barr, and a quick stop at Harbor Freight for some suction cups, we made a Costco run.

Besides the usual stuff, I found a set of these.

Tile Trackers

It’s a set of 4 Tile Bluetooth Trackers. Clipped to your purse, keys, etc., one will allow you to track them anywhere within about 400ft. And using a Bluetooth crowd-sourcing technique, they can be tracked at a much larger distance.

And what do I need to track? Well, it’s who, not what.

It’s Jan.

Jan tends to have ‘Squirrel!’ moments. We’ll be walking about WalMart/Sam’s/Costco, etc., and I’ll look back and she’ll be gone. She’ll see something off down another aisle and she’s gone. And even worse, I’m walking along talking to some other guy’s wife.

And sometimes it can take me a while, criss-crossing the store, to find her again.

Now if she normally carried her phone, I could track her on that, but it’s usually still on the counter at home. So I’m clipping one of these to her purse (which she always has with her.) so I can find her without sending out a search team.

We’ll see how it works out.

The upcoming month of May is going to be a busy one for us.

Jan’s going to be Landon-sitting all next week, starting tomorrow. Brandi, Lowell, and Landon are coming down to Webster to meet us for lunch at Floyd’s Cajun Seafood, after which they’ll take Jan back with them. Friday I’ll go up to Katy to bring her home.

Then the week after, on Tuesday we have the Ramses exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, with lunch beforehand at Katz’s Deli. Thursday we have lunch with our friends, Debi & Ed Hurlburt, at the Longhorn Steakhouse up in The Woodlands area. After that on Friday, we have the monthly Alvin Opry show over in, where else, Alvin.

Plus that day, the 13th, is also the last of my 180 day Bone Graft Stimulator treatments that I have to do every night.

Then the next week is another Alvin Opry friends get-together at the Saltgrass Steakhouse once again.

And the following Thursday, the 26th, we leave for our 2+ week Alabama Vacation/Reunion, not getting back home until Sunday the 12th.

Like I said, a busy month.

April 30, 2023

Finally . . .

Lunch today was at our favorite Omelet place, our local Denny’s. And this is why it’s our favorite Omelet place.

Denny's Omelet 20230430

I actually think that Hugo, the cook, must be using more than 3 eggs. But that’s probably because we tip him every now and then.

Then it was on across the Interstate for our weekly HEB visit.

Well, it looks like the 4th time was the charm, since SpaceX finally got their Falcon Heavy off the ground and heading up to geostationary orbit, about 22,000 miles up, to drop off a couple of communications satellites.

Falcon Heavy 20230430 Launch 1

Falcon Heavy 20230430 Launch 2

Falcon Heavy 20230430 Launch 3

At 5 million pounds of thrust, it’s 2/3 of the Saturn V that took us to the moon.

And related, Musk hopes to launch another Starship within the next couple of months, and hopes to attempt 4 or 5 more launches this year.

As he says, “Once again, excitement is guaranteed,” Musk said of the next launch. “Success is not.”

Our daughter-in-law Linda said that when she got home this afternoon she found Chris laying out a pad for an aboveground pool. She also said that when they take it down in the winter time, they should put down AstroTurf and make it a putting green.

Sounds good to me.

Chris' New Pool Pad




Rechairing . . .

We had a big thunderstorm come through about 5pm, dropping almost 2.25” of rain on us in just about 2 hours, also giving up 4 or 5 momentary power outages. But we lucked out, considering north of Houston some places got 10” to 15”.

We’ve been rechairing at the office, and mine finally came in today. Unlike the regular office chairs that everyone else got, I got a version of the gaming chair that I got for the rig after my spinal fusion. I need something with a high back and a support pillow for my neck.

And it even has a lumbar massaging cushion. Nice!

It came in late this afternoon, so I’ll put it together on Wednesday.

Jan and I are both feeling a lot better, almost back to normal. Just a little residual cough hanging around.

Friday afternoon I’m stopping off at our local Safelite dealership to get the Jeep’s windshield replaced before our trip back to Alabama next week. Supposed to only take about 90 minutes.

We’ll see.

Thought For The Day:

By replacing your morning coffee with green tea, you can lose up to 87% of what little joy you still have left in your life.

Your Retro-Preview Highlights –

2010 – Yosemite National Park

2011 – Grand Canyon

2015 – Margaritaville And The High Roller in Las Vegas

2019 – More From Budapest, Hungary

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

April 29, 2010

Oh WOW !!!!

We left the rig about 9:15 am heading out to see Yosemite National Park. As we got closer to Oakhurst, the 2nd town over, we started to see a lot of snow on the mountains that wasn’t there yesterday.

After stopping for gas in Oakhurst, we headed north about 5 miles and entered the Sierra National Forest, which borders Yosemite. Along the way, we encountered more and more snow, which gave us some incredible views.

SnowDrive 2

SnowDrive 1

Another 10 miles later we entered Yosemite National Park at the Ranger Station. Because of the heavy snow last night (between 6 and 12 inches) we were told that we needed either chains or a 4 wheel drive vehicle with snow tires to enter the Park.  We had the 4 wheel drive, but no snow tires, but lucky for us they didn’t really check, so we got in. As it turned out, the roads were pretty clear and we never needed it.

SnowDrive 4

SnowDrive 3

We did see several snow plows during our drive so I guess they did a good job. But the higher we climbed the more snow we saw. We finally topped out about 6500 feet, with snow covering everything but the road. And the views were spectacular.

SnowDrive 6

SnowDrive 5

SnowDrive 7

After a lot of hairpin turns we came to the area known as Tunnel View, which of course involves a tunnel.


Coming out of the tunnel there was a large viewing area looking out over the valley, including BridalVeil Fall. Yes, for some reason it’s called Fall, not Falls.


As we got closer, the Fall got more and more impressive.



We stopped at the Fall viewing area and walked up the 1000 foot trail to the base of the fall. With all the spray in the air, it was almost like it was raining.


SnowPeak 2

Then it was on to Yosemite Village, which is the turnaround point for the trip, with more great scenery along the way.


SnowPeak 3

As we got close to the Village, we saw the other big waterfall in the park, Yosemite Falls. Yes, this one is called Falls, not Fall.

Don’t ask me why.

Yosemite Falls 2

Yosemite Falls 3

After buying some souvenirs at the Yosemite Store, we stopped and had a bad lunch at the Lodge. The best part was the pre-packaged cookie we had for dessert.

We also saw a lot of Sequoias in the Park. For some reason I always thought that Sequoias and Redwoods were the same tree, but they’re not. It turns out that Redwoods are only found in northern coastal California up near the Oregon border.


Coming home, we started seeing first rain, then sleet, and finally, sleet, hail, and snow, all mixed together.

We got home about 3:30 pm, glad to be back where it was warm and dry.

Tomorrow we plan on heading south about 75 miles to Sequoia National Park where we’ll see a lot more, bigger Sequoias.

Late Update:

Tonight on CSI they investigated a murder they thought was done at a shooting range. Although the name was different, the store they used was the one where Jan did her machine gun shooting when we were in Las Vegas.

Gun 3

April 29, 2011

Grand Canyon – Part II . . .

Here’s Part II of our Grand Canyon visit yesterday.

Today we visited the Bearizona Wildlife Park here in Williams, but I’ll save it for tomorrow’s blog since we’ll be traveling and won’t have much that is blog-worthy.

We walked further along the rim, just taking in the fantastic scenery.

Canyon Rock Face

This is a view of the legendary El Tovar Hotel looking back from Fred Harvey’s Lookout Studio.

El Tovar

More great views.

Canyon 10

Canyon Lookout 2

Around 1 pm we headed back around the rim to the Bright Angel Dining Room to have lunch. Unfortunately, the place was busy so we didn’t get a table by the window overlooking the canyon, but in consolation, the food was delicious.

Bright Angel Dining Rm

I had the BBQ Sampler Plate with chicken, ribs, and pulled pork, with two very tasty BBQ sauces, including a Prickly Pear Honey sauce.

Bright Angel Diner

Jan had a Pistachio Chicken Salad Sandwich on Ciabatta bread.

Bright Angel Diner 2

These people are heading down one of the many hiking trails. They start out along the rim,

Canyon Trail 1

then work their way through the tunnel.

Canyon Trail 2

You can take the trail all the way to the bottom of the Canyon and on to the fabled Phantom Ranch

Canyon Trail 3

Phantom Ranch 1

The beginning of the bright green strip is where the Phantom Ranch is located.

Canyon Trail Full 2

Up close, it looks like this. It’s a 12 mile hike down here.

Phantom Ranch 2

And then another 4 miles along here, out to the edge of the bottom canyon.

Canyon Trail 14

I was really surprised Jan was able to do this. She has a real fear of heights so this was a feat for her. I’m really proud of her.

Canyon Rim Jan

I, on the other hand, am more like this guy. The higher, the scarier, the better. Jan calls it ‘riding that ragged edge”

I call it fun.

My Kind of Guy

Canyon 11

Canyon 12

Canyon 13

Heading back to the train depot, we took a quick detour into the El Tovar Hotel. While Jan was checking out the gift shop, I stuck my head in the main dining room. Talk about nice!

El Tovar Dining Room

Finally, about 3:15, we boarded our train car for the trip home.

Canyon Train Home

We pulled back into the Williams Train Depot about 5:45 and made our way back to the RV park a few minutes away.

The perfect end to a fantastic day!

April 29, 2013

A Last Goodbye . . .

After a quiet morning, I headed a few exits down the freeway to Power Rd. and Discount Tire. I needed to get the leaky one fixed that started losing air on Friday. But luckily the leak was slow enough that I was able to air it up and then get down the freeway to the store.

I had already figured out that I was going to have to get a new tire. The leak in this one was a blowout of a patch that was done while we were gate-guarding in South Texas last year. And 45 minutes and $215 later, I was done and heading home.

Getting back home for the afternoon, we headed back over to Red Robin to get our Red Robin fix just like last week.

Coming home I made a quick stop at Home Depot before getting home a little before 7pm. Normally Jan and I would have done our walk tonight but it was still in the 90’s so we called it off.

Brandi and Lowell sent over some pics of Landon having a good time at Chuck E. Cheese.


I love this shot of him standing on his tippy toes so he can see better.


Our daughter-in-law Linda posted these photos of her and Chris kayaking on Armand Bayou in the Clear Lake area.

Chris Kayaking on Armand Bayou

Hope they’re watching out for all the gators that are in there.

Linda in Kayak

And wrapping things up, here’s another shot of Landon’s new 2nd cousin, Zoe. Love that red hair.

Zoe Nadeau 3

And finally, on a very sad note, our long-time close friend, Gina (Regina) Ellis died this afternoon. Her daughter Sharelle called about 7:30 to tell us the news.

It was not unexpected, since Gina had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer even before we left Houston in February, so we knew it was just a matter of time.

We met Gina and her husband George in 1980 and quickly became fast friends. George, who died in 2004, worked at NASA at the same time I did. In fact, he was head of Crew Systems for Rockwell Aerospace for years, and worked directly on the Space Shuttle design in both California and Houston.

Gina had a varied career of her own, starting as an executive assistant at NASA which is when she met George. Later on she was an EMT, and a police sergeant. And when she retired she was an investigator for American National Insurance in Galveston, investigating insurance fraud.

She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her.

April 29, 2014

A Travesty . . .

We left the rig about 11 heading down to Clear Lake for Jan and Piper’s get-together and my afternoon of errands. While they played, I worked, well, drove around, anyway.

Things like Sam’s for prescriptions, the storeroom to drop off the last of the storage bins, a truck wash at our favorite place, and the bank for deposits. I finished up with a client stopover for a while before heading back over to Chris’. Jan and Piper had just gotten back so we waited around while Chris finished installing a new garage door opener.

Then about 4:30 we all drove over to King Food for one last get-together at one of our favorite places. After a great meal, we said our goodbyes and got our hugs, and then Jan and I headed down to Kroger’s for a few things, as well as gas for the truck.

I was happy to see that my magic Fred Meyers/Kroger loyalty card is still giving me the .10 a gallon discount as long as I buy something that month. Normally you have to buy $100 in groceries before you get one fill-up at the .10 discount.. But this card which we got in Fairbanks, AK in 2008 gives it every time.

Next up was a quick stop-over to say goodbye to some friends. Then it was on back up to the Katy area to stop at Brandi’s to pick up the visa paperwork for my niece’s visit to China next month.

By the time we got home, it was almost 9pm, a long day. Then we get to do it tomorrow to drop off the visa apps at the Chinese Consulate in Houston

As I was heading back to Chris’ earlier today, I saw a crowd as I was crossing the railroad tracks at NASA Rd. 1 and Hwy 3. Looking over to my right, I saw a 747 sitting there. Well, pieces of a 747, anyway.

Shuttle Carrier 4

Shuttle Carrier 5

This is one of the two NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) that were used to transport the Space Shuttles back to Kennedy after landings at Edwards AFB in California and White Sands in New Mexico.

This SCA made its final flight into Ellington Field about 5 miles north of Johnson Space Center. Then it was partially disassembled (which took 38 days) and moved down to SpaceCenter Houston where it will be put on permanent display.

Shuttle Carrier 1

Because of its size, 200 feet long, 35 feet high, and 25 feet wide, the 7.75 mile trip had to be spread over two nights. This is because power lines have to be raised, signs moved, and the roads completely shut down

Shuttle Carrier 2

Shuttle Carrier 3

So tonight about 9pm, they will finish the last 2 miles of the move to Johnson Space Center where it will be put on display with a Shuttle on top in flight position.

Shuttle on 747

The ‘Travesty’ is the fact that due to murky politics, the Shuttle mounted on top will only be a mockup, not a real Shuttle.

JSC was the only Flight Center not to get a real one. Apparently, the powers-that-be decided that ‘NEW YORK CITY’ had more to do with the Shuttle program than Houston.

But if it’s any consolation, New York didn’t get a ‘real’ flight Shuttle either. They got the Enterprise, the Shuttle that did the Approach and Landing Tests where it was taken up on a 747 and then released to glide back to earth. But at least theirs FLEW.

It should have been an easy decision: Three Flight Centers, Three Flying Shuttles.

April 29, 2015

Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL . . .

Jan and I headed out about 4:15 for our evening’s festivities, with our first stop the parking garage at the back of the Flamingo Casino. Our destination was Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville out on the Strip side of the Flamingo. We’ve made this walk from the parking garage to the restaurant a number of times, which is good, because it’s kind of like walking a maze.

We came this early knowing that we would probably have a pretty long wait, based on previous visits. But perhaps because of the restaurant’s expansion since we were last here two years ago, we had no wait whatsoever, and were seated immediately.

Margaritavile 1

This area where we were seated tonight was a storeroom for the Flamingo Hotel when we were here before.

Margaritaville 6

I didn’t plan on having a drink tonight, but when I saw a Habanero Margarita on the menu, I had to try it. And it was really good. And hot.

Margaritaville 3

I did take the jalapenos out of the drink and put them on my Cheddar BBQ Burger that I had below, along with an order of their delicious Cilantro-Lime Coleslaw that we shared. Plus the Roasted Jalapeno was really good.

Margaritaville 4

Jan went with the eponymous Cheeseburger in Paradise, which despite being based on the song, is not prepared correctly.

According to the menu, Jan’s burger had American Cheese, lettuce, tomato, Paradise Island Sauce, and a big Kosher Pickle.

But according to the song, it should have Muenster cheese, lettuce, tomato, sliced onion, and Heinz 57 sauce. But the big Kosher pickle was right, at least.

Now a lot of people, including some Internet sites,  think the lyrics are “medium rare with mustard’d be nice.” But Jimmy Buffett has confirmed that the lyrics are “medium rare with Muenster’d be nice.”, as in Muenster Cheese.

As Jimmy Buffett says, “Who in the hell puts mustard on a hamburger.?”

Get it right, people!

For dessert, we shared an order of their Chocolate Banana Pudding, which is actually Bread Pudding with sliced bananas, ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce.

Margaritaville 5

It was a great meal, as the big smile on my beautiful wife shows.

Jan at Margaritaville

Because I had allowed extra time figuring we’d have a wait at the restaurant, we were finished up by 6:30, but our High Roller ride wasn’t until about 8pm.

While we were deciding how to kill an hour or so, we walked outside on the Strip and saw these two Adirondack chairs just waiting for us. So we spent about an hour sitting out on the Strip watching the world go by.

Well, watching the world, and a lot of strangely dressed people go by. But it was fun.

Margaritavile 2

We got out to the Wheel a little before 8pm, and took the escalator up to the boarding platform.

High Roller Visit 1

The Wheel doesn’t normally stop for loading and unloading people. It’s moving slowly enough that you can step right in as the pod travels down the platform. But apparently not spilling the liquor is more important than the passengers, because the Wheel does stop so they can move the booze carts on and off the pods that offer drink service.

I didn’t see it as we were loading, but Jan said she saw some extra cleanup going on in one pod after they wheeled the drink carts off. Possibly combined with the alcohol, someone got a little queasy during the ride. I did noticed that they skipped loading any passengers on that pod as it came around.

High Roller Visit 2

Now supposedly 40 people can be crammed into one of these pods, but if so, they’re going to be standing shoulder to shoulder.

High Roller Visit 3

For some reason, these pods remind me of the ships in 2001 A Space Odyssey.


“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

High Roller Visit 4

Luckily for us we only had 8 people on our pod, so there was plenty of room to move around.

High Roller Visit 5

As we moved around our 550 foot arc, the views were fantastic.

High Roller Visit 6

High Roller Visit 7

High Roller Visit 8

High Roller Visit 9

High Roller Visit 10

High Roller Visit 11

One thing I found interesting during the ride, were the Las Vegas-based trivia questions shown on the overhead TV screens, and one of them brought back memories of my father.

The question was “What Casino did mobster Bugsy Segal name after his long-legged girlfriend, Virginia Hill?” The answer of course is the Flamingo. But the reason the question brought back memories of my father was that one time he mentioned he knew Virginia Hill.

Virginia was born in a suburb of Birmingham, AL, and somewhere along the line my father encountered her in a “professional” manner, as he said. The reason for this was that for many years my father was a detective on the Birmingham Police force, and apparently Virginia Hill was already on the wrong side of the law before she met up with Bugsy and the rest of the Vegas mob.

It’s really strange the things that can trigger a memory.

One thing funny was that after the Flamingo question, there was a Bonus Hint. It said to remember that most women don’t like to be compared to flamingos. Word to the wise. But I guess if you’re a mobster, you can get away with it.

Finishing up, and due to the three booze stops, our Wheel ride ran about 35 minutes, giving us plenty of time to enjoy the fantastic views. Then leaving our pod, we made our exit out through the obligatory Gift Shop.

There’s always a Gift Shop.

We got home about 9pm after a really great time, with more fun on tap for tomorrow,

April 29, 2016

Well, It’s Official . . .

Sunday morning, Jan and I are moving back to the Colorado River Thousand Trails for a week before being back at the Lake Conroe TT on May the 8th.

This will put us back on our regular two week schedule ricocheting between Lake Conroe and Colorado River. We may reschedule a trip back here later in the month, but on our terms, and not weather-dictated.

Jan was looking over her book list, and counted that she’s read 70 Kindle books since the first of the year. Luckily a lot of them come from the Harris County Public Library System. Jan got a library card from there a couple of months ago, and the way she reads, it’s certainly cheaper than actually paying for them. Nice!

Unfortunately, it looks like more rain is moving in, with more thunderstorms predicted for this Sunday in the Columbus area. So I hope we don’t get rained out again.

What we watch:

Except for Fargo, we’re finally caught up with all the stuff we DVR’d while we were on the gate last year. One of the reasons it took this long is that we keep picking up new shows to watch.

Most recently we got hooked on The Catch, a really good cat ‘n mouse game on ABC. In a way, it’s kind of a Romeo and Juliet story, with a family of con artists vying with a corporate security company. The kicker is that one of the con men is in love with one of the female owners of the security company, even as they are sometimes butting heads. A good show with a lot of twists and turns.

The Magicians – College students studying at Brakehills University, a college of magic. Kind of Harry Potter and Hogwarts, but on steroids and more dark/violent.

Stitchers – Government agency that investigates murders by using a machine that can tap into a dead person’s last memories to find out who killed them.

Lucifer – Lucifer, the fallen angel who rules over hell, gets bored and visits Earth. He finds out he likes it here, and stays to help a female police officer so he can punish evil-doers.

Limitless – An FBI consultant uses NZT, a pill that can increase your mind’s abilities a hundred fold, to help solve crimes. But without an immune shot, the pills can kill him. And his enemies control the immune shot.

Supergirl – Another comic book character come to life, but very well done.

iZombie – Zombies are real, but caused by a tainted illegal drug. A female surgeon is infected and becomes a medical examiner to have access to brains. But eating brains of murder victims gives her glimpses of how they were killed, so she helps the police solve crimes.

Oldies but Goodies

Once Upon A Time
Agents of SHIELD
Legends of the Future

For dinner tonight we had salad with a great dressing from a recipe Lynn Cross gave Jan, and the rest of the crockpot Beef Stew fleshed out with some of the extra veggies we got yesterday. Really good!

April 29, 2018

Great Minds . . .

And All That!

A couple of weeks ago when we got back from our RV test drive we found that our pedestal was dead.

And as I was sticking my VOM probes into the 50 amp receptacle, wiggling them around to be sure I’m making a good connection, it galvanized me to build up the tester that I had mentally designed a few years back.

So to refresh my memory, I sketched it out on a pad and started sourcing out some parts. Then it occurred to me that rather than reinvent the wheel, I might ought to check to see if somebody already sold one, saving me the time and effort.

I didn’t find anything commercially-made but I did come across this home-brew effort.

Pretty much my same design, but I did like the box and the connector he used so I borrowed that idea, and then went all digital with it. Great minds, etc.

And here’s what I ended up with,

50 Amp Tester Finished

based on this design that I drew up.

50 Amp Tester Schematic

It only took about 30 minutes to wire it up and get it put together. So the first thing I did was to take it outside to the pedestal, disconnect the coach, and hook it up.

50 Amp Tester at Pedestal

And it worked perfectly. But in the bright sun, the lights didn’t photograph very well. So I connected it up again after dark.

50 Amp Tester at Night

Much more visible on camera.

The two circuit testers check L1 and L2 for open grounds, open neutrals, reversed grounds and neutrals, etc. All of which I have encountered at campgrounds over the years.

I would have used two voltmeters but couldn’t find one narrow enough to fit two side by side. So I just swap the one back and forth as needed.

The green LED on the top left checks to see if you have real split phase 220VAC coming from the pedestal and not just two 110VAC lines coming into it. Again something I’ve seen several times over the years.

Tomorrow I’ll give you a parts list on what you need to buy if you want to duplicate mine.

I’ve also got my next two projects in the design phase and I’ll talk about them later.

Jan and I headed up to Webster about 5:30 to meet Chris, Linda, Miss Piper, and boyfriend Connor at the East Star Chinese Buffet.

Family at East Star

Along the way, we made a Valero stop for gas at $2.45/gal, a big jump in the last few weeks.

This was our first time to eat here on a Sunday, and they were really busy. And by the time we left about 7:30 they were ‘line out the door’ busy. First time I’ve ever seen this at a buffet. And this is a BIG place.

One thing I like about this place is their cold-boiled shrimp, so that’s pretty much what I had, along with veggies and some other meats.

East Star Plate 2

All good as usual.

Coming home we made an HEB stop to tide us over until the real shopping day tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, it’s back to work.

April 29, 2019

Home Sweet Skirnir . . .

The Viking Longship Skirnir is our home for the next two weeks, right here in cabin 110P (P for Port, apparently), though you would think they would know which side of the ship it’s on. And we don’t care since we just look at the cabin number on the wall.

Skirnir 110-1

Skirnir 110-2

Skirnir 110-3

Cabin 110 is down in the basement, the bilge, the steerage, or the cheap seats, whatever you want to call it. We learned from our Holland-American Alaska cruise a while back that the only time we spent in the cabin was to shower and sleep. The rest of the time we were out and about. So why pay extra for more room, bigger windows, etc. when we could spend that money on extras.

This morning started off early at the Hilton Budapest hotel, hitting the breakfast buffet about 7:30 because we had a lot going on, since we had to be both checked out and packed with our luggage out in the hallway for Viking to pick up and take to our ship, all by 10am.

As I mentioned yesterday this is probably the best hotel breakfast buffet we’ve ever had.

Hilton Budapest Breakfast Buffet

Pretty much anything you’ve ever thought about having for breakfast, and a lot of things you probably never thought about having, because you don’t recognize what it is. But it was all delicious.

Especially the coffee. We haven’t had a bad cup, or even a so-so cup of coffee since we got here. Really good.

After breakfast, check out, and luggage out, we were free until about 1:30 when we would be transported to the ship, so we decided to do some more walking around, taking in the great views.

We started out by walking out in a direction we hadn’t been before, thinking we would make a big circle back around to the hotel, and we did. But unfortunately, our circle left us a couple of hundred feet lower from where we started,

Fisherman's Bastion Steps

and about six BIG flights of stairs back up to where we should be.

But we made it with no major heart attacks or strokes, which does bode well for all the walking tours we have scheduled.

About 1:30 they herded us all into a small van, which took us a big bus, which took us to the Skirnir. And by the time we got welcomed onboard and were taken to our cabin, all our bags were there waiting for us. NICE!

It took Jan and me about 30 minutes to put everything away. Despite the small size, there’s really a lot of storage space, especially since our 4 suitcases all fit under the bed. Of course, it helps that we already live in a small space anyway.

We had an orientation in the Lounge at 6:15, and ended up setting next to Mike and Melissa, a couple from Memphis. Turns out we both like and dislike pretty much the same BBQ places there. They obviously have good taste.

So we ended up having dinner with them too. As well as a couple from Queensland, Australia. And we all had a really good time getting to know each other.

Skirnir Dinner Group

And the food turned out to be as delicious as promised. Jan and I both started off with the Baby Shrimp Cocktail,

Baby Shrimp Cocktail

but she got the Thai Red Curry Chicken, while I got the Angus Ribeye with double steamed veggies instead of the Steak Fries.

Angus Ribeye

Then for dessert Jan got the fresh Peach Sorbet, while I got the Fruit Plate.

Fruit Plate

While we were eating the ship pulled away from the dock and headed upstream, where it turned around and took us on a night-time scenic cruise of the Danube.

What was interesting was how they turned the ship around. Not by making a big turn, but instead by using the bow and stern side thrusters to just pivot in place.

And the scenery was fantastic.

Budapest Chain Bridge

Skirnir Dinner Cruise 2

Skirnir Dinner Cruise Parliament

Skirnir Dinner Cruise

Budapest is a really beautiful city. And very old. Over 2000 years old, in fact.

It was first settled by a group of Celts, but by 49 A.D. it was a thriving Roman Legion outpost with as many as 40,000 inhabitants.

Tomorrow in the morning after breakfast, we get a free Panoramic Budapest tour, and then in the afternoon, we’ve got an optional one, The Grand Market – A Taste of Budapest. Sounds like our kind of tour.

I mean it’s got ‘Taste’ right there in the title.

So Stay Tuned.

April 29, 2020

Oops . . .

We had a very heavy thunderstorm come through early this morning that really rocked things. But besides a few limbs down on the road, all I saw locally was a porta-potty blown over at a nearby home construction site.

But our daughter Brandi did lose one of their backyard palm trees.

Brandi Palm Tree Down

These have really shallow roots so it doesn’t take a lot to dislodge one of them, especially if the ground is soggy. But they may just be able to have it replanted. Luckily the fence it hit was already in the process of being replaced anyway, so no problem.

And when I checked our new Rubbermaid storage room this morning, it was also nice and dry inside.

On the humor side of the work-from-home situation, Will Reeve (son of Superman actor Christopher Reeve), a reporter for ABC’s Good Morning America got caught going a little too casual, at least below the waist, while on the air from his home,

No Pants


On a personal note, back in the day, I did a lot of TV Broadcasting, both local and some network. And I can you tell that if the news anchor never leaves the security of the desk it’s more than likely he/she is just wearing blue jeans or shorts. And sometimes even less than that.

I’ve seen female anchors who have a dozen or so suit tops in different colors, with the blouses built in. They come into the studio in shorts and a t-shirt, put the jacket/blouse combo on and sit behind the desk. When they’re done they just unbutton the jacket, hand it to a floor person and walk out the door. And sometimes it’s even more casual than that.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was with NASA when the STS-3 Space Shuttle landed at the White Sands Northrup Strip backup landing site in March 1982. And since it was only the 3rd Shuttle flight, the news media mobbed the landing site.

The anchor desks were placed on top of semi-trailers so that the scene behind the desk looked out over the landing strip. One female network reporter, who’s name you would recognize, that is, if I could remember it, had a reclined chaise lounge right behind her desk.

When she was done with her segment, she would stand up, remove her jacket/blouse combo and leave it on the desk. Then she would slather the sun-screen onto her very curvy, very skimpily bikini-clad body, and then catch some more rays on the chaise lounge behind her desk until her next report. So you can never tell what they’re really wearing behind there.

Don’t know where this came from. But it’s been hiding somewhere since we moved from Alabama out here to Texas in December 1978.

It’s my beautiful Sweetie, back when she was 29. Really hasn’t changed since then.

Jan Driver's License 1976

Though that is kind of a ‘deer in the headlights’ look on her face.

April 29, 2021

No Steak This Weekend . . .

We were back at our local Denny’s for our favorite Ultimate Omelets once again.

Denny's Ultimate Omelet 20210213

With Fruit instead of the Hashbrowns as usual. And just as delicious as usual.


Then after a Hobby Lobby stop for some craft stuff, we swung by Lowe’s for some new flamingo legs, I.e. some brass rods to replace the old ones made from coat hangers.

Last up, we made a quick detour by the HEB for a few things, and as I was checking out, I noticed this new kiosk right across from me.

Bitcoin ATM Kiosk

And I was really surprised to see the price for 1 BTC.

Bitcoin ATM Price

I remember back in 2011 or so when you could buy 1 BTC for $1.00. Or even less sometimes.

So if you had bought $100 worth of BTC back then and held it, it would worth $5.7 million.


We had planned to Sous Vide steaks this weekend, a Ribeye for me and a Sirloin Strip for Jan, probably on Sunday afternoon. But since I had planned to finish them off on the Weber grill, while grilling green beans on our new George Foreman grill, and it’s now supposed to rain all weekend, the whole thing is now on  hold until next weekend.


I contacted Wish this afternoon about Jan’s broken flamingo cups, and sent them the two photos I posted last night.

Wish Coffee Mug Broken 1Wish Coffee Mug Broken 2

I got a fairly quick response, but either it was from an AI algorithm, or a bad translation, because the part in bold below is directly taken from my email.

I’m sorry to hear that your pink cups arrived broken, although the outside was well wrapped with bubble wrap, there was absolutely no padding inside the individual boxes holding the cups.

To further assist you, can you please provide an actual and entire photo showing the 2 cups together, outside of packaging?(in full view or from top to bottom).

Rest assured that as soon as we receive the required photo, we’ll move this process forward as quickly as possible.

So I’m not sure why they need another photo showing the same thing. But I’ll send it out tomorrow.

So far switching all of our prescriptions from WalMart to Kroger’s Rx Savings Club looks to be the winner. Based on WalMart’s current pricing, a 3 month supply of Jan’s and my prescription drugs would cost us $213.66.

But the same drugs through Kroger’s membership plan would be $82.82. And even when we add in the $6 per month cost of the Kroger’s plan, it would be $82.82 + $18.00, or $100.82. A significant difference.

But I don’t yet have the prices from Sam’s, since they no longer have an online list of their Plus membership prices. Now you have to get a price quote directly from a Sam’s Club pharmacy, so that’s next up before I make a final decision. But it looks good for Kroger’s.

April 29, 2022

GoDaddy’s Working On it . . .

The problem that some people are seeing is because of a DDOS attack on the shared server where my blog also resides. They’re working on it.

Just keep trying it over and over and it seems it will eventually work.

Well, it looks like at least part of this weekend will be taken up by my having to pull the driver’s door inside panel to figure out why the window won’t go all the way up. The glass itself is not jammed because I can lift it by hand. It will go down but only halfway up, so I know the motor is working. So I’ll pull it apart and see what I find.

April 29, 2023

A Worthy Substitution . . .

Lunch today was at Texas Huddle, but sans our usual server Juana. Turns out she’s working tonight instead. So we once again had Cassidy as our server.

Texas Huddle Cassidy 20230429

And she was a very worthy substitute.

We both started out with Side Salads, though their Side Salads are bigger than most place’s regular salads.

Texas Huddle Side Salad 20230429

Jan started out with her usual Bacon Swiss Cheese Burger. Of course, hers is the Keto version with no bun, and Cheddar instead of Swiss.

Texas Huddle Jan Burger 20230211

And she gives me her Bacon.

I went with something a little different this time, with the Blackened Chicken Breast covered in Cajun Cream Sauce, and a side of their Grilled Veggies.

Texas Huddle Blackened Chicken 20230429

And Jan’s Bacon, of course.

All delicious.

Don’t know if I got the date wrong, or they moved the launch date again, but now the Falcon Heavy is scheduled for tomorrow, April 30th, starting at 7:26pm CDT.

And finally, on a very sad note, our long-time close friend, Gina (Regina) Ellis died in 2013, ten years ago this afternoon. Her daughter Sharelle called to tell us the news.

It was not unexpected, since Gina had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer even before we left Houston that February, so we knew it was just a matter of time.

We met Gina and her husband George in 1980 and quickly became fast friends. George, who died in 2004, worked at NASA-JSC at the same time I did. In fact, he was head of Crew Systems for Rockwell Aerospace for years, and worked directly on the Space Shuttle design in both California and Houston.

Gina had a varied career of her own, starting as an executive assistant at NASA which is when she met George. Later on she was an EMT, and a police sergeant. And when she retired she was an investigator for American National Insurance in Galveston, investigating insurance fraud.

She is greatly missed by everyone who knew her.