Daily Archives: April 25, 2024

Longer Than I Expected . . .

Today was my first chance to replace the window regulator on Jan’s side of the Jeep. I had pulled the door panel off Tuesday a week ago to be sure it was a regulator problem, so today was the day.

I started off with this.

After popping off the door panel, I had just the water barrier to remove.

The panel came off much easier this time since it had been off before. And once the water barrier was removed, I next had to pop the window mounting loose.

It’s just a matter of pulling the clips, and popping the glass off the mounts.

Rather than using tape to hold the window glass up out of the way, I always use suction cups to hold things in place.

Works much better.

Then it was just a matter of loosening 6 bolts and removing the old regulator. Which turned out to be the proverbial ‘easier said than done.’

The problem turned out to be that the window glass has to be all the way up to the tippy-top. But once that was done it came right out.

But then getting the new one in was another problem. Turns out that the mounting bolts have to be screwed all the way in, rather than left loose as the directions and YouTube videos say. Once I figured that out, the new one went right in pretty easily.

At this time I made sure the window actually worked, and it did. And as I put everything back together, I tested door locks, door opener, remote mirror, etc. It’s a real bummer to get it all back together and find something doesn’t work.

Finally, about two hours later, I was done, with a job that should have only taken me about 45 minutes sans complications. But according to the local Jeep dealer, having them do this would have run me about $400.

So it cost me $60 and a couple of hours of my time, making me about $170/hr.

Wrapping up, I want to thank everyone for all their tips about excursions on our upcoming cruise.

I saw something about Royal Caribbean having over 1200 possible excursions parsed out over the 5 stops on our cruise. Though the fact that we’re pretty much only looking at Mayan Ruins-related tours.

Hopefully, that will narrow it down a bit.

April 25, 2010

Rested up and Ready to Travel…

Tomorrow morning we’ll head north about 230 miles to the Park of the Sierras Escapees RV park in Coarsegold, CA.

But today was a “get ready” day.

After going the Marie Callender’s restaurant in Lancaster for lunch, we stopped off for gas and then went by WalMart for supplies.

Back home, I fixed a loose panel on the coach, checked the engine oil, added coolant, added water to the coach batteries and checked the tire pressures. And it looks like we’re ready to go tomorrow.

Last week I showed y’all some great poppy pictures. Now I want to give equal time to some great Texas bluebonnet pics.



The red flowers are Indian Paintbrushes, another Texas favorite.




Bluebonnet06 Bluebonnet07


Take that, poppies!

More tomorrow from Park of the Sierras, at the edge of Yosemite National Park.

April 25, 2011

The King is Dead. Long Live the King.

First off, we have a new champion, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chili.

First, we had the Naga Jolokia chilies, also known as Bhut Jolokia, or Ghost chilies. Known at the time as the hottest chili in the world, it rated at a hair over 1 million Scoville units. I’ve had hot wings made with these at the Cypress Creek Café in Wimberley, TX. They call them Devil’s Breath Wings.

But after years on the throne, the Ghost Chili was overthrown by the Naga Viper, rated at about 1.38 million Scoville units.

And now, The King is Dead. Long Live the King. The Butch T comes in at almost 1.5 million units.

Trinidad Scorpion

But I guess they’ve got a ways to go.

Pure capsaicin tops out at about 16,000,000 Scoville units. Apparently, exposure to that can stop your heart.

The weather here has been really great, with temps in the high 60’s and low 40’s with a lot of sun. But I’ll be glad to get somewhere with higher humidity soon.

Not 95% like in Houston, but not like the 20% here in Arizona, either.

I’m really tired of waking up with the inside of my mouth dry and cracked, and feeling like a place old spiders go to die.

About 10, while I was making coffee and Jan was heating up our muffins, our daughter Brandi called to say that Landon is crawling. Later she sent some video of him playing with the new toy that arrived in the mail today from the Easter Bunny.

Here’s a still shot from the video. He does seem pretty happy with it. I think we, uh, I mean the Easter Bunny done good.


Can hardly wait until we can Skype again next Sunday.

For lunch, we had leftover pizza and chips. Really good after Jan added her own special touch of spices.

Then after lunch, I went outside to do some rig maintenance before we hit the road on Wednesday.

First off, was to close the grey tank valve. Not really maintenance, but I want to have plenty of water built up when I dump.

Next, I checked the engine oil level and added a quart of Rotella 15W-40HD. That’s doing really good, since it’s the first oil I had to add since my last oil change about 12,000 miles ago. Plus when we’re parked on concrete, I also look underneath the coach after a few days, to check for leaks. None found so far,

Then I checked my coolant level and topped off the reservoir. This took the last of the gallon I bought in Elkhart, IN last September. Time to get another jug.

About 2 pm I drove over to Pinetop to get some extra keys made for the rig door, and then while I was out, I stopped off at an NAPA Auto Parts to pick up some more diesel antifreeze. NAPA is the only place besides truck stops where I’ve been about to find the stuff.

About 5pm we headed out to the Red Devil Pizza in Lakeside. We ate here last year and remembered it as being good, and it still was.

Jan had the Baked Penne and I had my old favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs. Very good, and much, much better than The Pizza Factory a few nights ago.

After a lot of good food, we headed back to the rig a little before 7.

That’s about it for today.

April 25, 2014

Needed: 60,000 cows . . . A Day!

Today was time for another day trip so we headed out a little before 10 am, but didn’t go far, only a few miles north on US71 to our first stop, the Industrial Country Market. We’ve passed this place a bunch of times, but never stopped. But blog reader Rob Nixon said we really needed to check the place out. And he was right.

Industrial Country Market 1
Take a hardware store, a toy store, a gadget store, a solar power supply store, and an ammo store, then throw in water and hydroponic vegetable gardens, add a lot of garden art and solar panels, run the whole thing completely off the grid, and you’ve got the Industrial Country Market.

Industrial Country Market 2

You could actually spend hours walking up and down the aisles of the ‘non-general, general store’.

Industrial Country Market 3

Toys, clothing, jewelry. ammo.

Industrial Country Market 4

Spices, electronics, tools, puppets, 1500 Watt Pure Sine Wave Inverters. and more.

Industrial Country Market 5

And outside you find all sorts of gardens and plants.

Industrial Country Market 6

As well as a forest of Bottle Trees.

Industrial Country Market 7

Water gardens with fountains and waterfalls.

Industrial Country Market 8

Industrial Country Market 9

And ingenious art gardens made from a little bit of everything.

Industrial Country Market 16

Industrial Country Market 10

Industrial Country Market 11

Even a number of hydroponic gardens growing vegetables and ornamental plants.

Industrial Country Market 12

And it’s all run completely off the electrical grid.

Industrial Country Market 13

These 24-volt batteries come from telephone company Central Offices, which is why your landline phone keeps working even when the power is out. It’s all powered from the phone office.

Industrial Country Market 14

These and other solar panels provide an amazing 25KW of both 120VAC and 240VAC electrical power

Industrial Country Market 15

Jan and I really enjoyed our visit and we’ll probably go back again the next time we’re in the area.

Our next stop was a few more miles up the road at Hruska’s.


We’ve been stopping here for a long time and have watched the place grow into what it is today, a major operation. The place started out as a general store/market in 1912 and has been in the family ever since. And they still have the best kolaches around.

Jan and I stopped for a couple of kolaches, but we noticed a lot of locals having their double-cheeseburgers, and it turns out that Texas Monthly Magazine says they have one of the best burgers in the state. Hopefully, we can check them out before we leave.

Then it was back on the road, heading up to Brenham and the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory Tour. We’ve been trying to take this tour for almost 35 years and we finally made it.

Blue Bell Creameries

The problem was that the tour is only given Monday through Friday, and it seems we were always up that way on the weekend.

Unfortunately, I can’t show you any pictures because they don’t allow photos on the tour, but they do give you free ice cream at the end, so no pictures for you, but free ice cream for us.

That sounds fair.

One of the most interesting facts given on the tour is that this one plant (they have two more. one in Sylacauga, AL, and one in Broken Arrow, OK) uses the milk from 60,000 cows . . .  a day. Now that’s squeezing a lot of cows.

After finishing up our ice cream (Jan had Rocky Mountain Road and I had Salt Caramel Vanilla) we headed back toward home, but in a roundabout way, via Giddings, rather than the most direct way.

But going this way let us stop off at the Buc-ee’s there for a bathroom break and some of their Cranberry Nut muffins to bring home.

But the day wasn’t over yet. We had timed things so that we would be back at Peter’s BBQ in Ellinger about 4:30. Just in time for our last shot at their great Friday Night BBQ and Seafood Buffet. As always, really, really good.

Tomorrow looks to be a work-around-the-rig day.

April 25, 2015

Back to Basics . . .

After coffee and taking care of some chores, I got back on my  PacBrake problem. I had gone online and found the lubrication instructions on the PacBrake website.

PacBrake Maintenance

PacBrake Maintenance 2

The first thing was to get access to the PacBrake under the bed, and that means removing a lot of our stored stuff out of the way.

Under the Bed 1

So after lifting the bed, and then lifting the engine access cover, I could now get to the PacBrake itself.

PacBrake 1

The unit is just to the right of the engine and fairly accessible. Here it is from the side.

PacBrake 2

I started lubing all the points listed in the docs. There was a problem matching up the actual lube points on paper with the actual unit since I’m looking at it from the top, but the docs show it from the side.

There are two lube sites that I’m still unsure about that, which means I’ll have to put in a call to PacBrake on Monday.

PacBrake 3a

I also need to figure out how to manually trigger the PacBrake, first, because I also need to lube the air cylinder’s shaft, and second, to be sure it’s actually working. I think I have a good idea how to trigger the air solenoid manually, or electrically, actually, but I want to be sure.

But however I do it, I know I’ll have to crank up the engine, since the valve itself is air operated. More later.

For dinner, Jan and I had been talking about a good hamburger, and after talking over the obvious, McD’s, Wendy’s, Five Guy’s, or Smashburger, we decided to give In N Out Burger a try. It also helped that there was one pretty close.

The last (and only) time we ate at one was in February 2008 when we were in San Diego during our first month of RV’ing. We remember liking the burgers, but it was Friday night and the place was full of screaming teenagers. Don’t know if that’s the only reason, but whatever the reason, we’ve never been back to one. Until now.

Originally they were only located in California, but in the last few years, they’ve been spreading east. They’re even in Houston now.

We got there a little after 4:30 and found the place pretty busy. Getting in line, the first thing we noticed was the simplified menu board, harking back to the old days of McDonald’s.

In N Out Menu Board

Just cheeseburgers, hamburgers, fries, and drinks. Just how McD’s started out.

Of course, you do apparently have a lot options, with their Secret Menu, and a Super Secret Menu. We both got the Double-Double (two patties, two slices of cheese) from the regular menu, but they also have a 3 x 3, and a 4 x 4 on the Secret Menu if you’re really hungry. We both got the #1 Combo which included fries and a drink.

InNOut Burger 1

But one bite told me why In N Out has the reputation it has. This has to be one of the best ‘inexpensive’ burgers I’ve ever tasted. And by ‘inexpensive’ I mean not one of those $7-9 or higher burgers. The Double-Double is only $3.50

And the fries were delicious too. A little research tells the story. They do pretty much everything in-house, or at least in-company.

They have their own meat companies that fresh grind the patties and deliver them fresh, not frozen, to every location. The same goes for their buns. And like Five Guy’s and others, they do their own fries in-house, starting with the raw potatoes

They also make every burger to order. They say they don’t have microwaves or heat lamps in their locations. And it shows.

The other thing I noticed was how clean the dining area was. They had 3 people running around, wiping things down and cleaning up. In fact, within seconds of someone leaving a table, it was cleaned off, wiped down, and ready to go again.

And their drive-thru shows how popular they are.

InNOut Burger 2

They have to rope off the area because it winds around through the parking lot of the shopping area.

We’ll definitely go back. Often.

Tomorrow we’re going to drive down to Henderson at the bottom of the Strip to visit the The Lion Habitat Ranch. Originally it was the off-duty home of the MGM Grand Lions. But when that exhibit was shut down a few years ago, it became their full-time home, along with giraffes and other animals. And they have a bunch of lion cubs just born earlier this month. Sounds like fun.

April 25, 2016

Kluging It . . .

Recapping yesterday’s trip, we were hooked up and on our way by 9:50am. We made our first stop at the Luling Buc-ee’s for diesel, $1.79, the cheapest we’ve seen in the area.

And we’ve never seen Buc-ee’s this busy. It took a while to thread our way through the cars to get around to the larger pumps in the back. But we were able to pull right up to an end pump and fill up. Then it was another obstacle course to get out, but we were in and out in about 25 minutes, so it wasn’t too bad.

Then it was another 120 miles, and about 2 and a half hours to Medina Lake, the time mostly due to the hilly, curvy road from Boerne to the park.

We got into the park about 4pm and headed in to find a spot. We knew our friends, Dave and Lynn Cross, were back in the ‘F’ section so we headed that way. And then as we were meandering around, looking for a site, who popped out to flag us down, but Dave,who directed us to a 50 amp site two away from he and Lynn.

Media Lake F145

And as I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, Lynn Cross had prepared us a delicious spaghetti dinner and we spent several hours talking, and having a great time.

When we got back to the rig, I tried to get the satellite system up and running, but without any luck. Our site is pretty heavily treed so I knew it was going to take some fiddling. But the first problem I had was getting power to the dome. I have about 75 feet of coax that lets me move the dome out into the open, but I only have 50 feet of 12-volt power cable.

The 12 volts is only needed to power the motors that aim the dome. Once that’s done, the 12 volts can be disconnected. But now I needed to get power to the dome, so since I didn’t have a 12-volt extension cable, I decided to take the power supply to the dome.

So I used my 12-volt power supply on an extension cord to power the dome

Satellite Power Kludge

I’d modified it to add a 12-volt socket just for needs like this.

But it still didn’t work. Although my voltmeter showed the power supply was putting out 12 volts, it wasn’t getting to the dome for some reason. But by this time it was dark, so I called it a night, and we just watched stuff we’d recorded earlier.

Then this morning, I went down to the guard shack to let them know what site we were in and pay for our 50 amp electric. Or at least I tried.

When I tried to start the truck, I found the battery dead. I had left an accessory switch on, and had run it down. So I dug out my battery charger to fix the problem. But then I ran into another problem.

The charger I have does auto 6 volt/12 volt selection, and since the battery was down to about 5 volts, the charger kept treating it as a 6 volt battery. Not good.

So now what to do? I have 2 sets of battery cables that I can chain together to let me charge the truck from the rig batteries when it’s hitched up, but that’s still not long enough. I could take the battery out of the truck and take it back to the rig batteries, or take out a rig battery and use that to start the truck.

But that seemed like too much work. There’s got to be a simpler kludge.

And then I realized I already had the solution at hand – the 12 volt power supply that I had tried to use for the satellite. It puts out a current-limited 6 amps steady, 8 amps surge. So I used it to charge the battery up to about 9 volts, and then let the big charger take over. It’s 3/5/20/75 amp model, so at 20 amps, it didn’t take long to top off the battery. So about 30 minutes later I was on my way to the gate.

And while I was there, I also wanted to get my driver’s license back. They recently started holding your Thousand Trails membership card until you come back and settle up.

But I no longer have a TT membership card, since the last place that held my card, the Bend/Sunriver TT in Bend, OR, lost my card and couldn’t give it back to me. And since I know my membership number by heart, I never needed it again.

Until today. So instead, they held my driver’s license.

I guess this will finally get me to call TT and get another one.

This morning our friends Brett and Frankie got in touch to tell us that they were also here at Medina Lake and wanted to get together. But it had to be today, since they’re leaving for Conroe tomorrow.

Brett and Frankie

So, about 3:30, Brett showed up at our rig in his golf cart to Uber us back over to their rig. Frankie had coffee and cake waiting for us, and we had a great time talking over their recent travels all the way down to Key West and back to Texas.

Too bad they’re leaving tomorrow, since we would have liked to spend more time with them. But I’m sure we’ll catch up with them down the road.

Getting back to the rig, I got back on my satellite problem. And when I hooked up the power this afternoon, suddenly the dome was getting power and scanning for the satellites. Not sure why it suddenly started working, but gift horses, and all that.

But it took trying 3 different locations to find one that worked. And unfortunately, the one that works is on the picnic table of the site next to ours, about 60 feet away.

Media Lake Sat Location

But this is a 30 amp site, and since the temps are edging in the 90’s now, and there are a lot of empty sites, hopefully we won’t have a problem.


April 25, 2019

Almost . . .

But Not Quite Yet.

I spent the morning trying to cram 4 suitcases of stuff into only 2. Or at least that’s what it seems like.

But really we’re doing OK, I guess. There’s a 50# weight limit on our checked bags and 17# on our larger carry-on bags, and so far we’re under those limits, but just barely.

In some cases it’s a game of ‘do I want to take this or do I want to take that’, or ‘which weighs more, this or that’. But whatever, we’ll be ready to go tomorrow morning when our car service guy gets here at 10:30.

Jan and I headed out this afternoon about 1pm, with our first stop at King Food for some of their great Hot & Sour Soup, and then it was on for a quick stop at my client’s to double-check a couple of things before our trip.

Then heading home, Jan picked up a few things at Palais Royal, a local department store chain, finally getting back to the rig about 3:45.

But after getting the kid’s will copies ready to be mailed off, I headed back out, first to the PO, and then over to Dickinson to return our Impala a little early, so we won’t have to deal with it tomorrow morning.

17 Hours

Our Lufthansa A380-800 leaves Houston Intercontinental at 3:55 with a 9 hour 45 minute flight to Frankfort, Germany, a 3 hour 30 minute layover, and then a 90 minute flight on to Budapest. This means that we will be getting into Budapest at 5:45am Saturday morning for us, but 1:45pm Budapest time, since they’re 7 hours ahead of us.

Then I imagine we’ll spend some time in our room napping and getting ourselves turned around to local time. The next day, Sunday, we have free to get acclimated before starting our cruise on Monday the 29th.

April 25, 2021

Family Values . . .

After a quiet morning, I put in a call to my cousin (first cousin, once removed) Marjorie back in Athens to see how she was doing, and to thank her for the nice Easter card she sent us, including a lot of my mother’s old letters to family members, as well as an old photograph of my grandmother, Clara Calvin (my mother’s mother).

Marjorie’s husband, Dr. Walter Walker, died suddenly this past January. Ironically, after both he and Marjorie survived CoVid last October with no real problems, he collapsed and couldn’t get up.

Margie and Walter 2020

Taken to the hospital, he was diagnosed with advanced bone cancer and died a few days later. He was 91.

I was really surprised to see this old photo of my grandmother, obviously a reprint.

Grandmother Clara Calvin

The photo doesn’t have a date of any kind on it, but I’m thinking maybe late 40’s/early 50’s, since this was her in the early 70’s.


Grandmother Calvin

We’re really looking forward to seeing Marjorie this June when we come back through Alabama from our reunion up in Illinois.

About 1pm Jan and I headed over to Dickinson to have lunch again at Gator’s Bar & Grill, and it was good to see them even busier than last weekend.

Gator's Bar & Grill 7

Margie, the owner, said they’ve been super busy ever since they opened last Saturday.

Jan got their Blackened Chicken Breast with Roasted Broccoli and Sweet Potato Waffle Fries.

Gator's Bar & Grill Blackened Chicken Breast

I got a Blackened Chicken Breast Sandwich, adding Bacon and Texas ToothPicks, along with the Sweet Potato Waffle Fries.

Gator's Bar & Grill Blackened Chicken Sandwich

Both really, really good. And we’re really glad to see them doing so good.

Next up was a quick HEB stop before getting home a little after 3pm. And after everything was put away, we retired to the patio to enjoy a couple of cold, refreshing adult beverages.

A very nice way to end the day.

April 25, 2022

Google It . . .

A pretty quiet day at work today, especially for a Monday.

The only thing interesting was that I saw one of Google Street View cars driving in the parking lot next to the feeder near FM517 and I-45.

Google Street View Car Monterey's

But that’s about all.

April 25, 2023

I Couldn’t Taste The Duck . . .

Our first destination this afternoon was a return visit to our GP, who’s now called our PCP (Primary Care Physician for some reason). We were just there for our annual checkups two weeks ago, but I’m back to get some tests rerun, and Jan wants to a consult with our doctor about some possible medication changes.

I mentioned in yesterday’s blog about our new ‘Smart’ watches, and one of the functions it has is to take your Blood Pressure. So I was curious as to how accurate it really was, considering there is no cuff squeezing your arm.

So I set it to check my BP while the nurse was taking mine the conventional way. And I was disappointed to see my watch said my BP was 148/87 while the official one said it was 117/71.


But then I realized that the fact that the cuff was squeezing my arm really tight might have affected the reading my watch was getting downstream on my wrist. So after waiting about 5 minutes, I tried it again. And this time it read 119/74.

Now that’s pretty accurate.

Finished up at the doctor’s we headed back over to Webster to have lunch at Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux. They just opened yesterday so we wanted to give them a try. And we both agreed it was really, really good.

And like other sports bars (Texas Huddle, Twin Peaks, etc.) we visit, there are TV screens everywhere you look,

Jan started out with a really good Side Salad,

Walk-On's Side Salad

while I got a cup of their Duck and Andouille Sausage Gumbo.

Walk-On's Duck Gumbo

Really good, though I couldn’t taste the duck. Though I’m not really sure I know what duck tastes like.

For her entrée, Jan got the Tuscan Chicken, with a Blackened Chicken Breast covered in Warm Tomato Salsa, along with the Grilled Green Beans.

Walk-On's Tuscan Chicken

For my meal, I got the Avery Island Salad.

Walk-On's Avery Island Salad

With Blackened Shrimp, Mixed Greens, Bacon, Granny Smith Apples, Candied Pecans, bleu cheese crumbles, and pepper jelly vinaigrette, it was one of the best salads I’ve had in a long time. The tang of the bleu cheese contrasted with the sweetness of the apples and pecans was really good.

And of course, we had to split an order of their Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding.

Walk-On's Krispy Kreme Bread Puddng

We both agreed that it’s a worthy match to Lulu’s version over in Gulf Shores.

LuLu's 2018 - Bread Pudding

When we’re over in Gulf Shores in a few weeks, we’ll have to do another comparison.

Remember, we do these things so you don’t have to.

Next up was a Costco stop for a few Costco things, and then heading home, we made a Post Office and a park Mailbox stop.

When I got the PO mail, I was surprised to find a package addressed to Jan, that when we opened it, contained 4 boxes of CoVid-19 Home Test, 2 tests to a box.

CoVid-19 Test Box

She didn’t order these, so we weren’t sure where they were coming from until I read the insert.

It seems as Medicare recipients, we are each entitled to 8 tests a month! And unless I contract them, we’ll receive another 8 tests next month . . .  and the next month . . . and the next . . .

I’ll be in touch tomorrow.

And I still don’t know why I didn’t receive my 8 tests.