An Alvin Opry Friday Night . . .

Short Blog Tonight Because Of The Opry.

Tomorrow night, after dinner at the Saltgrass Steakhouse, we are seeing Bernadette Peters at The 1894 Grand Opera down in Galveston.

Thought for the Day:

My mother was an English teacher. So I’m always silently correcting your grammar and spelling.

For a Retro-Preview –

2009 – Jan And I On The Busch Gardens’ Rollercoaster. The Photo Went Viral!

2011 – Our Visit To Out Of Africa Wildlife Park

2015 – Our Ride On The Verde Canyon Railroad

2019 – Opening For The Mamas and Papas

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

April 13, 2009


Jan and I drove down to Tampa’s Busch Gardens today.

And a fun time was had by all…

Well, maybe Jan didn’t have quite as much fun as I did.

In fact she used words I didn’t think she knew.

And this was on the family-friendly ‘baby’ roller coaster. I wasn’t able to get her on any of the bigger ones, like the SheiKra, which goes up 200ft and then hurls you straight down at 80mph, or the Mantu which has 3 consecutive 360-degree vertical loops in a row.

Note the difference in enjoyment levels in the pic below…



April 13, 2010

Another quiet day…

We started out by going to Shakey’s Pizza for their lunch buffet,

On the way home we stopped off at Sam’s Club for Kitty Litter and Clorox Wipes.

Then it was home for the night.

See I told you it was a quiet day.

Tomorrow we’re going into Los Angeles for some sightseeing.

April 13, 2011

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, Oh, My . . .

Today got off to a little earlier start than usual, since we were going to the Out of Africa Wildlife Park, which, lucky for us, is just right down the road from here.

So, after a quick breakfast of homemade bread, toasted with butter, on our way out of the park, we stopped by the office to re-up here for 6 more days, leaving on the 20th.

It only took us about 15 minutes to get to the Wildlife Park and get parked.

Out of Africa

After getting our tickets, and finding out we had a little while before our Safari Ride, we walked over to the Critter Feature to check out the Pacu lizard, baby python, and several other animals they had out for the guests to handle


Baby Python

A few minutes later we boarded our bus and headed out onto the Serengeti Plains, or at least what passes for them in Arizona.

One of the first animals we saw was this male African Lion sunning himself on top of his enclosure. Our guide Courtney said he’s a happy lion because he has his own little harem of 4 females. But us guys on the bus figured he was just hiding out on the roof to get some peace and quiet.

Lion on Roof

Our next stop was a tour favorite . . . giraffe feeding, using the carrot sticks we were given as we boarded the bus.

Giraffe Feeding 1

As you can see, it gets very up close and personal.

Giraffe Feeding 2

Giraffe Feeding 3

We were also told to NOT feed the carrot sticks to any of the many zebras around. Courtney said the zebras cannot tell the difference between a carrot stick and a finger.

And if they get a finger, they will not give it back.



This is Courtney with Tika, a white tiger. She says that Tika has bonded with her and will come when she calls, and allows herself to be petted and groomed through the fence. But she pretty much ignores anyone else.

Courtney and Tika

We also saw a number of different species of antelope.





And a Sable Antelope.


And also some African Watusi cattle, kind of like Texas longhorns.

Watusi Cattle

We also saw this nest of unfertilized ostrich eggs, which equals about two dozen chicken eggs. That would be a hell of an omelet.

Ostrich Eggs

Our guide Courtney went to get an egg for us to pass around and look at. About that time, Kristen, the guide for another tour bus also came over and got an egg for her group.

But she also took our ostrich with her. She just walked up behind her and started pushing her toward the other bus.

That was just rude.

Ostrich Herding

After our Safari tour ended, and we had a really good lunch of grilled chicken sandwiches with green chilies and cheese, we headed over to what was probably the highlight of the day, the Tiger Splash pool.

There were seven people inside the pool area playing with the two tigers. And they emphasized they were ‘playing’ with the tigers, and that the tigers were not trained. But that they love to play.

They also said the tigers get to decide if they want to do Tiger Splash or not. They have 9 tigers they rotate through for the show. They open the cage door, say “Tiger Splash”, and if the big cat wants to participate, out he comes. And they usually do.

Tiger Hug

The guys, and one girl, spend some time hugging and roughhousing with the cats before they start the show.

Tiger Hug 2

They use sticks or ropes with bags of balloons on them to lure the tigers to run around and chase them. And as soon as the tigers catch the balloons, they seem to take great pleasure in popping them with their claws and teeth.

Tiger Chase

Tiger Chase 2

And somehow they have learned not to ‘pop’ the people they catch. And also not to lay on the people they catch with their full 500-pound weight.

I think this one is saying, “MINE!”


This tiger, ‘Liberty’ looks like he’s tasting this guy.

I wonder how he tastes

What was really amazing is how high the tigers can jump. We began to appreciate the 20 ft. high fence between us and them.

Tiger Jump 1

Tiger Jump 2

Tiger Jump 3

Tiger Jump 4

The cats also spent a lot of time swimming around the pool, jumping in and out.

Wet Kitty

In fact when the show was over, ‘Akasha’ the other tiger, refused to come out. So after spending some time trying to coax her out, they just left her there, saying she’ll come out when she’s ready.

Tiger Group

After the Tiger Splash, we spent some time walking around some of the other enclosures. When I came around the corner and saw this, at first I didn’t know what it was.

Grizzly Bear Rug

Then I realized it was a Grizzly Bear spread out on a picnic table, just catching some rays.

Grizzly Bear Rug 2

This beautiful female white tiger is in the same enclosure with a female African lion.

White Tiger

Here they are together, nuzzling and licking one of the workers.

White Tiger and Lion

Here’s an African black leopard who is paired with a Bengal tiger. Apparently, the big cats get along better with other species of cats than their own.

Black Leopard

These are Serval cats, that look like a small ocelot.

Serval Cat 1

Serval Cat 2

Our next treat was due to the fact that today, Wednesday, is Predator Feeding Day, along with Sunday and Friday. So we got to see them throwing big chunks of beef, whole turkeys, and chicken parts to the animals.

Feeding Time 1

Feeding Time 2

Lion Food

Feeding Time 3

What really amazed me was how many of the large animals were being fed from INSIDE the enclosures, like these black bears.

Black Bears

Walking back to the entrance we stopped off at probably Jan’s favorite, the prairie dogs. They had a vending machine where you could buy food, and these guys were very well-fed. They would come waddling over to you as soon as you came up to the fence.

Prarie Dog 1

This guy was so fat and lazy, he wouldn’t even come all the way out of his burrow. He just waited for me to throw it to him.

Prarie Dog 2

Prarie Dog 3

Our last stop was to see “Boom Boom”, the white rhino, the ‘white’ part being relative I guess, compared to the black rhinos.

Rhinos are supposed to be pretty mean and ill-tempered, so I was surprised to see someone get right in the enclosure with him.

Boom Boom The White Rhino

Boom Boom The White Rhino 2

We certainly enjoyed our day at Out of Africa, and heartedly recommend it to anyone in the area. We’ve been to zoos and wildlife parks all over the country and have never seen one where the keepers so closely interact with the animals, especially the big, dangerous ones.

My only disappointment was the fact that I couldn’t get my Panasonic Lumix camera to go into Manual Focus, so my photos show a lot more chain-link fence than I would have liked, since the Auto Focus sometimes wanted to focus on the fence rather than what was behind it.

Leaving the park about 4:30 we drove over to La Fonda, which was really convenient since it’s right down the road.

Getting back to the rig about 7:30 we were down for the night, after a long, but fun day.

April 13, 2012

Next in Line?

Still no gate, but supposedly we’re next in line.

The couple next to us, who came off their gate due to a family death back in Tennessee, went back on a gate this afternoon. But before they left, they said they heard we were next in line.

Hope so.

About 2:30pm our Amazon order was delivered so I went over to the office to pick it up. One of the items I ordered was an additional 8GB of RAM to add to my Acer computer. It had 4GB, but I wanted to upgrade it to 12GB.

Adding RAM is usually the quickest, cheapest way to speed up a computer. And $45 for an additional 8GB is a good buy.

RAM Upgrede 1

After removing the cover I could see the RAM sockets, but could tell I was going to have to remove the DVD/HD frame to get to the RAM.

RAM Upgrede 2

Two screws took care of that and I was able to set aside the frame and expose the 4 sockets.

RAM Upgrede 3

I removed the 2 – 2 GB sticks and replaced them with the 2 new 4 GB sticks. I then placed the 2 – 2 GB sticks in the 2 remaining sockets. You always want your larger RAM sticks first in line.

After checking that the RAM was firmly seated and locked into the sockets, I put everything back together, plugged it in, and turned it on.

I didn’t bother to hook up the monitor or keyboard/mouse at this point. All I wanted to do was hear the beep that told me the computer had completed P.O.S.T. (Power On Self Test) and was ready to boot up. This told me the new RAM was good and ready to go.

Hooking everything back up, I found the computer booted up and ran noticeably faster, and programs started up faster too..


Leaving for dinner a little after 6pm we met our next-door neighbors, Carol and Sam Davis. Like us, they’re waiting for their first gate. They had sent in their paperwork and tests back in February, hoping to get a leg up on getting started, but they said it didn’t seem to help much. They’re waiting just like we are.

Our dinner destination was Pepe Boudreaux’s, a TexMexCajun place right across the road from Choke Canyon Lake about 8 miles west of Three Rivers on Hwy 72. Several people had recommended it, and they were right.

Jan had the Fried Fish and Shrimp, saying it was the lightest, crispiest batter she’d ever had. I had the Blackened Pork Chop, stuffed with Boudin Sausage, and topped with Shrimp Étouffée. I also had a cup of Gumbo, very good, spicy with a lot of filé.

OMG, was this all good! My mouth was doing the happy dance. Hopefully, we’ll be able to go back. This place is good!

Landon had a girlfriend!

Brandi sent over these pics of Landon and his main squeeze at his daycare.

Landon's Girtfriend 1

Landon's Girtfriend 2

Landon's Girtfriend 3


April 13, 2013

Snakehole and Steakhouse . . .

Just across Idaho Rd from our RV park there’s this sign out in the scrub brush.

Snakehole Golf 1

I saw pathways and some benches along the way, and at first, I thought it was maybe just a walking path, and that the sign was a joke.

I mean, does this look like a golf course to you?

Snakehole Golf 2

But looking closer I saw flags marking the holes. Except, aren’t the holes supposed to be located on things with grass called ‘greens’?

That looks more dirt-colored to me.

Snakehole Golf 3

But as it turns out, the 20 acre – 9 hole course is located on land leased from the state of Arizona. Its origins are a little blurry, but the story goes it was developed about 30 years ago by a Countryside RV Resort resident whose wife said she would only live in the area if she could golf nearby.

Snakehole Golf Course and Resort

Currently, membership is restricted to Countryside RV Resort residents and the 125 members pay dues of $20 a year which goes toward the $1800 a year lease.

I mean, you’ve really got to want to play golf to end up here, don’t you.

After coffee, I spent the morning tackling a bunch of small repairs around the coach. It always seems easier to me to let these little things accumulate and then knock a bunch of them out at once. Seems like I’ve accomplished more.

About 4pm we headed over Los Gringos Locos once again.

I had the Carnitas Dinner and Jan had the Grilled Catch of the Day. I’m sorry, but who goes to a Mexican restaurant and orders fish. Fish Tacos, maybe, but Grilled Fish?

Of course, Jan sometimes orders the Alice Springs Chicken when we go to Outback STEAKhouse. So who knows?

Getting back to the rig, we headed out about 7:30pm for our 1 mile+ walk, the first time we’ve done one after dark.

It was nice and cool, but we had to be careful where we walked because the park roads are rough in some places.

Tomorrow – The Big Move!

April 13, 2014

Great Friends and good food, too . . .

Jan and I headed out a little before 11, on our way to visit our friends Chris and Charles Yust at their place at the Escapees Park in Livingston, TX.

But our first stop was at the Jack in the Box in Willis for a couple of Supreme Croissants, much better than a couple of weeks ago at the one in Columbus. Then it was on for our 1 hour trip.

We got there a little after noon, and first off got a tour of their new (to them) 23 foot Itasca kinda Class B, kinda Class C, nicknamed ‘Stubby’. Rather than take their 40 foot Winnebago, they’re going to take Stubby to Alaska this summer. Being smaller it will let them get into places that they can’t with their bigger rig.

We talked for a good while before finally chowing down on Chris’ delicious Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, along with Cornbread Muffins. Really, really good. Then after a lot more conversation, it was time for some of Jan’s Pound Cake, covered in fresh sliced strawberries and whipped cream.

Chris and Charles Yust

Chris Yust and Jan

We finally headed back to the rig, getting in about 8:45. I did stop for gas at the Kroger’s in Willis. At $3.29, it was the cheapest I’ve seen in a while.

Tomorrow we’ve got another early trip down to the Clear Lake area scheduled, so the blog’s a little short tonight.

April 13, 2015

Don’t Do What We Did . . .

Since this morning was our train ride day, we headed out about 10:45am for our 1pm trip. The reason for the early start was that we wanted to get some lunch first. Riding in Coach (we’re cheap, and First Class was $60 more), we would only have snacks and drinks available on the 4 hour trip.

So getting into Cottonwood proper, we stopped off at the Carl’s Jr. next to Wal-Mart. Although we may have eaten at a Carl’s more recently, the last time I really remember was at the one in Fairbanks, AK. We ate there a number of times when we spent five months up there in the summer of 2008.

Jan had a Cheeseburger with Jalapeno Poppers, and I had the El Diablo Burger with Fries. Really good burgers, both.

We arrived at the Verde Canyon Railroad depot about noon and picked up our tickets at Will Call. Of course, after being told to pick up our tickets before noon, we then had to wait 45 minutes before we could board for the 1pm departure.

Our coach was a Pullman passenger coach seating 74 people, and has snack bar at one end and a bathroom at the other.

Cottonwood Coach

In addition, each Coach and First Class car had access to an open air for better viewing

Open Air Coach

Inside the seating is two-by-two, and the seats were pretty comfortable.

Inside Cottonwood

We pulled out of the depot a couple of minutes after 1pm, and quickly headed into the Verde River Canyon. The 76 mile trip, 38 out and back, takes about 4 hours, including a 15 minute layover in Perkinsville.

We quickly began to encounter some amazing rock formations on the cliff sides.

Verde RR 1

Verde RR 2

Then there’s the tunnel.

Verde RR Tunnel

At 680 feet long, this curved tunnel is unusual for two reasons. One, because it’s curved, it gets completely dark inside for a short period, especially because there are no lights on in the coach.  Two, is because the entire tunnel was completed in only one year, by only 25 Swedes. That’s a lot of blasting.

Verde RR 3

Arriving at Perkinsville, the halfway point, and the only time on the train you can smoke, and only on the open-air car. we waited for about 15 minutes so the engines could do a ‘runaround’ to get back in front of the train.


There is a side track next to the mainline that allows the two engines to move back to what is now the front for the trip home.

Perkinsville Runaround

Note now that the caboose that was at the rear on the trip is now next to the engines. And as we’ve seen on other excursion trains like this, the seat backs flip over to the other side of the seat cushion, so you aren’t riding backward going home.

Verde RR on Curve

One thing I found interesting is all the cacti that manage to grow out of solid rock.

Verde RR Cactus

Verde RR Cactus 2

And of course, the continues great views

Verde RR 4

Verde RR 5

Verde RR 6

We really enjoyed the ride and the great views. The trip was well worth the cost. But don’t do what we did. Don’t sit on the left side of the coach. Sit on the right side. The right side has the best view of the canyon, and you’re not in the sun on the ride home.

We pulled back into the depot a little before 5pm and were quickly headed out. Since we had eaten about 11, and it was now after 5, we decided to continue down to Camp Verde and have dinner at Crusty’s Pizza.

We first ate here during our visit in 2011, and it was good enough to try again. And like last time, we both had the Baked Spaghetti. I got the large order,

Crusty's Pizza 1

while Jan got the 1/2 order.

Crusty's Pizza 2

And like last time, we had plenty of leftovers, since I only ate about 1/3 of mine, and Jan didn’t even get through 1/2 of hers. Part of the reason is that the meal also comes with a large salad, as well as the Cheesy Garlic Bread.

Jan said the sauce was almost as good as hers. I said it was nowhere near as good as hers.

After all, she knows where I sleep.

April 13, 2016

Hurry Up and Wait . . .

After dodging north and south of us the last few days, last night/this morning found us right in the bullseye of some really heavy thunderstorms coming through the area. In fact, they were heavy enough and loud enough that they really freaked Karma out. She would run up and down the coach, meowing and looking at the ceiling.

It stayed mostly overcast all day, but not much more in the way of rain. And the front dropped our temps back down to the 70’s and 50’s, which is nice. The Weather Channel says we’ve got another week or so of rain and nice temps, so that’s nice too.

After a nice, quiet afternoon, Jan and I headed out about 5pm on our way to Culver’s. But on the way we made a stop at a TruValue Hardware for some rubber washers to try and repair my leaky hose splitter.

I really like these, but after a year or so, the washers start leaking up in the hose extensions.

Hose Splitter 2_thumb[6]

The hose extensions actually screw into the splitter body with standard hose couplings, but smaller. So the washers are smaller than standard hose washers too. The replacement ones are neoprene rubber so hopefully they’ll last longer than the original ones.

Then it was on the Conroe Culver’s, which for us is right up there with Whataburger. Really love their Butterburgers.

Then it was right across the street to the Wal-Mart for some groceries, and not a very nice time. As usual, I started Runkeeper as we left the truck to keep track of our walking in the store.

The shopping part of things went just fine, but ground to a halt during checkout. Literally. There were only two lanes open, and one of them was 20 items or less. So that was out for me.

The self-checkout was available, but I’ve found it doesn’t work very well with a full basket. The bagging area is not big enough to hold everything as you scan them and bag them. And if you try to take bags off and put them in your basket before you pay, the system starts yelling at you that “An item has been removed from the bagging area.” and shuts down until you replace the item. So that was out.

So I got in the line and waited . . . and waited . . . . and waited. There were two customers ahead of me. Only two. But the first one had three carts stacked high, and the lady had an inch-thick stack of coupons, and was apparently contesting every price she disagreed with. And that was a lot., believe me.

In fact, it took them almost 25 minutes to checkout, and it was 35 minutes until I was done. Turns out that they had a number of people out sick, and were short-handed on cashiers. And it was almost 8pm before we got home.

But we did walk almost a mile, so that was good.

April 13, 2017

Finally Had To Do It . . .

I mentioned before that due to the mild weather and the almost cold nights (high 40’s/ low 50’s) we haven’t needed to use our rig AC’s, which has been great since with only 30 amps, we can only use one at a time.

What we would do was set the fans to pull cold air into the coach all night so it was in the low 60’s. Then as the day warmed up to the high 70’s/low 80’s the coach stayed comfortable all day.

But last night the temp just barely made it into the 60’s, so inside the coach, it stayed in the 70’s. Which meant it warmed up pretty fast inside.

So around noon I finally had to do it. I deployed my AC AC Bypass. Several years ago I rewired one of the AC units at the circuit breaker panel under the bed, by adding a heavy-duty plug and socket inline with the circuit.

In regular use the plug is plugged into the socket and everything works just like normal. But when we’re stuck on 30amps and it gets too warm I can unplug from the socket and plug into a heavy-duty extension cord that runs out to the 110 VAC outlet on the pedestal.

And Voilà, I can run both AC’s at once.

About 3pm Jan and I headed down to Henderson to have an early dinner at our favorite local Mexican place, Lindo Michoacán.

Lindo Michochan 1a

And it’s not just us that thinks it’s great. It’s been selected as the Best Mexican Restaurant in Las Vegas by the Las Vegas Review Journal Poll for 11 years and rated “Excellent” by Zagat.

First up was their Chips and Dips, with not only a really good hot salsa, but a very tasty warm bean dip.

Lindo Chips and Dips

Then it was on to their really delicious Fideo Soup.

Lindo Fideo Soup

One thing is that between the Chips, Dips, and Soup, by the time your entrée gets here, you’re already kind of full.

Jan got the Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Avocado,

Lindo Grilled Shrimp Tacos

while I got a Coca Cola dish. Lindo is known for its famous Coca Cola sauce, but in the past, they usually have it with Carnitas. But this time it’s on a 24oz Bone-In Ribeye, and just fantastic.

Lindo Steak a la Coca Cola

And we both had plenty of leftovers.

Again, one of our absolute favorite places, and it never disappoints.

Besides the great food, we sat at a window table and had a nice, though hazy, view of the Vegas skyline.

Lindo View2

Leaving Lindo, our next stop was the Sam’s Club where yesterday we dropped off prescriptions, and then it was on to the Wal-Mart next door for a few things before we finally got home around 6:30.

A very nice day.

April 13, 2018

Jennifer and Gio’s . . .

Work today was one of those days where I did a lot of different stuff, but didn’t seem to get a lot done. It was mostly just stomping out small fires.

About 6pm we picked up my client’s office manager, Jennifer, to take her out to dinner with us.

Jennifer Gio's

I’ve known Jennifer since I first started working for him in 1998 so we’ve been working together for a long time.

We asked her to suggest a place in this area that she liked and she picked Gio’s Flying Pizza right down the road on FM517 toward Dickinson. And a great choice it was.

She’s eaten here a number of times, but it was our first.

Jan and Jennifer both started off with a small salad, though they looked pretty big to me. And, of course, being an Italian restaurant, the salad had pepperoni on it.

Gio's Salad

While they went the salad route, I had a bowl of their Pasta E. Fagioli soup. Different from other places, like Olive Garden, for one. but delicious anyway.

Gio's Pasta Fagioli

Jennifer had said how good the Lasagna was, so Jan copied Jennifer’s choice with a big serving.

Gio's Lasagna

For my entrée, I got the Grilled Chicken with Sautéed Veggies. But since the Veggies consisted of Zucchini and Squash, not my favorites, I asked for the Sautéed Green Beans that I had seen go by on someone else’s plate. And it was a good choice.

Gio's Grilled Chicken and Green Beans

Finishing dinner we hung around for a couple of hours just talking, especially Jan and Jennifer getting to know each other. We did talk some about RV’ing and some of our friends and some of the hobbies that people have,

Tomorrow, depending on the weather, I’ll do some more prep work for our RV trip that we’re planning for Sunday. I got distilled water last night so I’ll take care of the rig house batteries, and then take down our weather station’s anemometer that’s mounted on a pole tied off to the ladder at the back of the rig.

April 13, 2019

Less Than Two Weeks!


Two weeks from tonight we’ll probably be sleeping off our jet lag in Budapest, Hungry.

After leaving on IAH about 3:55 pm Friday afternoon, and a 9 hour and 45 minute flight to Frankfurt, Germany, a 3 hour and 30 minute layover, and then another 1 hour 30 minute flight, we’ll get into Budapest about 1:45 Saturday afternoon.

The next day, Sunday, is free, and then we board the Skirnir, our Viking River Cruise Ship, on Monday, the 29th. And it’s coming faster and faster.

Last night was our first visit to the recently-reconstituted Alvin Opry. We haven’t been since the original one closed in 2014, so it was good to be back. And really nice to see a lot of old friends.

And with performers like Arnold Carpenter,

Alvin Opry Arnold Carpenter

Country Jim Sloan,

Alvin Opry Country Jim Sloan

and Texas Express band members like Tommy Reed,

Alvin Opry Tommy Reed

and Bobby Whitton,

Alvin Opry Bobby Whitton

you had a Who’s Who of country star’s band members. Names like Jack Greene, Jeannie Seely, Little Jimmy Dickens, Tammy Wynette, Dottie West, Mel Tillis, Reba McEntire.and many others,

And long-time friend’s, Miranda Diede

Alvin Opry Miranda Diede 2

and Shalane Colston,

Alvin Opry Shalane 2

were both in great voice, so it made for a great evening.

I also really enjoyed getting a chance after the show to talk with Bobby Whitton about his Steinberger Headless guitar.

Steinberger Headless 1

I had seen pictures of them, but this was my first time to see one up close, and Mr.Whitton was kind enough to spend a few minutes pointing out the special features.

Steinberger Headless 2

Note there is no headstock on these, rather the tuning adjustments are on the tailpiece, and allow for much finer tuning.

Steinberger Headless 3

The other advantage to the Steinberger design is the fact that the entire guitar is made from a graphite/carbon fiber composite, so it’s not affected by temperature/humidity changes like a conventional instrument and stays in tune better.

He had this one custom-made for him when he was playing with Mel Tillis for about 10 years in Branson.

In talking with him for a while, it turns out that we had something in common. ‘Back in the day’, as he put it, we both played Gretsch Country Gentleman guitars, known as the Chet Adkins model.

Gretsch Country Gentleman

While I was in Nashville going to college in the mid 60’s, I played in a couple of bands, and was lucky enough to get Chet (he said I could call him ‘Chet’ since I owned one of his guitars. LOL) to autograph mine when he was playing at a small club down on Nashville’s Music Row.

Though I played the Country Gentleman a lot to start with, I later mostly played my friend’s Gretsch White Falcon after he decided he’d rather play bass.

Gretsch White Falcon

I just liked the feel of the Falcon better. It had nothing to do with the fact that it attracted girls like crazy.

Nothing at all.

I also occasionally played keyboards, when we could borrow one, since the band didn’t have one of our own.

And I guess you could say that our one claim to fame was that my main band won a college Battle of the Bands contest and got to open for the Mamas & Papas when they performed at Vanderbilt.

But I don’t think anyone was really listening to us, since the Mamas & Papas, and most of the audience were stoned. And we were just trying not to inhale too deeply so we could remember what we were supposed to play.

Ahh! The Good Old Days.

As the saying goes, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

And believe me, it was touch and go there a number of times.

April 13, 2020

Blazing Hot . . . Not!

For dinner tonight we used our Ninja Foodie Air Fryer Grille to cook up a batch of these Pilgrim’s Blazing Wings. They’re pre-breaded and ready to pop in the grille.

Pilgrims's Blazing Wings

And they turned out great, juicy and crispy. But Blazing Hot they were not. At least not for Jan and I. Mildly Warm would be more accurate.

But they were good, and we’ll get them again, if only just for the convenience.

Our park owner said he was fine with the shed’s location, so I’ll bolt it down to the base tomorrow and then we can start sorting stuff and moving things into it.

I’m also going to replace all the inside and outside RG-6 cables for our satellite system. They’re all about 10 years old, and it seems like some of the connectors have become kind of flakey. Though I could go through and replace all the F connectors, it’s just quicker and easier to replace the cables.

April 13, 2021

Another One Bites The Dust . . .

I forgot to mention last weekend that when we ate at the Monterey’s up in Alvin last Friday night, we got some more info about the reopening of the Monterey’s near us over in Dickinson. It’s been closed ever since it was flooded during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, but we kept being told that it was going to reopen ‘soon’. And we have been hearing that for the last 3 years or so.

Until last month when a dumpster appeared out front and workers were swarming over the place. And now it looks like they’re adding on to the kitchen area on the north side of the building.

Turns out our waiter used to work at that location, though we didn’t remember him. Maybe because we were traveling, but it looks like it should be opened again in the next couple of months.

Really looking forward to it.

After getting somewhat coffeenated this morning, we went outside, and while Jan supervised (watched) I worked on some of the upgrades we’re doing in our patio area.

But the first thing I did was to check out my idea for a computer-controlled watering system for Jan’s hibiscus to keep it healthy while we’re gone for a couple of weeks this coming June.

I started with an empty kitty litter bucket, a submersible water pump like this,

Submersible Water Pump

and a computer-controlled plug, giving me this.

Hibiscus Watering Setup

As a first test, I was able to use the Smart Life controller app to turn on the pump, and the water started flowing immediately. But too much, too fast.

The scheduler program for the computer plug will only let me turn the pump on and off in one-minute intervals, and even one minute was going to be too much water at once. But looking over the pump, I found an adjustment lever on the side that let me throttle down the flow until one or two minutes seemed to get me close to the correct amount of water.

So I set up a schedule in the Smart Life app that turns the pump on for one minute between 9:00 and 9:01 every morning. Now I’ll just have to monitor the plant to see how it does over the next week or so.

Another addition to our patio redo was to get a heavy base for our umbrella. Found one that I ordered from WalMart that’s made to self-support an umbrella, rather than support one under a patio table.

So I got this 30# one,

WalMart Umbrella Base

to go with this 80” tiltable patio umbrella.

Patio Umbrella

Though we bought it in 2014 for a gate guarding location, we actually never used it, and it was still wrapped up and stored in the back of the truck, so it’s just like new.

And I did order some ping pong balls for our Sous Vide cooker. Actually, though, they’re Beer Pong balls.

Sous Vide Ping Pong Balls 2

At least the cooking process will be colorful.

April 13, 2022

Auto-ing It . . .

Spent most of the day at work writing a bunch of scripts in AutoIt to automate and speed up a bunch of tasks here at the office.

AutoIt is an easy to use, very powerful, FREE scripting language for Windows. Pretty much anything you can do manually on a Windows computer you can write an AutoIt script to do it for you, automatically.

In one case the script opens a program, waits a couple of seconds, then enters a username and password. Then after waiting another few seconds, it starts a sort of the customer database, backs it up, and then closes the program.

Tomorrow Jan and I are heading up to the Spring area to meet up with Debi and Ed Hurlburt at El Palenque for our monthly lunch once again. Really looking forward to it.

April 13, 2023


After coffee and a quiet morning we left about 1:30 heading down to the Gringo’s down in the Texas City area to meet up with our regular monthly Alvin Opry group get-together.

Gringo’s is a kind of a Jimmy Changas clone, with much the same menu, though actually Gringo’s came first.

Supposedly Jimmy Changas is more upscale and kid-friendly, though it would seem those two are directly opposite.

But as I said, the menu is pretty much the same. In fact Jan and I both had the same thing here at Gringo’s that we had our last two visits at Jimmy Changas.

Jan got the Pollo Marisco, a Grilled Chicken Breast covered with Shrimp and Crawfish in a White Wine Cream Sauce.

Gringo's Pollo Mariscos

While I got the big bowl of Chicken Tortilla Soup once again

Gringo's Chicken Tortilla Soup

The food was delicious and the company was great as always. But when we went to schedule our next month’s to-do, we realized that Jan and I will be on our Alabama trip then, so we do have a June date instead, this time at the Texas Roadhouse in our area.

We haven’t gone there before for one of these because they’re not usually open until 5pm during the week, but it seems they’ve recently started opening at 11am on Thursdays, which will work out great for us.

My Eclipse T-Shirt came in today,

Solar Eclipse T-Shirt

and Jan liked it so much that I had to order one for her.

America Totality Spring 4.08.24 Total Solar Eclipse 2024 T-Shirt

So now we’ve got matching outfits for the big day.

Again on the Eclipse, several readers asked about using a piece of glass smoked with a candle to view the Eclipse.


There are plenty of stories online about people getting severe eye damage, often permanent, by doing this.

Just be sure that whatever you buy has the NASA ISO 12312-2 certification on them.

Be safe out there.