Daily Archives: May 1, 2024

Her Good Friend, Ree . . .

When I left for work this morning, Jan ‘suggested’ that I bring home Chicken Express for dinner this evening. And when Jan ‘suggests’ something, I have always found it best to follow her ‘suggestions.’

So before I left work, I went online to place the order for pickup at the location down here in Santa Fe at about 3:30.

I ordered a 3 piece Fish Dinner and a 3 piece White Chicken Dinner, along with Fried Okra, Corn Nuggets, and Hushpuppies for our sides. Then since Jan and I both like the Fish and the Chicken, we exchange a piece of Fish for a piece of Chicken.

I mentioned before that when we were regularly eating at the Chicken Express when we were oil field gate-guarding up in Carthage, TX, I asked the cashier why they didn’t have a Fish N’ Chicken Combo Meal?

She just looked at me and asked, “Why would we want to do that?”

Well, duh!

And they even kind of messed up today, when our 3 Chicken Dinner which should have had 2 breasts and a wing, was missing the wing. But it was all as good as always.

The last date we heard for our new Big Horn BBQ’s opening was tomorrow, May 2nd. But I’m not really confident that this will happen, since the only real sign of this happening, is the sign.

Up until yesterday, the gas price sign was in test mode, showing this.

But this morning, it was showing $3.199, the going price for gas around here.

Their Facebook page looks good.

It does look really nice.

With our upcoming Alabama trip starting a week from tomorrow, and our planned Royal Caribbean Cruise in December, Jan figured we need another trip on the calendar. So sometime in between next week and next December, we’ll be making a trip up to Pawhuska, OK so Jan can check in with her good friend, Ree. As in Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.

Jan Ladd and Ree

Last time we were there in 2017 we were in the RV, but this time Jan wants to stay in one of the several hotels that Ree has in the area.

Since it’s almost 600 miles from here, we’ll make it a two-day trip, with an overnight around the Dallas area. So now to plan it out.

Thought For The Day:

I often find when starting a new project, that I have a unique advantage. I have no idea what I was doing. That way I don’t repeat everyone else’s mistakes, but get to make my own.

Your Retro-Preview Highlights –

2010 – Park Of The Sierras And A Big Hawk

2014 – Good News/Bad News From Jan’s Oncologist

2015 – Las Vegas, Fremont Street, And Bad Cupcakes At Sprinkles

2017 – Mt. Shasta And Weed

2019 – On To Vienna, Austria

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

May 1, 2009

Fort Myers…

Well, we just finished a frantic 11 days at Walt Disney World and now we’re taking a week here in Fort Myers, FL to rest up.

Shady Acres RV Park in Fort Myers

After we arrived this afternoon we ate at one of our favorite BBQ restaurants called Famous Dave’s.

We’ll be here until Friday the 15th and then head down to Homestead before meeting with an old friend down in the Keys.

While we’re in Homestead one of the places I want to visit is the Coral Castle. I’ve heard about this place for years and will finally get to visit it.

I’m going to spend the next few days updating the blog on what we’ve been doing for the last few weeks, so keep checking back for the older posts.

May 1, 2010

Clean today…Road trip tomorrow

Today we started off with breakfast at Pete’s Place and it was just as good as last time. Then, on the way home we stopped off to get gas for our road trip tomorrow.

Getting back to the park I stopped by the office to extend our stay by one day. We now plan on leaving Wednesday morning.

Jan had designated today as Cleaning Day, so we went thru the coach, dusting, cleaning, tidying up, moping, vacuuming, etc., ‘til everything was spic and span.

Around 12:45 pm Jan noticed a large bird in a tree right across from us. It was so large that at first, I thought it was an eagle, but after a little research, I think it’s a Ferry Hawk, or Ferruginous Hawk. Apparently, it is often mistaken for an eagle because it is so large.

Hawk 1

That is a beautiful bird!

Hawk 2

This was a very popular tree limb. A little later an Acorn Woodpecker showed up.

Acorn Woodpecker3

Next, another bluebird showed up, again on the same limb.


About 5 pm we drove over to pick up our friends, George and Sandy Stoltz for supper at El Cid Mexican Restaurant. We had a great time getting to spend some time with them.

Us with George and Sandy

Tomorrow we are taking a road trip about 180 miles to San Simeon on the coast to visit the Hearst Castle, and spend some time driving down the coast to Morro Bay and Pismo Beach. We’ll probably stay overnight and come back on Monday.

May 1, 2011

Landon and Las Vegas . . .

I was up about 9:15 this morning, early because it was a Landon Skype day.

While we were waiting, I got the coffee started and then we had some great homemade banana bread.

Terry's Banana Bread

Then about 9:40 Brandi called and said she had just put Landon down for a nap after lunch (it was 11:40 there) and that they would call us when he was up.

And a little before 11 LandonVision was on the air.

And he was his usual rambunctious self. A big problem now is that he moves around so much that the camera has a hard time keeping him in focus.

Brandi said she’s starting to long for the days when she could put him down, turn her head, and then look back, and he’d still be there.

Now he’s crawling off somewhere.

Jan said, “Just wait ‘til he starts getting into your pots and pans.”

Video call snapshot 66

Video call snapshot 70

Video call snapshot 72

Video call snapshot 80

Our call lasted almost 20 minutes, and Landon never stopped moving. Brandi and Lowell are going to have their hands full.

After the Skype call, I put Mister outside for awhile to catch some rays. He really enjoys just lying in his chair and watching things.

Mister in Chair

People will go by walking their dogs and he won’t blink an eye.

About 1:15 Jan and I headed to do some ‘stuff’. First, we headed over to the bottom of the Strip to Fry’s Electronics. Jan and I just like to wander around the store. It was kind of unusual for me that I didn’t need anything from there, but I did get a computer magazine so it wasn’t a complete waste.

After Fry’s, we drove over to the Galleria area to eat lunch/supper at Lucky Star Chinese Buffet. We had eaten there before, and it was still good this time too.

After lunch, we walked across the parking lot to check out the Panera Bread. And after a quick stop at the Walgreen’s next door, we got home a little before 5pm.

While Jan watched TV I took a great 2-hour nap before we all headed out again about 7:45 to drive the Strip. It’s just nonstop fun in Vegas.

We started at the top of the Strip, up by Fremont St., drove all the way down past Mandalay Bay, and then turned around and came all the way back.

Las Vegas Strip

We thought about stopping at Pawn Stars,

Pawn Stars

but decided to save it for another day.

Before heading home for the night, we stopped off at our favorite DQ in Las Vegas for a cool treat.

So by the time we got home, it was after 10pm, and Jan was asleep in 15 minutes.

Just another exciting day in Las Vegas.

May 1, 2013

Bobbin’ and Weavin’ . . .

or How Windy Was It Today?

We pulled out of Countryside RV Resort about 8:45, a little ahead of schedule for a change, bound for the Las Vegas Thousand Trails, about 320 miles away. But our first stop was a CircleK about 3 miles away to top off the rig.

We hadn’t hooked up the truck yet, so while I was taking on 62 gallons of diesel at $3.45 a gallon, Jan drove a few blocks away to pick us up some breakfast sandwiches from Jack in the Box.

We met back up at a large parking lot across the street to hook up the truck. Finished with that and deciding we both wanted coffee, I walked back across the street to the CircleK and got us coffee/cappuccino combos to go with our sandwiches.

We were back on the road to Las Vegas a little after 9:30, and made good time until we turned on US93. Then it was 15 miles of stop and go traffic until we finally got out of the Phoenix Metro area.

A while after passing through Wickenburg, the wind starting picking up, and just got worse as time went on. It did calm down a bit getting on I-40 and through Kingman, But once we were back on US93 it got worse again.

By the time we crossed into Nevada over the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge, it was making for an interesting drive, but as soon as we got into Boulder City, it all calmed down, and it was smooth sailing all the way to the RV park.

We got parked a little after 4:30, and we were lucky enough to get the last 50 amp site that could hold a 40 foot RV. We decided to eat in tonight and finish off the leftover pizza from our visit to Streets of New York last Saturday.

As far as tomorrow, we really haven’t made any plans yet. We’ll see what comes up.

May 1, 2014

A Change of Plans . . .

Well, RV’ers say that their plans are written in Jell-O, and that’s very true in our case this time.

It now looks pretty certain that Jan and I will not be able to make the 54th Escapade up in Goshen this month. We were originally supposed to leave for Elkhart tomorrow morning (Friday), but some bad news/good news brought that to a screeching halt. While we were waiting for it to get a little warmer up north, we were also waiting for things to play out with the results from Jan’s mammogram on February 18th.

As has happened several times in the past, they found something that warranted a further look. So in March, they did a diagnostic mammogram and an ultrasound. And in the past, this is where it stopped.

But this time they found a problem that called for a needle biopsy, which was done toward the end of March. The diagnosis from the biopsy was ductal atypical hyperplasia. In layman’s terms, this is a lot of funny-looking cells in a milk duct. And funny-looking cells are sometimes an indicator and precursor for cancer.

So on April 16th Jan had a lumpectomy, or more correctly, an excisional biopsy. And today, May 1st, is when she had her follow-up appointment and got her results. And this is where the bad news/good news came in.

The bad news was that they found carcinoma in situ, an early form of cancer.

The good news is that the lumpectomy got it all, leaving only healthy tissue.

However her surgeon wants her to see an oncologist to follow up on any further treatment. The only thing that has been suggested is that she might have to start taking Tamoxifen, a daily pill to prevent any possible further cancer growth. It’s not considered chemotherapy, and is only about $10 a month from Wal-Mart..

The surgeon’s office faxed over Jan’s records to the oncologist to be evaluated. Then they will call us to schedule an appointment. It’s probable that this will be late next week if we’re lucky. Since the latest we could leave here and still make the Escapade is next Wednesday the 7th, that’s probably not going to happen.

As I told Jan, if we had to have bad news in this situation, this is the best news we could have.

Now back to our day today.

We left the rig about 8:45, heading down to Clear Lake for Jan’s appointment. We made a quick stop for gas and a bathroom break at the Flying J in Brookshire, finally making it to the doctor’s office about 10:45 for her 11am appointment.

We actually were in and out of the doctor’s office fairly quickly, and Jan decided she wanted to have lunch at Monterey’s Little Mexico down in Dickinson, because she wanted to have a Margarita, understandable under the circumstances.

Coming back up to Clear Lake, Buc-ee’s was on the way so we stopped in for some of their great muffins. Then after a quick client visit and a stop at Half-Price Books, we headed back north into Houston, so I could stop off at Interstate Batteries to drop off the 4 old batteries from yesterday’s change-out. I definitely wanted my $129.90 core charge back.

Then it was on to Brandi’s house in Katy, arriving about 2:45, and giving us both time for a nice nap before we met Brandi, Lowell, and Landon at our favorite Little V’s Vietnamese Bistro.

Landon at Little V's 3

As you can tell from the photo, Landon has a good time wherever he goes.

And after another great meal, we finally got home about 7:15, after a long and eventful day. Tomorrow will probably be just a stay-around-the-rig day. Well deserved.

May 1, 2015

Sprinkles are for Winners . . .

but apparently not for cupcakes.

It was supposed to get up to 98 degrees today, (it made 95) and since our AC’s had trouble with the 93 degrees yesterday, I dragged my roll of Reflectix out of the back of the truck and put it up on the inside of the windshield.

We’re facing due west, and even with our magnetic shades up on the outside, the windshield is too hot to touch on the inside. So I was hoping the Reflectix quilted aluminum insulation would help, and it did.

About 5:15 Jan and I headed out for our evening’s events. First up was another visit to In N Out Burger. Don’t know if it was because we went to a different one than the other day, or maybe the young lady taking our order was new, but as my order delved in the realms of the Secret Menus, her eyes started to glaze over. And as it turned out, although our burgers were very tasty, they weren’t what we ordered. In fact, it seemed that she had kind of intermixed our burger;s contents. But they were still good.

Finishing up, a little before 7, we drove across the street so Jan could get her hair cut at Supercuts. But, despite the fact it was 10 minutes before 7pm, and the sign on the door said that if you get in the door before closing time, they will take you, they wouldn’t take her. Bummer!

With her hair still intact, (mine not so much), we drove back over to the Strip and the High Roller Observation Wheel. Not for another ride, but because Jan wanted to check out the Sprinkle’s Cupcake store there in their shopping area.

Sprinkles LV

We got six cupcakes, two Lemon Coconut, two Red Velvet, one Pumpkin, and a Cinnamon Sugar, eating two there and taking the other four home. All I can say is that Sprinkles may be for winners, but Sprinkles does not come close to the cupcakes from the Irish Rose Tea Shop in Old Cottonwood, AZ.

My Cinnamon Sugar one was tough and chewy, and Jan said her Pumpkin wasn’t much better. So we don’t have high hopes for the remaining ones.

Next up was a visit to Fremont Street to view the ‘Fremont Experience” show on the big overhead screen. But our “Fremont Experience” turned out to be not much of one.

When we walked across the street to the main part, we found it all blocked off, with people lined up to get in.

Fremont St 1

Turns out the 1st Friday of the month, they have live bands playing on four stages along the street, and everyone has to go through security to get in, even though it doesn’t cost anything.

Fremont St 4

Fremont St 5

Well, since Jan didn’t have her I.D. with her, (she never carries a purse unless she knows she will need it.), and I didn’t meet some of the other rules, i.e. I was carrying, we were locked out. But since we were there we decided to stay until the 9pm show on the overhead screen, which was a Bon Jovi tribute.

Fremont St 6

We did check out the new Zip line attraction while we were there. Jan rode the old one a few years back, but we knew they were adding a bigger, better one.

The lower opening is where Jan jumped off from. It’s 68 feet high, and you travel 2 blocks at about 35mph.

Fremont St 2

The upper opening is the new one. It’s 108 feet high, and you travel about 4 blocks at about 45mph. A big difference. The other thing about the new one is that you’re laying in the harness, not sitting in it, so you kind of fly like Superman.

If you look carefully in this next photo you can see both types silhouetted against the screen.

Fremont St 3

After looking around a bit we were heading back to the truck. when we encountered what I can only assume is Las Vegas’ version, (or maybe just Fremont Street’s version) of the Naked Cowboy.

Most of you have probably heard of the Naked Cowboy who stands around Times Square in New York City, wearing only his hat, boots, tighty-whitey, and his guitar, even in the snow.

Meeting him was on Jan’s bucket list, and she got to cross him off, (and feel him up from the looks of it) when we visited New York in 2009.

Naked Cowboy 1

Naked Cowboy 2

If you’re squeamish, don’t go any further.

Remember, what has been seen, can not be unseen.

You have been warned. I don’t want to hear any complaints.

So this is what we saw on Fremont Street. Note the wide berth everyone is giving him.

Fremont St 7

He seems to be wearing a ‘small’ teddy bear over his private parts. At least I hope it’s a teddy bear.

I really didn’t want to look too closely.

And you can thank me for not posting the front-view photo.

Now, aren’t you sorry you stayed?

May 1, 2016

WhataDisappointment . . .

Concerned about the forecast rain coming into the Columbus around 2pm, we were hooked up and on the road a few minutes before 9. Jan prefers that we take the slightly longer route up to Boerne, and then onto I-10E, rather than the even more hilly, curvy shortcut route directly to San Antonio.

But before we left, Jan fixed us her delicious Biscuit, Egg, and Bacon breakfast sandwiches. A great way to start the day.

Jan's Breakfast Sandwiches 2

Note how crispy the bacon is, with no sag. This is that Hormel Black Label Microwave Bacon I mentioned earlier.

It’s very, very good,

Our first stop was about 11:30 at the Buc-ee’s at the Luling exit on I-10 for a bathroom break and coffee. It was not as busy as last Sunday, but diesel had jumped from $1.79/gal last Sunday to $1.89 today. Ouch!

And less than two hours later, we were parked in our 50 amp site at Colorado River. The ‘C’ and ‘D’ areas are still closed, but “A’ rings are open, and they have a few openings, but you have to call the park directly. You can not do it online.

After a nice nap, around 5pm we headed down to Columbus to have dinner at Whataburger. But as the title says ‘WhataDisappointment’. In fact, if this had been our first visit to Whataburger, it might have been our last.

First up, I think our cashier was trained by the one we had up in Carthage TX this past fall. But he wasn’t trained very well because he was actually worse. Pretty much everything about our order was screwed up.

I ordered a #6 with two patties, cheese, bacon, tomato, pickles, onions, mustard, and mayo.

I got a #7 with ONE patty, NO CHEESE, bacon, tomatoes, NO PICKLES, onions, mustard, and NO MAYO.

Jan ordered a #6 with two patties, cheese, tomatoes, mustard, ketchup, and grilled onions.

She got a #6 with two patties, NO CHEESE, tomatoes, mustard, ketchup, grilled onions, and LETTUCE SHE DIDN’T ORDER.

Plus we both ordered Large Combo Meals, but got Small. But the surprising thing was the fries. The place was pretty busy, so how did we get old, stale fries? Did they save them just for us?

Both of our orders were made up of lukewarm fries, intermixed with those stale crunchy small end pieces. Even the Spicy Ketchup couldn’t fix that.

Coming home we made a stop at the Brookshire Bros for a few grocery items before returning to the park.

Coming down to the bridge, we got a good look at the recent flood damage.

Colorado River Damaged Bridge 1

We were told that the water level got up over the top of the bridge railing, and that’s easy to believe.

Colorado River Damaged Bridge 3

In fact the water pressure was strong enough to snap some of the railing mounting bolts, and pull others right out of the concrete.

Colorado River Damaged Bridge 2

We’re really glad we were back in Conroe when all this was happening. Even better, the heavy rain for today never showed up. But there’s always tomorrow, I guess.

Later in the evening, I finished up the Ezekiel Transport Wheels within Wheels logo for the new website.

Ezekiel Wheel for Logo 8

I think it looks pretty good, but I haven’t heard back from the client yet, so I’ll see.

Finishing up, this morning my water pump problem was gone, and it worked fine. So I’ll have to keep an eye on it. I will go ahead and clean out the online filter.

May 1, 2017

We Lucked Up Yesterday . . .

We both slept in this morning enjoying the nice cool (cold) sleeping weather. With it going down to 37° last night, it’s the coldest we’ve seen in a couple of months, but very nice.

And we’ve got more of the same coming for us up in Bend for the next couple of weeks. Except for an 81° forecast for this Thursday, it’s pretty much 50’s and low 60’s as far as The Weather Channel can see.

I had an email this morning from a National General claims adjuster saying that the ‘door scrape guy’ from Apache Junction has filed a claim.

He’s asking for about $500 for the repair. But the funny thing is, he sent in this photo,

and not the one after I wiped all the paint smear off.

Otherwise, it’s hard to see what’s he trying to repair. A little rubbing compound and some wax and it’s gone.

As I said in the blog post on April 1st,  Apache Junction Door Scrape, when I rubbed the paint off, I felt no damage to the metal underneath. So I recommended that they deny the claim, or at least ask him to submit a more recent photo, preferably with a dated newspaper in the photo as well.

We’ll see how it goes.

About 1:30 Jan and I headed up I-5 about 25 miles to Yreka to have lunch and make a Wal-Mart run.

But first we drove a couple of miles in the other direction to get a shot of these trucks at Truck Village.

Turns out these are in-service fire tankers that are assembled on site, and are used to fight northern California fires by CalFire. As far as the palette, the owner just loves bright colors and looks forward to coming up with new ones.

Probably hard to misplace one in a forest fire.

I like this so much that I added the photo to the photos on the blog home page.

Heading back toward Yreka, our choice for lunch was a favorite of ours, the Black Bear Diner.

We’ve eaten here several times in the past, and it’s always been delicious. Looking over the extensive menu we both zeroed in on the BigFoot Chicken Fried Steak with steamed veggies and red-skin mashed potatoes and gravy.

But we started out with a really good salad with their homemade Bacon Ranch dressing.

Really great dressing.

And when our CFS came it was easy to see why they called it ‘Bigfoot’.

We both remarked how good the breading was, as well as the gravy. Everything was very well-seasoned too. And it was big enough that we brought half of it home for tomorrow night’s dinner at Bend.

And of course, we couldn’t come home without a couple of their individual serving pies. Jan got her favorite Coconut Cream Pie,

while I got the Apple Crumb Cobbler.

Bagging up our take-home food, we headed down the road to the nearby Wal-Mart, but along the way, I stopped at a couple of auto parts stores looking for a new cap for our Dakota’s coolant recovery tank. The old one broke off the other day and fell down into the frame and disappeared.

Right now I’ve got Gorilla Tape over it until I get a replacement, but no luck. Both O’Reilly’s and AutoZone could order me one but didn’t stock them. Oh well, there’s always Amazon when we’re in Bend.

Finishing up at Wal-Mar we headed back to Weed and home. Along the way we noticed that we still couldn’t see Mt Shasta, at least not all of it.

It’s been obscured by clouds all day, so I guess we really lucked up yesterday. The mountain actually rises up about half way into the clouds. Weather like this is why pilots say “Clouds have rocks.”

I’m still trying to figure out why I ran out of diesel. We had traveled 919 miles since we filled up in Tucson after the Escapade. Based on our normal 8 mpg, that would take about 115 gallons, leaving us 35 gallons in our 150 gallon tank. Even dropping back to 7mpg, that had us using about 130 gallons, leaving 20 gallons. And we’ve never gotten MPG that low.

When we ran out, our Silverleaf showed we had 28.8 gallons left. And I was going to fill up right up the road as I had planned.

I checked under the rig for fuel leakage when we were parked on the concrete pad at the Flag City RV Park in Lodi later that evening and found no puddles of any kind.

Now if I was really paranoid (and I am) I might wonder if someone might have siphoned diesel out of the rig’s tank. Other than that, I don’t know.

But we’ll see.

Tomorrow we’ve got about 190 mile trip up to the Bend/Sunriver Thousand Trails, but before we leave about 10, we’re heading into downtown Weed to have breakfast at the fabled Hi-Lo Diner, the estranged parent of the Black Bear Diner chain.

May 1, 2018

For My Next Tric . . . er Project

Not wanting to be surprised again, like I was last January when my client happened to mention during the last week of the month that we needed an Ad Card ready to mail out in a couple of days for our big February sale.

So since our annual June sale is coming up, I got a jump on things today by getting everything set up and sent off to the printer/mailing company. Looks like it should be ready to mail out the week of May 14th. Perfect.

Getting home about 4:15, we headed right back out to have dinner at Jimmy Changas, a favorite Mexican place of ours right back up I-45. Originally we were also planning to do some Wal-Marting afterwards, but decided to put that off until tomorrow.

I had a small side salad and then a big bowl of the Mexico City Style Soup – chicken broth with rotisserie chicken, rice, cilantro, tomatoes, cheese & tortilla chips.

Jimmy Changas Mexico City Chicken Soup

Jan went with the Pollo Mariscos – shrimp and crawfish tails sautéed in white wine sauce, atop a grilled chicken breast — with Pico de Gallo, charro beans, and Spanish rice

Jimmy Changas Pollo Mariscos

Our 3 year old Azio Lighted Keyboard has been acting flakey lately so I ordered a new one from Amazon last Friday to be delivered Monday (yesterday).

Azio Lighted Keyboard

We both really like this one, with large lighted keys that can be set to 8 different colors. Plus, unlike other keyboards, it doesn’t have some keys in strange places.

Well, apparently it was delivered yesterday, just not to me. I got a text message about 12:30 telling me it had been delivered by the USPS, saying it had been ‘handed directly to a resident.’

Well . . .  NO! There are only 3 people here at the client’s office and none of us got it. And normally what happens is that I receive the package and then about 30 minutes later the text message comes through.

I’ve got a call into the PO and they’re looking for it. So someone out there has a new lighted keyboard, just not me.

I sent an email off this afternoon to RV Mobile Lube to set up an appointment for next Thursday. I’m getting the following:

1. Full Service Oil Change – Change oil and filter, lube chassis and driveline, replace all fuel filters on diesel and correct tire pressure.

2. Full Generator Service –
Change Oil, Oil Filter, Replace Air Filter, and Replace Fuel Filter.

3. Coolant Service – Coolant Test and Filter Replacement.

4. Possible Air Filter Replacement

This will be the 5th time we’ve used them for service. Much more convenient than taking the rig into a shop.

I got a lot of comments on my 50 amp tester. Several people noted that they have a Progressive EMS to do everything that my tester will. And that’s true, up to a point.

We have a Progressive EMS ourselves, and it has saved our butts a couple of times. But it only helps when you’re parked and plugged in. It didn’t help us last year when we were trying to find a working 50amp site at the Soledad Canyon TT park north of LA.

We spent more than an hour walking from empty site to empty site looking for a place to park our rig. And when we did find one that had good voltages on both legs, we found that after we were parked and hooked up, our Progressive would not let power into the coach because the pedestal had an open ground or neutral, or reversed ground and neutral.

With the tester done, I’m on to my next project. It involves this,


and this,

Actuator Controller

and it will be mounted here,

Dump Valve Actuator

along with another one right beside it.

It’s going to be my bargain-basement remote dump valve system. And by ‘bargain-basement’, I’m talking less than $75 . . . Total. The actuators are $15 each, operate with 135 pounds force, and have a 4” travel. Which coincidently is the exact length of travel of my dump valve handle. And it takes about 20 seconds to move all the way in or out, so it won’t be slamming the valves back and forth.

The controllers are about $13 each. After that, it’s just fiddly bits. I’ll keep you informed.

Jan and I headed up to Webster, first to drop off some prescriptions at Sam’s and WalMart before heading back over to the East Star Chinese Buffet for dinner once again. Yes, we were just here this past Sunday.

What’s your point?

And we may go back again on Thursday.

Again. What’s your point?

And then after a lot of boiled shrimp, we headed back over to the WalMart to pick up our prescriptions and a bunch of groceries, before heading home for the night.

May 1, 2019

It’s Five Countries, Not Four . . .

Scenic Cruising 5/1/19

We left Budapest about 6pm last night heading for Vienna, Austria, a 24 hour trip. So with today our first day at sea (at river?), I decided to spend some time exploring our ship.

The Sun Deck is on the roof and runs the entire 443 foot length of the ship.

Skirnir SunDeck

Besides a covered area, there’s a herb garden,

Skirnir Herb Garden

and a small 4-hole putting green golf course.

Skirnir Golf Course

And thirteen laps around the deck equal a mile, good for working off all the delicious food they serve on board.

At 10am there was a mandatory safety drill. And by mandatory, I mean when they count heads and you’re not there, they come looking for you.

Skirnir Safety Drill

You’re supposed to show up on the Sun Deck wearing the life vest that’s stored under your bed. Each deck has its assigned spot to gather, with a crew member holding up the red ‘lollipop’ with your deck number on it.

Once everyone was accounted for, and we were checked to see if our life vests were on properly, we were done for the trip.

Unless we actually sink. Then we can pretty much just walk to shore, since in many cases there’s only 6 feet of water under the keel.

Later in the morning, we got the Wheelhouse tour that we signed up for earlier.

Skirnir Wheelhouse

And it’s like a big video game, complete with a joystick for steering the ship.

Skirnir Wheelhouse Tour 3

And it’s an all-digital ship.

Skirnir Wheelhouse Tour 1

The 3 black and white gauges across the top show the position and power of the bow and stern thrusters. The ship has 2 bow thrusters on either side, and 4 double-propped individually-steerable stern drive systems like this.

Skirnir Stern Thrusters

The bow thrusters look like louvers on a window AC and can be pointed forward, rearward, or anywhere in between. Which means that the ship can just pull up to the dock and then move sideways into a space only a little larger than the ship itself. Like here.

Skirnir Docking Sideways

And one of the neat things is that the captain doesn’t have to worry about controlling all this individually. He just moves the joystick in the direction he wants to go and the computer does the rest.


The 3 larger screens underneath are, from left to right, a GPS mapping program, the radar, and a screen that tracks the identity of other ships on the river.

What’s not apparent at first is the low clearances the ship encounters going under many of the bridges, sometimes less than 1 foot. And this is with the Sun Deck flattened.

Everything on the Sun Deck, and I mean, everything folds down.

Skirnir Flat Sundeck

The railings, the chairs, the canopies, everything. Even the wheelhouse retracts.


Note the hydraulic scissors jack underneath it from this angle.

But it’s a two-part retraction system. First, the top, windowed part slides down, which means you can no longer stand up inside. Then the whole thing drops down into the opening underneath.

At this point if the captain actually needs to see out visually, he can pop his head out through this skylight opening in the row.

Skirnir Wheelhouse Tour 2

But if something goes wrong with this system, it can be deadly.

Viking Wheelhouse Crash

This took place in 2016 on the Freya, another Viking ship. I don’t know exactly what happened, but the two officers were killed in the collision with the bridge.

We had heard that our ship was completely booked up with the maximum of 190 passengers and 50 crew members, but according to the numbers posted in the wheelhouse, we only have 179 passengers onboard.

Our cruise is listed as touring 4 countries along the way – Hungary, Austria, Germany, and Holland (The Netherlands). But we also travel through Slovakia, but we don’t stop, so I guess it doesn’t count.

In case you missed the memo, Czechoslovakia no longer exists. It broke apart in 1993 after the fall of the Soviet Union into the Czech Republic and . . . Slovakia.

Who could have seen that coming?

Passing through the capital of Bratislava along the Danube we came across the Bratislava Castle. Well, Doh!

Bratislava Castle

Though parts of this structure date from the 13th century to the 16th, there have been fortified settlements here since 3500 B.C.

And it’s what we see a lot over here, there’s a new, modern hotel less than a mile up river.

Bratislava Hotel

A little past that, we came across the Devin Castle.

Bratislava Devin Castle 1

Bratislava Devin Castle 2

This castle was first mentioned in literature in 864 A.D. so it’s even older than that, with a lot of its original stonework.

Dinner tonight was as delicious as we’ve come to expect, with Baby Greens Salad,

Baby Greens Salad

Weiner Schnitzel, Jan’s favorite,

Weiner Schnitzel

and the famous Sacher Cake for dessert.

Sacher Cake

On the VPN front, my ExpressVPN is working great, with an unexpected benefit.

If I Google sometime without using it, most of the search results come back in German. However, if I VPN through a server in Dallas, Google thinks I’m in the US and everything’s in English.


We’ll see how long it takes to get this posted. And I’ll try to get another one up ASAP.

May 1, 2020

Well, It’s Started . . .

On the way into work this morning it was obvious that many restaurants had been anticipating May 1st, Opening Day. “Opening Day’, as in we can finally go out to eat again, for the first time since March 15.

Talk about withdrawal!

And it was easy to see that some restaurants were more prepared than others. Places like Slim Chickens, Jimmy Changa’s, Twin Peaks, Saltgrass (Yah!), and Cracker Barrel all had big banners out front, celebrating with ‘We’re Back!’, ‘We’re Open!’, and ‘Now Open!’. Obviously, they had had these printed up ahead of time. And since all of these places had a lot of cars in the parking lot, I would imagine more places will be opening ASAP.

As far as I know, the only restriction for right now is that the restaurant can only seat 25% of its allowed capacity, which I assume is what the fire marshal rates the place for.

Looks like starting June 1st, we’re going to lose our Distant Network Service on DirecTV. The DNS gives us all the East Coast and West Coast Network Stations, no matter where we are in the country, a great service when we’re traveling.

When we’re in Texas pretty much anywhere, we get the local stations here on the Houston spotlight. But of course, if we’re traveling outside the state we can call and change to those local stations, but it’s hit or miss on how difficult it is. I’ve actually talked to Customer Service people who told me that it’s impossible to have DirecTV in our RV, and that I must be lying to them.

And of course, we would have to change any scheduled shows that we wanted to record. So DNS made that a lot easier.

Some people have received emails/postcards saying that DNS was going away, though we haven’t received any notice yet.

But now, after 22+ years it may just be time to say goodbye to DirecTV. We’ll see.

Well, I’m going to try it one more time.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with my trials and tribulations with the oil leak on our RV’s Cummins 350 ISC engine. Jan suggested I give it one more try before taking the rig up to the Cummins dealer in north Houston.

I know it has something to do with the gasket between the oil cooler and the filter adapter head, the part that the oil filter screws into.

Oil Filter Hub Adapter

Every time I have removed the head and replaced the gasket, the leak gets better or worse, but never goes away completely.

However the thing that has always bothered me is the torque specs for the 4 bolts that mount the hub to the oil cooler flange. The spec’d 211 in. pounds = 17+ foot pounds, which just doesn’t seem tight enough. And just to be sure it wasn’t my torque wrench I borrowed another one to double check, but no change.

So I’ve ordered another gasket and I’m going to give it a try again, but this time maybe take it up to 30 foot pounds in small increments and see how it feels.

Oil Rig Adapter Gasket

And yes, I’ve talked to the online Cummins Techs, but all they’ll do is just quote me the manual. And this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve found mistakes in the manuals. I have tried to talk to the Service Manager at Cummins in Houston, but no one will ever call me back.

So, one more time.

May 1, 2021

Pop Top’s and Plus Cards . . .

After a rainy night, and a slightly less rainy morning, but better with coffee, we left out about 1pm, with our first stop at the Pop Top Burgers up in the Friendswood area.

Since we knew that Pop Top was started by the lady that started Stomp’s Burger Joint over in Kemah, we were expecting it to be good. And it was.

Jan had her usual burger, the same one she’s been having since we first starting eating at Tookie’s over 42 years ago. Then it was called the Stomp’s Ice House Special. It was a burger with Cheddar / Jack blend, picante sauce, diced & grilled jalapeños, diced & grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

Then after Tookie’s was flooded out and didn’t reopen after Hurricane Ike in 2008, a bunch of their employees started Stomp’s Burger Joint right down FM146 a few miles, taking the name from Jan’s Stomp’s Ice House Special.

Trying to recreate Tookie’s, Stomp’s pretty much replicated Tookie’s menu, but changed the name of the many burgers. In this case, Jan’s Stomp’s Ice House Special became the Outlaw. Same ingredients, new name.

Pop Top is located in a strip center near our old house, and in part of what used to be a Blockbuster Video Store. That’s how long ago it was.

PopTopBurgers Inside

And it seems that Pop Top is following the same path, with the Stomp’s/Outlaw burger now called the Chopped Jalapeno Burger. Kind of a pedestrian name, but Jan says it’s just as good as 42+ years ago.

PoptopBurgers Chopped Jalopeno Burger

I of course had to have the Big Bubba that I’ve posted about before.

PopTopBurgers Big Bubba In Person

And we just had to get an order of their delicious onion rings. Of course, lucky me, my burger came with one.

PopTopBurgers Onion Rings

Tookie’s/Stomp’s and now Pop Top have always been known for their hand-cut/hand-breaded Thick Onion Rings, and it’s easy to see why.

After lunch we headed over to the El Dorado WalMart, taking the back way to go by our old house to check it out. And after a few things at WM, we stopped across the parking lot at the Kohls to drop off an Amazon return.

And I was in and out in about 30 seconds. Just hand them the things, show them the QR code on my phone, get my receipt, and I was out the door.

Then next door at Sam’s I got gas, picked up a prescription, and found out where I can find the Sam’s Club Plus Card prescription prices online, so I can now finish my Kroger’s/WalMart/Sam’s Club prescription price comparison. Coming soon.

And then coming home, the overcast, rainy day made it perfect for a Ghirardelli’s Hot Chocolate from Cowboy Coffee.

The perfect end to a very nice, and tasty, day.

May 1, 2022

CFC . . .

After a nice, quiet Sunday morning, Jan and I were on our way up to Webster about 1:30pm to meet up with Brandi, Lowell, and Landon at our long-time favorite, Floyd’s Cajun Seafood. However, I was the only one who got anything seafood-like.

Jan, Brandi, and Lowell all got the Chicken Fried Chicken with a side of Sweet Potato Fries.

Floyd's CFC 20220501

A really crispy breading, and the gravy is the best around. In fact everyone also dipped their fries in it.

Landon, for his part, got a Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Fries.

Landon Floyd's 20220501

As I did the last time, I started out with their version of the Wedge Salad,

Floyd's 19th Hole Wedge Salad 20220501

and then moved on my always-favorite, the Shrimp Gumbo,

Floyd's Seafood Gumbo 20220501

just chock full of shrimp.

Then after our meal, I handed Jan off to Brandi to take her back up to Katy. She’s going to be Landon/Dog-sitting while Brandi’s doing a Girl’s Week Out up at Lake Jackson with some girlfriends. Then I’ll drive up Friday afternoon to pick her up.

Karma and I are both already lonely.

May 1, 2023

Itch Scratching?

Every now and then Jan and I still get a touch of Hitch Itch.

You know, that feeling that you want to pack up, hitch up, and hit the road

We first start feeling that back in March 2007 when we were thinking about full-timing. We rented this 28 ft. CruiseAmerica Class C and headed out west for about 3 weeks.

CruiseAmerica Class C

CruiseAmerica Seminole Canyon

We did Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, Alamogordo, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and then Tucson, where we attended a Life On Wheels seminar.

And by the time our 3 weeks were up, we knew this was what we wanted to do. And less than a year later, we looked like this.

RigSig 500

And we scratched that itch for the next 13 years.

So recently when we were talking about driving down to south Texas to hopefully see a Starship Heavy launch from Boca Chica, Jan suggested that we think about renting another Class C from CruiseAmerica once again, thinking that it would be cheaper than getting a hotel.

Well, no.

With daily rental, mileage, insurance, provisioning, etc., we’re looking at over $1500. And that doesn’t include gas.

But maybe we’ll figure out a way to scratch our itch one way or the other.

Tomorrow we’re going to have lunch at our new favorite, Walk-On’s Cajun Bistreaux, once again. And then it’s on down to WalMart for our weekly WM stuff.