We Found Sabrina . . .

We left the rig about 12:30 this afternoon. with lunch first up on the agenda. We were hoping that Big Horn BBQ might be open, but we didn’t have high hopes. So we weren’t really disappointed to find it not open yet.

But soon, so they say. In fact now we’re now hearing the middle of next week. So hopefully, by Wednesday before we leave.

So our backup place was Pho Barr a little further up FM646. One of our favorite places, though we haven’t been there in a while.

And getting seated, we found Sabrina.

The cute blonde young lady who seated us looked familiar to me, but I couldn’t place her. It didn’t help that she was the first non-Asian we’d ever seen working there.

Like most places, we have our favorites, starting with an order of the Grilled Pork Spring Rolls with their really good peanut sauce.

Moving on, Jan got the Vermicelli Bowl with Grilled Chicken

while I got the Pho Ga, which comes with white chicken meat.

Then when the young lady came back by our table for tea refills, I asked her if we knew her from somewhere. She smiled and said, “Cowboy Coffee.” And then it hit me, and I said, “Sabrina!”

She smiled and said, “I wasn’t sure you would remember me.”

I asked, “Do you still have that Mustang”, referring to the vintage 70’s Mustang she had, and she smiled again and said, “Yes.”

Sabrina was one of the early workers at Cowboy Coffee when they first opened a couple of years ago and we saw her pretty regularly until she moved to the morning shift and we didn’t see her as much. When I didn’t see her Mustang for a while, I asked and they said she didn’t work there anymore.

So now we know where she is.

One thing funny is the reason Jan didn’t recognize her. Because the order window at Cowboy Coffee was about 6 feet off the ground, Jan never really saw her face from her side of the car.

Then it was on down FM646 for our pre-trip haircuts at our regular CostCutters, and then across the Interstate to the Wal-Mart

Tomorrow afternoon I’m leaving work a little early to get the Jeep’s windshield replaced at our local Safelite location. I finally got tired of seeing the big crack right across my sight-line. Just in time for our trip.

By this time next week, we should be happily ensconced at the Microtel Hotel in Pearl River, LA, just north of Slidell, on our way to Alabama. Then the next day, we’ll have lunch at Weidmann’s in Meridian before getting into Athens AL around 4pm.

Thought for the Day:

Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining.
Don’t be a whiner!

Your Retro-Preview Highlights –

2010 – Hearst Castle

2012 – Another wonderful day in the life of an oilfield gate guard

2013 – What Happens In Vegas

2015 – Winning At The Slots In Vegas

2017 – Mt. Shasta And The Great Transmission Repair, Part 1

2019 – Vienna And The Lipizzaner Stallions

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

May 2, 2009

Resting up…

Today we didn’t do much. Still trying to rest up from our pretty much non-stop visit to Disney World.

I’m back working on the engine AC belt again. After replacing the tensioner pulley a few weeks ago I thought I had the problem fixed. But it shed the belt again after about 300 miles so I think I’ve still got an alignment problem. I’ll try another shim and see if that helps.

Since we spent last summer in Alaska this is the first time we’ve really needed the engine AC.

We went to a new restaurant for supper this evening. It’s called Sweet Tomatoes and we really enjoyed it.  It’s a Salad, Soup, Bakery, and Dessert buffet that’s really good.  We’ll go back.

May 2, 2010

Hearst Castle…

We left the rig about 9 am heading for San Simeon and Hearst Castle about 180 miles away. We stopped for lunch about noon in Paso Robles at Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. The real problem is that we didn’t think their sauce was very good.

Famous Dave’s BBQ is much better, as well as Sonny’s BBQ, a restaurant chain in the Southeast. And, of course, Central Texas BBQ in Pearland, TX, and Rudy’s BBQ in Austin, and…well, I guess we just like southern BBQ better than California BBQ.

And don’t forget Big Daddy’s Northernmost Southern BBQ in Fairbanks, AK. Man, it was good! Even in Alaska, it’s still southern BBQ, so it counts.

We got to Hearst Castle about 1:15 pm for our 2 pm tour. We’d made reservations on the Internet to be sure we wouldn’t have any problems getting in after that long drive.

While we waiting for our bus ride up to the Castle, I took some pictures from the Observation Deck in the back of the Visitor’s Center.

This is what it looked like at 18X mag.

Hearst Castle

And this is how far it actually is from the road. That’s it at the top of the hill in the very center of the picture.

Hearst Castle LV

And this is what the hills look like in the area.

Hearst Castle2

The driveway leading up to the Castle is 5 miles long and takes about 15 minutes. You go from about 50 feet elevation to 1700 feet at the top of the hill.

This is the entrance we saw as we got off the bus. Pretty impressive.

Hearst Entrance

And looking back from the front this is what we saw. You can see part of the road here.

Castle View

They even have their own cellphone tower up here. This is the first one I’ve seen where the camouflage actually seems to work. That’s it in the center with the thick trunk.

Cell Tower

We were real impressed by this entrance until we found out this is the entrance to one of the three guest houses. Wow!


And here are two of the four bedrooms in this guest house.



And here’s another view down the mountain from the guest house. Our tour guide said “It’s one thing to have a great view. It’s another thing to OWN the view.”

At one time William Randolph Hearst owned 50 miles of coastline along here. Now they only own 19 miles. Bummer!

Castle View3

There are gardens and fruit trees everywhere.


Next, we saw the Outdoor Pool, one of two on the estate. This was really incredible!

You can rent this pool for a pool party for you and 49 friends for two hours for the small sum of $2500.00


Walking toward the entrance to the main house we saw this Egyptian statue. It’s the oldest piece of artwork on the estate. It’s from the 18th dynasty, or about 3500 years old. That’s older than King Tut, or older than Moses.


This is the beautiful front of the “Casa Grande” or Great House, along with another beauty.


And here are the towers on top. The place is so big it’s hard to get it all in one picture.


Here’s the living room.


Here’s a close-up of the wooden panels in the in living room ceiling. They’re from an Italian castle and are over 600 years old.


Next was the dining room. Looks like something out of King Arthur.


The main house has over 12,000 sq. ft. of… closets. There is a total of 73,000 sq. ft. of usable space in the house. This is the parlor.

The last stop on our tour was the indoor pool.



And yes, that’s 22 kt gold fused into every tile, on the walls, the ceiling, and the bottom of the pool.GoldTile

Leaving the indoor pool area, we boarded our bus and headed back down the hill. On the way we couldn’t help but compare the Hearst Castle with the Biltmore in Asheville, NC that we visited last year.

To me, the biggest difference was that at the Biltmore, we were not allowed to take any photos at all, of any kind. So we really have no record of our visit, except for the outside of the house. At Hearst Castle, as long as we didn’t use flash, there was no problem.

After we got back down the hill to the Visitor’s Center, we watched a 40-minute movie about the design and construction of Hearst Castle. One surprising fact was that the entire place was designed by a woman, Julia Morgan, who also supervised the construction.

Leaving the movie theater we headed over to the gift shop for a quick walk-thru. On the way there we passed the sales booth for Hearst Ranch Beef. The Hearst family still runs one of the largest beef ranches in California, and sells their beef around the world.


Leaving Hearst Castle we traveled about 5 miles north to the Elephant Seal viewing area. Parking and walking over to the fence and looking down, we saw this.

And we’re thinking “Neat. Elephant Seals”


Then we turn our heads and look north a little further up the beach and it’s “OMG! It’s wall-to-wall elephant seals as far as the eye can see. They look like they’re dead, but they’re just heavy sleepers.


These guys are big, and surprisingly fast. And they bite too!


Also, flying overhead, was a flight of pelicans, one of Jan’s favorite animals.


Leaving the seals, we drove 30 miles south to Morro Bay to spend the night. We checked into the Pacific Shores Inn and then went to dinner right on the bay at The Galley Seafood Restaurant. Jan said it was probably the best fried shrimp she had ever had. And I had a salad that was delicious.

This is the view from the restaurant.



And this is Morro Rock which rests right out in the middle of the bay. It’s 581 feet tall and was first charted by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. It’s actually a volcanic plug that was formed when lava hardened in the vent of an ancient volcano about 20 million years ago.

After dinner, we stopped next door at Crills II for cinnamon buns for breakfast. Friends had recommended them and we had to give them a try.

Then it was back to the motel for the night. Tomorrow we’re going to drive down the coast a little further, maybe as far as Santa Barbara, before heading back home.

May 2, 2011

Landon vs. Kitty . . .

We were rudely awakened this morning by the guy parked right behind us warming up his diesel engine for 45 FREAKING minutes.

I’ve been to a couple of rally’s where Cummins’ engineers have told us that you don’t need to warm up or cool down your engine anything like that.

As far as warm-up, Cummins says that my regimen is perfect. If it’s been colder than about 40 degrees, I’ve had my engine block heater plugged in overnight, above 40 I don’t worry about it.

When everything else is ready to go except for disconnecting from shore power, I start the engine, and as soon as the oil pressure is up to normal (about 10 seconds) I put the engine into high idle by pressing the Increase Speed button on the Cruise Control. This brings the engine up to about 1000 rpm. (Your coach may differ)

Next I start the levelers coming up which also starts the airbags inflating. I then go outside, disconnect shore power, and stow the cord.

Finally, I do a walk-around to double-check that everything is ready to go. By this time the coach is up on the airbags and off we go.

As far as cool down, Cummins says that if you’ve just spent 5 or 10 minutes putt-putting along getting to the park and getting to your site, that’s all you need. Otherwise don’t idle for more than about 5 minutes or so.

You don’t need 45 FREAKING minutes. So there.

After getting back to sleep, I got up about 10:15 and got the coffee started while Jan heated up the last of the delicious homemade banana bread.

Then Jan brought me up to speed on the morning’s phone calls.

Our daughter Brandi called about 9 to to let us know that Landon had achieved a new milestone.

He ate his first mouthful of dirt! I guess he liked it because it didn’t seem to slow him down.

I’ve mentioned Landon and Kitty in a standoff over Kitty’s toys. And yes, Kitty is a 105-pound Black Lab.


Kitty’s contest-winning move seems to be to cover the toy in dog slobber hoping this will deter Landon. But when this doesn’t work, Kitty just takes it over to the dog bed and lays on it.

A little later our friend Gina Ellis called to check in and she and Jan had a good talk.

A little before 12 Jan fixed us a lunch of wonderful Mexican food

Then after a short nap we headed down to Wal-Mart for some shopping. Since we had cold stuff we came back to the rig to drop things off, before heading back to have dinner at Popeye’s Chicken before getting home about 6 pm.

May 2, 2012

Sales Day . . .

Apparently, at this Marathon site, Monday is Sales Day. At our earlier gate, it was Tuesday and Thursday. Don’t know yet if they have more than one day a week here yet.

Sale Day is when all the salespeople come into the site to try and sell their products and services to the “Company Man”. He’s the head guy over the entire site, in this case, from Marathon Oil. At our last site, it was Petrohawk.

Anyway, they seem to have a better class of salespeople here, or at least cuter. All we got for salespeople with Petrohawk was grizzled old oil guys. But here, like in the pharmaceutical industry, a number of cute young women called on the Company Man on Monday.

Don’t know if they sold anything, but the view was certainly better. BTW I get to talk about the cute saleswomen since Jan gets to talk about the cute guy oilfield workers. Turnabout is fair play.

FWIW, there’s a day Company Man and a night Company Man, but both of them live onsite. They seem to only leave to get groceries and the like.

Since this is a 24-hour gate we’re working longer hours, but not 12 in a row. I work from 2pm to 6pm and Jan works from 6pm to 11pm. Then I take over at 11pm and work till 7am. Then Jan finishes up with a 7am to 2pm shift.

So I work an 8 hour shift and a 4 hour shift, and Jan works a 7 and a 5.

The work is certainly not hard, and kind of entertaining in a way, watching the drilling rig operate and all the different trucks come in. All we do is write down the name, company, license plate number, and time when a vehicle enters. Then when they leave, we write down the time and if they were injured on site while here. This is something that we didn’t have to do with Petrohawk.

For all this hard work we make $1000 every 8 days ($125/day).

And we do have a nice view.

Petrohawk Sunset 1

The last few nights it’s been kind of cool here, cool enough to make me put on a jacket. The temp has been in the low 70’s, but with the constant wind, the wind chill makes it much cooler.

Last night they must have had a problem on the rig because alarms started going off and guys came running out of the trailers and up the tall stairs to the rig control room.

Marathon Rig Closeup

But after a few minutes, the alarm stopped and everyone went back to bed.

That’s about it for today, Another wonderful day in the life of an oilfield gate guard.

May 2, 2013

No, We Won’t . . .


It sounds strange, but it looks like we came to Las Vegas to cool off. The low last night was 54 and it barely made it to 80 today, about 20 degrees cooler than it was in Apache Junction last week. By Monday we’re supposed to get some rain with a high of 73. Very nice.

And it was cool enough last night to turn off the AC and open the windows, so it made for nice sleeping weather.

After coffee and a quiet morning, Jan and I headed out for the afternoon about 2pm. Our first stop was a nearby CVS for some things, and then it was on to our ultimate destination, Lindo Michoacan, our favorite Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas.

Lindo Michochan 1

We discovered it in 2010, came back in 2011, and it was our very first place to eat on this trip. It’s been voted Best Mexican Food in Las Vegas since 2004. And it’s a well-deserved award.

Located on a hill in Henderson, the wall-to-wall windows give you a great view of the Vegas skyline.

Lindo Michochan Skyline

Jan tried their Shrimp Chili Rellenos, and I had my usual Pork Carnitas a la Coca-Cola. You can’t believe how good this is.

Lindo Pork Carnitas a la Coca-Cola

The Coke gives it a little bit of a caramel taste that combined with the pork chunks makes for a great taste.

Heading toward home, we made a stop at the Camping World down in Henderson where I was looking for some cabinet latches, and then on to an Albertson’s where Jan was looking for a special salad dressing. Neither of us were successful.

But it did wrap up a very nice day.

May 2, 2014

We decided to go for Mild Discomfort this time . . .

First off, Jan and I want to thank everyone for their good wishes and prayers. We’re really sorry that we’ll have to miss the upcoming Escapade, and of course, we won’t be able to give our Gate Guarding seminar. But next year’s Escapade will be in Tucson, AZ starting March 8th, 2015, and we plan to be there.

Once again this morning Jan and I, and Mister, of course, sat outside and had our coffee and the last of the Hruska’s kolaches that we got the other night when we had hamburgers there. But it was warming up pretty fast and we finally came in after a short time.

Jan had been waiting for a call from the oncologist to get an appointment for any possible treatment recommendations. And of course, they had to call while I was on the phone with my niece Darby, updating her on the Chinese Consulate visa situation.

When Jan did call the oncologist’s office she ended up playing phone tag for a while until they finally called back about 2:30 and set Jan’s appointment for next Friday, May 9th.

Of course, this eliminates our last-ditch leave date of Wednesday, May 7th to be able to make the Escapade in Goshen. But it always was a slim chance, anyway.

I checked with Fantastic Fan about the replacement lift motor they were sending me, and found out it was going to be delivered to Brandi’s today. So our delay in leaving means we’ll be able to get the part before we leave, and also we’ll be able to pick up the Chinese visas from the Consulate on Wednesday.

About 4:15 Jan and I headed out for dinner. On our way, we stopped off at the park office to pay up on my 50 amp fees here at the park. When we checked in we planned on leaving for Elkhart today, so I only paid for 11 days instead of the full 14 we were registered for. So I wanted to stop off and pay for the remaining 3 days.

That done, we headed up to Ellinger to Peters BBQ to have the Friday Night BBQ and Seafood Buffet one last time. Figured since we had to stay here extra days, we might as well enjoy it as much as possible.

Well, I guess ‘enjoy’ is a relative word. Last Friday night we ‘enjoyed’ it so much that we hurt afterward. So this time we decided to go for just Mild Discomfort and didn’t go back for seconds. But then what’s the use of going to a buffet, if you don’t do seconds?

It’s a real quandary.

Now that things have settled down, I’m probably going to try to install the new slideout shear pin, along with a few other chores around the rig. Though we didn’t head out to Elkhart today, we still have to move back to the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails on Monday, our 3rd visit this year.

Actually when all of this started, I booked us back and forth between Colorado River and Lake Conroe all the way through the end of August, since we didn’t know at the time how this was going to play out. So as soon as we finally hit the road, probably next Saturday or Sunday, I’ll go online and cancel all the rest of the reservations.


May 2, 2015

Jan Did Good!

Jan had wanted to try out the Breakfast Buffet at Boulder Station so we headed out about 9:45, and as usual, we had about a 30-minute wait to get a table.

I’m still unsure about the business model here. The amount of customers that it takes Boulder Station 30 to 40 minutes to seat, could be handled by Golden Corral or Ryan’s in 10 minutes or less. So what’s up with that?

As you’re standing in line, you can look in at all the tables and see that a third or more of them are empty, with many of them with dirty dishes still on them. It appears that they really don’t have busboys (buspeople now?), and the waitresses have to clean them off.

You do see some restaurants that slow down seating people to keep the kitchen from getting overwhelmed.  But that’s not the problem here, because there’s always plenty of room for more people on the buffet, and plenty of food also.

The real holdup is that they seat guests individually, one group at a time, instead of letting everyone find their own table, like at Golden Corral or Ryan’s. And of course, the waitresses have to clean a table so someone can be seated there.

The only advantage that I can see for them to do it this way, is that it allows them to have the separate entrance line set up to give high rollers (people who have the higher grade privilege cards) expedited access to the buffet. So maybe that’s it.

So hire some people to bus the tables and let people seat themselves. That’s my solution, but then they didn’t ask me. They never do.

But Boulder Station made up for our frustration by this.

Jan's Slot Win Voucher

Leaving the Buffet Jan decided she wanted to play the Megabucks Slot Machine again. So we put in $21 which would give us 7 $3 plays. When she was down to $12, she won a $30 jackpot, then two $15 ones in a row, and then several more, finally getting her total up to $105.

At that point, knowing when to quit, unlike 99% of the other gamblers here, she hit the “Cash Out” button and she was done.

$84 richer. Neat.

Leaving the Casino, we drove down Boulder Hwy to the Wal-Mart so Jan could get her hair cut. She really liked the finished product and wants to recommend Kayla if you’re in LV and need your hair done.

Getting back to the rig, I decided a nap was in order, which turned out to be a good idea. Later, about 4:30pm we drove down to the Sunset area to have dinner at a Marie Calendar’s we passed the other day. They’ve always been one of our favorite places to eat, but we just don’t find them often enough.

Jan got the Double Shrimp Pasta along with a salad,

Marie Callendar's Shrimp Dish

while I went with my favorite California Chicken Waldorf Salad.

Marie Callendar's Salad

It’s got baby greens and romaine lettuce tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette, along with apples, pineapple, strawberries, dried cranberries, gorgonzola cheese, caramelized pecans, and topped with chicken Waldorf salad.


Our meals were large enough that we both had leftovers, and even that didn’t leave us enough room for pie. So we got it to go.

You can’t go to Marie Calendar’s and not get pie.

Leaving there, it was right down the street for more food. We wanted to stop off at El Pollo Loco and get a couple of dinners to go, This is for meals next week while we’re back at the Verde Valley Thousand Trails for about a week or so.

This leads me to the fact that today was our last day here in LV. Tomorrow we’ll make the 305 mile trip back to Verde Valley, stopping off to get diesel right down the road before we get out of town.

We always have a great time here, and this visit was no exception. Viva Las Vegas!

May 2, 2016

A Nice Day and Good Food . . .

Another day slaving over a hot keyboard . . . well, I guess it’s hard to call it ‘slaving’ when I really enjoy it.

The client really liked the wheel logo that I did for his website www.ezekieltransport.com

Ezekiel Wheel for Logo 8

The one I did for the website has a transparent background so the grey doesn’t show.

I also did a few favicons for the site.

Ezekiel Wheel for Logo 8 Favicon ET 2a Ezekiel Wheel for Logo 9 Favicon 2 Ezekiel Wheel for Logo 8 Favicon ET

‘Favicons’ are the small logos that many websites have that shows up in front of their name in the browser tab. Here’s the ones for Facebook and Pinterest.


You’re only allowed 32 x 32 pixels so you don’t have a lot to work with.

The client now just has to pick from one of the three.

Neither of us ever left the rig today, with the day partly cloudy and the high only about 70 degrees, so a very nice day.

Jan was in a baking mode, so she whipped up another batch of the Sopapilla Cheesecake that she made last week.

Jan's CheeseCake Bars Pan

Jan's CheeseCake Bars

These are very good, and very easy to make.

Then while she was at it, she started a new batch of the Alabama Fire Crackers using the same bag of spices for the last batch.

Jan's Alabama Fire Crackers

She just added a little more oil, added the crackers, and lightly shook them up. Then you let them set aside to soak up the spices, turning them every hour for 4 or 5 hours.

For dinner tonight, we started off with a salad dressed with a modified version of a recipe Jan got last week from Lynn Cross. We used lime juice instead of lemon (the lemons didn’t look very good at the store) and added a little honey for sweetness. Really good.

Jan's Salad

Then for dinner, we finished up the last of the Crockpot Spaghetti and Meatballs from the other night. I’ve had some requests so I’ll be posting that recipe in the next day or so.

Now that we’re back at Colorado River, it’s nice to see that the recent 4G XLTE upgrade has settled down. When it first showed up a month or so ago, it was blazin’ fast for about a week, then after a few days it crashed and burned, showing more 3G than 4G speeds.

And my 3G AirCard, which had jumped up to almost 3 Mbps, dropped down to less than 1 Mbps. But now it’s back up to 2.5+ Mbps. Nice.

A very nice day, and hopefully tomorrow will be more of the same.

May 2, 2017

May You Live In Interesting Times . . .

There’s a reason this is considered a Chinese curse, though it’s apocryphal in its origins.

And today was very ‘interesting’, though it started out nice.

First up though, I’ve fixed the photo problem on yesterday’s blog, so you can scroll down and see all the pretty pictures. I don’t know what happened, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with the WordPress database problem I had last night.

Wanting to get to bed a little early, I had the blog ready to go about 11pm, but it wouldn’t . . .  go, that is. When I tried to upload it, it kept telling me it couldn’t write to the database. Now weird things happen sometime, maybe Godaddy updating the WordPress software at the same time, etc. But after waiting about 30 minutes with no luck, I put a call into Godaddy.

Talking to the support guy, and trying some things, I found I couldn’t make ANY changes to the blog at all. I could read old posts just fine, I just couldn’t write new files to it.

The support guy suggested I restore from backups back to yesterday’s blog, basically just overwriting the entire blog, over 3000 posts, and 1000’s of photos and comments..

So with a loud GULP, I hit the Restore button.

The progress immediately jumped to 70% and then stayed there, never moving. So after about 30 more minutes, I went to bed.

When I got up at 6:30 I found the restore had finished and the blog was still functional, so I clicked the Publish button and away it went. And a minute or so later it was done.

BUT . . .

being in a hurry I neglected to look over the new blog post, so I didn’t notice the photo problem. That became apparent when I started getting emails while we were at breakfast, but I had already shut down the computer at the rig, so it would have to wait.

Now back to this morning.

We were up at 6:30am, got everything pretty much ready to roll, and then were out the door about 7:30, heading to the Hi-Lo Café a couple of miles away in downtown Weed.

The Hi-Lo Café, opened in 1951, was the pattern for the Black Bear Diner. The first one was down the road in Mt. Shasta City and was started by the original owner’s daughter and her husband. Then when they got divorced, she kept the Hi-Lo and he got the Black Bear Diner. Which has grown to over 100 locations since then.

But still only one HI-Lo. And last year the 3rd generation of the family took over.

Jan and I pretty much had the same thing for breakfast. This is my version, a Bacon Belgian Waffle, two strips of bacon, and two eggs over medium.

Hi-Lo Bacon Waffle

Jan’s had a plain waffle, two strips of bacon, and eggs hard scrambled. Both delicious.

Heading home I got a couple of good shots of a lenticular cloud over Mt. Shasta.

Mt Shasta Lenticular Clouds 1

Mt Shasta Lenticular Clouds 2

In the second one, the clouds are rolling down the sides of the mountain like water over a dam. Stunning.

But Mt. Shasta is famous for its clouds. Here’s a couple from the Internet.

Mt Shasta Lenticular Clouds 3

Mt Shasta Lenticular Clouds 4

Just WOW!

Getting back to the park I finished getting us ready to go. As you can tell I had pulled into the site backwards so we could see Mt. Shasta out the windshield.

Friendly RV Site

Due to our rig’s first owner ordering the ‘extra long power cord’ this is never a problem for us.

We were out of the park by 9:15 and heading for the Flying J a few hundred yards away. Across the road, we could see the burned out remains of Silva’s BBQ.

Weed Silvas BBQ Burned Out

We’ve eaten here several times and it was always good, so it’s a shame it’s not around anymore. They had a grease fire in a vent hood back in Nov. and that was it.

We were dieseled up, hooked up, and pulling out of the Flying J by 9:45, a little ahead of schedule for a change. But that didn’t last long.

As we started to turn on the I-5 entrance feeder, I noticed the rig was kind of lugging, not accelerating like it should. It was quickly evident that the problem was that the transmission was stuck in 1st gear and wouldn’t upshift to 2nd. Then I happened to move my head a bit and saw a Check Trans light on the panel. I didn’t see it at first because it was blocked by the steering wheel.

No other alarms, no Check Engine light, no nothing. Just the Check Trans light. It was obvious that I was stuck in the ‘infamous’ Limp Mode.

So I tried the simplest thing first. When in doubt, Reboot.

I shut the engine off, let it set for a few minutes, and then started back up.

OK, no warming light. That’s good.

But as soon as I was moving a few miles per hour, the light came back on.


Jan however, said some other words.

So next I checked the transmission fluid. It was at the lower part of the OK range, but I added a little TransSyn to be sure.

And again, no luck. Still stuck.

I did use my Silverleaf Computer Display to check for any fault codes, but nothing showed up.

So now I was on the phone to Spartan, my chassis manufacturer, to see what they might have to contribute. But not a lot, but they send me on to Allison Tech Support.

Now I have known for a while that my rig’s Allison transmission is kind of an oddball. I think it kind of straddles a model revision, or something. For example, according to my transmission’s serial number, I should be able to check the transmission’s fluid level from the console, but I can’t.

I’ve had several techs tell me I must not be doing it right, and proceed to show me how. But apparently, they weren’t doing it right either.

The Allison tech told me to check for transmission fault codes by turning the key on, and then pressing the upshift/downshift buttons together, twice.

And I got nothing. So I turned the key off and back on, and then did it again.

Again nothing. But I did notice that something flashed in between the first and second presses. So I turned the key off and on, and pressed just once. And now I had the code display.

But no error codes were showing.

As we were talking and checking some other stuff, he had me crank the engine up, and for some reason I decided to try the code thing again.

And this time I had an error code, a 2-5-1-1.

So between the number of presses needed and the fact that the engine has to be running to read codes, are just two more weird things about my transmission.

The tech told me that the code meant that the rig was getting no output speed info from the Output Speed Sensor. And I was VERY glad to hear this, because a bad sensor was something I could possibly replace or fix myself.

The tech was kind of surprised I wanted to crawl under the rig and work on this myself.  He doesn’t know me very well, does he?

He suggested I check the sensor physically to see if it was still connected and didn’t look damaged from road debris, etc. So under the rig, I went with my work pads.

And this is what I found.

Allison Speed Sensor Connector 1

It looked OK, but I wanted to pull it apart and clean it, in case it was just a bad connection. So I sprayed the area with Awesome and wiped it down, and then unsnapped the connector.

Allison Speed Sensor Connector 2

The wires looked good, so I sprayed both the socket and the plug with Strike Hold, let it sit for a few minutes, and then put it back together.

Now I was really confident I had fixed the problem. I mean Strike Hold will fix anything and everything, right? So I rolled out from under the rig, eager to give it a try.

Since I was working on the roadside of the coach I set my step ladder along the side of the road to deter any close shaves. They might not have a problem running over me, but they probably don’t want to scratch their paint hitting the step ladder.

And yeah, I’ve got some cones somewhere, but they just run over those too. I mean, look at all the dead cones you see, the life crushed out of them, their faded orange carcasses littering the highway.

But back inside and moving out, I still had the problem. So Plan B. We’ll limp along the shoulder until we get to the next exit, for downtown Weed, and then park in a large lot that I had seen, and then I’d regroup. And that’s what we did.

And along the way, I noticed something new. I had no speed information on either my dashboard speedometer or my Silverleaf. And I had no odometer readings either.

So getting parked I was back on the phone with Spartan. I called them because they know both systems. Allison knows the transmissions, Cummins knows the engines, but Spartan knows both, or at least how they interface. And I wanted to know if the dashboard speedometer got its data from that the transmission sensor.

And yes it did.

Now I was on the phone to the nearest Allison shop, which was down in Redding 65 miles south. And yes, they did have the part in stock for $85 plus tax. So after unhitching, and parking the rig in the far corner, we were off for Redding.

I figured that replacing this sensor was my last shot at avoiding a 65-mile tow and a very large repair bill. If it’s like most of these sensors, you just unplug the wire, remove the bolt, pull out the sensor, stick the new one in, then bolt, then wire. Easy Peazy.

The trip down to Redding only took a little over an hour because it’s just that . . .down. Just about the entire way. And a lot of fun curves that make Jan hiss.

Getting to the Allison parts counter, I had the same oddball problem again. The sensor that the computer said I needed, did not look like mine. That one had the plug sticking straight out, but mine is at a 90° angle.

Allison Speed Sensor 29543432

But they finally found the right one, and $91 later we were on the way back to Weed. Getting there about 4pm I called the Bend TT to let them know we wouldn’t be coming in today and that I’d let them know about tomorrow.

The above-mentioned Hi-Lo Diner, which was only about a block away, also has a motel and RV park attached, I figured I’d putt-putt down the hill and we’d spend the night there and I’d replace the sensor there. So after getting a site, off I went with Jan following in the truck.

And before I got out of the large lot, I noticed something. I had speed info on both the dash and the Silverleaf. Could it be?

And yes, out on the street, the rig upshifted smoothly to second, with no lights or other problems. I made the 1/2 mile journey to the park with no problems, evening hitting a large pothole that I held my breath, thinking the problem might return. But it was all good.

So did Strike Hold just take its time to fix the problem? Did gremlins figure that they’d had their fun at my expense? Did fate just want me to waste $91?

So what to do? Friends thought I should go ahead and replace the sensor anyway, but I guess I’m going to just roll the dice and go for it.

But we’ll see.

May 2, 2018

It’s Still Missing . . .

So Yes, our new Azio Lighted Keyboard is still missing in action, nowhere to be found.

Several people, including our regular mailman, are trying to track it down. For some reason, even though it had a tracking number, they can’t figure out who mis-delivered it. I thought that was what a tracking number was for. But I guess not.

Seems like whoever ended up with it liked it so much that they didn’t call the PO to report it.  Hope they enjoy it . . . NOT!

On Monday I promised you a parts list for my 50 amp tester box but somehow it got lost in the shuffle on yesterday’s blog. So here it is now.\

First off, here are the parts I got from Amazon:

50 Amp Power Cord

50 Amp RV Power Cord


Circuit Testers

Circuit Testers


Digital AC Voltmeter

AC Voltmeter for 50 amp Tester


220VAC LED’s

220VAC LED lights


And these parts came from our local Lowe’s:

50 Amp Tester Box

Waterproof PVC 2 Gang Outlet Box

50 amp Connector

Southwire 3/4” Connector

50 amp Duplex AC Outlet

2 ea. Duplex AC Outlets

50 Amp Wall Plate

Wall Plate

Be sure that your outlets and your cover plate holes match.
There are different types.

Let me know if you have any questions.

My 4-year-old Interstate 6V deep cycle batteries are starting to get a little long in the tooth, so I’m looking at replacing them. But as you know by now I very often wander off the reservation and take things in a completely new direction.

Jan and I haven’t boondocked in years and probably won’t in the foreseeable future. We actually don’t have a big inverter, just a few small ones to run a couple of things while we’re traveling. And if we really need power we just start up the generator.

We really just need something that will handle the interior lights, which are mostly LED’s, for a few hour like during our power outage a week or so ago. So my thought is to not replace the expensive 6V deep cycle batteries with more of the same, but maybe something like this.

Deka 12 v battery

Deka 12V 1005 Amp Farm Equipment battery sold by Lowe’s. At $160 it’s the cost of just one of the four deep-cycle batteries. And 1000 amps should probably handle our needs. The dimensions are slightly smaller than two of the deep cycle batteries, so fitting one in the space won’t be a problem. And if 1000 amps isn’t enough, I could just use two of them.

I’m still thinking it over so let me know your thoughts.

Tomorrow at 2pm Jan has some follow-up lab work at her doctor’s. She changed the dosage on Jan’s thyroid medication and so she wants to see how things are doing.

May 2, 2019

You Probably Shouldn’t Order The Cheesecake…

Vienna 5/2/2019

We docked in Vienna about 6pm last night, so we were all ready to go this morning for our 4 hour excursion of Panoramic Vienna starting at 9am.

Our bus dropped us off in front of the Kunsthistoriches Museum Wien, or the Vienna Art History Museum. All of these excursions are guided by locals, and we have radio headsets that allow us to hear him with no problems.

Panoramic Vienna 1

I wish we’d had more time to just wander from room to room, taking in all the fabulous artwork.

Vienna Natural History Museum 2

But we had to move on, next to the Hofburg Palace, winter residence of the Hapsburgs, the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire from 1438 to 1740.

Panoramic Vienna 2

Panoramic Vienna 3

Panoramic Vienna 4

But the Hofburg Palace has another claim to fame. It’s also the home of the world-famous Spanish Riding School and the Lipizzaner Stallions.

Lippazaner 1

And below is either one very long horse or two regular ones.

Lippazaner 2

Next up on our tour was St. Peter’s Catholic Church, which is right downtown. Built in the Baroque style (sadly enough, we can now tell you the difference between Gothic, Renaissance, Romanesque, and Baroque architecture, and expound on the cultural differences that gave rise to each style) and consecrated in 1733, it replaced a series of churches on this location that have been built here since the Early Middle Ages, including one dedicated by Charlemagne around 800 A.D.

Panoramic Vienna 5

The main part of our tour finished up in front of the main square and the beautiful St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Built in a combination of Gothic and Romanesque styles (see I told you we knew the difference), it was constructed over a period of 200 years, starting around 1150 A.D.

Vienna St Stephens 1

And like other places, there are indications of religious buildings here since Early Roman times. Once they find a place they like, they don’t let go of it.

Vienna St Stephens 2

It’s really hard to imagine that they were building structures like this almost 1000 years ago. Personally, I think Ancient Aliens are involved.

Since we now had some free time before the bus picked us, we decided to check out some of the Viennese specialties – pastries, of course. And coffee.

Several people had recommend Aida’s, right across the square from St. Stephen’s, so we thought we give it a try. And since they’ve been right here on this same corner since 1903, they must be doing something right.

Vienna Aida Display

We had so many choices it was hard to decide, but we finally went with a Cremeschnitte,

Vienna Aida Cremeschnitte

and the Viennese specialty, Sacher Torte. Probably the most famous of Viennese pastries, it’s made with Chocolate Sponge Cake, Apricot Jam Filling, and Dark Chocolate Icing, along with a serving of unsweetened Whipped Cream.

Vienna Aida Sacher


Of course, it wouldn’t be complete with a cup of Viennese coffee, in this case a Mélange,

Vienna Aida Melange Coffee

made with an espresso shot served in a large coffee cup topped with steamed milk and milk foam. Very strong and very good.

Looking through the multi-page menu, I came across this ad for cheesecake.

Vienna Aida Cheesecake

At least I think that’s what they’re advertising. They certainly don’t have any ads using scantily-clad young women.

Getting back to the ship and grabbing a quick bite for lunch, we went forward to sit out on the Aquavit Terrace that overhangs the bow of the ship,

Vienna Aquavit Terrace

giving us a view like this.

Vienna Jan on Aquavit Terrace

Dinner is served at 7pm, with only one ‘seating’, and no assigned tables. We’ve accumulated a group of 6 or 7 couples that we all kind of rotate through. And a pretty diverse group it is.

Vienna Skirnir Dinner Group 2

Starting on the left, Rob and Marie are from Perth, Australia, Jim and Deborah are from San Francisco, Larry and Artis are from Illinois, and of course Jan is from wherever we’re parked.

Jan and I both had the Caesar Salad, (lucky me, I got her anchovies since she doesn’t like them),

Vienna Skirnir Caesar Salad

and the Stir-Fried Beef Tenderloin with rice.

Vienna Stir-Fry Beef Tenderloin

For dessert, Jan got the Raspberry Sorbet,

Vienna Skirnir Raspberry Sorbet

while I got the Chocolate Bombe.

Vienna Skirnir Chocolate Bombe

Sometimes these desserts are almost too pretty to eat. But just almost.

A few notes to wrap up.

Smoking here is about 20 years behind the US. It seems like about 50% of the people smoke, though many businesses are no smoking.

So far I’ve not had any trouble using my debit/credit cards over here, whether for purchases or getting Forints or Euros from an ATM. Hope it holds true for the rest of the trip.

I’ve only had one small emergency at work, which luckily I was able to fix remotely. Our online website order processing system decided to lock everyone out, but I always have a backdoor to get in and reset all the passwords. Crossing my fingers that that is the only problem I have in the next few weeks.

It takes me about 90 minutes to upload a blog post due to all the photos and the slow connection. And it’s not helped by the fact that every time we go through a lock, our satellite data connection is lost and the signal drops out.

So I have to keep trying until it all makes it through.

May 2, 2020

Steak . . .

For the first time since March 15, Jan and I had Iced Tea today, along with a Wedge Salad,

Saltgrass Wedge Salad 7

a Ribeye Steak for me,

Saltgrass Ribeye 7

and a Center-Cut Filet for Jan.

Sorry, no photo.

We got to the Webster Saltgrass about 3pm and were seated within about 5 minutes, just as soon as another party left.

The manager said they’re seating only 15 of their 50 tables. In our case there was nobody near us at all.

Saltgrass Social Distancing

The little cards on the tables say that they are Reserved For Social Distancing. In fact the nearest occupied table from us was about 30 feet away off to the left in this photo. And the menus are all paper and are thrown away after you order.

A few waiters were wearing masks, ours was, but most weren’t. And no customers, of course. Kind of hard to eat with a mask on, without ever touching it, like all the ‘experts’ say it you shouldn’t do.

Our steaks were really great, with Jan saying it was the best one she’d ever had. Of course, that could be because it’s been almost two months since we’ve had steak at all.

After a leisurely, delicious meal, we headed back down to the League City Wal-Mart for a few things. Masks usage was hit or miss as before, with not even all the WM employees wearing them, and was about as busy as a normal Saturday afternoon.

May 2, 2021

They Lied . . . Again!

Friday and Saturday, The Weather Channel said we were looking at heavy rains all weekend, and even into next week. So that’s why we canceled our Sous Vide steak cookout today.]

But, after raining all night, this morning dawned bright, clear, and sunny. And stayed that way all day. And it looks like the rain is mostly gone for the rest of the week, too.

So they can’t tell us what the weather is going to be the next four days, but they’re trying to tell us what the ‘weather’ will be in the next 10, 20, 30 years. Or even the next century.

Yeah, that’s the ticket.

So, as we had planned due to the previous weather forecast, we headed out to have lunch about 1:30, at Gator’s Bar & Grill once again. And it was just as delicious as our previous two visits.

Jan had the same sandwich she did on our very first visit, the Fried Chicken Sandwich, with Sweet Potato Waffle Fries.

Gator's Fried Chicken Sandwich

She said that the Coleslaw was so good, it made the sandwich.

I went right back with the same thing I had last visit, the Blackened Chicken Sandwich with Pepper Jack Cheese, Bacon, and Texas Toothpicks (fried strips of onions and jalapenos). Also with the Sweet Potato Waffle Fries.

Gator's Blackened Chicken Sandwich

But what was different this time was that we decided to split one of their desserts, in this case, the Brown Butter Cake.

Gator's Brown Butter Cake

It’s a rich brown butter cake topped with bourbon-glazed peaches, salted caramel, and whipped cream. And it’s really, really good.

We also spent some time talking to Margie, the owner, about her time working in Las Vegas at the Excalibur Casino as head of catering from the late 90’s to the early 2000’s.

Though she was there before Jan and I started going there in 2007, and I think, every every year after through 2017, except for 2009, we still knew a lot of the same places.

It looks like we have a winner in the Drug War . . . or at least the Prescription Drug War.

And, as I suspected, it’s Kroger’s.

In my case, my 3 prescriptions for 3 months total $75.34 with Wal-Mart, $66.00 with Sam’s, but only $16.00 with Kroger’s

Jan’s prescriptions for 3 months total $213.66 with WalMart, $194 with Sam’s, but only $82.82 with Kroger’s.

That’s a big difference.

Now, the cost of the Kroger’s Plan membership is $72/year, which prorated for the 3 month period adds $18 to the total. But then I can drop the Plus Card $55 extra cost from our Sam’s Club membership, leaving us an increase of $17 in total.

So about $1.42 a month extra. Inconsequential compared to the total savings.

May 2, 2022

Bored And Lonely . . .

Nothing noteworthy happened at work today, and Karma and I are already bored out of our minds with Jan gone.

May 2, 2023

Walking On . . .

Lunch today was at Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux once again. They just opened last Monday, and it’s quickly become a new favorite of ours.


The décor is pretty much the standard for Sports Bars, but the food is even better.

So good, in fact, that we pretty much had the same thing we had last Tuesday.

Jan got the Tuscan Chicken with Double Green Beans instead of Rice, and a Side Salad.

Walk-On's Tuscan Chicken 20230502

And I once again got the Avery Island Salad, with Blackened Shrimp. Just as delicious as last time.

Walk-On's Avery Island Salad 20230502

Finishing up with lunch, we stopped off at the office to drop off an Amazon order that had come in, and then it was on down to our area for our weekly WalMart stuff.

While we were there I came across something I didn’t realize still existed – Polaroid cameras and film.

WalMart Polaroid Display

I guess I kind of figured that with the advent of cellphone cameras and inkjet color printers, Polaroid would have faded away. But apparently not.