Daily Archives: June 8, 2024

Nice And Cool . . .

We left the rig about 1pm this afternoon, heading up Hwy 6 to pick up our Jeep at Joe’s Hwy 6 Automotive. I had paid for it yesterday and told them we’d pick it up today.

Back at the rig, we swapped everything back over from the truck to the Jeep, and then we headed back out. First for lunch, and then a couple of errands.

Lunch was at the Kelley’s up in League City. We were hoping that our long-time server friend Staci would be there, but it seems that she was off today.

We both got one of their Daily Specials, with Jan getting the Grilled Fish, with Buttered Carrots, Green Beans, and Fried Okra.

The Okra is a little light, because Jan had already shared some with me.

I got the Chicken Fried Steak, with Red Beans and Rice, Buttered Carrots, and Mashed Potatoes.

Believe it, or not, this is the small Chicken Fried Steak. The bigger one, the Texas-Size one, covers the entire plate.

And even with this one, I had half of everything to bring home for Monday night’s supper.

Next up, it was on up to the Wal-Mart/Sam’s area on El Dorado. Jan wanted to do some shopping at the Kohl’s there and I needed to take my glasses by the Sam’s Club to get a new screw in my glasses.

The one holding my right lens in place had come loose and fallen out. This had happened a couple of months ago and I had a replacement screw so I fixed it myself. But when it came loose again yesterday, I found I didn’t have another one of the right size.

So Sam’s Club it was. Especially since the glasses came from there.

The young lady had them fixed in about 5 minutes, and even gave me two spare screws to take home. Then picking up Jan at Kohl’s a few minutes later, we were on our way home.

And the Jeep stayed nice and cool the whole time.

Finishing up, and under the heading of The Law Of Unintended Consequences:

Last October the governor of California signed bill AB1228 into law. It mandated that on April 1, 2024, the minimum wage for fast food workers would be $20.00/hour, up from the previous $16/hour. So a 25% increase.

Ironically, this only applied to ‘fast food’ locations, not conventional restaurants.

Well, it now seems that since the law went into effect on April 1st, and even earlier, in anticipation,

Trade Group Finds 10,000 Fast Food Jobs Lost Since New $20 Minimum Wage Law

According to new findings by the California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA), the state of California has lost just under 10,000 fast food jobs since AB 1228, the new $20 minimum wage for fast food employees was first signed into law late last year.

So now they’re scrambling to fix the problem.

Maybe they shouldn’t have caused the problem to start with.

Thought For The Day:

I Don’t Always Go The Extra Mile. But When I Do It’s Usually Because I Missed My Exit.

Your Retro-Preview Highlights –

2009 – St. Augustine And Komodo Dragons

2010 – Show Low, AZ Bound

2012 – Snakes, Scorpions and Tarantulas

2014 – Parting It Out

2015 – Bird ID’s And Predators

2016 – Microwave Repair

2017 – Which One Is President Rushmore?

2022 – Crabs In A Bucket

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

June 8, 2009

Tour Trains & Komodo Dragons . . .

Today Jan and I did ‘touristy’ stuff

We started off at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.  This is probably the nicest small zoo we’ve been to.  And believe me, we’ve been to a bunch of them.

They had some very unique displays including Komodo dragons, the bird rookery, and the albino alligators.

Founded in 1893, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm is one of Florida’s oldest zoological attractions.  In the early 1880s, two men began collecting alligators they found on Anastasia Island.  These individuals, George Reddington and Felix Fire, were the founders of the St. Augustine Alligator Farm at South Beach.

In 1937, Reddington and Fire sold it to a pair of young businessmen in the community:  W.I. Drysdale and F. Charles Usina.  And the Drysdale family still owns the park today.

In 1989, The American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums extended accreditation to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, thereby elevating the institution to a select list of facilities throughout the nation recognized for the quality of their collections and the care afforded them.

The Alligator Farm is the only zoo to have all 23 species of the world’s crocodilians exhibited in individual habitats.

Here are some pics:



These alligators are true albinos with pink eyes.  They have no skin pigment.

White Alligator

White Alligator

There are other white alligators, called leucistic alligators.  Unlike albinos, leucistic alligators have pigment.  It’s just a white pigment.

And they don’t have pink eyes.  They have bright blue eyes.  There are only about 12 known in the world, and they are all males.

We saw some of these years ago at the New Orleans Zoo.

Leuistic White Alligator

Leucistic White Alligator

Pile of Gators

Pile of Gators

We really enjoyed seeing the Komodo Dragon again.  The last time we saw them was at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. in 1971.

Komodo Dragon 1

Komodo Dragon 1

Komodo Dragon 2

Komodo Dragon 2

Reticulated Python

Reticulated Python

Northern Cassowary

Northern Cassowary

This is ‘Gomek’.  He was a 17 foot,  2000 pound Saltwater Crocodile who lived at the Alligator Farm.  When he died, they had him stuffed and put back on display.  He just doesn’t move around as much anymore.

Gomek - Tha Saltwater Crocodile

Gomek – The Saltwater Crocodile

We really enjoyed The Rookery.  This is a walk-thru area with nesting birds in some cases, just inches from the walkway.

Nesting Egrets

Nesting Egrets

The Rookery

The Rookery

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

Nesting Roseate Spoonbills

Nesting Roseate Spoonbills

Stork Chicks

Stork Chicks

Nesting Tri-Color Heron

Nesting Tri-Colored Heron

Snowy Egret and Hungry Chicks

Snowy Egret and Hungry Chicks

This is a fake dead zebra.  It is used for the realistic feeding of the vultures and storks who regularly feed on carcasses.

“Dead” Zebra


Hooded Vultures

West African Crowned Crane

West African Crowned Crane

Black Swan

Black Swan

Blue and Gold Macaw

Blue and Gold Macaw

Indian Gharial Crocodile

Indian Gharial Crocodile

The hand belongs to Christie.  She goes into the pen to feed the alligators.  And yes, that is a rat, a dead rat.  Apparently, dead rats are alligator treats.  The zoo buys them already dead.  She said the rats are cheaper than chicken and the gators like them better.

Alligator Feeding Time

Alligator Feeding Time

Feeding Skipper

Feeding Skipper

He knows it's here somewhere

He knows it’s here somewhere



All Gone!

All Gone!

Taste like Chicken!

Taste like Chicken!

Golden Lion Tamarin

Golden Lion Tamarin

After we left the Alligator Farm, we headed over to take the Old Town Trolley Tour.  This is the same tour company that we took in Key West.  They also have tours in Savannah, Washington, D.C.,  Boston, and San Diego.  We plan on taking this tour in all these cities as we visit them.

One of the places we passed through on the tour was Magnolia Ave.   Strangely enough, there are no magnolia trees on Magnolia Ave.  Just some beautiful oak trees in a canopy over the street.

Maganolia Ave

Magnolia Ave

After our Trolley Tour, we drove down the road a ways to eat lunch again at the Oasis Restaurant.  We ate here a couple of days ago and really enjoyed it.  And it was close by.

Oasis Restaurant

Oasis Restaurant

After lunch, we headed over to Walmart to pick up our prescriptions, and then it was on to Camping World to get some more parts for my new toad tail light setup.

After that, we stopped off for coffee before heading back to the coach.

All in all, an enjoyable day.

And tomorrow?     Road trip!!!

June 8, 2010


We left Monticello, UT about 8:45 am this morning heading for Show Low, AZ about 315 miles away.  About 80 miles later we were back in Arizona, after making a large loop from Yuma to Las Vegas, then to Los Angeles and Yosemite, next, up the west coast through Oregon and Washington, over to Coeur d’Alene, ID, Billings, MT, and Gillette, WY, and then down thru Salt Lake City, and then to here in Show Low. And all that since the middle of March. Wow!

Overall the roads were pretty good today, except for the first 15 miles or so after we entered the Navajo Indian Reservation and the last 10 miles before we crossed I-40. The road had a lot of deep cracks about every 30 feet or so that just pounded the coach. Even slowing down didn’t help. Luckily it was only about 25-30 miles of the total 300.

As has been the case for the last few days we saw some great scenery. Please excuse the bugs on the window. I just cleaned the windshield when we got diesel in Salt Lake the day before yesterday, and then picked up a whole new crop of bugs.

AZ 1

AZ 2

AZ 3

And here’s Jan’s cat, Miss Emma, sound asleep on Jan’s knee.

Emma 2

Apparently Emma could care less about the great scenery!  That’s a cat for you.

AZ 4

AZ 5

We were staying at the Elk’s Lodge RV Park. We’ll stay here 4 days or so before heading east to Austin for the wedding. We are still not sure which route we’re going to take. I need to ask around more about the best roads.

We got parked and set up, and got the A/C’s turned on. It’s in the 90’s here and it takes a while to get the coach cooled down. The coach air keeps us cool in the cockpit area, but the rest of the coach will get into the low 80’s. Last year in FL it was hot enough that occasionally we had to run the generator while we were driving so we could use the two house A/C’s to keep us cool. I would be surprised if we don’t have to do that again. It was 96 when we came through Snowflake, AZ about 20 miles north of here. It’s going to take us a while to get used to this heat again.

Later in the afternoon, we ended up at the El Rancho Mexican Restaurant with friends for dinner.

The food was good, the company was better, and we had a great time recounting our adventures (and misadventures) since we last saw each other.

Getting back to the park we talked for a while, which was the perfect end to a fun day.

Finally, about 9:15, (it was 10:15 for us on Utah time) I could see Jan starting to fade, so we said our goodnights and walked back to our rig.

After being on the road so much lately, it’s going to be nice to just jell for a few days before hitting the road again.

June 8, 2011

Pretty Much Nothing . . .

Well, we put off our road trip today as Jan woke up with a migraine, so we’ll try again tomorrow.

So that’s what we did today.

Pretty much nothing.

Once again the weather is great here. 75 degrees with a clear view of Mt. Shasta, and it’s supposed to stay that way until we leave here on Saturday.

Later in the afternoon, I went outside to fool with my slowly leaking driver’s inside rear dual tire. I swapped out the valve stem extension and the tire pressure sensor to see if that makes any difference. I’ll check the pressure again on Friday and know more.

About 5 pm Jan felt well enough to go out to dinner so we headed into Weed to eat supper at Hi-Lo Diner again. As you can tell, we really like this place.

That was about it for today. Like I said, pretty much nothing.

June 8, 2012

The Big Three . . .

or Snakes and Scorpions and Tarantulas, Oh My!

After first seeing a 4 foot long black snake (but no rattlesnakes, yet), and a two-inch scorpion,


Jan now has the Trifecta of gate guard animal sightings.

A big black tarantula!

Tarantula 2

Tarantula 1

She saw it a little after 8pm last night (Saturday) coming from around the front of the RV and heading out across the road. Said it was about the size of her hand and scurrying pretty quickly. Once it got to the rocks along the roadside, it stopped to groom itself before heading off into the woods.

Jan was so proud of herself. She said she didn’t scream once.

Under the heading of Why won’t Chase Bank take my Money?

You know that Chase Bank commercial where the guy gets all dressed up to go make a bank deposit, then holds his check up in the air and takes a picture of it with his cellphone, and he’s done.

Well, it doesn’t work quite like that. First off, you can’t just hold the check up like that. It has to be on a flat surface, and it usually takes me 2 or 3 tries before I get one that the app likes.

But it usually works pretty well and it’s very useful while we’re gate guarding, since the nearest Chase Bank is about 60 miles away, and unfortunately, Gate Guard Services doesn’t do direct deposit. But up until now, I’ve been able to pick up my check at the office and then upload it right there before heading home.

But not this past Friday. I tried it three times and each time it told me my deposit was too large. Huh? The check was for the same amount as always, and in one case in the past, it was larger.

So what gives? Heading back home I called Chase, and after being told by two different people that there was no limit on Quick Deposit deposits, finally one person went away for about 10 minutes and came back to say there is no limit on individual deposits, but that there is a limit on how much money you can deposit in any one 30 day period. Again, huh?

Apparently you can deposit no more than $5000 in any 30 day period. I then pointed out that despite what she said, there is a limit on individual deposits, since I assume the system would not let me deposit $5001 all at one time, even if I had never deposited anything before.

She hesitated, and then said “Yes, that’s true, but there’s still no limit on individual deposits, just a limit on deposits in a 30 day period.


She then noted that I could make another deposit on the 15th of June and that would solve my problem, but she was stumped when I reminded her that a week later I would have another check that I couldn’t deposit.

And it looks like the way the 30 period rolls through the calendar, at one point I could end up with as many as 3 paychecks that I can’t deposit.


June 8, 2013

Pizza Party . . .

After a nice, quiet morning Jan and I headed out about 2pm up to Bend to have “linner” at Boston’ The Gourmet Pizza, which along with Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is one of our favorite pizza places.

We first ate at a Boston’s in Dawson Creek, B.C., Canada in 2008 on our way to Alaska. Since then we’ve eaten at them everywhere from Jacksonville, FL, to Antigonish, N.S., Canada on our way to Newfoundland. And from Tucson, AZ to Fairbanks, AK, and a number of places in between. And it’s always good.

But, strangely enough, there’s no Boston Pizza in Boston,

We both love their crust. It’s made in-house every day and is dusted with cornmeal which gives it a crispy crunch on the outside and a slightly chewy inside. The perfect mix.

We always get the Mama Meetza with pepperoni, spicy Italian sausage, ham, and ground beef, and cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Very good.

Boston's Pizza

We got the big Family size so we’d have plenty of leftovers, and to finish it off, we each had one of those ‘mini’ desserts that many restaurants now serve. Jan had the Strawberry Cheesecake and I had the Hot Apple Crisp, the perfect end to a very nice meal.

Heading back toward the park, we stopped off at a couple of RV parks along the way to check them out. One of them, Crown Villa RV Resort, was very nice. Every site had a lockable storage building, as well as a shielded area for the hookups and a garbage can with on-site garbage pickup every day. Very classy. Guess they don’t want you to have to look at your neighbor’s sewer hose.

Crown Villa RV 1

Getting back to our park area, we stopped off at the hardware store so I could get some more compression ferrules to redo a couple of the tubing connections on my new water filter install.

Then afterward we went next door to the Shell station for cappuccinos. I had noticed the other day that they had Jan’s favorite Pumpkin Spice flavor, so we decided to finish off the night that way.

June 8, 2014

Parts is Parts . . .

I’ve had a little more time to spend getting familiar with my new Samsung Galaxy S5, and the more I use it, the more I like it.

One of the things I did when I bought it was to also get the Otterbox protective case

Ottor Box Defender

Otterbox [Defender Series] Samsung Galaxy S5 – Black

I heard about how tough these are, and after seeing one, I can believe it. One thing I like is the fact it has a very tough plastic cover over the screen, protecting it from damage. No more cracked screens. Yet it doesn’t seem to interfere with the touchscreen operation.

The thing that really impresses me is the battery life. I last charged it up the night before last, and as of this morning, it was still at 83%. I downloaded about 30 apps this afternoon, and it’s still at 63%. Nice!

I also like the fact that it can operate as a TV/DVR remote control. Just download the app, tell it what TV and DVR you have, and it’s programmed. And it shows up as a widget on the unlock screen, so you don’t have to unlock the phone to use it.

The other button that’s on the unlock screen is for the camera. So you don’t have to unlock the phone and then press the camera icon to get a quick shot.

Another neat thing is Google Search. My Samsung Charge had Voice Search, but you had to press the icon first to start it up. Now you just say “OK, Google” and you’re ready to tell it what to search for. Also, it seems more and more the answers to your search are given verbally as well as on the screen ala Siri.

I also like the ‘Eyes’ feature. If that feature is turned on, then as long as you’re looking at the screen, it will not time out on you.

Earlier in the afternoon I found an old Splendide Washer/Dryer to part out.

About 5pm, Jan and I headed over to Mancino’s Pizza for dinner. Well, we headed over there, but didn’t eat there, because we once again forgot they were closed on Sunday. Hey, RV’ers never know what day it is, anyway.

So we decided to give Wings etc.. a try for the first time. And we thought it was really good. My only complaint was that the sauce I ordered – Spicy Hot Honey – was spicy and hot, but there was not much in the way of honey, either taste or sweetness.

So I don’t know if I just didn’t get the right sauce, or they’re just chintzy on the honey. I also got a side of their ‘Wall’ sauce, their hottest one. Made from ground habanero chilies, it was hot but not as hot as Buffalo Wild Wings ‘Blazin’ sauce, or the Atomic Wings from Quaker Steak & Lube.

Getting back to the rig, we sat outside and kibitzed while I parted out the old Splendide.

Splendidie Parts 1

These parts are from l. to r., the computer board, the timer switch, and the other two control switches. If the computer board or the timer goes out, your Splendide is toast, as they are no longer available. So I was glad to have these.

Splendidie Parts 2

These are the dryer overtemp switches and the control knobs. I had to replace an overtemp switch last year, and found they were about $40 from the company. Being excessively cheap, I found one locally at an appliance parts place that I made work for about $1. But it’s nice to have the originals for next time.

Splendidie Parts 3

These are the water inlet solenoids, and the dryer fan motor, and the water pump. The dryer fan motor is one that I had to replace last year and was about $100. So it’s nice to have a spare too.

Tomorrow’s probably a Wal-Mart run, but don’t know what else. We’ll see.

June 8, 2015

That was Easy . . .

I was up about 8:30, much earlier than normal, for two good reasons. We were meeting friends for breakfast at 10am, and I wanted to take a shot at finding the elusive windshield part number that seems to be stumping the repair facility here.

And it took me all of 5 minutes. To get two numbers.

Figuring I’d start at the beginning, I first called American Coach Parts to get the original Fleetwood number. Then I called RV Glass Solutions, the company that supplied the same windshield when it was replaced last year. And again, I had their part number in just a couple of minutes.

Now there. Was that so hard?

I wrote the numbers down and gave them to the service manager, and then Jan and I were off to meet Jim and Zee Hamm at Cowgirl in the Kitchen for breakfast.

Jim and Zee Hamm

One of the great local places we’ve discovered here in Prescott, it’s a favorite of Jim and Zee’s too. As with our last meal together, we spent the majority of our time together talking about books we liked, and our respective reading lists. But of course, along the way, there was a little RV stuff sprinkled in. And as it turns out, Jim and Zee are leaving for France in a week or so, to do a river cruise of France. WOW!

Finally saying our goodbyes, Jan and I drove on down Willow Creek to make a True Value hardware store run to pick up some new screws to replace the old ones that mount our outside lighted grab bar. As I mentioned before I had to drill out one of them to get access to the bulb and socket. So I figured it would be a good idea to just replace them all. Of course, I’m still waiting for the repair shop to finish fixing the grab bar wiring, anyway.

I recently came across a website that I’m sure many people will find useful. It’s called Merlin Bird Photo ID, and does a very good job of identifying 400 North American birds from a photo that you took. And the more people use it, the more accurate it will get. Check it out.

On a completely different note, many of you may remember the 1987 science fiction movie, Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Inspiring 4 sequels, two of which pulled in Aliens from for the Alien movie franchise, the movies tell the story of predator aliens who use Earth as their private hunting preserve, to stalk and kill their favorite prey, humans. But not just any humans, but the greatest warriors on the planet. Hence, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

After raising ₤5000 with a Kickstarter campaign, a fan group made this 27 minute movie called Predator: Dark Ages, where a Knights Templar group is called to track down and kill a sword-wielding invisible ‘demon’.

Amazingly, a couple of minutes into this, you will forget this is not a commercial movie. The ‘invisibility’ special effects are as good as the original, and the story holds up as well.

Very well done. If you like science fiction, check it out.

June 8, 2016

Easier Than I Thought . . .

but it still doesn’t work . . . Yet.

When we got here Sunday afternoon I noticed that we didn’t have a picnic table for our site, and looking around, we were the only site that didn’t. And the guy directly behind us on the other side of the ‘E’ ring had two picnic tables.

I guess he saw me staring over at him later that afternoon because the next day it was suddenly back.

Kind of. He had just pulled it out in the open space about halfway between our two rigs. You’d think he would have brought it all the way, but No. So I had to drag it the rest of the way myself.

Normally I wouldn’t care about a table, but I want to use it to assemble the new armrests that my son Chris made for me.

New Armrests 2

Later in the afternoon, I took another look at my microwave problem, based on some more info I found by Googling. One guy said he removed what looked like a wooden trim strip and found the two bolts that held his microwave in place.

And that was exactly what I found.

Microwave Repair 1

And when I pulled it out, (it was held in place by Velcro) I found the two bolts.

Microwave Repair 2

At this point, I could see that the unit was just hanging from the two bolts, and not mounted in any kind of cabinet. So, weighing 70#, it wouldn’t be easy to get in and out.

But looking around, I found another screw that had been revealed when I removed some of the trim strips.

Microwave Repair 1a

And removing this screw and unplugging the power,  led me to this.

Microwave Repair 3

And sticking in a ballpoint pen in here and lifting a little opened the door.

Microwave Repair 4

And then I could see what the real problem was.

The left of the two hinge pins on the open lever had broken off. allowing the open lever to fall away.

Microwave Repair 5

Having already researched parts, I went online and ordered the open lever for $6.80, and the matching door hook part, just in case. The total with shipping was about $25.00. And it shipped today. Nice.

But while we were waiting on parts, I wondered if we could still use the microwave by manually opening the door when we needed to. So I put a cup of water in the oven and turned it on.

The first thing I noticed was that the turntable wasn’t rotating, and then I found that the water wasn’t getting hot either. But it did look like it was working, the light came on and the fan started, but no heat. Just to be sure, I also tested it in Convection mode, with no better luck.

Looking inside the mechanism, it looks like there’s another microswitch that the open lever would be pressing on if it was in place. So I suspect that switch is what confirms the door is really locked and lets the microwave work.

Later this evening I received confirmation that the parts had shipped so I guess we’ll just have to wait . . . and eat out more.

I know Jan will just hate that.

I had noticed that over the last couple of days, we were starting to tilt a little, and checking things out I found that my right rear leveler was sinking about 4 inches in the ground. Since I was parking on what looked like hard-packed gravel, I had decided to not worry about putting down my pads.

So I cranked up, raised the levelers, put down my pads, and then releveled.

Hopefully, I learned my lesson.

June 8, 2017

Which One Is President Rushmore?

Off to do Mt. Rushmore again, we were out the door by 10am, with a stop in town at Wendy’s for a little early lunch since we wouldn’t be eating dinner until about 5pm.

Our first stop, a little before 11, was the Mt. Rushmore Monument itself. Although the monument admission is free, parking is $10, but for seniors, it’s only $5. Nice.

Walking up to the memorial area, the view down the Avenue of Flags is really impressive, framing the mountain perfectly.

Mt Rushmore Framed

And it’s interesting to see all the talus that was left over from the carving.

Mt Rushmore Full

A couple of days ago, I thought to ask Google who Mt. Rushmore was named for. Was it already named, or was it named for someone after it was finished?

Turns out it was named for Charles Rushmore when he visited the area in 1885. A New York lawyer, he was in the area checking titles for mining claims. When he asked his guide, Bill Challis, what the name was of that mountain, Bill said that it didn’t really have a name, but from now on, they would call it Mt. Rushmore.

Here’s what it looked like at the time.

Mt Rushmore Before

And over the following years when Rushmore returned on hunting trips every year, everyone kept calling it Mt. Rushmore, until the US government finally recognized the name in 1930, 3 years after the carving had begun. And later, Rushmore made the first large donation, of $5000, to help fund the carving.

But because of this name, apparently, the most asked question of Park Rangers at Mt. Rushmore is, “Which one is President Rushmore?” It would have been a lot better I guess if his name had been Charles Washington rather than Charles Rushmore.

I was interested to find out that a lot of things changed along the way during carving. Originally Jefferson’s head was to the right of Washington, but during the carving, it was discovered that the rock was in bad shape, so the partially completed head of Jefferson was dynamited and restarted to Washington’s left.

I guess this kind of answers a question I had about the order of the heads. I mean it’s not alphabetical, and it’s not by order of presidency. Otherwise, it would be Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and then Roosevelt. So now it sounds like it may be because of what face would fit in what area.

And I was also surprised to learn that originally the figures were supposed to be carved from the waist up, not just the heads, but they ran out of money, Guess they were glad they were working from the heads down, and not the waist up. Otherwise, we might have ended up with something like this.

Mt Rushmore from Behind

Yesterday, in the middle of dark storm clouds and occasional heavy rains, we drove many of the roads in the area.

Mt Rushmore 02

We also got this side view of President Washington

Mt Rushmore 05

Later we headed south down to Custer State Park to drive the Needles Highway, including several more tunnels.

Mt Rushmore 08

Along the way we pass through the most famous of the tunnels, the Needles Eye Tunnel

Mt Rushmore 09

Mt Rushmore 10

Today after leaving the monument, we headed east on 16A to drive Iron Mountain Rd. Along the 18 miles, there are 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 tunnels, and 3 pigtails. In case you haven’t encountered a pigtail before, it looks like this.

Iron Mountain Pigtail

It’s a complete loop, and in fact turns back under itself.

At the bottom of the Iron Mountain, we turned south on the 18 mile Wildlife Loop. Very scenic, but for a long while this guy was all the ‘wildlife’ we saw.

Buffalo 1

But finally coming over a rise we found 100’s of buffalo, so many and so spread out, that I couldn’t get them all in the frame.

Buffalo 3

Buffalo 4

And as you can see there were a lot of new calves.

Buffalo 2 Twins

Then a few more miles down the loop, we came across these fellows, though I’m not exactly sure you can call them ‘wild’ life.

Burros 1

Burros 2

They seemed to be used to being fed.

And except for some whitetail deer, that was about it for the wildlife on the Wildlife Loop.

Coming back toward Mt. Rushmore, we drove back up Iron Mountain Rd., enjoying the highlighted view of Mt. Rushmore through two of the three tunnels.

Mt Rushmore First Tunnel

But the third one, the most impressive, I didn’t get because my camera focused on the windshield so the monument was blurry. Sorry.

Finally heading back toward Rapid City, we made a stop at Dinosaur Park, located on the highest hill/mountain? in Rapid City. Built by the city in 1936 to capitalize on the tourists coming to the area to see the carving in progress, it’s been a landmark ever since.

In  fact Jan remembers coming here when she was 7 and her father was stationed at Ellsworth AFB, and she was looking forward to seeing it again.

At least until she saw the stairs leading up to the top.

Dinosaur Park 1

She said, “I don’t remember any stairs like that.”

I told her, “You were 7. You probably just ran up them like they weren’t even there.”

She then retorted, “Well, they’re there now so I’m staying here.

So I made the trudge to the top.

Dinosaur Park 2

Dinosaur Park 3

Dinosaur Park 5

Dinosaur Park 4

The things I do so you blog readers don’t have to.

Leaving Dinosaur Park we headed over to the nearby Famous Dave’s BBQ to meet Wil and Cyndy Olsen.

Wil and Cyndy work with Adventure Caravans helping guide RV’ers around the country so we’ve bumped into them at a number of rallies along the way. But this is the first time we’ve really had a chance to sit down and spend some time with them.

And what better way to do it than over Famous Dave’s Ribs? Cyndy got the Chicken, while Jan and Wil both got the full rack of St. Louis ribs.

Famous Dave's Jan's Full Rack

I stuck with my usual three-meat combo, with St. Louis ribs, Hot Link Sausage, and Burnt Rib Tips. And as you can probably tell we all had plenty to take home.

Famous Dave's New 3 Meat Combo

It’s hard to beat Famous Dave’s, especially with friends like Wil and Cyndy.

Wil and Cyndy Olsen

And what’s funny about this photo is that the people at the table behind them are also RV’ers, though we didn’t know each other.

Saying our goodbyes and safe travels, they headed to Safeway while Jan and I made a Wal-Mart stop before finally getting back to the rig a little before 8pm.

A really nice day.

We had originally planned to see the South Dakota Air & Space Museum, but ran out of time. We’ll see how tomorrow goes.

June 8, 2018

Swinging Bridges . . .

I spent the morning fighting with our backup UPS label printer. As I mentioned the other day, after I successfully replaced the thermal printhead on our main printer, I discovered a second printer squirreled away that had the same problem.

So, since the new printhead came in yesterday, and I’d already done one, I thought I’d wrap this one up pretty quickly.


On the first printer the two data cables that feed the printhead didn’t have a lot of slack, but enough to get the cables connected with a little fiddling. But this one, a slightly different model, didn’t have any slack. The only thing I could figure is that the entire head mechanism was put in place and then the case was assembled and riveted around it.

But rather than try to drill out the small rivets, I just cut a couple of slots into the plastic case to give me the slack I needed. The slots are on the inside of the case and can’t be seen once the head bracket is reinstalled.

Once that was done and it was all back together, I plugged it in place of the other one. and checked it out. Even though both printers are 2844’s, the main one is a CTP and spare is an LP, so they require two different drivers. But switching over, the new one worked just fine. So reinstalling the original one, I was done.

At least until the office manager tried to print a label. Turns out the bottom part of the two-piece label wasn’t printing out.

UPS Label

The bottom part is peeled off and stuck on our copy of the customer invoice so we have a copy of the tracking number and the other relevant order information.

So now I got on the phone with UPS Tech Support, which was obviously not located in the US. I’m sorry, but you shouldn’t have a guy doing tech support for your Fortune 50 company whose lack of English and heavy accent make him pretty much unintelligible And he had no idea what I was talking about..

Since it was time for me to head home, I decided to do some research on my own tonight. And it only took me about 15 minutes to Google what I needed to know. It’s called the Extended Area or Document Area and requires a different setting in the printer driver setup.

So I was able to remote into the Shipping computer and set it up from here at home. Of course, I can’t be sure it now works, but it should.

I love Google.

I finally heard back from the Swinging Bridges RV Park outside Jackson, MS, and was able to make the last reservation for our upcoming trip, so that’s out of the way.

Tomorrow I’ll make another run at power washing the rig. We’ll see how that goes.

June 8, 2019

A Two’fer Weekend . . .

Didn’t get to sleep in like I usually do on Saturday. Or like to do, anyway.  But it was for a good cause.

Our good friends Janice and Dave Evans, who recently got off the road and now have a really nice place up near Trinity, were on their way down here to visit family and wanted to get together for breakfast at the Texas City IHOP about 11:30.

IHOP and good friends? No problem!

And of course last night we got together with Chris and Charles Yust up in Conroe at El Bosque.

You can never have too many good friends, or too much good food.

So a Two’fer Weekend.

I went out about 8pm tonight to take a look at our truck’s coolant leak. I had gone out earlier, but it was so bright outside that it was just impossible to see anything under the hood, even with a bright light.

The first thing I noticed was that as I poured water into the radiator it was just coming out the bottom. I finally crawled underneath and it looked like it was coming out around the output shaft at the bottom of the engine. This shaft drives all the accessories on the front of the engine, like the AC, Alternator, Power Steering, Water Pump, etc.

My first thought was – Rut Roh!

Depending on what it was, a bushing, a bearing, or even a cracked block, it could be major. But I was not leaking oil from the engine, and I did not have oil in the coolant, nor did I have coolant in the engine oil. So I was still hopeful.

Then looking down from the side of the engine I saw that the water was leaking out from around the water pump bearing, and then running down onto the drive pulley right below it.

So right now it looks like I might just have a bad water pump. The only thing that’s kind of strange is that normally when this happens you can wiggle the fan around because the bearing is shot, but this one is rock solid.

So maybe the pump housing is cracked. But we won’t know until they take it apart.

This pump was replaced in 2013 while we were on a gate down in Whitsett, TX, so it’s only six years old. But then the first one only lasted 9 years, so not a big difference I guess.

I’ll have to call around on Monday to find someone in this area to take it on.

Yesterday we got one last European trip-related item in the mail. When were visiting Westminster Abbey in London I found this St. George and the Dragon Roundlette that was going to buy in the gift shop, but our tour was leaving before I could purchase it.

St. George Roundlette

So I ordered it when we got back.

It’s about 3” in diameter, and it‘s hand-painted onto glass, and looks like a stained glass window.

One last memory of our trip.

And according to Jan, it will be our last trip. About 8 hours into our 10 hour trip home from London (plus the 2 hours sitting on the tarmac before we left), Jan leaned over and said, “If you ever surprise me with another vacation like this, I’m going to rip your arm off and beat you to death with it.”

Turns out that Jan is just not a happy flyer.

June 8, 2020

Roadside Assistance . . .

I spent some time on the phone this morning working on setting up the repair of our RV. First thing I got on the phone with Good Sam Roadside Assistance to see what I needed to do to set up the towing of the rig up to Channelview.

Turns out that all I should have to do is call them the day before and schedule it for the next day. At least that’s what they say now. We’ll see what they say when I call.

Then, before I could call the repair shop, our friend, Rudy Legett called me from there. He was talking to Dean, the service manager, about my problem. So I’ll call in a week or so to make an appointment.

Then I started checking out prices on hotels in the Webster area to pick out a place to stay.

And more importantly, I asked Jennifer, our office manager, if she could keep Karma while we’re staying in a hotel while the rig is in the shop. A lot of hotels do take pets, but some charge a substantial fee, $20/day, for pets.

Hope to get all this rolling in the next couple of weeks.

June 8, 2022

Crabs In A Bucket . . .

Today everyone kind of did their own thing, scattering hither and yon. Jan and I stayed homebodies, just enjoying the deck, the ocean view, and the nice breezes.

But everyone was back at the condo for the big spaghetti dinner. Made from Jan and Debbie’s Mom’s recipe, it was a big hit as usual. Probably because their mom, Trudy, got the recipe from an Italian war bride after WWII.

Something new on the horizon was this big oil tanker parked offshore, with other, smaller vessels coming alongside it for a while. I suspect the smaller ships were transferring oil from the many rigs in the area to the big tanker for transport. Possibly back to Houston for refining.

Later after dinner, another volleyball broke out, with a lot of trash-talking being bantered about.

Sitting outside, Jan and I just enjoyed watching the action, as well as the moon high overhead,

This was taken with my Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 10X lens, and you can even see craters on the surface. Even though I’ve had it for a year, it continues to amaze me.

Another thing that has amazed me here is the speed of the WiFi in the condo. I noticed it seemed pretty zippy, and running Speedtest.net on it confirmed it. I assume it’s fiber because it showed the highest WiFi speed I’ve ever seen,

And I tested it several times to be sure.


Later, after it got dark, the kids went out with flashlights and caught a bucket full of sand crabs.

They come out on the beach after dark and the kids have fun catching them. Then, of course, they let ’em go so they can catch them again the next night.

June 8, 2023

Well, I Thought It Was Fixed . . .

A couple of days ago I noticed that the Jeep’s A/C wasn’t working very well when we were idling at a light, and even started to run a little warm the longer we sat still. But when we started moving again the temp went down and the A/C started working better. So having seen this before with our Dodge Dakota, I figured it was the radiator cooling fan.

So after watching a couple of YouTube videos on replacing the fan, I was happy to see that, unlike the truck, the Jeep fan replacement was really easy. Just unhook the power plug, remove the two 10mm bolts, and lift the fan/housing off the bottom clips.

Easy Peazy!

So before we headed up to Spring this morning I went outside to take a quick look. And the first thing I noticed was that this fan unit was probably replaced already.  And I wasn’t sure what was actually holding it in place. Although it seemed to be firmly mounted and didn’t wiggle, the two 10mm bolts were missing.

But as I was trying to figure out this mystery, I looked up and saw this.

The fan’s power wiring had come loose from the clip and had been lying against the drive belt until it chewed through the 12 volt power wire, leaving the ground wire intact.

Aha! A quick fix.

So I quickly cut back the insulation and striped both ends, giving me this.

And a quick wire-nutting gave me this.

But starting up the Jeep about 5 minutes before we were supposed to leave for Spring, I found that the problem wasn’t actually fixed. Even though the engine wasn’t up to operating temperature, the fan should come on anytime the A/C is running. And it wasn’t coming on.

So this weekend I’ll undo the wire-nut and check for 12 volts coming from the system, and to double-check, I’ll feed an external 12 volts into the fan to see if it works. Then I’ll know how to proceed. There’s both a fuse and a relay upstream if I’m not getting 12 volts to the fan.

I’ll know more on Saturday.

We were on our way up to Spring and the El Palenque Mexican Restaurant about 10, and luckily there were no real slowdowns to cause any A/C-Overheating problems. As long as we stayed above 30 mph, we had no problem. And luckily, the same coming home.

The food and the company of Debi and Ed Hurlburt were great as usual and the 3 hours or so went by too fast. But we’re already scheduled for next month.

And already looking forward to it.

Jan got to show off her new earrings today.

She saw Anne Segrest Rice, one of our long-time Alabama friends, wearing them when we got together, and Jan just had to have a pair. They came from an online company called Plunder Jewelry, and they carry a wide range of stuff.