A Paddling?

First up,

Happy 14th Anniversary to our daughter Brandi and our son-in-law Lowell.

We love y’all so much and are so proud of you.

Now recapping yesterday’s fun.

Jan and I picked up Jennifer, our Office Manager, about 5pm then headed to the Webster Cheddar’s to meet up with Cindy, my IT client’s wife.

Jennifer, Cindy, and Jan

After a really great meal, all of us got chicken of some sort, we were on our way up to the Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH) on Main St. just east of downtown. The doors opened at 7:30 with the event starting at 8, so I had planned to get there about 7:15 to give them time to check out the gift shop stuff, and get in a bathroom stop.

And with the open seating, they were able to get great seats in the 3rd row.

After dropping them off in front of the theater, I drove down Alabama St. until I came across a large HEB so I parked in front and read on my tablet. It was also nice to have a nearby bathroom at hand.

Jan texted me at a little after 9:30 saying they were getting ready to do the Meet & Greet with Dominique Sachse they had signed up for.

And by the time I got to the theater they were waiting outside for me to pick them up. Once back in the Webster area, we dropped Cindy off at her home, and then Jennifer down in Santa Fe near us.

Everyone talked about how great a time they had, and they’re talking about getting together once a month.

NASA delays return of Boeing Starliner for more technical checks

NASA has further postponed the Boeing Starliner’s return to Earth from the International Space Station with its first crew of astronauts, to allow more time for review of technical issues encountered, the agency said on Friday.

It did not set a new date, raising questions about the timing of the return of the two astronauts on Boeing’s first crewed mission, which had initially been set for June 26, itself a pushback from the first potential date of June 14.

So now it’s completely up in the air (pun intended) as to when the Starliner will get to come back to Earth.

SpaceX To The Rescue? I guess we’ll see.

We recently added a new member to our Jeep’s Paddling of Ducks.

When were at Cheddar’s last night we saw a Jeep Rubicon across the parking lot from us sporting these.

See, we’re not the only ones.

I did get this Duck Mounting Kit for our Jeep so they won’t fly off in every direction on a pothole.

Thought For The Day:

I posted the other day about using Photoshop, or in my case Paint Shop Pro, to ‘doctor’ photos. But this video takes it to a whole new level, seamlessly mixing Cary Grant in North By Northwest with elements of Star Wars.

It’s called Alfred Hitchcock’s Star Wars: Darth By Darthwest.

Check it out. It’s amazing!

Your Retro-Preview Highlights –

2010 – Here Comes The Bride

2011 – Mt. Hood, Astoria, And Long Beach

2013 – Jackson Hole, Grand Teton And Yellowstone

2017 – Recapping Our 2017 RV Travels

2019 – Recapping Our European Trip

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

June 21, 2009

Moose and Squirrel… (What, there’s no squirrel?)

Today was our first full day in Asheville, or actually Fletcher, NC,  where our RV park is.

It’s really a great park, on a small lake with a lot of shade trees, but not too many to shut down our Direct TV satellite.

Rutledge Lake RV

And the weather is great.  We have gotten some rain, but they need it around here.

Plus the temperature last night was 64 degrees, and the high today was only 85.  This is a nice change from the high 90’s that we’ve been encountering.

Being over 2000 ft. up in the mountains has many advantages, besides the beautiful scenery.

We first headed out about 11:30 am looking for a place to have lunch.  A guy in the site next to us recommended a place to us, but we were never able to find it from his directions.  And although our GPS listed it, when we got there we found no restaurant, either.

So we drove in the opposite direction and stumbled across a little piece of heaven for Jan.

Moose Cafe

If you know Jan, you know anything ‘MOOSE’ is a must.

And the Moose Café was a great find.  And they had a moose gift shop too.

The food was good old country cookin’, with all the favorites, fried chicken, meatloaf, chicken & dumplings, Virginia baked ham, and more.

Jan had one of the specials, the Turkey & Dressing, with mashed potatoes, and green beans, and I had the other special, the Roast Pork Loin & Dressing, with mashed potatoes and collard greens.  We also got an extra order of macaroni & cheese to split between us.

They also serve ‘Cathead’ biscuits.  They’re called that because they are the size of a cat’s head, and they come with homemade apple butter and molasses.

Then for dessert, we split a Blackberry Cobbler with Ice Cream.

After an expensive trip through the Moose Café Gift Shop,  we drove around Asheville looking at the homes and the landscaping.  One thing we noticed is that there are daylilies everywhere.  So many that we wondered if the day lily was the North Carolina state flower.  (It’s not, the North Carolina state flower is the Dogwood).

Day Lilies

Jan said she had never seen ‘red’ day lilies before.

Later we stopped at a Starbucks for a caffeine infusion and some directions to areas with a lot of old homes.

We were told about the Monford area and headed that way.  After a few miles, we came upon the Asheville Visitor’s Center and stopped off to pick up more brochures and ideas for things to see.

We also found that Gray Line was running a 1.5 hour Trolley Tour, and that we were there just in time for the last trip at 3:30 pm.

So off we went.

One of the places we saw was this unusual church, especially unusual for a Baptist Church.  This is the First Baptist Church of Asheville.

First Baptist Church

The design was based on a Catholic church in Italy.  Certainly different.

On the Trolley Tour

While we were at the Visitor’s Center, we purchased discounted tickets to the Biltmore Estate that we’re going to visit tomorrow, and also got information on Chimney Rock Park and Grandfather Mountain, two other places we’re interested in visiting.

After the tour was over, we headed back to our coach and sat outside for a while with the Mister and Emma, our cats.


We keep Emma on a leash because she’s easily spooked and might run off.  Mister, on the other hand, knows who feeds him and never wanders off.

June 21, 2010

Here comes the Bride…

Well, today was the big day!

Our daughter Brandi Leigh White has officially become Brandi White Morrison.

Except for running about 15 minutes late, everything came off perfectly.

The wedding took place in the Chapel Dulcinea, overlooking the Texas Hill County near Austin.

Wedding 1

And the view was spectacular.

Wedding 7

Wedding 4

There were over 40 family and friends in attendance, including a lot of Lowell’s family who came in from Oklahoma, where he’s from.

Wedding 2

Wedding 3

And here’s the happy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Lowell Morrison.

Wedding 5

Wedding 6

As soon as the wedding was over, everyone headed down the road about 5 miles to The Salt Lick BBQ Restaurant for a great meal of Brisket, Ribs, Sausage, and Chicken, complete with all the trimmin’s.

And of course, a beautiful wedding cake, too.

Wedding 8

Wedding 9

Everyone had a great time getting to know all the new family members.

Here our granddaughter Piper (in the middle) has a toast with her new cousins, Sabey and Grace.Wedding 10

Finally, about 9:30 pm, everyone said their goodbyes and started home.

Wedding 11

I’ll post more pics and info in the next few days.

June 21, 2011

Big Mountains and Big Bridges . . .

This morning started way, way too early at 6:30 am. I was up at this ungodly hour so we could get an early start for our 290 mile trip to Long Beach, WA.

We pulled out of our site about 8:30 and headed out . . . for Big Jim’s Coffee Wagon at the front of the park. Since this was going to be a 6-7 hour trip, we wanted to have some breakfast first.

Big Jim's Coffee Wagon

And as before, our coffee and breakfast sandwiches were really good, and we were hitched up and on the road by about 9:15.

We took US-97 north for about 65 miles to Madras, OR where we got on US-26. A few miles out of Madras, the scenery really changed as we started to descend into the Deschutes River Canyon and entered the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

The Deschutes River Canyon was a real surprise. The scenery looked like something from the Southwest.

Warm Springs 1

Warm Springs 2

Warm Springs 3

But when we got to the bottom of the canyon, we found the lush vegetation along the Deschutes River.

Warm Springs 4

After following the river for a few miles we crossed over and started our climb back up to the top.

Warm Springs 5

Getting to the top we had our first good view of Mt Hood.

Mt Hood 1

Then about 2/3 of the way through the reservation, we saw a sign informing us we were crossing the 45th Parallel, thus we were halfway between the North Pole and Equator. Neat!

Mt. Hood became even more impressive the closer we got. At over 11,200 feet, it’s the tallest point in Oregon, and is considered Oregon’s most likely to erupt volcano.

Mt Hood 2

We stopped at a rest area at the base of the mountain, but ironically, because of the trees, we didn’t have as good a view as further out.

Mt Hood 3

But since this was a ski lift area, I did see this snow-making machine sitting there, waiting for this fall. Always wondered what they looked like.

Snow Maker

In Portland, we got on I-5N and headed up to Longview, where we crossed the Columbia River on the Lewis and Clark Bridge, and started the long climb on US-30 heading toward Astoria, OR.


Astoria is a picturesque little town, perched on the hills overlooking the mouth of the Columbia River, and also contains a really big bridge.

Astoria 1

Astoria Bridge 1

Astoria Bridge 2


Crossing this bridge put us in Washington, and only about 15 miles from our Thousand Trails park in Long Beach/Ilwaco, WA.

We pulled in about 4:30 and got parked and set up with no problems.

Checking in we found Bill Joyce and Diane Melde, friends from a past rally already there.

Since Bill and Diane spend a lot of time in this area, they suggested Dooger’s Seafood up the road in Long Beach for supper, and off we went.

Good Food, Good Friends, it doesn’t get any better.

June 21, 2013

No Moose . . .

We left Teton Valley Campground about 9:15 and headed up and over the mountain at Teton Pass and then down into Jackson, WY on our way up to Cody, WY via the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Jan was worried about taking the rig up and down those 10% grades, but we really didn’t have any problems. Most of the time going up, I stayed at about 40 mph, except when someone pulled out in front of me from a turnout and I had to slow down and got behind the power curve. That dropped me down to about 30 for a short while until I caught back up. Coming down on the other side, I just downshifted into 3rd and put the PacBrake on, though in one really steep part, I dropped down into 2nd for a while. But finally, much to Jan’s relief, about 45 minutes later we were driving through Jackson and out the other side, heading toward Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Trip 1

Yellowstone Rig Trip 2

The trip through the National Park went very smoothly with a moderate amount of traffic. The road is two lanes all the way with no passing lanes, but a lot of pull-outs, both as scenic viewpoints, picnic areas, or just plain parking areas.

And, unlike our previous Yellowstone trips, where we’ve seen moose, elk, buffalo, grizzlies, and wolves, this trip only yielded three buffalo, with two about a hundred yards off the road. But the third was kind of neat. There was a very large buffalo just walking down the narrow shoulder of the highway, on the opposite side coming toward us. He didn’t seem to be at all bothered by the cars and RV’s whizzing right by him.

About 2:30 we pulled into the Yellowstone Valley Inn & RV Park in Wapiti, WY, about 20 miles west of Cody.

Yellowstone Valley RV Park 1

While I was registering, I inquired about staying a 4th day as we had originally wanted, but was told that they were pretty much completely booked through July 4th. So as soon as we got parked and set up, I called the RV park in Billings and said we’ll be coming in on Monday instead of Tuesday. So it’s all good.

This park had some great views out the windshield, and in every direction, actually.

Yellowstone Valley RV Park 2

Yellowstone Valley RV Park 3

Yellowstone Valley RV Park 4

Tomorrow we’re going to drive back down to Yellowstone for the day and revisit some of our favorite spots. Then on Sunday we’ll get together with our friends Al & Adrienne who are workcamping here in Cody.

June 21, 2014

A Movie Two’fer . . .

Normally, when we’re not having muffin muffins with our coffee in the morning, we have English muffins, buttered and then toasted with cinnamon and sugar. Well, when we were at Wal-Mart yesterday getting groceries, we came across a new product.

It’s a Cinnamon Vanilla English Muffin from the Thomas English muffin people, and it’s really good,  especially when you add butter, more cinnamon, and sugar.

Unfortunately, according to the package, it’s a Limited Edition, so stock up now.

Later, about 1pm, Jan and I headed down to the local theater for our movie two’fer afternoon. We do this a lot, because it’s just more convenient.

Our first show was The Edge of Tomorrow, the new Tom Cruise science fiction movie. I haven’t been a big fan of Tom Cruise since he screwed up the Mission Impossible franchise, but the concept of this movie, and previews on TV, were intriguing enough to make me want to give it a try.

As far as the concept goes, think Groundhog Day with an alien invasion. Cruise, killed on the first day of a D-Day style invasion to retake continental Europe from the aliens, wakes up the day before the battle, and does this over and over every time he’s killed, each time getting a little closer to the solution of defeating the alien invasion. The movie is very well done, and we both liked it. Worth Seeing.

Our second move was Maleficent, a retelling of the classic Sleeping Beauty fairytale, but this time from the viewpoint of the Evil Queen, Maleficent. And through the storyline, you find out who she is, why she’s ‘evil’, and what made her that way.

Like my feelings about Tom Cruse, Jan is not a big fan of Angelina Jolie, but she liked this movie, and she liked Jolie in it. And so did I. Nobody but Angelina Jolie could have played this part.

The effects are great, and the story ends with a twist from the original version.

Well Recommended.

By the time we got out from the movie, it was about 6pm, and after talking it over we decided to have dinner at Das Dutchman Essenhaus over in Middlebury.

Das Essenhaus

We always try to eat here at least once when we’re in the area. And it’s always good.

When we eat here we normally order from the menu, and don’t do the buffet. And we always get the ‘Broasted’ chicken.

If you’ve ever wondered what ‘Broasted’ chicken is, it’s basically Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s cooked in a pressure cooker fryer, just like KFC is. It’s just not KFC, but a competitor. And without all those pesky franchise fees and royalty payments.

Das Dutchman Essenhaus

We always get the 4-piece plate which gives us chicken to bring home. I got the ‘Broasted’ Potato Wedges, and the fresh green beans. And Jan got the same thing, except she got Mashed Potatoes with Gravy instead of the wedges.

You can’t eat here without having one of their homemade pies for dessert. Tonight Jan had her favorite Chocolate Cream Pie, and I had a really delicious slice of Praline Pecan Cream. Really, really good.

We finally got home a little before 8pm, just in time to miss the heavy downpour that came through.

Lucky us.

June 21, 2015

A Confession . . .

Catching up with Saturday, the 20th.

We knew it was going to be about 10 degrees hotter here in Camp Verde/Cottonwood area, but it was still a shock. The temps here are running in the low to mid 100’s and it’s hard for the rig A/C’s to keep up.

After hunkering down and trying to stay cool all day, we headed out about 4:00 for dinner at La Fonda, our favorite local Mexican place. Even though it was Saturday, we were surprised at how busy they were at this time of the afternoon. Obviously a lot of other people know good food when they find it. Or maybe it was just cool inside.

Coming back to the rig, I decided to take another look at the genset problem. I ran it back out and pressed the STOP button. This gave me a 3-flash error code. But since it was getting dark I didn’t go any further

Except for not being very front-to-back level, we’ve got a really nice site here at the Verde Valley Thousand Trails. We’re in site 149 in section 8, which they call a Premium 50 amp site, I.e. $5 a day extra.

Verde Valley 149

But at least we’re not jammed right up against our neighbors like we were last time.

* * * * *

Catching up with today, Sunday the 21st.

And now for my confession.

This is my 2nd Father’s Day this year. Actually it’s my 2nd Father’s Day in the last two weeks. We all know how easy it is for RV’ers to lose track of what day it is. That’s why we have clocks like this.


And although it helps for days of the week, it doesn’t help keeping track of holidays, especially 2nd tier ones like Father’s Day, which I think ranks right up there with Flag Day, or Arbor Day.

So when I got up last Sunday, I found a Father’s Day card from my beautiful bride waiting for me. And even better, I got a big kiss.

And as I mentioned in last Sunday’s blog, about 2:30 we drove over to the Texas Roadhouse to have ‘linner’. We figured that by getting there in the middle of the afternoon we would be in between the heavy Father’s Day lunch and dinner crowds.

And as we pulled into the parking lot, we were happy to find the parking lot half empty. Thinking we’d picked the perfect time and avoided the large Father’s Day crowds, we should have noticed the hostess’ confusion. As the young lady was seating us, she asked, “Are you celebrating anything special today?” So Jan said, “Well, Father’s Day.”

We should have paid more attention to the strange look she gave us, but she didn’t say anything. Probably just wanted to get away from these crazy, confused people as quickly as possible.

Getting back home after our really good steaks,  without saying anything to each other, we both began to wonder why I hadn’t got Happy Father’s Day calls from the kids.

It was only later in the afternoon when Jan was entering the day’s events into her calendar, that she noticed that NEXT Sunday was Father’s Day.


Well, that explains the funny look the hostess gave us.

So today we get to do it all over again.

And this time I got calls from both Chris and Brandi wishing me a Happy Father’s Day. so I’m pretty sure I’ve got the day right this time.

About 3:30 Jan and I headed in to Old Town Cottonwood to have dinner at The Tavern Grille. Not only was it highly recommended on Yelp, but it was also open. In fact it seemed like most of the non-chain restaurants aren’t open on Sundays here in Cottonwood.

The Tavern Grill has a storied history in Cottonwood. It opened in 1923 as the Rialto Theater and reigned as the longest-operating single-screen theater in the U.S. until it burned in 1998. Reopening as The Tavern Grille in 2005, it’s been going strong ever since. And their food certainly shows why.

We started out with salads. Jan’s was the House Salad with their homemade Dill Ranch dressing,

Tavern Grille Jan Salad

while I had the Bleu Cheese Wedge.

Tavern Grille Wedge Salad

Like Jan’s, this Bleu Cheese was also homemade and really good.

For our entrees, we both went with steak. It was Father’s Day, after all . . . again.

Jan had the 8oz Sirloin with a mushroom demi-glaze, veggies, and cheddar redskin mashed potatoes,

Tavern Grille Sirloin

while I splurged and had the Cajun Prime Rib and Shrimp, along with veggies, and the cheddar redskin mashed potatoes.

Tavern Grille Prime Rib

It’s been a while since I’ve had prime rib, but if they’re all as good as this one, I may have to rethink my ‘all ribeye, all the time’ motto.

Coming home, we made a quick Wal-Mart stop for a few things before getting back to the rig about 6pm. The first thing I did was to put up the Reflectix foil screens on the front windshield to help keep out the heat. With temps of 107 degrees tomorrow and the rest of the week, I decided that my magnetic screens weren’t going to cut it.

After I finished with that. I ran the genset back out to further check the error codes. After I got the 3 flash code yesterday, I checked the Onan manual and found that code indicates a further code is available.

So I pressed the STOP button which gave me the 3 flashes. Then I pressed the STOP button again and got a two-digit code. In this case, 3 flashes and 6 flashes, or a 36 error code.

But checking the manual again didn’t tell me much. An error 36 code corresponds to an Engine Stopped Fault, I.e. the engine stopped for some reason without being told to. Since my genset runs just fine, it doesn’t seem like it applies to my situation.

So I’ll be making calls to American Coach and Cummins Onan tomorrow to see if I can get a handle on this.

June 21, 2016


I spent some time this morning finishing up booking our trip to Alabama at the end of next month.

So here’s what I’ve got:

Sun – Jul 31 – Poche’s in Beaux Bridge LA
Mon – Aug  1 – Hollywood Casino in Biloxi MS
Tue – Aug  2 – Gulf State Park Gulf Shores AL
Mon – Aug  8 – Gulf State Park
Tue – Aug  9 – Athens AL
Sat – Aug 13 – Athens
Sun – Aug 14 – Benchmark Meridian MS
Mon – Aug 15 – Poche’s in Beaux Bridge LA
Tue – Aug 16 – Back at Lake Conroe

So I’ve now got all our reservations booked.  The Poche’s and Benchmark stays are both Passport America parks, so I’m saving $20 for each Poche’s stay, and $15 for the Benchmark one.

So in only three nights, saving a total of $55, that more than covers the $44 a year that a PPA membership costs. We’ve had a PPA membership since we first rented a Cruise America Class C to check out RV’ing in 2007, and it’s never taken more than a week or so of traveling to pay for our membership.

Around 1pm I went down to the office to see if we could stay over here a couple of extra days so we wouldn’t have to go back to Lake Conroe on July 3rd, in the middle of the 4th of July weekend. Not something I was looking forward too.

So, the answer to the question of whether or not they will let us stay here a couple of extra days was . . . NO!

Our Alliance membership doesn’t give us the option of two $29 week stays like some do. But I was hoping they could at least cut us some slack, but apparently not. But I did learn something that will help out even more.

I knew that we could rent a site here on an annual lease, but what I didn’t realize is that we could rent a site on a monthly basis, outside of our Thousand Trails membership. And it’s a really good deal, at least for us

We can get a 50amp site for $375 a month plus electric @ $012.5 per KW.  Right now, because we’ve used up our 50 free days, and are paying the extra $3 per day for 50amp, a month stay, (two weeks at a time) costs us $240. And when you figure in 35 or so gallons of diesel going back and forth, we’re looking at about $335 a month, and we still have to move every two weeks.

And, as Jan says, “ . . . . the wear and tear on the rig, and us.”

So as it stands now, tomorrow I’ll book us a month here starting July 3rd, which means we’ll stay here until July 31st when we’ll leave for Alabama.

Hopefully, it will all work out, and we’ll be here for six weeks straight.

June 21, 2017

Recapping . . .

I thought I’d take this blog to recap our recent 3+ month trip circling the Southwest, Northwest, the Badlands, and the Plains.

We left the Colorado River Thousand Trails Friday, March 10th with our first overnight stop in Junction, TX.

Although we made a number of overnights along the way, our primary stops were:

Los Cruces, NM – 2 nights

Benson, AZ – 4 nights

Tucson, AZ – 7 nights

Apache Junction, AZ – 14 nights

Las Vegas, NV – 14 nights

Los Angeles, CA – 7 nights

Weed, CA – 3 nights

Bend, OR – 14 nights

Coeur D’Alene, ID – 2 nights

Billings, MT – 2 nights

Rapid City, SD – 17 nights

North Platte, NE – 3 nights

Bartlesville, OK – 3 nights

Pauls Valley, OK – 2 nights

We did have several milestones along the way.

We covered 5,315.6 miles during our 14+ weeks of travel and passed through 14 states, and stayed at least one night in 12 of them.

New Mexico
South Dakota

Along the way we hit 80,000 miles that we’ve put on the coach since we picked it up from the dealer on January 6, 2008, and we rang up 145,000 total miles since our coach left the factory in March 1999.

We added the last two missing states, Nebraska and Kansas, to our list, leaving only Hawaii. And as soon as I find the much-fabled land route leading there, we’ll be on our way.

As far as highlights, of course for Jan, it was visiting The Pioneer Women, Ree Drummond’s Mercantile in Pawhuska, OK, visiting the family lodge on the Drummond Ranch where the show is filmed, and then topping it all off, meeting and talking to Ree and Ladd at the Mercantile.

Jan Ladd and Ree

It’s going to be hard for her to ever top that. She’s still giddy.

For me, it had to be the Golden Spike Tower and the Bailey Train Yard in North Platte, NE.

Golden Spike Tower

I’ve always had a thing for trains, both models and real, and we’ve done a lot of ‘trainy’ things as we’ve traveled around the country.

The other highlights, or maybe ‘lowlights’ were the significant repairs I did as we traveled around the country.

First up, just a couple of days on the road, was when the control rod that directs air into the rear airbags came loose, leaving them completely deflated, and the rig pretty much undrivable.

Rig Airbag Valve 1

Airbag Valve Repair

We stayed at the Cochise Terrance RV Park in Benson, AZ for a few days before the Tucson Escapade, and when we went to leave, the slide wouldn’t come in. Turned out to be a broken bolt.

Rig Slide Broken Bolts

Slide Bolt Replacement

Then while we were in Las Vegas, I replaced my transfer switch which had died recently. I had to jam popsicle sticks into the contactor to keep it pulled in on shore power.

Transfer Switch Installed

Transfer Switch Replacement

I also replaced the bent, crimped exhaust pipe on our generator while we were in Vegas.

Generator New Exhaust Pipe 1

Generator Exhaust Pipe Replacement

Probably my biggest repair was diagnosing and replacing the Allison transmission output speed sensor while we were in Weed, CA.

Allison Speed Sensor Replacement 2

Transmission Output Sensor Replacement – Part 1

Transmission Output Sensor Replacement – Part 2

And of course, my generator starter repair while we were in Rapid City, SD that let us travel back to Houston staying comfortable in 90 degree weather.

New Generator Starter Installed

Generator Starter Repair – Part 1

Generator Starter Repair – Part 2

Generator Starter Repair – Part 3

Generator Starter Repair – Part 4

And finishing up just a couple of days ago in Pauls Valley, OK,  tightening down the rig’s hydraulically-powered cooling fan motor mounting which was banging around while the engine was running.

Rig Fan Pump 2

Hydraulic Fan Motor Mount

We just stayed home and rested up today, but tomorrow we’ll do some shopping and maybe Whataburger.

June 21, 2018

It Just Feels Right . . .

The day got off to a rocky start when about 5am a thunderboomer let loose, sounding like it was right on the roof of the rig and waking us both up.

Then the power went off, but only for about 5 minutes so it wasn’t too bad. However, the fact that it poured buckets for the next two hours made me really look forward to going outside to disconnect and stow everything away, and driving too, of course. But by 7:15 when I finally did go outside, it had pretty much cleared up.

Right on schedule I pulled out of the park, with Jan following in the truck, heading for HOPS Propane about 3 miles up Hwy  6. They opened at 9am, and I pulled into the lot at 9:03. There was a guy standing out in front of the office and he waved me over to the fill station by the tanks.

After getting 33 gallons, I was paid up and out the door by 9:15. Things were looking up, and we were actually ahead of schedule, as I had figured at least 30 minutes there. But my joyfulness quickly faded.

I pulled the rig over to the side of the lot so we could hook up the toad and get on the road. But then I could not release the lock on one of my tow bar pins. The key just would not turn. I tried graphite in the lock and then Strike Hold. All with no luck

I even tapped it with a mallet. Nothing. It was like it was the wrong key. Finally, I got my ‘Persuader’ (an 18” piece of 1-1/4 galvanized pipe) out of the truck and started wailing away at it. And although it loosened it didn’t let go.

So I got more forceful with it, getting my drill and some titanium bits and started drilling out the cylinder, ending up with this.

Cut Tow Pin Top

Cut Tow Pin Bottom

I drilled all the way through it, coming out the bottom. It came out the side because it was deflected by the tip of the hardened steel pin. The hardened steel pin is why I didn’t even try to saw it off. Master makes some tough locks, believe me.

I had been at this for about 30 minutes when the guy who filled my propane came out and saw what my problem was. And he said, “Just a minute. Let me get my torch.”

Expecting him to wheel over a big set of tanks on a dolly, I was surprised when he showed up with a case about the size of a large toaster oven. Opening it up I could see two smallish tanks of the oxy and acetylene, a tiny regulator, and a torch handle.

Lighting it off, he adjusted the handle until he had a small blue-white flame, and sliced through the 1/2” hardened steel pin like it was butter.

Cut Tow Pin


I want one of those.

Unfortunately in my astonishment, I forgot to ask him where he got it. I’ll call and ask him when we get back.

By the time I got hooked up, we were about 45 minutes behind schedule rather than 15 minutes ahead. But for us, it was no problem since our schedules are pretty much illusionary anyway.

I had another plain pin with no locking mechanism so I used it by tywrapping it all together with some big 3/8” tywraps I had and it worked fine. I checked it a couple of times along the trip and it never budged.

We stopped at the Buc-ee’s on I-10 in Baytown for diesel and coffee. I wanted to top off the tank for the trip, and 25 gallons did it.

The trip to Breaux Bridge was smooth with very little rain. Both the engine and the generator ran fine (Jan said they purred) and we had no problems or close calls.

A while after we were out on I-10, Jan asked me how it felt to be back on the road after so many months. I said, ”It just feels right”, and we both agreed we had missed traveling these past 10 months or so.

We pulled into Poche’s Fish-N-Camp in Breaux Bridge about 3:15 and got set up. We decided not to even put out the sat dish or put up the TV, and just have peace and quiet.

Then about 4:30 we headed into Breaux Bridge to have dinner at our favorite place here, Pont Breaux. We started eating here in the early 80’s as we traveled through here. Originally it was called Mulate’s, but it sold a few years back, and the food is just as good as always.

Jan tried something different this time, the Grilled Catfish with Shrimp Étouffée, and Sautéed Veggies.

Pont Breaux Grilled Catfish with Shrimp Ettoffee and Sauteed Veggies

She said it was great.

I got my usual bowl of Seafood Gumbo with Shrimp and Crabmeat.

Pont Breaux Seafood Gumbo

The small dish at the bottom right is potato salad, which I always thought was a strange side for gumbo, but it was good so I ate it. Years later I found out that it was a regional thing to dump the lump of potato salad in your gumbo.

Who knew?

I still eat mine separately anyway.

Coming home I stopped off at an AutoZone and bought two new tow bar pins, one to use and one as a spare. Of course, I bought another Master Lock, since I now know how tough they are.

Tomorrow we’ve got about 215 miles to travel up to Byram, MS, just south of Jackson. And the day will end with another great meal from one of our favorites, Sonny’s BBQ.

Really looking forward to that.

June 21, 2019

Some Thoughts On Our Vacation . . .

In many ways, especially culturally, Europe seems 10-15 years behind the US. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but it just is.

Smoking is still very popular, with a lot of people smoking on the streets and in the shops. And just about every restaurant, bar, and pub has a cigarette machine prominently displayed.

Cologne Cigarette Machine

This one even has an app that lets you select and pay for your favorite brand online.

And you can even find them located outside along the sidewalks.

Bamberg Cigarette Machine

The other noticeable thing is that pretty much every female, young and older, wears leggings. Women in business suites wear them with skirts, perhaps shorter than they might without leggings. College girls may wear them with shorts, or many times just the leggings.

The other throwback is the young girl’s jean’s, and leggings, too, all have those horizontal slits cut into them up and down the thighs, with sometimes more leg showing than actual leggings or jeans. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Again something else I don’t see as much of here in the States anymore.

One thing they seemed to be a little ahead of us is in public co-ed bathrooms, even at the major airports and train stations. The stalls are all side by side with both men and women using them, with the urinals around the corner in a separate alcove.

Takes a little getting used to, but then you don’t think about it anymore.

Another is that, especially in Amsterdam and Paris, it seems like everyone is pulling around one of those small carry-on-sized wheeled suitcases, even behind their bikes. I guess that’s the replacement for briefcases and large purses.

Finishing up, one thing that was really surprising to me was that I never had any problem with my credit/debit cards. Of course, I had called them ahead of time to let them know that if they had a charge in Houston one day, and a charge in Budapest the next, it was probably OK.

The only slight glitch was that my PayPal MasterCard would not work at ATM’s to get cash, but worked just fine for credit or debit card purchases.

One other thing is that in every restaurant or pub we visited, the waiter never takes your card off somewhere in back to run it. Every place had one of those little hand-held devices that would run your card, let you sign it or use your PIN, and then print your receipt, all right at your table.

I’ll have some more thoughts in another blog.

June 21, 2020

A Big Day . . .

First off, Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there.

My father had several different careers during his life, starting as 22+ year Police Detective, 4 times decorated for Valor, twice under fire. He was also the state’s police pistol champion for 5 years in a row, until he was asked to stop competing to give someone else a chance.

During WWII he was in the Navy Shore Patrol. Though he tried repeatedly to get a shipboard assignment, he spent the war guarding the Navy Pier in Chicago. He always said that he figured he did his part since ‘No Japs (is that racist now?) ever got past Chicago.”

He was a private pilot, a large motel owner, owned a fleet of shrimp boats in Alabama and South America, and worked for Boeing in Huntsville doing computer support on the Apollo Project.

Daddy and Me 1951

And yes, that’s me in the winter of 1950.

Jan’s father was in the Army during WWII and landed at Normandy on D-Day, though Jan and her mother didn’t find out about this until he died in 1993. He told everyone he spent the war working in a hangar.

After the war, he went back to college to get a teaching degree, and then reenlisted, this time in the Air Force where he retired as a Senior Master Sergeant in 1967.

Jan's Parents

As far as our weekend up in Katy at our daughter Brandi’s, we spent most of Saturday in the pool, only interrupted by a passing thunderstorm.

2020 Fathers Day 1

You can see the storm coming in below.

2020 Fathers Day 2a

So everyone gathered under the pavilion to wait it out, assisted by various alcoholic beverages.

2020 Fathers Day 2

Even Jack the dog joins in. In fact Jack loves swimming so much he will often jump in the pool for a couple of laps when he’s in the backyard by himself.

2020 Fathers Day 3

Hope everyone had as great a weekend as we did.

June 21, 2021

Well, I am NOW!

Jan and I both agreed that we slept better last night than any night in the last two weeks. There’s just something about your own bed. In our case, I think a lot of the difference is from our 4” Memory Foam Mattress Pad.

I sometimes think that Alexa’s programmers just like messing with us. When we’re traveling long distances we have an Alexa Echo Dot on the dashboard hotspotted to my phone. That way we can listen to music, ask her questions, etc.

But sometimes when I get out of the Jeep with the phone in my phone, Alexa doesn’t always reconnect to the hotspot when I get back in the Jeep. So I usually just ask her, “Alexa, are you awake?” And normally she answers, “Yes, I’m here.”

But one time last week, when I asked her that question, she replied in a somewhat snotty tone, “Well, I am NOW!”

When we were in St. Louis the week before last, I told you about the 5G speeds I was getting while we were there.

St. Louis 5G Speed

151 Mbps!

But then last week I checked in Montgomery, AL and got this.

Montgomery 5G Speed

Really great speeds, but it all pales in comparison to the Starlink speeds people are getting in Europe.

649 Mbps!

And Elon Musk says they’ll hit 1 Gbps eventually.

Just wish we’d get our Starlink dish pretty soon.

This evening we picked up Miss Karma from our cat-sitter, who also happens to be the office manager where I do the IT consulting. Although Karma complained bitterly about being stuffed back into her travel bag, she did seem to be happy to get back home.

Karma at Jennifer's

June 21, 2022

Happy Anniversary!

First off, Jan and I want to wish our beautiful daughter Brandi and our handsome son-in-law Lowell a happy 12th Anniversary!

Wedding 5

Today was another one of our typical lunch/errand/shopping days, starting out with Los Ramirez Mexican once again. Always delicious.

Then it was on up the feeder for some new container plants for the patio. Luckily they had what Jan wanted so we didn’t have to check out the HEB out on SR96. A detour saved.

Next up was a stop at Marina’s Bakery out on FM518 so Jan could check out some of their Keto products. And in fact, Marina’s is where Gator’s Bar & Grill gets those fantastic Keto Blueberry Muffins we like so much. But they were pretty much out of everything and won’t be restocked until Thursday.

So another visit on Thursday is in order.

Our new tabletop ice maker is still working great. Every few days we just dump 3 .5L bottles of water in the reservoir and turn it on. And in a short while, we have a big Ziploc bag of ice in the freezer. A great product.

June 21, 2023

Lucky 13 . . .

Happy 13th Anniversary to our daughter Brandi and our son-in-law Lowell.

We love y’all so much and are so proud of you.

In RV news, one down, one to go.

Oregon lawmakers just sent a bill to the governor that when he signs it, will end the prohibition on pumping your own gas in the state, leaving only New Jersey standing alone.

One of the reasons for this is that the stations are having problems hiring attendants to handle the pumps, leaving many pumps closed.

Oregon has previously already curtailed some of its full-service requirements.

Oregon in 2015 legalized self-serve gas at night in some rural and coastal counties. In 2017, it expanded that rule to all rural counties. And the state fire marshal has lifted the self-serve ban every summer since 2020 during wildfires or heat waves.

And for you Oregonians, there’s already a helpful video showing you how to pump your own gas. Something any 12-year-old in 48 other states already knows how to do.

About 2:30 this afternoon I saw that Amazon had delivered my new replacement relay, well at least the box had been delivered, so I called Jan back at the rig to check the box to see if it actually contained a relay this time.

And it did.

Since the Jeep engine will be too hot to work on this afternoon after I get home, I’ll install it tomorrow morning before we head out for lunch.

And as far as lunch, we’re heading over to Pearland to pick up long-time friend Bonnie Horner. Jan and Bonnie worked together at Medical Center del Oro down near the Astrodome back in the late 80’s – early 90’s. And they still get together whenever they can.

Our go-to place is Central Texas BBQ that we used to eat at fairly regularly when we lived in our sticks ‘n’ bricks kinda nearby, but only get over there about once a year now.

Looking forward to it.