"if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room"

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

still here

Saturday morning I played in a golf scramble put on as a fund raiser for our church, The day was perfect weatherwise but not so good for me "golfwise". I played really, really lousy for the first few holes and am not sure why. The way a scramble works is all four members of the team tee off and you pick the best drive then the other three pick up their balls and all four hit again from that location. You keep picking the best shot each time until you "hole out". My only saving grace was my putter so I was able to help the team some early on. I did improve a little as we made our way around the course and we ended up taking 3rd place and I missed the individual award for "longest drive" by only 3 yards. Rudee helped in registration and traveled around the course taking some "action shots" for the church's flier. We both had a fun day and enjoyed catching up with our "church family".

Our original plan was to leave on Monday morning to head for South Dakota for our summer job at the Crazy Horse Memorial but the weather didn't sound too good with rain, wind and storms predicted. We decided to delay our start another day so Sunday we made plans with our good friends Steve and Trish to meet in Lebanon for lunch. We had a great time and lingered for quite awhile just talking and laughing about old times. :-)
Sunday evening Rudee had arranged for a few of her classmates to meet in Rockville, Indiana for supper. We all graduated from the same High School me in '77 and the rest in '78. One of her classmates couldn't attend because her husband was in the hospital :-( Get well soon Mike and we'll see you and Laura next time.
Here is a photo of the "gang"

We all laughed and shared stories for a long time, we even thought at one time that the restaurant had forgotten we were there, even with all the noise we were making, and had closed! :-)

Yesterday I started getting the motor home ready for travel while Rudee and Amanda went to visit her Mother. I got on the internet and double checked the weather for our route and found that South Dakota was under a Winter Weather Warning and some areas of the Black Hills were expecting up to 15" of snow! YIKES!
Here is the "viewing veranda" at Crazy Horse yesterday morning via their webcam

We decided another day "moochdocking" was in order and delayed our start one more day. So as of right now we will leave tomorrow morning to start our trek West. Our first day of work is Wednesday May 7th so we still have plenty of time if the weather makes another downturn but so far the forecast looks promising for a safe trip. Our thoughts are with our friends and fellow fulltimers who are in the southern states where there has been another tornado outbreak. We hope you all are safe and sound. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

time is flying by in Indiana

Happy Easter everyone! Hard to believe we are 2/3 of the way through April already. We have been running pretty hard since we have been back in Indiana "mooch docking" in our daughters driveway. Rudee's Mom was taken to the hospital a few days after we arrived and has since been moved into a rehabilitation facility. She is getting stronger everyday and they expect her to go home soon, I'm not sure if that will happen before we leave though.
Larry and Sue Hatton, whom we met at Amazon and have become good friends, stopped in to visit for a couple of days before finishing their trip to Michigan where they will start their very first camp hosting jobs. We had a great time showing them around our old stomping grounds. We visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indy 500, and we all enjoyed touring their museum.

Here is the actual trophy presented to the winning driver each year in victory lane. The winner gets a smaller replica to keep and their bust is etched onto this trophy for posterity.

The following day we toured Parke County Indiana which is the "Covered Bridge Capitol" where we took one of several driving tours to see the bridges. Here is Larry and Sue with the town of Bridgeton, Indiana in the background.

We had a fantastic couple of days with these great friends. 'We'll see ya at Amazon in the fall". :-)

Friday was a work day for me. I have written about our air conditioner woes and even after replacing all the capacitors we still could not get the compressors to run. We had two options at this point, repair what we have at an unknown cost or purchase a new unit to mount onto the roof in place of one of the vents. Putting a unit on top would require it to be hooked up to the breaker box that is mounted to the foot of our bed. I did some preliminary planning and felt like it would not be impossible to do the wiring run so we decided to give up on the old unit and ordered the new one and had it shipped here. We chose an Atwood 15,000 BTU non-ducted unit with heat pump and purchased it from Tweety's in Texas.

The unit was shipped very quickly and arrived in only a few days. Now to get busy and get it hooked up. The first thing was to "fish" the wire through the ceiling. I decided to use the existing air conditioning duct work as a wire run and, using a "fish tape" was able to feed that line across the roof inside the duct and then it goes down the back wall to a point I could access the duct work next to the basement air unit. I hooked two electrical wires to the fish tape and it was just a process of pulling the wires back up into the ceiling where I started from. I ran two wires so I could leave one "dead ended" near the bedroom vent for another roof unit that we can install later if we feel the need. The basement air is fed by two separate circuits from two individual circuit breakers so I just "unwired" the old a/c and tied the new wiring into the old feeds. All in all it was a pretty simple process getting the power up to the roof and we will just leave the breaker controlling the bedroom feed turned off for now. My good buddy Rob Runion came by after he got off work and together we were able to carry the 100 lb unit up onto the roof. Once that was done it was a pretty easy process of hooking up the wires and bolting the unit down.

Ahhhh cold air and no smoke or fire! :-)

We have one more week here and then will be heading to our summer job at Crazy Horse. So far we have at least a couple of motorcycle rides planned, a get together with friends from High School and our church is having a golf tournament Saturday where I will play and Rudee has volunteered to help with registration. Looks like there will be no slowing down for us! :-) I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

back "home" again

We have been really busy the last several days catching up and doing "family" things. We arrived at our daughter and son in law's home Saturday afternoon and are all set up in their driveway. Rudee's Mom was not feeling well when we went to visit her and had been getting treatment for bronchitis from her doctor but did not seem to be getting better. Wednesday afternoon the doctor sent her to the local emergency room for some IV antibiotics and oxygen. Rudee met the ambulance there and after a couple of hours of treatment they decided to admit her. We have been visiting her each day since and her condition has improved quite a bit. Yesterday they transferred her to a rehabilitation facility to help get her back on her feet again. She has now been diagnosed with COPD caused by the many years of living with and around people who smoked. Rudee's Dad smoked heavily and passed away last year of lung cancer so she was exposed to all that second hand smoke for over 50 years that they were married. Her sister who lives next door to their Mother and helps her with a lot of her daily chores is also a heavy cigarette smoker. I know quitting is tough, I quit a two pack a day habit about 10 years ago, and I'm not going to judge someone who feels they cannot quit but, the simple fact is, Rudee's Mom can no longer tolerate anyone smoking around her so the days of simply "lighting one up" inside her house (or in her car) are over.

Yesterday afternoon our daughter and her neighbor had a combined birthday party for our grand daughter and two of the neighbors children who shared April birthdays. We had quite the garage full!

The guys had other work to do before and after the party. Our daughter's house in in the country and they have a well for water. Saturday morning they woke up and no water! We checked everything we could before deciding to pull the in ground pump as it looked like that may be the issue. Son in Law Ryan borrowed a nearby back hoe to make the job easier and we got the pump removed in about an hour. He found that the well casing was leaking at one of the connections and the pump had injected a bunch of clay ruining it. We made a trip to town after the party and got a new pump and all the parts needed to make the repair. Their well pump only goes down about 50' and it looks like they will need to go deeper to get a consistent supply of water but at least they have some flow again. Here is our son Matt and son in law Ryan inspecting the hole. :-)

The weather has been pretty decent the last several days and looks like it may continue with only a slight cool down for the coming week. We are looking forward to seeing some of our friends and of course keep up our spoiling duties! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

where NOT to stick your finger!

Wednesday morning we got a later start then normal (for us anyway) from D'Hanis and hit the road shortly after 10 am. We made our way through San Antonio and then north through Austin. We turned off the super slab at Waco and took State Road 31 which is mostly 4 lane and angles northeast allowing us to bypass Dallas. We passed near Fort Hood around 2:30 in the afternoon and at 4:30 learned of yet another mass shooting there. What the heck is wrong with some people anyway? Our thoughts turn to the injured and to the families of those lost is this terrible event that is becoming all to common place. :-(
We turned north on State Road 19 and stopped near Canton, Texas at yet another Passport America Park. This one was a little bit of a disappointment though. The sites were laid out in a very haphazard way and were not very level. They had tried to preserve as much shade as possible but in doing so you are required to maneuver around trees that are right next to the roadway that winds through the small park. The owners and work camper that we met were very nice and we did get a full hook up site (although we really only needed power) but the $20 we paid seemed a little high for this park and that was the 50% discounted price. Oh well, it was quiet and we were able to get the satellite to lock on despite the trees. :-)

Today we were up early because we wanted to get some miles under our belts. We left the park at 7:30 am and continued North on 19 until it connected with I-30. We passed through Texarkana, entered Arkansas and soon found ourselves skirting around Little Rock. We headed east on I-40 and just before reaching Memphis we turned North once again on I-57. We stopped for the night in Caruthersville, Missouri at the Lady Luck Casino. They have a nice campground adjacent to the casino that overlooks the Mississippi River. We got parked in one of the pull through spaces and I hooked up all the utilities. I then took the panel off our basement a/c unit. The unit has not been cooling at all, the fan works but will only cool it down a couple of degrees less then the outside temperature. I had read that one very common problem is the start capacitors going out as well as the run capacitors. There are 5 capacitors behind the access panel along with a ton of wires. The cost to work on these basement units is astronomical and most RV places will not touch them and once the "regular" a/c repairmen hear they are in an RV they wont even come out to look at them. The capacitors are not real expensive so I thought I would try replacing those and if that didn't work I would buy a roof mounted unit and just forget the basement unit. I knew that the capacitors "held" electricity and would discharge said electricity even after the power was disconnected. Sort of like a "zap" just looking for a place to land. My mission today was to write down the numbers of the size and voltage of the capacitors so I could order the correct replacements. I was very careful not to touch any of the exposed ends or connections when moving these things around. I just wasn't careful enough though and with a loud "PZZZZZZTTTT" I found myself flat on my back looking up at our neighbor who was yelling "Are You Alright!" He, as well as Rudee, heard the "zap" and came running outside. Luckily the only injury I have is a few decent burns on my finger, reminds me of the time I had a couple of warts removed. Here is a photo, look away if your squeamish..... oops too late. :-)

I'm sure I'll hear from a lot of you on everything I did wrong and that's fine, I'll be the first to admit I was over my skill level messing with anything above 12 Volts but Holy Cow! I just wanted to write down some numbers on the side of a couple of small tin can looking things. Ouch! Here is what a capacitor looks like.

I still plan on ordering what I need but, since my daughters neighbor is an electrician, I'll let him to the dirty work! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

it's been a whirlwind

Wow, the last 5 days have gone by really fast, if only the days on the gate would go bay that fast! :-) Saturday we contacted some friends and co-workers from Crazy Horse who live in East Texas thinking we could hook up with them next week on our trek towards Indiana. Rudee and Rand were talking on the phone when she said her and Doug were not far from us at a motorcycle rally in Bandera. That's only 40 miles from us! They gave us directions to their campground and we headed out on the Harley. I got 1/2 way there when I realized I forgot the camera. :-( I guess I'm just not used to this "days off" thing. :-)
We met with Rand and Doug and spent the rest of the day riding the Hill Country of Texas. We rode a ride called "The Three Sisters" which are connecting roads whose number all start with "3" and are perfect motorcycle ride. Another bucket list item done and ready to do it again!

Sunday we had made plans to visit Mike and Les Kennedy. We met them once when we were on vacation prior to fulltime RVing. They were on their first year and we really picked their brains and have stayed in touch. We always get together whenever we are in the same vicinity and we always have a lot of fun. They spend the winter at Buckhorn Lake Resort in Kerrville so we drove over and spent the day with them. They took us to the Alamo Cafe promising us the best burger in Texas.

And it was!
We also made a stop at Luckenbach Texas and took a stroll through the buildings there and listen to the music a short while.

Monday we had to make a trip back to Cotulla to pick up mail that had not arrived yet when we left the gate. We decided to take the bike and make a day out of it! We got our mail and rode further south to the town of Encinal where we turned west. About 5 miles out of Encinal is the Strait Ranch, yep George Strait's house, well one of them anyway. Here is the gate.

His house is back there among the palm trees and his paved 5000' runway is past the house. We rang the bell but George apparently wasn't home and the gate was padlocked. Oh well, guess George will just have to wait to see us next year when we are through here again. :-)

Yesterday we had made arrangements to visit Kit and Jerry Bertelsen who live at Fort Clark Springs in Bracketville Texas. This is a former Cavalry Fort turned retirement home area. They have restored most of the old Fort buildings turning them into motel rooms, museum etc.This is a really neat place!
Jerry and I played a round of golf while the girls ran around the complex on their other golf cart.

 Did you see that shot??!!

We ended up meeting for supper at Applebee's in Uvalde where we had a nice meal with two great friends who got us started in this gate guarding thing. Thanks guys, we'll be back next year and do it all over again. Hopefully I can practice my golf game a little before then so Jerry isn't quite so embarrassed with me in his foursome! :-)

That brings us to today. We are packing up and leaving this morning. In fact Rudee is just finishing making breakfast and I have almost everything done outside. We just have to pull up the jacks and bring the slides in and we're off again! I'll keep you posted.