Sunday, December 29, 2013

I find myself waiting


There are different kinds of waiting. 
There's waiting for dinner, waiting for the bus  & waiting for quitting time, this is different as I'm waiting for an appointment...in 5 days and I'm not at home.

It's not as bad as waiting for a baby to be born and it's different from waiting for your enlistment to end or Social Security to start. It does seems more 'personal'.

It is someplace 'here' I have  to be  in 5 days.

While I thought about 'waiting' this morning I flashed on a favorite waiting phrase, "Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him" by The Firesign Theater from a long time back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I2PjLna4C0


In those days I don't remember waiting ...
well I do remember waiting for gas in 1973.



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Travels

Christmas Eve found us finishing the last 150 miles of a 2800 mile trip to surprise our children for Christmas.

We were traveling in a 1990 GMC van from rest area to rest area with an RV park stop in Quartzsite so we could look around early in the Quartzsite season. At Quartzsite there were still a lot of people setting up & a lot of room for RVs, still it's a place I enjoy.



Just an example of what you can see in Quartzsite in the winter

Between El Paso & Tucson we stopped to use the bathroom at a place we'd seen billboards advertising for miles, "The Thing".  We paid the one US dollar (ea) to see "The Thing", it was worth it.
I'm not going to say what it was, take a drive & spend the $1.

I saw a number of people on the road were I could guess 'why' they were going ( a form of entertainment while traveling at 70 mph on good roads).
Some were easy to say they were going home for the holidays, others really looked like they were moving.
I always wonder "why" someone is moving... I did find out in one case as I talked to the guy in a rest area. An older gentleman moving from Kentucky to Phoenix to live with his son. He had tools in a Harbor Freight (type) trailer and said his son thought it was time for this & he agreed.
I wonder if this is going to happen to me....

As I was driving through Portland Oregon on Christmas eve I wondered about where all the other people were going, traffic was thick but it was moving... they were probably the same sort of place we were going, to visit family during the holidays.

Good times was the goal.  We did achieve surprise and good times were had by most (me for sure!) ...

I'd like to wish anyone reading this an acceptable next year (even better than this one!) and if you run into a guy at a rest area who wants to talk about "why" you're moving, indulge him if you can <g>.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

There is a lot to said for second hand stores

I was down at the Goodwill and found a pair of Levi 501's in my size & bought them, they are the blue jeans with the button down fly...

It's funny how one little thing will bring back memories from long ago.



Years ago I had worn 501's all the time, I started wearing them right after I get some hair caught in a zipper... Back then they were shrink to fit and the first wash there was blue die everywhere.

I remember why I stopped wearing them, they became fashionable and cost too damn much money. Battery acid didn't care if they were brand new or worn out, didn't care if they were cheap jeans or Levy 501's... mess with a battery & that was it.
I remember putting acid holes in a brand new pair of 501's...

I started wearing cheap jeans and have for many years now but putting on a pair felt good & the first time I went to the bathroom, dealt with the button down fly all the memories came back!
Two things that seem worth mentioning-

 Memories are a big part of life & there is a lot to said for second hand stores


Thursday, December 12, 2013

This part of Texas

I'm down in south Texas for the very mild winter, because I've never been down here before, because I wanted to be close to the salt water again, because I wanted to see if I could get into fishing again and because everybody has to be somewhere. This is a better place for me to be than most right now.

This is a land of flat, a land of oak trees & birds, a land of bbq stands, a land of Mexican restaurants, a land of fishing boats. The roads are flat, mostly straight and have high speed limits. A land of Winter Texans judging by the out of state license plates you get stuck behind going 25 in a 45 zone every time I go into town.
I have not seen this many Minnesota license plates since the trip to Lake Havasu City in January a few years back!

The TV ads, there is a subject in itself!
Lawyers, lot's of lawyers and title loan places, there must be a booming business borrowing cash with you car's title as collateral... there are a lot of ads on the TV for those loans, almost as many as for lawyers.
Texas ads!
You can tell I'm in Texas by the ads! We've got Mrs Santa & crew eating like they do in Texas, we have trucks & cars that are built just for Texas, I learned that the first words from the moon were Houston!  It is interesting.

Lot's of pickup trucks here, I have noticed more Chevy trucks than Ford trucks, some days more Dodge trucks than Fords but that is unusual. Not many full sized Toyota's & most of the small trucks 'I've noticed' have been American brands.

The people are very friendly, the weather has been pleasant and the ads are Texan. Texas is a big place and I'm just seeing my small part of it but that will do for now.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Damn dog!

At 2 am the dog starts barking, I let him out and he's still barking, I thought he had to go... I tell him to get in and he does, I take him off his long leash and go back to bed.

I can't sleep now. I toss & turn till 0330 & get up, turn the computer on & check the news, weather, comics & bank balance, the usual morning stuff. I read the blogs & email. No coffee.
About 0530 I'm tired again and go back to bed.

I actually sleep! I have dreams (I'm usually not aware that was dreaming) and wake up about 20 minutes till nine. Time to make coffee & go.

Ever heard of the "second sleep"?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16964783 
or


 
The dog I was talking about
 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Let the Holidays Begin!


The holiday season starts again.
For most of my life Thanksgiving Day was the start of the 'holidays'. This Year I saw a store putting out Christmas things next to the Halloween stuff.
Part of living long enough to see these changes I guess.


I saw a Christmas tree in a pick-up the day before Thanksgiving & wondered it that was too early. Then I thought some more and wonderd "why" that thought?

In Hawaii the boat with the Christmas trees came in around Thanksgiving. You either got one then or waited until later and got want was left, the boat had come in.
Since those days the family went out the weekend after Thanksgiving to cut one down. I guess I had a brain fart on seeing the first tree of the season, I guess it's not really too soon.

I'm going to smoke a turkey in the Weber this year, it's 10.5 lb bird. This is not the first time I've done a turkey on the Weber, smoked turkey is really good. I'm looking forward to it!
The plan is to make dressing in a dutch oven, there will be a lot of coals getting used out here!

This is the first time I've used the Weber in a year, it's been stored in a storage box on the roof along with the charcoal chimney starter. I took it down, put it together and saw I was missing  the grate that hold the coals.
Took some driving but Lowes had a box full of both the replacement grills so we are ready!
I did carry it around for a year without using it, that was not part of the 'plan' but I guess that's how it is...

Have a good Thanksgiving folks!


Roof top storage box

The Weber grill's home


The 'new' grate
Get the fire started
1st check & tin foil time
The dressing was cooked in a 10" dutch oven, 14 coals on top & 7 on the bottom
Sliced smoked turkey
Oh darn, too many leftovers! On the other hand not too worry about what to have for dinner for a few days.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The RV as Housing & the end game

I was watching the guy across the road from me have deck built in front of his RV. It's a nice deck, almost as long as the rig & 12' wide. It sits on special bricks, nothing in the ground. Treated wood, rails & a ramp rather than stairs, I asked him about the ramp. He has a friend who uses a wheelchair and realizes that someday he might he might be on one of those powered scooters.
Someday... he was planning for the end game.

I looked around at other trailers that had decks & other additions to make their home more of a home and wondered about that. There are a number of people here who pay a year at a time, they have no intention of moving. They live here in the winter or come down once a month for a weekend of fishing, this is their 'house at the beach'.
There was a guy who took his deck apart and loaded the boards into the back of his pickup and left, later he came back and picked up his trailer, he was gone & the spot was vacant. A "house at the beach" that can be moved.

I think about all the other parks I've been to or noticed as I traveled, there are a lot of people who's home is an RV in a park. They own their own home and rent the land it sits on.

I got involved in a discussion about fulltiming on a forum, when to start and how to exit. I started thinking about it.

We started because there were places we wanted to go & things we wanted to try, someday.
We found ourselves in a situation where going full time was an option, it was not a pleasant situation but there it was. Someday was here.  We took it.

We needed a 'plan'. Part of 'the plan' was what we were going to do & what if we got tired of it?  The end game.
The "do" part solved itself as the days went on, the exit plan turned out to be simple.
We had our home, it has wheels and it was always going to be parked somewhere, if we got tired of traveling or we found a place we really liked we could just find a spot and stay there.

No matter where you are the Golden Arches at not far away


I have met a guy who has an RV in one park and another in a different part of the country, they drive between them as the seasons change. There is more than one way to stop full timing.

Beach access #5 on Padre Island, Texas
  I just added the photos because I can't see doing a blog without some photos

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rockport

We arrived at a new place with nothing in mind but not being cold this winter, some new country to see and I'd like to see the sun rise from the water....
 
We went the 60 miles to Padre Island for the sun rise
There are a LOT of RV parks in the Rockport area. We are across the bridge from the Rockport/Fulton area, it's quiet.

I'm not sure what I was looking for but I did find friendly people and quiet. 

I found warm weather, warm water, a bit of humidity, grits on the menu, the cheapest gas I've seen in a long time, boats and more boats, oyster po' boy signs, flat, trees, a CG helo, a CG Falcon jet, off shore oil rigs, jelly fish, two used book stores, Portagee man o' war, birds, bait, fish & fees. 

Other things too...

Rockport beach from the pier
A smoker, they have smaller ones & regular grills too

Oil rigs

A giant crab sculpture

I've started buying drinking water from a machine again and ice from the 7-11.  Just to be different I had the heater on this morning and wore a sweatshirt when I went outside.


I think it's going to be a good winter.... I do have a question, which is the "best' Mexican restaurant in the 'area'?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Too fast

We were out on the road with the RV,  this is a pig at the best of times so fuel use is an issue and speed really cuts in to the mpg.
Too slow is just not right,  I'm already in the way of most traffic just because of the size and too slow is trouble.  60 mph is comfortable & usually not too slow.

Then you see a sign like this....


Wow, even thinking about taking this pig up to the speed limit is nuts!  Would this box on wheels be stable at those speeds?  Could I live with actually watching the gas gauge move as I drove?

I'm not planning on finding the answers to those two question...

The co-pilot didn't really care.


I was using the GPS to navigate & for the most part toll roads are not the end of the world so I have not checked the block to avoid them.
Later, after a number of picture taking toll crossings I came across this sign...


Then I remembered all the stories I'd heard about Texas building the roads, then selling them to a foreign company to run, for profit.  (Follow The Money)
How healthy a profit we'll find out when our mail catches up with us next week.  Maybe not checking the block on the GPS was a big mistake?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Lines in the road


Have you ever stopped to really look at the broken lines in the middle of a road?



You need a deserted road to measure the lines, they were longer than I thought. 

This was actually the old bridge across Copano Bay in Rockport TX

There were more things to see out there besides the lines in the road.
It's a fishing bridge now, $3/pole

Dolphin    
The real bridge
See how the supports are different?
A jelly fish

I wonder if the cement truck drivers get paid for sea duty?
Building another bridge
Plus it was a real nice day.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Television

Television. You may think it's the tool that allowed civilization's downfall or the best babysitter ever, either view may be correct but television is a fact of life.
And yes, it can be turned off, put away and just never dealt with if that's what you want.
I like some TV.

My home comes with a crank up antenna outside that's wired to a plate in the ceiling, the plate has a 12v receptacle, a coax male fitting, an on/off switch & a little red light. There were no directions with this....
The switch turns on the 'booster', the little red light and allows the signal to come thru the coax fitting. I have a TV & a TV dongle for my laptop hooked up to the coax fitting (thru a cable splitter), we CAN get broadcast channels on the TV & the computer (I use the Windows Media Center on the computer as a DVR & tuner for the laptop).
The TV & computer sometimes get the same channels and sometimes they don't.

Standard Winegard RV antenna, works good most of the time


Some places I'd get good TV reception and other places I didn't.
In Quartzsite I didn't with the standard RV crank up antenna, so I bought one of the fancy looking antenna's they sold around town. With that on 20+ feet of pole I had broadcast TV!  (I cut my two 10' poles into 5' sections (for transport) when we left Quartzsite, I figured "how hard could it be to get unions for those anywhere?" Turns out they are not to be found in Rockport Texas).
The fancy 'new" antenna I picked up in Quartzsite

In Iowa (and many places) the RV antenna worked great but here in this part of Texas it doesn't. Before I broke out my Quartzsite antenna I did some research on satellite service.
I did NOT go and ask any professionals I went to the internet, to the Directv & Dish network sites. I wanted the broadcast network channels but there are a few on cable that I would not mind watching if I'm going to be spending the money anyway, I went and looked.


Directv wants a 2 year contract, Dish has a month to month plan, month to month I can deal with!  So I looked some more.
Dish has this Tailgater set up, you set this small white box out & tell it the zip code it takes care of the rest. It comes with 50' of coax, in HD & with a control box for $450. For another $40 you can get them to allow you to plug in an external hard drive (that gives you a DVR). That's up to $490...
To get the channels I want it's going to cost $50 a month, Dish can "maybe" get me local channels for an extra $10 a month. $60 a month for TV, lot's of TV, all the TV I could ever want (except HBO & Showtime ...)! 
$500 now & $60 a month for however long I care to pay them... because I want to watch broadcast TV.

Almost sounds like a deal!

I pulled out the Quartzsite antenna (it was disassembled & stored in two different places) & with the one union I had I bungeed 10' of pole to my crank up antenna, and tried it out. It worked! 20 plus channels! 
Not the greatest place to be mounted.
I went to town & picked up a new 10' pole, used my union to attach that to a 5 footer then tried that 15 foot of antenna pole resting on the ground next to the RV.  Yes!  We have reception!

Cheap thrills...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Missouri and grits for breakfast

I was sitting in a restaurant in Missouri waiting for breakfast, I don't recall seeing grits on the menu.  
I've long thought you'd know you were in the 'south' when grits came with breakfast without being asked, I'm paying attention to this stuff while I travel!
But like I said I don't recall even seeing grits mentioned.

That started me thinking about Missouri, some of it's history and it's relationship to 'the south'.
I had to look it up, I have a computer in my pocket, (it's called a phone) so I used that to look up the history in wikipedia.

Missouri is an old place. 
I'm a west coast kid, things from the 1700's are different enough to get my attention, I was really impressed on my first trip to NC and I saw things dated from the 1600's! That makes Missouri 'old' in my book.
The "Missouri Comprise" in 1820 & statehood in 1821, as a slave state.....
Settled by people up from the south and from back east (German immigrants) led to troubled times in the years leading up to the civil war. The state did not succeed from the Union but they tried to.

Rolling hills covered in prairie grass & trees, nice country (it was like that all the way thru Kansas too). We spent the night at a rest area just inside Missouri on I-35. (I had to find the relay for the electric fuel pump, I hate "having" to do stuff like that).
The next night we stayed at Clinton State Park in Lawrence Kansas. I had to read up on the history of Lawrence, the town was started by an eastern company that went out and started towns! Definitely different times. 
For me, Lawrence's claim to fame was that Quantrill came up from Missiouri to sack and burn the town during the war.

Clinton State Park was a nice place too, unusual bathhouse.

The bath house from the outside

The shower viewed from inside the bath house!


Not much camping here in the winter is my guess...

Had to pull out the Audubon Handbook (eastern trees) & look this one up..Horse Apple









Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Adventureland workcamping review


Our first season of workcamping at the Adventureland Amusement Park just outside of Des Moines Iowa (Altoona) is finished, we lived in our RV at the Adventureland RV park.


Adventureland park is to the west of the RV park & just to the east is a casino, hotel & thorough bred horse racing establishment. Big name entertainment and good food too.

A Super Walmart within a mile and two other grocery stores not much farther away. The usual collection of fast food, pizza & BBQ all close by. Nothing in the Des Moines area is too far away....

The RV park was open for workcampers the 1st of April and we have to be out by the 14th of October. If you work the whole season the only charge is $160 for June and another $160 for July.  FHU, good water, 30 & 50 amp sites, numerous bath houses with outstanding water pressure and a coin laundry at the back of each bath house. Wash was $1.25 & $1 for 45 min of drying.  That's 6 months of everything for $320.  It's an older park with a lot of trees and paved parking spots, many are pull thru. There is a community room with coin operated games, another laundry area and a pool. The pool is open Memorial Day thru the Labor Day weekend. Mail is delivered to the office every day so you have an address.



We are right next to the amusement park and you can hear people making loud happy sounds when the park is open.

The work.

We heard about this gig at the Adventureland booth at the Quartzsite RV show, it sounded good. We talked it over and decided to try it.
They were looking for workers for food, games, retail & rides. You were paid for all the hours worked, rides & food were $7.50/hr, games & retail were $7.25/hr.

I worked rides and loved it, I never had a 40 hr week but more hours were available. My wife worked retail and several times she was scheduled for a double shift (open to close) and several weeks were over 40 hrs. Getting more hours was always possible if you wanted them.

The work is not physically hard, & the people I worked with & for were just great.  Working with the public who came to the park for a good time was outstanding!  It was actually fun.
I am now a professional Tee Shirt reader!

The money....

Over the six month season (between the 5th of April and the 7th of Oct) the rent & utilities were taken care of, plus I had $3,388.00 deposited to my account and my wife had $3,522.80 deposited to hers.


It was fun, the area is nice, the rent was right and we they put money in our bank every two weeks.
I plan to come back!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Time for something new

It's time for something new here but I don't have anything new... I've been too busy to observe ANYTHING from the road.

With brakes on the RV & the brakes on the '90 Chevy van I've spent way too much time on my back, on the road under the vehicle.  On the bright side it looks like everything is working now...

The Adventureland RV park has a lot of room now as the workcampers go on to whatever it is they are going to do next, a lot of them are going to work for Amazon & should be there this week. There was a big exodus the first 2 days then it slowed down but has not stopped.
We are still getting our act together but as I remind myself I'm not in a hurry. Probably be moving tomorrow.

I am looking forward to getting the 'stuff' done AND seeing the sun rise from the water. 

Next week.

I needed to add a picture!

 If you like volcanoes here's a couple in central Oregon.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Some Days Are Like That

We are getting closer to being finished here. Time to get the RV ready to move!
I felt bad about not running this RV in 6 months but that's how it worked out.

I've been keeping up with the battery water so that wasn't a problem, I did put the charger on the vehicle battery & took care of a few engine things I'd been planning on doing (new coil, new fuel filter at the carb & replace some vacuum hoses). I checked the oil & started it up. It took a few times to get gas up to the carb but it started right up and ran well.  :)

Then I tried the brakes. This is always a time of worry for me, it's been sitting for 6 months. The pedal went slowly to the floor and the brake warning light came on. 
Repeated pumping didn't change anything.  :(
Some days are like that.

Then to work. The master cylinder was half down in one chamber & 3/4 down it the other, I topped it off.  I inspected everything under there, no visible leaks. I bled the brakes, the pedal stayed the same but the brake warning light went out.
The light's out, is it fixed? Well, the fluid did go somewhere... probably not.

I have a maintenance book in the computer so I read up on this brake system, not much to it. A master cylinder attached to a hydro-booster.

The brakes aren't working correctly, nothing is leaking & I have the time & money ... so I ordered both the master cyl & booster. They should not be hard to change, the bleeding is a pain but some days are like that.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The winter weather warning

On my browser at the bottom I have a weather thingee that changes every minute & shows a different place. I picked the places that it shows so it's where we are, where the kids live or places I'd like to go.  I glanced down and saw the predicted highs for Yellowstone. Oh wow, looks like winter already!



Then I went to the warning




It's not bad here yet





Nothing of our plans have changed, it is just a reminder of what is down the road. We were leaving next week anyway.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

The move...

It's almost time for the 1200 mile drive to some place warmer.


Altoona to Rockport with a stop in Canton

A variety of things conspired to wake me up early today and my thoughts turned to moving in 8 days, this RV has been parked since April & there are things that have to be done.
With this 'sitting in one place for awhile' lifestyle I think a 5th wheel would have been a better choice for a home.
I made a list of "must do" things to put on the wall.

I have to work today so it will be 3pm before I get to anything on my list.
This morning I did look at the Sunday comics, checked the updated blogs, had my morning bowl of oatmeal and then for something different I had a grilled cheese sandwich (sourdough bread) for breakfast.
(The pot has black beans soaking overnight).

Grilled cheese

The last time I had one of these breakfast urges it was a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich.


While checking the blogs I realized it was time to put something new on mine and the upcoming trip came to mind.  Not so much the trip as the google map showing the trip!
Finding out how to get the map from the computer to my blog turned out to be not that hard to do.

The Rockport Texas area

I'd like to wish everyone a pleasant Autumn!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Autumn has arrived...

Yesterday I wore long pants to work on the RV because is was not warm out. This morning when I got up I thought about turning on some heat.
During the week it was in the 100's & today I'm going to wear a coat to work.

Fall has arrived and I have over 2 weeks left here in Iowa.


I was outside last night listening to the road noises. I-80 here in Iowa sounds different than I-10 did back in Arizona. Trains off in the distance sound about the same.
I can't 'see' the road from here like I could in Quartzsite but that's ok.

Those are the sounds of our modern life going on around us, without those sounds my life would be very different right now. If they were to suddenly stop I suspect the 2-4 weeks after that would be both unpleasant and memorable.

Some people go to great lengths to get away from the sounds of civilization.
I enjoy the sounds on a deserted beach as much as the next person, or the sound of a brook running over the rocks in the forest, a place where the crickets & frogs as the only noise, or the sounds you hear at 2am when you view of the night sky and the nearest neighbor is 1/2 a forest mile away.
Then again I have sat in my chair & watched the trucks carry the world past me on I-10, listened to the bad tires & the rumble strips, listen to the noise that our world makes.

Those highways & what they support allow me to do what it is I'm doing right now.... Typing on the computer & thinking about warmer places  :)

Oregon  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Deadlines....

[Edit note- I use my blog to watch the blogs I read & really noticed the 'days till we move' number in bold when I do... as the days roll on it was wrong, I had to fix it]

Thru much of my life there have been "deadlines", things that had to be done or places I had to be by a certain time.

School & the school bus, term papers, home work, dinner, work & take the garbage out were all common everyday deadlines. Some type of requirement was always there, it was normal, it was the fabric of my life. They were forever if anything was.

Then one day they weren't.
Well the deadlines weren't really gone, it was work that went away, the kids were grown & it just seemed like the deadlines stopped. They didn't of course, the garbage cans still had to be taken out Tues night...

Months pass. Things change again, back at work & I have to be out of the house by 0930 for my five minute bike commute to work & it continues.
Different but still the same, the comfortable sameness of an old acquaintance.... the deadline.

Now I have another deadline, in 16 days we need to start the motor on our home and drive it somewhere else.
That's what our home was designed to do, it shouldn't be that hard, people do it every day, at times we've done it everyday & I KNEW this day was coming when parked here on the 5th of April so it is no surprise.
But still my mind sees it as a 'deadline' & a big one.

At Quartzsite we sat for two months, it's been over five months here (so far).
I'll top off the start battery the day before I need to start it.

On the bright side we have a destination, going to Texas!
The plan is to check out First Monday Trade Days in Canton, TX then head to Rockport and see what the gulf coast has to offer for the winter.

Another deadline..... I sure hope my house starts....


I have to add a photo or three & I can't think of any that have anything to do with deadlines so these will have to do.


Bacon wrapped stuffed jalapeno peppers in a dutch oven
A rest area in Washington state named by Lewis & Clark
John Day Dam, Colombia River, Oregon side
It was good to see someone else has a sense of humor



Please, a moment of silence while you recall where you were the morning of Sept 11th, 2001.