Monday, May 19, 2014

Humor on the Highway

There's a large puddle at the end of a drainage ditch by the side of route 90 in Galliver.  We drove by too fast for me to get a photo, but I could see it was only five or six feet around.  Someone stuck a sign in the puddle reading, "No Fishing, No Swimming."

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Camera Obscura

My wife and I were driving the back road into Crestview.  We made a turn onto a side road I was sure would was to the main thoroughfare.  It did, but was blocked off for an antique car show.  I won't say we're aficionados of antique cars, but we do like looking at them and saying, "They don't make them like that any more" a lot.


So we strolled the main drag (car pun intended) gawking at all the classic automobiles.  I didn't bring my camera, so I was snapping photos with my cell phone.  It was too bright to see the screen properly, so I just pointed and pressed the button.  Wouldn't you know it: in every picture, I had my fingers over the lens.

A Case of Mistaken Identity

I go for a walk almost every morning and evening.  It's good for my heart.  Today, I was strolling my usual route, when I chanced upon a stick in the middle of the road.  Two steps away from tromping on it, I realized it was not a stick, and I shouldn't be tromping anywhere near it.

A little research shows it to be a Gray Rat Snake, which apparently sounds worse than it is.  It's non-venomous, and feeds mostly on small woodland creatures.  It burrows and climbs trees, but for some reason decided to stretch out in the middle of the road.  Maybe the sand was toasty warm.

I know now that the snake is harmless, but the prudent thing at the time was to grant it a wide berth, which I did.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Hard Riding

I go for a walk around the park once or twice a day.  It keeps my blood pressure down.


Yesterday, I was strolling in the far side of the grounds when I spied about eight to ten tent, and a lot of bicycles.  Oh, and about fifteen people, too.


I strode up to one of the women (who happened to be the leader of the group) and made a joke about how the rain made all kinds of strangely-colored mushrooms spring u pp.  We chatted for a while, and I learned that this was a bicycle club from San Diego.  They were spending 58 day cycling across the country.


Cool.  Something new to add to my bucket list.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

All Wet

It started raining again late this afternoon.  During a lull in the storm a few minutes ago, I went out to use the bathroom (ours is just too small).  It started raining again as I finished up.  I stood in the doorway watching the rain.  It was only about 100 feet to our RV, and I figured I could dash over there without getting too wet.  I stepped from under the eaves of the roof into the rain, and found that it was actually very light.  I said to myself, "Oh, this isn't so bad."

Literally, the second the words, "this isn't so bad" passed my lips, it turned to a torrential downpour.  In traversing the remaining 60-70 feet, I was soaked to the skin.

Under the Weather

It started raining in the early hours of last night.  Our roof amplifies the noise of the rain, which is what woke me up.  Then the thunder started.

Our dogs, who are all brave enough to chase off the toughest intruder, are scardy-cats when it comes to thunder.  One boom is all it takes for them to start barking up a storm (pun intended).  I was mostly trying to console Cutie, our big dog, because when she gets started, the others are uncontrollable.  She curled up n back of my legs, her normal place to hide.  Soon, though, that wasn't good enough, so she climbed over me, and crawled up the edge of the bed until she was right in my face.  Which she started to lick.  That made her feel better for a few minutes, but a sudden crash of thunder had her running for the window to bark away the storm.  I got her calmed down, and she curled up behind my legs again.  From then, with every roll of thunder, I was wrapping my legs around her to keep her quiet.

The storm finally ended just before dawn, when I managed to get about a half-hour's sleep.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Dog Day Morning

On our way to the store this morning, we stopped to let an old Bassett hound cross the road.  He got most of the way across the street, then turned around, and came over to visit us.  What a friendly dog.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Our Travel Plans Backfired

We stopped in Texarcana to have my good friend Huck do a tune-up on the engine.  He was there when we arrived, and started work immediately.  It was late, though, so he came back Tuesday morning to finish up.  He did an excellent job.  The engine was purring nicely when we drove away.

That, however, only lasted as far as Shreveport.  The engine started to run rough, with the occasional backfire.  It got worse by the end of the day, when we crossed into Mississippi.  The next day, it was gradually worse, until we arrived in Florida, when the backfiring was almost constant.  We had stopped several times to try to find a mechanic to fix it.  What we found was that RV repair shops don't fix engines, and truck repair shops tend to specialize in diesel.

When we arrived in Florida, I checked over the engine to see if I could determine the problem.  It was, as I thought, a loose spark plug wire.  We put it back, and the engine runs fine again.  One of our neighbors crawled underneath just now to see if I had seated it correctly. I hadn't.  It's fixed now, though.

Here's the troublemaker

Our Ongoing Journey

We pulled into Mississippi last night, after 9pm.  We were trying to at least make the state line, because it was half the trip, and the more travel we completed yesterday, the less we would have to do today.


We spent the night in a rest area just east of the river.  Gas at the nearby station was $3.39.  This morning it w a s $3.42.  They must have known we were coming.


There was a beautiful view of the river from the rest area. Unfortunately, we left before dawn, so I couldn't take any photos.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Brief Pit Stop

We have always gotten bad gas mileage on our rig (5mpg).  It was something we just had to live with. Until today.  We hope.

My good friend Huck (whom I just met) offered to do a tuneup for us.  We arranged to meet him in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Texarana (on the Texas side).  He started yesterday, but circumstances (and bad automotive design) forced him to stop and resume this morning.  It took another five hours, built finally everything was done.

With great trepidation, we started the engine -- and heard a cacophony of squeaks and thumps.  The squeezing was one of the fan belts, which he tightened back down for us. We ne err learned what the thumping was.

We had been hoping to resume our journey first thing in the mourning, and now it was after err 4pm, and there was still more to do.  Kazumi and I decided to leave everything as it was, and fix the remaining problem in Florida..

But first, a test drive, to make sure everything else was working fine.  We were not even out of the parking lot when all of the noises disappeared.  No thumps, no squeaks, nothing.  Just the smooth hum of the engine.  Even some of the body rattles are gone.

We ate quite happy now, and cannot thank Huck enough.  Later, we will see how much this improves the mileage. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's Green Here

Looking around, I see lots of grass and trees.


I am so glad to be out of the desert!

I'm Tired!

A man pulled up alongside of us, beeping his horn.  He shouted something about tire tread, and pointed to our trailer.  Pulling over, we saw that one of the tires on our trailer had ruptured (and was gone), and the rim on that side was ruined.


Luckily, he knew of a nearby tire place. We limped over there, and found they were able to help.  However, they didn't have the 14-inch rims we needed and so replaced both sides.  (On the bright side, we now have a spare for the trailer.  An hour and $300 later, we're aback on the road again.


Snow Must Be Rare Here

We've barely gone ten miles, and have already seen three accidents. All of them on bridges.

On the Way

Hitting the road again.

We work up early (5) to compete the last-minute preparations.  The car was already on the dolly, and the hoses were put away.  All we had to do was tie a few things down and put the power cable away

In the freezing cold and snow.

That's right, Amarillo decided to send us off with a mid-spring snow storm.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Best-Laid Plans ...

"If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." – Woody Allen

I had it all figured out: thirty-six hours to Holt, Florida, in three days.  Not enough money for overnight stays, so we would sleep in rest areas, and drive whenever we could.  $900 would cover the trip, about $300 for parking fees, leaving just enough to pay the bills.

I filled the tank as much as I could before we got on the road.  Most (probably all) gas stations have an upper limit on charges.  At the first gas station, that upper limit was $125, and I could only fill the tank twice.  After that, the gas pump refused my card.  Since I had about an inch of gas left in an 80 gallon gas tank, I knew it was not full.  A few hours later we stopped for more gas, but the station would only let me pump ninety dollars.  A third stop netted me only forty dollars worth of gas.  We weren't even out of Arizona yet, and almost $400 was gone.

Since I wasn't yet able to fill the tank to the brim, I had no idea of how many miles per gallon we were getting.  Though I knew it was wrong, my best estimate was about 5 miles to the gallon.  I redid all of my calculations (which were based on eight miles to the gallon), and realized there was simply no way were going to make it to Florida on the money we have.  We could get to Dallas, but would be destitute.

And that's why we're in Amarillo.  The money that was supposed to take us all the way across the country brought us here, with just a little bit left over.  The place is nice, with clean restrooms and some exercise machines, and free coffee in the morning.  Everything we need is within a couple of miles.  We are going to be here for at least a month, hoping that I find enough work in that time to finance the next leg of the journey.

In retrospect, I recognize my mistake: my calculations were based on a best-case scenario, excluding the cost of the initial fill up, which should've been around $300.  When I do this again next month, I'll assume 5 miles to the gallon, and the need for an initial top-off.

Friday, March 14, 2014

On the Road Again

I need surgery on my shoulder, and our health insurance is only valid in Florida, so we've been struggling to make it back there.  Thanks to a friend giving me some work, and a deep sense of frugality, we have enough money to make the trip.  It's 1818 miles, which at an average speed of 50 mph is a little over thirty-six hours.  The money we have will cover the gas and parking fees when we arrive in Florida, but nothing else.  So we won't be making any stops.  No stops means no electricity which means no computer, no TV, no cell phone.  Just driving.  We'll be sleeping in rest areas or parking lots, but mostly trying to get to Florida in a timely fashion.  I'm a little apprehensive about the drive, because it's long, and because we haven't traveled in almost a year.  Am also looking forward to it.  As long and hard as the trip will be, it will be good to get back on the road again.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Milk of Human Kindness

We've had some financial difficulties of late, which is why we've been stuck in this backwater town for almost a year.  (And why I've largely been too depressed to keep up this weblog.)

I've mention our problems to very few people, liking to keep private things private.  But I did mention it to a few.  Some of those people took up a collection, and presented us with a card and $35 cash.  Okay, it's not much.  But it was enough to lift our spirits.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I Wasn't Paying Attention

I've been taking daily walks for a few months now.  I walk around the park, and through the parking lot of the defunct restaurant next door.  Each time, when walking from one lot to the other, I passed a large propane gas tank.  Other than knowing it was there, I paid little attention to it.

Recently, I changed my route, in order to walk more miles each day. Now, instead of walking past the tank, I'm walking toward it.  Now I see what was written on it, which I ignored before.