Sunday, August 7, 2016


Kazumi found a dog outside last night, a cute little fluffy chihuahua with ginger-colored fur.  It had stationed itself comfortably in front of our door.  Kazumi picked it up; it didn't run, or bark, or anything.  She just sat in Kazumi's arms like she belonged there.

We looked around the neighborhood, but no one was searching or calling for a dog.  A number of people were walking their dogs, either on the road or in their lots, but none of them seemed to have lost a dog.

So, we decided to go door-to-door to find the owner.  We started with our immediate neighbor, an old man who was just clambering out of his RV.  We asked if he knew someone who was missing a chihuahua.  He responded with glee, "I am!"  We handed the fugitive dog to him, and he thanked us profusely.  He explained that "Ginger" often gets bored and wanders around, looking for excitement.

He went happily back inside with the dog, and we returned to our own RV, relieved.  We really didn't need four dogs.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New Car

I decided to take advantage of having a steady job (and, admittedly, a risk) by purchasing a new (to me) car. My old car was not in bad shape -- we maintained her very well -- but the right-front window stopped working and the battery died this week. After getting the battery jumped, I found that the car had started to shudder at stoplights with the AC on. Then I learned that the alignment was slightly off.

Now, none of these things were enough to get rid of the car. She still had a few good years in her. but I calculated that over that time I would spend two to three thousand dollars in repairs. That's a hundred or so dollars each month, on average. That's almost like making car payments again. So I figured, if I'm going to make car payments, I'll make car payments. It took two days of bargaining, but I got a deal I could live with.

We got a 2012 Nissan Juke, pictured below. My wife wanted a Jeep, for the ability to go almost anywhere, and I wanted a sedan, because I'm ordinary. The Juke is a good compromise. It has electronic everything, push-button start (which Kazumi likes), GPS navigation, back-up camera, and it even makes phone calls! And it's front-wheel drive, so I don't have to buy a new trailer. It's a really nice car, and as long as I have this job, it's affordable. I do plan to pay it off early, if I can.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Great Escape

Today was the boss's birthday.  To celebrate, and as a company-bonding experience, we all went to Padlock Escape Games in College Station.  This is a business (one of three in the area) which has several rooms with "mysteries" built in.  You are locked in, and you (and your friends) have to solve a number of puzzle within an hour in order to escape.
In our case, the back story was that we were going to visit our "father", but he had been kidnapped, and we had to escape from his den in order to help him.  The only clue was a note in his brief case telling us to "trust in the Good Book".  In the Bible, a passage was highlighted: "Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant..."  The ark was found in a padlocked box.  The passage was Exodus 26:34, and 2634 was the combination to the lock.
Solving this puzzle led us to another one: figuring out what to do with five different photos of the desk.  Discovering the commonality between the photos opened a locked drawer, which gave us another puzzle to solve.
The rest of the hour went on in much the same fashion.  The secret in the drawer gave us access to a second room, and more puzzles.  There were seven of us, so we could work on multiple problems at the same time.  Two of use were in one room trying to determine the combination to one lock, while three others were in the other room trying to get keys out of a maze, while the remaining two were searching both rooms for additional clues.
This was so much fun!  I figured out several of the padlock combinations, but there were things my coworkers deduced which were simply over my head.  We were almost finished when we ran out of time, but the hostess said she would give us a few extra minutes if we needed it, since we were the only customers for the day (the benefit of going on a Tuesday).  Those extra few minutes (less than five) were a great help.  We might not had needed that: we figured out early on how to open the armoire, but didn't realize that what we found would do that.  This probably cost us about ten minutes.
We had a very good time. I'm looking forward to doing it again someday.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Last Day: New Orleans

This is our last day in New Orleans.  I must say, I'm less than impressed.  The city is dirty, the roads are bad, and no one obeys traffic laws.  Granted, there is a lot to do here, much jazz, and a great deal of history, but frankly, I feel that could take better care of their city.

We certainly enjoyed the City Park and the many food festivals (though we missed the free jazz concerts, due to work), and I would never tell anyone not to com here, I'm just disappointed the city doesn't live up to the hype.;

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Holy Crap!

We were just sitting here, watching TV, minding our own business, listening to the rumble of thunder far away, when suddenly -- FLASH!BOOM! -- lightning strikes outside our door!

Okay, maybe not exactly outside the door, but certainly nearby.  I thought it was in the spot next door, but Kazumi says it was behind the rig.  Either way, parts of tree branches fell just outside.  I stepped outside (shaking in my skin) and looked around, but I couldn't find where the lightning hit.  I did smell something burning, so I know it was close.  Whatever it hit, we're just thankful it didn't hit us directly.  This is the downside of parking under trees.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

New Orleans: First Day

The day after we arrived in New Orleans, we decided to visit the city.  Well, not really "the city", but definitely the touristy parts of it.  We headed down Elysium Fields toward the French Quarter, and found that parking was free on Sundays!  This was especially exciting to learn, since the RV park owner told us she pays $12 for parking.

We wandered around one quarter of one quarter of the French Quarter, and found out that everything is way overpriced.  We bought exactly no souvenirs.  I wanted to sample some beignets, and  Cafe du Monde seemed the perfect place: not only are they world-famous for their beignets, but, as a "Wheel of Fortune" fan, I wanted to eat at the same place as Pat and Vanna.

Well, so did about hundred and fifty other people.  The line to get in snaked around the block.  I took a rough estimate of the number of people waiting, figured fifteen minutes of eating for each, divided that by the number of tables, and realized we would be waiting at least two-and-a-half hours for a donut.

We were hungry, so we decided to try a different restaurant.  The Market Cafe, at the end of the French Market, had a number of free tables.

As we entered, an Asian waitress approached us and said, "For day."

"What?"  I asked.

"For day," she repeated.

"For day?"

"Tayboo for day."

She gestured across the restaurant.  I followed where she was pointing, and saw next to me a table set with a condiment rack bearing a numbered sign reading "54".  To the left of that the table's sign read "46", behind that "47", and after that ... "48".  Table forty-eight.  We sat down.

The food was good: oyster po'boy and crab gumbo.  The service, so-so.  First, the waitress (not the same one) brought us someone else's lunch.  She brought our sandwich, which we were sharing, but it took her ten minutes to bring another plate to put it on.  We didn't leave a tip.

It was a good day, though.  We spent three hours doing the touristy thing, which was almost our fill for the month.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Jude Travel Park

This is a nice little park with the emphasis on “little”.  A handful of small spots tucked into what looks like less than a quarter acre, with a gazebo and tiny swimming pool.  Nice bathroom and showers.  It's not the cheapest park in the area, but the amenities and proximity to downtown make up for that.  It's back-in parking only, which I hate, so thank goodness someone was there to guide me.  Otherwise, I would have driven into a tree or through the fence.

 The owner, Marla, is nice, though her husband is a bit ... gruff.  One might even say rude.  He knows how to back in a big rig, though, and tends a nice garden.

It's Strange

We are milestone-based travelers (or at least I am; I can't speak for my wife). We're an hour away from Tallahassee ...  it's seventy-fine miles from here to Pensacola … the Alabama border is twenty minutes away.

But time seems to dilate the closer we got to each milestone.  It took a long time to get from Pensacola to the Alabama state line.  From there, though, it seemed only a few minutes before we were in Mobile.  After that, time slowed down again.  I'm sure it too far more than an hour to drive the thirty or so miles to the state line, and those last six miles took so long, I was shocked to see the "Entering Mississippi" billboard.  And now look: we're approaching Biloxi!  I'm certain there is some esoteric scientific principal at work here.

Good Morning!

We did sleep well last night, and were back on the highway after getting coffee from the vending machine at the rest area.  I pressed the button for “extra strong”, but it came out see-through.  I would hate to see what weak coffee looked like.

It got better, though.  A few miles over the line in Mississippi we stopped at the first rest area.  I went into the visitor center to find out how far we were from New Orleans, and the first thing I hear is “Would you like a free cup of coffee?”  Well, of course I did.  I even asked for – and received – a cup for my wife.  On the way back to our rig, I told Kazumi to go in and do the same.  Free coffee is always the best.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Taking a Rest

It's been a long drive, almost twelve hours.  We made a few stops for gas and food, and the engine is running rougher than when we left, but still okay.  We're only about four hours away from New Orleans, but that trip would get us there around midnight East Coast time.  Even adjusting for Central Time, that's still far too late to arrive.

So we're taking a rest for the night.  For a single night, Kazumi doesn't see much sense in staying at an RV park.  We're both tired from driving for so long, so I'm not going to argue.  We're heading to bed, and I know I'll be asleep within the hour.

It's a Gas

The RV gas tank was nearly empty when we arrived in Aripeka, so the first order of business was to fill the tank.  Gassing up an RV is a challenge, because it means finding a gas station that's large enough, with convenient entrance and exit (preferably separate), and an easy way to get from one to the other.  We have to quickly evaluate these attributes while cruising along at highway speeds. Obviously, we can't let price be a factor in our decision of which station to use.

We found a Mobil station which fit the bill, which was lucky because, as it turned out, we would not have made the next gas station on the amount of fuel in the tank.  The price was high, but we had to live with that.  I paid the attendant in advance, and started pumping.  It took 64 gallons to fill the tank, at a cost of $140.

When the pump stopped pumping, Kazumi yelled to me that there was a leak.  I walked around the rig to look, and, sure enough,  there was a big puddle of gasoline underneath.  I started up the engine and pulled away from the pumps, parking in the back of the building.  I looked underneath and saw three or fours large drops fall off the fuel tank, but after that, nothing.  After getting my change back, I looked again, but there were still no further leaks.

My assumption is that there is a hole in the filler spout (another thing I'll have to fix) which only leaks when the tank is completely full.  Something that needs to be fixed, but nothing that will stop our trip.

The Journey Begins Again

The engine in our RV has been running rough for a while. We had the engine timing adjusted last night,and it sounded fine.  This morning, though,, it gave me a little trouble starting, and when I pulled out of the spot, it started to backfire like crazy.  Pop!  Pop!  Bang! Bang!  Pop-bop a luma a long bang boom!

I was dismayed, to say the least.  The repair was only fifty dollars, but I still didn't want to waste that money.

I pulled the rig around to a straight part of the driveway, where I had planned to hook up the car.  There, I floored the gas and revved the engine.  It seemed to smooth out after a moment.  When I let the engine idle again, it wasn't backfiring.  Nor did it do so when I pulled the rig ahead a bit.

After mounting the car on the tow dolly, we drove out of the RV park and onto the street.  No backfiring.  Onto the main road, almost at the speed limit, and still no backfiring.  The engine still runs rougher than I would like, but the problem seems solved.

We're on the Road Again

Maybe this time, for good.

Our adventure over the past three-plus years has been disappointing, to say the least. A multitude of calamities, mostly of a financial nature, hindered our plans.

Now, however, I have a job that pays well, and allows me to work from home -- wherever home may be. I will endeavor to make this job last, and we will reap the benefits thereof for as long as we can.

Shortly, we will be en route to a month-long stay in New Orleans. When we have had our fill of beignets and jazz bands, we will continue on to Texas, for two months at an actual desk in an actual office at my new employer's workplace.

After that, if fate be with us, we will renew our traveling adventure, first to either Dallas or Austin, then in a great circle through the southeastern states, visiting friends I've never met before.

As for this web log: I started it with good intentions, planning to chronicle our travels as they happened. That did not work out as planned, obviously. I will try mightily to keep this up-to-date, but I will not try to back-fill the missing entries from the past three years. Partly because I don't remember all of it, partly because the parts I do remember are too depressing, but mostly because I'm too lazy.