Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Day 72, 73 - Harlingen, TX - RPI

Tuesday (72) - Quite the change from last week. I’m enjoying the pool again between test sessions. I also went to Walmart this morning to pick up some groceries. The only item that I wanted but they didn’t have were eggs. There was enough of just about anything else.  And no one had overflowing carts. In some cases, I ended up getting a more expensive version of an item.

The last test had a candidate testing from outside the country. He was a U.S. citizen but at a university in Europe. I learned how to enter this info into the FCC batch file that gets uploaded. I’m participating in all the sessions until we move on Thursday. From what I remember, Verizon was kind of barely there at our next location, Medina Lake TT. It’s about an hour west of San Antonio. 

Since we will be traveling with a full water tank, I started up the engine and used the engine-driven air compressor to fill all of the rear tires to the same air pressure. The engine started up easily (no smoke!) and I filled up the four rear tires to 100psi on the gauge. I'm not sure what the TPMS system will say but I tried to make them consistent. The engine-driven compressor inflates those tires much faster than the little 12volt compressor I usually use.

Wednesday (73) - It’s another warm day. The low last night was 70°F so the A/C ended up running (not continuously) all night. It’s 11am and very nice in the pool. We are starting to get ready to head north and west. The next stop is Medina Lake TT. This park has a lot of infrastructure issues such as roads and electric but it’s a nice location. And about 45 minutes from San Antonio. 

There have been numerous updates to the HomeAssistant software that I have been running for the last 9 months or so on a Raspberry Pi 3. I haven't added anything for a while but I have had to rebuild the server after some updates. I have an idea for another addition. I may have some time while in Medina Lake but it sort of depends on if there is sufficient Internet.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Day 68, 69, 70 - Harlingen, TX - TT

Saturday (68) - Things are looking up in southern TX today. At noon, it's already 64°F and just a little bit breezy. I'm still glad that we opted to stay here for several more days as the infrastructure still needs time to recover. Especially given the state of the grocery stores yesterday afternoon. I've heard that power has been restored through much of the state and the windmills are no longer covered with ice.

We went to visit Jo and Bev from Fairbanks at their RV park as Bridget was learning a new craft from Bev. There was a test session scheduled around noon but there were plenty of VEs so I opted out of the session. On our way back, we stopped at Cracker Barrel for dinner as we were both hungry. I had the sampler with country ham, meatloaf, chicken & dumplings, fried okra, baked potato, and turnip greens. Needless to say, I have a full to-go box. The standout items are the greens and ham. I had never had their meatloaf or chicken and dumplings before. They were fine but not as good as some other items.

Sunday (69) - It’s 72°F on Sunday morning with wind. In other words, something approaching “normal”. We have an unusual amateur radio test this afternoon with thirteen applicants. This will be a challenge for our our small VEC. Other groups have been doing large sessions but there have been some shortcuts such as not reporting the actual testing location. This simplifies the batch file uploads to the FCC. 

I thought I’d get a pool visit in earlier in the day. Now time for a meatloaf or ham sandwich before the test session.

Monday (70) - Wow, day 70 already. It seems like I was back in Fairbanks just a short while ago. With the short extension, we will have been at this RV park for almost a month. It doesn't seem like it has been that long. Last night, we went to dinner with Galen and Cindy again. He found a really fabulous Mexican restaurant in downtown Harlingen. We had to wait for a table but it was definitely worth it. The beef fajitas with caramelized onions and mushrooms was truly the tastiest I've ever had. They headed out this morning for Arizona. 

Like most days, I'm typing up this post while waiting for a amateur radio test session to start. Yesterday's afternoon 

On my walk this morning, I met Brian from the Livin' RVision YouTube channel. They just arrived last night after a long 11 hour driving day. We have been watching their videos for about a year and their personalities make them very entertaining. We knew that they were heading to southern TX and hoped that our paths would cross sometime.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Day 64, 65, 66, 67 - Harlingen, TX - TT

Tuesday (64) - It didn't get as cold last night probably because there wasn't the high wind. RVs don't have a lot of insulation and they could lose a lot of heat with wind. Right now, it's 36°F and getting warmer. I reconnected all of the utilities but the campground water pressure is only 20psi. There must still be be water leaks somewhere in the park. Yesterday, the maintenance guy mentioned that he had fixed over twenty broken pipes. 

Today seemed like a good day to be running the convection oven so I made some cornbread and cookies. This is the same cornbread recipe that I used before except I added some thawed, frozen corn and used the cast iron pan that I had brought back from home in December. It's been getting regular use especially to sear after sous vide.

At 3:30, it has warmed up to 43°F and the low temperature isn't supposed to be much below that. These temperatures are apparently causing a lot of problems in this area since most houses rely on their heat pumps (electric) for heat. And they don't really do that well when the temperature drops below ~40°F.

Wednesday (65) - It seems that people in Texas are panicking due to the cold temperatures. Bridget went to get gas in the car this morning and the first station she went to had run out of gas. Now, she's waiting in line at another station. We had dinner with Galen and Cindy last night and they mentioned that store shelves were emptied out of things like water.

The weather forecast is for the highs approaching 60°F today and into the 70s (°F) by the weekend. Hopefully, things improve dramatically up north by Monday as that's when we plan on heading to Georgetown, TX. Just a little bit north of Austin.  

Until now, I wasn't sure that the Anytone HT was working on analog frequencies. I had configured up about six VHF frequency pairs on the radio but had not heard any traffic. There was a local net at 7pm on one of the repeaters and there were dozens and dozens of people joining in. So, at least I now know that the radio works on analog VHF. Though the standard antenna may be a bit lacking. I ordered up a Nagoya 771 but due to the weather, who knows when it'll get shipped.

Thursday (66) - Due to infrastructure problems here in Texas, we may delay leaving the area. This is the Texas DOT map showing closures. The grey are snow reports. I just checked the weather in Georgetown and it's currently snowing. It is also snowing at Medina Lake TT which is where we are planning to be in a week. Much of this area is also having rolling power outages. What a mess…

I picked up an Amazon box this morning from the mail room and was told that most of the distribution centers were shut down due to power outages. She was surprised to see that my box was delivered. My package had sat in San Antonio for a couple of days according to the USPS tracking. Nothing exciting. Black tank chemical…

Friday (67) - Sunny and breezy is the condition today. We decided to postpone our trip to Georgetown and stick around here for three more days. We are headed for Medina Lake TT which is about an hour west of San Antonio. The hope is that everything will be getting back to normal by then. 

But the best part is they unlocked the gates to to pool area. I think people have complained about having them locked. Especially since it wasn’t that cold. The management may disagree about that considering how many broken water pipes they had to fix. 

A lot of the green that was here when we arrived is now “less green”. But it’s warm with just a gentle breeze so it’s hard to complain. 

Bridget ended up stopping at Walmart and asked about groceries. I wasn’t planning to look for groceries until next week. Others around the park mentioned that people were buying a months worth of food not even knowing when they were going to get power restored. I don’t really understand the panic buying. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Day 61, 62, 63 - Harlingen, TX - TT

Saturday (61) -  From this temperature map, maybe we should've gone to Florida this winter. The forecast is for a low of 23°F on Monday. Yesterday, I went ahead and swapped the heated water hose along with the cheap pressure regulator. No use breaking things so soon after I got the replacement. Since it has been below 40°F both yesterday and today, we are using a combination of propane furnace and the electric radiator for heat. So far, it's doing pretty good. Way better than it's been in the past. The electric radiator is in the front living area and it adds enough heat so the furnace isn't running all the time. After this weekend, we will probably need to fill up the propane tank sometime next week. 

We went out to Chili's for dinner with Galen and Cindy. With the cold weather coming in, they extended their stay an additional week. They have what I consider the ideal heating system. A diesel fuel boiler with heated floors. No propane in their RV at all.

Sunday (62)
 - Someone has a new favorite spot today. It’s only 37°F for today’s high temperature and the forecast is for the mid-20s (°F) tonight. I disconnected from the campground water and sewer this morning and closed up the opening in the wet bay. From the photo below, you can see that it makes quite a difference in the temperature of that compartment. 

It is still windy outside and between that and the humidity, it feels a whole lot colder than the temperature suggests. I believe the forecast is for winds tonight of 20mph with gusts up to 40mph. 

We also brought in our large slide and it feels a lot warmer. There isn't a lot of insulation in the floor and ceiling of the slides.
Monday (63)
 - I thought that southern TX was supposed to be warm. Or at least warmer than this. We are really burning through the propane this weekend. We are at 35% down from 70% last week. I nabbed the propane guy and picked up one of his signs. You just put it into the front windshield and he'll stop and fill up the tank. A bit more expensive than Love's but way more convenient. As you can see from the screenshot, it's supposed to start getting warmer starting tomorrow with pool temperatures by the end of the week.

I'm waiting for another test session to start right now. Bridget read that there are a lot of power outages in the state including  some int the county where we are. The only way we'll know if there is a power outage is if the refrigerator switches back to propane. Just about everything we can see in the main living area will run off of the inverter.

That last sentence reminded me to switch the electric heater to an outlet that isn't powered off of the inverter. Just in case…

Now time for a walk before the second session...