Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Day 82, 83, 84 - Gordonville, TX - TT

Monday (82) - We ran a few errands. The dogs needed some sort of shot. We found a vet in nearby Whitesboro. The state highway between the RV park and the town was really busy. Much busier than a few weeks ago. I think a lot more businesses are open these days. I contacted the glass shop in Phoenix and they are still doing mobile repairs. The Encore resort still doesn't know if they are allowed to have new arrivals yet. Our reservation is for next Monday and the repair is tentatively scheduled for the following Friday.

Tuesday (83) - It is 81°F this morning with thunderstorms in the forecast for this evening. I'll be glad to get out of this part of the country. Too many storms for comfort. We are still planning on leaving this coming Friday and, at the recommendation of some RV friends, we made a reservation at an RV park in eastern Arizona for Sunday. The park said that they have plenty of room in case the Encore park isn't accepting new arrivals and we'll be out of this storm area of TX/OK. It'll be three longish driving days (320 miles/day) to get there. Texas is a big state. I think I heard that El Paso is closer to San Diego than Houston. I've been looking at the diesel prices between here and Arizona and the EFS app has been showing prices around $1.20/gal. Amazing…

Packed up the bikes and pulled in the rear slide that we think might be leaking as there is a storm forecasted for tonight. I think the slide seals need to be replaced. 

Wednesday (84) - The storm ended up being about ten minutes of rain with lightning and thunder in the distance. But we needed to start putting things away anyway. I went ahead and added air again to the drivers-inside-rear tire. It seems to lose air very slowly. I used the 12VDC compressor that I had repaired to avoid running the engine. A month ago when we were originally planning to head out, I just ran the engine since there wasn’t anyone on either side of us. The neighbors on one side are here for a while so I didn’t want to run the engine.

When we get to OR, I plan on replacing four of the tires. The four rear tires are 7½ years old (date code 4912 or 49th week of 2012) which isn’t too old but getting there. The plan is to move the two front tires which are just under 3 years old (30th week of 2017) to the rear and put new tires on the front and two of the rear. I think that some of the rear tires also have those balancing beads in them as a couple of them have valve cores that no longer seal. Fortunately, I haven’t had to add any air to those tires. Also the older rear tires are “G” rated and the front ones are “H”. The specs call for “H” rated tires all around.

Fortunately, we aren’t anywhere near GVWR. The GVWR of this coach is 34,320 lbs with a cargo carrying capacity of 4,426 lbs. This is after a full water tank, full propane, full fuel, all engine fluids, and two people. One of these days, I’ll stop at a CAT scale after filling up the fuel tank to get actual axle weights and use those to determine the proper front and rear tire pressures. The decal on the rig just says 120psi for all tires, which is the max cold air pressure for “H” rated tires.

While messing around with the phone holder, I noticed that the little ball was about the same size as the Garmin GPS mount. So I switched them. The Garmin is now solidly screwed to the top of the dash. Before, I was using a mount that fitted in the CD slot on the radio. It wasn’t very convenient to see and it would fall out on bumpy roads as it was kind of heavy for the CD slot mount. So now the inductive charger for the iPhone is on the CD slot. They are all powered by the DC splitter just to the right of the Garmin. The TPMS display is mounted to the top of the splitter. I think that this may be a better setup. The red LCD shows the voltage of the chassis battery and is the power cord for the splitter. Plus, there are four USB ports for charging other devices.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Day 80, 81 - Gordonville, TX - TT

Saturday (80) - It’s been 80 days since I had left Alaska on this portion of our snowbird trip and I would normally be getting ready to head back home for a bit. I have a doctor and dental appointments that are due. The 14-day mandatory quarantine for anyone arriving in Alaska from out of the state is problematic. It would mean that the minimum time I would be away from the RV would be over 14 days. Probably closer to 16 days. As long as there is the 14-day requirement, I probably can’t make it back to AK.

I rode the e-bike around this morning including a trip to the lake. There were three boats, that I could see, with folks out fishing. Also, several of the empty RVs had family visiting for the weekend. It feels a little bit more normal. I went ahead and filled up the propane tank here at the park. This did necessitate pulling in the slides, getting off of the levelers and disconnecting everything but at least we now have a full tank. The SeeLevel II display uses the existing propane sensor built into the tank and it needed to be calibrated. To calibrate it, you fill up the tank “full”, which is 80% of the capacity of the tank, then press and hold multiple buttons on the display. This sets it so it now reads 100%. This was the first fill since over two months ago in Medina Lake.

Sunday (81) - Another warm day today. I’m thinking that we have a lot of hot days coming up. I think it’s been hitting 100°F in AZ. Not really looking forward to that. The RV park that we have a reservation at in Casa Grande is supposed to be calling me tomorrow or Tuesday with an update on their current policy. At the moment, they are not allowing people to show up but the person on the phone thought that this policy may change on May 1st. There’s hope. If they won’t allow new arrivals, we need to decide whether to continue waiting here or move on. According to TT, we can stay here for an additional week to allow folks to look for another place to stay. This makes me think that they plan to open up their campgrounds on May 1st for new arrivals. The RV park in Casa Grande is an Encore park which is part of TT.

I rode the e-bike around the area again. There is another campground/marina about a mile down the road. Then another route back to the highway. It was only about 8 miles but according to the app, I still got some aerobic exercise in spite of the motor. Mostly from trying to not slow down on the uphill sections. This e-bike has a 500 watt motor and if you relied just on the motor, your speed drops significantly on hills. Pedaling is still required.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Day 79 - Arbor Day - TT

I went to the hardware store in Whitesboro to pick up a box cutter. Surprisingly, one tool that I didn’t think to bring on this trip. I also filled up the car and I haven’t paid this price for gas in quite a while. $1.139/gallon. I’ve heard that some people were seeing gas under $1/gal in parts of OK.

I needed the box cutter to remove some carpeting in the bedroom near one of the slides. It looks like there is water coming in from somewhere. Since it is right at the edge of the slide, that seems to be the most likely candidate.

I had noticed that today is Arbor Day when there used to be celebrations and ceremonial tree planting. I didn’t hear of anything. I guess shelter-in-place doesn’t allow for much. I noticed a little more traffic on the road today and several RVs left this morning. I’m guessing that they just want to get on the road. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Day 78 - Birthday - TT

Oh joy. Another year older. It used to be exciting 50-60 years ago but now, not very exciting. It was very nice seeing all the birthday wishes on FB and text messages. To celebrate, I’m trying out a new pie recipe. An Amish German Chocolate pie. Plus, I picked up some ice cream today when we went to Walmart for groceries. What we got today should last us a couple of weeks with the exception of produce and dairy. With the over 80°F temperature today, the A/C has been running since 10am. Especially now with both the convention oven and dryer running. BTW, this is why we try to get a 50amp site. Both A/C units, the convection oven and the dryer all running at the same time. And there is still power to spare.

Yesterday afternoon, I received an email from TT saying that we were welcome to stay for an additional week past whatever the shelter-in-place ordinance for the state/county you are in. But I think that it may be time to move on.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Day 75, 76, 77 - Gordonville, TX - TT

Monday (75) - Not very “Spring-y” today. This is in spite of the 70°F+ that was being predicted. But, we are in a safe place for another ten days. Then begins the uncertainty. We have reservations for a couple of weeks in AZ starting 05/04. Then at a variety of TT parks in OR starting on 05/28 through most of August. Hopefully, they will honor the reservations. So far, all of them still show up in the TT online system.

I rode my e-bike to the local Dollar General store and they didn’t have any empty shelves. The clerk said the hoarding appears to have slowed down significantly. Though the older woman in front of me in line had two packages of TP and a pile of cigarettes. The essentials.

Tuesday (76) - Today may end up being an air conditioner day. But for now, it’s nice to sit outside. Not a whole lot going on around here. We’ve been here for almost five weeks. This is longer than we’ve spent anywhere but the price is right. We aren’t paying for metered electricity but we are paying $3/day for a 50amp site. The assumption is that you will use a lot more electricity. Probably an accurate assumption.

Bridget got ambitious today much to the annoyance of the dog. I don’t think dog grooming is in the “essential” category. But since these dogs don’t shed, they need regular haircuts. And, yep, that’s the most exciting thing that went on today. ;-)

I went for another bike ride today exploring some of the local roads.   Today, there was a bit of gravel connecting some of the farm roads together. It did allow me to pick up another virtual badge on the Apple Watch. Meeting or exceeded my “Move” goal 1,250 times. Not an ambitious goal which Bridget is quick to point out...

Wednesday (77) - No A/C yet today. Only 68°F at noon but the forecast is for 80°F by evening. We’ll see. Since it’s cool, I’m making a couple of baked potatoes in the convection oven. As you may guess, it heats up the interior when used.

I just read that Alaska is starting to relax their shelter-in-place rules. Some businesses will be allowed to open on Friday but are limited in how they operate. Other businesses will be allowed to open next Monday. The existing rules for international and interstate travel have been extended to May 19th. Intrastate travel restrictions are still in place. The Interstate rules are the ones preventing us to travel back home for appointments and things. I’m going to be going over the 90 day out-of-state rule for the retirement system. This is day 77 (that’s the number in the title of this post) since I left Alaska.

The picture is after thunderstorm w/hail and ~¼” of rain over a one hour period. It’s now sunny and 80°F (and very humid). Right about when I took this picture, a tornado touched down about 20 miles north of us. That is the direction this picture was taken.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Day 73, 74 - Gordonville, TX - TT

Saturday (73) - I took another walk around the park this morning and it was really feeling “green”. Much more than when we first arrived. Just a short 1.4 mile walk to get the cobwebs blown out. These are some of the rental cabins that are usually available at most TT parks. I think the only ones staying in them are some seasonal staff.

We are definitely taking advantage of the much improved WiFi. Between device and laptop updates, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime video, and Disney+, there is no shortage of choice. But there still isn’t much on. Catching up on the YouTube channels is the first thing in the morning norm. By 3pm, it was a pleasant 65°F and pretty nice sitting outside under the awning.

Sunday (74) - Another decent day here in northern TX. On the Home Assistant screenshot, you’ll notice that it detected our printer. Once I clicked “add”, it identified the printer model, status, and ink levels. Pretty cool.

The weather originally had thunderstorms for this area but they passed to the south of us with only a sprinkle of rain in the early afternoon.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Day 72 - Texas - TT

Thursday evening (71) - A bit of “excitement” yesterday evening. Fire truck, ambulance, and some other emergency vehicles. They set out a large circle of flashing amber light and we soon had a helicopter landing in the ball field in front of our RV. From the police blotter that Bridget found this morning, it was a serious injury from a golf cart accident.

Friday (72) - After a nice warm night, the temperature started dropping over 10°F by noon. I guess another cold front must be coming through. But at least the heat pump is keeping up. I’m just procrastinating on filling up the propane tank. According to the SeeLevel II, we are at 37% of  80%. Just as a check, the mechanical gauge on the tank reads around 9/32. They agree pretty well and I still have not calibrated the SeeLevel II to the propane sensor. I think there may be a problem with the venting on the black tank. Under normal use, the readings stop at 34% even though the tank continues to fill. This level corresponds to where the tank shape changes from going all the way across the width of the RV to two blocks one on each side of the frame. There should be a vent pipe connecting the two sections so the level rises evenly but that doesn’t seem to be the case. When flushing the tank, there is a water sprayer in both sections so they both fill evenly. And the SeeLevel II gauge keeps on going past 34% In 3% steps all the way to 100%. Another project...

As a start, the Texas governor announced that Texas state parks were reopening next Monday but there is still confusion about what he means. Day use only or overnight camping. Masks are required as well as social distancing and no groups larger than 5 people. He did emphasize that this did not mean "back to usual" by May 1st but this was the first step.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Day 71 - What If - TT

I just ran into something that would make it more challenging to drive home to Alaska from the lower-48. Since April 2, 2020, the Yukon Territory has an Civil Emergency Protection Order that specifies that non-residents passing through, need to exit the territory within 24 hours. This is almost 1000km. I believe I’ve done that a couple of times over the years. The last was with the Prius, before that was with the truck (no RV southbound) and the BMW motorcycle (no sidecar). Since I’m mentioning this complication, the idea of parking the RV and driving the car back has obviously come up. Right now, we have reservations beginning in May in AZ for a couple of weeks and starting near the end of May for a whole series of TT parks in OR. If these reservations get cancelled and restrictions don’t ease up, we may have to consider this. I haven’t found a similar rule for British Columbia or Alberta.

The uncertainty does cause stress. We still have a couple of weeks here at this TT park before our scheduled departure date. Our reservations are still in place. There have been reports that some have had their TT reservations cancelled but we haven’t experienced that.

I went into the nearby town of Whitesboro to the grocery store. This was just an in-between grocery trip to pick up dairy and produce. But there were some other things that somehow found there way into the cart. Not many people and the only empty shelves seemed to be the cleaning supplies and TP aisle. But we didn’t need any. Plenty of meat, dairy and produce. They even had a selection of dried beans. Something that I hadn’t seen in a store in the last month.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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

Monday (68) - It dropped down to 37°F last night as a cold front is moving through the central states. It’s supposed to be cold again tonight. By this time, I would already be getting ready for my next flight home but due to the mandatory 14-day quarantine in Alaska, that’s not really feasible. Especially since another 14-day quarantine would be required upon my return. I just sent an email to the Division of Retirement and Benefits. We’ll see what they say.

I moved our Ubiquity setup from the rear cabinet to the cabinet above the drivers position. This has unobstructed view of the activity center and resulted in a 12db increase in signal. I’m hoping this translates to more consistent throughput. While I was at it, I also moved the two Raspberry Pi computers into the same cabinet. The lower one with the small OLED display is the DMR UHF hotspot. The other on the upper shelf is the one that I just set up last week running Home Assistant. The antenna on the lower right is the Ubiquity inside antenna. The outdoor antenna is in the next cabinet to the left aimed roughly at the activity center.

I'm not at all sure what the DVD drive on the upper shelf is even connected to.

Tuesday (69) - Another night of needing to use the furnace. The heat pump just doesn’t work when it gets down to around 43°F. It’s already 12:40pm and the weather app is reporting only 45°F in Gordonville. The temperature sensor in the front of the RV is reporting 49°F. Moving the Ubiquity antenna to the front cap did make a difference. We were able to watch Netflix last night. It usually buffers a lot after around 6pm to the point where the Netflix app gives up.

Most of the afternoon was spent rearranging the stuff in the front of the coach. I temporarily removed the flatscreen TV and the wood supporting it from the old TV box. There used to be a tube TV in the front so there is a large empty space behind the current TV. I ran the cat 5 network cable that connects the Ubiquity Nano and its PoE power supply from the drivers side compartment into the center section. The power supply connects directly to the WiFi access point and I mounted this next to the TV.  This is shown in the picture. The other network cable goes to the Home Assistant Raspberry Pi which is also in the space behind the TV.

For now, it is being powered by the USB port on the power strip. The outlet that is is plugged into is powered by the inverter and shore power. But it is connected to a relay that will turn off the outlet when the engine is running. A safety feature. In the next cabinet over is the switch for the TVs that allows any source to be directed to any of the three TVs. This switch is powered by 12VDC so I’m thinking of tapping into that with a 12VDC USB power supply that I just happen to have with me. It doesn’t make sense until there are some IoT devices connected to Home Assistant. I will also need to have the IoT wireless network always running.

Wednesday (70) - More messing around with things in the front of the coach. I removed the amplifier to get to the 12VDC wiring and added this small DC-DC converter (blue rectangle). It provides 5VDC at 3amps and has two USB connectors. Since I am using a Raspberry Pi-2 for the Home Assistant and a Pi-3 for the DMR hot spot, the 3amp supply is probably sufficient. I used Anderson PowerPole connectors (red oval) again since I have them available. The Pi-2 is still in the old TV cabinet since it needs an wired Ethernet connection. The Pi-3 has built in WiFi.

It almost hit freezing last night and I’m hoping that we won’t be getting any more cold temperatures. I went ahead and disconnected the water last night just in case. Last year we got some freezing temperatures and I ended up cracking the water pressure regulator. I tried Amazon again and all of the microprocessor stuff I was looking at still has delayed shipping as it is classified as non-essential. This RV park charges a $5 handling fee for any package so I wasn’t too keen on getting things shipped here anyway.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Day 67 - Happy Easter ! - TT

We were able to watch the YouTube live stream of the Easter service from our church in Fairbanks. That was a really change to our Sunday routine. The Internet service here at the campground seems to have improved and has been useable for most of the day. The Apple TV is tied to the WiFi within the RV and I’m using a Ubiquity Nano to tie into the campground WiFi at the closed activity center. I’m going to be moving all of the network gear to the front cabinet above the driver. There is a 110VAC outlet tied to the inverter as well as ready access to 12VDC. The 110VAC outlet is for the Ubiquity Nano and the 12VDC is for the Home Assistant Raspberry Pi.

It is 75°F today and we have both air conditioners running. I have been using the induction cooktop more these days as it doesn’t heat up the living area like the propane cooktop. On the menu today is a generic chuck roast in the sous vide for 24 hours at 134°F. The expectation is prime rib type of texture and flavor at the chuck roast price. This is the small sous vide container that I had picked up at the store in Quartzsite. I also have one that is about three times the volume but most of the time it’s used for storage of plastic containers. There have only been a couple of times when the larger volume has been needed.

I just pulled in the awning as the weather changed again. Now it’s windy with gusts to 35mph. It was completely calm an hour ago. Apparently, the one thing you can say about Texas weather is that it’s probably going to change.

BTW, the roast came out wonderful. Finished it in a frying pan on the induction burner, a minute on each side. Then made a gravy with the drippings. As good as a rib roast at a fraction of the price...

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Day 66 - Gordonville, TX - TT

I had looked into the engine compartment yesterday afternoon and noticed that the engine air intake hose had come off of it’s fitting to the body. Above this is just a large air plenum that is the full width of the back and about two feet high. Outside air intakes are on the upper rear corners of the coach. I ended up climbing into the engine compartment and standing on the frame rails to get the hose re-attached. It’s around 10” in diameter. Lots of sharp corners and dirt in there.

Please excuse the blurry picture. The camera lens cover on my iPhone case was really dirty. Something else to try and resolve during this shelter-in-place time. After a sunny morning, a thunderstorm moved into the area and the forecast is that we will be on the edge of the storm for the rest of the weekend.

According to the Amazon site, non-essential items such as microprocessors will be subject to a shipping delay. The delivery date for items I wanted to order is sometime in May. I guess that project is on hold...

Today’s dinner was take-out from Sonic. It was a nice change from my cooking.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Day 64, 65 - Sherman, TX - TT

Thursday (64) - This morning we ventured back to the Walmart in Sherman, TX. They had the signs limiting people inside the store and the queue lines were set up as well. There was an employee counting customers entering and leaving the store. But being a Thursday morning, it wasn’t crowded. There was also an employee at the entrance cleaning the shopping cart before offering it for you to use. They had pretty much everything we had on the shopping list except dried beans and oyster sauce. But the Asian food selection all over TX has been pretty poor. The only empty shelves I saw were frozen chicken and quick to prepare items such as mac and cheese. No shortage of unfrozen chicken. They even had a selection of tp!

I did pick up some rope to anchor the awning in light wind. Usually, I retract the awning whenever wind is in the forecast. Since I stake down the mat it was easy to tie the awning roller to the same stakes. I also picked up a three-step ladder so I can reach things on the outside such as the awning.

Friday (65) - Another nice, sunny day. A good day for some outdoor projects. The led light strip on the awning runs on 12VDC and I have been using a 120VAC brick to power it. That seemed a bit silly since there was plenty of 12VDC power. I cut the wire between the brick and the connector and added Anderson PowerPole connectors so I could still use the brick. I then tapped into the power for the front passenger side compartment light and added a pair of Anderson connectors. I had the PowerPole connectors lying around from when I installed the VHF/UHF radio into the truck last year. They are rated at 30amps so kind of overkill for an LED light strip.

The other was more task than a project. I emptied and flushed the black tank but this time with a stopwatch while flushing the tank out. With the water running into the tank on full, it took 11 minutes for the SeeLevel gauge to reach 91%. Then after draining, I did it again noting the percentage for around three minutes and six minutes. Three minutes was around 3% and six minutes was 28%. This matches my thoughts when I installed the sensors with the lower portion of the tank holding most of the volume. I repeated this three times to make sure my numbers were consistent. So when it reads 30%, we are around half full.

The things one does for entertainment when sheltering-in-place.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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

Monday (61) - It was 70°F this morning and seemed to be a good day for a bike ride. I rode around the park initially then out to the highway on one road, down the highway and back on another road. Just enough to get a little bit of exercise. This carving was next to the exit to the RV park. There are a number of these carvings scattered around the park so I think it must’ve been a hobby of one of the employees. Surprisingly, we still occasionally see people leaving and arriving even though they don’t “have to” leave.

We talked to one couple yesterday (from over 10' away) who just sold their house last week to be on the road full time. They just joined TT that day in order to stay here which isn’t too far from their former home. I wonder if they regret their full-time on the road decision...

Tuesday (62) - It’s only 11am and it’s already 75°F. I went for a two-mile walk around the campground. Most of the spaces are occupied now and many areas are much more packed in than where we are. In the picture on the right, we are the RV in the middle. Both of the RVs on each side are still mostly unoccupied. They stopped by for a couple of days a few weeks back to check on them.

I’ve been messing around with Home Assistant some more but I need to order some modules to play around with. I’m thinking of some WeMos D1 Mini Arduino boards. They have WiFi and 11 digital input or outputs. With appropriate circuitry, they can be connected to drive relays or sensors. And are like $20 for a package of five boards.

And just another note, today was the first day this year that Fairbanks no longer gets completely dark at night. At least based on the definition of astronomical twilight. The last light of dusk and the first light of dawn meet in the middle of the night. It says 2:00 pm but that’s just a flaw in the way their site calculates the time.

Wednesday (63) - This is what happens when there is a new toy to play with. Since I don’t have anything “real” to interface with the Home Assistant software, I just have it doing speed tests on our WiFi connection. Initially, it was just every hour but I changed it to every 20 minutes for today. Just out of curiosity. Obviously, there are other devices using the service which is going to influence the results.

The bar labeled “Richard M” updates whether I’m in the RV based on my phone responding to ping. As you can guess, the WiFi on the phone turns off when not being used to save power. Not the most reliable method to determine presence. But, it’s something to play with. Especially since we are well on our way to 90°F today! It seems like only a few days ago when we had the propane furnace running. But like others have told me, that’s Texas weather for you. This is hot enough that the induction cooktop has come out. It hasn't gotten a whole lot of use since we started as it really hasn't been this warm.

Some other things on the screenshot of the Home Assistant overview page are the status icons. Since it is in the middle of the day, you will see that the network speed tests are horrible and since my phone is on Verizon, my status is “Away”.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Day 59, 60 - New Project - TT

Saturday (59) - A YouTube video came out today talking about RV automation. This one was done by Jason of the Getaway Couple and was decent. Not very in-depth but he was making the video for a non-technical audience. He mentioned that he was using open-source software called Home Assistant which runs on a Raspberry Pi for overall control and display. I just happen to have a Pi model 2 (which is older than they recommend) lying around but I think it'll do as a learning platform.

After downloading the package for the Raspberry Pi 2, I uncompressed the file into the Downloads directory. After inserting a 32 GB microSD card, OS X mounts the volume automatically.
diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2
unmounts the volume but the SD card is still recognized by the system. To copy the disk image to the SD card:
sudo dd bs=1m if=./hassos_rpi2-3.12.img of=/dev/rdisk2 conv=sync
Which returns:
2048+0 records in
2048+0 records out
2147483648 bytes transferred in 138.992654 secs (15450339 bytes/sec)

The logical volume(s) on the SD card aren't mounted automatically since OS X doesn't recognize the file system.

Now I put the SD card in the Raspberry Pi, provide power and an ethernet cord. It powers up, gets an IP address via DHCP and downloads the current version of the software. Now, I just have to wait for the slow Internet.

After a few hours, the configuration screen came up. I'm downloading a few add-ons for more flexible use such as SSH and a web-based editor.

This may take a while as this coach doesn’t have much that would qualify as IOT (Internet of Things).

Sunday (60) - Overcast but I don’t think it’s supposed to rain today. I checked the propane today and over just the last two days, we used about 1/8th of a tank. The front furnace runs a lot but doesn’t seem to put out very much heat or air. Maybe I need to remove it to clean the blower. The SeeLevel II display shows 57% but the system has not been calibrated for propane yet. I’ll do that the next time I fill the tank.

Since we are staying put for a while, I went ahead and put our mat and chairs out again and pulled the e-bikes out. If we had to be stuck somewhere this isn’t too bad of a spot. The trees have really filled in with leaves while we’ve been here. They finally locked up most of the bathrooms here in the campground. I think it’s because they were cleaning them almost hourly for the last week or so. A lot of additional work for the staff. I think they left one of them still open. They also changed the rules somewhat by only allowing fully self-contained RVs. This is a new rule as of Friday when they cancelled all new reservations for anyone arriving at any park in April. I think it was to allow anyone already in a park a spot for the rest of the month.

I finally swung out the TV that’s mounted on an arm in one of the storage bays. It’s not mounted very well as is an old Visio flat screen. I’m not sure I’ll keep it as it kind of takes up most of the compartment. This was the first time we even bothered to see it it works (it does). It was a pretty slow day.

One of the times we went to Walmart, most of the beef was sold out. In the discount bin was a package of two small steaks. Graded “prime” but marked half off. I repackaged them in a vacuum sealed bag with seasoning and a couple of pats of butter. Pulled them out, cooked them with the sous vide (they were still frozen) at 131°F for 90 minutes. Finished them off in a frying pan for about a minute on each side. They came out better than any steak I’ve had at any restaurant, ever. The sous vide is a fabulous way to cook…

Friday, April 3, 2020

Day 58 - Change of Plans - TT

If you read my post from yesterday, you would have seen the notice that Thousand Trails posted on their FB page. It's interesting that they opted for that method of communicating as their webpage still has not been updated. I contacted the office here at the park to ask about extending our stay through the end of April. They were flooded with phone calls this morning so after an hour or so, I walked down to pick up the paperwork and pay the 50amp surcharge. Now that I got confirmation on the extension, I changed our reservation in AZ into May and will cancel our reservation in Nevada. When I hear from the glass place, I will reschedule the appointment for May.

I really commend TT for stepping up and doing this. Some of the TT parks, such as those in Riverside County in California are being forced by local government to close along with anyone else offering short-term housing such as hotels/motels, AirBnB, RV parks, and campgrounds. We stayed at two of the four parks in Riverside County last year and I remember that the majority of the residents were annual and seasonal. The actual number of short-term guests was small. It'll be interesting to hear what happens. If all those people need to move out, they would essentially become homeless as their RV is their home.

As you can see, a cold front seems to be moving through the area. But according to the weather forecast, it is supposed to be warming up tonight. Not that it really matters as we have absolutely no plans to go anywhere or do anything. We just refilled all of our prescriptions and picked up groceries. I am still looking for a ladder but that really isn't in the essential category. Maybe the next time we go to Walmart.

Forty-four days. This will be the longest that we've ever stayed at one campground. I wasn’t too worried about the 1100 mile drive in these social-distancing days as we were planning to dry camp and only needed to stop for fuel twice. And with the Love’s app and the TSD fuel card, there is no reason to talk to anyone. But being able to shelter-in-place is probably a better choice these days.

BTW, I filled up the Prius yesterday. Regular unleaded gas was $1.259/gallon and the EFS app was reporting diesel prices around $1.40/gallon. Why are fuel prices dropping?

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Day 56, 57 - Gordonville, TX - TT

Wednesday (56) - I'm not sure why I'm still bothering to put the day count in the blog post titles anymore. The travel restrictions will probably mean that I won't be able to make it back to Alaska within the 90 day period. I heard that Alaska Airlines has dramatically reduced the number of flights overall and there are no longer direct flights to Fairbanks anymore. I don't see much change in the next 30 days.

But, it's really nice out today so I shouldn't complain about things I have no control over. I just called our next RV park and they said no problem. Call the office as soon as we arrive and they will show us to our site with their golf cart. We picked this location due to its proximity to Phoenix (within an hour) in the hope that our windshield problem could be fixed. I will call the mobile RV glass company early next week to re-confirm our appointment.

The forecast from today on is for occasional showers but no really warm days so I may pack the bikes away. Besides the one ride to the Dollar General store, a couple of trips to the lake, and riding around the RV park, they haven't gotten a whole lot of use. This picture of the foot of our leveling jack may demonstrate how wet the ground has been while we were here. I never realized how wet Texas could be.

Thursday (57) - This morning, I went into the small town of Whiteside, which is about 11 miles south of here, to pick up some groceries. I wanted to have enough for our travels to Arizona in a few days. While we have power and time, I am preparing dinners for the trip as there is no real plan for the trip. All we know is that we are leaving here on Sunday and arriving at another RV park on Wednesday.

I also figured that the inside drivers' side rear tire probably could use more air. I started up the coach engine and used the air pressure from the engine-driven compressor to top off the tire. It was 96psi and I aired it up to 108psi. There wasn’t anyone on either side of us so I figured it would be okay to have the engine running while I added air. The last time I filled the tire was in Harlingen, TX, so it doesn’t lose the air that quickly. I suspect that it is the valve extension.

A notice from the Thousand Trails FB page makes me think about staying put…
To our valued members,
As we continue to navigate the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19, we are committed to working with our members and employees to maintain a healthy environment.
In light of recommendations by the CDC and local health authorities to limit unnecessary travel as well as the shelter in place guidance in effect in many areas, we are making extensions available upon request to those members currently staying at our Thousand Trails campgrounds. Members may stay in place beyond the limits allowed by their membership contracts, without additional/new fees or charges, through Thursday, April 30, 2020.
For those members who elect to extend your reservations at your current location, we are requesting that you login to the membership portal at to cancel any upcoming reservations previously made. This will help our teams accommodate members that are impacted by the shelter in place guidance throughout the Thousand Trails campground network.
… (I deleted the rest of the notice as the only relevant section is in blue above)