Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Day 10, 11, 12 - Chehalis, WA - TT


Monday (10) - I went back to our friend's home to drop off some huckleberries that Bridget had collected in Florence. Dave was building a wooden dog kennel and I got a little bit of kibitzing in. I look at them as “helpful suggestions”. Others may view them differently. 

Later in the afternoon, I stopped at Walmart to pick up some groceries. It felt kind of crowded in the store but only when I was near the entrance. At this time, the temperature was about 75°F. Back at the campground, it was a very pleasant 70°F. It was a cool 45°F this morning and since we are burning propane for heat, it's not ideal. 

Tuesday (11) - The database on the Raspberry Pi running HomeAssistant, the “smart home” server I had set up last Spring, wasn’t collecting data anymore. It was still running on a Pi 2 which was in the not-recommended category. I brought back two Raspberry Pi 3s that I had been using in the 5th wheel and installed the software on it. I then restored a saved image but this also installed a corrupted database. Since I really wasn’t looking at historical data, I just deleted the database and restarted the system. This created a new copy of the database and all is well. 

Dave mentioned that today (Tuesday) is “dump day” and offered to dispose of anything large that we had. I have been thinking of replacing the recliner as the upholstery was in poor shape and not very comfortable. Especially on a hot day. Until this morning, I hadn’t really looked at what it would take to get it out of the coach. Only one lag screw held it to the floor and the arm rests were bolted on with five bolts. With those removed, I was able to get it out the door and into the back of the Prius. Now time to shop for another chair. 

I picked up an electric oil-filled radiator at Tractor Supply this afternoon. It was about half the price of similar electric heaters at Ace Hardware. I’m thinking that in cooler weather, like here, it may produce enough heat to allow us not to use the propane furnace. We’ll see how well it works tonight. 

I headed for PDX a little early to check out chairs at IKEA and am kind of partial to this. Nice and simple, comfortable, and sort of rocks as the wood is springy. The challenge would be can I get it to swivel. Since it’s missing a front cross brace, I’m thinking that it wouldn’t work.

Wednesday (12) - A quiet day around the RV. It's supposed to into the low 80s but it looks like some smoke may have come into the area. I was the VE on another ham radio test this afternoon. There was a new wrinkle for me as the testing platform was different than what was used in the past. Fortunately, it was a longer test so I managed to get logged into the site before the test was finished.

For now, I'm just using a folding chair where the recliner was before. It's good enough for now until I find a suitable replacement.

HomeAssistant keeps stopping so rather than restoring the save config, I'm going to simply rebuild it from scratch on the new device. My afternoon activity…

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Day 7, 8, 9 - Chehalis, WA - TT

Friday (7) - A cool, rainy day in the PNW. After all that time on the coast we should be used to this. The power is kind of marginal here. When we draw more than about 22amps, the voltage drops enough for the Progressive Dynamics EMS to disconnect the RV. So I set the EMS built into the RV to 20amps max. I find it confusing that the two companies are both using the same acronym for two completely different functions. The voltage drops to about 100VAC when we are pulling 20amps. After it stops raining I might try cleaning the terminals on our power cable but I don’t think that will fix the problem. 

This does mean that we are using the propane furnace for heat instead of the heat pump. I’m glad that I topped off the propane tank when we left the Corvallis KOA yesterday. Since we don’t pay anything for electricity, this does mean that staying here costs a little extra. BTW, here is a picture of one of the bezels that my son printed for the small OLED displays I’ve been using around the RV. It makes for a much more finished look. I found the file on ready for printing. The time to print four of them at one time was 1hr 40m. The display is press fit onto four pins printed as part of the bezel and I glued it to the refrigerator. 

Saturday (8) 
- Bridget headed to Fairbanks this afternoon from the Portland airport. We are sort of half way between PDX and SEA but there is much less traffic into PDX. After dropping her off, I headed up to friends near Centralia where they were making a chicken paella. Pretty good!

Sunday (9)
 - No more rain! It really rained hard yesterday afternoon but it looks much better for the upcoming week. When it rains hard, we see water by one of the bedroom slides. We carefully checked for any leaks on the roof and the walls. Yesterday, I noticed that the top of the slide wasn’t as far out as the bottom. This means that the top of the slide was tilted such that any water on the top would pool against the coach. There is a rubber seal but it is 15 years old. It’s hard to examine since the slide topper covers it up. 

While walking around the campground this afternoon, I ran into another couple who were across from us in Seaside TT. I ended up talking with them for about an hour or so. It was nice to catch up. 

I turned on the DMR radio and found out that the Monday Alaska Net should be up and running again on the Alaska Statewide talk group 3102. I had just charged up the radio and tried it out to see if my Raspberry Pi hotspot was still working properly.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Day 5, 6 - Nothing to Report and Chehalis, WA - TT

Wednesday (5) - Not much happened today. I picked up the tow dolly from the house and brought it out to the KOA campground. An okay site though the location of a tree means that I’ll need to back out instead of driving through the pull-thru site. I don’t know what they were thinking having a tree on the right side of where we would pull out. Even a smaller coach or trailer would hit the tree when exiting the site.

Tomorrow, Bridget will be driving into Lebanon for her COVID test appointment. Then we will load the car and head back on the road north to Chehalis TT again. We just needed a location that was convenient to PDX. Seaside was my first choice but it was full.

Thursday (6) - We got on the road around 10:30 and I opted for I-205 as the I-5 bridge over the Columbia was scheduled to be worked on. We arrived at the Chehalis TT around 2pm. We found a level site with Verizon signal. But only 30amp and no sewer. Since it’ll just be me for part of that time, that’ll be fine. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Day 2, 3, 4 - Still in Corvallis

Sunday (2) - A nice, sunny day. I walked down to the drug store to get a flu shot. I figured that I needed to get one sometime. This seemed to be as good of a time as any. As I was heading out of the drug store, I glanced down at the instant coffee, as has become a habit, and they had several bottles of  Café Bustelo espresso instant coffee. I had picked up a bottle in a store outside of Atlanta and hadn’t seen it since. I’ve been checking every time I’ve gone grocery shopping since Arizona. And, it was on sale! They had two jars left so I picked up both of them. I don’t have instant coffee often but this is the tastiest one in my opinion.

Monday (3) - Today, we met up with some long time friends from Fairbanks who now live in Salem for lunch. Afterwards, we stopped at the repair shop to check out the RV. The grid heater now works and cold starts are possible now. There is still smoke though I’m not sure if it’s any better. The mechanic said the grid heater looks like someone used starting fluid as it was physically broken. The #4 injector was not changed. They think the smoke is from glazed cylinders. By cutting out individual cylinders, the smoke doesn’t change so it’s not injectors. Glazed cylinders is usually caused by improper engine break in and extended running at idle. (Low combustion temperature) Unfortunately, the fix is major work. He recommended trying an oil additive (Lucas Oil Stabilizer) and not an overhaul since we aren’t planning lots of miles. By lots, he means 50k-100k per year. We picked up a gallon of the Lucas product and dropped it off. He said that they’ll drain a gallon and add it. We’ll be picking it up tomorrow.

Tuesday (4) - We picked up the RV today and had a long conversation with both the service manager and the mechanic. The grid heater does work now. On initial startup, it looked a little better until I turned on high idle. Then the smoke returned. The injector was not replaced as there wasn’t anything wrong with it. Compression is lower than it should be due to the glazed cylinders. Shortly after leaving the shop, the “Stop Engine” and “Check Engine” lights came on. Water temperature and oil pressure were fine and drivability didn’t seem to be affected so I looped around Albany and returned to the shop. The mechanic connected the computer and the codes were  for “low boost” and lost communication with a sensor. In my two mile drive, the error occurred 13 times. When we brought it in, the error had occurred 255 times which is max counter and it stops reporting and generating an alarm.

The mechanic said both are non-critical. The “real” boost sensor is connected to the engine computer and controls the waste-gate. The boost sensor this is complaining about just sends info to the computer up front for a boost gauge that we don’t have anyway. The sensor is to communicate between the engine computer and the front display. After the error occurs 255 times, it’ll stop reporting. It can’t cause the engine to go into limp mode or shut off. The shop in Tucson mentioned this and connected to the engine computer while driving and said max boost was 29psi which was fine. If we really did have low boost, there would be black smoke on full throttle. We aren’t seeing black smoke.

BTW, the guesstimate for engine repair is $25k. But both the service manager and mechanic said that they wouldn’t do it. There is a lot to be said about buying new so you know the full history of a vehicle.

For now, we are at an RV park outside of Corvallis for a couple of days as we need to move back into the RV. I drove the coach here and Bridget went back to the house for the first load which would include the cat...

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Day 1 - Starting the Count Again

I flew on the red-eye out of Fairbanks this morning and after a stop in Seattle, I arrived in Eugene. I was originally scheduled to fly out of Eugene last Monday but it was closed to commercial flights due to the brush fires. The photo is of some artwork hanging from the ceiling in the terminal. The flight only had ten passengers plus the four airline employees. A pretty light load.

I ended up sleeping much of the day away. The coach is still at the shop and the most recent email says that the believe it’ll be done Monday. This translates to a cold start on Tuesday morning while still at the shop. I’m glad that we have somewhere to stay... My next trip to Fairbanks will be in December as ninety days from today is December 18, 2020. I have no idea where we’ll be at that time but I plan to be in AK well before the middle of December.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Running Around Fairbanks

Thursday - First thing for the day, VE for a remote ham radio exam. This time it was 100% remote. The test taker had two cameras and he showed his whole environment and they were active during the test itself.

After the test, I headed to Sunshine to meet with some of the regular coffee crowd. The coffee was fine as was the company. This is one of the things I miss while traveling. 

I then had lunch with a former colleague who now works for the school district. The lunch lasted several hours. After lunch, I ran the truck through a car wash paying the extra for some wax. Since this is the only time it's going to be washed until winter is over, it seemed like a reasonable thing. I stopped by the university not to check out my closed office but to try and get a picture of the Fall leaves. The sun wasn't shining brightly enough to make the leaves bright yellow. And they are sort of past prime and starting to fall. It looks like I mowed the lawn just in time to not have to deal with the leaves.

Friday - I met another former colleague for coffee this morning at Alaska Coffee Roasters on Geist Road. I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years but worked with him for over twenty years. Afterwards, I picked up a trickle charger for the truck that I need to install this afternoon. While heading home, I stopped to pick up a couple of mushroom cap pizzas for lunch at Hungry Robot. He has his cool truck parked out front for towing his pizza ovens to locations and events. The patina looks pretty cool.

Here is a picture of the mushroom cap pizzas. The white one is the artichoke, chicken, pesto, and fresh mozzarella. I think that is my favorite. The other one is their pepperoni and sausage offering. Behind the truck you can see their two trailer mounted wood fired pizza ovens with cooking times of only a minute or two.

Later on this afternoon, I’m VE for another remote ham radio test. This time, there is a remote proctor and only one camera. The minor challenge for me is that the monitoring software seems to only run on Chrome on my laptop.

Other than that, I think I’m all packed to leave tonight. It’s been a hectic week due to the delay receiving the test result.0

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Released from Quarantine!

Around 8 this morning, I got a call from Nova Health in Coburg, OR, to let me know that the results from my test last Saturday morning were transferred from the hospital in Springfield to the clinic. Their system automatically encrypts the file and sends it to the email address listed in the record. The nursing staff doesn’t have any control of that process but she thought that I should receive the email within an hour. It actually took a little longer than that. Once I received the email, I unzipped the file and uploaded it to the State of Alaska “safe travels” website updating my travel record for this trip. Once I completed the upload of the negative result, I was off of my self-quarantine.

My first stop was Alaska RV where the 5th wheel has been in storage. After talking to them, I opted to leave it there and paid for the storage through March. They offered to cover it back up and remove the battery at the end of the month. It is still winterized from when I did it last year.

I stopped at Costco to get prices on tires for the truck as they are extremely worn after the last road trip. At $369 each, I’m not replacing them at this time. Plus, Costco can’t install them as they won’t install commercial tires. These are 245/70-19.5 H rated commercial tires. Another option is to install the 265/70-17 E rated light truck tires as I still have the original rims. I need to think about it.

I then had lunch with friends Dave and Florrie and helped them with some computer questions they had. I picked up a couple or steaks from Costco and will show my son how to use the Instant Pot sous vide stick.

I asked my son to print some bezels for the OLED displays on my “Smart RV” project. You know the one that I haven’t worked on since Pendleton. These are for the external displays such as the one showing refrigerator/freezer temperatures. It’ll have a much more finished look than just the bare display.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Back Home

Back in Fairbanks today. Still in self-quarantine as I STILL don’t have results from the clinic in Coburg, OR. I guess I can’t recommend them. Their customer service was good but they seem to have over-promised. The slowdown isn’t the clinic but the hospital actually processing the sample. And they are really close to one of the evacuation areas in Springfield.

After about an hour in the air, the smoke was finally gone. It had extended quite a ways into British Columbia. I got upgraded to first class and had the entire row, both sides of the aisle, to myself. For food, they distributed the fruit and cheese platters that are for sale in coach. I’m not going to complain about that as it’s better than many of the dinners served in first class.

Since I’m still in self-quarantine, I decided to mow the lawn. It took quite a while since the grass/weeds were wet and the the clumps would jam the mower blade regularly. The bag needed to be emptied just about once per minute. But it got mostly done before I ran out of gas for the mower.

Other tasks for today were sorting through our mail and looking for some miscellaneous things I want to bring back south.

The leaves are almost in full “Fall” mode. The leaves on the trees around the house are just starting to turn yellow on their edges. Fortunately, not falling off yet.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Day 220 - Starting to Head Home

Monday (220) - This is the view this morning on the drive to PDX. No heavy traffic and I’m at the gate two hours early. Still no Covid-19 test results…

There are a lot of cancelled flights due to what I’m assuming is smoke. The cancellations are classified as “weather” so no housing or food allowances.

Evergreens is still a great food option in the Seattle airport. I was glad to see that it was still open. If you like salads with lots of toppings, then this is the place for you. Six different kinds of lettuce base and maybe forty different toppings to choose from. A fabulous late lunch.

After taking off from PDX, I couldn’t see anything out the window until about two minutes before touchdown. Washington is as smoky as Oregon. I have a couple of hours in Seattle. At least there will be time to recharge my phone. Plus, the free wifi is fast. I downloaded about ten YouTube videos in about five minutes. Not too shabby!

The RV contributed to the Oregon smoke this afternoon. I guess they needed to run some tests for the injector replacement. Hopefully, some of the cost gets covered by warranty. Photo courtesy of Bridget who needed to pick up a couple more things from the RV.  

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Day 220, 221 - Back in Corvallis

Saturday (220) - I’m still trying to get back to Alaska. I had a tele-doc conference this morning with someone from Nova Health and was told to come to the Coburg location to be tested. This is different than I was told last Monday when I made the appointment. It seems that the fire east of Eugene was causing issues for the hospital in Springfield where I was supposed to get tested. So instead of results in 24 hours as promised, it’ll probably be closer to 48 hours.This is really a royal pain.

On a brighter note, we had dinner last night with good friends Chris, Brad and Brandy at a local brewpub. Chris had been camp hosting east of here and needed to evacuate due to the fires. It sounds like he will be exploring a bit on his way back to Georgia as the camp host gig was finished.

We stopped at the truck shop in Albany to pick up some more stuff such as silverware, frying pans, etc. as most of the stuff in the kitchen was moved out. The crock pot was not one of those things. I haven’t used a crock pot in years. But it’s a tried and true recipe that actually works better in a slow cooker than the Instant Pot. I also needed some more clothes and medicine for the trip home.

Sunday (221) - Yesterday, I found out that the Eugene Airport had canceled all commercial flights as the airport was being used by the fire service. I changed my flights to fly out of Portland instead of Eugene. It’s a much longer drive and I-5 has been seeing a lot more traffic due to the fires. I didn’t hear anything from Alaska Airlines about the closure.

Today, I’m at my mom’s appt waiting for the Comcast tech. We moved her cable box and cable modem last week and it worked fine. She called Comcast to switch to the TV package that the facility has arranged and the voice line stopped working. Customer support didn’t have a clue. Sent out a tech. He got the phone working easily. But the cable TV required a lot of phone calls. 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Day 218, 219 - Sherwood, OR

Thursday (218) - We are at A hotel for a few days visiting with some of Bridget’s family who are on vacation. The hotel has this nice breakfast room but there isn’t much of a breakfast these days. Just a lunch bag with a few items. So far, all we’ve done is have dinner at McMenamins for some delicious pub food. And venture to the Portland airport as they needed to change rental cars. The airport seemed empty.

The estimated time for the RV getting done is well into next week. So I just cancelled our campground reservation for next week. I still plan on getting the Covid test and flying back home next week for the week. The said that the #4 injector wasn’t responding to the computer and this is the same injector that was replaced last time.The asked for a copy of the paperwork so they could try to get it replaced under warranty. It also prompted them for a need to look at the wiring to see it that is the problem.

Friday (219) - This morning, we opted for breakfast at Black Bear Diner instead of the meager offering at the hotel. It’s always pretty tasty here and very reasonably priced.

We then went to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville. This is a fabulous museum that I had visited before and we thought that Bridget’s brother would really enjoy it.

 An old gas pump on display showing the taxes on a gallon of gasoline. State tax is a huge percentage of the price of gas. The next couple of pictures show the inside of the Spruce Goose.

Looking towards the nose. The spiral staircase to the passenger deck and the cockpit is on the right.

Looking towards the tail.

I like the anchor. Nice touch...

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Day 215, 216, 217 - Willamette Valley, OR

Monday (215) - A little more running around today. We picked up a recliner for my mom’s new place and moved our frozen and refrigerated food to the refrigerator in her old house. I will be defrosting the refrigerator today and will have it turned off while it’s in the shop. Tomorrow morning, I’ll be taking the coach to Peterson Truck which is a Caterpillar shop near in Albany. Based on my conversation, hopefully, we’ll have better luck from this place and get this thing fixed.

Today has been one of the warmest days at 90°+ and the rear air conditioner decided to stop working. It worked fine last night but it looks like around noon it decided that it had enough.

Then, around 10pm, the rear air conditioner comes to life just like it did last night. Odd.

Tuesday (216) - The smoke started to roll in on Monday evening. On the drive up to the CAT shop in Albany, it looked like we were driving at night. The picture is the ash on the Prius after sitting maybe 30 minutes. We are back in Corvallis for today before heading a bit north to meet up with some of Bridget’s family outside of Portland.

After hours of waiting on hold, I finally have a telemedicine appointment on Saturday. This is a requirement to get a COVID test with results in 24 hours. They were familiar with the Alaska requirement for test results no older than 72 hours of arrival.

Wednesday (217) - It’s still really smoky. This picture is just southwest of Salem. I believe the fire is in the mountains east of here. In fact, Waze suggested 99W instead of I-5 due to heavy evacuation traffic around Salem.

For the next couple of days, we will be in Sherwood, OR which is southwest of Portland. It looks like we will be barely out of the smoke. The prevailing wind is from the north so there shouldn’t be more smoke unless there are fires in Washington. But it does look better. There are a lot of fires in Oregon. 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Day 214 - New Sous Vide

I picked up a new sous vide stick from Amazon while we were still able to receive packages. It is made by Joule. I have been using their app for almost a year to get temperatures and cooking times. It has both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity so it also sends notifications to the Apple Watch. You can connect to the device to monitor temperature and time over the Internet as it establishes a connection to their web site.

While cooking, you can see what time the food was added and how long it could be kept warm. The picture changes according to the water temperature you choose and it provides cooking time for frozen items as well as thawed. Once you make your choices, it sends the temperature and time to the device and starts the unit. This model has 40% more power to the heating element so it’s ready to go in less time. It also maintains tighter temperature control.

This is the normal display on the iPhone app showing the current temperature and time remaining. In this case, I cooked a couple of chicken thighs for a quick and easy stir fry this evening after a long day of more moving chores.

I’m planning on taking the old sous vide back to the house next week. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Day 211, 212, 213 - South Jetty TT and Back to Corvallis

Thursday (211) - This is our last full day at South Jetty TT so time to sweep off the roof and the slide toppers. And, another opportunity to check out the roof. The radio antenna pivot was loose but that’s simple enough to tighten. I also tightened a faucet handle, adjusted the bathroom door latch, and replaced a non-LED compatible dimmer with a newer model in the same style. The only non-LED bulbs are in the storage bays, refrigerator and the microwave. I did learn that the refrigerator bulb is used to warm up the inside of the refrigerator in cooler temperatures to ensure that it cycles regularly to keep the freezer cold. The system only has the be thermocouple and it’s in the refrigerator side. By cooler temperatures I mean below 50°F according to Dometic, the manufacturer of the refrigerator.

The fiberglass roof is in pretty decent shape and should be much sturdier than the rubber roofs used on most RVs. I’m planning to replace the vent fan in the living room/kitchen area with a temperature controlled one like I installed in the 5th wheel. Then use the old kitchen fan to replace the bathroom fan. And, install vent covers on both so they can be left open while traveling and in light rain.

Friday (212) - A modest 107 miles today and we are back at the fairgrounds RV park. We got 50amp pull-thru. I expected to be in the overflow at this time of year but I guess OSU is mostly remote at this time. We stopped at the TA and filled up with 82 gal of diesel. The TSD discount was $43. Pretty nice program. The computer display said that I had 12 gallons left when I actually had 18. I’m glad that I added the 14 gallons in Florence.

Most of the afternoon was spent helping my sister and brother-in-law move my mom into a senior apartment. The unit looks pretty nice and it’s in a really quiet neighborhood west of Corvallis. It’s now ibuprofen time...

Saturday (213) - Moving continued today. I think most things have been moved over. There is still a need to sort through what’s left. The RV spot is your typical site. They are wide enough, flat, paved, full utilities, free WiFi. No complaints except maybe a bit expensive. On Tuesday we take the coach to a CAT service shop on Tuesday so we will be emptying the fridge into my moms old house while it’s in the shop. This will be a busy week. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Day 208, 209, 210 - South Jetty TT

Monday (208) - Activity of the day, adding 10 gallons of diesel to the coach. Last week, I had picked up a 5 gallon diesel container to add some fuel to the coach. I think we were down to a tenth of a tank when we arrived. There are no large stations or truck stops around here so I didn’t even want to try squeezing into a station. Especially with the car attached. The first jug I used the CARB compliant nozzle and it was a real pain. Today, I picked up a siphon hose at ACE Hardware. So much simpler and neater. So I added another ten gallons today. We may be up to a quarter tank now. Plenty to get us to Coburg where there is a TA that is part of the TSD Logistics network.

This afternoon, we rode the e-bikes out towards the jetty but there was a pretty stiff headwind once we left the protection of the trees. WeatherUnderground said 18mph with gusts to 26mph. That sounds about right.

For dinner, we picked up a carton of crab chowder from Novelli’s, which is a floating shack built along a dock. It came highly recommended. N.B. Crab chowder not clam chowder. It was fabulous. Thank you Dan and Jen for the recommendation!

Tuesday (209) - Bridget has an appointment in town in the morning so I just went to wander around the area. This colorful mural was right across the street and it seemed like a good starting point. Our neighbors and new friends, Jim and Gail, took off this morning heading north to Newport. They are full-timers. It sounds like maybe Bridget had talked to them about visiting Yellowstone next year. Plus, they spend time in Quartzsite. I see ourselves there sometime this winter as well.

I stopped at the Dunes Cafe to get some coffee but saw a roasted Hatch Green Chile breakfast and I found that hard to pass up. It was delicious. Basically a breakfast scramble with potatoes, egg, and sausage topped with two roasted chiles and gravy.

I picked up some groceries at Safeway with the goal of having a mostly empty freezer by the end of the week. That way we can empty the fridge before dropping the rig off at the CAT shop and not worry about it being plugged in or having the propane turned on.

Wednesday (210) - I went for a walk this morning and noticed this wash within the campground. I just thought it looked kind of cool with all the exposed roots.

It’s still mid-60s (°F) and sunny. The Oregon coast has been a fabulous place to spend the summer. On Friday, we head inland to the Willamette Valley for the Labor Day weekend. I had forgotten to extend our reservation when we arrived in Pacific City. With TT, you can only have one reservation at a time over a major holiday but once you are in place, you can then reserve the next holiday. I wasn’t aware of that rule.