Friday, December 31, 2021

Day 37, 38, 39 - Old Town, FL

Wednesday (37) - A warm, relaxing day. It hit 79°F by mid-afternoon with a nice cooling breeze. I adjusted the tow bar brake cable but had forgotten about the break-away cable. I guess I’ll do that one when I hook up the Jeep on Monday. 

Thursday (38) - I had an dentist appointment in Gainesville. I dropped a ratchet when lying under the Jeep and chipped a tooth. They put on a temporary crown and I need to return in two weeks for the permanent one. They had some pretty high tech tools or, possibly, I don’t get out much. Thank goodness for insurance. 

It’s been warm and humid. In fact, the A/C was cycling all night. Right now, I’m relaxing at the pool. The pool is kind of on the cold side but tolerable. As long as the hot tub is available to jump in, things are good. 

Friday (39) - New Years Eve. Even more RVs showed up today. I think every single space in the park is occupied. Lots of people, a bit noisier but it could be worse. Bridget and Kathy, aka Toadmama, went to Crystal Springs to kayak. Apparently, it was really crowded. I’m glad I stayed here. 

I started to set up another Raspberry Pi as a dns black-hole using software called Pi-hole. Basically, a dns server for our RV WiFi network that blocks ad domains. I got partway through the install but needed more bandwidth to install software updates. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Day 35, 36 - Old Town, FL

Monday (35) - The only task I took on today was defrosting the freezer. There was water running out a couple of days ago and the ice maker hadn’t been working for a couple of weeks. It’s turned on now and we’ll see if it still leaks water. There was a lot of ice built up on the bottom of the freezer and the drain was covered up. To defrost, after emptying the freezer, I just go after the ice with the heat gun. Not quick but only a couple of hours total. The contents are all in the compressor freezer which runs much colder. 

And, followed up with a visit to the hot tub. This was the first time that I wasn’t the only one there.

Tuesday (36)
 - I finally finished up on the wiring except for running the brake light wire to the switch on the pedal. Even managed to test the wiring. I used a kit from a company called Cool Tech. It has a switch that is mounted under the passenger seat to either from the Jeep wiring or the trailer connector. We had dinner with Kathy, Mike, Chris, and Lori. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Day 33, 34 - Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Saturday (33) - A quiet day. We went to an RV park potluck dinner this afternoon and met some of our neighbors. Most are retired, like us, with similar stories of escaping snow (and crowds). This is a good place for that as it’s kind of far from anything “touristy”. I didn’t work on the Jeep today as I just felt like relaxing. I still have over a week to get everything else done. 

The temperature is perfect today and it looks like it’ll be that way for a while. I really like this area and this RV park. I’m glad that Mike and Kathy found and recommended this place. I spent the afternoon at the pool and sitting on the dock. 

Sunday (34) - I installed the surge brake system and the emergency braking cable on the Jeep today. Basically, a cable from the front center beneath the bumper to the brake pedal. When slowing down, the Jeep pushes against the motorhome through the tow bar, and a mechanism within the tow bar pulls the cable. I like the simplicity. The emergency braking system is similar. If the Jeep comes loose from the motorhome, a cable yanks on the pedal and locks the brakes. Again, a simple system. I started working on the lights but ran out of daylight. I still have a week. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Day 32 - Christmas Eve

Friday (32) - I made the cuts on the rock guard this morning before Bridget needed the car. So now I’m spending some time relaxing in the hot tub. It feels good. I still have quite a few tasks before the Jeep is ready to tow. Ironically, we may not even be able to tow it right away since I neglected to measure the height of the receiver’s when the motorhome airbags are inflated. It needs to be within 3” of the base plate. I think that we may need a drop receiver but it’ll be close. 

I started cooking for the Christmas weekend. There are two events here at the RV park one tonight and the other tomorrow afternoon. I made brownies for tonight’s event and thinking broccoli w/garlic sauce for tomorrow. Plus, I have a turkey breast in the sous vide and made wild rice for the dressing. The dressing was a major fail for Thanksgiving so I’m trying it again “my way” instead of following the recipe. And, turkey noodle soup is simmering on the stove. 

Merry Christmas!!

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Day 30, 31 - Old Town, FL

Wednesday (30) - Only 63°F but sunny! We ran some errands including picking up some items I need to be able to flat tow the Jeep. Step 1 will be the Roadmaster baseplate. Step 2 is the wiring for the lights. And step 3 is the brake cable. 

Thursday (31) - Today’s project was installing the baseplate onto the Jeep. This is the hardware that the tow bar hooks into. I removed the bumper and the plastic rock guard under the front of the engine. The picture shows the drivers side. One hole on each side needed to be drilled out to ½” for bolts but it was basically bolt on. Red Loctite on all hardware. This thing is not coming off. The rock shield still needs to be cut to fit around the baseplate. The “hardest” part was cutting a steel plate that supports the bottom of the rock guard. The only steel cutting tool I have with me is a Dremel. More tomorrow…

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Day 29 - Old Town, FL

Tuesday (29) - While I enjoy being on the road, it’s nice to be not driving. It’s only 61°F today and raining. I guess I brought the cold weather with me. Actually, I had been following the front that brought the snow and cold temperatures in Montana all the way across the country. It was warm enough to try out the jacuzzi here at the RV park. Not too bad. The jets were kind of weak but the temperature was fine. Even with the drizzle. 

The “project-of-the-day” was building and decorating the gingerbread house kit I picked up a week ago. This is the first one that came with directions and multiple piping bags. The walls and roof are up and the directions say to let it sit for 3-4 hours before continuing. That’s about the limit of my “skill”. At least it hasn’t collapsed yet.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Day 28 - Back in Florida

Monday (28) - Today I arrived back in FL at the RV park. The other option to picking up the Jeep and driving it back was shipping. The online quotes were around $2000. Flying to Spokane, five nights hotel, and food came to $1350 so it was cheaper to drive. Plus I got a road trip out of it. All of the hotels were booked using the app around mid-afternoon once I knew which direction I was headed. All were cheap, some were decent and some were less than decent. But most provided some sort of breakfast. Spokane and North Platte had the best breakfasts. Fayetteville and Mobile did not have pools and Fayetteville offered a minimal breakfast. Mobile had only coffee. Mobile was by far the noisiest. Both vehicle and people noise. 

Eleven states. Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, a bit of Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, a bit of Alabama, and Florida. The only “new” state for me was Arkansas. Traffic was very congested in the last couple of states. Or at least congested when compared to Montana and Wyoming. The cities were the worst especially when combined with road construction. 

Total distance was 2802 miles at an overall average of 22.8mpg. Today was foggy, overcast, and light rain. But the morning temperature was in the mid-40s, the same temperature as the previous evening! And it was in the high 50s by mid-afternoon. 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Day 25, 26, 27 - On the Road

Friday (25) - Billings, MT, to North Platte, NE, today. Right around 700 miles. The day started out at 2°F and ended up around freezing. From blowing snow to relatively clear blue skies. Most of the day was spent traversing Wyoming so it was windy. Very windy. 40+ mph according to the traffic signs across the Interstate. Once I reached I-80, the wind became a tail wind instead of a cross wind. But it’s still over 30mph here in Nebraska. The only stops were two gas stops so no pictures yet. Maybe now that I’m out of the snow it’ll be easier to stop. Most of the rest areas and visitor info centers are closed. 

First impressions are good. Like the manual transmission though the torque comes in at higher rpm so 6th gear is only useful at higher speeds or when downhill or a strong tail wind. I’m averaging 23.5mpg which is decent enough. The interior is toasty warm even at cold temperatures. This morning, the cold weather package (heated seats and steering wheel) would’ve been nice to have. Steering is very fast so you need both hands on the wheel with the strong cross winds. 4WD was needed going through the pass in Idaho as the snow was drifting across the highway. The limited slip on the rear axle made 4WD unnecessary on the icy driveways and parking lots. 

Saturday (26) - Another “no picture” day. My only stops were a gas station a Missouri Welcome Center. It was windy at the center so not much standing around. It was a chilly 9°F this morning but it warmed up into the mid-30s (°F) by the end of the day. I made it to Fayetteville, AR, which is about 660 miles from North Platte, NE. The day started out clear and sunny but it turned overcast and windy by noon. Even though the road conditions were much better, the speed limit is considerably lower so I didn’t quite make my 700 mile goal. 

Also, as this was the third driving day in a row, I think I’m getting tired sooner. The seats are firm but supportive so no Ibuprofen needed even with the long driving days. The RV park is still around 1000 miles which is a long and a short day. But at least it’ll be in warmer. Tonight’s low here is only in the mid-20s. 

Today I used Google Maps through CarPlay but Apple Maps work better. 

Sunday (27)
 - I was going to say “no pictures again” but I took one from the door of the motel room. Notice that it is clean. I took it to a self-service car wash once I got to warmer temperatures. This morning was still below freezing but it warmed up to the mid-40s. 

Today’s 650 mile drive was from Fayetteville, AR, to Mobile, AL. I traversed Arkansas and all of Mississippi. Apparently rest areas aren’t a “thing” around here. Only a couple in Arkansas and none in Mississippi. At least not on the roads I was on. The only place to stop were gas stations. At least they all had decent coffee. 

I was planning to finish this post yesterday but fell asleep before hitting the publish button. Tomorrow will be a relatively short day at 375 miles. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Day 24 - Kellogg, ID

Biscuits w/sausage gravy. A good way to start the day. And, they tasted pretty good for the hotel breakfast. It’s been 178 days since we ordered this Jeep. Quite the wait. 

The fresh snow was not what I wanted to see for this trek back to FL. And this is in Spokane not Idaho where the elevation is lower. I’m waiting for a shuttle to pick me up for the 70 mile trip to the dealership. More to come…

I left the dealer at 11:20 with snow and headed east on the Interstate into the mountains. It was icy with packed snow west of the summit but things generally improved as I headed east and south. I made it to Billings, MT, by 8:00. Almost 500 miles. 

At least I arrived before Cracker Barrel closed. I had the fried chicken dinner. Then headed to the Howard Johnson’s motel pretty exhausted. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Day 23 - On My Way to ID

Wednesday (23) - After spending the night at my son’s home near the airport, I was dropped off around 7:30 for my 9:00 flight. Cheapest flight translates to poor routing. This is the first leg from Savannah to Charlotte. I’m guessing that Charlotte must be an American Airlines hub as my last flight ran through there as well. Hopefully, there aren’t any delays as it’s a very tight connection in Charlotte. 

Later - Made the connection in Charlotte. I just hope that my checked bag did as well. The gates were at the opposite ends of the airport and it took about 20 minutes to walk between them. The flight was just starting to board when I arrived. The second leg is to Phoenix. How Phoenix is on the path to Spokane I’m not sure. This is the longest leg on this trip. Trip-It says almost five hours. And I’m in a window seat making things more cramped. 

Even Later - Now at airport #3. Phoenix. At least I didn’t need my jacket when leaving the plane. The departure gate is the same as arrival so didn’t need to walk very far. The airports have been crowded at pre-Covid levels. Lunch was Chinese fast-food. I’m not going to complain about that. The dealer called yesterday afternoon and their shuttle will be picking me up at 8:00 tomorrow morning. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Day 21, 22 - Old Town, FL

Monday (21) - A modest driving day. We left Orlando around 10:30 and arrived at Yellow Jacket RV park near Old Town, FL, around 2:00. It is a nice, quiet park right on the Suwannee River. Bridget is looking forward to kayaking in the river and the local springs. The picture is from the boat dock. 

Tuesday (22) - Today, we say goodbye to the Prius C that my son and his fiancé let us use for the last month. I’ll be driving it back to GA this afternoon and catching a flight to Spokane tomorrow morning. Kinda looking forward to the road trip but concerned about the weather along the way. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Day 19, 20 - Orlando, FL - TT

Saturday (19) - We started to head into Disney Springs, a shopping area attached to Disney World, but Bridget got fed up with the traffic. We turned around and stopped at Walgreens to pick a couple of things up. There is a small craft bazaar here at the RV park and we stopped to look around. Yesterday’s power outage highlighted another microprocessor that I need to install. One on the Maxxair fan to not only turn it on/off but to feedback status such as fan speed. The feedback part may be a challenge. 

It’s another warm day today. Thankfully the power is on today. When we returned yesterday, quite a few of the RVs had their generator running. Some for the first time ever. Our batteries were only down to 84% by the time the power came back on. But it was pretty warm inside. We asked the dog walker to open the windows and turn on the roof vent fan when she stopped by at ~2pm. 

Another possibility is to wire a microprocessor to start the generator. I think that should be pretty straightforward since we have a Magnum generator start module. 

Sunday (20) - We did start the morning at Disney Springs. We arrived shortly before 10, opening time, and it was nicely empty. By 11:30 it was feeling a little crowded though not unpleasant. We left shortly after that as we had a few errands to run on the way back to the RV. Since the approach road gets full of RVs at noon we waited until about 12:40 to head in. There was still a line but we were able to bypass most of the line.

At 7:30pm, Bridget wanted to head back into Epcot to see the Christmas lights on one of the rides. They were lit when we rode it earlier but it was in the middle of the day. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Day 17, 18 - Orlando, FL and Animal Kingdom - TT

Thursday (17) - This morning, a couple of sandhill cranes visited our campsite. They ended up hanging around for quite a while circling and digging bugs (I'm assuming) out of the grass. It’s warm and humid today. In fact, the A/C ran through the night. Maybe it's time to dig out the dehumidifier and pack the space heater. I’m sitting outside getting ready for more testing and it is still kind of overcast and muggy. 

No Disney activities today but we do plan to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom tomorrow. This will be a new one for me as it just opened in 1998 which is after the last time I visited on a non-work-related trip. 

Friday (18) - Today’s trip is to the Animal Kingdom. The parking lot looked full but it feels a lot less crowded than Hollywood Studios. The first stop was the Safari where you rode through looking at animals. Since it was in the middle of the day, most were sleeping. 

We are watching the temperature in the RV since the power is out and has been out for several hours. 

We watched the new kite show where the kites are towed with jet skis. Pretty cool. 

We then went to another show based on A Bugs Life. Then a long wait for an Avatar themed boat ride. 

I enjoyed it though it was dark inside. Afternoon, we stumbled onto the Lion King show. This was a live performance with great singing and dancing. This may be the standout of the day for me. 

We have dinner reservations at Yak & Yeti. An Asian restaurant within the park. It’ll be interesting when we leave the restaurant as it’ll be after park closing. 

Later - The food at Yak & Yeti was very tasty as was the passion fruit margarita served in the souvenir shaker. And, BTW, the power came back on at 8:30pm. It was out all day!

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Day 16 - More Disney -

Wednesday (16) - Today, Hollywood Studios. This is by far the most crowded park.  Maybe all of the tall buildings make it feel more packed. 
The Star Wars area looked like the movie. Very well done. Lots of what looks like props from the movie. We didn’t go on any rides here but did have a reservation for a snack. 

At 2:15, our reservation for Oga’s Cantina came up. It is a Star Wars themed bar and was very well done. It felt like the bar in the first Star Wars movie minus the music and the blasters. 

I had a Carbon Freeze which bubbled the entire time I had it. Tasty, but maybe not $7.50 tasty. We went there mostly for the ambiance. 

All in all, we had a good day at Hollywood Studios. We headed back at 3:00 to relax at the RV. Two consecutive days makes for sore feet. Time for some rest days. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Day 14, 15 - Orlando, FL - TT

Monday (14) - Another test session around noon but the applicant didn’t have a U.S. government issued ID showing his U.S. address. So we couldn’t test him. I did some battery maintenance by running an equalization cycle and topping up the cells with distilled water. I had last done this when we picked up the RV in Washington. Another visit to the pool and hot tub. I’m enjoying these 80°F days after the cooler temperatures in SC, TN, MO, and OK. 

Tuesday (15) - A Disney day. This time we are at the Magic Kingdom which is similar to the very familiar Disneyland in California. We got a rather late start arriving around 11:30 and not actually getting into the park until almost 1:00. To get from parking to the entrance, we had to take a ferry across one of the many lakes. 

The place is all decked out for the 50th anniversary of Disney World with a very fancy paint job on the castle. Not many rides today. Mostly shows. I believe we did Pirates and the Jungle Cruise.

We had dinner at the Crystal Palace. Pretty good buffet and the standout dish was the pea risotto. 

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Day 12, 13 - Orlando, FL - TT

Saturday (12)
 - I started the day with a test session. They decided to have an early session for those on eastern or central time. Since it was in the morning, there was plenty of bandwidth on AT&T. The campground WiFi works for YouTube streaming but doesn't seem to like apps similar to Zoom. Probably since the upload is about the same as the download. 

After the test session, I went up on the roof again to check out glue and Dicor on the new plumbing vents. They felt pretty solid so I'll call that project done. I also tested each solar panel to see if the current output was about the same for each panel. The short circuit current, Isc, was around 6 amps for all three of the panels. The low sun angle, even here in FL, meant a loss of about 41% from what they are rated. The maximum azimuth of the sun here in Orlando is 38° from the horizon. 

Just as I had finished up on the roof, I received a call from the salesman in Idaho. He said that it looked like our Jeep had finally arrived at the dealer in a very unusual Saturday delivery. After it was unloaded from the truck, he took some pictures to demonstrate that it had actually arrived. Now, time to start the rest of the process and decide how to get it to wherever we are. The current plan is I get a road trip from Idaho to Florida.

Sunday (13) - I don't think I have any projects to do today. At least as far as I know. Bridget is flying in tonight from her trip home. Unfortunately, her flight from Seattle to Orlando was delayed by about 5 hours turning a late afternoon arrival into a late evening arrival. 

I went for a walk around the park and this really is a big place. The roads seem to go on and on and on. But since it was 80°F, not at all what I’m used to, I headed back after a couple of miles. 

When I arrived at the pool it was clear and sunny. Sometime over the past hour, clouds moved in. And the temperature dropped to 75°F. But it’s still nice to be not cold. 

Friday, December 3, 2021

Day 10, 11 - Orlando - TT

Thursday (10) - Today’s project was replacing the broken digital tv antenna. After removing the thick layer of Dicor, I was able to remove the antenna. It looks like there were multiple different antennae over the years based on the number of holes in the roof. Between the large hole and the cable is an aluminum roof beam so I wasn’t able to reroute the cable. 

After several hours of fitting the cable into the antenna housing and using Eternabond tape to cover the old holes in the roof, I now have better over-the-air reception as the antenna can be rotated from inside. All edges and screw heads were covered with Dicor. 

I have one more roof project but I’ll do it tomorrow.!

Friday (11)
 - By 11am it was already over 70°F. So back up to the roof to replace the plumbing vent covers with 360 siphon vent covers. Directions were provided to reuse certain types of old covers so that is what I did. The Gorilla Glue seemed to work on the plastic but I may add some more glue later. They recommended Sikaflex but all I have is the large tube. I didn't want to open it for such a small project.

Another task was some minor battery maintenance. The positive terminal was heating up with high current. After cutting power to the battery, I removed the cables and cleaned the mating surfaces. They didn’t look that dirty. Something else to monitor…

BTW, this is the first RV park we’ve been to since returning to the RV in September, that had their pool and hot tub open. Everywhere else considered it “winter”. So this is appreciated.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Day 9 - Epcot Again

We went to Epcot again and just went on a couple of older rides without significant lines. I also made a dinner reservation at the sit-down Mexican restaurant. In general, sit-down restaurants are my preference. It feels more crowded today than yesterday. 

One of the rides we went on took us through examples of sustainable growing. We also went on Soaring which was basically the same as Disney’s California Adventure. 

We left Epcot shortly after dinner, to take Bridget to a hotel near the Orlando airport. Her flight to Fairbanks is early tomorrow morning. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Day 8 - Epcot

At 6:59:59AM, I tried joining the virtual queue for Remy’s Ratatouille’s Adventure ride in Epcot. I believe it just opened last month. It was a 3D ride with trackless cars. In other words, you didn’t follow the car in front of you through the ride. It was cool but I don’t think I need to ride it again. 

We then had lunch in the Canada section. I had, what else, the poutine. It was a special version with turkey and cranberry sauce w/turkey gravy. It was tasty. We waited in a slow line for some maple popcorn in a souvenir bucket that we can refill inexpensively. Or at least the Disney version of inexpensive. 

We spent the after walking through the different countries with street performers such as this in tbe Italy section. The offerings really varied by country. We watched a movie in the Canadian section and Japan had an exhibit of “cute culture”.

We rode Test Track, Space Ship Earth, and Imagination and I had poké at a Hawaiian food booth. Delicious. We were back at the RV by around 8:15 or so. A full day with ~16k steps.  

Monday, November 29, 2021

Day 6, 7 - Enroute to Orlando - HH

Sunday (6) - This sign was at the Florida Welcome Center, which was closed. Does that mean that we aren’t welcome? This was definitely the most challenging travel day to date. About 300 miles almost all of it on a very crowded I-95. Traveling at the end of a holiday weekend was probably not the best idea. Most of the cars had Florida plates so they were probably returning home after their long weekend. Lots of congestion, slow downs, broken down vehicles but mostly too many people!

We stopped at a Blue Beacon truck wash and had the RV washed. It was $48 including RainX for the windows. A very reasonable price and we waited in line for around an hour.

We are in a church parking lot in DeLand, FL, which is part of Harvest Host. They ask for a donation to their food program which we did online. Tomorrow, we have another 51 miles to the Orlando TT park where we will be for a couple of weeks. We left at around 9:30 and arrived here at around 5:15 or just before sunset. A long day…

Monday (7)
 - Went for a walk into town about ¾ of a mile each way. It was only 61°F but it feels hot. We timed it pretty well. Check-in at the TT park is at noon (and not even 1 minute before!) and we arrived at 12:02pm and got in line. 

We were set up by 12:45 and it’s 68°F and sunny. I’m not going to complain about that. One minor maintenance item, the positive battery terminal for the house batteries warms up when a lot of current is put through it. Not a lot but ~115°F. It looks like the terminal needs cleaning. While here, I have a couple of other tasks on the roof. It’s supposed to be in the high 70s by the end of the week. That may be a good time. 

We then ventured into Disney Springs to pick up our passes. We had dinner at The Chicken Guy, one of Guy Fieri’s restaurants (actually fast food). The chicken was good though the teriyaki dipping sauce was only okay.