Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Athens, TX

Sunday - At 2pm, the weather app says 98°F but it really doesn’t feel to bad sitting outside. After attending a local church service, we are at the Texan RV Park spending the afternoon with friends. 

The forecast for tomorrow morning looks kind of decent so I plan to work on the roof removing the SoftStartRV units I installed last October in Oklahoma. They have been working fine but it seems like a good opportunity to work on it. Fortunately, I still have the installation instructions so it should be simple to return them back to “stock”. I don’t plan to install them on the new A/C units right away. 

Monday - New plan. Since they are working fine, I will leave the SoftStarts alone until we remove the A/C units. 

Did a couple of test sessions today and lead the second session. There was actually enough AT&T bandwidth for the Zoom audio to work. Maybe because this place has emptied out after the weekend.

Tuesday - First thing this morning, I took the Jeep to the dealership here in Athens. We get three oil changes and tire rotations as part of the purchase. We have 8600 miles on it and the first oil change is due at 10k miles. Close enough. I had looked into it when we were in FL and GA but the available appointments were weeks out. That wasn’t the case here. I checked yesterday and appointments were available for today.  Since the tires do get some additional mileage due to it being towed, tire rotation seemed to be a good idea. I feel sorry for the tech assigned as the underside of the Jeep is really grimy from being towed behind the motor home. The did run it through their car wash when finished. 

I just ordered an electric radiator fan from Amazon. It is a high volume (2400 CFM). I am planning on mounting it to blow through the whole cooling stack comprised of the radiator, intercooler, and A/C condenser. It draws 23.5 amps on high and I just checked my box-of-stuff, and I have several relays rated at 30amps@12VDC. So I'm in pretty good shape. I wasn't going to bother with a thermostat at this time and simply wire two switches to control the relay. It's supposed to be here on Friday. (Amazon said Thursday when I clicked the "order" button)

Wednesday - It was a very pleasant 72°F this morning and I ended up enjoying my coffee outside for a change. I went ahead and put the folding table away since I'm not planning to do any of the test sessions outside. I believe the high for today is supposed to be around 93°F. I volunteered to lead in both test sessions. The cellular bandwidth is still decent.

We had dinner at the marina restaurant. Delicious food though the hard surfaces meant that it was loud inside. This restaurant was recommended by several locals including the service writer at the Jeep dealership. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Athens, TX

Friday - We are now at Lake Athens Marina. There isn’t any shade but there is 50amp power and sewer. At the other campground, we were limited to only one A/C at a time, no washer/dryer, and running the microwave or induction cooktop would shut down the A/C. Compare 50amps@220VAC (11KW) versus 30amps@110VAC (3.3KW). That’s a big difference. 

Not a TT park but it was roughly the same price as the Texas state park. Especially when you add the Texas user fee of $5/person/day. If we were going to be in Texas for a while, we could’ve gotten an annual pass for, I think, $80/person. 

Today's project was putting up some Reflectix on some of the windows. The front-side windows are single pane so they were prime candidates. We also put it on the three large windows in the hallway. We rarely open those blinds and the windows can still be easily opened. We’ll see if it makes a difference. The door window is also single pane. Obviously, the Reflectix can’t be left on the windows while driving.

Saturday - The pano was taken from the clubhouse deck. Our RV is visible on the left so we have a calming view of the lake. It’s 8:45am and it’s already 82°F but there is a nice breeze right now.

We visited with Diary of a Family the last couple of evenings and it was nice to see them again. We last saw them at Natchez Trace back in November. Garrett will be doing the A/C replacement next Saturday. Hopefully, both units arrive here by then. For the installation, we will be moving to the Texan RV Park, the home of the NRVTA, the National RV Training Academy, where Garrett works. Easier access to stuff such as lifts and ladders.

We now have the Reflectix up on the planned windows. We left the small opening window on each side and all of the windows by the seating areas and the bedroom. At 3pm, it was 100°F outside and the air blowing out of the front A/C is 66°F. And, the living room area is 81°F. Quite a change from yesterday when the inside temperature was around 91°F! But, the afternoon still has a couple more hours around 100°F. There is some relief coming on Monday, according to the weather guessers.

A special treat for dinner last night was fresh corn on the cob that we received from our Boondockers Welcome hosts. I cooked them up on the Blackstone. Delicious. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

Eustace, TX - SP

Thursday - Another short travel day. Only 150 miles or about 3 hours including a fuel stop. I’ve noticed that diesel prices are dropping now that we are heading west. Hopefully, the trend continues. We didn’t need to fill up but with the elevated temperatures, we may need to run the generator more.

We are at Purtis Creek State Park and this is the first time we are staying at a Texas state park. The site has partial hookups, 30amp power and water, at the site. We can run one A/C unit plus some other stuff such as the refrigerator. It’s pretty hot here. The picture is the showing the temperature outside the RV. The smaller text is the inside temperature and humidity. The old A/C unit is only able to drop the temperature by a bit over 10°F. They should do a little better than that but that’s why we plan to replace them. 

Update - This was originally going to be a multi-day post since we were planning to be here for a week. But, due to the temperatures combined with the 30amp power (plus no sewer), we are moving to an RV park in Athens, TX. This is a really nice campground with huge sites but not at 100°F+ temperatures. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

New Boston, TX - BW

Wednesday - Something new for us today. We are staying in someone’s yard as part of Boondockers Welcome which is now part of Harvest Hosts. We arrived around 12:30 and were positioned under a large tree and near power and water. Given that it’s 95°F, being able to plug into 50amp shore power is a really nice benefit that most hosts don't offer.

They have room for 10 RVs here some with hook-ups and some dry camping. It depends on when you arrive and what you need/want. The 5th wheel behind us is their RV. Boondockers Welcome is a database, that you need to pay to join, of individuals who open up their property to RVers passing through with some allowing more extended stays than just overnight. Some, such as this one, have full hookups available usually for a fee.

We will be staying just one night and heading to a state park tomorrow near Athens, TX. I ordered two A/C units as well as a new compatible thermostat to be delivered in Athens to a good friend of ours. Hopefully, we can get them installed before we leave the area. BTW, This is the most level site we’ve had since Orlando TT. Most sites tilt one way or the other. The worst ones have the rear lower than the front.  Around mid-afternoon, a class B came in. 

Since there is time, I went ahead and joined the later test session. I think that there might be just enough bandwidth. About 12Mb/s down but only 800Kb/s up. Zoom seems to want about 1.2Mb/s both ways.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Piney, AR

Sunday - A 250-mile drive today through Memphis and Little Rock to a small RV park near Hot Springs, AR. The Jeep gets really filthy after sitting in the RV exhaust for the last 800 miles. That is how far we’ve come since the TT park in NC. I guess I should wash the Jeep just so you don’t get dirty when accidentally touching it. 

We have a site that backs up to water which is nice. It was in the 90s (°F) today but there was a slight breeze blowing over the water so it didn’t seem too bad. Plus, the humidity, at 38%, is much lower than it was closer to the coast. I believe that we are here for 3 nights. 

Monday - This morning, we drove to the NPS visitor center which is in the middle of Bathhouse Row. Kind of odd to see hot springs as individual soaking as opposed to the large pools such as at Chena Hot Springs. 

The bathhouses are rather ornate buildings and they catered to the wealthy. They were modeled after the bathhouses in Europe with statuary and gardens. 

One of the bathhouses is now a museum run by the NPS. Four levels with this gym on the top floor. Since all of the baths are private rooms with tubs, they can be multilevel buildings. 

What is unusual about this National Park is that it is urban. Right outside the NPS visitor center is a busy street lined with businesses. 

This is the “Display Spring”. The real spring was enclosed at the turn of the century so this was put in for the tourists. 
Instead of paying the $25 - $58 (and much higher) fee to soak in one of the bathhouses, I spent some time in the RV park pool. Not very big but the perfect temperature to just float around and cool off. And, it’s not like it’s crowded. 

And, AT&T was good enough here for me to join the afternoon test session.

Tuesday - No plans to do any exploring today. It seems that the big activities for this urban national park is hiking and spending money. Hiking is still painful for Bridget. After walking to the local grocery store (just across the street from the RV park) to pick up a few groceries, I signed up for a test session and got tagged as a lead. 

Just a couple of chores today. I added some more hydraulic fluid and washed the tow bar as it was covered in oil and dirt. While I was at it, I washed the back of the RV as it also had a thin layer of oil and dirt. After that, I spent some time at the pool. Very relaxing. 

We leave here tomorrow. The RV park was fine. Mostly filled with people living and working here. Very few traveling types like us. Having 50amp power is nice as it allows up to run both A/C units and they run just about all day and most of the night. It’s 94°F right now at 1:30pm but it really doesn’t feel that bad unless you are actually sitting in the sun. 

The MagneShade on the front windshield is nice. We are able to open the curtains during the day and the front cab area is cooler. We should’ve gotten them earlier. We ordered some Reflectix for the front, side windows (all single pane glass), and the tall hallway windows. These are double pane but they let in a lot of light and heat. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Tennessee - HH

Friday - Kind of a long driving day today. We are heading for a Harvest Host just east of Cookeville, TN. Right now, we are stopped at a truck stop while a storm blows through. 

The RV did overheat on two long grades today. Enough that the engine went into “Protect” mode where it cuts power by 50%. The first time, we were climbing a long grade and ended up driving on the shoulder at 15mph. While driving, the engine cooled enough to switch out of “Protect” mode and we sped up to 40mph. The shop near Chattanooga, TN, where we had the tie rod ends replaced, said that the hydraulic motor driving the cooling fan needed to be replaced but it wasn’t critical. I suspect that’s probably the culprit. 

We are staying in the overflow parking lot of the Delmonaco Winery. I went in for a tasting and came out with a bottle of their Sweet Whisper, a peach dessert wine. Plus, I had their pulled pork nachos for dinner. Delicious. 

We enjoy the Harvest Host stays when we are traveling between destinations. Especially, if we are traveling on a weekend. Our next destination is Hot Springs, AR. We have another Harvest Host stop tomorrow just east of Memphis. 

 - A 230 mile drive to Brownsville, TN, to our next Harvest Host stay at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center.

Three museums in one building with free admission. This is a model of a cotton gin in the cotton museum. There was a nature museum and a music exhibit. 

Unexpected to me, there was a Tina Turner museum as she grew up 25 miles from this little town. The one-room schoolhouse from that town was going to be torn down and she donated the money to have it moved here to Brownsville next to the other museums. 

I just jumped onto the afternoon test session as this place has decent AT&T bandwidth. And, they were short a couple of VEs.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Lenoir, NC - TT

Tuesday - I’m glad that they did the installation yesterday as it was raining this morning. We left Mocksville around 9:30 and headed to Green Mountain Park, one of the TT  parks about a 1½ hours away. 

The site is angled so we can’t get leveled front to back. We are about 2½” low in the front. One of the disadvantages of a long RV. But, since we are only here for three nights, it doesn’t really matter that much. As long as the refrigerator works. The park has an unheated pool but the temperature felt nice with the mid-80°F afternoon high. 

We had just looked for a campground near Mocksville as we knew we would have the MagneShade installed sometime this week. Very little AT&T bandwidth here at the park. This first picture took about fifteen minutes to upload. The lakes have fish in them but it’s catch and release. And, no alligator warning signs. 

Wednesday - Not much going on today. Picked up some groceries in Lenoir which is about five miles away. I finally gave up and paid for 24 hours of Internet access for $8. It was getting frustrating waiting for everything to load. And, at 91°F outside in the afternoon, it's kind of too warm to do much walking around. 

I did sign up for the afternoon test session since I had enough bandwidth for Zoom. 

 - We had a few visitors this morning. I was checking the propane fittings again for leaks as the propane level seems to be dropping faster than it should. I can’t smell any propane and the soapy liquid doesn’t show any bubbles so maybe it’s related to ambient temperature. 

I signed up for the early test session but will probably use audio as a phone call. The video can tolerate buffering, audio is real-time, and has a very low tolerance to delays. SpeedTest say 3Mb/s up and down. 

I went to the pool this morning but it was understandably crowded as it was 90°F by noon. Anyway, I was there long enough to cool down.  

RV frustration today. The front A/C unit seems to stop cooling occasionally. If I shut it off and wait 5-10 minutes then it resumes operation. I looked into replacing the unit. The RV currently uses a Dometic CCC (Comfort Control Center) network between the front and rear A/C units and the thermostat. Plus, the A/C units control both furnaces. Dometic no longer makes CCC units and the newer CCC2 is not compatible. Replacing the front A/C unit would require replacing the rear A/C and the thermostat. 

On top of that, I’m concerned that the engine overheating will only get worse with the continued hot weather and some long grades coming up. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow when we leave here and head towards Nashville. 

Monday, June 13, 2022

Mocksville, NC

Monday - We had a nice, quiet stay at Cavendish Brewery, a Harvest Host, last night. We moved to their main, lighted parking lot around 9:30pm and it was much flatter. We just put out one bedroom slide and ran the generator until about 4:30am. It was 72°F outside so I turned on the roof vents and opened a couple of windows. 

After checking the oil level on the generator, we took off around 8:30 and headed north on hwy 321 to I-40 and headed east towards Mocksville, NC. We stopped at a rest area for several hours as it’s only 37 miles to our destination. We are headed to Hunckler Fabrication where MagneShades are made. This is a sunblock mesh the adheres to the windshield with strong magnets. This should reduce the temperature inside the RV especially if the front of the RV is facing south or west, as is often be the case.

The installation was scheduled for tomorrow morning but they started around 2pm. The magnet adhesive needs to cure for several hours. We don’t mind sitting here. The shop has a 50 amp outlet. It’ll give our generator a break. 

Here is what it looks like from the inside. Windshield wiper covers are included to protect the shade. 

The magnets are pretty hefty. They gave us an extra and several glue pads and glass preparation in case any magnets come loose. Which may be possible in this heat. We also had them measure the hallway windows on the driver’s side in case we want to order them in the future. 

We will be staying here tonight and head to our TT campground tomorrow morning. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Gastonia, NC - HH

Sunday - Travel day today. About 280 miles northwest all the way through South Carolina to Gastonia, NC, where we are staying at Cavendish Brewery, a Harvest Host location. It has been hot so the generator and rooftop A/C units have been running all day and, I suspect, most of the night. It is still 94°F at 6pm. 

They close at 9 and we could move to their main parking lot at that time. I had the Big, Fat, Greek pizza and the Grizzly Brown Ale. Both were delicious, especially the pizza. 

At least we are no longer in FL or GA. 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Still in GA

Friday - Another relaxing day at the RV park. We had dinner out last night at a Mexican restaurant in Pooler. The carnitas were terrific though the homemade guacamole needed help. We hadn’t been to a Mexican restaurant in a while.

After floating around the pool to cool off, I joined the early test session and later on, the late test session. By the late session, the bandwidth was getting a bit restricted as there was some audio packet loss.

Saturday - No one signed up for the early, Saturday test session so we headed to Pooler. Around noon, I got a message that someone signed up at the last minute for the normal, early session so I joined with just my phone. A lot more hassle than with the computer but it worked. I had contacted the candidate but when it came time to test, I handed it off to another lead-qualified VE. Trying to run Zoom, Discord, and a web browser at the same time on the phone would have been challenging and not necessarily fair to the candidate as there would have been pauses when I needed to switch applications. But, there was plenty of bandwidth! The Speed Test was done on my phone over WiFi...

After the test session (he easily passed!) I went to the community pool here in the subdivision. It was kinda crowded but there were thunderstorms on the horizon. We left after about 45 minutes and got rained on while walking back. 

Tomorrow, we head to North Carolina. I don’t expect it to be any cooler. In fact, it may be even warmer. 

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Pooler, GA

Wednesday - After yesterday’s activity, there isn’t much planned for today. We cooled off at the pool for a bit, then I participated in the early test session. By early, 9am AKDT, as these tests are coordinated out of Anchorage, AK. 

Right when the test session started, the rain started and continued for the next hour or so. I believe that more rain is forecast for tonight sometime so I went ahead and put the Blackstone away. I did leave the table out as I’m hoping for better weather later in the week. Though the Weather Underground forecast isn’t too encouraging.  

Thursday - This morning, we went to the Savannah Ogeechee Canal Museum near the RV park. They had a trail through the swamp along the canal which connected the Savannah and Ogeechee rivers. There were models of the locks so I’m assuming that there may have been at least a couple. 

The trail ended at the Ogeechee River and it looked like there was a nice boardwalk trail along the river but after about ⅛ mile, the boardwalk ended on a muddy path. But we still got a decent walk. 

I'm sitting outside doing the early test session, and can hear occasional thunder in the distance. So I guess there's going to be some rain today. I’m still a little surprised that the heat and humidity doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. It was 90°F and 81% RH during the test session. Definitely felt warm but not unbearable. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Pooler, GA

Sunday - Today was a short travel day. Just about 50 miles south back into Georgia. We are at a private RV park and the sites are pretty nice with a lot of trees and large-ish sites. Definitely larger sites than the last couple of parks.

I filled up the propane tank for the first time since the end of November. Seventeen gallons so we didn’t use much. Primarily the stove and occasionally the refrigerator and water heater. And now, the Blackstone griddle. 

The campground road ends in an inlet of the Ogeechee River and a boat ramp. This is the view from the end of the long boat dock. It’s needed to get you out past the river vegetation. 

Monday - It looks like it may be a wet week. Since we aren’t going anywhere with the rain today, I went ahead and signed up for the first test session which is around 1pm EDT. 

I messed around with the kitchen slide as the slide lock didn’t retract completely. I think it has to do with the control system as it shouldn’t power the hydraulic pump unless the lock is fully retracted. I think that if you take your finger off the “extend” switch before the lock is fully retracted, when repressing the switch, the hydraulic pump starts immediately to start moving the slide. The solution, for now, seems to be don’t confuse the control system. 

The rain and thunder started around noon and it has been raining for several hours. 

Tuesday - Today, we went to a water park in Statesboro, GA, called Splash in the Boro. I didn’t bring the phone since it is a water park and I’m not sold on the waterproof rating of a phone. It was scattered clouds all day so a nice day to be outside. The aerial photo was from a Google search. We don’t suddenly have a drone.

No significant rain in the forecast for today so we thought that we would take advantage of the nice weather. We got back to the RV around 3:30 and after all day outside, it felt almost cold with the A/C running.  I dug out the Blackstone for tonight’s dinner. Bacon cheeseburgers…

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Hilton Head

Saturday - We went to Folly’s Field Beach on Hilton Head Island. It was about an hour's drive from the RV park and there was a surprising amount of traffic going in the opposite direction. We arrived at 9:30 and found a convenient enough parking spot near the boardwalk across the dunes and parking was a relatively reasonable $1/hr. The water temperature is about the same as the pool. 

The forecast is for more thunderstorms this afternoon so I don’t think that this isn’t going to be an all-day activity. 

Afternoon Update
 - No rain for several more hours so after adding a couple more  I stopped at Jamaica Joe’s for lunch. Having a chicken taco salad. The chicken seemed odd but it was decent. The temperature was a very moderate 81°F at 1pm with a light breeze. 

Storms were predicted for mid-afternoon so we headed back to the RV park around 2:30. It rained on the way back it had just started again. Thunderstorms are still predicted for later this evening. I believe a lot of this is being driven by the tropical storm that moved through southern Florida today. We leave this park tomorrow and head to a non-TT RV park south of Pooler, GA, for the next week.