Saturday, May 25, 2024

Moving Out

Thursday - Yesterday was a blur as I arrived back home around 3am after 8 hours in the Seattle airport. This morning, we rented a storage unit and now I need to locate a couple of pallets to put some furniture on so the furniture is not in direct contact with the concrete floor. I also participated in several test sessions yesterday and today. The times for the tests seem more reasonable for me now that I'm actually in the Alaska time zone. And took care of a couple of really minor things around the house. Now the serious work begins.

Friday - I started moving stuff into the storage space. We are using Kyle’s desk to enable stacking when you normally can’t stack. For example, the Prius tires can go under the desk. Or tools like the chop saw or router table.

To the right, I put a couple of old shipping pallets on the floor to keep some wood furniture from touching the concrete floor.

Saturday - More sorting through all of the junk that I've accumulated over the years. There was so much junk that was acquired at various conferences.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Alaska Bound…

Tuesday - A huge thank you to Dave and Ginny for their hospitality and generosity. Dave gave me a ride to the Portland airport. And, as usual, we had some good conversations along the way. There were no direct flights to Fairbanks from Portland so I’m stopping in Seattle for a while. I think the layover is around 8 hours or so. 

I’m glad to see that the flight to Seattle is on a 737. At least there is room for my carryon bag. The first picture is at the Portland airport. The second one is from the Alaska Airlines Lounge at the Seattle airport. The lounge has food and beverages and the one day pass is $65. Since I have an eight hour layover, it seemed worth it. 

Pretty decent bandwidth given the number of people here. It’s not super crowded but there are more people than on prior visits. 

Monday, May 20, 2024

Getting the RV Ready

Sunday - I added up my fillups from the TX to WA roadtrip and it came out to 361 gallons and cost $1213. This actually included about ⅔ of our trip to Corpus Christi as the last fill up before heading north was on our way out to Mustang Island. So just fuel is around 55¢/mile. As I headed  north and west, the fuel cost kept increasing with Washington being the most expensive. The TSD OpenRoads program saved us $241 on this trip alone. 

Every time I go out to the RV I remember more stuff that I need to pack.

Monday - I decided to bring the HT (VHF/UHF ham radio) and that means the charger, the hotspot, and the Surface tablet with all of its bits and pieces to program the radio. The checked suitcase is pretty full but the carry on bags are not full but one of them will need to be gate checked on the PDX-SEA leg. Since I am no longer MVP let alone MVP Gold, I’m not sure what the baggage allowance is these days. I guess Club 49 may still have some benefit. Have I mentioned that I really dislike flying these days. 

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Arrived in WA

Friday - Final drive day. I arrived at the Chehalis Thousand Trails RV park. I am running a load of laundry and getting stuff packed for the trip north. 2,280 miles from Hondo, TX to here over six days. That's about 380 miles per day. A bit on the high side but not by much. I would have liked an "off" day somewhere in the middle as driving every day tends to get a bit old. But, I still enjoy traveling.

I am parked in a different section and was surprised to find 50amp shore power. It had water but I didn't bother connecting it as I'm only here for one night. I will run a load of laundry and just use the water from our water tank. The water in the tank has already been run through the water softener.

Saturday - This morning, I moved the RV to the temporary storage location. Emptied out the refrigerator and freezer and discovered that I need to dig out the portable freezer as we have a lot of stuff. I picked up my ticket to fly to AK using mileage but I did need to spend a little to not get a middle seat for the Seattle-Fairbanks leg. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Into Oregon

Thursday - Day six of my “repositioning” road trip from TX to WA. I’m dry camping along the Columbia River. It’s pretty windy with gusts up to 44mph. But, it’s always windy through here. 

According to the Windy app, it’s going to be windy all night and into tomorrow. I only have a 190 mile drive tomorrow so the wind won’t matter much. I just drive slower. 

There are a number of wind surfers here. I think that’s the draw for many. It’s not just a nice location. Even though you can see I-84, you can’t hear it over the wind.

Between the DC-DC charger and the solar, the batteries were back to 100% SoC from 65% this morning. The DC-DC charger is working as advertised. Not too much of a load on the engine driven alternator which is rated at 160amps. 

Looking upriver at the John Day Dam.

So far, 2048 miles…

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Into Idaho

Wednesday - Today was a relatively short travel day. Well, short compared to some of the last couple. I am stopped at a Boondockers Welcome location near Meridian, ID. I decided to stop here to try and meet up with Larry, another ham from Homer, AK, who set up their DMR repeater and manages the Alaska statewide DMR talk group, TG3102.

I'm participating in a test session right now but will be meeting Larry shortly afterward. 

Later - I met Larry and Lonnie at their home. We went out to dinner with a couple of their friends to an wonderful Italian restaurant. This was a bit of a surprise since Larry and Lonnie just returned for several. weeks in Italy. I had the il sugo over pomodoro. The sauce was cream based and not tomato and had shredded pork, basil, and mushrooms. Another hot item was the pasta with gorgonzola cheese. Everything was delicious and I finally got the meet Larry in person after talking to him on DMR for the last several years.

Only a couple of more days to go...

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Through Wyoming and Utah

Tuesday - There was a nice, colorful sunset last night from the RV park. It did drop into the high 30s last night and was 48°F by the time I was ready to leave at ~8am. Initially, there was a strong headwind. Somewhere around 35mph but shortly after passing the Continental Divide, the winds dropped considerably. 

It was a pleasant drive through the rest of Wyoming. I especially enjoyed from Patrick Draw to the Wyoming border as I had spent a lot of time around here in the mid to late 70s. It was one of the field sites when I was working. The towns don’t look the same but the rocks and landscape do. 

East of Salt Lake City, I started to head northwest towards Idaho. And stopped just short of the ID border at a campground I had used before. Nice, quiet and one of the few places along this stretch. Almost 1600 miles so far on this trip. 

Lunch today was a poké bowl I had picked up at H-E-B. It was delicious and a nice change from my usual on-the-road meals. 

Monday, May 13, 2024

Colorado into Wyoming

Monday - Made it into Wyoming today. I was originally looking at Laramie, WY, and not dry camping due to the overnight low temperatures. Not quite freezing but getting there. The RV in Laramie didn’t answer their phone and their reservation web site was broken. So, I drove another hundred miles to Rawlins, WY, and I’m staying at a KOA. Today was a 475 mile day. Maybe the longest one so far. 

The skies have been clear for most of the day then clouds started to show up in the late afternoon. There were even a few raindrops while I was setting up. I only put out three of the slides and only dumped the grey tank. 

Sunday, May 12, 2024

On the Road

Saturday - I attended the local ham radio meeting this morning before hitting the road. When I returned, I dumped and flushed the tank and filled the water tank to 60% on the SeeLevel gauge. This actually translates to ~75 gallons. So I have plenty of water. The site looks kinda bare…

My first stop is the same museum that I had stopped at last November. The WASP museum outside of Sweetwater, TX. When I was about an hour south, I noticed a storm in the area so I pulled over at a Stripes gas station to wait until the storm moved out of the way. The severe (orange-red on the map) has already passed but I’ll give it another 15 minutes or so.

Later - I headed out around 4:20 as it looked like a clear path to Sweetwater. After filling up at a Love's truck stop, I started to head to the WASP museum. It seemed like I was going in the wrong direction so I pulled off. After checking Google Maps, I remembered that the Garmin took me somewhere in the town of Sweetwater rather than the actual location of the museum. So I followed Google Maps.

 - More wind, rain, and lightning. I guess the plains are a bad place to be around this time of year. It was foggy for most of the morning then scattered clouds in the afternoon. Followed by this. 

I’m in the Walmart parking lot in southeastern Colorado. I stayed here before and they had you park in the dirt lot. Now, the lot is blocked off so everyone gets to park in the regular lot. It’s pretty tight when cars in there. I disconnected the Jeep since I needed to back up. 

Today was the first time I ran the DC-DC charger at 40amps. Since the batteries were down to 60% this morning and there was little solar, I switched the DC-DC charger to “high”. The fuse didn’t blow like the circuit breaker did. There must be a large current surge when the charger first turns on. 

Revised my route from NM-Utah to due north to WY then west to SLC then NW. 

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Getting Ready to Hit the Road - SKP

Thursday - First thing in the morning, I drove into Uvalde to pick up a couple of prescription refills. I then came back to meet with the John, who will be weeding our lot for the next six months. The person we had doing it last year decided that they were done with that job so we needed to find someone new. I packed a couple of the larger items in the RV such as Bridget's e-bike. I also packed the butane one-burner stove that we may need to use at the reunion. I had packed most of the tools. I am still unsure about my e-bike.

I'm still trying to decide which route to take but probably this one. My first stop is a Harvest Host on Saturday. It's the same museum that I stopped at on my way down last November. According to the weather map, there are still some snow (and ice) through Colorado and Wyoming is the lower elevation route seems prudent.

I think it really is time to head north. According to the weather app, this is supposed to be the warmest day of the week. Hopefully, that's true as I still have more packing and outdoor tasks to do. I just poured some cleaner in the black tank and I'm supposed to let it sit for at least 48 hours before dumping and rinsing the tank. I hadn't used this solution before so it's an experiment. Amazon said it was going to be delivered on Monday but it didn't arrive until today. The time barely fits a Saturday departure. 

I just picked up some Stabil for the Ural gas as it'll be sitting around for about six months. Especially since there isn't any convenient option for non-ethanol gas around here. And, I'll probably put some Stabil in the Jeep as well as it's also going to sit for at least a couple of months.

The other trip prep task is pre-cooking some meals. I think I want to have the chest fridge/freezer turned off for the trip so I'm taking the contents and preparing some meals for the trip north. So far, I have beef Bourguignon and today I'm prepping fried chicken, carnitas, as well as cooking pasta. Probably not the bet thing to do with the heat but it's better than working outside.

 - So much cooler (temperature-wise) this morning than yesterday. I got a few more things packed away. I decided to take my e-bike so that was one more thing. I almost forgot to pack the battery charger. I added Stabil to the Ural gas tank and rode it around the park to make sure some of it made it into the carbs. I then dug around the shed and found the trickle charger and got that hooked up. So, we are going to leave the shed powered on and are not putting our lot in the rental pool. 

I have the portable refrigerator/freezer emptied out and the carnitas are finishing up in the convection oven. I ended up running into H-E-B to pick up some orange juice for the carnitas. That is both the marinade and the cooking liquid. After cooking in the Instant Pot, it is finished up in the convection oven. Nice that the temperature is cooler today. It was warmer than this last night at 10pm!

The only thing left cooking-wise is cooking up a variety of pasta. This way, I shouldn't really need to cook while on the trip back. Hopefully, it's won't be as hot as it was yesterday. I disabled charging with the Magnum due to high temperatures in that storage compartment. The AT&T hot spot in the front compartment was overheating in the afternoon until I just let it hang out of the compartment by the ethernet cable. 

The second test session had a couple of candidates so I went ahead and led one of the groups. It'll probably be my last opportunity for the next couple of weeks or so. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Back in D’Hanis, TX - SKP

Monday - We took alternative roads i.e. not Interstates from Dallas back to Hondo. It was a much more relaxing drive and, according to Google, only about ten minutes longer. We only stopped a couple of times, once for breakfast at Cracker Barrel, once to switch drivers, and once for fuel in Fredericksburg. It even felt like a shorter trip.

It is a hot, muggy day today. With the relative humidity over 90%, it feels much warmer than that! Still sorting through stuff to pack in the RV for the summer. Debating on things like the e-bikes and tools as they are on the heavy side. 

One of the things I need to is to pull apart the air compressor as the pressure shutoff switch doesn't seem to be working. The motor will keep running and the pressure relief valve on the tank will open and dump air. Maybe later today after I finish the afternoon test session.

Later - I may need to replace the pressure switch. The pressure relief valve opens at 130psi and the motor should shut off at 125psi. I filled up the front tires while the compressor motor was running and just turned off the compressor when the front tires hit 115psi. 

Wednesday - I went up on the roof this morning and re-wired the solar panels to serial again. I only have 10AWG wire from the panels to the panel disconnect switch and it’s around 40’. If the temperature could drop to near freezing, I need to split the array in half and then parallel them together. Or else the total voltage might exceed the maximum input voltage of the charge controller. It was hot & humid work even at 8 in the morning. 93% RH…

Yesterday evening, I tackled replacing the battery in my Apple Watch Series 4. I heated the front face to soften the glue then pried up the display. Everything is very small and special tools were required. For example, the screw holding the battery connector was only ½mm long. After an hour or so, the watch was reassembled and it turned on. I charged it to 100% and left it charging for two hours as recommended. The next task was using the watch until it shuts itself down due to a dead battery. This procedure is needed to calibrate the battery. It’s been at 6% for the last couple of hours. With the old battery, I usually needed to recharge the watch after half a day. So far today, it’s been on for 21 hours. I think the battery replacement was a good way to extend the useful life of the watch.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Outer Banks and a Travel Day

Sunday - We check out of the house at around 9 and headed north to the Currituck Lighthouse in Corolla. There was also a small maritime museum with local boats and history. 

The focus of the boats seemed to be more on hunting than fishing. At least in this area, waterfowl seemed to be what their markets wanted. I guess that seafood was readily available but wetlands for waterfowl was less common. 

After the lighthouse, we stopped for an early lunch at an Asian place. I had a curry rice bowl with pork katsu. It was a nice change from the norm of the last couple of months.

We then headed to Virginia Beach since there was plenty of time to catch our flight. There is a Naval Aviation Monument on the beach with a number of bronze statues. 

There is also a large bronze statue of Neptune. The Virginia Beach area is much more built-up than the Outer Banks. 

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Low Country Boil

Saturday - After yesterday’s activities, today was a slow day. I even fit in a test session after heating yesterday’s leftovers for brunch. This evening, there is a low country boil as a follow up to the wedding. We are making our way south through Kitty Hawk and Nags Head (weird town names!) to the bride and groom’s rental. I expect lots of family as he seems to come from a large family. 

The view to the north from the rental house. The sand is very soft where you slip back a foot with each step. The sand isn’t bright white like we saw in Florida. These houses seemed older with cedar decks and siding instead of the newer synthetic materials like Trex. 

The driveway was going to be pretty full so we opted to park in the public beach parking lot a short walk away. We were treated to a lot of custom cars, including hot rods and low riders, cruising up and down the beach road.

The chef was making the low country boil out in the carport. Corn, kielbasa, potatoes, elephant garlic, lemons, onions, celery, and a lot of Old Bay. Possibly hot sauce though he wouldn’t admit to adding much. But the bottles were over half empty. Shrimp were added Almost to the top of the inner strainer shortly after this picture was taken. 

And, here is the result. It was delicious. Very well seasoned and the accompanying garlic butter was fabulous especially on the corn and potatoes. Dessert was the leftover cupcakes and cookies from the wedding reception. After everyone had their fill, the leftovers filled a full-size steam tray. 

Friday, May 3, 2024

Duck, NC

Thursday - A somewhat busy day for me today. I’m serving a brunch on Friday morning for about 16 people including the bride. Prepped the quiche ingredients, two crusts, and an egg/potato casserole. Other items include muffins, breads, fruit, and mimosa’s. I hope everything turns out.

Friday - It came out pretty good. The quiche was tasty and the casserole wasn’t watery like it is sometimes. Even the mango/apricot mimosas were tasty. 

The wedding is later today out on a pier in Kitty Hawk. This is the view looking south from the pier. It’s a pretty nice location. 

The surf is right below us and the temperature is dropping as the fog is moving in. Bridget volunteered to take their dog back to their house after pictures. The roads were pretty crowded. 

A tradition that I had never heard of was a “cookie table”. Guests brought a variety of cookies. I hear it’s a Pennsylvania thing. 

Congratulations Jason & Kelly!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Kitty Hawk, NC

Tuesday - We finally made it to the Wright Brothers National Memorial. We listened to a fascinating ranger talk that began just after we are at the visitors center. 

We then walked around the grounds. This is the flight path of their first four flights with stone monuments marking the “landing” spots. The fourth flight is way out there. 
We walked up what used to be a sand dune that provided a gravity assist to their flying experiments. It was about a half mile walk out. The temperature was about ideal at 71°F with a light wind. I think that this may be the nicest weather for the week.

This metal sculpture was our last stop before hitting up Publix for lunch. It was an interesting stop that I’ve wanted to visit for a while. The last time we were in the area, there was a storm off the coast. We ended up staying inland. 
The Outer Banks covers quite a distance. This Google Earth image is just a portion from Duck in the north to the Cape Hatteras lighthouse in the south. A distance of about 70 miles. The projected driving time is about an hour and a half due to traffic. 

Wednesday - I started the day early with a sunrise from the hot tub. 

It’s not a spectacular sunrise but it looking out over the Atlantic. Something that’s unusual for me. 

 - We had lunch with MikeM and his wife, Valerie, at the Sunset Grille in Duck. Mike is one of the VEs that I do the ham radio testing. It was the first time meeting in-person. 

The picture is a house in Duck that I thought was very photogenic. No relation to the restaurant or anything else. 

Monday, April 29, 2024

Duck, NC

Monday - This is the view from the upper deck (this suggests the existence of a lower deck) of the Atlantic. There is a walkway out to the beach and I think I’ll be venturing out there later. I may have to do a Zoom session out here…

This is looking north. Nothing negative I can say about it. Thank you to Bridget’s brothers family for the opportunity and invite! We are here for a wedding at the end of the week. 

And, I guess, streaming shouldn’t be an issue…

After picking up some groceries, we went to Duck Donuts. No pre-made donuts here! They are made-to-order. 

I couldn’t resist a maple-salted caramel with bacon topping. It was delicious! Probably way too much sugar.

I'm out of the lower deck getting ready for a test. The WiFi signal is decent here though not quite as good as in the living room. On this deck level is the unheated pool and the hot tub. I just turned up the temperature from 95°F to 102°F. It should be ready in a couple of hours.

Nice place for a Zoom call test session! It was too sunny and warm on the upper deck at least for the morning session.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Irving, TX

Saturday - Today we drove to Dallas as we fly out tomorrow morning to Virginia. We are actually headed to North Carolina but the closest airport was Norfolk, VA. The destination meant that the “best” flights were out of Dallas which was a six hour drive from Hondo. By “best” I mean direct, only one flight. If we left from San Antonio, we would’ve flown west then change planes before heading east. This was simpler. The picture is one of the really nice rest areas. This one is between Waco and Dallas. 

We will be trying out a new car rental option on this trip called Turo. Car rentals have gotten very expensive. We are renting a car from an individual rather than a company. When we were in Florida, Dave and Ginny rented their car through Turo and they have used the service multiple times. And they reported good experiences every time. 

The handy restaurant to the hotel was the Red Lobster. The standout dish, for me, was the crispy brussel sprouts. Fantastic dish. I need to figure out the recipe. 

Sunday - We are sitting in the airport with multiple weather delays. Almost two hours so far…

Thunderstorms came through in the early morning hours. At least it cooled off. Only 64°F this morning. 

Here is why the flight is delayed. This is our plane route from Austin to DFW. It needed to wait for an opening in Austin as well as the weather to clear in Dallas. This is cool website. It gives me something to do while cooling my heels in an airport.
If nothing else, the WiFi at the airport was really fast. But I still don’t care for flying…

We met some friends for dinner in Norfolk then drove to Duck, NC. This is crossing Currituck Sound on a bridge on our way to the beach house.