Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Fredericksburg, TX

 - This morning, we drove north to Kerrville and Fredericksburg. We stopped at the Nimitz Museum but it was closed. We tried the Fredericksburg Brewery but it was also closed. Most of the touristy places seemed to be closed on Tuesday. 

We had lunch at a German restaurant and I had the roast beef rouladen over spaetzel. It was different but not a standout dish. The pickles weren’t very sour and the gravy was kind of bland. 

After lunch, we wandered around the downtown some as well as the small town of Bandera on the way back to Hondo. This was a nice “no-project” day. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

This is More Like It!

Thursday - Ahhh! Finally some wonderful temperatures. At least for a while. No rain in the forecast and the overnight temperatures are reasonable. 

We managed to get a couple of projects done. With DomC's help, I replaced the swivel rocker in the RV. It had started to fall apart after only a couple of years. We picked up the replacement from someone else here in the park who wanted to get rid of theirs. They felt that they had too much furniture in their shed. It's in wonderful condition.

Saturday - The next project on the docket was installing tilting mounts for the solar panels. The mounts are made by Renogy and I had ordered two kits to see if it would work. They do work with a bit of modification to the plastic mounts I had used. Two of the mounts, which were not screwed into the roof structure, practically fell off. The Sikaflex held fine to the fiberglass but not to the plastic mounts. I just picked up some steel angle to attach the failed mounts to two other mounts which are fastened into the roof structure. 

It took us 5 hours and a trip to Tractor Supply to get on panel done. The second panel should be done in a fraction of the time. Thank you Dom for all of your help. It is really appreciated. Two more tilt kits have been ordered. We have four panels.

 - The second panel went much faster. Four hours which included additional work on the first panel. Climbing up and down the ladder onto the roof and working on the roof seems to bring out a lot of aches. But half done. The other two should go even quicker. 

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Back to Normal - SKP

Tuesday - I had brought up a Blu-Ray player from Fairbanks and finally got it installed in the RV. The old DVD player/amplifier got dumped a couple of years ago in Florida. I had put it by the dumpster and it was gone in about 15 minutes. I'm also trying to straighten out the mess of cables in that cabinet as it also has the antenneaDMR hotspot, Apple TV, DNS black hole, WiFi AP, and the HomeAssistant server. The router and the AT&T hotspot are on the other side of the TV.

It is a warm, muggy day with intermittent sprinkles. And this morning we had heavy fog. I think the humidity outside is 90% or something like that. The afternoon temperature was 70°F which is what I had been expecting. 

Yesterday, I was hooking the water back up and the ball valve for the shutoff for our site was leaking. I reported it and the valve was replaced about 15 minutes later.

The AT&T is still working well enough for me to participate in test sessions. The highs for the rest of the week and into next week are all in the low 70s. I hope it stays this way for a while. 

I noticed that the Ural rear turn signal lens was cracked with a small piece missing. I’m not sure when that happened. I used this super strong marine epoxy to put it back together. 

Wednesday - Lots of thunder and lightning last night but not a whole lot of rain. I'm trying a new recipe for beef short rib ragu. Usually, I just make it in the Instant Pot but one recipe said that a slow cooker will have even more flavor. I also used marsala in place of red wine. 

Later - After about six hours, I switched the Instant Pot to pressure cook as the meat was still not the "fall apart" texture that I prefer. I had it pressure cook for 50 minutes followed by natural release for about an hour. It came out delicious. 

The rain, thunder, and lightning returned in the evening. 

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Back in TX - SKP

Thursday - This afternoon after it warmed up to 71°F, I used this to rinse off the road salt and brine from the Jeep. The wheel wells, fenders, and undercarriage had a lot of white on them. Afterward, it looked much better. It still needs a good washing but all of the white residue is gone. 

Another RV repair is the front furnace. It apparently quit working Sunday afternoon while we were on our way to OK. The blower came on, you can hear it trying to light, and you can smell propane in the exhaust. So it just wasn't lighting. There was an RV mobile tech looking at the neighbor's motorhome and I asked him to stop by. He put his hand over the exhaust port and it lit almost immediately. He said that indicated that the burner was clogged probably by a mud dauber nest. I.e. wasp nest.

This evening, there was a BBQ rib dinner prepared by several of the residents. We were too late to sign up for ribs so we signed up for cheeseburgers. One of the other residents really would prefered a cheeseburger so we switched. The pork ribs were delicious as were the side dishes. Especially the cauliflower "mac and cheese".

Friday - It didn't get too cold last night so the heat pump had no problem keeping up. But it's windy today with gusts up to 35mph. At least it's nice and clear. After the morning test session, I rode the Ural to H-E-B to pick up some parsnips for tonight's dinner. It was a bit windy on the highway but not really an issue. UDF kicked in while in the store parking lot. Sidecars just aren't very common.

Saturday - The furnace must've not like the idea of being poked and dismantled as it worked fine last night when the temperature dropped to 25°F. The system switched from the heat pump to the furnace when the temperature dropped below freezing. I will still pull it out and take it apart when it gets warmer to see if there is anything in the burner that would limit its reliable operation. It also could be that the propane level and pressure had dropped so low since the tank was at 2% when it was refilled.

While we were in Ok, I did turn on the battery heaters but they never came on. The outside air temperature is the lower graph and the air temperature inside the insulated battery box is the upper graph. The batteries do heat up when charging and that seems to be sufficient to not need the heaters. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Heading Back to Hondo

Wednesday - A cold 7°F this morning as we headed south out of OK. Lunch (and fuel) was at a Czech deli/bakery called Slovacek’s just north of Waco. My roast beef/cheese/jalapeño sandwich was delicious! The bread was fresh and it was served hot. 

The 511 mile trip took most of the day but by the time we went through Dallas, the temperature was above freezing. The A/C on the Jeep even came on a couple of times. 

It looks like we had one casualty from the big freeze here in Texas. The ice maker valve still had water in it and the shutoff valve wasn’t tightened all the way. When I turned on the pump, it started to leak. The fix was tightening the valve. During the whole time we were gone, we used almost half a tank of propane between the two furnaces and the hot water heater. About 10 gallons. The propane supplier is scheduled to come by tomorrow. Good timing. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Wilburton, OK - AirBnB

Monday - This was the view from the AirBnB that we used for only one night as most of the water pipes and drains were frozen. The heater was running almost continuously but it never warmed up inside above the low 60s (°F). We are now at another AirBnB about 20 miles to the west and it is really nice place. 

We made Spam musubi and a couple of unagi rolls using ingredients I had picked up in Minnesota. The kitchen was very nice for groups. 

 - We drove to Ft. Smith, AK, to the National Cemetery where Bridget’s brother, Robin, is being buried. At 9°F, the outdoor ceremony was brief but it still wiped out my iPhone battery as I recorded it. 

Sunday, January 14, 2024

On the Road Again!

Sunday - Another road trip though this one is much shorter and without cat so there’s more room in the Jeep. This was the temperature just north of Dallas and now it’s 4°F here in Oklahoma. 

Snow flurries but not much accumulation since it is so cold. We are here for several days for a memorial service and staying at an AirBnB with Bridget’s brother and niece. 

The water in the AirBnB is partially frozen. No water in the kitchen or one of the two bathrooms. 

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Back in Texas - SKP

Thursday - It hit 75°F this afternoon while I was sitting outside for the test session. The camera on this new laptop is pretty good. Even with strong backlight, the video is still decent with plenty of contrast. We will only be here for a couple of days before the next road trip. It's much shorter. Only a one-day drive to eastern Oklahoma near the Arkansas border.

JimB, a resident of the park, just dropped this off. He made it in his workshop! Pretty phenomenal skill.

 - It has been pretty windy here since around midnight. Fortunaltely, there are no more leaves on our tree and while we were gone, our neighbor BobE, cleaned up the leaves. It looks incredibly nice right now. Folks are running around getting the park ready for the upcoming cold spell. The forecast for Monday and Tuesday nights are temperatures in the upper teens. I'm planning on draining the grey and black tanks and to disconnect all of the hoses tomorrow afternoon after filling the fresh water tank. I have a small electric heater and I'll have that plugged in and running in the wet bay. While we are gone, I'll have the propane furnace set to 65°F. The propane furnace also heats the basement storage. We still have half a tank of propane so no problem there. And, we are on the schedule to be filled up next Thursday anyway.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Travel Day 4 - Heading Back to Texas

Wednesday - Last day on the road for this trip. We left around 9 and got caught up in the Dallas morning traffic. We stopped for lunch at Buc-ee’s south of Waco for lunch and had a delicious brisket sandwich. It has been windy with gusts over 30mph right on our nose. Needless to say, gas mileage has been dismal. Especially with the 75mph speed limit. 

While in the Dallas traffic, I managed to score an RV reservation request for the 2024 Balloon Fiesta. We want to arrive two days before it starts and leave on the last day. The RV spots are usually gone within 30 minutes of the site going live. I already had the site loaded and refreshed the browser one second after the hour. And got right in. The last time, I couldn’t even open the website until 20 minutes after the hour. And, most of the sites were gone. We’ll see. I haven’t received confirmation yet…

It was 70°F while we drove through San Antonio! And 69°F at 4:30 back at the RV. It was a fantastic visit but also nice to be back. Roughly 2800 miles. Time to relax…

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Travel Day 3 - Heading Back to Texas

Tuesday - South of Joplin, MO, we found ourselves on historic Route 66. We stopped at tourist trap to take some pictures as the business was closed for the season. Lots of cool old stuff. 

Lots of old cars mostly in pieces. 

We left this morning in the rain and the temperature dropping towards freezing. The roads were passable but stressful driving as some trucks and cars were blasting by pretty fast. We kind of stayed behind a group of trucks going under the speed limit.

Around Joplin, we turned off the Interstate due to toll roads and started to leave the winter weather behind but traded it for strong, gusty winds from the west. 

This picture is just north of the Texas border and it’s 46°F! We stopped for the night north of Dallas around 450 miles from our starting point of Lebanon, MO. Long enough given the conditions…

Monday, January 8, 2024

Travel Day 2 - Heading Back to Texas

Monday - We got an early-ish start this morning to try and beat the snow. We were fine for most of the day. We passed through St. Louis just a bit after 11am. Several hours later, we ran into rain which turned into sleet and very slippery roads. We pulled over in Lebanon, MO, at a pet friendly hotel (Super 8). Four cars in the ditch was enough to convince me. Hopefully, the roads will be better tomorrow…

The back end of the Jeep was sliding whenever we went through slush. The stock A/S tires currently have about 50K on them between driving and being towed. They need replacement sooner rather than later. 

This is the forecast for 12pm. It looks pretty good for tomorrow. 

Travel Day 1 - Heading Back to TX

Sunday - An early-ish start today heading south and a little east into Illinois. It was only 16°F when we left and it kind of stayed there until we got closer to Illinois. The picture is Iowa after a quick coffee stop. The scenery was kind of the same all day though the clouds cleared up in the middle of Iowa. They returned after a short time. 

We arrived at our destination a bit after 5pm so it was around a 500mile day. We also zipped past 36K miles so the Jeep is no longer under warranty. 

There is a storm forecasted for tomorrow evening with almost a foot of snow. We plan to take off early tomorrow heading south to get to warmer temperatures. Rain is better than snow…

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Happy New Year!

Monday - Another cold-ish day in Minnesota. I'm now on the third day of using this new laptop. Maybe 5 hours of use including an hour-long Zoom session and the battery is still at 60%. Even when it was new, my old laptop would only last a couple of hours on battery. Plus, this one seems to be much faster. I did have a concern about memory as it has 8GB. But after three days, only 100MB of swap has been used. I don't do large video or audio projects anymore so I don't foresee it being a problem. 

I'm not really sure what any plans are for today or the rest of the week but I'll just go along with the flow. I believe that we will be heading back towards TX next weekend. The return trip will be a little bit longer as we will be going through Illinois. 

Tuesday - I'm waiting for the morning test session to get started. Just set up the laptop anywhere, put on the headphones and start. Way more convenient. I recorded the video for the morning session and the conversion to an MP4 file took about 20 seconds. On the old laptop, it took several minutes. And the upload to the Google Drive took maybe 10 seconds. Fast Internet is nice.

And, I finally plugged in the laptop to charge after using it on/off for the last four days. It was still at 55%.