Friday, May 27, 2016

40% chance of thunderstorms = a 60% chance we won't get wet...


Off this morning, heading into San Antonio (the 8th largest city in the country) on the Friday of a holiday weekend... what could go wrong with that plan?  ;-)

I said, "See ya down the road," to my Honey, since we are driving separate...


I had to be careful to not run over the ducks that populate the park...


Just like humans: the boys chasing the girls.

It was pretty overcast.  Looking at hourly forecasts, if we make it through San Antonio by 10:00 or so, it should be before more expected rain.  It looked like this...



Driving separate worked out well, with all the turns we have to make to get off of I-37 and onto I-10... driving a motorhome, there are places that feel like a "Runaway Mine Train" ride at an amusement park.  Traffic was surprisingly light.  I led the way in the motorhome, Joan opened lanes behind me when I need to switch lanes.  We didn't get slowed down as we made our way west.

Into Hill Country...


For the first hundred miles or so, we had a decent tailwind.  That changed abruptly, when the GPS in the motorhome said, "Wind Warning Ahead"...


As the sky cleared of clouds, the wind changed 180º... yes, making it a headwind... and kicked up above 20 mph.  There goes my gas mileage.

Nice to see blue sky, though...


Not so nice to see this, after we left the Hill Country...



About 150 miles of really crap road.  I guess it is cheaper to put out a sign rather than fix the road... it has been like this the last several times we've been across here.

A lot of nuthin' out here...


Well, I should say nuthin'... at one point, I could see 4 dust devils at the same time...


We stopped for a late lunch (3:00) and fuel (one stop shopping) in Fort Stockton.  Decisions: stop for the day here, or push on to Van Horn.  Towing the cargo trailer, we keep the speed to 65 mph or less.  With the crap road and ugly winds, it was usually less.  It is about 550 miles across west Texas, so we can't make it in one day.  We decided to go another couple hours.

Tomorrow, we'll have a couple more hours of "high desert scenery", then get to deal with the crazy-ass drivers in El Paso.

I'm ready for an adult beverage and an evening without getting bounced around.  The forecast for tonight: a low of 56º (we won't need to run the a/c!), clear, and wind out of the west at 15 gusting to 32.  We are just over 4,000' elevation, and it is dry here.  Blowing dirt kinda dry.  Right now, it is 82º and it "feels like" 82º... haven't seen that in a while.


Timing...


Looks like our plan to stay south of the expected severe weather was good: we had no rain overnight.  Areas just north and west of us (the direction we are heading) had 1 to 2" of rain.  One area along our route reported hail the size of... grapefruit!  No, I am not kidding.

Still a 40% chance of rain and thunderstorms today in the Hill Country, so we may get wet, yet.  This morning: through the San Antonio traffic, Hill Country, and into west Texas.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rolling...


Looks like weather will be a concern as we head north - San Antonio is predicted to see a bunch of thunderstorm activity for the next 5 or 6 days.

Looking at the hourly predictions for SA, we are thinking we may be able to get close, then hunker down for the night.  If the storms move as predicted, we may be just south of the ugly stuff.  We'll see how that plays out.

Little Izzy was nestled into the pillows on the bed while we gathered our last minute stuff to put in the motorhome...


We finished shutting down the house, hooked up the cargo trailer, and the caravan hit the road.  Not as much fun driving separate, but we have our phones, and hand-held radios for any areas that have no cell coverage.

My last look at the Tropical Tip for a while...


The only view I get of my Honey while we are rolling...


Yeah, that's the CR-V back there.  We visited by phone a few times - yes, hands free.  Stopped at one rest area, and a Flying J for fuel and lunch.  All the while, checking the weather... we can roll into an RV park south of San Antonio, put more fresh water on, then put all the utilities away except electric and cable, so I won't have to put that stuff away in the rain in the morning.

The drive was uneventful - just the way I like it.  There is a big difference between "seeing the sights" and "making miles."  Today, it was the latter.  And, trying to time it right.  We pulled in around 3:00... the hourly forecasts were showing the rain would likely start between 4:00 and 5:00.  San Antonio is under a flash flood watch for the evening.

After getting the tankage situated, another check of the weather shows it may be just north of us.  We'll see.  I wanted to be on a site with a concrete pad...


As we come up on 5:00, we are in the sunshine.  Had we continued north, then west, we'd be in the thunderstorms.

Little Izzy settled in right away...


The motorhome averaged about 9 mpg today; the CR-V got 35.6 mpg.  First time in a few months we paid more than $2 per gallon for gas ($2.02).  First time in decades we've had a vehicle that could top 30 mpg.  No, I don't suppose we could tow the motorhome with it.  ;-)


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Swallowed 'em...


We bought a really cool bike rack for our e-bikes.  A great fit with the truck.  Now that the truck is gone, replaced by the Honda CR-V, there is no place for that bike rack.  Because it doesn't have a hitch on the back.  There is a hitch for the Honda waiting for us at Steph and Dan's place in Phoenix.

In the meantime, the CR-V swallowed up those big ol' fat tire bikes, with plenty of room left over.  It helps that they bikes fold; but even folded, they are beasts.  We strapped the bikes in place with Velcro and bungee cords.  Feels solid.  To make sure the bikes don't scar up that pretty interior, I put some blocks of styrofoam under the frame support on the bikes, and between any part of the bikes that could potentially rub against the car interior.

With all but the last minute stuff to load into the RV, we cleaned up - it if was a sweatball competition, I was far in the lead.  Joan probably worked harder than I did, but I was outside more today... and it was hot and humid.  It felt good to just sit for a bit.

Joan suggested a late lunch/early dinner at Russo's, with some pizza left over for snacks on the road.  I was completely in favor of that idea.  And, no one has to cook or clean.  As we pulled away from the house, in the Honda, with the bikes in back... the styrofoam began creaking.  Not a friendly little squeek, but a chorus of horrendous creaks.  It was funny for the first 30 seconds or so... and then Joan began to consider the consequences of driving across the roads in west Texas with creaking louder than the stereo will blast.  "We have to do something about that!"

I said, "The Honda is a lot quieter than the motorhome - it only seems fair that you should get to enjoy..."  That little voice in my head interrupted the voice coming out of my mouth: "Yeah, I'm sure some wash cloths wrapped around that styrofoam will quiet it down a bunch."  Whew!

Yes, we will be driving separate to Phoenix.  I'll be in the motorhome, Joan will be driving the CR-V.  I am not looking forward to that drive without some friendly conversation.  And, a pretty Blonde to navigate.  Although we have made this trek dozens of times.  I'm guessing Izzy will ride with me, since she likes to burrow between the pillow shams on the bed.

By the time we leave Phoenix, the Honda will be set up for towing... being towed behind the motorhome and being able to tow the cargo trailer or haul the bikes on the back, as the situation allows.  Well, that is the plan.  The RV service place that is doing the tow bar install is supposed to have the parts in hand before we get there.  We'll see how that plays out.

On the bright side, when we are down for the night on our trek across, if we want to go out for supper, it is going to be easier with the CR-V.  And not having to unstrap scoots.

Plus, we are looking forward to seeing Steph and Dan.  Last week, they finished their 15th and final year teaching at Rainbow Valley.  They are moving to another school district where they will continue to mold young minds.  We are excited for them with this move.  We will get to see their schools while we are there.

We are ready to get rolling with this season!  The motorhome... the CR-V... the scoots... the e-bikes.  You can't take it all, but I am looking forward to our changes, too.


Nothing says nutritious breakfast like...


... ice cream and a left-over stromboli.  Yeah, we're cleaning out the fridge.  No way I was going to toss slightly freezer burned ice cream or any form of Italian food.  Two of the 4 main food groups - now I just need to have some bacon and chocolate.  Scratch that: the ice cream was Oreo, so I am covered on the chocolate.  I looked... there is no left-over bacon.  Pretty sure that is an oxy-moron.

The loading and house closing continues.  I do think I'm rapidly approaching the "No mas!" stage with this moving in and out stuff.

The local weather weasels are taking delight in saying, "The outside air temp at the coast is 87º, but it feels like (the misery index) 100º... and, it is going to get even hotter before the day is over.  Even hotter inland!"

The only response I have to that would be expletive-filled.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

March of the Penguins...


That's what our friend, Mary Jo calls it: that walk to and from the motorhome as you are getting things loaded.

We pulled the Aspect out of the storage unit, stopped at Discount Tires to get the tires aired up, and brought it home.  The loading has started...


To add to the fun, it is another warm, humid day here in the Tropical Tip.  Fortunately, the motorhome is plugged in, the air conditioner is keeping it cool... just that "penguin march" in the heat, to and from.

When I pulled up weather today, several of my favorites come up... it was 63º in Friday Harbor today... that sounds pretty right now.  ;-)


Sunday, May 22, 2016

What's next...


In the last post, I mentioned 4 big oil rigs in the turning basin at our local port.  Make that 5.  This morning, it looked like the drilling ship that came in yesterday was moving around... nope, another one that looks just like it!


These ships are impressive.  They are about two years old, and have been pulled off their current 3 year contract, due to the depressed oil prices.  I was visiting with my buddy David about them - they will likely have a short down time before being put back into service.  They can drill to 4,000', with GPS driven gryro propulsion to keep them in one spot.  Expensive rigs... too expensive to leave 'em sitting.  Day rates between $250k and $500k for operating costs.


In the meantime, this means more income for our local port authority.  And the turning basin is starting to look like a parking lot... a parking lot for VERY BIG rigs.