Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kickin' Back...

We'll be rolling again tomorrow. We extended our time in Victoria... the weather has been perfect, Izzy has been getting plenty of outdoor time, Joan and I have been enjoying leisurely lunches at our favorite restaurants. Living in the HitchHiker has been very comfortable again.

Little Izzy really enjoys the 5th wheel... she has all kinds of great perches, including her big tower. When she gets the evening crazies, she has a wide open "loop" - up the stairs to the bedroom, across the bed, back down the stairs with a flying leap, looking like a flying squirrel; across the living room, up and across the back of the couch, another big leap to her tower, back across the room, then starts the second lap. It's entertaining the first dozen laps, then she runs out of steam pretty quick. Then a stretched out nap.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


The "circus train" left today! We are settled in in Victoria. The wild flowers along the way were beautiful and the prickly pear cacti were also in bloom. The state/counties don't mow this time of year, so you get to enjoy the palette of colors. We did run into some road construction on Hwy 77 between the Sarita check point and Kingsville... fresh chip seal, so passing trucks tossed gravel. The really fun part: they were spraying fresh oil on the road in one section... with the right lane closed and the left lane down to just barely enough room to keep the wheels on the pavement, we slowed down as we approached the road spraying equipment and then sped up to get past quickly... through a cloud of blowing oil in the 25 mph winds.

We like this RV park, so we'll stay a couple days.

We requested a pull through site at the RV park. It just accommodates our 65' length, but (of course) the trees are positioned so they'd interfere with the slides. We unhooked the motorcycle trailer and repositioned the HitchHiker to fit the tree openings, then tucked the cargo trailer in close. No big deal. When we're ready to leave, it will take less than 60 seconds to roll the cargo trailer over a bit and hook up. It's a nice concrete pad and pretty landscaping. No problem finding an easy spot for the VuQube at the back of the coach. The park has cable, pool, hot tub... and accepts Passport America (this time of year), so only $13.88 per night. A good deal for a nice park like this.

The important stuff: little Izzy is a very impressive travel cat. For the first couple minutes, she went from sitting beside me to sitting beside Joan to sitting on the center console... but quickly settled on a blanket on Joan's lap. If I could teach Izzy to drive, I'd do that, too. We stopped once for fuel and a bite to eat, and Izzy went right into her carrier when the truck stopped. No fuss, no screaming, no projectile vomiting (Smoke, our first cat, did all that) - Izzy is a champ.

It's been three months since we towed this. The wind varied from crosswind to right on the nose today. It's been out of the south for a couple weeks... until we got ready to head north today... and then it switched to NNW and ramped up. On the bright side, it kept the humidity down and we were able to do our part to keep the oil industry profitable. Now that we are settled in, the wind has clocked more easterly and is supposed to go south again this evening. Of course. We got around 9 mpg today. Big Red purred and pulled. The rig is comfortable and stable, even in a crosswind.

It's good to be wandering again.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Moved In...

The last thing to bring onboard the 5th wheel, the refrigerator items, happened this morning. We are officially moved in. Joan does a great job of getting everything in its place, while I do the pack mule routine. After lunch, we moved Izzy and her stuff in... it took her about 12 seconds to get comfortable again. This evening she ran a few "practice laps" from the living room, up the stairs, to the bedroom and back. She is sweet and adaptable.

We have the luxury of being able to spend a few days in the coach before we head out... second and third chances to get anything we might have missed in the packing process.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ummm, Did You Find...

I got a call today from the mechanic who worked on Wild Blue last week... “Ummm, did you find a socket in your engine cowling?” Isn’t that kinda like a surgeon leaving a scalpel in the patient? “Oh, and I’m not sure I tightened the oil drain bolt.” OK, that’s a problem. We made a trip out to the boat.

No socket, and the oil drain bolt was tight. Wasted trip.

But, it was an absolutely beautiful day; after a bit more loading, I went for a ride on the motorcycle. Running across the causeway, the water was beautiful - that pretty turquoise that we haven’t seen much of this winter. I love this time of year here. Gonna miss it.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Getting Loaded...

Yeah, the 5th wheel. What were you thinking? We have our "cool weather" clothes onboard. The fresh water tank and plumbing have been sanitized. Toiletries and food to go, but no particular hurry. It's nice to take our time. We'll spend a night or two in the HitchHiker before hitting the road, just to make sure everything is good to go and we haven't forgotten anything important.


Little Izzy Lounging...

No story, just Izzy, just because.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How Work Expands...

Happy Tax Day. I read that 47% of the people in the US don’t pay any income tax... no wonder our government is broke.

Today was supposed to be a day of rest... and more rain. I got up this morning and the sky was a clear blue. I decided it would be a good time to get the black streaks off the front cap of the 5th wheel.

The black streaks come from crud on the roof, so I decided to climb up there and scrub the roof first. There’s a vent cover up there that I decided to remove the so I could wash the vent hatch. With the roof done, the sides of the coach were now grubby. Yeah, I decided to wash the whole coach. I swear that thing gets bigger when it’s time to wash it.

So, now I could do something about those black streaks. Scrubbing it three times with a brush didn’t remove them. Joan was at Wal-Mart, so I called to have her pick me up some black streak remover (yes, they make such a thing).

When she returned home, I took the black streak remover and went after the front cap again... it took three more scrubbings. And took the wax off the front cap. I had backed the truck up to the 5th wheel to reach the front cap, so I decided to wash the truck since I had all the stuff out. The sun was still shining, so I decided to wax the front cap. And this was supposed to be a relaxing day???

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Wild Blue got her "spa day", then off to her storage berth...

About an inch to spare on the height, and just enough room to squeeze by on the sides. Snug, but out of the sun and wind.

One in, one out... the HitchHiker came out of storage. Assuming the weather weasels are wrong (and they usually are), hopefully the predicted days of rain will miss us so we can load in a leisurely manner.

The HitchHiker needs a good scrubbing, get her loaded, and we're off.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How Much For The Boat?

"So, how much are you askin' for your boat?" The question came from a neighbor down the street who was passing by.

"This boat isn't for sale," I replied.

"I've never seen anyone work that hard cleaning a boat if they weren't trying to sell it," he said.

Interesting point. Completely wrong, though.

Mother Nature cut us some slack and I got the rest of the waxing done. Polished up all the stainless... Nev-R-Dull really does a good job. It takes some rubbing, but all that brown stuff on the stainless (would that be a stain?) came off.

Joan was working inside, emptying the cabin of anything critters might eat or nest with. She wiped everything down and vacuumed the carpets.

I emptied the fresh water tank and drained the water heater.

The "piece de resistance": the bilge looked like a science experiment gone bad. I half expected the Creature From The Black Lagoon to pull me in when I reached down there. It was mostly slime... and some scrubbing brought it back to white again. When we picked up the boat nearly 4 years ago, I asked Scott if that area could be used for storage? His response, "Uhhhhhhh, I wouldn't." I understand why not. Wink

Heading for service tomorrow - 100 hour oil and lower unit change. Wild Blue's spa treatment is almost done, then she gets to take it easy for a while.

How much for the boat? Might just as well asked, "How much for one of your kidneys?"

Monday, April 12, 2010

On The Trailer...

Wild Blue is on her trailer and the cleaning has begun.

Cleaning the bottom last week while in the water really helped. The few spots I missed were easily taken care of once on the trailer. The "brown tide" we've had here the last two months left an ugly yellow stain on the hull, but some Atwood Hull Cleaner took care of that - as you can see in the above photo, the hull is a crispy white once again.

The anchor locker was pretty skanky. I unloaded the anchor and rode and flushed it all with fresh water, then ran it through some fabric softener in a bucket. Feels like brand new. That makes a difference when going through the windlass. With the locker empty, I washed it down with bleach water and scrubbed it; not as squeaky clean as new, but much better.

I started waxing the boat. Only got the top done before the rain started. A few things to empty out of the cabin, dump the fresh water tank, change the oil and filters, and she's ready to go into indoor storage for a while.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Another Sunrise Series...

Out and about early again. Wild Blue is going to come out of the water soon, so I need to get these in when I can...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


We've been home 2 1/2 months and Wild Blue has been in the water all that time. Yep, she was due for a bottom scrubbing. I could pay the marina around $200 to pull the boat and pressure wash it... or, anchor in some shallow water, hop in, and scrub it.

Joan was the "safety person" onboard. We dropped the main anchor in a cove then backed towards shore. I got off the back of the boat and hand set the second anchor. Then went to work with the brush...

The bottom was in reasonably decent shape, with some furry stuff on the sunny side and a few barnacles on the shady side. Our comparatively warm and salty water is a real breeding ground for critters. It took some scrubbing, but that job is done! The ablative bottom paint made the work easier, but I'm not sure the scrubbing is any easier on the bottom than pressure washing.

The glamorous world of boat ownership.

Monday, April 5, 2010

They Aren't All Sunny Days...

I was out and about early again today. The day started gray. The breaks you see in the clouds here soon opened up, making for plenty of blue sky.

Looks like the crowds from the holiday weekend are gone, at least on the water. Only one fishing boat to share all this water with. I had a few minutes to kill before I could get a bridge opening, so I swung by the shrimp basin. Nothing much has changed in there, except the boats get rustier.

It may look cold with that lack of blue in the sky, but it was 72º when I headed out before sunrise.


It's been a while since an Izzy update... here's the little girl perched on her tower. You can see that luxurious tail and the tuffs of fur on her paws. What a cutie!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Friday... oooooooooohhh, aaaaaaaaahhhhh

We got a call from our friend Herb, asking if we wanted to take the boats out to watch the fireworks tonight. As everyone knows, Good Friday is a day of religious significance that is celebrated by setting off fireworks. One must remember where we are - everything is celebrated with fireworks. Oh, look - it’s Arbor Day; what time are the fireworks tonight?

We took Wild Blue out our canal, through the swingbridge, under the causeway, around to the other side of Port Isabel, and tied up at Herb's dock.

We had a great visit with Herb and Wilma out on the patio overlooking their boathouse. They have a 360º view from their beautiful home; we could have watched the fireworks from one of their decks, but it was an excuse to go out on the Laguna, drop the anchor, and raft up the boats.

We chugged off into the darkness... and had the whole Laguna to ourselves. Not another small boat out there anywhere. We dropped and set the anchor, then Herb pulled up alongside us. It took a couple moments to figure the best logistics of fenders and where to tie off with the two different hull shapes. As usual, the wind was blowing more than forecast, so instead of visiting between the two boats, we set up chairs in Wild Blue's cockpit and the four of us visited there.

Herb and Wilma are great folks. We have a lot in common and the conversation is always lively. Oh, yeah - and there were fireworks. They started 15 minutes earlier than we were told and only lasted for a few minutes. But, we enjoyed the visiting until it was past all of our bedtimes. We unrafted, said our good nights, and parted company.

The car traffic on the causeway had been bumper-to-bumper all day. Getting around by boat was the best way to enjoy this evening out.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Welcoming In April...

No April Fools... I was up early and out while it was still dark. It's going to be another windy day in the Tropical Tip, with gusts to 40 mph... but it was particularly nice while out early this morning. The temp was 70º at 6:00 and the wind was 10-15; and humid, which generally makes for some nice clouds at the horizon line.

And well worth the early rising. I stopped to watch some dolphins for a while; too dark to capture it with the camera, but beautiful to watch. And then this sunrise series...

What a way to start the day!