Tuesday, September 30, 2014

3 for the road...

Remember that TV show from the 70s?  It was about a photographer and his two sons, who traveled around in their motorhome, doing photography assignments and having adventures.  I must have been influenced by that show.  ;-)

When Stephanie was little, we would travel around in our campervan... she called it "3 for in the road."  Yeah, way too cute.  After Steph went off to college, and the Blonde and I were able to get away more often, we took Smoke the cat everywhere in our motorhomes.  That cat was on both coasts, Canada and Mexico.  Truth be told, I think Joan lobbied for a motorhome so we could take the cat with us (we traveled by plane before that... we took the cat in the plane... once... it wasn't pretty).  Not as cute as little Stephanie's saying, but we called it "2 and a cat for in the road."

Molly got to experience that and the boat cruising.  Same with little Izzy.  In fact, Izzy seems to be happiest in the 5th wheel: plenty of room to roam, windows all over, comfortable furniture to lay on, and three steps from the upstairs to the living room to launch off from!

Except for the "launching off" part, I think I am a lot like Izzy.  The HitchHiker is very comfortable.

We decided to do a bit of wandering before our builder gets back (to do some work on the house).  When I picked Izzy up to put her in her carrier (something she actually likes), she hissed.  Not a "I don't want to go in there," hiss; more of a "don't even THINK of putting me in a motel again!!" hiss.  I tried to tell her that we were taking out the HitchHiker - she put her paws over her ears and said, "Nyah, nyah, nyah!  I'm not listening to you!"

It is almost an hour from our house to the storage unit.  Izzy road in her carrier the whole way.  It took us almost another hour to load the last of the stuff in the HH, get the tonneau cover off the truck bed, and the 5th wheel hitch into the truck.  We are not on a schedule, but we were rolling 15 minutes soon than I anticipated.  (That's not a schedule, though, right?)

Izzy came out of her carrier enroute, but she wasn't wearing her happy face...

She could see the HitchHiker behind us - I think she knew we weren't going to do the motel thing again.  Joan put her food and potty box in the truck when we stopped for lunch... that makes for a happy cat.  She did spend some time beside me in the driver's seat...

That is actually a blissful face - she is getting a neck rub, alternated with a chin rub.  She is getting happier.  The entire drive from the PNW to Phoenix to Texas, she did not sit with me like this.

We pulled into an RV resort mid-afternoon...

The fresh water tank needs to be sanitized and flushed.  We wanted to check out all the systems in the 5th wheel since we weren't able to stay in it before heading out.  Looking good.

Well, Mother Nature did have some fun with us enroute today - we ran into rain 3 or 4 times... for a minute or two each time.  Enough to run the wipers on solid, but then it would quit.  Right before a construction area, with some blowing dirt.  So it would stick to the wet truck and 5th wheel.  Then rain again.  Then dust again.

That Mother Nature - what a bit... um, jokester.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Yep - it rained (well, not today)...

No, I'm not looking to take Al Roker's job.

Today, we went to the storage unit to check on the 5th wheel.  I had one of "those feelings" in the pit of my stomach as we headed north and east from home, there was a lot of standing water.  Standing in the ditches, standing in the fields, standing in people's yards.  Our island has decent run-off; other than the parking lot construction at our rec center, there is no standing water.

The mainland, however, is a different story.  It is mostly Farm to Market roads to get to our storage unit... we had to come to a crawl several times because water is still standing/running over the road in places.  Two days after the rain stopped.  This is all low-lying land, mostly agriculture: cotton, sugar cane, citrus groves.  One cotton field we passed had just been picked - lucky for them, because the entire field was under water.

I was a bit nervous as we pulled up to the gate at the storage unit... it looked a bit "boggy" in the grassy places, but not much in the way of standing water.  We unlocked the door, opened it, and... dry.

We loaded a few more things into the 5th wheel, and went into the valley for lunch, then to do some RV looking.

We'll be looking at weather and making some travel decisions.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Face time...

Nothing to do with video messaging.

Joan likes my beard short.  So, I've been making it shorter and shorter.  At some point, it gets as pokey as when I'm first growing it.  Since I am done driving a boat with an open flybridge (for a while), I decided to shave the beard off this morning.  If you're going to do that, you ought to have some fun with it.

I started off by taking off just the hair on the chin - kinda that 70s biker movie look.  I liked it.  I was a party of one.  Joan said, "You look like you should have mutton chops."

"I can do that."

"No, you can't."

I went back in to my bathroom and brought up the mustache that was down to the bottom of my jaw; and left the jazz dot under my bottom lip.  "Beat me, daddy, 8 to the bar."

Um... no.

I took off the jazz dot and shortened the mustache just a bit more... got that Burt Reynolds "Smokey and the Bandit" look going.  "Honey, can I buy a Trans-Am?"

Um... no.

I left just a little square mustache under my nose.  Yeah, Hitler ruined that look for all eternity.  ;-)

Bare nekkid face.

No photos.  But, it happened.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

If the rain comes...

They run and hide their heads.  If you said, "The Beatles," you get 10 bonus points.  Only 10?  Yeah, that one was easy.

We were planning to get out of here this weekend.  Apparently, Mother Nature heard about our plans... torrential rains in the middle of the night.  We woke up to news reports of coastal flooding and had our own water issue in the house: one of our bedroom windows is leaking.  Well, not the window, but something around it.  There is wet dry-wall (is that an oxymoron?).  We know this means having to tear out said dry-wall and exterior siding to find the source of the leak.  It probably would not have been an issue if our hurricane shutters were down... or, maybe the box housing the rolled up shutters is the source of the leak?  Either way, we aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

I called our builder - he is out of town and won't be back for a couple weeks.  He assured me that "It is all repairable..." - we would rather have him do the work than try to find someone before he gets back.

During a lull in the rain, we got out the ladder and re-caulked around the top of the shutter on that window.  The hope was the rain would hold off long enough to let that dry.  Apparently, Mother Nature heard that hope, too... the next wave rolled in, pounding even harder.  On the bright side, it doesn't seem to be getting any worse around the window (I did pull some old caulking out).

On the not-so-bright side, we don't have much food in the house, since we were planning to head out again.  I suggested we run to SPI to have a burger at BurgerFi... after all, the rain had let up again.  Apparently, Mother Nature heard that plan, too - once on the causeway (2 1/2 miles across the water to SPI), the sky opened up and pounded rain down so hard you could barely see beyond the hood of the truck.

Well, this isn't much fun.

Once across the causeway, the rain let up enough so the wipers could keep up... sorta.  We turned left, up the main drag, heading north towards BurgerFi.  Within a few blocks, we could see that this is a bad idea: the sewers can't keep up, the streets are starting to flood...

Looking to the left in that image, the curb and gutter are under a foot or so of water.  Looking to the right in that image, the curb and gutter are under about 10" of water.  It is slowly filling the road to where only the turn lane in the middle is above water.  That is going to be a problem when people going both directions head for the high point in the middle.  Fortunately, there isn't much traffic... just us hungry folks out and about.

BurgerFi is further down the road, and I have no desire to push on - the water is getting deeper as we go north.  Time to turn tail and head for home.  Sticking mostly to the turn lane, we get back to the causeway... hopefully it will be less of an issue on our side of causeway.

There is another restaurant on our side of the causeway, but it is apparent that the streets on this side are starting to fill, too.  Time to head back to our island.  A sad sight on our island: the parking lot in front of the rec center is torn out for re-paving... it is now a giant mud bog.  No doubt this will put them WAY behind schedule.

Speaking of being behind schedule, my belly is telling me we are now a couple hours late for lunch.  Joan says, "We will find something to eat at the house, then go to the store when the rain lets up."

"Shhhhhhhh!  Mother Nature will hear you!"

Apparently, she did.  Joan had some pulled pork in the freezer, so we didn't starve.  An hour later, the rain has not let up.  The new caulk (and the plastic I put over it) seems to have helped with the water intrusion.  I still dread the eventual repair that is necessary.

They didn't mention our area, but the local weather weasels are saying that some areas have had 8 to 10 inches of rain in the past 24 hours.

Yeah, I don't think we're going anywhere anytime soon.


On edit: When the rain let up a bit, we made a run to the store... now, we are covered if the streets are flooded.  More coastal flood warnings for tonight; inland, too.

Driving by our rec center, here's what the torn-up parking lot looks like...

It is going to be a while for that to dry up enough that they can get back to work on re-paving it.

3.5" of rain so far today.

Friday, September 26, 2014

How much??

No, this isn't going to be one of those "Why, back in my day, you could fill up your car for a quarter and have enough money left over to buy a meal" kinda posts.  ;-)

Earlier this summer, I mentioned that everything was more expensive in the Pacific Northwest.  Food and fuel were more expensive on San Juan Island than on the mainland there.  I fueled up the truck yesterday - at our local gas station, we paid less per gallon than anywhere along the route, from Washington State back to Texas.

Today, we went to the grocery store.  I kept saying, "Look at that price!"  Not in a bad way - everything we bought was about 25% (or more) less than we paid all summer.

"How much?  Heck, let's buy two of 'em!"



First good nights sleep since we got home.

Oh, the bed is plenty comfortable; rectangle shaped.  ;-)  We were wired when we got home late the other night.  Then, warm nights with no air conditioning.  Not from lack of trying.  Last night, we had the a/c turned down to: Pacific Northwest.

It was a very restful night.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

A conspiracy and a dolphin sighting...

You'd think it was a full moon.

The air conditioner guy didn't call back yesterday, until into the evening... and then, only to tell me that he wasn't going to make it.

No shit, Sherlock.

Our builder arranged for another guy to contact us this morning.  Morning came and went - he didn't.  Another call; this guy is supposed to be our here "sometime this afternoon."  In many places, that means: the guy will show up during the afternoon.  Around here, it means: I will tell you this afternoon, so I don't have to talk to you anymore.

I suggested to Joan that I go pick us up some lunch.  She needed something from the grocery store.  "One of us has to stay here, just in case someone actually shows up to look at the a/c - I do the running."

Traffic was light through town.  I stopped to order some chicken, then went to the store.  I parked by the cart corral, because most carts here get left in the lot, never getting near the corral.  Imagine my surprise when I came out of the store - someone in a ratty car wanted the parking place where the cart corral was... they had pushed the cart corral with their car, until they had room to park.  Seriously?  There was no shortage of parking spots, but it may have necessitated an additional 5 or 6 steps.

I drove the short distance to the chicken place, picked up my order, and headed back out to the truck.  The parking lot there was pretty full when I pulled in.  I'm guessing the order was given to "block the red truck!"... two cars were slowly vying to block my progress... one I might be able to get around, but two?  The guy who got to the stop sign first decided this would be a good time to let everyone else go first - even people who were a block away.

"Come on - my chicken is going to get cold!"

I managed to get around that guy and made it to the main drag.  That "no traffic" situation I had on the way over was now a LeMans start slow-race.  There is no way they could clog up both lanes without someone coordinating this; traffic behind me was non-existent... it was only the 6 or so cars right in front of me that were determined to slow my progress and insure that I had to stop at the only 3 stoplights on my way back.

When I turned towards the bridge that goes across the ICW to our island, I thought I was home free.  Only one car in front of me... and they decided to stop on the bridge to watch some dolphins playing nearby.  I am all about the dolphin-viewing - the first I've seen them since we got back.  But, did I mention the chicken?  The chicken that was turning the light brown paper back into dark brown as the grease permeated?  I gave a polite, short beep on the horn - just a friendly reminder that they were stopped in a traffic lane.  You would think we were in Yellowstone, the way these people gave up on any vehicle control or movement to watch the wildlife.  The guy "waved me around" ... I was looking down the ICW and could see an excursion boat coming... they can't open the bridge if some dumbass is stopped on it... this guy was holding up traffic on land and water.

On the bright side, the dolphins were easy to see, right there by the bridge.  I think they could smell my chicken.

I got home and asked, "Did the air conditioner guy call?"

Ever the optimist.  ;-)

Another couple months, and we should be due for our first norther; that will drop the temps.


On edit: the results...

The third guy was the charm - he actually came out when he said he would.  One in a row.  The compressor was froze and the unit was low on the refrigerant.  A service call and a bit of the pink refrigerant.  Blissful cool air.  After two sweaty days.  I may be able to soak in my hot tub without worrying about heating up the house.

We asked why it would be low on refrigerant, since it was worked on in May: "I'm thinking that whoever did that work may not have put enough refrigerant in.  It didn't take much, but a bit low is all it takes to freeze it up.  Probably didn't do much good for you all summer."


On the bright side, we can sleep tonight without having the fan set on "Gale Force."  ;-)

I don't think this is working...

It was late when we rolled in, and we were both tired.  The air conditioning didn't seem to be cooling like it should.  We had a new unit installed last year.  In May, it needed a new expansion valve - it was leaking all the coolant out.

Well, looks like more of the same... again.  We called the guy that serviced it previously.  He said he was working out of town, but would have someone come out to look at it.  They didn't.  I called him again; he said he call me back.  He didn't.

Yeah, that's typical for trying to get service work done here.  I called our builder (also out of town right now); he did call me back and said he would have someone locally out to look at it in the morning.

If you're keeping track: yes, we got to sweat like farm animals at Steph's place, waiting for the a/c service guy when we first got there.

I didn't get much sweating in while we were in the PNW... I'm making up for it now.

We are looking forward to some RV time, but we aren't going anywhere until this a/c gets fixed.  Up north, you keep heat on in the winter, even when you aren't home.  Same thing here with the air conditioning; a closed up house with no a/c can be a bad situation.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In/Out and a new toy...

A hazy, humid day in the Tropical Tip.  There are some showers in the area, but nothing more than a few sprinkles right here.  It feels like a good rain would cool things off, but it just might make it more humid.

The view of the canal from our deck this morning...

We are getting moved back into the house, but there are some things that to go to the HitchHiker; plus the fact that we need to go check on it...

Seems that it did fine without us this summer. 

The storage unit for the HitchHiker is inland, about a 45 minute drive.  Little Izzy stayed home while we went out there.  She settled in at the house faster than we have - might be the fact that we move all her stuff for her.

One of the things in the gift basket that Steph and Dan gave us was a toy for Izzy.  Joan put it out for her...

She wasn't so sure about it.  The toy has a "tail" that rolls around just outside the edge of the fabric.  The premise is: the cat will chase that.  The reality is: Izzy isn't so sure about it.  It brings up the usual cat question - Does it eat cats?  Do cats eat it?

She hasn't chased the tail, yet, but she is getting a bit more curious about this strange thing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I think I am getting too old for this...

It was a long day yesterday.

Long, as in about 850 miles.  Yeah, that 2/2/2 Rule is long gone.

We were up early and ready to roll from the east side of El Paso.  When we turned on the TV, the local news was telling about pounding rain and flooding in northeast El Paso... I looked out the window - it was dry.  We decided to grab a quick bite and get moving.  There were a few sprinkles as we put our stuff in the truck, but nothing significant; we could see it was ugly just north of us, though.

Other than some twisted metal in one of the lanes, it was an easy out from El Paso.  On to west Texas.  Low clouds over the mountains...

Yes, there are mountains in west Texas.  We rain into a bit of rain - just enough to make ugly spots on the truck.  With all the standing water, it is apparent that they have had plenty of rain.  I know that same system (from Hurricane Odile) that caused flooding in Phoenix came right through here.  The high desert is sure green...

No matter how grown up you think you are, see where your mind goes when this is on the horizon...

About 3 hours out of San Antonio, Joan started looking for a motel in that area.  I looked at the numbers on the GPS and proposed an alternative: "The GPS says we will roll into home about 11:00 tonight, if we just push on.  It will make for a long day, but it won't hurt my feelings to not spend another night in a motel."

"If you're up for it..."

The only downside: we would be rolling through San Antonio (the 8th largest city in the US) right at rush hour.  We decided to try a different loop, when the electronic road sign told us there would be road congestion on the 410 Loop (our usual route).  That took us on some stoplight roads and two lane, but it wasn't awful.

We aren't crazy about driving at night through the countryside, but once we were south of San Antonio, it was getting dark.  We made a relatively quick stop at a Whataburger (a Texas tradition), and kept rolling.

Izzy was on her Momma's lap during the morning, but spent most of the afternoon sleeping in her carrier.  She came out to sit on the pad on the center console through the evening... she kept looking around... "Are we ever going to stop driving??"

Doesn't feel like it, but we are on a mission.

We pulled up in front of our driveway at 11:10.  About 15 1/2 hours of driving.  Yeah, we are wiped.  We tried to quietly back the trailer in and unload just what we needed.  I turned on water, we pulled down the temp on the air conditioning.  It was 82º and humid when we rolled in.

It will take a while to move back in and get things put away.  I would say it is good to be home, but I am two time zones off my body rhythm and half asleep.  Yeah, it is good to be home.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Three states, uneventful travel...

We are heading for home... reference the horse heading for the barn.

We had a wonderful time staying with Steph and Dan.  We have our "wing" in their house, with our own bedroom and bathroom.  No, not the same as having your own travel conveyance, but we try to be good guests.  We even left them some pizza in the fridge when we left.  ;-)

Today, all we were looking to do was make some miles.  Uneventful miles.  The truck pulling the cargo trailer.  We keep our speed down to 65 mph or so when towing... that makes us one of the slower vehicles on the Interstate.  We stopped for food, gas, and potty.  Here's how uneventful the drive was today...

That's the view of the rocky terrain at the rest area we stopped at in Arizona.  A three-state day today, crossing Arizona, New Mexico, and into Texas... we are about 1/3 of the way home.

This is high desert terrain...

Some occasional interesting mountains, but a lot of scrub brush, not much civilization, and mostly straight roads.  LOTS of semi-trucks going east-west on I-10.

Joan does a great job of finding us motel rooms when we don't have our own conveyance with us.  We have been staying at La Quinta Inns since leaving the Pacific Northwest, due to their pet friendly policies.  Some places we have stayed in the past have charged us $10 to $20 per night for Izzy.  Those same places wouldn't charge extra for a three-year-old child... who will jump on the bed, poop his pants on the furniture, and play with the buttons on the phone.  Izzy doesn't do any of that stuff.

Another couple days, and we will be home.  I'm hoping our next travels will be by RV... which is a WAY more pleasant means of traveling for us.  We also won't be trying to eat up miles.

Izzy is ready for a change of pace... so are we.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Packing it in...

Well, packing.

We are hitting the road tomorrow.  South Texas is calling us home.  Time to move from a dry heat to a wet heat.  ;-)  The scoots are strapped down in the trailer; stuff is packed around them.  Spending time with Steph and Dan has been great, but we are ready for our own place again.

See you down the road.

Friday, September 19, 2014

This is the best place in the world for this...

We stopped at another RV dealer yesterday.  Just looking, getting ideas.  The salesman was a former New Yorker, who was totally enamored with life in the desert... I was about to melt, going in and out of some RVs they had on the lot, he had obviously acclimated a lone time ago.

When I asked about one particular used RV, he said what you see in the title of this post.  He said, "Look around us - you are right in the middle of Sun City, Sun City West, Sun City Grand... just a few blocks away is the biggest storage lot in the country.  There are so many people here who buy things and don't use them.  You can find whatever you want in an RV.  Somebody dies or can't drive anymore, it becomes your good fortune!"

Well, that is one way to look at it.

Then he went on to tell me about the Miata he bought a couple weeks ago: "This thing is like brand new - it was garage kept.  The top doesn't have any wear on it.  There is only one little ping by the door... where the guy bumped it with his oxygen bottle!"

Not sure why that struck me as funny.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A swing and a miss...

Nothing to do with baseball.

This rain event kinda fizzled out.  Of course, I almost hate to write those words, knowing Mother Nature's twisted sense of humor.  The brunt of it was supposed to hit today - it looks like the storm track turned more east than northeast... the southern part of Arizona, much of New Mexico, and west Texas are going to get the heavy rain.

It is hard to keep up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Batten down the hatches?

The weather weasels, Jim Cantore included, said today would be "strong storms moving in by noon..."

I took my scooter out to pick up some breakfast around 9:00 - it was overcast, but pleasant.  We sent some e-mails and made some calls, trying to arrange an RV site for this winter - no one is around.

When noon rolled around, we looked to the south and east, and it didn't look bad out... we decided that maybe this system was going to move east of us; we went out for a light lunch.  When we got to the restaurant, we could see an ugly cell to the east of us; it didn't look like it was moving towards us.

By the time we were about half way through our sandwich, the first gust hit - dirt was blowing sideways, from the east to the west... followed quickly by a pounding downpour.  Fortunately for us, we weren't on a schedule.  At best, we were considering some indoor shopping, in anticipation of some rain.  We enjoyed a sundae, and ... the rain stopped.  The parking lot was wet, but no rain falling when we walked to the car.

I suggested a stop at a nearby Guitar Center before going north a bit to Cabela's.  Joan pointed out an airplane heading right towards the worst of the cell to the east.  We watched the airline as we drove, glad to be down here and not up there.  As we turned into the parking lot of shopping center where Guitar Center is located, the sky opened up again - REALLY pouring...

Joan suggested that going from the guitar to the store in this pounding rain probably wasn't a good idea, no matter how close we could park.

Got that right.

It was pounding so hard that the wipers couldn't keep up with it when we weren't moving...

We waited for the rain to let up a little bit, decided to can any plan of going anywhere but back to the house, and made our way to the Interstate...

Water was standing on the Interstate - apparently, whoever the road engineer was didn't put a lot of thought into water drainage in this spot.  The going was relatively slow, but in about 5 miles, we drove out of it... dry roads... just gusty wind blowing the dust ahead of it... that's going to make for some mud when the rain catches up to it.  ;-)

Back to the house, put the car in the garage and settled in for the afternoon.  Joan asked if I wanted to watch anything on the DVR that Steph had recorded for us.  "How about 'All Is Lost,' the Robert Redford movie?" (where everything bad happens to him on his sailboat in the middle of the ocean)

We are at the part where his boat has capsized, rolled, and been dismasted.  A storm is raging.  He put out the life-raft.  Yep, there goes the boat... glub, glub, glub.

On the bright side, it is nice and dry in the house.  ;-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

This can't be good...

There are some people you just don't want to see in your neighborhood.

Oh, you may be thinking, "But, Jim, you can get along with anybody."

Almost anybody.  There is one guy I don't want to see anywhere around my home or where I may be.  That guy is Jim Cantore, from The Weather Channel.  Last time he was in our neighborhood (2008), Hurricane Dolly was pounding and drenching deep south Texas.  He stood there on the beach on South Padre Island, his windbreaker flapping in the wind, the look of anticipation in his eyes... hoping to show us all the damage that hurricane was inflicting.

Well, there is the chance of "coastal flooding" around our home in Texas right now.  Plenty of rain, some storm surge happening around high tide.  As long as it doesn't come over the sea walls in our canal, it isn't really an issue - we live on an island, the water has some place to go.

That said, Jim Cantore isn't there right now.  He is in Phoenix.  Same gleam in his eyes.  He was standing in a dry river bed... a river bed that wasn't dry last week, when there was a lot of flooding in this area.  Saying, "This river bed is dry right now, but it isn't going to stay that way..."

Hurricane Odile hammered Baja California in Mexico.  It is "down" to a tropical storm as it moves across the Sea of Cortez.  The wind is down from 135 mph to around 50 mph.  It is heading towards the Phoenix area.  Most of the wind will have dissipated by the time the center of the storm reaches this area, but they are calling for BIG amounts of rain... again.  Just last week, the Phoenix area was hit with flooding.  The weather weasels called that one "a 100 year storm"... looks like the area is in for another hit.  People in the area are bracing for this next rain event: many weren't prepared for "the Storm of the Century" last week, but there are many fire stations that are being used to hand out sandbags.

High winds in the southern part of the state have already damaged buildings and knocked a train off the tracks last night.

We saw some light rain while we were out and about today (checking out some more RVs).  Nothing serious yet, but it looks ominous to the south.  It gave us some crosswind to check out RV handling.

We also took the time to check out another RV resort - a little bit further away from the kids than where we stayed last year, but faster access since it is just a few blocks away from the new 303 Loop.  It is gated, and you can't just "drive through for a look"... a real estate broker on-site took us around.  The place is HUGE, but it seems like a different vibe from where we've stayed in the past - I think we are going to check into it before we head out of here.

That said, I'm thinking we won't be doing anything outdoors for the next two days.

Damn that Jim Cantore!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Two puddles melted on the pavement...

We decided today would be a "recon" day: time to look around at RVs.  We have something small in mind... finding the right combination of small, but comfortable is the key.  I was thinking we wanted something on a Sprinter chassis, like a Winnebago View or similar.  Looking at a couple today, the floorplans are close to what we have in mind.  Close.  We decided to expand our options... we looked at a Winnebago Trend: it is on a Dodge chassis.  Gas, not diesel.  It has a dinette and a small couch.

A bit smaller than the View, but it seemed to have decent amenities.  The salesman we started with introduced us to "the new guy."  The new guy's second day on the job.  When it was clear that we weren't going to take home something today, the original guy excused himself to help another customer and left us with the new guy.  The temperature was approaching 102º... more humidity today, so it felt like 187º  OK, hotter than that in an RV that has been sitting in the sun, closed up.

I thought it might be part of the sales strategy: as the customer approaches heat stroke, they are less inclined to resist.  We took the Trend for a short test drive.  It drove fine; the air conditioning worked fine.  When we came back and I looked at the hitch on the back, it was clear it wasn't meant to tow much.  We found out it is a V-6, and has barely 2,000 pounds of towing capacity.  Not enough.

We were about done for the day, but decided to take a look at some Class C motorhomes... wider bodies, so there is more room inside with a similar length.  I am thinking we could make something like that work, but we were too wiped from the heat to give one a road test.  Another time.

We were back to Steph and Dan's place by 2:00... not exactly a "full day," but it was as much as we could take.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

This is more like it...

"Honey, can you bring me a Mai-Tai?"

Joan made us a nice breakfast.  Steph and Dan are going to a Welcome/Congratulations party for the Phoenix Mercury, the new Champions of the WNBA (they have season tickets and are enthusiastic fans).  Joan and I got to do some pool time...

After our summer in the Pacific Northwest, I expect the pool to be chilly... I would be wrong.  It is a warm day in the Valley of the Sun (high is supposed to be around 100º), but the pool was refreshing.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


The four of us went out for breakfast.  Nice way to start the day.  Back at Steph and Dan's house, we decided it was time for Izzy to get some "face time" with her cousins.  Well, Steph is our daugher... and Isabella is our little furry girl... so, I guess, technically, that makes Izzy the aunt of Jake and Torrie (Steph and Dan's cats)... if you assign family positions to pets... and we do.  BUT, to make things easier, I'm calling them cousins, since Izzy is a lot younger than Steph's cats.

We put Izzy in her carrier, Steph put Jake in his carrier (with a lot of "nudging").  We put the carriers near each other.  There was some growling, some hissing, some whimpering.  You might think since Jake is bigger than Izzy, he would be the aggressor... you would be mistaken.  I don't know if Izzy has a Napoleon complex, or if she doesn't realize she is a petite 8 pound cat... but, she gets a low guttural growl that makes dogs back off.  Being a long-hair, she (perhaps) looks bigger than she really is... her head is much smaller than Jake's, but she has that "mane" around it.

Now, I'm not saying that Steph's cat is a big wussy-boy... well, I may be kinda saying that.  Keep in mind that this is the cat that nearly took Joan's thumb off when we tried to introduce Molly to Jake.  We opened the door to his carrier, thinking he might stick around, since Izzy was still in hers - nope, he went to get his sister (older and smaller) to come out and check out the new tough chick.  She sniffed at the carrier and walked away... nothing scary here.

So, they're not going to play together around the house.  Probably a good indication that Izzy isn't going to get a furry little sister anytime soon, either.

We are enjoying some non-driving time this weekend.  Joan is cooking.  There is room to roam.  We get to spend some time with the kids.  And no schedule... I like no schedule.


Friday, September 12, 2014

I like big butts and I cannot lie...

Sir Mix-A-Lot, "Baby Got Back."  50 bonus points if you got that.

"What the heck are you talking about?" you ask.  Thanks for asking.  Today, I took my scoot out to pick up some breakfast.  It was already plenty warm.  We ran some errands this morning.  Steph called to let us know that she and other teachers were going to get ice water poured on them... a fund raiser for ALS Research at school, and the kids had exceeded their goal.  Even more impressive when you consider the economic situation for most of the students.  These kids are a shining example of good citizenship.

Anyway, Steph asked if we could bring some towels out to the school... and come see her and Dan get soaked.


We had time to do our errands, have a light lunch out, and we stopped at a motorcycle dealership where I had the opportunity to see a Suzuki Bergman 200 scooter.  It is a new offereing from Suzuki and has been getting good press.  One thing that I heard about it: it has huge storage under the seat, thanks to the width of the bike, especially the back end of the scoot.

The reviewers underplayed that quite a bit - this scoot has one big ol' butt end on it.

Off to school.  They were having an assembly in their courtyard area...

The two in the middle are Steph and Dan.  Dan was kicking out his feet to keep his shoes from getting soaked (smart).  The kids were fired up! 

On the bright side: it was hot out... not sure how fast they will dry off, but they won't be cold for long.  ;-)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Valley of the Sun???

Feels more like we are standing on the sun!!


A slight change of plans.  Last night, we were in Sedona... with an elevation around 4,500 feet.  It was around 80º when we checked into the hotel, around 6:00.  We thought we might stay a few days - it has been quite a few years since we've been here.

Visiting with our daughter last night, we changed that plan: they live in Phoenix, and their air conditioner decided this would be a good time to crap out.  We told them we would come to Phoenix and hang out in their HOT house to let the a/c guys in.  I know: what the hell were you thinking?

It is 97º here right now... and a balmy 92º in the house.  Spending the summer in the San Juan Islands, I thought I might have forgotten how to sweat... nope... apparently, it is like riding a bike... a hot, sweaty bike.

The drive south from Sedona was pretty pleasant - the desert was green!

We got to their house, unloaded a few things out of the cargo trailer...

... then put the trailer in storage.

Once inside the house, we found a gift basket the kids left for us...

Nice.  A new toy for Izzy, a Bacon Bowl maker for me, some wine and Twizzlers for the Blonde.

We waited in the hot house, and out on their covered patio.  The A/C guys were supposed to be there "around 1:00, no later than 3:00"... at 2:57, the doorbell rang - it was our new friend, Chuck the A/C guy... followed by Bryan, the other A/C guy.

We found out they need a "clear path" to bring in a whole new A/C unit.  The walkway between the front of the house and the back yard is full of stuff... Joan and I put on some gloves and went to work moving stuff.  Pretty sure that wasn't part of the "we'll let the A/C guys into your house" plan.

Also pretty sure that A/C repair trucks should be considered "emergency vehicles" in the Valley of the Sun.  Did I mention it is hotter than the fires of Hell??  Yeah, yeah - it's a dry heat.  So is an oven.

Here is the new unit, with our new friends, Chuck and Bryan...

There was some concern as they brought the new a/c unit in: the walkway around the pool in the backyard is narrow... instead of using the hand cart, they carried it by hand around that.  Fortunately, they didn't ask for a hand with it... I would have gotten Joan in there to do the heavy lifting.  ;-)

Now, we are waiting for them to hook up the new unit, get the coolant in it, and test 'er out.

Let's run it on HIGH!  (It is supposed to be more efficient than the original unit.)


On edit: the scoots get to sleep inside!  First time in a while.  The covers we bought worked out nicely for keeping them at the marina in Friday Harbor... getting to stay in a garage is even better!  :-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Are we there, yet?

Little Izzy is a good traveler.  New travel situations come up, and she just handles it.  But, today, I could tell she is getting tired of all the travel and not having her own accommodations.  Oh, we have been staying in "pet friendly" motels, but she would rather have her own living room, bed room, bathroom... oh, wait a minute... maybe that's me?

Izzy is sweet and pretty.  (No, that's not me.)  Some interesting faces today:

"Are we there, yet?"

"Seriously?  What happened to your 2/2/2 Rule??  You sold our boat, the 5th wheel is a couple thousand miles away - are we just driving endlessly??"

She likes putting her face up to the air vents...

Today, we rolled across Utah and some of Arizona.  The Interstate between Mesquite, Nevada, and Las Vegas is closed due to damage from the flooding.  We bailed off I-15 south of Beaver, looking for the next best routing to get to Phoenix.

Utah is a beautiful state.  Better if you can get out of the truck to take it in.  Still trying to make miles, this was a "windshield tour" today...

And, it Arizona, on the way in to Sedona...