Monthly Archives: June 2015

Home of the Throwed Rolls

I mentioned the mimosa tree next to our site at Turkey Creek RV Village a few times. Although it’s a beautiful tree, I will never park our coach near one again. Before we pulled out of Hollister, Missouri, I got the ladder out and went up on the roof to clear the debris the tree has been dropping. It was unbelievable how much stuff was on the roof. The back half of the roof is stained from tannins in the debris. I swept the roof and slide toppers. Maybe I can get the coach¬†professionally cleaned, including the roof when we are in Minneapolis.

Donna went for a morning walk while I wrote my post and kept an eye on our new cat, Ozark. She seemed to be well-rested and relaxed and it looks like we’ll have no problem with free feeding. She wasn’t scarfing down her food like it was the last meal she’ll ever find as she did at first. She ate casually and walked away from food in the bowl when her hunger was satisfied.

We had everything buttoned up and I lit the fires on the Cummins ISL diesel engine a little before 11am. Ozark knew something was up. All of the activity prepping for travel, then pulling in the slides made her a little nervous. When the engine and generator fired up, she knew something was about to happen. I don’t know if she ever traveled in a motorized vehicle before.

We headed north out of Branson on US65. Ozark seemed fine with it. The novelty soon wore off though and I think she was feeling a little stressed by all of the new noises, vibrations and the world flying by. Our planned first stop was only about 45 minutes up the road. Donna and I thought having a stop after a short ride was a good idea to introduce Ozark to road travel.

Our first destination was on the north side of the town called Ozark – hey, that’s our cat’s name! We were headed to Lambert’s Cafe on the recommendation of Donna’s dad, Duke Connor.

Lambert’s Cafe is a southern icon. It’s a touristy-type family restaurant with a fun-filled dining experience. They call themselves the “Home of Throwed Rolls.” Their menu allows you pick an entree and one or two side dishes, depending on the entree chosen. The entree is a large portion! In addition to the entree and side dishes, additional sides called “Pass Arounds” are offered by servers walking through the restaurant. For example, while we were waiting for our order to arrive, a server stopped at our table and offered us fried okra. No additional charge – the Pass Arounds are part of the meal. Donna ordered the catfish plate with apple sauce and turnip greens. I had the daily special – French dip with cole slaw. While we were eating, another Pass Around was offered – fried potatoes with onions. I went for it. Then the famous throwed rolls came by. A guy with a cart of freshly baked rolls called out for takers. Raise your hand and he tosses a roll to you. He was followed by a girl offering sorghum molasses for the roll. Lambert’s has three locations – the original at Sikeston, Missouri, the one we stopped at near Ozark, Missouri and one in Foley, Alabama, which is the one where Donna’s parents enjoyed a meal years ago.

This is the place

This is the place

Mural by the parking lot depicting Lambert's history

Mural by the parking lot depicting Lambert’s history

I’ll have to admit to a couple of moments of uncertainty we had before we entered the cafe. I had looked at the restaurant on Google Earth the night before to determine if they had room to park our RV. After looking, I knew I didn’t want to get trapped behind the restaurant. As I drove by the entrance to the lot, Donna said, “Look, there’s RV parking on the other side of the restaurant.” I drove past the parking lot and made a right turn at the corner. What she saw wasn’t RV parking – it was a small RV park on the other side of the restaurant. It wasn’t a big deal, we made a few turns and carefully maneuvered through the Lambert’s parking lot until we got to the large, open gravel lot on the west side.

Our plan was to feed Ozark before we went in to the restaurant with the hopes that she would eat, then relax and nap as she did the day before. I put food in her bowl, then Donna went up to the restaurant to get us on the waiting list for a table. Just before Donna left, Ozark disappeared! I told Donna to go ahead and I would stay and find the cat before joining her. I couldn’t find the cat.

I went up and found Donna. After we ate, Donna and I got separated as I went to pay the bill and we ended up going to restrooms in opposite ends of the restaurant – this place is large. I walked back to the coach and expected to find Ozark sitting comfortably. No Ozark. I called and clicked my tongue. I thought maybe she got behind the living room slide-out and found a way to weasel through a small opening into the basement. I opened each basement door calling to her. No Ozark. Donna came back and we searched together. I realized that I’ve really become attached to this kitten and was a little worried. My rational side said that she can’t be anywhere outside the coach. She didn’t go out the door and there’s no other way for her to leave. We also discussed the need in the future to always know her whereabouts before we move the slide-outs. The hydraulically actuated slides are very powerful and move smartly along. I hate to think of Ozark trapped, hiding behind a slide when I operate it.

We finally agreed to fire up the engine and move on, hoping that she would come out from wherever she’s hiding. Sure enough, she came out as I hit the highway. We think she found a way to get behind the sofa bed and was probably asleep there the whole time we were looking for her.

The terrain on US65 was a series of steep ravines. We would plunge down a short, steep descent, then immediately climb up a short, steep ridge. We eventually made our way to Clinton on MO13 were the terrain is rolling hills rather than steep cuts. By the time we rolled through Peculiar, Missouri, we were in the plains.

Front feet in a cupholder watching the world whizz by

Front feet in a cupholder watching the world whizz by

Did you see that bug splat on the windshield

Did you see that bug splat on the windshield

Ozark didn’t really enjoy the ride as we drove to Kansas City. She would look out the window and seem interested at times, but mostly she seemed stressed. We found a Walmart Supercenter and parked near another motorhome – a large tag-axle American Dream. Once I shut down the engine, Ozark went into the bedroom and crashed out beneath the foot of the bed. I think the noise, visual distraction and all of the changes in her life over the past few days had her worn out.

We’re on our way to Des Moines so Donna can make her appointment with Meredith Publishing. Donna and the folks at Meredith will be creating cleaning and organizing videos for Better Homes and Gardens. I probably won’t post on Wednesday since we’ll have little time in the morning before she has to be at their office.

 

Can’t Get Enough

I had an early start to the day when Ozark, our new cat, rousted me out of bed at 5:30am yesterday. It was her first overnight in the coach. We kept her in the bedroom with the door between the kitchen and bathroom closed. Her litter box was in the bathroom. Until I know for sure that she’ll use her scratching post and leave the furniture alone, I want to be able to keep an eye on her.

She woke me up by softly mewing and pawing at the door to the kitchen. She was hungry. I found out throughout the day that she was hungrier and more exhausted than I realized. I fed her small amounts of dry kitten food and she had plenty of water. She would eat, explore around for a short while, then nap. After about two hours, she would be at my feet calling for more food and the process would repeat.

This went on all day as I went about my chores. I removed the tire covers, cleaned them and put them away. I checked tire pressures and added air to the trailer tires and scooter tires. Every two or two and half hours, I would go into the coach and Ozark would tell me she was hungry.

I loaded the scooter in the trailer and put away the windshield cover. I should mention a moment I had when I was putting the scooter into the trailer. The rear of our site slopes down considerably. The rear ramp/door of the trailer was steeply angled down due to the slope. To get the scooter into the trailer, I ride it slowly up the ramp, park it against a wheel chock and strap it in place. The ramp was at such a steep angle that while riding slowly up it ,I came to a stop and had to open the throttle. The rear tire spun and drifted sideways before it caught traction and I shot into the trailer! No damage done, I was able to stop without hitting anything inside.

Then I cleaned the windows and also partially cleaned the coach and trailer. I won’t accept a site with a mimosa tree in the future. This tree sheds so much debris that it’s impossible to keep up with.

I grilled a couple of spicy Italian sausages made in-house at the Harter House grocer. Donna prepared a marinara sauce and served it over whole wheat angel hair pasta and a bed of sauteed peppers, onions and summer squash.

Spicy Italian sausage marinara over spaghetti and peppers

Spicy Italian sausage marinara over spaghetti and peppers

After dinner, I enjoyed an unusual brew. It was Equinox from Lagunitas Brewing in Petaluma, California – one of my favorite craft breweries. This beer was a unique pale ale brewed with oats. It had a creamy texture and was well balanced.

Lagunitas Equinox

Lagunitas Equinox

Around 8pm, I fed Ozark her final meal of the day. I was hoping her appetite would be satisfied and she would sleep soundly through the night. I gave her a few dry kibbles and a small can of food and she ate it all.

I wrote yesterday that I thought she was about four months old after comparing her body size to kittens I saw at Petco. This isn’t a very good way to determine the age of a cat. There are too many variations in cat sizes. I did a little research and examined her teeth. She was very accommodating and let me pull back her lips and open her mouth. Her molars have erupted making her at least six months old.

Ozark slept soundly through the night at the foot of our bed. She stirred and crawled up to our pillows at 6am. She wasn’t mewing for food, she was just ready to get up. After a while I got up and put dry food in her bowl. She seems so much better now. She didn’t scarf the food down – she munched for a few minutes then walked away with some food still in her bowl. As I’m typing this an hour later she returned to her bowl to finish the meal. I’m hoping she settles down to a few feedings per day.

I still have to pack the grill and get the ladder out. I want to go on the roof and sweep the mimosa tree droppings before we leave. We’ll head north and probably dry camp tonight before we reach Des Moines tomorrow.

Letting the Cat In

Thunderstorms rolled in sooner than we expected on Friday, so we didn’t make it to the farmers’ market. With rain coming down off and on all day, we stayed indoors. Our stray kitty friend hung out underneath our coach. At one point, I enticed her inside and we fed her some cooked giblets from the chicken Donna roasted for dinner.

On Saturday morning, she was back under our coach. When Donna went out for a walk, the kitten followed her to end of the grass on our site, then she sat down and watched Donna walk away. It seems like she had set a boundary for herself. When I looked outside again later, she was gone. Donna walked for about an hour and when she returned, I saw her with the cat at our picnic table. The cat never left – she was hiding under our coach.

Donna came inside, got some money and walked back down the road. She had found a few things at a thrift shop and went back to buy two blouses and a pair of shorts. When she returned, we invited the cat inside again and fed her some leftover chicken.

We played with the cat for a while and then came to a decision to adopt and make her an RV cat. Once we made the decision, I rode the scooter to Petco in Branson to get some items we would need. A hundred dollars later, I had 25 pounds of cat gear strapped to the scooter. I bought a litter box and litter, kitten food – both dry and canned – a scratching post, nail clippers and dishes for food and water.

Cat stuff on the scooter

Cat stuff on the scooter

Comparing the cat’s size to kittens I saw at Petco, I think this cat may be about four months old. She isn’t a feral cat – she’s obviously had human interaction and socialization. She enjoys attention and keeps herself clean. We have no idea of where she came from, but she obviously no longer had a home when she appeared under our coach on Wednesday. We had been in Turkey Creek RV Village for two weeks at that point and never saw the cat before. We decided to call her Ozark since we found her alone here in the Ozarks.

Donna and Ozark snoozing and bonding

Donna and Ozark snoozing and bonding

Ozark

Ozark

I’ve been feeding the cat small amounts frequently. The cat scarfs the food down like she’s trying to make up for days of starvation. We’ll have to find a way to get her to a vet soon for shots and have her spayed.

She learned to use her litter box right away. I’m hoping she learns to utilize the scratching post and doesn’t tear up our upholstery.

I downloaded the Dutch Moto GP race from Assen and watched a very entertaining race yesterday. Last evening, I grilled a pork tenderloin that Donna prepared with her mojo marinade. She served it with baked cayenne sweet potato fries and local green beans.

Delicious dinner combo

Delicious dinner combo

I followed up the delicious meal with a special bottle of beer. The beer was a collaboration created by three brewers – Stone Brewing in San Diego, Ecliptic Brewing in Portland, Oregon and Wicked Weed Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. It’s a Belgian trippel-style beer aged in barrels that originally held red wine before being used as tequila vessels. Stone blended the trippel with a double IPA they brewed. The result was fantastic – smooth, complex and beyond description. It has a kick at 9.5% ABV.

 

Belgian trippel and double IPA blend

Belgian trippel and double IPA blend

Today I need to organize and pack the trailer for travel. I’ll also remove the tire covers and windshield covers this afternoon while they’re dry. Tire pressures will be checked and adjusted in preparation for travel tomorrow. We plan to dry camp tomorrow night somewhere around Kansas City, then move on to Des Moines, Iowa. I hope the kitty doesn’t get car sick.

Cat Call

We rode the scooter back to the College of the Ozarks yesterday – I wrote about our visit there last weekend in this post. We wanted to see some things that weren’t open on the weekend.

First, we stopped at the tractor museum. The College of the Ozarks has an agriculture program, so a museum with farm tractors and other implements is fitting. The displays are housed in an air-conditioned building with three rooms. They have farm tractors from the early 1900s up to a tractor that was used by the school in the 1990s.

The first successful farm tractor in the U.S. was built by Charles W. Hart and Charles H. Parr in Charles City, Iowa. I don’t know if the name of the city has anything to do with their given names. In 1903, they built 15 farm tractors with two-cylinder gasoline engines.

The early tractors had steel wheels with cleats for traction. Around 1930, lugged rubber pneumatic tires for tractors were developed and retro-fitted on some tractors. These tires proved to be better – they offered better traction and fuel savings. They didn’t ruin pavement where the steel cleats would punch holes. And they could be used to cultivate around trees without damaging the roots. By 1932, tractors were coming from the factory with rubber tires. Instead of giving a blow-by-blow account of the museum, I’ll post pictures.

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Hart Parr

1929 Hart Parr

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1930 Rumely

1930 Rumely

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1919 Wallis

1919 Wallis

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Farmall

Farmall

John Deere

John Deere

Oliver Row Crop 77

Oliver Row Crop 77

1954 Chevrolet truck used by the college

1954 Chevrolet truck used by the college

After I had enough of the tractor display, we went to the Edwards Mill building. This is a working old-fashioned mill that stone-grinds grains.

Donna by the water wheel that powers the mill

Donna by the water wheel that powers the mill

Mill stones that were used for 100 years

Mill stones that were used for 100 years

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The main floor of the Edwards Mill is a store. They sell a variety of stone ground flour, sausage, jerky and jellies made on campus. They also have books and a few other items. Upstairs, they have a weaving room with looms of all sizes.

Two of the looms in the weaving room

Two of the looms in the weaving room

Our next stop was the Dobyns restaurant at the Keeter Center on campus. We didn’t have reservations and the wait would be 30 minutes or more. We were hungry, so we took a quick look around the beautiful Adirondack-style building and left.

We had lunch at the Brunch Club by the Harter House store on the way home. I ordered their Chinese lunch special – General’s chicken. It was a mistake. Donna enjoyed her catfish, but we were left wishing we would have waited at Dobyns. Donna bought groceries at Harter House, including two bacon-wrapped filet mignons for dinner.

When I was grilling chicken the other night, a cat appeared under our coach. The cat was very skittish and wary. It was also skinny. When I approached, it ran off and hid under our neighbor’s coach. I broke off a couple of chunks of grilled chicken and tossed them in the grass near the cat. It waited until I was back inside our coach before it came out to eat the chicken.

Last night, as I was grilling the filets, the cat appeared again. This time I knelt down and clicked my tongue softly. The cat approached me and let me pet it. I came inside and had Donna open a can of tuna. She put about half the can of tuna on a paper plate. I went back outside and the cat approached me again. I put the plate down and the cat scarfed the tuna quickly.

Cat visitor dining on tuna

Cat visitor dining on tuna

While I grilled the filets, Donna gave the cat a little milk for dessert. The filets came out great. I also grilled fresh corn on the cob to go with the steak. I like to soak the corn in the husk for about 20 minutes before I put it on the grill. Some people say this isn’t necessary, but I do it to keep the husk from burning and it also steams the corn inside the husk. The bacon-wrapped filets and fresh corn on the cob were outstanding.

Bacon wrapped filet mignon hot off the grill

Bacon-wrapped filet mignon hot off the grill

While we ate, our new feline friend hung around. She rubbed up against our legs as we dined and then laid next to the table to take a snooze.

After dinner nap time

After dinner – nap time

We’ll head back over to the College of the Ozarks for the farmers’ market this morning. Hopefully we’ll beat the rain in the forecast. Thunderstorms are a certainty by this afternoon according to the weather guessers.

 

 

Table Rock Dam

Turkey Creek RV Village is located near the mouth of Turkey Creek where it flows into Lake Taneycomo. Lake Taneycomo was formed when a dam (Powersite Dam) was built on the White River near Forsyth, Missouri in 1913. The name Taneycomo came from its location – Taney County, MO. The lake resembles a river although it is in fact a reservoir.

In 1958, Table Rock Dam was completed upstream from Branson and Table Rock Lake was formed. Cold water running through turbines to generate electricity from deep in Table Rock Lake changed the character of Lake Taneycomo. Near the Table Rock Dam, the water in Lake Taneycomo runs fast and the temperature is in the 40s. As you travel down Lake Taneycomo, the current slows, the depth increases and temperature rises.

Spillway at Table Rock Dam

Spillway at Table Rock Dam

Last week’s heavy rainfall has the spillways at Table Rock Dam releasing water at a rate of 20,000 cubic feet per second. By regulating the flow from Table Rock Lake in coordination with water released at Powersite Dam, flooding along Lake Taneycomo is controlled.

Water running cold and fast near Table Rock Dam - The sign warns of sudden increases in flow

Water running cold and fast near Table Rock Dam – the sign warns of sudden increases in flow.

Donna and I rode the scooter up to Table Rock Lake yesterday and explored. Our first stop was at a part of Table Rock State Park, just below the dam where I shot the two photos above. The dam is 6,423 feet long and stands 252 feet above the stream bed (943 feet above mean sea level).

We scootered across the dam and went to the Shepard of the Hills Fish Hatchery. The Shepard of the Hills Fish Hatchery raises 800,000 trout per year and they’re released into local waterways, making Lake Taneycomo a trout fishing destination. The state record brown trout was caught here.

Touring the hatchery is free. They have guided tours several times per day. Donna and I opted for a self-guided tour of the facility. We started inside the air-conditioned building. The heat and humidity outside was oppressive at 90 degrees. They have an aquarium display with various trout sub-species in all sizes.

Trout aquarium

Trout aquarium

This guy was a lunker - I'd love to hook something like this

This guy was a lunker – I’d love to hook something like this!

We went outside and walked along the raceways full of fish. I’ve been to hatcheries before, but I don’t recall ever seeing this many fish.

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The raceways were covered with mesh to protect the fish from herons and other birds of prey. Although I saw people lifting the mesh along the edge to take pictures, I didn’t do that because there were signs prohibiting it. I shot photos through the mesh. They have fish food dispensing machines – a quarter gives you a handful of pellets. The fish are conditioned to receiving handouts and swim en masse toward people by the raceway.

Young trout

Young trout

Small trout expecting me to feed them

Small trout expecting me to feed them

We found a raceway filled with brood stock ranging from three to 13 pounds. These fish are kept for a few years to lay and fertilize eggs. Some of them breed in the spring, others in the fall. I bought a couple of handfuls of pellets and the big trout went wild when I threw fish food pellets into their raceway.

Large breeders in a feeding frenzy

Large breeders in a feeding frenzy

We’d been out in the sun long enough so we returned to the air-conditioned building. We found another room there with terrariums filled with more local wildlife. They had turtles, snakes and frogs. There were also taxidermy displays.

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Trout are not native to Missouri but have been in the lakes and rivers here since their introduction in the 1880s. After cooling off inside, we got back on the scooter and backtracked to the Chateau on the Lake – a resort hotel and spa overlooking Table Rock Lake.

Entrance to Chateau on the Lake

Entrance to Chateau on the Lake

We took a look around and continued back to the dam. We stopped again at the Branson Belle. The Branson Belle is a showboat offering lunch and dinner cruises on Table Rock Lake. The two-and-half-hour cruise includes lunch or dinner plus a variety show. Cost is about $70 per person.

The Branson Belle viewed from a covered deck

The Branson Belle viewed from a covered deck

While we were there, we saw the ubiquitous Ride the Ducks amphibious tour vehicles. These vehicles offer tour rides throughout the area including  a splash into Table Rock Lake.

Ride the Duck tour vehicles

Ride the Duck tour vehicles

Amphibious tour vehicle in Table Rock Lake

Amphibious tour vehicle in Table Rock Lake

We made a stop on the way home – Donna bought a few groceries and I bought fender washers at Lowes. Back home, I installed the fender washers to complete the air conditioner shroud replacement. It was hot on the roof! By then it was beer-thirty and I called it a day.

That’s a Lot of Steps

Yesterday was Monday, so that meant pickleball at the Branson Sports Center from 9:30 to 11:30.

Before we headed out, I went over to our neighbor’s Carriage fifth-wheel RV. Donna and I met and talked with them – Thomas and Beverly – the night before. Thomas asked if I had a hammer he could borrow. He had a section of wood trim fall off the bedroom wall and wanted to re-attach it. He invited me in to look at it and I saw what needed to be done. With a few tools and some glue, I was able to straighten the fasteners. Then I added some Gorilla glue before I smacked the strip back into place. It took a few well-placed hits with the side of my fist and it was secure. The Gorilla glue will set and it won’t come off again. Twenty minutes later, Thomas and Beverly were on their way, heading to the national parks in South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming.

We rode the scooter to the north side of town and paid $3 each to play pickleball. Pickleball hours are from 9:30 to 11:30, but we played until noon. There were only about a dozen players so we played pretty much non-stop. I love this game and I got a good workout.

Last evening we walked to the old downtown area of Hollister. They had a sidewalk art show on Historic Downing Street. Local artists had their work on display in front of many of the shops on Downing Street. We looked at paintings, then stopped in at a shop Donna visited on one of her walks – a flea market. They had a set of cloth napkins and matching table runner she wanted to buy. She didn’t have money with her when she was there before and figured if they were still there, she would get them. Sure enough, they were there, so she bought them.

Art walk on Downing Street

Art walk on Downing Street

We made a brief stop at Ye Olde English Pub. It was crowded and a five-piece horn band was making music. It was too loud in there so we didn’t stay. We walked back up the street to Hook and Ladder Pizza. We had the specialty pizza for dinner and it was quite good – crispy thin crust, tasty sauce and generous toppings. The round trip to town and back was about a mile and half walk. This coupled with my pickleball games in the morning brought my step total to 14,935 for the day. That’s a lot of steps.

Last night, I thought about the air conditioner shrouds I wrote about in my last post. I added 1″ fender washers under the mounting screws to spread the clamping load. It occurred to me that I didn’t do it right. The stamped steel chassis that the shrouds are fastened to don’t have enough surface area. ¬†What I really need to do is put a 1″ fender washer between the plastic shroud and the chassis, then add another fender washer between the flat screw head and shroud. This will sandwich the plastic shroud between the two 1″ fender washers and clamp it place, spreading the load effectively to prevent the plastic shroud from cracking.

I think we’ll go visit the fish hatchery at Table Rock Lake today. While we’re out I’ll buy more fender washers.

Shroud Mystery

Sunday was Father’s Day and also officially the first day of summer – the summer solstice. I had a couple of projects to tackle. Actually I combined the tasks as they both entailed getting up on the roof of our coach.

Last week, I ordered new shrouds that cover our rooftop air conditioning/heat pump units. The shrouds on our coach had cracked and needed to be replaced. I spent some time on the Internet trying to figure out which was the right part number to use. It was somewhat confusing. From what I gathered, I needed to order a shroud with the Dometic part number 3308047.012 to fit our Dometic Penguin 15,000 BTU units. However, I saw references to 3308047.006 and 3308047.020 and 3308047.032 – all saying it was the correct part for our unit.

I finally found a document that cleared up the matter. The last three digits are color codes in Dometic’s numbering scheme. All four of the shrouds are the same 3308047 but the .006 is shell white, the .012 is polar white, the .020 is gray and the .032 is black. The other thing that confused me was the appearance. Our current shrouds are solid with no vent holes. The replacement part has vent holes on the left side. Later I read that the solid shroud with no vents are early models – the vents were added later, but they’re dimensionally the same. The vent holes facilitate the exhaust of heated air drawn through the condenser.

The shrouds protect the mechanical parts of the air conditioning (A/C) unit and also ensure proper air flow through the condenser. A fan pulls air through the condenser coil which resembles a coolant radiator in your car. The refrigerant is a hot gas at this stage of the system – heat from the interior of the coach is transferred to the refrigerant. The condenser cools the hot gas and converts it back to a liquid.

Since the primary function of the shroud was to direct air flow through the condenser for cooling, it didn’t make sense to me to have a dark shroud on the roof absorbing heat from the sun. A white shroud that would reflect heat from the sun seems more sensible.

I ordered two polar white shrouds through Amazon. I received an order confirmation e-mail right away and the next day, I received shipping and tracking information. The order was being fulfilled by a third party – PPL RV Parts Superstore in Texas. Then things got interesting.

The FedEx tracking info showed the parts en route. On Thursday evening, when I tracked the shipment, it showed the parts in Springfield, Missouri (40 miles away from here) and said delivery was refused, package returning to shipper. What?

On Friday morning, I called Amazon customer service. The rep was helpful – she looked up the order and once she understood my problem, said she would contact the shipper. She sent PPL an e-mail and copied me. PPL was on top of it. A gal in their customer service department phoned me right away. Then she talked to FedEx. She called me back and said they tried to deliver in Hollister, but the package was back at their center in Springfield. She confirmed our address, then got our site number. She e-mailed me later telling me she had given the information to FedEx and asked them to write my site number on the packages.

On Saturday morning, I missed a call from FedEx. They left a message saying they would need my site number to deliver. Hmmm?? I called the number they left and got voice mail. I left my name, number, address and site number. I tried calling them seven times in the next 45 minutes and got voice mail every time. I sent this information to the gal at PPL. She called later and said she talked to FedEx again – they had the site number and it was out for delivery. I have to say PPL was very good at following up.

The packages showed up around 5pm Saturday afternoon. The site number was handwritten on the boxes. The message from FedEx Saturday morning remains a mystery, but I understand now why the packages were marked refused. My name and site number weren’t on the shipping label, just the name and address of the RV park. The RV park office didn’t know anything about the packages and they refused them. My phone number was on the label – all the driver had to do was call instead of returning the packages. I’m not sure if I made a mistake on the order or if PPL did, but PPL made sure I got the parts.

So Sunday morning, I broke out the extension ladder and got on the roof. The first order of business was to sweep the droppings from the mimosa tree from the top of the coach. This is the messiest tree I have ever parked near. Once I accomplished that, I set about replacing the shrouds.

After removing the front shroud, I cleaned the fins on the condenser with a stiff nylon brush. A lot of cottonwood fibers were on the fins. This is something I should do annually. There are 1″x1″ foam strips that seal the shroud to the condenser fan opening to ensure proper airflow. The new shroud came with about 100″ of 1″x1″ foam with adhesive backing. I cleaned the area where the foam adheres with alcohol, then applied the foam strips.

A/C with shroud removed and new foam seals applied

A/C with shroud removed and new foam seals applied

One of the things you run into with an older vehicle that has had more than one owner is poorly executed previous repair work. The screws holding the shroud to the frame on the front A/C were mismatched. Someone put oversized screws on the front, probably a result of stripping out the originals. The old screws were rusted and I wanted to replace them.

I set the new shroud in place, then scootered over to Lowes for hardware. Donna joined me and I dropped her off at Country Mart across the parking lot for a few groceries. I was pretty sure I needed two 14-3/4 sheet metal screws to fasten the front of the shroud and two 10-3/4 sheet metal screws for the rear of the shroud. The guy at the hardware aisle at Lowes looked at the old screws I brought with me and said I needed 1/4″ x 3/4 and 12-3/4. Since my eyes aren’t the best and he does this stuff all day, I took his word for it. When I returned and got up on the roof, I discovered that the new screws were too big. I needed 14-3/4 and 10-3/4 just like I thought. I kept the screws I just bought to add to my inventory and went back to Lowes to buy what I originally went there for.

With the right screws, I was able to finish the installation of the front A/C shroud. One of the things I did differently was to add 1″ fender washers under the flat-topped screw heads. The mounting holes in the molded plastic shroud are 1/4″ diameter and only have about 3/8″ margin to the edge of the shroud. This is poor engineering. The fender washers should spread the clamping load over a larger area and reduce the chances of premature cracking around the mounting holes.

Fender washers under the mounting screws

Fender washers under the mounting screws

I went to work on the rear A/C. I found different mounting screws on the rear unit. It had 12-3/4 and 10-3/4. This was probably the original size. I had what I needed on hand. The seals on the rear unit were in better shape but still needed to be replaced. I cleaned the condenser, replaced the seals and mounted the shroud. Job done!

New shroud in place

New shroud in place

Ols shroud painted brown with duct tape over the cracked mounting point. That's mimosa tree detritus on the tape

Old shroud painted brown with duct tape over the cracked mounting point. That’s mimosa tree detritus on the tape.

With the condensers cleaned and new foam seals and shrouds, the A/C units should operate more efficiently.

After I put my tools away and cleaned up, Donna made me a special Father’s Day lunch. She picked up smoked barbeque ribs at the Country Store. They have a big smoker in the lot in front of the store and make them onsite. She whipped up a potato salad from scratch and filled a plate for me. The ribs were tasty, but I was spoiled by the ribs at Blues City Cafe on Beale Street in Memphis. These were no match in the tenderness category.

Special Fathers Day lunch

Special Father’s Day lunch

I spent the afternoon kicking back and watching the Formula 1 race from Austria. I had calls from all three of my daughters wishing me a happy Father’s Day.

Donna outdid the purchased lunch by making baked shrimp with fennel and feta for dinner. Yum-yum.

Baked shrimp with fennel and feta

Baked shrimp with fennel and feta

It was a good day!

 

The Texas Mosey

The weather on Friday was a mixed bag, but we didn’t have any of the heavy rains that we had the night before. The precipitation was mostly a light mist drizzling down. Every once in a while, the sun would break through for a few minutes. Of course, every time I stepped outside, raindrops would start falling.

The water level in Turkey Creek receded throughout the day, although the woods along the bank here at Turkey Creek RV Village remain flooded. The ground is so saturated that I’ve had to re-level the coach a few times. Even though I put 12″ square pads under the foot of the jacks on the left side of the coach where it’s low, the pads are sinking into the ground.

Donna did her usual power walk on Friday. I spent a lot of time on Friday dealing with a vendor that shipped new air conditioner shrouds for our rooftop air conditioners. When I tracked the packages, it showed delivery was refused and the packages were going back to the shipper. It’s a long story that I will tell you about later.

On Saturday morning, Donna and I rode the scooter to Branson for the weekly farmers’ market. I rode to the intersection at Pacific Street and Business 65 where the market was supposed to be. No sign of an open air farmers’ market. We asked a delivery guy on the street about the market – he said it hasn’t been there for months. I guess they need to update their web page.

Since we were out and about, we decided to ride back through Hollister and head west to the College of the Ozarks. The College of the Ozarks is located on a beautiful, 16-acre campus at Point Lookout. We scootered through the campus and saw a few buildings that we want to return to. One of them is a tractor and farm implement museum. Since it was Saturday, the museum was closed. I’m a gearhead, but it isn’t just racing machinery that fascinates me. I like old tractors, trucks and trains too.

The College of the Ozarks is a Christian liberal arts school. It charges no tuition for full-time students. Instead, it has a work program for students which requires 15 hours of work at on-campus work stations per week plus two 40-hour work weeks during breaks. Approximately 1,500 students attend the college which is staffed by a faculty of about 90. It awards Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. It was originally called the School of the Ozarks. In 1973, the Wall Street Journal dubbed it “Hard Work U” and the nickname stuck. In 1990, the name was changed to College of the Ozarks.

We rode around the campus trying to find the Point Lookout view. The signage was confusing, but a student gave us directions. We parked the scooter at the Williams Memorial Chapel on campus and walked out to the viewpoint.

Williams Memorial Chapel

Williams Memorial Chapel

We followed the walkway behind the chapel. The viewpoint was a rocky outcropping with a metal railing. Parts of it were wet and slippery from runoff. The rocky point had natural steps as well as carved steps leading down and away from the sidewalk. The last step down is a long one – we had to sit on the step and hop down. Getting back up wasn’t too hard – we grabbed the rail and pulled ourselves up the giant step.

Lake Taneycomo west of Point Lookout

Lake Taneycomo east of Point Lookout

Home and boat docks directly below Point Lookout

Homes and boat docks directly below Point Lookout

Lake Taneycomo east of Lookout Point

Lake Taneycomo west of Point Lookout

It was getting hot out – humid and nearly 90 degrees. We were working up a sweat just walking. When we were in Texas, we noticed most of the locals tended to walk very slowly. We also saw that in Memphis and again around here. We came to the conclusion that when it’s this hot and humid, you don’t perspire as much if you move slowly. We adopted the Texas mosey and walked slowly back to the chapel.

We went inside the chapel and checked out the beautiful stained glass before we continued on the scooter. We rode south, then turned west on MO165. This road winds its way to Table Rock State Park and the dam at Table Rock Lake. On the way, we stopped at a roadside viewpoint and saw the dam. The spillways were releasing a surprising amount of water. With that much water flowing out of Table Rock Lake, it’s a wonder that the flood waters downstream are receding.

We rode across the dam, then turned back and stopped at the visitor center.

Table Rock Lake viewed from the visitor center

Table Rock Lake viewed from the visitor center

Donna talked to the park ranger about hiking in the area and picked up some maps. We’ll return on a weekday and hike along the lake. We also want to visit the fish hatchery.

On the way back, we stopped for lunch at a Mexican restaurant called El Patio. We were curious about the quality of Mexican cuisine in this area. We know that when we get to the upper midwest, it’s hard to find good Mexican restaurants. Donna commented that she hadn’t seen any people of Mexican descent in the area. They were all at El Patio! We took that as a good sign.

I ordered a chicken taquito and enchilada plate from the lunch menu. Donna had two fish tacos. My plate was a little bland, but Donna said the fish tacos were great. The fish filet was fried then chopped into small pieces and blended with pico de gallo. Different than most fish tacos, but tasty. As we were leaving, Donna noticed a sign at the reception desk – El Patio was voted “Best Mexican restaurant” in 2014 and has a 5-star rating on TripAdvisor.

Later we rode over to the Bass Pro Shops store at Branson Landing. I wanted to find new flip flops. My current flip flops are great. They’re anatomically shaped with super arch support and are really comfortable. But I’ve worn them almost every day for the past year and I want to have a backup pair.

I didn’t find the flip flops I wanted but I did find shorts on sale for $18. I bought two pairs and will retire an old pair. Donna found new sports sunglasses that she liked and I bought them as well.

We also stopped at Macadoodles. I was surprised to find a gal at a table in the store serving whiskey samples. In most states, this wouldn’t be legal, but Missouri has loose alcohol laws. She was serving Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey and Jack Daniels Tennessee Fire. I sampled both. The Tennessee Honey had a maple-like flavor and I wasn’t too keen on it. The Tennessee Fire was cinnamon-infused bourbon and it was great! Much smoother than Fireball whiskey. I bought a bottle to add to the liquor cabinet.

Tennessee Fire

Tennessee Fire

Today I have a project to attend to. I’ll get up on the roof and clear the debris that’s been shedding off the mimosa tree. Then I’ll replace the air conditioner shrouds. Once that task is done, I’ll watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix from Austria.

 

When the Levee Breaks

We prepared for the impending storm before noon yesterday. Donna went out for a walk with one of our neighbors. I hooked up the trailer in case we had to relocate to higher ground. I also made a run to Macadoodles so I would have liquid refreshment on hand before the rain came.

Macadoodles beer - fine wine - spirits

Macadoodles beer – fine wine – spirits

Macadoodles in Branson, Missouri is one of the nicest liquor stores. The staff is super friendly and they have a great selection at reasonable prices. I picked up a six-pack of Schlafly oatmeal stout brewed by the oldest craft brewer in Missouri. Shlafly is made by Saint Louis Brewery in – you guessed it – St Louis. When they opened their brew pub in 1991, it was the first new brew pub in Missouri since prohibition.

Saint Louis Brewey oatmeal stout

Saint Louis Brewery oatmeal stout

The oatmeal stout was good with complex flavors, but I think it had a tad too much coffee which added bitterness.

The rain held off until late afternoon. Donna prepared carmelized tilapia with lemon and green olives for dinner. She served it with roasted asparagus spears and oregano tomatoes and Moroccan quinoa.

Carmelized tilapia with lemon and green olives

Carmelized tilapia with lemon and green olives

By the time we sat down for dinner, the rain was falling in earnest. After dinner, we watched an old Clint Eastwood movie – Pale Rider. Clint Eastwood had the starring role in his debut as a director. Meanwhile, the rain kept coming down hard.

Before we went to bed, Donna got on the Internet and looked up flood records for the area. She found a few articles about Turkey Creek flooding in August of 2013. She was getting worried about the RV park flooding overnight. I didn’t boost her confidence when I put Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks on the stereo.

If it keeps on rainin’
Levee’s goin’ to break
If it keeps on rainin’
Levee’s goin’ to break
When the levee breaks
I’ll have no place to stay

I wasn’t too worried about it, but I kept a close watch on the water level.

I slept poorly as the rain was drumming on the roof loudly most of the time. Whenever the intensity would increase, I would wake up. I got up a few times to check how the creek was doing. The water level rose and flooded the woods a little higher than before, but it never crested into the RV park.

It stopped raining for a little while around 8am this morning. Shortly after Donna went out for a walk, light rain started falling again. We have flood warnings in effect until 11am, but it looks like we’re in the clear now.

Bill Heading Our Way

Tropical storm Bill made landfall in Texas on Tuesday morning. Rockport, Texas – where we were a few weeks ago – was hit hard. Several roads including the road to the community pool that Donna rode to regularly is currently under a foot of water. South of Corpus Christi, four to six inches of rain fell in just two hours!

The remnants of the storm – called a tropical depression at this point – are moving to the northeast. Southern Missouri, south of the I-44 corridor through Springfield, is expected to get hit today through Friday evening. That happens to be where we are located on the Turkey Creek by Lake Taneycomo. Four to six inches of rain are expected by tomorrow afternoon.

The creek is already overflowing its banks. Here are before and after photos from Donna’s walk showing various points along the creek on Saturday and what it looked like yesterday.

Hackett Falls on Saturday

Hackett Falls on Saturday

Hackett Falls yesterday

Hackett Falls yesterday

Maurice Lane overpass Saturday

Maurice Lane overpass Saturday

Maurice Lane overpass yesterday

Maurice Lane overpass yesterday

We’ve had less than four inches of rain in the last week. If we get more than four inches in the next 36 hours, Turkey Creek may flood. I’m hoping the water released from the dam at Table Rock Lake is reduced to keep the level in Lake Taneycomo from rising too much. If Taneycomo rises, Turkey Creek has nowhere to go but over its banks.

Here at the park, we can see how high Turkey Creek already is. A couple of days ago, we helped our neighbors carry their kayaks to the boat launch. We stood on the concrete ramp that’s disappeared under water now.

The concrete boat ramp is under water

The concrete boat ramp is under water

The woods along the creek bank, 30 yards from our site are flooded.

Flooded woods along Turkey Creek

Flooded woods along Turkey Creek

Great weather if you're a duck

Great weather if you’re a duck

The creek would have to rise significantly before we’re in any danger. When we arrived, I disconnected our trailer. It fit fine in our pull-through site, but the site is uneven and the trailer was situated nose high making it difficult to unload and load the scooter. Today I’ll hook it up in case we have to move on short notice.