Category Archives: Internet

Be Careful – Shift Happens

We pulled out of our roadside boondocking spot at Georgetown Summit around 10:30am Thursday morning. Our route took us down US30 to the Wyoming border. As we continued on US30, we crossed a few summits over 6,000 feet above sea level and one summit near Diamondville over 7,000 feet above sea level. It wasn’t too bad though, we weren’t much below 6,000 feet at any time.

We made our way to I-80 east and about 25 miles later, stopped for lunch at Little America. I remember stopping here twice traveling cross-country with my parents in the ’60s. The food wasn’t anything to rave about but the break was needed and they have ample parking.

Around 30 miles later, I-80 took us past the town of Green River. I could hear John Fogerty and Creedence Clearwater Revival singing in my head;

Well, take me back down where cool water flows, yeah.
Let me remember the things I don’t know,
Stopping at the log where catfish bite,
Walking along the river road at night,
Barefoot girls dancing in the moonlight.
I can hear the bullfrog calling me.
Wonder if my rope’s still hanging to the tree.
Love to kick my feet ‘way down the shallow water.
Shoefly, dragonfly, get back t’your mother.
Pick up a flat rock, skip it across Green River.
Welllllll!

Our destination was Rock Springs, Wyoming – more accurately the Sweetwater Events Complex, home of the Sweetwater County Fair and many other events. They have more than 1,200 RV sites with full hook-ups. As Escapees members, we could get a site for $21/night. We want to spend a few days in the area and attend the Blues and Brews festival today.

We found the complex without any trouble, but the check-in was a little different. We followed signs to the caretaker’s house. I knocked on the door and a woman invited me in. I told her we would like to stay for four nights. She asked if I was paying with a credit card. I said yes – she told me I would have to go to the office building then and gave me directions. I’m glad we didn’t arrive on a weekend – the office is only open Mon-Fri 8am to 5pm.

At the office, I paid for four nights and asked if there were any pull-through sites. The woman said no. Then she looked out the window at the size of our rig. She got a map of the RV sites out and told me what I should do. She said to park adjacent to two sites on the end of the row, with our rig on the side of the interior road. She said that we should be able to reach the hook-ups and have plenty of room for our length.

I could hardly believe they would allow this, but the place is fairly empty and it looked like a good plan. The regular sites are all back-in and laid out strangely. The sites are fenced off with wooden rail fencing on three sides. The hook-ups are in the rear, behind the fence and are shared with the site behind.

Fenced back-in site

Fenced back-in site

Confusing looking rows of sites - they look like pens

Confusing looking rows of sites – they look like pens

I studied her map carefully to be sure I understood what she was telling me to do. I pulled into the area she indicated and stayed close to the fence to keep us from blocking the road.

We're on the side of an interior road adjacent to two sites

We’re on the side of an interior road adjacent to two sites

It was a fairly long run to the water and sewer hook-ups, but I managed. The living room slide came within an inch of the fence. Shortly after I got us hooked up, a thunder shower hit us accompanied by gusty winds. I had to pull the living room slide in to keep the slide topper from flapping itself to death.

Long run for water and sewer

Long run for water and sewer

One of the things we always have to be careful of after a day on the road is opening cabinets. Like the airlines always say, cargo may have shifted in the overhead bin. Donna had her laptop on the floor in front of her seat as she was using it as we traveled down the road. When she opened the overhead cabinet in front of her seat a remote for the satellite receiver fell out. It landed with a bang on her laptop about six feet below the cabinet.

The impact was too much apparently. No visible damage, but her laptop wouldn’t boot up. It went to a blue screen with an Aptio set up utility. The utility wouldn’t work – it just went in circles back to itself. She texted our friend and computer guru, Joel Myaer. He said he thought the hard drive was toast. I called my friend, another computer guru and former colleague, Bob Clogg. He had me try a few things, then suggested I buy a special cable and remove Donna’s hard drive. I could use the special cable to connect it as an external hard drive on my laptop and maybe retrieve her data.

On Friday morning, we went to a computer shop called Sweetwater Technology Services – there’s no Best Buy in Rock Springs – in fact the nearest Best Buy is in Salt Lake City! I found  a device to hook up her hard drive. We also shopped for a new laptop at a few stores but didn’t find anything she wanted.

After removing her hard drive and connecting it to my laptop, I couldn’t retrieve anything. The hard drive was recognized by my OS, but it couldn’t read any files. I took her hard drive back to Sweetwater Technology Services and asked them if they could retrieve the files. The minimum charge to hook up and diagnose was $41. I left the hard drive with them.

Later they called Donna. No dice. The hard drive is toast. If she really wanted the data, they could send it out to a specialist, but she would be looking at $1,200+ to get it. Donna used to use Carbonite for back up, but we don’t do that anymore since our data usage is limited and backing up to a remote site means double dipping on data. She’s sorry now that she didn’t do more frequent backups to her external hard drive. From now on, we’ll do that.

Donna ordered a new laptop on Amazon and we should have it Monday. That means we’ll extend our stay for another night here.

The weather on Friday was much nicer. Not much wind, clear skies and a high temperature of 79 degrees. Donna went for a short run and did a workout in a grassy area nearby. She said she could feel the effects of the elevation – we’re nearly 6,800 feet above sea level.

 

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

Santa Fe Fiesta

Santa Fe, New Mexico is a vibrant town with a lot of history. On Saturday, we studied the bus routes and schedule and rode the bus downtown. The bus ride costs one dollar each way or you can buy a one-day unlimited pass for two dollars if you want to make multiple stops. The metro buses are clean and the drivers are friendly.

We exited the bus at Alameda Street (map) and walked a couple of blocks to the plaza. The streets around the plaza were closed due to the Santa Fe Fiesta (Fiestas de Santa Fe). This festival has been held annually since 1712. It’s a celebration of the re-conquest of the city by Spanish colonists in 1692. It’s the longest running annual celebration of its kind in North America.

Plaza ahead on San Francisco Street

Plaza ahead on San Francisco Street

The area around the plaza is filled with boutique shops, restaurants and bars. We stopped at a shop called Parts Unknown where Donna looked at sandals and ended buying OluKai flip-flops. When we reached the plaza, it was filled with people and food vendors.

On the north side of the plaza at Palace Avenue, a stage was set up. There was a performance of a traditional Pueblo Indian dance going on. I didn’t understand what it was all about, but a guy was banging a drum and chanting while a woman and two kids danced.

Traditional performers

Traditional performers

We wanted to take a look at the Loretto Chapel. This chapel has a unique spiral staircase that seems to defy logic. It winds its way up without any visible support. We arrived at the Loretto Chapel at 3pm and found it was closed to the public after 2:00pm on this day for private weddings. I’d like to go back another time to see it.

We walked back to the plaza and my feet were getting worn. I’m still battling that pesky dermatitis condition – it clears up, then comes back again. We stopped at the Draft Station on the south side of the plaza and sat at their rooftop bar. Donna ordered a locally brewed oatmeal stout and I had an IPA from Le Cumbre Brewing in Albuquerque. It was first rate IPA.

Le Cumbre Brewing IPA

Le Cumbre Brewing IPA

They boast of their artisan pizza at the Draft Station so we ordered a 12-inch supreme. The crust was thin and crispy and it looked as good as it sounded. Unfortunately, we both thought it was lacking flavor.

Artisan pizza

Artisan pizza

I studied the map and thought I knew where to find the metro bus terminal to catch our ride home. The bus map wasn’t very good. It wasn’t to scale and many street names were missing. We left the Draft Station about 15 minutes before our scheduled bus departure. We walked west on Palace then turned on Grant. Before I knew it, we were walking up Griffen Street and I knew we had gone too far. We asked a woman on the street for directions but although she was local, she didn’t know where the bus terminal was. We backtracked and I asked a parking lot attendant. He directed us around the corner about a block away from where we were. We had missed the bus by then and would have to wait 30 minutes for the next one. When we reached the terminal, a sign said “Closed for Special Event – Buses Staged at Alameda Street.”

We needed to go back to the corner where we got off the bus earlier! You’d think they would have a sign on the bus or something. We walked back to Alameda Street. My S Health app on my smartphone showed about 8,000 steps by then. My feet were feeling it.

On Sunday, I cooled my feet in the coach and watched football. I had the Denver Bronco – Baltimore Ravens game on TV with the sound off while I listened to the San Diego Chargers – Detroit Lions game radio broadcast online. It was an up-and-down affair with Chargers down 21-3 at the half. They won 33-28 in the end.

Donna went out for a bike ride on a great trail that she picked up not far from the rv park. After lunch, she rode the bus downtown again and attended mass (in Latin) at the oldest catholic church building in the US. The adobe structure of the San Miguel Mission was originally built in 1610.

church

San Miguel Mission

Santa Fe is the second oldest city in the US – only St. Augustine, Florida is older. It can claim the title of the oldest capital city. It was founded in 1607 – well before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.

On her way back, Donna stopped at Sprouts Market to pick up a few items. They were roasting Hatch chiles in the parking lot. The roaster rotates and skins break free of the chilis making them ready for canning or using in a recipe.

Hatch chilis roasting

Hatch chiles roasting

I finished the day with another entertaining game as the Dallas Cowboys made a comeback to defeat the New York Giants.

Today I’ll rest my feet again. Donna is going to play pickleball at the recreation center a couple of miles from here.

 

Back to the Doc

I took it easy Sunday. I soaked my feet in a pail of warm salt water and let my bare feet dry. The infection that had been treated two weeks ago returned and was spreading across the top of my feet. To make matters worse, the contact dermatitis on my arms never fully cleared up and it was making another appearance.

I put triple antibiotic ointment on my feet and used hydrocortisone cream on my arms. It didn’t bring much relief. In fact, the ointment seemed to make the skin infection on my feet worse.

I tried to find the Indianapolis Moto GP race on the campground cable network. It turned out the race was being televised on Fox Sports1 and the campground cable service didn’t carry that channel. I didn’t want to download the race on my computer because I was near the end of my data cycle and a 2+ gigabyte download would put me over the limit and cost $15-$20 in extra charges. So I went to Crash.net and followed the race on their race day coverage. The page updates every minute or so with lap-by-lap descriptions and an occasional still photo. It was an interesting way to follow the race which turned out to be an exciting one.

By the end of the day, it was apparent to me that I needed another visit to the doctor. So on Monday morning, I went to the Hudson Headwaters Health Center in Warrensburg (map). When I checked in, I was informed they won’t bill my insurance – I would have to pay upfront and seek reimbursement from Cigna. What a mess health care insurance has become.

I was checked in quickly and waited only about five minutes before I was taken to an exam room. A nurse spent a few minutes checking my vitals and going over my history and current issue. Ten minutes later, I was seen by a doctor. He told me the contact dermatitis was a reaction of my immune system. The pollen contact on my skin provoked an allergic reaction which my immune system interpreted as an attack. This in turn led to release of histamines which creates the redness and itching. I think I got that right – I’m no expert. He prescribed a much more aggressive course of Prednisone for the dermatitis. I have three days of high dosage followed by seven days of tapering off. For the skin infection on my feet, he wants me to wash them twice a day with antibacterial soap and pat dry, then let them dry out without socks or shoes as much as possible. He also prescribed ten days of Keflex oral antibiotics.

When I picked up the prescriptions, the people at the pharmacy were great. The girl at the counter looked up my insurance information and I was charged a grand total of 24 cents for both medications!

While I was at the pharmacy Donna sent me a text telling she was out for a 28-mile bike ride. Later I learned she rode right past me at the pharmacy.

I spent the rest of the day hanging out in the coach with bare feet and reading a book. Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night with searing stomach pain. It felt like a hole was burning through my stomach. I chewed on a couple of antacids and drank some water. Eventually the pain was reduced and I went back to sleep. I don’t know if it was due to the high Prednisone dose or the antibiotic, but I think it’s the medication that caused the stomach issue.

I haven’t been sick in well over two years – not even a cold since we’ve been on the road – until this skin condition surfaced a month ago. I hope it goes away for good once I complete the 10-day cycle of medication and I can go back to being my normal healthy self.

It’s raining this morning and the rain is forecast to linger most of the day. Looking at the weather radar app, I believe it. There’s a huge system to the west of us slowly moving eastward. I’ll lie low again, keep my feet dry and read another book. Donna is going to meet her friend Karen for lunch and spend the afternoon with her in Westport, NY.

Meet Me at the Shop

I saw on Facebook that our friend and fellow Alpine Coach Owner Dave Hobden (Urbanescapevehicle.com) was in our area yesterday. The Xantrex inverter/charger in his coach blew and none of the 120-volt systems would power up. He was at Tekris Power Electronics, an authorized Xantrex dealer in Gilbert (about 8 miles away from us) having it replaced.

I rode the scooter over to Tekris on McQueen Avenue in Gilbert and met up with Dave. He introduced me to Robert, who was in the process of installing a new Xantrex Freedom SW 3012 inverter/charger to replace the Xantrex 2000 in Dave’s coach. The old inverter/charger circuit board was blown and internal repairs on that unit aren’t supported. The SW 3012 that Dave was getting is an upgrade. It’s a pure sine wave 3,000-watt inverter. Nice!

We chatted with Robert while he was working. He was full of information and knows just about everything about inverters and RV electrical systems. He told me that the Xantrex Freedom 458 that’s in our Alpine Coach was one of the more robust units made. It’s also rebuildable. It’s a modified sine wave 2,000-watt inverter. I’d love to have the SW 3012 that Dave now has though (minus the bill!).

Dave was planning to hang around the shop while the four-hour replacement job was being done. His wife Stilla was out shopping with Dave’s mom. Around 11:30am, we walked down the street to a taco shop and the two of us each ordered a two-fish taco plate with beans and rice.

Dave Hobden and me at the Tekris shop.

Dave Hobden and me at the Tekris shop.

It was fun catching up a bit. We follow each other’s blogs, so we had a pretty good idea of what’s been going on. We last saw Dave and Stilla in August when we were in Oregon for the FMCA Rally in Redmond and the Alpine Coach Owners pre-rally in Portland. That’s the beauty of this nomadic lifestyle – making new friends and meeting up again down the road.

The Pantech battery I ordered from Amazon arrived yesterday. I installed it in the Verizon Jetpack and it’s back online – yaay! We won’t have to access the Internet through Donna’s phone anymore.

The temperature here reached the mid-80s yesterday. Today the forecast calls for 90 degrees. I guess it’s time to fire up the air conditioning units.

Jetpack Blow Up

Something strange happened on Friday afternoon. Donna and I were inside – she was working at her laptop and I was surfing the Internet. We heard a loud “pop,” but didn’t know where it came from. The next thing I knew, I lost my wifi connection to our Verizon Jetpack. Donna said she was kicked off as well. I went to re-connect and found the Verizon Jetpack was offline, it didn’t appear among the devices available.

I got up and looked at the Jetpack. The pop we heard was the back of the Jetpack being blown off as the lithium-ion battery exploded! I don’t know if the battery overcharged or overheated, but for some reason, it blew apart and wouldn’t fit in the Jetpack anymore.

Back cover blown off of Jetpack

Back cover blown off our Jetpack

Battery expanded and cover split

Battery expanded and cover split

Profile of distorted battery - it's normally a rectangle

Profile of distorted battery – it’s normally a rectangle

I don’t know if this is a function of an internal disconnect for an overheated battery or some kind of defect. Lithium-ion batteries have a safety disconnect feature to prevent fire. A burning lithium-ion battery is not a good thing – it’s impossible to extinguish a lithium-ion fire. Donna set her Samsung Galaxy S5 as a hotspot and we had Internet access.

With the sink project still underway, we decided to head out to Red, White and Brew for happy hour and dinner. Donna had her usual mussels vin blanc and I had the Meet the Meat stuffed pizza roll which is basically a meaty calzone.

RWB Meet the Meat stuffed pizza roll

RWB Meet the Meat stuffed pizza roll

Around 9am Saturday morning, we heard techno dance music blasting outside. We weren’t sure where it was coming from. I went outside for a look. There was a lane closure on the north side of University Drive with a blow-up arch in the lane and lots of orange cones. At the arch, there was a big speaker on a stand pointed at the back of our coach which is on the south side of University Drive. The music was so loud, it completely drowned out the sound of traffic on the road. There was a 5K run coming down University Drive – the two-mile mark was across the street from us. Apparently the organizers thought blasting dance music at 9am was necessary at the two-mile mark.

I rode the scooter south on Val Vista to the Verizon store with my Jetpack and blown-up battery. The guy there wasn’t very helpful. He took the Jetpack and battery disappeared into the back of the store. Fifteen minutes later he came back and said he could order a new battery for $60 and have it next week. I asked what caused the battery to blow up. He said I probably overcharged it. He said not to leave it on the charger, to run it on the battery and recharge as needed. Are you serious? The battery will last three to four hours. We have the Jetpack on all day. If I cycled the battery four times day, it wouldn’t last a year. Also, after 21 months of use plugged in, why did the battery blow up now? He had no answers. I declined the $60 battery.

I stopped at Batteries Plus to see if they had a replacement. No luck, but I bought some fluorescent light tubes I needed while I was there. I also rode over to the farmers’ market on Power Road and picked up more local honey.

When I returned home, I searched online for a Pantech BTR291B lithium-ion battery. I found it on Amazon for $22.99. With my Prime account, two-day delivery was free. At checkout, my Prime account is linked to my Chase Freedom Visa card. I had more than enough cashback points to cover the cost of the battery. It’s like getting it for free and it’ll deliver here on Tuesday.

With that done, I set into my next project. I used a sharp plastic scraper to remove the old caulking from the kitchen sink. Once I had all of the old caulking out, I cleaned the sink and the counter top area that joins the sink with rubbing alcohol. I laid a new bead of caulking and it’s looking good. The caulk needs to cure for 36 hours before contact with water. With that in mind, we didn’t want to create a lot of dirty dishes, so we went out for dinner again.

New caulk on the sink

New caulk on the sink

This time we decided to try a Thai restaurant called 5 R Cha Thai Bistro (we learned that 5 R Cha means five horses in Thai). Donna had a green curry with shrimp. She said it was excellent, it would rival Lanna Thai in San Diego.

Green curry with shrimp

Green curry with shrimp

I went with my old standby, Pad Thai chicken. It was good, but the chicken was overcooked. The sauce on the noodles makes Pad Thai, and this had great flavor. I enjoyed a Singh Ha Thai beer with my meal while Donna went for a Japanese Sapporo beer.

Pad Thai chicken

Pad Thai chicken

I think I mentioned Donna’s trip to the dentist on Wednesday. She broke a molar and had a temporary crown put on. Last night, Donna woke up with a toothache. Her temporary crown came off. This was probably due to her retainer – she didn’t think about the temporary crown when she put her retainer on. Hopefully she can have the temp reset today.

We’re planning to go out to Baja Joe’s for dinner tonight with Lana and Joel. That will make three nights in a row eating out! That’s unusual for us. By tonight, our kitchen sink will be fully functional again and we can get back to our usual meal schedule.

The rest of the country sprang forward as of 2am this morning. Here in Arizona, daylight savings time isn’t observed. The clocks neither spring forward nor fall back. That makes Arizona time equivalent to Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) now.

Friends and Family

I rode the scooter to Dr. Leek’s office Friday morning. He examined my hand and removed the stitches. He said it looked good and now I need to work on motion and hand strength. We set another appointment for four weeks out. He told me I could cancel the appointment if everything is going well three weeks from now.

I knew Donna was busy on her book revision, so I didn’t come straight home. I rode the scooter to Ocean Beach and stopped for lunch. I kicked around the beach. It was a beautiful day. The north end of the beach near the jetty is called Dog Beach. It’s one of the few beaches in the county where dogs are allowed on the sand.

Dog Beach

Dog Beach

I made another stop at the Model Yacht Pond. Two guys were sailing their model sailboats on the pond. The sailboats are interesting. The boat in the photo is about 40″ long. Servo motors with clever linkages are used to trim the sails. A servo operating a block-and-tackle on the stern applies tension on the carbon fiber mast. This is used to keep the mast from whipping about in gusty winds. The model sailboats are cool, but I’m a motorhead. I’ll come back to the pond next Sunday to see the power boats.

Radio controlled model sailboat

Radio-controlled model sailboat

Last week, when we bought our new smartphones, Christian (the Verizon guy) told us they would send return packaging via mail in 10 to 14 days to return our old phones. On Thursday, I received an e-mail from Verizon with a USPS label attached and instructions to return my phone by October 24th. This confused me. I went online to the Verizon site and started a chat session to ask what I needed to do. I had two phones to return but only one label, and if I waited to receive the packaging that Christian said we would get, I would miss the October 24th deadline.

I spent an hour online chatting with a customer service representative who didn’t understand my issue. She was also the slowest typist ever. I would sit and stare at my screen which said a message was being typed for several minutes before I would receive a one-line question. I finally came to the conclusion that we have two returns with different instructions. My old Samsung S4 needed to be sent with the label that was e-mailed to me. Donna’s old Samsung SII will be sent when we receive the packaging for it. There’s still a disparity in the credit amount we should get for the old phones. I need to go back to the Verizon store and straighten that out, the customer service representative had me going in circles until I gave up and ended the chat.

On Friday night, Donna’s sister, Linda joined us for dinner. I grilled a Morrocan-spiced rack of lamb which Donna served with a brown rice pilaf and sauteed zucchini, peppers and onions. Later we watched an old movie – My Cousin Vinny. It’s a great movie. Joe Peschi and Marissa Tomei are both outstanding in this comedy classic.

Morrocan Spiced rack of lamb

Morrocan-spiced rack of lamb

Saturday morning I rode over to the Pacific Beach post office and mailed my old phone. At 11am, my daughter, Shauna, picked me up. We made the 90-minute drive up to Menifee to visit my stepdad, Ken. We stopped at the Kentucky Fried Chicken near his place and bought an eight-piece meal to have for lunch with Ken. Ken loves Kentucky Fried Chicken. I can’t even remember the last time I had it.

Anyway, we sat and talked for a couple of hours before we headed back. On the way home, we stopped at Trader Joe’s in the La Jolla Village Square. Donna had sent me a text message with a long list of groceries to pick up there. I’m glad Shauna was with me because the store was a zoo and she knew where to find everything.

Donna and Linda were in Lakeside at a country music festival with Mona. They made plans to attend this event a few weeks ago when Mona told them she had two extra tickets.

Linda, Mona and Donna at the country music festival

Linda, Mona and Donna at the country music festival

Last night I watched an entertaining Moto GP race race from Phillip Island, Australia. I won’t spoil the results in case a reader has it recorded. Donna came home from the festival around 9:30pm, halfway through the race.

The Mission Bay RV Resort has the usual weekend crowd with lots of kids in the park. Today is NFL football day. I think I’ll do some hand exercises while I watch the games. I broke out my number 14 Dan Fouts throwback jersey –  I hope to see the Chargers beat the Kansas City Chiefs and go 6-1.

 

New Phones and Data Plan

One challenging aspect of life on the road is Internet connectivity. I’ve mentioned this before, but It’s something you take for granted when you live in a sticks-and-bricks home with unlimited, high-speed Internet service.

Internet connectivity is a must-have for people on the road. Donna relies on it to do her work and earn income. In my case, it’s more of a convenience to stay in touch and keep up with events.

Many RV parks offer free wifi. We take advantage of that whenever possible, but what they don’t tell you is that “free” really means “free when it’s working.” When the RV park fills up and numerous people are trying to connect, it bogs down. Sometimes it gets so slow that it’s unusable. Or you can’t get connected at all.

When the free wifi is too slow or unreliable, we use our Verizon Jetpack. This device allows us to access the Internet via the Verizon network. It’s on the same account as my Verizon smartphone. Here’s the catch – data usage can get expensive. We try to limit the amount of data we use on our Verizon account. For example, we avoid streaming video content. By carefully monitoring our usage and taking advantage of free wifi whenever possible, we’ve been able to get by with 10GB or less of Verizon data usage per month.

That changed for us on Saturday. Donna and I went to the Verizon store in Pacific Beach. I  stopped there last week and went over the October promotional data plans with the guy there. We upgraded our data plan to 30GB for $130/month. This is a great deal – it’s half the price of a 30GB plan last month. We also upgraded our phones to Samsung Galaxy S5s. It took about two hours to get through the paperwork and account changes. When we came home, we spent several hours getting our phones set up and personalized.

My set-up was easy since I was migrating from a Samsung S4 to the S5. Donna had to back up all of the apps and data on her Samsung Galaxy SII to her laptop and then transfer what she wanted to her new phone. I used an app called Smart Switch Mobile that seamlessly moved my apps from the old phone to the new one. The Verizon guy told me about it last week. He said all of my data would migrate without a hitch.

He was mostly right. All of the apps were moved. One of the ways I amuse myself is by playing a game on my phone called Subway Surfers. I have amassed a huge war chest on this game. I’m at the highest level and had more than a million coins, over 900 hoverboards and hundreds of other bonuses. These riches have allowed me to compete in a weekly challenge where I routinely finish in the top five against other participants worldwide.

Subway Surfers

Subway Surfers – the app – transferred to my new phone. But none of my data came with it. I’m back at the lowest level with no coins or tools. I have to earn them back all over again. It frustrated me, but at the end of the day, it’s just a game. I have the time to work my way back to the top.

In my last post, I mentioned our neighbors with the under-inflated front tire. On Saturday morning, I checked their tire pressure and found 30psi in the left front tire. The right front tire was at 98psi. I set up my portable compressor and tried to fill the left front tire for them. The valve stems on their wheels are short and hard to reach. After 20 minutes of futzing around, I had the left front tire up to 90psi. I put a metal cap on the valve stem. Later, I talked to them and told them what I found. I was hoping it was a leaking valve core and the cap would stop the leak.

On Sunday morning, Donna and I drove Shauna’s car to the airport to pick her up. On the way back, we stopped at the Broken Yolk on Midway Drive for breakfast. This is a popular breakfast restaurant – they have at least three locations in San Diego. Although the food is good, I find them to be overpriced and service is on the slow side.

When we came home, I talked to our neighbor and he told me that their tire was down to 40psi. The guy (I never learned his name) called for roadside assistance. They sent a tow truck! I don’t know why they didn’t send a mobile tire service. The tow truck driver had a large compressor and managed to inflate the tire to 95psi. He sprayed Windex around the rim where the tire bead seats. Bubbles quickly formed along a section of the bead. The tire bead wasn’t sealing. This is usually due to foreign matter caught between the bead and rim. It could be dirt or a piece of paper label from the tire. The only way to fix it is to remove the tire from the wheel and clean the area, then remount and inflate the tire. The tow truck driver wasn’t equipped to do this.

I went back to our coach and turned on the NFL morning game pitting the Green Bay Packers against the Miami Dolphins. Then I saw our neighbors pulling out of the park! He was going to Phoenix, Arizona. I guess he was going to take his chances of driving with a slow leak. I hope it worked out for him. Driving a 30,000+ pound vehicle with his wife and kids on board for 300 miles with a front tire losing air doesn’t seem prudent to me.

In the afternoon, I watched the Chargers play in Oakland. The San Diego-Oakland rivalry dates back to the inception of the American Football League. It’s a bitter rivalry – we don’t like them and they don’t like us. Even though the Chargers had won four straight games and the Raiders were 0-4 (going back to last year, the Raiders have lost 10 straight games), I knew it would be a tough match-up in Oakland.

The Raider fans threw eggs at the Chargers bus as it entered Oakland County Stadium. The game was a gritty see-saw affair. The Chargers took a three-point lead with two minutes left in regulation. Jason Verrett, the Chargers number one in pick in this year’s draft, sealed the game when he intercepted Derek Carr’s pass. The Chargers headed home with a divisional win and their record is now 5-1.

This morning, it’s overcast with a marine layer. I expect it to burn off by noon. We’ll have clear skies and temperatures in the mid-70s this afternoon.

 

Dings and Scratches

I took it easy and hung around the RV park again yesterday. The usual Friday influx was evident. It’s a long weekend for some people, Monday is Columbus Day. It seems like there are more kids in the park than usual.

In the afternoon, a Newmar Dutch Star diesel pusher backed into the site next to the driver’s side of our coach. Three youngsters ranging from about seven to 12 years old piled out – two boys and a girl. They pulled bicycles and skateboards from the basement of the coach. They were riding and skateboarding in between the two coaches. I saw one of  the kids run his bike into their coach. I was thinking of the dings and scratches I would find on our coach later.

Their mom packed beach towels and whatnot and they headed down to the beach. After they left, I went outside and looked our coach over. No worries, they didn’t hit it. I looked at their coach and saw several dings and scratches. I noticed the front tire was low on air pressure. This is not good. Low air pressure is the leading cause of tire failure. Having a blowout on a front (steer) tire could be a hair-raising experience.

Under-inflated front tire on our neighbor's coach

Under-inflated front tire on our neighbor’s coach

Later, I saw the mom outside. I mentioned the low tire. She looked at it and told me the tires were just put on before they left Utah. They’re planning to drive back to Utah on Sunday. I looked closer and I saw the cap was missing on the valve stem. The valve might not be seated well and it could be leaking. Today, I’ll break out my Porter-Cable compressor and fill the tire. I also found a spare metal valve stem cap that I’ll put on. I would hate to think of them driving down the freeway on an under-inflated tire.

Donna spent the afternoon shopping with her sister, Linda. When they returned, they told me a motorhome had a mishap at the other end of the park. While backing into their site, they hit a tree! I took a stroll around the park and surveyed the damage. It was minor, just cosmetic scratches.

While I was out, I took a walk along the path by the bay. The tides have been unusually high. The tide was going out and shore birds were feeding along the waterline. I snapped a photo of egrets and rails feeding together.

Egrets and rails feeding

Egrets and rails feeding

We have Shauna’s car again today. Donna dropped Shauna off at the airport last night. Shauna flew to Portland, Oregon to join her sisters for their maternal grandmother’s funeral service. RIP Delaurice Grams.

We plan to head over to the Verizon store today. Our friends at Technomadia and Nina at WheelingIt wrote about the great October offers from Verizon and AT&T. I think we’ll upgrade our phones to Samsung Galaxy S5s and contract a 30GB/month data plan. Our current data plan has us scrimping on our data usage. My only fear is that data usage seems to expand with data availability. How long will it be before we find 30GB is too low?

We’ve had mild weather and the trend continues. Highs in the mid 70s, overnight lows in the mid 60s. I can’t complain about that!

Settling in at Mission Bay

On Wednesday morning, Donna and I realized we’d been here for a full week already and could hardly believe it. The time gets away from me sometimes. I don’t know where the days go.

The usual RV park rhythm is taking shape here. The park was mostly empty mid-week and new arrivals started showing up on Thursday. I expect to see many more today. We’re experiencing another southern California heat wave. It will be a great weekend to be by the bay.

While we’re here in San Diego, we’re catching up on health care. We both went to the dentist for cleanings on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, I went to see Dr. Leek, an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Leek treated my trigger finger condition last December (I posted about it here). At that time, we opted for a cortisone injection. He told me the injection could be effective for a year, in which case, the injection would be worthwhile. On the other hand (no pun intended), if it lasted three months or less, we would probably have to release the tendon through surgery.

By the end of March, my finger started to stick again. If I made a fist, or gripped something small – like a pen for example – my ring finger wouldn’t straighten out. I had to pull it straight with a painful pop. We were leaving Mesa, Arizona at that time. We haven’t been in one place long enough for me to seek treatment since then. I was certain that a minor surgery would be required. Now, I have the time to get it done.

Dr. Leek examined my hand and we agreed to schedule the surgery. I’ll have the surgery done next Tuesday morning. My hand will have an incision with stitches and bandages for about 10 days.

After I left Dr. Leek’s office I stopped at a scooter shop on the frontage road by Pacific Highway. They carry Vespa and Kymco scooters. I was looking for an air filter element for our Kymco Downtown 300i. It’s overdue to be changed. They didn’t have it in stock. The parts counter guy told me he could order it and have in 10 days or so. Then he told me that I would be better off to order it myself, as I could get it cheaper online. I did an online search for it before and didn’t come up with anything. He told me to search “Kymco parts” instead of searching for “Kymco air filter.” I tried it and found a couple of sources that list the filter.

Scooter loaded up and ready to roll

Our Kymco Downtown 300i grocery – getter

Donna’s sister, Linda, came to our site in the late afternoon yesterday. She and Donna went to Solana Beach to attend a grand opening for Spark Health where their sister, Sheila, just opened her second location for Fitness Without Walls and her physical therapy services. She also provides services at her original location in Point Loma.

When they returned to the park a little past 6pm, I grilled a mojo marinated pork tenderloin for dinner. Donna served it with a sesame oil – lime vinaigrette cole slaw. My daughter, Shauna joined us. Donna, Linda and Shauna dined outdoors at the picnic table while I watched the Green Bay Packers destroy the Minnesota Vikings. I was preoccupied with the game and neglected to take a photo of the dinner plate.

Shauna is flying to Washington D.C. for the weekend. She left her car with us. We’ll have the car until Tuesday afternoon, so Donna can drive me to the surgery center Tuesday morning.

I mentioned the heat wave. Yesterday the temperature was near 90 degrees. Today and tomorrow will be the same before we cool off to the lower 80s on Sunday. I think I’ll head to the beach today where it will be cooler.

Unexpected Ferry Crossing

Donna returned from New York on schedule Tuesday night. She told me all about her trip over a glass of wine. We turned in fairly early.

On Wednesday morning, we finished packing up and left the Portland Fairview RV Park at 10:45am. Our first stop was two miles away at the WalMart. We needed to restock the refrigerator and I bought a few other supplies. While we were stopped there, we walked over to Taco Del Mar for lunch.

Our destination for the day was near McMinnville, Oregon. I’d heard about dry camping in the large parking lot at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. The Google Earth image looked like it had easy access and a huge parking area.

I punched the address into Nally (our GPS). Two routes came up. One route was only 50 miles, but it would take one hour and 17 minutes. The other route was 73 miles and it would take one hour and 26 minutes. Hmmm…23 miles longer but only 9 additional minutes. I figured that the shorter route must have some slow roads, probably routed through Portland. One shortcoming of the GPS is the inability to preview the route step by step. I can zoom out and see the whole route, but then I lose detail.

I usually take the fastest route, but 76 minutes to cover 50 miles sounded like a lot of stop-and-go driving. I chose the longer route with a higher average speed. Nearly an hour later, I realized it was a bad choice. My preference settings allow tolls. Apparently the GPS sees a ferry as a toll. Since I allowed tolls, the route would take us to Wheatland Road where there’s a ferry across the Willamette River. Once I realized this, I diverted over to River Road. I didn’t know anything about the Wheatland Ferry. If it couldn’t accommodate our size, I might not be able to turn around. I also didn’t know the cost. Later, I found information online. Vehicles over 42 feet long pay six dollars to cross the river.

My new route added a loop to get over the Willamette River on a highway bridge. The trip turned into 100 miles and over two hours of driving. I probably burned $10 worth of fuel to avoid a $6 ferry ride.

We arrived at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. The front parking lots were full of cars, but the large rear lot was nearly empty. There were a couple of RVs parked back there. We found a level area and parked. Donna and I walked to the museum. There are several large, very modern buildings on the property. One is the main museum with aircraft on display, including the Spruce Goose. There’s another building housing more aircraft, a separate movie theater, and a large water park building.

Main museum building

Main museum building

Museum extension on east side of the lot

Museum extension on east side of the lot

Movie theater

Movie theater

Water park with Boeing 747 on the roof

Water park with Boeing 747 on the roof

It was very hot, over 90 degrees. The asphalt parking lot seemed to amplify the heat. Donna took her laptop to the museum building and sat in the restaurant area. She enjoyed some ice cream while she worked on her monthly organizing tips newsletter.

I’ve been in the Spruce Goose before, when it was displayed in Long Beach, California. I didn’t want to pay $25 to see it again. I went for a walk outside and looked at aircraft on display. The 747 on the roof of the water park is interesting. It has slides built into the exit doors. You enter the 747 and slide down into the enclosed pool below!

A relic of the Cold War - MIG 29 Fulcrum

A relic of the Cold War – Soviet MiG 29 Fulcrum

Delta Dart from the 1950s next to the MIG

Delta Dart from the 1950s next to the MiG

As I was walking back to the coach, I talked to a worker from the museum. I asked about the overnight parking policy. He told me they welcome overnight visitors to the museum as long as we’re fully self-contained and pack out whatever we brought in. He said to limit the stay to two nights maximum. With permission secured, I moved the coach to a shaded corner of the lot.

Our place in the shade

Our place in the shade – generator slide is open to release heat

The museum closed at 5pm and the parking lots emptied. We were the only RV left and had the place to ourselves. A private party was being held at the east building, but it was far enough away that we didn’t hear them.

Thursday we hit the road by 9am. We were going to Junction City, where we had an appointment at Amazing Creations. Scott Adams and Bobby Vodden were going to remove the rear TV and make the space into a cabinet for us.

Old bedroom TV

Old bedroom TV

I tried to remove the TV, but the wood surrounding the opening had been added after the TV was installed. The TV was larger than the opening. I didn’t want to break the trim, so I left it to the pros. Scott removed the wood on the right side and pulled the TV out. Then they built new trim, added a shelf and put doors over the opening.

New cabinet doors

New cabinet doors

The cabinet houses our printer, which was taking space in the closet before. We can use the shelf to store printing and office supplies.

Printer cabinet with shelf

Printer cabinet with shelf

They did a great job. The work was first class. It took a few hours to get the job done. This was mainly due to the time it took to stain the wood. They waited until we got there to match the wood stain. They stained the wood before their lunch break, so it was drying while they were out for lunch. Donna and I had lunch in the coach. We were out of there by 3pm.

We got back on the road and headed south to Cottage Grove, Oregon. Our destination was our present location on the Row (rhymes with wow) River. Our new friends, Scott and Marcia, who we met at the Alpine Coach Association rally, invited us to stay on their vacation property on the river outside of Cottage Grove.

The river runs along the north side of their property. They have a trailer and a few outbuildings on the property. One of the buildings is a workshop with a fresh water spigot, plus 20-, 30- and 50-amp electrical outlets and a sewer hook-up. We’re parked between the workshop and the river. The river is about 30 feet from our doorstep.

Row River view from our doorstep

Row River view from our doorstep

We’re far enough from town to have very little traffic on Row River Road. It’s very quiet and peaceful here, a welcome change from the time spent in RV parks over the last few weeks. We don’t have cell phone coverage. But Scott and Marcia’s generosity included the password to their wifi network in their trailer.

Last evening, Donna and I enjoyed cocktail hour outdoors, soaking in the sounds of the river. Scott told us we could stay as long we want. We want to stay forever, but we’ll have to start moving south next Tuesday.

Happy Hour in the shade, looking at the river

Happy hour in the shade, looking at the river

There’s a paved bike trail running along Row River Road. The path is on the south border of Scott and Marcia’s property. Today, Donna wants to go biking. I’ll do the same and explore the area.