Category Archives: Technology

Satellites and Trains

We’ve been enjoying our stay at Griff’s Valley View RV Park in Altoona – near Des Moines, Iowa. The park is super clean and well-maintained and it’s also very quiet – both day and night. Now that we’re west of the Mississippi, it was time to reset our DISH Network satellite antenna to the western arc.

DISH Network broadcasts from clusters of satellites in different locations. They have multiple satellites in each location – some are for redundancy and others are used for various channels, pay-per-view and High Definition. I don’t know for sure how many satellites they use. The main television broadcast satellites are located at a longitude of 110 degrees west and 119 degrees west. Additional satellites are at 129 degrees west and 61.5 degrees west. The 61.5 degree satellites are for the eastern arc. The western and eastern arc overlap in the midwest.

When we’re in the northeast, we cannot receive a signal from 129. We have to locate satellites at 61.5 degrees. Our Winegard Road Trip satellite antenna has to be reconfigured to locate 61.5. This is done with DIP (dual-inline package) switches on the unit. There are eight DIP switches. By opening or closing various switches, the motherboard for the antenna is reconfigured. Anyway, while we were in the northeast, I set up the satellite antenna for 61.5 degrees – DISH eastern arc. Now I had to reset it to the western arc – 110, 119 and 129 degrees. It entailed climbing on the roof, removed the antenna dome cover and configuring the switch. Not a big deal.

Satellite antenna controller

Tuesday afternoon Donna and I rode the Spyder to Bondurant – a small town a few miles away from here. We went to the Reclaimed Rails Brewery. They have some good beer brewed onsite in their 15-barrel system and the finish work of the interior of the pub is unique.

The have reclaimed and repurposed wood and corrugated tin for the finish work. The bar top surface was cut out of an old trailer they found in Branson, Missouri. The bar was trimmed with a cove taken from an old train depot. The ceiling was lined with corrugated tin they found on an old barn in Minnesota. The table tops on the deck were made from the lids of old oak bourbon barrels. It was all nicely done – I wish I’d taken some photos.

After we came home, Donna whipped up seared scallops with a jalapeno vinaigrette and sweet potato spinach hash for dinner.

Seared scallops and sweet potato hash

Thursday morning Donna was getting ready to head out on the Chichaqua Valley Trail on her bike when she found a problem with our door. Our door had a check lever that stops it from opening more than 90 degrees. The check lever has a pawl that locks the lever in place, holding the door in the open position. To close the door, you have to release the pawl with either the inside or the outside door handle. The door wasn’t locking in place – it was swinging about in the breeze.

I was afraid the pawl was broken. This can happen if someone unfamiliar with the door mechanism tries to force the door closed without releasing the pawl with the door handle. We haven’t had any visitors lately, but it could have been damaged at an earlier time. I got the ladder out of the trailer and inspected it. The pawl wasn’t broken – it was sticking in the open position.

Door check lever pawl

The pawl is spring-loaded and is operated by a cable attached to the door lock mechanism in the door. I pushed the pawl into the locked position and it seemed fine. I released the pawl with the handle, then closed and opened the door. The pawl didn’t catch on the door check lever. I inspected everything and didn’t find anything broken, so I cleaned and lubed the cable and the pawl rod. It’s working nicely now. Job done.

Door panel removed to expose lock mechanism

Donna rode up the bike trail past Valeria and back – about 26 miles – and got home before it was too hot out. After lunch, we took the Spyder north on US65 and rode through the little village of Valeria and continued east for a few miles until we found Trainland USA. Trainland USA is a museum/display featuring Lionel “O” gauge model trains and accessories.

It was conceived and built by Red Atwood and many friends. He began collecting Lionel trains in 1961. He eventually built a 2600-square-foot building to display trains and accessories – including model trains dating back to 1916.

It has 4,000 feet of track, 35,000 hand-cut ties and 120 automatic switches. The display is set up to depict train activity across the country. You take a walking tour that begins with a diorama of Grand Central in New York, then follow along as the dioramas take you through the southern states to the west coast, up the coast and back to Omaha. I shot a few pictures, but the lighting was challenging and I was shooting through glass, so the pictures aren’t the sharpest.

 

On the way back, we made another stop at Reclaimed Rails Brewery for a cold one. I really enjoyed their red lager. Last night, Donna prepared tortilla-crusted tilapia for a dinner – always a favorite.

Tortilla-crusted tilapia with a dollop of salsa and green beans

The weather had been warm – in the low to mid 80s and breezy. Today will be the start of a heat wave. The forecast calls for a high of 97 degrees and the weekend will continue to have highs of 90 or greater. Tomorrow we plan to go to the farmers’ market in downtown Des Moines – rated one of the best in the country.

 

Four States, Two Detours

We ended up spending eight nights moochdocking at Donna’s parents’ place, west of Old Bennington, Vermont. I haven’t posted in a week – this was one of the rare places where we had trouble getting a good internet connection or phone service with Verizon. I could take my laptop into the house and use Duke and Lorraine’s wifi, but it was awkward and I wasn’t very motivated to post.

Donna spent a lot of time doing yardwork. She spread mulch that was piled under a tree in the yard to create a plot about 12 feet by 20 feet. She also did a lot of weeding and learned to operate a weedwacker! The weedwacking would have kicked my allergies into high gear.

The highlight of the week was a trip for brew and dinner at Brown’s Brewing Walloomsac Taproom. This is located in Hoosick Falls, New York where Donna attended high school. Bennington, Vermont is less than 10 miles from the New York state line. The taproom and brewery is in an old building on the banks of the Walloomsac River.

Brown’s Brewery and Walloomsac Taproom

The brick building was originally built in 1854 and housed a papermill making wallpaper. In 1943, the site was purchased by the White-Flomatic Corporation and was a factory for the valves they made.

In 2006, Gary Brown bought the place with the intent of converting it to a brewery and taproom – an expansion of his operation in Troy, New York. The renovation took some time and the brewery and taproom finally opened in 2013.

We had a couple of cold ones and dinner with a view of the Walloomsac.

Donna, Duke and Lorraine

While we were dry camped, our Verizon Jetpack was giving us trouble. It was shutting itself off randomly. Sometimes it would shut off only a few seconds after booting up; other times it would work fine for an hour or so before shutting down. We’ve had it for more than five years.

On Thursday morning, Donna and I had breakfast at a diner in Bennington called The Blue Benn – excellent breakfast menu! Then we hit the Verizon store in town. Our old 291L Jetpack needed to be replaced. I upgraded to the 6620L. Five years is a long time for wireless technology. After we returned to the coach, we were surprised to find a 4G connection with the new Jetpack. The improvements in antennas and signal boosting made all the difference in the world.

Donna’s sister Sheila and Sheila’s son Connor flew in from California in the afternoon. Duke drove to Albany, New York and picked them up. We had a late dinner together.

Our site at the Connor’homestead – Mount Anthony in the background

This morning we were packed and ready to go early. We said our goodbyes and pulled out a little before 9am. We took the scenic route out of Bennington, knowing it would make for a long day. Our route took us south on Route 7 into Massachusetts.  The speed limits in Massachusetts keep you on your toes. The speed limit on Route 7 would change – it seemed like every mile or so – without warning or reason. One section might have a speed limit of 45 mph, then suddenly it’s 35 mph. Then it might go up to 50 mph only to drop to 40 mph without any notification of a reduction ahead. You need to keep an eye out for speed limit signs. In Great Barrington, we picked up Route 23 west and headed toward Catskill, New York. We planned to take 9W south to US209, but I made in a mistake in the route plan. We weren’t using our GPS – I planned the route the old-fashioned way with a map.

9W had a sign saying vehicles over 12 feet tall needed to stay on Route 23. There was a low clearance in West Camp. I usually rely on our RV specific GPS for routing for this reason. It has our vehicle parameters programmed in and wouldn’t route us along a road with clearance or weight limits that we exceed. Donna did some navigation on the fly and we made our way back to 9W south of West Camp and all was good. The only problem with the re-route came when we had to go through the village of Saugerties. We had to go through town on very narrow roads – I squeezed through at one point with a parked car inches off our right and oncoming traffic inches away on the left.

We hit US209 and thought we were home-free. But then we hit another detour – the road was closed for construction! We got back on track after traversing a couple of narrow county roads. We made a stop at Subway for lunch – it was conveniently located in a plaza with a large parking lot – and then continued south. At Port Jervis, we crossed into Pennsylvania – our fourth state for the day.

US 209 took us through the Delaware Gap National Recreation Area. We were on the west bank of the Delaware River with New Jersey just across the water. It was a long, slow slog today. Donna found free overnight parking at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center off of I-80 at exit 310. That’s where we stopped for the day. We only covered about 200 miles, but it took us seven hours!

We crossed several notable mountain ranges – the Berkshires in Massachusetts, the Catskills in New York and now we’re in the Poconos. These mountains aren’t as big as the mountains in the west, but they’re plenty steep in places.

Tomorrow we’ll head west. We plan to stop at the Cabela’s in Hamburg to dump our holding tanks and hopefully find fresh water. We’ve been dry camped for nine days. We’re just winging it and will see what tomorrow brings.

Battery Bummer

We took our time preparing to leave Erie, Pennsylvania. At the Elks Lodge, we only had an electrical hook-up, so I didn’t have much to deal with – just stow the power cord and Progressive Industries Electrical Management System box. We pulled out around 10:30am for a short run to Salamanca where we planned to spend the night at the Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino.

It was a fairly easy and uneventful drive east on I-86. This stretch of Interstate isn’t heavily traveled and traffic was very light. It was windy, but we mostly had a tail wind, so it wasn’t too hard to manage. The name of the town we were going to made me think of Breaking Bad – wasn’t Salamanca the name of Tuco’s uncle who communicated with a bell in the series?

We crossed into New York where I-86 is referred to as the Southern Tier Expressway. The Seneca Allegany Casino is on the south side of the Interstate at exit 20 near the Allegheny River. Notice the difference in the spelling – the Seneca Tribe uses Allegany while the settlers spelled it Allegheny. New York State breaks convention with the numbering of the exits on the Interstates here. In most states – every one I can think of actually – the number for the exits corresponds with the nearest mile marker. Not in New York. The exits are in numerical order regardless of mileage between the exits. For example, exit 20 on I-86 in New York is 62 miles from the Pennsylvania border where the mile markers begin.

About halfway there, we crossed a bridge over Chatauqua Lake. This made me think of Robert Pirsig’s book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He used that word when he described his foray into the metaphysics of quality. Donna and I have both read this bizarre fictionalized autobiography written in 1974.

The road was being re-paved at the entrance to the casino. There were traffic cones and a detour sign with an arrow that seemed to be randomly pointing to the right shoulder. I stopped and tried to decipher where I was supposed to enter the casino – I was afraid of being directed to the parking garage which we wouldn’t be able to enter. I saw a way out if we needed it, so I proceeded. The tour bus behind us followed me. I was a little concerned about cutting across the freshly laid asphalt at the entrance, but a worker there waved me through when he saw me hesitate.

We found bus and RV parking at the far east end of the lot. There are long parking stalls marked there, well away from the casino. The pavement had a slope to it, but it wasn’t too bad. We put the slides out and settled in quickly.

We didn’t want to visit the casino – just wanted to break up the drive to Watkins Glen and average our overnight costs down by staying for free. But free parking isn’t really free. For us, there is always some generator run time to factor in. Our Onan 7.5kW generator burns about half a gallon of diesel fuel per hour, so it’s not too expensive. When boondocking I usually run it in the morning and in the evening to charge our battery bank – the rest of the time we run on the inverter for our electrical needs.

When I put the slides out, I had a low voltage warning. This was odd, because the batteries should have been charging the whole time we were driving. I cranked up the generator to charge the batteries.

The wind continued to blow all afternoon and we had gusts at times that would rock the coach. Donna made what she calls a pantry meal for dinner. She had prepped it before we left Erie. It was a salmon casserole she made with canned salmon, whole wheat penne and a cheese sauce. It wasn’t our favorite meal ever, but it was nutritious.

Salmon casserole on a paper plate

After dinner, I shut down the generator. It wasn’t long before I had low voltage again. The overhead lights would dim whenever an electrical consumer was turned on. I suspected a poor connection at the battery bank. I checked all of the connections and didn’t find a problem. I turned off the inverter and we only used the 12-volt lighting before we went to bed.

In the morning, I ran the generator again. I checked the charging voltage at the battery bank and looked everything over again without finding any issues. After breakfast, we prepared to leave. When I tried to bring the slides in, I had a low voltage error and the HWH hydraulic pump wouldn’t run. I took my Fluke multimeter out to the battery bank again and found it was only delivering 10.2  volts. Oh no! My batteries were toast.

I fired up the generator again and tried to bring the bedroom slide in. As soon as I hit the rocker switch to activate the pump, the generator shut down! I tried it a couple of times with the same result. I thought there might be a dead short at the hydraulic pump causing the issues. I checked everything over and didn’t find anything wrong with the HWH system. After checking everything over – again – I tried to operate the slide mechanism with the generator running. It immediately shut itself off. The generator was shutting down due to a fault it detected.

I was getting concerned. We can’t drive without pulling the slides in. I tried to think of what was causing the generator to detect a fatal fault in the system. I finally came to the conclusion that the fault is in the battery bank. One or more cells in our 6-volt batteries was faulty and I had no way of replacing them where we were.

Most coaches have a battery boost switch. This switch is usually a momentary rocker type switch that connects the chassis battery, which is used to start the engine with the house batteries that run the inverter, lights and other coach accessories. Momentarily connecting the two battery banks together is an emergency system to be able to start the engine if the chassis batteries are too weak.

I reasoned that this should work in the other direction as well. If I activated the battery boost switch when I ran the slide system, the chassis batteries would boost the house batteries. I gave that a try. It worked! I got the slides in without any problems. We were on our way.

Before we hit I-86, I made a fuel stop. Salamanca is on an Indian reservation. They have low prices on fuel – I topped up the tank at $3.01/gallon. I knew that down the road fuel was $3.58/gallon. I only took on 23 gallons, but hey, I saved about 12 bucks.

As we cruised down the Interstate, I thought about the battery issue. I won’t know for sure until I can disconnect the batteries and check the open circuit voltage of each one, but I think they are badly sulfated. I may have caused the problem. I used to run the generator for about three hours in the morning and again for three hours in the evening when we were boondocking. We’ve spent quite a lot of time boondocking this year and my thrifty ways may have caught me. I reduced my generator run time to one and half hours in the morning and evening.

I thought the Xantrex three-stage battery charger built into our inverter was fully charging the batteries in that amount of time. It would go through the bulk charging stage, then the acceptance charge and finally reach a float charge before I shut down the generator. In hindsight, I should have tested the batteries without any load to determine if they were being fully charged. Undercharging will damage the batteries over time – a hard lead sulfate coating forms on the plates and the batteries will lose efficiency and finally fail. I’ve always been diligent about the electrolyte levels, but I think I made a mistake by trying to save generator run time. The other possibility is a shorted cell or an internal mechanical problem like a broken cell connector.

The trip along the southern tier of western New York is very scenic. We drove through forests and crossed rivers along the way. I was absorbed in thinking abut the battery issue and didn’t realize how hilly the terrain was. I had the cruise control set at 61 mph and let it do its thing. Then I noticed the coolant temperature was over 190 degrees – we usually run in the low 180s unless we’re climbing a steep grade. Then I noticed we were cruising with 23-25 psi of boost pressure from the turbo. The engine was pulling hard! I switched the cruise control off and slowed to 55 mph. I realized we were climbing a long grade – not real steep, but with the cruise control set and the transmission in an overdrive gear – sixth gear – it was putting a load on the engine. At 55 mph in fifth gear, the coolant temperature dropped back into the low 180s.

It was overcast and somewhat dreary all day. The wind kept up, but again was mostly a tail wind. Our GPS took us on a roundabout way to Watkins Glen. Our Rand McNally RV specific GPS has our vehicle weight programmed and won’t route us where we’re over the weight limit. Sure enough, as we rejoined a road that would have been a more direct route and looked back, we saw a sign that limited weight to 10 tons, probably due to old bridges over creeks.

We found the Clute Memorial Park and Campground in Watkins Glen. The campground is run by the village of Watkins Glen and sits right on the southern tip of Seneca Lake. We’re in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. Seneca Lake is about 40 miles long north to south and only about two miles wide. There are a series of lakes in the regions with similar aspect ratios – long north-south and narrow. Thus the reason for naming them “finger lakes.”

We checked in and were assign to site C23. This site is ideally situated for us – it faces a road in the campground extending from the entrance to the site. This made backing in and dropping the trailer a breeze.

Our site at Clute Memorial Park and Campground

It’s not the prettiest park – or the cheapest! – but the location is good for exploring the area. And it’s right on a canal that flows into the lake, so we can put the kayak in the water.

I went online and looked for replacement batteries. I could get flooded wet-cell batteries like the ones we have. These were installed when we bought the coach four and a half years ago. They’re relatively inexpensive – I could get four of them for about $700. I decided to step up and ordered Lifeline AGM batteries. These are truly maintenance-free and have higher capacity than our current batteries. They are well-constructed and are used in aircraft and marine installations. The downside is that they are heavy – at 66 pounds each, they weigh about twice as much as the wet cell batteries. Then there’s the cost – I paid $1300 for four of these. In the long run, I think I’ll be happier with them. They’ll be delivered here at the park and I’ll change out our battery bank.

Last night, Donna made a favorite meal – pork loin medallions with a lemon-dijon pan sauce. She served it with mashed sweet potato and roasted brussel sprouts.

Pork loin medallions

A light mist – not really rain – was falling before bedtime. We have more of the same this morning. I’d like to get out and explore, but the weather is forecast to improve in the coming days, so we may put off sightseeing for a day.

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to purchase anything, 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!

 

How an RV 50 Amp Circuit Works

Lately I’ve been seeing questions about the electrical power supply in RVs. Specifically, in one Facebook RV group, someone asked how large a generator should they buy for their travel trailer. The answers given by some people were confusing or downright incorrect. I’ll take a minute to try to explain how this works as simply as I can.

Recreational vehicles typically are wired for a 30 amp or 50 amp power supply. This is where the confusion begins. It seems like a 50 amp power supply would be capable of supplying 20 amps more than the 30 amp power supply. It doesn’t work that way. The 30 amp power supply uses a three-prong plug – a hot lead, a neutral and a ground. All current flows through one hot lead. A 50 amp power supply uses a four-prong lead – two hot leads (L1 and L2), a neutral and a ground. Each hot lead – L1 and L2 – can provide up to 50 amps of current.

An RV wired for 50 amp service has the power outlets and electrical consumers split into two separate circuits. Each circuit has the capability of providing up to 50 amps of current. For example, L1 might provide power to the front air conditioning unit, the microwave/convection oven and half of the wall outlets. L2 might provide power for the rear air conditioning unit, the converter/battery charger and the rest of the wall outlets. A 30 amp coach has all of the consumers and outlets on one power supply circuit. So, we can see that the 50 amp service can really supply up to 100 amps while the 30 amp service is limited to 30 amps.

Back to the question – how much power do I need from a generator? To answer this, we have to understand a few terms. First is voltage. Voltage is electromotive force – think of it as the pressure creating the flow of electricity. Amps describe current – it tells us how much current is flowing through the circuit. Watts describe power – the rate of electrical transfer. We need to understand watts because that’s how electrical consumers are rated and it’s also how generators are rated. The formula is simple – watts = volts X amps.

In a coach wired for 50 amp service we can use the formula to see that when the coach is plugged in to a 50 amp service, we have 120 volts times 50 amps = 6,000 watts on L1 and 6,000 watts on L2 – 12,000 total watts ( sometimes listed as 12kW). Does this mean I need a 12kW generator? That would be expensive.

Looking at the information regarding typical appliance loads in my Onan generator manual, I see the following:

Appliance                                               Load (watts)

Air conditioner                                       1400 – 2000

Battery charger/converter                     300 – 2000

Microwave/convection oven                  1,000 – 1500

Electric hair dryer                                     1000 -1500

Television                                                    200 -600

Coffee maker                                              550 – 750

As you can see, anything with a heating element will require quite a bit of power. Also, large electric motors like the one in an air conditioner also requires a lot of power. The power requirement drops after start-up. In other words, the maximum power requirement for an electric motor comes when the motor is first activated, then drops as the  motor RPM stabilizes. Likewise, a heating element draws the highest amount of current at start-up and the power requirement drops as it heats up. Our Dometic Penguin II air conditioners have a delay built in on start-up and both units never start at the same time – there’s a few seconds of delay before the second unit kicks in.

Our coach is wired for 50 amp service, but our generator is a 7.5kW Onan Quiet Diesel. It provides about 30 amps of current on each circuit. So L1 can provide enough power to supply about 3,600 watts of electrical consumers. Likewise L2 can provide 3,600 watts. With the circuits on the coach split, I see that this should be adequate. The only issue I have is if I want to run the front air conditioner, the microwave/convection oven and the coffee maker at the same time, I may overload the circuit and trip the breaker on the generator. So, if we’re cooking breakfast and making coffee, I don’t run the front air conditioner at the same time. If we need AC, I can run the rear air conditioner as it’s wired to L2.

On shore power, we have more than enough power – 12,000 watts total – to run everything without concern. I hope this makes sense and my simplified explanation helps someone understand the power requirements and how to choose generator size.

We’re continuing to enjoy great weather here in Mesa. We really like Viewpoint Golf and RV Resort. I’m hitting the pickleball courts four or five times a week and Donna has been playing more and she’s really stepping her game up. That’s all for now.

 

Mishaps and Miscommunication

I haven’t posted for a few days as I haven’t had much to say. Sunday was a cloudy day with periods of rain. My middle daughter, Jamie, along with her significant other, Francisco and family hit the road. They planned to go back to Texas via California so they could visit Francisco’s cousin along the way. It was great having some time together and hanging with her family.

Monday was another gloomy day. There was a thick, low overcast ceiling. Although some sunlight penetrated the cloud cover, it was diffuse light and the clouds were so thick you really couldn’t pinpoint the position of the sun. A light mist fell most of the day punctuated by occasional large rain drops.

In the evening, we went over to my ex-wife’s house for dinner. LuAnn grilled fish burgers and also had hot dogs for the kids. We had a send-off for my youngest daughter, Shauna, as she had a red-eye flight back to Washington D.C.

Tuesday’s weather was more of the same. The daily high temperature only hit 64 degrees – a few degrees cooler than the previous days. With the damp mist it feels colder than recorded. My oldest daughter, Alana, had to report back to work after having six days off. She was back to 12-hour shifts in the emergency room at Providence Hospital in Everett.

I spent most of my time indoors reading books. I don’t get on very well with the sunless, wet weather. Donna managed to get in a couple of bike rides when the rain stopped for a couple of hours.

Donna had another laptop mishap Sunday night when her wine glass toppled right into the keyboard of her laptop. It was up and running at the time but shut itself down. We let it sit and dry out for a couple of days but couldn’t get it to work. It sounded like the hard drive was spinning and we could see the power indicator light up, but the screen remained dark. On Tuesday afternoon when we had a break in the rain – it was still misty out – we rode the Spyder to a computer repair place in Marysville. The guy there was able to get the laptop to boot up using a remote keyboard and monitor.

We took this as a good sign. He said oftentimes when liquid is spilled into the keyboard it remains there as the bottom of the keyboard has a plastic liner. If that was the case, he could replace the keyboard and check everything out and she would be back in business. We crossed out fingers and left the laptop with him for an assessment.

Wednesday morning the cloud cover persisted. The computer repair guy called with bad news. Liquid had damaged the motherboard and fried a cable for the display. It wouldn’t be cost effective to repair the laptop.

Meanwhile I was having a couple of customer service challenges. I needed to replace the jack on our cargo trailer. If you’ve been reading my posts you might remember how I mis-judged the severity of a dip at the Elks lodge driveway in Palmdale and damaged our jack when it dragged on the pavement.

I called the TrailersPlus outfit in Marysville Tuesday to see if they had a replacement jack. When I asked the person on the phone for the parts department, I was put on hold for a minute. When they came back on the line they said there was no answer in Marysville as everyone was tied up with customers. They took my number and said someone would call me back shortly. I realized I wasn’t talking to someone in Marysville, I was talking to the TrailersPlus call center, wherever that may be.

A few hours later, I hadn’t received a call back so I phoned again. This time I was told the Marysville store is extremely busy and they’re operating on reduced hours. Really? When the store is extremely busy you shorten the hours of operation? He said it was necessary so they could handle paperwork and not be serving customers all the time. Wow! What kind of business model is that?

After lunch on Wednesday, I borrowed our granddaughter Lainey’s car. I had to pick up Donna’s laptop and I also wanted to see if I could find a jack for the trailer. I stopped at an RV and trailer supply store nearby in Arlington. They had jacks but not the one I needed. I was told they would have it on Thursday if I wanted to come back. The price was $61.

After I picked up Donna’s laptop, I stopped at TrailersPlus since I was nearby. I went in the front entrance and found an empty lobby area. I looked around and found a couple of empty offices. I walked through a door into the shop area. Outside the shop, I saw a couple of guys shooting the breeze and smoking. They asked me if I needed something. I told them what I was looking for and one of the guys said he would get someone to help me.

A couple of minutes later, he came back with another guy that motioned for me to follow him. We went back into the front lobby area. I told him what I was looking for. He hit a few keys on a computer and told me he had the jack and it was $29. Deal. I bought the jack and a new sand pad – the old pad was bent when the jack dragged. While he was entering the sale, I heard the phone ringing on three occasions. It was ignored by everyone. A few employees walked in and out of the lobby area but as far as I could tell no one was doing anything useful. This store is definitely in need of competent management.

Damaged jack on top, new replacement below

When I came home, I was able to change out the jack in short order. I was a little leery of the threads tapped into the frame for the jack mount. The mounting bolts took a mighty whack when the jack was pulled across the pavement. I used thread locking compound and was careful not to over tighten the jack mounts.

Job done!

The other customer service story was totally unexpected. On Monday, I ordered a new set of tires for Donna’s bike with my Amazon Prime account. At checkout, before I proceeded to finalize the order, I confirmed the shipping info. It said “Delivery Guaranteed Friday June 23.” I placed the order.

I received an e-mail Wednesday from Amazon telling me the order had shipped and it had tracking information. When I tracked it, the arrival date was Monday, June 26th! We are booked at the Pine Near RV Park in Winthrop on Monday. I called Amazon customer service. The representative I talked to definitely wasn’t a native English speaker. I was pretty sure I was talking to someone in India and his accent was so heavy, I had to ask him to repeat his question a few times. He couldn’t get the address I gave him or the order number right – he kept transposing the numbers and I had to repeat the info several times. It made me think of the times I was in Germany and tried to communicate with my rudimentary language skills – I think the phrase I most often used was “nochmal langsam bitte” or “repeat slowly please.”

After we got through my account information – which took about 15 minutes – I explained the problem with the order and the delivery guarantee. He put me on hold a couple of times saying  “Please on hold” and returning with the phrase “Thank you for on hold.” He said I would receive the items on Monday. I explained again how that wouldn’t work for me and they had guaranteed Friday delivery. He said it was “in shipment” and nothing could be done. I hung up frustrated.

To Amazon’s credit, I later received and e-mail giving me return options. I think I’ll wait until Friday to see if the items miraculously deliver before I choose a return and refund option.

On Wednesday afternoon, the skies cleared and we had bright sunshine. Donna rode south on the Centennial Trail and got 26 miles in. The forecast calls for much warmer temperatures with highs in the 80s by the weekend. This is more like the weather we’re used too – just in time for us to prepare to leave.

Christmas Dinner with Friends

With Christmas falling on Sunday this year, most of the weekend’s NFL action was played on Saturday. It was was a relatively cold day here in San Diego – the high temperature on Saturday was only 59 degrees. It was windy with rain showers – a good day to be indoors and watch football.

The first game was set to kick off at 10am. I tuned in the satellite around 9:30am and had a problem. The Dish Network satellite signal was lost or interrupted every 10 seconds or so – I couldn’t stay locked on a channel. This puzzled me as the satellite was fine the last time I used it.

I thought about what had changed since Thursday night. I remembered seeing a rig with an exposed Dish satellite on the roof in the RV park and was surprised to see how high it was aimed in the sky. I assumed the satellites were lower in the southern sky, but at this latitude the dish points up at a high angle. Our actual antenna dish is hidden under a plastic dome so I don’t see where it’s pointed. I knew the Dish Network satellites here are at an azimuth of 158 and 171 degrees – almost due south.

Then I thought about the weather. On Thursday it was cloudy and raining – so no change there. But Saturday we had wind – a 20-25mph wind with gusts to 40mph. The tree at the front of our site was whipping around. I thought maybe a tree branch was blowing across the line of sight to the satellite. I hadn’t thought of this before because I didn’t think the line of sight was a high as it is.

I pulled the jacks up, fed about three feet of our power cable and water hose out then fired up the engine. I moved the coach forward about two feet to see if this would take the tree branches out of the path to the satellite. Bingo! Now I had great reception on all HD channels.

So, I was a couch potato all day Saturday. I watched football and read a book inbetween games.

Christmas morning we opened presents. The weather was much nicer – clear blue skies and the wind had abated. It was still cool out, but felt much warmer in sun. Donna went out for a long training run – she has less than two weeks until her 15k race. She ran a loop around east Mission Bay taking the path to Sea World then crossing the Ingraham Street bridges before coming back along Crown Point and over Rose Creek. It was a nine-mile loop and I was able to track her progress via the Garmin connect app that was synched with her Garmin GPS watch.

Later we joined Kris and Tom Downey and their daughter Meg in their Tiffin Allegro Bus. Tom mixed up Bloody Mary’s and we watched the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Baltimore Ravens game. It was an entertaining game. Tom had cooked prime rib on his Traeger grill and it was cooked to perfection. Donna made a side dish of maple-chile roasted Brussel sprouts with butternut squash and Kris had a side of mashed red potatoes with sweet potato.

Christmas dinner plate

I managed to snap a photo of the dinner plate but was so engrossed in the football games and conversation with Tom I neglected to take any other photos. We also had a mid-western dessert dish called seafoam salad – it was very good. It’s a tangy lime jello mixed with whipped cream over canned pears.

Tom and I sipped Woodford Reserve bourbon after dinner. It was an enjoyable evening.

Today we expect a few high, thin clouds but no rain. So far we’ve had more than two inches of rain here in December – much more than the average of 1.53 inches. I don’t have any plans for the day – we’ll see what pans out.

I Am Just a Cowboy

Saturday was another warm day. The temperature reached the low 80s. Donna went out for a run before it got too warm. I puttered around. We planned on going to Donna’s sister’s house for a Halloween party in the evening. This has been an annual event for us over the last four years.

We were going to do western themed cowboy-cowgirl outfits since we both had the boots and would only need a couple of accessories. Donna changed her mind and made a creative outfit. She used cotton balls to create clouds on a blue shirt. She had a water bottle that sprayed a fine mist. When she was asked what her outfit was, she said, “I’m your up-to-the-minute weather forecast – partly cloudy with 100% chance of showers.” Then she would spray her water bottle. Fun.

I went ahead with the cowboy look. I rode the Spyder over to the Boot Barn in Kearny Mesa. I bought a Roper cowboy shirt with mother-of-pearl snaps and a bolo tie. I have a Stetson cowboy hat and I wore cowboy boots. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos from the party.

We decided to take a Lyft ride to Point Loma for the party at Sheila’s house. When I tried to schedule the pick-up, there was something wrong with the Lyft app on my phone. It located our pick-up point and I input the destination. When I tapped the “Request Lyft” button, it said “Busy” and went back to the previous screen. I tried it a couple of times with the same result. It never showed a car or driver or the wait time.

Donna opened the app on her phone and it worked fine. It showed a driver available with an ETA of four minutes. The driver picked us up and we were on our way. About half way to Sheila’s house, my phone rang. It was a Lyft driver telling me he was looking for us. I told him my app malfunctioned and didn’t confirm him coming, so we took another ride. A few minutes later, I received a text from Lyft saying they charged my credit card five dollars for a no show. How about that – a no show message as I was riding in a Lyft car. I sent an explanation to their customer service – we’ll see how that works out.

Sheila’s Halloween party is two parties at once. There are a number school kids – friends of her 12-year-old son Connor making up half of the party. Then there are the adults – parents of the kids and friends that make up the other half. We had an enjoyable evening with good food, drinks and lots of interesting conversations.

A little past 9pm, I tried to schedule another Lyft ride. My app had the same result – it said “Busy” next to the pick-up address and never showed a car or driver in the area. This time I waited to see what would happen.

After touching the "Schedule" button it shows "Busy"

After touching the “Request Lyft” button it shows “Busy”

After several minutes, my phone rang. It was a Lyft driver telling me he was in front of the house to pick us up. I had to break Donna away from a conversation she was having. We left in such a hurry we forgot to bring home leftover food and a package of pulled pork that one of the guests had smoked and given to us.

Sunday morning we woke up to a passing rain shower. It passed, leaving a thin overcast sky behind. Things quickly dried. Donna went out for a run – she ran along the Bayshore Walk path around Crown Point. Her plan was to pick up a City DecoBike near the Catamaran Hotel at the end of her run and ride the bike back to the RV park. There’s a City Bike station right in front of the RV park. She didn’t find the station she expected to find near the Catamaran. She had to walk past Mission Boulevard where she eventually found a bike station at Mission Beach.

Meanwhile I was absorbed in NFL games. The Chargers won a thriller in overtime. They came back from a second-half 17-point deficit to win 33-30 over the Falcons in Atlanta.

Today we have overcast skies this morning – it’s supposed to clear up by the afternoon and reach a high temperature in the low 70s. Sounds good to me.

Three Summits to the Coast

After a quiet night in the desert, we pulled out of Ogilby Road around 9:30am. Interstate 8 has a huge construction project that spans miles and miles of road – nearly from the Arizona border to the Holtville exit – about 50 miles of freeway. I was amazed to find us on a temporary asphalt road running parallel to the interstate for several miles. It boggles my mind to think of how much it must have cost to pave this temporary road.

The traffic was fairly light and we made good time despite the construction. West of El Centro we crossed a desert basin with a sign post stating we were at sea level. There was a huge array of solar panels on both sides of the road. Then we started a gradual climb for a few miles before we began climbing in earnest. The next sign I saw said we were 1,000 feet above sea level, then 2,000 feet. The climb from 2,000 to 3,000 was short and steep. We crossed the Tecate Divide at 4,140 feet above sea level then dropped into a valley before we climbed again to the Crestwood Summit – the highest point on I-8 at 4,181 feet above sea level.

We dropped into another valley and made a familiar stop at the Buckman Springs rest area. I parked our rig in the truck parking and Donna made salads with roasted chicken. We sat at a picnic table in the rest area and enjoyed our lunch outdoors. The temperature at this elevation was a pleasant 70 degrees.

Dining al fresco at Buckman Springs

Dining al fresco at Buckman Springs

After we hit the road again we immediately ran into a Border Patrol check point. The Border Patrol agent waved us through – no questions asked. I believe they already know who they want to question and search – they probably know which vehicles came across the border or had their trip originate near the Mexico border.

We climbed once again out of the valley to the third summit on our route – Laguna Summit at 4,055 feet above sea level. From there we began a 13-mile descent with some steep downgrades. It’s mostly downhill all the way to the city of Lakeside, east of El Cajon, California. I had to get back into the city driving mode and be on the defensive. I choose the lane I want to be in well before I need to be there.

We pulled into Mission Bay RV Resort just before 1pm. We were checked in quickly and dropped the trailer in the storage lot across from the security shack. Thomas, the security supervisor, welcomed us and told us where to put the trailer. Maneuvering the trailer into place was a study in patience, but we got it done without any issues. We haven’t been charged for trailer storage since those Dirty, Rotten Thieves stole our trailer here in 2013.

Backing the coach into site 120 was another test of patience as I had to maneuver past parked cars and trees. I was feeling good about being back in San Diego. If any city is a homecoming for me, San Diego is it. Then I met our new neighbor.

I had positioned the coach in our site when the guy in site 119 on the driver’s side of our coach came out. He told me I was too far to the left and my slide out would encroach on his space. What? At Mission Bay RV Resort they have lines painted on the paved sites. There are two parallel lines about three feet apart bordering each side of the site. On the driver’s side, the sewer hook up is in between these lines. My understanding has always been that the three-foot zone between the lines on the driver’s side of the coach is a buffer zone for hook ups and slide outs.

Lines for a buffer zone with sewer hook up

Lines for a buffer zone with sewer hook up

This guy told me he’s been coming here for 10 years and I was encroaching on his “patio space.” I looked at the rig on the right side of us, site 121. He was parked with his slide out in this buffer zone. I pointed it out to him – in fact just about every site was parked like this. Rather than fight with the guy, I moved our coach over about a foot. Later I asked Thomas what the site boundary rules were. He told me I was right – my wheels shouldn’t be over the line but the slide out could extend over the closest line. The second line defines the boundary for the next site.

Then it got worse. My Dish satellite receiver couldn’t acquire a signal due to trees. We’re going to be here for two months! No TV for two months was not acceptable. Before setting up I went to the office to see if we could move to another site – one that would solve the satellite issue and get me away from the jerk in 119. There wasn’t anything available unless I wanted to switch sites every week or two. Oh, no!

Then the woman in the office said, “Why don’t you hook up to the park cable TV?” I told her my TV was on an HDMI cable, I didn’t have a coaxial cable set up. She said she would lend me a converter box with an HDMI port. I brought the box back to the site and it worked! I don’t get all of the channels I have with satellite, but at least I can watch the football games.

Home for the next two months

Home for the next two months

We’re required to leave the park for 24 hours after two months, then we can check in again. We plan to stay for a total of three months here. We haven’t decided where we’ll spend our 24-hour exile, but we have plenty of time to get to that.

The five-day forecast looks great – some clouds with daily highs in the low 70s. It’s great to be back.

My Boot Obsession

On Thursday morning, Donna went out for a run while I wrote my blog post. We thought about taking a ride up to Sandia Crest – either up the backside road on the Spyder or taking the tram to the top. In the end, we decided we should head over to Enchanted Trails RV Park on the west side of the valley sooner rather than later. The forecast was hot – high temperature over 80 degrees and a chance of thundershowers in the afternoon.

Albuquerque and the wide Rio Grande Valley from the west

Albuquerque and the wide Rio Grande Valley from the west

Enchanted Trails RV Park is on a mesa west of of the Rio Grande Valley adjacent to I-40 next to Camping World. It’s a little way out of town, but not so far to be a great inconvenience. The weekly rate was favorable and they had a long, spacious pull-through site for us, although it only had a 30 amp service.

The sites are a little different – the pull-throughs are arranged so each site enters from opposite directions and the hook-ups are aligned between every other site. We had an issue with two neighbors who couldn’t figure out the electrical panel and shut off our power when they were hooking up or disconnecting. The sites are roomy though.

We had thunder showers Thursday evening. On Friday, Donna went out for a bike ride in the late morning. By the time she was heading back, the wind had increased considerably. Wind can make bicycling difficult – or easy if it’s a tailwind!

Cinder cone volcano at Donna's turn-around on her bike ride

Cinder cone volcano at Donna’s turn-around on her bike ride

The gusty winds were a precursor to another thunderstorm. The wind had the coach rocking. So much for our plan to grill a pork tenderloin Donna had marinating. We looked for pizza delivery, but there wasn’t anything available in our location and I wasn’t about to go out on the Spyder for take-out. Donna ended up pulling homemade marinara out of the freezer and we had it over spaghetti with spinach and feta chicken sausage. Nice!

I need to mention Ozark the cat. She’s been shedding fur for the last couple of months. Donna was vacuuming the coach with the central vac system and saw Ozark sitting on a dining room chair. She thought she could put the upholstery attachment on the vac and see if Ozark would like to be cleaned. Amazingly, Ozark let her vacuum her coat – I’m sure a lot of loose hair came off.

Okay Ozark, here comes the vacuum

Okay Ozark, here comes the vacuum

She's Okay with it

She’s okay with it

Now I’ll have to reveal my obsessive personality. I get into various things – hobbies and such – and take a deep dive. I could go on for thousands of words to talk about different things or activities that grabbed me and how I followed them.

Readers may recall the cowboy boots Donna bought me in Cheyenne. She’d wanted me to have a pair of cowboy boots for some time – she likes the look of them with jeans and really wanted me to have a pair. She made it Christmas in August and bought me a pair of Ariat Heritage Roughstock boots.

The Ariats Donna bought for me

The Ariats Donna bought for me

To tell the truth, I wasn’t that keen on cowboy boots. I imagined them to be uncomfortable and something I would seldom wear. It didn’t seem like a good bargain for the price.

What I found was, I love wearing them. They are so comfortable and caress my feet. They make me taller, which is a plus and I feel like like they improve my posture as I tend to stand straighter and walk taller in them.

Of course, this led me to an online odyssey to learn more about western boots. The more I discovered, the more I wanted to try other boots. I found many sites with collectors that have dozens of boots. I began to understand why – I wanted more styles and types. I’ve been through these obsessions before – watches come to mind. I collected mechanical self-winding wrist watches and railroad pocket watches before. Then it was guitars – I think I had seven guitars and five guitar tube amplifiers before we hit the road.

After learning what I could online about western boots, I needed another pair. I learned that the Ariat boots I selected and Donna bought for me are one of the most popular brands currently available. The brand was started by two women in 1992. They had a vision of combining athletic shoe technology into western boot designs.

They have several patents and use the latest design techniques, machinery and materials – such as shanks made from composite materials in a “Y” shape. Soles are often made with high grip rubber compounds. Most of their boots, including the pair I have, are made with a stacked upper design.

After learning this, I became interested in more traditional designs. I learned about custom made, bespoke boots. These are mostly out of my reach as it doesn’t fit the budget. I also found many manufacturers that employ traditional hand made techniques. Hand made is a difficult to define concept with boots – machines are always employed and necessary. Even the highest level of custom boot making uses sewing machines.

One of the best boot makers in the world is Lisa Sorrell – she makes two or three pairs of boots per month and does all of the work herself. Of course these boots capture my imagination, but they won’t encase my feet.

I decided to buy myself an early birthday present – it’s two weeks away. I ordered a pair of Lucchese (lou-Kay-zee) smooth ostrich skin boots. Lucchese has been making boots in Texas since 1883. They follow traditional methods. The only computer-controlled automated step in their process is the cosmetic stitching on the boot shaft – the part that rises over the calf. Stitching the shaft to the inner liner is done by hand as is all of the rest of the stitching. This means it’s hand-guided sewing machine work.

The shank is steel and it’s fastened between the outsole and the insole in the traditional method with lemonwood pegs. Lemonwood swells with moisture at approximately the same rate as leather – using these pegs for tacks to fasten the sole means the leather will not swell around the tack and allow water ingress.

Ostrich skin is arguably the ideal hide for western boots – only kangaroo comes close for durability. Ostrich leather has a very high tensile strength while being amazingly supple. Different cuts of the hide have different properties  and costs. Full-quill comes from the back and has a goose-bump appearance from the large feather follicles and a fairly even distribution of bumps. Half-quill comes from the belly and neck area and are less pronounced and uniform. Smooth-quill comes from the sides and have smaller follicles and a more random pattern. The price varies respectively with full-quill being the most expensive.

The thing is, regardless of appearance, ostrich leather has the same physical properties. Its strength and suppleness make it extremely comfortable and durable.

My boots arrived in Albuquerque last evening from Zappos. They were delivered to Donna’s friend, Hazel Thornton. Hazel wasn’t home, but her neighbor held the package for me and I retrieved it Saturday morning. The boots are fantastic. The turquoise calf-skin shafts are a bit flash, but I wear my jeans over the shafts leaving a more understated look. I think it’ll be a few years or more before I can say if traditional hand made methods and materials or modern machinery and man-made materials are superior.

Lucchese smooth-quill uppers with calf-skin shafts

Lucchese smooth-quill uppers with calf-skin shafts

After I picked up the boots, Donna and I rode the Spyder to the Los Duranes Community Center. They had pickleball from 10am to noon and it was free! Pickleball is always a good time.

Since the storm came through on Friday, the temperatures have dropped. Saturday’s high was only 71 degrees and we can expect mid-70s for the next few days. Overnight lows are in the 50s. Very comfortable. No rain is expected today but I’ll be my usual Sunday couch potato.

I recorded the Moto GP race from Aragon, Spain to watch this morning and then it’ll be NFL action for the remainder of the day. Donna will go to a birthday party at Aaron and Lisa Ivener’s house up in Rio Rancho – it’s their young son’s birthday. Aaron is one of my crew mates on the Heart’s A’Fire hot air balloon.

.

 

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!