Sunday, December 18, 2016

Serpents, or belts, or a serpentine belt

It was a nice, quiet, and peaceful drive from Palm Springs, CA to Yuma, AZ.  I spent about a week in Palm Springs and was expecting to get to Yuma before noon (11 am California time).  I was well on my way to making it with 20 minutes to spare until I noticed something strange.  The battery wasn't charging and the engine temperature was pegged.....  HMMM....  Thought it was a fluke so drove a few more miles to the second exit, but with quite a few miles in between..

Soon as pulled into the gas station parking lot saw a trail of liquid on the pavement behind me...  Soon as I found a safe spot to park, I turned off the engine soon as possible to prevent any potential damage, or minimize any damage from occurring..

The sight was not welcome.....

It was definitely not welcome.

There was liquid flowing out of a tube.  Upon further investigation it was the overflow tube from the radiator that was spewing radiator fluid..  So, the temperature gauge wasn't lying, phooooey....  Stood around, scratching you-know-what, trying to think of what could be wrong.  Nothing, on the surface, looked abnormal, yet something was clearly wrong.

Crawled underneath and looked around, nothing...  Yet something...

Went inside and grabbed a fleshlight, then crawled underneath again, randomly looking around...  And suddenly, found something abnormal, something unexpected....  Something not so good, even bad...  There was no belt so saw the butt-crack....

The serpentine belt disappeared, well, mostly disappeared, yet found some fragments, as in this photo.  Pulled this from behind the radiator fan blade so there must've been quite the breakdown.  As can see, there's not much left to it..

Queue backward a few years when I replaced the alternator....  This was a chore, mainly from the standpoint of not having a third, or fourth, hand.  And such was the case here.  It took me over four hours to get this fixed, only because didn't have that third hand the whole time.

The process for the alternator was pretty much the same here, with exception of physicall removing the alternator and doing those tests.  But, speaking of the alternator, the pulley was gummed up something serious.

There was also the matter of cleaning out the old belt fragments.  This took me some time and in the picture you can see some bits and bobs.  Started manually peeling them off by hand and got what I could, but there was still gunk down in the groves.  It almost seems that, when the belt truly broke, it wrapped around here a little and probably gooified some.  Grabbed a flat head screwdriver and put one side (of the slotted end) into each groove and turned the alternator wheel.  Had to do this several times to finally get the gunk fully out, and it was truly gunk.

After using the screwdriver then gave it a final cleansing by spraying it with some carb cleane I had, and used an old sock to wipe away the gunk.  Repeated this three times until it looked decent.  Looked at the other places where the belt passed over and nothing else had to be cleaned!

Putting the belt on over the fan is actually quite easy.  As I was trying to figure out how to, it all came back to me from when watched the mechanic replace the belt once.  He, and I, slid it right over the fan blades, rotating them as you go.  It can be kinda seen in the picture that there is another belt in the way, one for the air conditioner (which still haven't fixed).  Removed the secondary belt from the air conditioner compressor, which was fairly easy.  After that it was a straight shot to get it seated on the top most grooved thing (for the fan).  Then had to replace the AC belt.

Now the time consuming part came, and that was to slide the belt all around, getting the belt tensioner out of the way too.  Long story short, and boy, was it long, is that had to loosen top bolt on the alternator, remove the bottom bolt (so it could swing free.  Then, and only then, lift up the tensioner and slide belt onto alternator, and voila...  Life is grand.  I could've removed both bolts from the alternator, though it's a royal pain the u-know-what to get it back.  Not that this whole process was ideal, but still...

What had to work with
Now, the part where really, truly, needed a third hand, was putting the bolt back into bottom of the alternator.  THIS was the problem.  However, had a knight in shining armor come by just at the right time.  He held the tensioner up and out of the way (with a breaker bar of course) as i finangled the bottom bolt in place.  Took some doing, and with him helping, that doing was only a couple minutes.  Once the bolt was started, drove it home with a socket and the ratchet, then tightened top bolt.

I then thanked the mysterious stranger, we exchanged some pleasantries, and he was off to the Rainbow Gathering, which is supposedly someplace nearby in the desert.  This guy, and bunch of his friends, ran one of the soup kitchens at the festival.  A HUGE thank you to him, wherever he is!  I did give him a Christmas Present of sorts as a way of saying thanks!  Without him would likely still be there.

At times being single is horrendous, and this was one of those times.  Now it's time to get a spare serpentine belt....  Here is an album of few more pictures, for those interested.  Not much there though there might be a gem or two to clarify things...

Let me take this moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas too!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Quartzsite, AZ

First, this is NOT a political statement, though found it interesting that a hat like this was made for a little town in the middle of no place.  From what I understand it's fallen on lean times in a way as number of RV'ers coming here have dropped substantially.  This is seemingly due to some things a mayor did.  Think it had something to do with sales tax, other tax, or some other thing like that, but not overly sure.

There are a few reasons decided to spend some time in Quartzsite.  First is that I know someone who winters down here from the Seattle area, and he invited me to visit him at the park.  Second is that had to waste some time to meet up with a friend in the Palm Springs area as he had left a water regulator in Vegas.  I had no intention of going to Palm Springs this season, but that's another story.

Chicken Fried Steak
There are a couple distinct Quartzsite specific "attractions", namely among them is a rock gem show of sorts.  This happens in January and it draws people from all over the world.  Wasn't happening during this visit.

Another big event that happens is the "Big Tent" in February.  Again, this wasn't happening at this time.  I did go there a few years ago, and while interesting, not much I was interested in, plus there were too many people.  It's generally full of all sorts of RV products, supplies, etc.  Amazon had a good sized booth there looking for Workampers.

Surprisingly there were also quite a few good restaurants, and the overwhelming majority of people I met were awesome!  I went to one restaurant, Mountain Quail Cafe, away from center of town a little and attached to an RV park.  The first time I went there, for lunch, the service was awesome, and food was good too, so went back couple more times.  Most places that have had chicken fried steak at it's truly icky, but had a good feeling about this place in that had it the following two times, and it was delicious.  Tender and fork cuttable (yes, incorrect word), it was simply amazing.  Still not as good as Dishner's (in Coos Bay, OR), but it's the second best, and large gap in between.

One surprising thing I found here was they have a very good sized little airfield for RC planes, or other RC aircraft.  I had come out this way to see Celia's Garden Ampitheatre, which was, umm, lackluster to say the least, but this was kinda neat.  It was so neat that I got myself an RC plane, which haven't flown yet but will when get to Yuma.  It's a public park too!

Hi Jolly Monument
One of the big draws of Quartzsite is all the BLM land where people can boondock for free, or very little cost.  Boondocking is camping overnight without any hookups, such as electricity or water.  Most people who do it long term have solar panels, and they go into town periodically to fill up with water and dump their tanks in town.  Am sure others rely on generators to charge their batteries, instead of solar panels.

Of course, there's a plethora of RV parks, in which I stayed in one of those.  It was a little pricey, $175 + tax for a week.  Paid $23.11 in additional taxes, which I find very high.  There was a "Trans Lodging Tax" as well as a hotel tax..  To me it seems as if those are kind of the same....  Needless to say it's unlikely that will stay at this park again, though might check out other parks.  In contrast, people who have a full time trailer there spent $1,840.00 a year

Someone else told me of "Hi Jolly"...  They wouldn't say what or who this was, just that there is a monument dedicated to Hi Jolly, and that I had to discover and check it out..  Naturally it intrigued me..  As it turns out it was a camel driver.  The sign below give the full story.  The ashes of "Hi Jolly" are supposedly in the time capsule at bottom of the monument.

Hi Jolly explanation sign
I do find it somewhat troubling what the US Government did to the camels after it was deemed the experiment was a failure.  It seems, according to this sign, that they let the camels free and roam the desert.  This sounds pretty nice for the camels, unless they were overly domesticated by that time.  It could've been a hardship on them to forage and find food after some time being cared for by the US Military at the time, or the camel's could've welcomed it.  It just seems a little inhumane to me, but the camels are supposedly buried here too.

Now, at the RV park I stayed at, they had a Saturday morning breakfast that served Biscuits and Gravy, which was actually quite tasty.  At this breakfast was talking with this older married couple about places to check out, such as Hi Jolly, airfield, etc.  They then reveled me with stories of an abandoned gold mine..   Curiosity sunk in and off on the scooter I went!

Most of the road was pavement though the last mile or few was hard packed gravel / sand / other stuff, with a few dips and twists and other funnish type of terrain.  Granted, it's all still desert so not much in the way of trees and shrubs and anything like that.  But at the end was a literal gold mine.

Remnants of Gold Mine
Well, a discarded gold mine.

I did not see a no trespassing sign until was leaving, and the fence was in disarray.  Did see some signs of recent activity there from who knows who, but while I was there didn't see a single soul.

Explored the grounds a little bit.  There was an RV there, under a shelter, that looked somewhat lived in, but again, no sign of life at all.  It was an older RV, probably from the 80's or so.

Illustrious mine shaft
Exploring the abandoned machinery was pretty awesome, though it took me a while of searching to find out where they supposedly extracted the gold ore from.the ground.  After a good 30 minutes of wandering, exploring, poking around, finally found it.

It was hidden behind some of the dirt piles.  The conveyor belt didn't even go down this road, nor was it "close" by.  Everything on this site was fairly packed together, but the mineshaft was just in an odd place.  At end of this "road" is entrance to the tmien.  I did take a look into the tunnel and saw it kept on going down and down and down, at a good grade but not overly steep.  It seems to be about as steep as this road leading down there.

At least on this upper part looked like they sprayed hydro cement to shore up the walls and ceiling, as far as the eye could see.  There was a chain link gate with a padlock there that didn't want to cross, in no small part due to the chained gate.  Plus it was awfully dark down there.

To close this off, here's a picture of Bob surveying the landscape!  He's leash "trained", in that trained to take me for a walk on the leash...  Paisley is in the background.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Tie Down Straps

Since started doing the RV thing have gone through a couple different sets of tie down straps and different methods of securing my scooter (and now motorcycle) to the RV.  Don't ask me why, but I entrusted my valuable Scooter to none other than Harbor Freight Tie Down Straps.  I, mistakenly, thought that all tie down straps were more or less created equal..  BOY, was I wrong.  I should've taken the leap much much sooner.....  And so should YOU!  In my opinion anyways.

The two, HF on bottom
I knew no better and didn't realize what true quality was.  I delayed the inevitable and have gone through a good 20+ tie down straps.  Probably should've gone through many more, though at times I'm a tad bit stingy...  Hence why scooter fell off back once.

As can be seen in the picture on the right, the Harbor Freight straps are on the bottom, and the new one is on the top.  Just looking at the side view, thickness of the webbing material is night and day.  Hindsight being as it is, the Harbor Freight one feels like paper compared to the cardboard'y thickness of the new one.  Granted, the new one is new and so will wear in time, though the quality difference is very visible.

The new straps are from Ratchet Straps USA,  It seems as they're a manufacturer of these, but at the very least they're a purveyor of fine ratchet straps...

My order consisted of two different items, the first was a set of straps, and handlebar wrap around tie down things, with the second being straps to tie down the rear of the bikes, plus a couple extra for grins and giggles.

Now, remember, I am very very very happy with these, but there are a few things I would've done different, hence this post.

For the Strap and Handlebar set, I would've done these things different, not that anything is wrong, just personal preference
  • Went with 6 foot straps instead of paying extra for 10 foot
    • Though 10 foot straps are more flexible in usage
  • Increase Handlebar strap length to 18+ inches
    • it's tight fitting when wrapping around handlebar, still works

A great thing I upgraded to was the safety hooks.  These are called Safety Latch S-hooks and cost an additional dollar.  What this does is make the S hook end be something similar to a carabinar, which will help prevent it from unhooking in times of crisis.  It accomplishes this by having a spring loaded piece of metal that closes off the opening.  Though anything can still happen, having this makes it a little less likely, more peace of mind.

Yellow = new
The other set of straps I ordered, in yellow, is just a standard run of the mill bunch of ratchet straps.  Nothing special and nothing out of the ordinary.  Like the strap and handlebar set there are a couple things I would've done differently...  Still nothing wrong, just personal preference again.
  • Would've chosen straps with a closing end, such as caribinar, snap hooks, soft loop, or safety S-hooks
    • Prefer safety S-hooks but couldn't find them..  20/20 vision of course.
  • Would not have purchased extra length and chosen 6 feet
  • Fixed end length might have increased a little, this part is irrelevant for my use
Am very happy I chose the somewhat heavier duty one inch strap.  It adds an extra little comfort factor.  There is a greater chance that the hooks will slide off without any safety features, as mentioned above, but don't envision that happening.

My order included 10 straps, four for the front (as part of the handlebar kit), then 6 for the rear, with four being actively used and the other two as backups.  Am still hanging onto the Harbor Freight straps as a backup backup with the hopes that will never go back to them except to strap stuff to the scooter for transport from store to RV.

If ever have the need for additional straps, one guess where I'll be ordered them from....

You guessed it, Ratchet Straps USA!

P.S. - Someplace, for at least some of their straps, there is an option to choose webbing made in the U.S.  Unsure where it could be.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Washing machines, even then don't be an Ostrich....

No, No, No...  This isn't about the other Ostrich post I made...  Not even close actually.  But, come to think of it, it does follow along the same lines in that people in power told me it would be BIG money to fix / repair / replace, and I believed them and truly thought so myself..

Turns out wasn't really, yet I suffered immensely long because didn't know any better (sounds familiar at all, Ostrich?)....  Everything happens for a reason...
TORX thing, plus area where sound came from

Now, this picture to the right is a sneak peak into the future.

Before I go further into this sordid tale, please bear with me while I explain the Ostrich part, and my reasons for investigating and digging deeper (do this whenever someone of authority (doctor, veterenarian, auto mechanic, etc) tells you bad news, do your own research)....

Based on the advice and expert opinions I received, everything pointed to this being a problem that could not be fixed without serious expense.  The great people in Oregon (small business?) that we call in the U.S. for technical support said there was nothing that could be done on their end when I explained all the symptoms.  The symptoms were a large racket being made, there was a steady clicking sound, almost like something being stuck inside, vibration of "click" felt emanating from center of drum in the rear (insert "joke"), the racket starting around the time I washed a bunch of little magnets, and am sure there was one or two other things.  It's possible I tainted their analysis by mentioning those magnets.

These people then gave me a number for some local people that came out to take a look at it.  These people were very knowledgeable.  They looked, poked, prodded, turned, squeezed, you name it they did it.  Then they looked at me and essentially shrugged their shoulders saying nothing can do, just deal with it and leave for couple hours when start up the machine...  Well...  That would be OK if didn't have cats.  Plus something else nagged at me....

The cats went berserk during the spin cycles when the noise was bone crushing loud.  Truthfully I went a little berserk also....

After everyone said nothing could be done (sound familiar yet, Ostrich?), I decided that to at least try and fix it.  The reasons for this were two fold....  The price to replace the machine (a new one) would be about twelve hundred dollars ($1200.00)...  Secondly, from my last conversation with the technical support people, their time to pull the drum out is about four hours.  So, double that (pull out and push in) and add another four hours for not knowing what am doing, that brings me to paying myself a hundred dollars an hour, if I were to fix it, and it took me that long..  That's a good payback.

Picture for hardware store
I snapped this picture (same as above) so can get the proper tool from the hardware store, but it holds clues into the mystery of the loud noise.  Now is the story of fixing the loud noise that shook me to the core (and the cats too) every time did laundry....  My ear still hurts now and then when I think about it.

My first order of business is to get tools....  Tools are great!  Tools make me great!  I live in America!  Tools made in America make me great!  You get it, tools are awesome.  And, none of that cheap stuff for this, after all, $1200.00 is on the line.

Did a quick search on Google maps (sometimes I trust it) and found couple tool stores in the area.  Could've gone to Home Depot / Lowes, but wanted to find a little mom and pop store first to see if they have this, as it's a standard thing (just had a feeling about the standard thing part).

Walked into the store and it felt really good to be in here.  It is a place like what envision a true mom and pop store is.  The walls were lined with various tools, tool belts, just all sort of things, the aisles were narrow, boxes on the floor, it seemed like organized chaos with an eye to stocking most anything someone would want.  Walked up to the counter, showed them the above picture, and they handed me the TORX bits, that are coincidentally Made in America.  The company is called Lisle, and here is the product web page.

Walked out already making plans for Saturday, but also salivating at the Thai restaurant that is in the same shopping plaza.  Asked the younger guy, his son?, what a good place for lunch was, and he recommended the Thai place, and I wasn't disappointed.  Very tasty and very happy!  Not the best have had though certainly was good.

Top of the drum
Instead of starting this on Saturday, couldn't hold out any longer and started it Friday night, with the intention to at least get everything disconnected that night.

The first step was to remove the top.  There are two screws on the back side, at the top, which holds the top in place, then had to slide it backwards as there are tabs in the front which hold it down.

Now, without a clue to start with, I started removing the soap dispenser, top left big blocky white thing in the photo.  I took the two screws out of the front

Detergent dispenser
You'll notice that the dispensor is discolored in the middle.  It was that way when bought the washer, along with other discoloration that have seen elsewhere.  This is due to water in California where the prior owner camped for a few years for his job (construction at the time I believe).  As I use reverse osmosis water for everything that discoloration seems to be going away, slowly, but still away.

Now, without any further instructions I started fumbling around in here.  In the bottom center of the photo is a maroon looking round thing.  There'a a hose (vacuum?) that leave here and goes down into the bowels someplace.  I removed this round thing from side of the machine, then removed the wiring harndess.

Bottom "guts"
Next up was starting to remove the soap dispenser and related stuff but had no idea what was doing.  Started to pry, pull, prod, push, all to no avail.  Started removing the hose connectors, on the back, removed one screw then noticed, while prying it out, that there are tabs on the inside also.  I shelved this for the moment and decided to flip it on it's side to remove the underneath stuff, such as the motor, hoses, etc.

There are four screws on the bottom that holds some sort of plate in place.  Once removed those was greeted with this image.  At this point I essentially have to unhook all of this stuff.  And, started with the motor.

Motor wiring harness
Unhooked the connector wire on the motor, as well as a ground wire of sorts.

Then started removing bolts from the motor.  Looking at the picture I expected four bolts, two on the front, two on the rear.  Was pleasantly surprised that there are only two bolts instead of four.  The two connections around middle of the drum are only slip on, which was a relief.

Motor and belt
After finding a socket that fit over the bolt, removed the first one, then turned the drum to validate it still clicks.  At this point decide to remove the belt on the off chance the belt tension.  This was easier than expected as all had to do was pull the belt slightly towards the back (to me), and turn the wheel, making sure to always keep tension on the belt, till it reaches the half way point (apex, or top), in which case it came off right away.

I then spun the wheel again, and to my surprise and amazement, no click....  At this point am a little dumb founded.

Spun the wheel again, no clicking...

Put belt back on, clicking resumed..

Took belt off and clicking stopped..


At this point am still thinking need to take it apart due to the bearings.  I say this as the bolt on the back appears to be tight and not loose at all.  However, as kept investigating determined this wasn't the case as am able to "shake" the wheel up and down by moving it up and down, not rapidly, just moving it.  Though it didn't move much, and couldn't even see it move per se, could feel it.shift as move up or down, and in only a certain position.

While I would've really have liked to take the bolt off itself though was scared to take it out in case it connected to the drum itself.  I used the TORX T40 bit, attached to my 3/8" ratchet, with an extension, held the wheel and tightened it.  It was actually loose in that when started to tighten moved it right away.  Think just hit the JACKPOT.  Just looking at it there didn't appear to be a gap, until examined the picture close up afterwards, such as below.

Close up of "wheel" and TORX bolt

If look very closely at the picture, can see two little bits of space in the plastic.  In that area there's some black / dark brown "stuff" (shavings??), but then can barely make out a gap.  The "wheel" also looks a little off center, even with the icky camera angle.

After determined this, added a little extra tightness to the bolt (maybe too tight?) and put everything back together, spinning the drum / wheel now and then to make sure everything is still working good.

For reference, I have a Splendide 7100XC washer/dryer combo.  Model number is WDC7100XC.

In a nutshell, instead of believing what I was told, I set out to do it myself, or acquiesce to their brilliance and buy a new washer/dryer.  I then found the root cause of the problem, which was a loose TORX bolt.  I spent about an hour on this.  If choose to break it out and figure out the hourly wage, counting $27 for the TORX set (+ tax), and counting a flat rate of $1200 for a new washer/dryer (not including tax), I "paid" myself about $1,163.00 an hour for the actual labor part.  If add, say, 3 hours, to that number for research, asking questions, etc., that gives me an hourly wage of ~$300.00 (1200 / 4), with all prior assumptions.  Not a bad day at all.

As a note, the $1200 price tag for a new washer is only an estimate, doesn't include shipping (freight) nor does it include taxes, installation, or any of the like.

The aftermath...  Quiet as a church mouse during Sunday service!  Totally delighted!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

First ride on Beemer

Technically the second, but this was the first real ride, and probably one of the last times that I'll truly trust Google Maps 100%.....  For it led me down a path fraught with loose sand.  It all ended on a good note, as have cat pictures to share!

The ride started off innocently enough.  Just before leaving, plugged my destination into Waze, which is another pseudo Google product.  I say pseudo as Google maps sometimes lists waze user updates as part of the navigation experience when using Google Maps as your GPS.  However, Waze closed down on me, not once, but twice.  It normally closes down once, which then restart, but once it closed down a second time switched to Google maps.

When I did switch, this is similar to the route I had (using random start address).

.However, when I turned into the gas station, the road to the stoplight was closed due to paving.  Not a big deal I thought as had recalled seeing an alternative road  if I headed south again, which is essentially the route shown above.

So, I went south a couple miles, pulled over, and opened up Google maps...Much to my chagrin it didn't give me the route I expected, it gave me the following, so I went with it, mistakenly.
Courtesy of Google Maps (on the phone, replicated on PC)

Doesn't look too bad, right?? right??  RIGHT?!?!?!?!

Well, wrong-o-podo......

This still gets me worked up, even though made it out of there safely and in one piece.  Did I mention a "Thank You" for this "experience" to Google Maps (insert passive aggressiveness here)

Well, turns out I rode past the two brothels in town, pictured below.  After these two establishments the paved road ended..  At this point I was questioning the almighty Google, but still had faith, though this faith didn't last long.

The initial road, right after the pavement ended was hard packed gravel stuff with bits of sand patches here and there.  Not bad I thought, somewhat fun it seems.  And it was for a little while, but the hard packed stuff gave way to softer stuff, then even more softer stuff, until finally loooong stretches of sand.  Loose sand where you sink into, like fine powdery snow, but nothing like snow, think sand dunes type sand.

This soft squishy sand had a benefit..  When I was tossed from the bike, twice, it was nice and soft to land on.  I knew picked out the Scott's jacket for a reason.  I can't find the link on the web, though this was given to me by a very dear friend from Tacoma, WA.  I feel somewhat bad about getting it all covered in sand and who knows what, but am sure he'll understand..  I hope anyways...

As the hard packed gravel gave way to the long stretches of squishy sand, it was difficult to maintain speed, which I tried to.  As i found out the sand reacts in mysterious and unpredictable ways.

I made mistakes and probably didn't learn all the lessons I needed to learn about sand riding, but it was still quite the learning experience.  My main problem was going too fast, even though was only doing about 15 miles an hour, or less.  Should have downshifted into first and kept the rpm's somewhat low, while still maintaining enough speed to keep from sinking in too deep.

At this point I was very happy to have somewhat aggressive off road / street tires, such as this Metzeler one that came with it.  Metzeler is among the best tires out there (for wet riding at least), and always highly rated from what I know.  Originally researched them for when lived in Seattle area full time, and they're particularly great in wet weather!  Grippy as all get out.

Back to the "road"..  For a long stretch it was all sand, but then started alternating a little from some gravelly area to hard packed sand, then back to that soft squishy sand.  There was one stretch that I passed through, where it was straight as an arrow, and hard pack / gravel for about 1/3 to 1/2 a mile.  That was pure heaven.

It just so happened, on this stretch, couple dune buggies came blowing through there, hot footing it to who knows where.  I kinda envied them in a way, with four wheels in sand, sooo much more stable.  The ruts is what got me, and the sand moving every which way.

After the two drops, and ejections, and a good 30-60 minutes (time was a weird thing), finally made it to hard pack, then the asphalt road!!!  At this point I just opened up the throttle, trying to make up for lost time.  Felt really good to be back on the road.  But, there was this Escapade looking SUV type thing that came up behind me, and just stayed behind me till I turned off, not tailgating, but kept a respectable distance.

I did lose that SUV though when we got to the twisties, but it caught back up with me...  Now, think I took the twisties a bit too fast, for I leaned the bike over pretty strongly, without a care in the world.  I downshifted, goosed the throttle, downshifted again, goosed it again, and my, was it wonderfully pleasing!

Here is where the twisties were, not long twisties, but was the right amount at the right time.  On one side of the road it falls off and there wasn't much in the way of a guardrail.

After these twisties it was a pretty straight shot to the China Ranch Date Farm. In the map below, if scroll up a little will see additional twisties.  This longish road was mostly all loose gravel, going around some hairpin turns.  Had to take it slow and easy and was in first gear most of the time.

While here, had a date shake, along with a chocolate chip date cookie, and also met my RV park neighbors, and friends, that have met in years past.  They were out for a stroll and they were also right behind me in the park, hence the neighbor things.

Return trip was uneventful.  Left and followed the road (like normal cars do) all the way back.  Did leave the GPS (Google Maps) completely off as didn't want it to mistakenly guide me down an unknown path yet again.

As promised, cat picture, on a leash....  Good kitty, good kitty.
Additional bonus:
Pahrump sunset

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Two fer me

Aaaaah, it is after a long search I can finally post this...  It's a relief, and not anything remotely political, except desire to vote!!!!!!

But first.  The middle one is mine, all the rest aren't.

BEER, plus a qlemonade, middle one is MINE!

I was just in Las Vegas, then Saturday drove up to Merced, CA. (covered below), and then drove to Pahrump, NV to vote!  On the way to Pahrump decided wanted to go through Death Valley.  It was a very interesting trip, but added an extra 2-3 hours to the day.  It wasn't so much extra mileage, but, well, hills...  Them thar hills...  Chug up the hills and crawl down the hills.  It was a nice trip though.

Spent Saturday night at a Walmart in Bakersfield, CA.  In the morning, about an hour or so after leaving Bakersfield, remembered about this brewery I went to several years ago and that I'd pass near there.  As you know, I have an edict to get as many local craft brews as possible in my journey.  So, while I still had cell phone service (lost it couple times), and while rememberd the brewery, found the brewery and plugged it into the GPS, and off I went.

Arrived at the brewery a little after it opened and the lady who was there helped me choose which beers.  I chose the higher alcohol content ones, so they'll last the journey.  The only caveat is the I.P.A., which is about 9.5% alcohol.  Have been told that the hoppy characteristics fade after time.  When I brought this up to the lady (vaguely remember someone like her last time) she said that the spring water they use would keep the hoppy characteristics..  Well, who am I to argue with a lady so took her at her word.  Am sure I'll find out if it keeps.

I traveled again primarily so could go vote, and also planned it to go check out a motorcycle, which is a 2003 BMW F 650 GS.  Wound up driving 455 miles, or so, to Merced, CA., from Las Vegas, NV., to see this.  I then drove about 440 miles (if took the highway) from Merced, CA. to Pahrump, NV.  All in all it was a long trip, and I contributed to the California economy by buying about 38 gallons of diesel fuel.  One of the highlights was meeting a very nice indian gas station shop keeper, along with an older native american patron.

When people first told me that the best experiences they had while RV'ing was to meet people, thought they were crazy.  Well, it turns out that is the case.  On the other hand, also meet some bungholes now and then..

The guy I met that was selling this motorcycle seems like an honest and good natured guy.  He had the bike for a year, hardly rode it (~600 miles), and wanted it to go to a good home.  According to him, the bike has been down to Central / South America, as well as some places around Merced.  It currently has ~24,000 miles on it, which is young for a BMW engine, as well as having had oil change and maintenance done at a dealer recently.  He gave me a copy of the pre-buy inspection that was done when he bought it and everything seemed legit and on par.

On the bike did notice some bird droppings as well as couple scuff marks on the plastic.  There is also some rust, primarily around bolts and such.  This rust is generally a sign of being kept outside uncovered, so nothing overly alarming to me.  Am not looking for a show bike.  Others can have that.  Wiggled and wobbled and prodded stuff, couldn't find anything wrong.  I even rubbed engine oil between my fingers (saw in movies) and smelled it.  Smelled normal from as far as could tell.

I wound up making an offer, which he thought about for a few seconds before accepting, and then we preceded to fill out the paperwork (title, bill of sale, etc), and the like.  Then came the interesting part of loading it on the back..

BMW and Scooter

As can be seen, they barely fit together.  The handlebar brush guard on the BMW interferes with my sideview mirror on the scooter.  The toolbox also is a bit too far back and not sure what will do to resolve that, but that'll come in time and will document further as time goes on.

Will update after have ridden it.  I don't pre-drive anything, and such is the case with this.

Friday, November 4, 2016

I was an Ostrich, not anymore

Meaning, I used to have my head in the sand and paid attention to the mainstream media, and not anymore!  But first a quote...

To anger a conservative, lie to him.
To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.
-Teddy Roosevelt

This is not meant to be a political post, though some (a lot?) might get offended. Read at your own risk and please don't shoot the messenger.  I am also feeling fine, no mental issues, no weapons of mass, or personal, destruction, no heart attack risk, no underage pictures, no poisoned food, and all three cats are doing fine.

I am NOT a Republican, I am NOT a Democrat, I am an INDEPENDENT voter, and I strive to learn as much of the truth as possible.  This is so I can vote with my conscience intact.  To do this have had to search alternative media, and even then, sometimes the alternative media is clearly super biased in favor of one candidate or another.

Am not saying everything I write below is the truth, far from it, but it adds a lot of doubt in my mind to how good one of the candidates are.  However, if even a small portion is true then that candidate still isn't worthy of my vote.

At this point, I am proud to state that:

I am not voting for Hillary Clinton
Nor am I a "Trumper"
I want the best President for the United States
Be it male, female, native american, white, pink, blue, purple...
I really want a female president, just not sHillary

Am still not overly sure who my vote is going towards, maybe Trump, maybe Jill Stein, maybe someone else.  Will figure it out Tuesday morning at the polls.  I've voted Democrat, Republican, and third party in the past.

Below is why I am not voting Hillary.  Please at least skim the bulleted list.

Most of this is credit to r/The_Donald, who, despite attempts at censorship (by Reddit itself, CTR, and others) are still getting information out.  Granted, they are very biased themselves, but better than the mainstream media (more about them later).  Credit also to this website, which visited while writing this.

A very honorable mention to WikiLeaks!!  Despite Assange having his internet privileges cut off (questionably I might add), the information is still getting out.
  • In no particular order
  • Plans to support TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership)..  BAD BAD BAD
    • very secretive trade deal
    • Corporations can sue governments for impinging on profits
    • Allows more H1B visa workers into the U.S.
    • Many other reasons am against this
    • Wikileaks has released drafts in the past
  • Collusion with mainstream media
  • Censorship by online media (Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and others)
    • Censoring positive news about Trump
    • Having an overly pro Hillary stance
    • Deletion of pro Trump content
    • Obscuring pro Trump content
    • None of it is fair (in my opinion)
    • Algorithms changed to suppress pro Trump content (Reddit specifically)
    • This is a big one for me.  Anytime things are censored such as this, that just breeds ill will and stinks of many other things.  It would be one thing if they allowed mostly equal discussion but they don't seem to want that at all
  • A public, then a very different private, position on policies
  • Hillary Campaign wants unaware citizens
  • This website detailing a 100 (of thousands) important items from WikiLeaks leaked emails
  • Hillary and/or campaign accepted money from known state sponsors of terrorism
  • People were paid to incite violence at Trump rallies
  • Hillary mocks Catholics, latinos, blacks, muslims, gays, and others
  • Hillary, and/or staff, deleted incriminating emails (obstruction of justice?) on or around time of subpeonas
  • Weapons sales to countries (Morocco), where we normally wouldn't sell weapons to, after Clinton Foundation received $12 million (shady to me) or more
  • Clinton Foundation itself......
    • Currently under investigation by the IRS
  • Hillary herself bragged (on audio tape) about influencing the Palestine election
    • If she can assist with that there, what about here?
  • Attempt to coerce the FBI into declassifying emails in exchange for loosening of some rules
  • Follow the money with arms sales (Qatar, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, etc)
  • Hillary received some debate questions ahead of debate
    • Donna Brazille caught giving advance notification of questions
    • Donna Brazille no longer affiliated with CNN
  • RIGGED MEDIA POLLING, skewing numbers towards Hillary via sampling (and other means?)
  • U.S. Intelligence, and classified information, is sent via unsecure means and non-government (private) emails, such as Yahoo!
  • Hillary accepted foreign money for use in her presidential campaign
    • Saudi Arabia
    • Germany
    • George Soros
    • others too am sure
  • FBI affirms a "shadow government" is likely protecting Hillary
  • Health issues not properly addressed (to my satisfaction)
    • Collapsing (I've had pneumonia and she didn't from what can tell (am not medical doctor))
    • Needs podium for speaking (per emails)
    • Not many rallies, lack of energy / other health related issues? (speculation from me)
    • Memory loss.....  Not remembering things during FBI questioning, among others
  • Campaign admits to using, or generating, Propaganda...
  • Rally attendance is dismal, some were cancelled
  • Hillary allowed Russia to purchase (through UraniumOne) 20% of our uranium
    • after substantial donations to Clinton foundation, and Bill's "speaking fees"
  • Potential Sexual harassment is covered up within the Clinton Campaign
    • Not to mention Bill's accusers
    • There are cases where Hillary defended people reported to have sexually abused others
  • Why does she need a private e-mail server??????  Anything else she could be hiding?
  • Potential insider trading is hinted at by WikiLeaks emails
  • Major foreign policy missteps / disasters
    • middle east
    • Benghazi
  • Coordination with SuperPACS (illegal?)
  • Insiders admit Hillary and Bill "lie a lot" and "have the worst judgement"
  • Insiders also admit to a "character problem"
  • Hillary steals furniture, silverware, etc from White House and the State Department
    • If she takes furniture, even after returning it, this just doesn't bode well with me
  • Tim Kaine picked as VP in 2015
  • Hillary's campaign uses dead Americans for a "bit of moral outrage"
  • Campaign assisting with fake Anti-Trump protests
  • George Soros's connection with potential voting fraud
    • As well as electronic voting machines in 16 states
    • He's a very big Hillary campaign donor
  • An ordinary person explaining why he switched away from Hillary (many others too)
  • List of major papers that support Hillary, when in the past they've (almost) always supported Republican
  • Former Republican presidents pledging support to Hillary (strange?)
  • DOJ collusion with Clinton campaign
  • Investigator on reopened investigation into Hillary e-mails is close friend of her Chief of Staff
  • There are links between Comey (FBI) and Hillary and law firms and brothers, etc., or there were. Tangled web, very tangled
  • NYPD investigating Hillary's campgaign, found disturbing stuff
  • There is talk that emails came from Insiders rather than the Russians
  • Mysterious "explained" deaths associated with the Clinton's
  • "Convenient" news stories (i.e. burning churches, groping) to paint opponent in negative light when none prior
  • "Convenient" allegations against main opponent
  • No seemingly short, or long, term roadmap, other than winning election and being first female president (big yes, but.....)
  • Big Pharma ties, good size donations to her campaign
  • Hillary is against legalizing marijuana
  • Carelessly handling classified information, again
  • Seems to be a war monger, trading barbs back and forth with Russia
    • One of her SuperPAC's aired ads encouraging women to sign up for draft
  • Deaths of three WikiLeaks staff members within the past six months
    • Two lawyers and Julian's "right hand man"
  • Seems like it'll be "Government as usual" and the US isn't doing too well
  • Parties in DOJ are colluding with Hillary's campaign
  • Hillary wants to enact "draconian" gun control, similar to the UK, from what I've read
  • How have the Clinton's exactly achieved a net worth in excess of $150 million
    • There was a book deal for Hillary
    • Then "speaking fees" for Bill
    • How else have they made money???
  • Why did Hillary stay with Bill for so long after Monica and the others?  Most women would've left I assume, strange
  • Reports that Hillary is linked to child traffickers (loosely?) from Haiti, or thereabouts
  • Bill took flights on a convicted child molesters private plane, with underage models on board
    • Many other mentions of pedophelia in WikiLeaks e-mails
  • President Obama lied about not knowing about Hillary's "secret" email server
  • Some Trump accusers were paid $500K to accuse trump of misconduct
  • Homeland Security Chairman, Michael McCaul, says Hillary committed Treason
  • Immunity deals are being pulled for those that lied in reference to Hillary's FBI investigation
    • Am assuming this is a result of WikiLeaks email dumps recently
  • Podesta going to a "spirit cooking" dinner?  Am into woowoo stuff, but this is strange...
  • George Noory, host of Coast to Coast AM, who doesn't vote so he can report it as he sees it, once said that he wasn't going to mention anything about Hillary as "his mother told him, if don't have anything nice to say about someone...."

As you can see, from what I have read, there is a lot of speculation. Am unsure if it's all true though where there's smoke, there's fire.  Here are my sources again: r/The_Donald, this websiteWikiLeaks

Now, while Trump isn't perfect, he's not a politician (and not convinced I'll vote for him).  He is brash, unpredictable, and full of himself, but he's passionate about the country, and about the people.  I only bring up the following as an example for what Hillary could do to possibly change part of my opinion about her and her overall policies.

Trump recently published a guideline for his first 100 days in office when he spoke at Gettysburg.  While I don't agree with everything, a lot of it is much needed!  Have included some of it below.

Day one activities:
  1. propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
  2. a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);
  3. a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
  4. a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
  5. a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
  6. a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

Trump will also begin the following:

    1. FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205
    2. SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
    3. THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator
    4. FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately
    5. FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
    6. SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
    7. SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure
              Can read his whole contract with the American voter on his website.

              Trump recently mentioned that he'll abolish, or remove, Federal Marijuana laws, letting the states decide.

              Now it's time to help make America a better place by placing your vote on November 8th, for the candidate of your choice!  Remember, it's you who decides who to vote for, not the establishment or party you most associate with.

              P.S.  I've conveniently left out most of the hot button topics, such as abortion, religion, and the like, as that's what the two parties use to divide us.   We need to be united in this election, no matter the outcome.  It'll drag on for at least a month after the election as the lawyers battle out "the will of the people".

              P.P.S. I've chosen not to link directly to where I got the information (with a few exceptions) as am sure people can find it themselves.  WikiLeaks, and Reddit, are my two major sources, and Reddit primarily gets it from WikiLeaks, among other sources.  This will allow you to read the most current chatter.

              Tuesday, October 18, 2016

              Nebraska, oh my... Oh Dear...

              Long story short....  Lots of corn fields (genetically engineered corn, ickh), TONS of wind, and no more awning, and a wall of text to tell the story (no actual pictures)....

              Google maps showed me a couple of routes from Sioux Falls to the Farmington, NM area.  One had slightly more highway than the other and both routes brought me through the corn fields of Nebraska, southern South Dakota, and Colorado, before getting into New Mexico.  They both avoided going the full highway route, which would've led me through Omaha, Nebraska.

              This path led me through some highs, and not surprisingly, some low lows.  Not exceedingly low lows, but significant.

              Although I generally didn't stop, the highlight was going through the small towns of Nebraska.  It is always amazing to see the rural side of America, all the hard working farmers, and just a different way of life.  They live closer to nature than most people do, with exception of the GMO crops.

              One place did stop, and it was pretty darned great, was a casino for breakfast.  Believe this is the casino, but stumbled upon it as was toodling down the road.  Was getting hungry and it just came up at the right time.  Forget exactly what I had, but there were some eggs involved as well as some type of pan fried bread that was simply awesome.  It was almost like a pancake but not really, yellowish, and very tasty.  Just by the texture could tell it was some type of unleavened bread but the name still baffles me, even after a few searches on Startpage, as well as looking directly at the casino's website.

              Another neat thing was going over the levee / dam that is near Pickstown, SD.  It's actually an Army Corp of Engineers site.  Was nice to see the reservoir and the power generation they have at this site.  Well, seemed like power was generated at least.  Didn't stop to investigate as the wind was pushing me around quite a bit here, and wasn't even in Nebraska yet.

              Now......  let's "chat" about Nebraska..  I say "chat" because I'll be the one doing all the talking / writing...

              Much the same as southern South Dakota, rolling hills, huge winds, and the like.  However, this is where my awning decided to develop an attitude, in more ways than one.  Most of the day, up to this point, the wind was just hammering away at the side of the RV, so much so that, once got to New Mexico, noticed that one of the tires on my Swivel Wheel was completely bald, and angled a little bit as it wore.  This Swivel Wheel is directly connected to the RV frame'ish (technically the hitch, which is connected to frame).

              Example hay stack
              Where this took a deadly turn (for the awning) is after making a turn (pun intended).  Immediately prior to the turn the wind was heading towards back of the RV, pushing me along.

              I had followed this large 18 wheeler for a mile or two and he was having a rough time with the wind and the heavy load he had.  On the back of his flatbed trailer, there were these big round bales of hay, very similar in stacking to the picture on the right.  So, imagine following this big rig, and he was super slow on the take-off, and could tell that even the engine was struggling as clouds of thick black diesel exhaust trailed off rapidly after the turn.

              I took this to my advantage, get some distance behind him and me, then gave it some gas to get up speed and pass him, and that I did.  However, it didn't go as smoothly as had anticipated.....

              About a third of the way into passing this semi, loaded with all the round hay bales, my awning became unhooked and started to come out......  It seemed like was watching this happen both in slow motion and real time.    Until I passed the truck is was going in and out a little bit at a time, not all the way, and it didn't balloon up, just came unhooked.

              My guess is that the gust of wind that goes over the hay bales came down and snapped loose the latch with sudden force.  This caused the awning to come out ever so slightly.  What surprised me is that it didn't take all the fabric and unwind it all over the top of my roof.  I attribute this slightly to having an older awning and the springs in there are a little creaky and hard to move.  Am still baffled by this whole turn of events happened.

              As I couldn't pull over right then and there (state road, no shoulder), slowed down after passing the semi and kept going for about a mile until saw a gas station.  The whole time was driving the awning was acting like an accordion, going out, coming in, going out, coming in.  Almost like it was trying to create baby awnings.  It so happened that the side of the gas station had enough room for me to park and there were no cars or trucks that I'd be blocking, so took advantage of it.  The parking area was also on the downwind side, so while it was a little windy, nothing like the steady wind experienced.

              At this point, the awning was rolled back up, mostly, and my whole point now was to get it seated again so can continue.  Suffice to say, that didn't happen.

              The problem now was that the awning had a little kink in it at the front.  Logic told me that to remove the kink had to unroll the awning ever so slighlty so that it could fix itself.  Am unsure how it got the kink, but it was really there.  Unhooked my trusty, and rickety, wooden step ladder from back of the RV, and set to work.

              This work didn't last long.  Started pulling out the awning and pushing it back in, but the kink wouldn't straighten out with the little bit have moved it so far.  I then took the additional step by pulling it out, getting off the ladder, and pulling it out every so slightly, and lightly, more.  However, the awning material had another thought in mind..

              Soon as went this extra step and brought it out a little more, the whole awning material ripped, at the top, 3/4 of the way down......  To say I was stunned is an understatement.  Can't recall exactly how this happened, but it was a combination of factors, the wind, the old awning fabric, and sudden movements on may part.

              When the fabric ripped, it also brought the whole front awning arm down, broke it off the base, and also snapped a rivet or two in the big round thing that is the outer edge of the awning when it's pulled out.  A catastrophic failure happened and at this stage it was unrecoverable.  Not as bad as Fukushima, but along the same lines on a much smaller scale.

              The front arm could've been salvaged, but not in the parking lot.  The awning fabric itself was beyond repair.  The back awning arm was still intact and connected to the big round thing that is width / length of awning.  The fabric that's connected to top of RV was torn down the side by about 80%.

              To get an idea of what the awning is supposed to look at, take a look at this page.  It is from the manufacturer, and it looks like the awning I "had".  The manufacturer is Carefree of Colorado, and have no idea what the original model is.  It is my guess that one of the factors which led to the complete failure of the fabric is age of the fabric itself.  Am under the assumption that it was the original awning, and at the point of failure (up along the roof), it was all dry rotted, brittle, and the like.  This is also most likely why the awning fabric was "crinkled" just prior to this.

              At this point, instead of a quick fix thing now I started thinking about recovery and how will at least get on the road again.  It is against my nature just to unhook everything and just leave it, had to figure out the best way to safely decouple everything and bring it with me.

              Removing the front arm was already mostly done.  One piece of it was still hanging from the top, but that is a minor thing.  The major piece I had to worry about was how to unhook the big roller thingie from the back arm.  Thankfully the back arm was still fully locked in place and undamaged so that was one less thing to worry about.

              After taking stock of the situation, had to move into action.  First order of business was to remove the big long round thing.  To do this had to cut the remaining 20% of the awning, which did.  Then investigated how it is connected to the awning arm.  Turns out there's a big long rivet, which was quite unexpected at this stage.  To remove rivets one generally has to drill one side out.  Only thing I had to drill it out with was an electric drill, but needed power, and an extension cord.  So, to drill out these rivets the easiest solution was just to start the generator and drill away.

              After drilling one side of the rivet out, used pliers on the other side to pull the rivet completely out, this allowed me to lay the big round awning thing on the ground, still wrapped in the awning fabric.  While had the drill out, also removed the rivet from the front arm, as that is what was holding the one piece in place.  Same process, drill out one side, use pliers to pull the rest through, and that aluminum arm part was also laid to the ground.  Also had to drill out the rivet for the front arm that was connected to the big round thing.  That was a piece of cake at this stage.

              With the drill useage all done, and things starting to take shape, surveyed the rear arm one more time and it was solid and sturdy enough to leave alone.  Did put a cheap chinese zip tie around it, well, a couple of them.  The first one broke and the second one held.

              Now we're at the stage where traveling as a single person isn't truly useful.  The stage where had to put the big round thing in the RV, by any means possible.  This piece was about 18 feet long and couldn't tie it to the side, nor tie it to the roof, nor hook it onto the scooter and let it just toodle along behind the RV.  The only option left was to put it inside, or simply leave it on the ground.  Leaving on the ground wasn't an option.

              Had to open the side door and finangle it into place, lifting it up and trying to shove it back.  It wouldn't go all the way in, no matter what I tried, from crawling in and moving it around from the inside, pulling, pushing, prodding, nothing at all worked.  Am sure if tried some sort of lubrication it still wouldn't work as it it had to either pass through the bathroom, or pass through one of my wardrobes.  And, I wasn't going to cut holes in any of those for this big round thing.

              So, the next alternative was to just hacksaw it so would fit in place, and that's what I did.  Cut off about four feet, well, almost exactly four feet, and that was enough to get both pieces inside, still with the awning wrapped around it.  It was painful in a way to cut this big round awning thing, but it had to be done.

              The final step, after those main awning pieces were inside, was to clean up my little slice of parking lot, put away the power tools, extension cord, and the like.  Found a couple little bits and bobs on the pavement that fell off, and those were just haphazardly thrown in the door.


              Now, the above writing does seem a little hap hazard, and random thoughts, and that's exactly what it was while trying to recover the awning.  Really didn't expect to have the awning pop out, then didn't expect to have the fabric tear and render it useless, and finally didn't expect to have to use power tools and/or cut the big round awning thing just to get on the road again.  It was a huge mess in a way, but relatively easy to overcome, in hindsight.  At the time it seemed insurmountable, and by breaking everything into smaller pieces it's easy to see over the mountain in front.

              Now, if I want to replace the awning, it's just over a thousand dollars for the materials, plus couple hundred if have someone install it.  To get a general idea of the cost, went to the Camping World website where they have a configurator.  The configurator shows me, for an 18 foot awning, that it'll cost me about $1,400.00, which includes the awning hardware, awning fabric, and a power switch.  Oh, and this is electric versus the manual one I had, but a different manufacturer.  The manual Dometic version is only a hundred or two cheaper.

              Can get the same stuff from other websites, for a couple hundred cheaper, such as from Tweety's.  While Tweety's website isn't as intuitive, the prices are slightly more reasonable.  Out of the parts I linked, not exactly sure what to order, but when, and if, I do replace the awning, will call them up.  Tweety's is located around San Antonio, TX., and I'll be there end of January, 2017.

              And, that is the story of my awning loss...  But a gain in personal experiences...

              BTW, no cats were harmed in this process.  They all hunkered down and had to find all of them before setting off again.

              Friday, October 7, 2016

              Sioux Falls, SD events...

              Arrived in Sioux Falls, SD on Sunday, and am set to leave first thing Thursday morning.  During my time here have been engrossed in some fact finding meetings.  These meetings are great and life is just great as keep getting to learn new stuff.  Am able to meet with many people, and expand professional relationships to more areas.  This also allows me to spread the word, even more, of the benefits to an RV lifestyle (which are numerous), and how good I have it in comparison to others who "don't think" they have the flexibility that I do.

              Last image of bicycle (left)
              Sometimes there are little bumps in the road that are nothing like the large bumps that appear from time to time, such as my engine oil leak from last year.  And, here in Sioux Falls, while staying at the Tower Campground, had a bicycle go missing.  Can't say for certain if it's stolen, it wandered away and got lost, or maybe was washed away in the torrential downpours we had Tuesday, but I no longer have it.  This is sad in that I didn't bicycle all that much, but it was more of a sentimental thing.

              I purchased the bicycle while in Europe and rode it many many times to the bar, and back.  I then brought it back and it sat in my basement for quite the time, before going to Seattle area, and then on back of the RV.  I've used it as alternate transportation when the scooter was down for various reasons. 

              It's a 12 speed Peugot Bicycle, and looks very similar to the Trekking bicycle listed on this page.  While I don't remember exact name and model, do remember the looks.  Have one last picture of it, taken just before the heavy rains and the last time I have physical proof it was here.  To my embarrassment didn't have it secured in any way, no leash, no lock, no nothing.  Have reported it to the campground but didn't report to police as unsure if have serial number of bicycle.  Without the serial number am sure there's not much way I could prove it's mine, unless have a really great picture.  And am sure the police wouldn't give a bike theft much thought as they're busy doing other great things.

              Onto other news...

              Swollen falls (after good rainfall)
              While in Sioux Falls, SD., checked out a few restaurants and went to the Sioux Falls falls, which was surprisingly nice.  Think the best restaurant that went to was actually Wednesday, and it was Phillips Avenue Diner.  I had the Beef Stroganoff and must say it was absolutely amazing, stunning for this dish.  There was a bunch of very tender slow cooked beef on top, along with some bowtie pasta, a sort of gravy mixture that was combined with mushrooms and caramelized onions, with a piece of toasted bread that was scrumptious.  Oh so tasty.

              Another view of swollen falls
              Another restaurant we went to was Minerva's.  It is a nice and fancy restaurant, but not overly fancy.  It would be a great place to bring a date, have an anniversary dinner, a special night out with family and friends, or anything of the like.  There was plenty of steak on the menu, and a fairly well stocked salad bar. I had the Petite Filet Mignon with a side of rice.  It was bacon wrapped and was quite tasty.  While not the best I've had, it does rank up there.

              There was yet another restaurant in a hotel that turned out to be pretty well.  Castaway's is the name and good food is their game.  Had what they call an Elvis burger and it contained Bacon (saved for cats), peanut butter, mostly hard fried egg, and a burger patty, as well as a bun.  All the flavors melded together into something that tasted pretty good.  The peanut butter wasn't overpowering and actually complimented the other flavors.

              Soo Tasty, hope they "survive"....  Muahahaha <evil laugh>

              It's also my pleasure to stockpile some beers, of the high alcohol content variety, so they'll last ten months, for a great friend in Tacoma.  Currently have three of them in my refrigerator.  Don't worry, these aren't for me though truly thought about it today when got two beers.  This is because one of them is a favorite style of mine, a belgian beer.  These go down smooth as silk, taste pleasant, and hit like a hammer.  Oh my, how I miss these.  I first had one while in Tampa, FL, at a beer place that had over 50, maybe a hundred, beers on tap.  Can't remember name but was duly impressed.

              Now it's time to go see balloons in Albuquerque, NM.  In this album there are a few other pictures too, mainly of the falls..