Nick Russell

We Made It To Tucson

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 262015

Before I get started today, I want to wish all of you Happy Thanksgiving. Whether you’re sharing the day with family back home or with friends in an RV park somewhere, I hope you have a wonderful day full of happiness and good food.

We were up early yesterday morning, a habit that we really have to break. But we were eager to get on the road as soon as our friend Butch Williams reinstalled the fuel door lock that he had rebuilt the night before on our motorhome. It didn’t take him long to get the job done and after thanks and hugs with Butch and his wife Fonda, we pulled out of Quartzsite and drove about 95 miles east on Interstate 10. Traffic was moderate and we made good time.

Just outside of Buckeye we turned south on State Route 85, a good four-lane highway that ran 35 miles south to Interstate 8 at Gila bend. This bypass makes it possible to completely avoid the Phoenix metro area, and though it adds a few more miles to the trip, it’s well worth it.

Once we were on Interstate 8 it was another 65 miles or so east to connect with Interstate 10 again on the south side of Casa Grande. There wasn’t much traffic on this route and we rolled right along. We started seeing Saguaro cacti and knew we were back in Arizona for sure.

Saguaros small

Back on Interstate 10 traffic was heavier, but again we made good time with no problems. I’m not sure what this guy’s problem was. Was he towing this old RV with the slideout extended? Did something fail and it went out on its own and he was off the side of the road waiting for help? Or did these police officers find something suspicious and make him open the slide? Just one of those little mysteries we see on the highway.

RV slide out

A storm system coming in off the Pacific coast had brought a lot of clouds to southern Arizona. A few miles out of Tucson a couple dozen raindrops hit the windshield, but that was it.

Cloudy sky small

We arrived at Voyager RV Resort and got settled into our full hookup site, which only cost us $4/night with our Thousand Trails membership. Such a deal!

We’ll be here a week or so while I have some follow-up for my recent medical issues at the VA hospital, and while we’d like to be with Terry’s parents and sisters in Mesa today, we’ve got each other and that’s all we really need to be happy.

It’s Thursday, and that means it’s time to kick off a new Free Drawing. Since cooking and eating delicious food is a big part of Thanksgiving, I thought this week’s prize should have some connection, so we are giving away an autographed copy of Terry’s excellent RV cookbook, Miss Terry’s Kitchen. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.

Thought For The Day – Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not coincidence. – Erma Bombeck

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Nov 252015

I had another rough night Monday night, so when we got out of bed at 7:30 yesterday morning I wasn’t ready to start the day. But we had to get some miles put behind us, so I only sniveled a little bit as I got dressed and we started getting ready to hit the road.

It was a pleasant morning and it didn’t take me long to check the air pressure in all of our tires and get the campground utilities unhooked while Miss Terry was doing the last minute chores inside.

This is where our friends Orv and Nancy Hazelton live, whether on their lot at Jojoba Hills, or on the road exploring America. I think they have one of the nicest lots in the park.

Orv Nancy RV small

With everything ready to go, we pulled out of our site and went up the hill past the clubhouse where there was a wide area where I could turn around, and Terry pulled in behind me with the Explorer so we could hook it up to our Blue Ox Aventa tow bar. We’ve done this hundreds, if not thousands of times before with never a problem. But we broke one of the cardinal rules of RVing when we allowed someone to come up and chat with us while we were doing everything. That always leads to problems, and sure enough it did!

Terry stood behind the Explorer and I got back in the motorhome to do a light check, and once that was done I began to pull forward to make sure the tow bar was fully engaged when I saw Terry waving her arms frantically to make me stop. I hit the brake pedal and immediately felt a big thump as the Explorer hit the back of the motorhome. Somehow we had gotten distracted and only hooked up one arm of the tow bar. The other was merely sitting on the bracket on the SUV and fell down as soon as I started moving. When I stopped, the Explorer rolled diagonally forward and gave me a rude reminder of what negligence can do to you. Fortunately, the damage wasn’t too bad, just a small hole in the fiberglass lower bumper of the Explorer. Things happen, you live and learn.

Going down the hill to Temecula wasn’t nearly as bad as going uphill had been, or maybe I was so eager to get the hell out of there I didn’t notice. But at any rate, before long we were on Interstate 15 northbound for a couple of miles until we picked up Interstate 215 and took it northeast. 30 miles later we got onto State Route 60, a divided four-lane road, and took it 20 miles east to Interstate 10. Almost immediately after getting onto 60 we started running into heavy traffic. And it continued all the way to the interstate, sometimes slowing down to a stop and go rate for miles at a time.

Traffic small

Traffic 2 small

Staring at the back end of a semi-truck for mile after mile can be boring, but at least this driver had the courtesy of providing some artwork to look at. I don’t know if you can zoom your screen in, but I’m not sure what message this She Devil was sending.

Devil truck small

Traffic on Interstate 10 was just as heavy, but moved along pretty well and there were more lanes to divide it up into. Before long we started seeing windmills.

Windmills 2 small

Lots and lots of windmills. I couldn’t help wondering what I could do with one of our Revolution kites with that kind of wind.

Windmills small

Windmill mountain small

Maybe I shouldn’t have been so smart-alecky about the She Devil, I think she sent somebody to keep an eye on me. Do you see the scary face in the back of this trailer? What kind of demon is that?

Traffic windmills face small

Eventually we made our way into Arizona and I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to see the Grand Canyon State before. Like I said in yesterday’s blog, we’re just not Southern California folk.

17 miles after we crossed the state line we left Interstate 10 in Quartzsite and stopped at the Pilot truck stop for fuel. Folks, there’s a reason some truckers don’t like RVers. And the reason is we have some jerks among us. All of the fuel islands were busy and backed up, so we took our place in line behind an eighteen wheeler, who was waiting behind a big diesel pusher motorhome at the pumps. And we waited, and we waited, and we waited some more. Meanwhile, the trucks on both sides of us were moving forward, fueling up and leaving, and being replaced by more trucks. And still we sat there waiting.

Eventually a very large woman with her arms full of junk food waddled out of the truck stop and to the motorhome and crawled inside, and immediately it pulled away. There was no time for her to have dropped all of her stuff, got into the driver’s seat and pulled away, so obviously there was somebody behind the wheel all that time. But instead of pulling forward after he had filled his tank to the designated mark to clear the pump for other customers, he just sat there. You can have the biggest, fanciest Class A motorhome on the road, but if you don’t have any class yourself you’re still just a jerk.

With our fuel topped off, it was only another two or three miles to the private lot where our friends Butch and Fonda Williams are parked for the winter. Once we got there and backed into our site for the night Butch set right to work removing our faulty fuel door lock. He discovered there was some corrosion inside of it and told me he was going to take it apart and get it working right, and reinstall it this morning so we can get back on the road to Tucson. Or at least that’s what I think he said. By the time we got here I was feeling pretty crappy again and I don’t think I understood more than half of what was said to me. Hopefully today will be a better day.

Thought For The Day – Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.

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And Away We Go

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 242015

The first order of business yesterday morning was to call the VA hospital in Tucson to see when I can get in for a follow-up to my hospital stay here in Temecula, California. It being a holiday week, I didn’t think they’d be able to do anything for me very quickly. But after I spoke to my doctor’s nurse, explained what I had been through and read her the final release report from the hospital here, she scheduled me for an appointment on Friday morning of this week. I know a lot of folks have heard some terrible things about the Veterans Administration healthcare system, but they’ve always taken very good care of me.

So today we are leaving Jojoba Hills Escapees co-op, and will drive to Quartzsite, Arizona, where my friend Butch Williams will figure out what we need to do for the lock on one of our motorhome’s fuel doors. And then Wednesday we will pull into Voyager RV Resort in Tucson and get settled in for whatever the VA has in store for me.

Jojoba Hills is a very nice park with lots of amenities and plenty of activities to keep you busy. I can’t think of anything you could look for that you won’t find here. Well, except for us. I’m dreading that 17 miles of winding narrow road between the park and the interstate, and as nice as this place is, I won’t be driving it again anytime soon. Terry and I are just not Southern California folks.

Once I had an appointment set up at the VA and reservations made in Tucson, we decided to take a drive down to Poway, about 50 miles south of here to see if I could handle a short trip. Poway is the home of Revolution Enterprises, who make the quad line kites that Terry and I love flying so much. When we met her at the Kite Festival in Long Beach, Washington this summer, Lolly Hadzicki had invited us down for a visit. Except for a few trips down to the hot tub, it was my first time away from the motorhome since I got out of the hospital.

As it turns out, Revolution makes a lot more than just kites. They also manufacture canes for the blind, skateboards, camera tripods, and shafts for golf clubs. But it is their amazing kites that have made them famous.

Rev kites small

Revolution is a family business, and Lolly and her brothers David and Joe went out of their way to make us feel welcome. I was like a kid in a candy store and wanted one of each! These are just a few of their many offerings hanging on the wall behind Joe’s desk. We’ll have more about our visit to the kite factory in a future issue of the Gypsy Journal.

Joe office small

Returning to Temecula, I sure was glad Miss Terry was the one doing the driving. It was 50 miles of crowded freeway in both directions. How do people live like this?

Then again, how do people live like this? My friend Bruce Fay sent me this photo of his beautiful bus conversion sitting in the snow in Michigan. Why, Bruce, why? Fire that thing up and point the nose south! That’s no way to treat a bus.

Fay bus in snow

I know we’re going to disappoint a few people by not hanging around here longer so we have a chance to visit with them, and we had every intention of doing so when we came here, but sometimes life gets in the way and you just have to do what you have to do. Not to worry, in this lifestyle we cross paths with folks over and over again in every corner of this wonderful country of ours.

Thought For The Day – Don’t forget to set your scales back 10 pounds this week.

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Not Doing Much

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 232015

Except for going up to the hot tub and soaking for a little bit most evenings, we have not been doing much. I have spent a lot of time just sitting on the couch reading, occasionally logging onto the Internet to check email or things on Facebook, and watching television. I really haven’t had much energy to do anything else.

Overall, I’m feeling much better. Two days of taking the Codeine knocked the pain out of my back, and except for a lot of tenderness in my abdomen I’m not all that uncomfortable. Mostly, just weak. Or maybe lazy.

Today I need to call the Tucson VA Hospital again to see when they can get me in, and depending on their answer will either head directly to Tucson, or else to Apache Junction, Arizona where we have reservations for the month of December. I doubt very much that the VA is going to be able to get me in this week, with the holiday and everything going on. So more than likely, it will be Apache Junction.

I’m not sure of our exact departure date yet, it depends on what the VA says and how I’m feeling. But I’m thinking we may leave tomorrow morning. We need to make a quick stop in Quartzsite, Arizona so my friend Butch Williams can repair a lock on one of our fuel doors, and will probably spend the night there and go on to our destination the next day.

I know Terry’s mom and dad would love to have us there for Thanksgiving dinner, although the thought of food doesn’t do a thing for me at this point. We’ll see if we can make it, but I’m not making anybody any promises.

Many times in the past I’ve mentioned all of the different volunteer opportunities that are available for RVers to donate some of their time in exchange for an RV site and a chance to give something back to the world. Yesterday, blog reader Camille Pronovost contacted me to say that she is a volunteer with the Sierra County Humane Society in New Mexico. Within the last two weeks the three couples they had counted on all had to renege on their commitment due to family problems or other unforeseen circumstances and it has left the no-kill animal sanctuary in a real bind. They are in dire need of 2 or 3 singles or couples to workcamp this winter. Here is an ad they posted online:

LOVE ANIMALS? Make a difference at Desert Haven Animal Refuge, a small, no-kill domestic animal sanctuary located at the outskirts of a small town between Las Cruces and Albuquerque, NM. This is High Desert country along the Rio Grande Corridor and between two nearby lakes. Help care for small domestic animals; assist with property maintenance and in thrift shop. FHU+WiFi in beautiful country setting for avg. 18/20 hrs/wk per person, 30-32 hrs/wk per couple. Email: or call 575.894.2639. Application also available on line at  

New Mexico is a great place to hang out, and if you love critters this might be a good gig for you.

With all of this medical nonsense going on, I realized yesterday that I never announced a winner for last week’s free drawing. Congratulations Wil Mosher, you have won an audiobook of Sharon Delarose’s Ancient Aliens and the Age of Giants: Through the Wormhole.

Thought For The Day – Every path has a few puddles.

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Nov 222015

We’ve stayed at a lot of campgrounds in our 16+ years of fulltime RV travel, some really nice places and some not so nice. There are campgrounds that we return to on a regular basis, and others where one stop was more than enough.

RVers often ask us what our favorite campgrounds are. Sometimes I feel like that would be akin to telling you where my favorite fishing hole is. What if the word gets out and pretty soon the place is so full that they don’t have room for me?

Every few years I post a list of our favorite campgrounds, and since I don’t have anything else to talk about today, I thought I’d update it.

Elkhart Campground, Elkhart, Indiana – No question about it, this is our favorite campground in the entire country. It is centrally located to a lot of places we regularly frequent, Elkhart is the capital of the RV industry, the campground is clean and well maintained, the RV sites are wide, the interior roads are all good, and owners Bob and Gita Patel treat us like family.

elkhart campground 10

Escapees Rainbow Plantation, Summerdale, Alabama – I don’t think we’ve ever been to an RV park with roomier sites than this Escapees Club RV park. We like the Alabama Gulf Coast area, the small towns in the area are all friendly and clean, and the park itself has a lot of great amenities and activities.

Seaside Thousand Trails Resort, Seaside, Oregon – Terry and I agree that this is our favorite campground in the entire Thousand Trails system. We always stay at the north campground (there are two divided by a country road), with good electric power, full hookups, good satellite reception, and excellent Verizon service. And did I mention its within walking distance of the beach?

Winnie Seaside second trip

Escapees Sumter Oaks RV Park, Bushnell, Florida – I would say that this is our favorite campground in the state of Florida. We love the giant live oak trees that shade the park, a fine rec room, and because it’s an Escapees park, it’s always friendly. Miss Terry loves wandering through the nearby huge Webster Flea Market looking for bargains.

Winnie at Sumter Oaks

Hershey Thousand Trails, Lebanon, Pennsylvania – We’ve stayed here many times and always look forward to going back. The campground is a short drive from Hershey if you need a chocolate fix, it has a lot of great amenities, and this is another part of the county that we really enjoy spending time in. We love the green, rolling countryside around the campground and all of the history in the area.

Escapees Raccoon Valley, Heiskell, Tennessee – This is a regular stop for us, and another favorite Escapees Club RV park because we love the area. The campground is just a mile or so from Interstate 75, and close to Knoxville, but has a rural feel to it. Twice a week local bluegrass musicians come to the park and hold free jam sessions.

Thousand Trails Verde Valley Preserve, Camp Verde, Arizona – Again, location means a lot. We stay at this large Thousand Trails campground often when it’s too hot to be in Phoenix or Tucson, but still too cold to go to our old hometown in Arizona’s White Mountains. There is a lot to see and do in the Verde Valley, from exploring historic ghost towns and ancient Indian ruins, to riding a vintage steam train.

Escapees Turkey Creek Village, Hollister, Missouri – Located on the shore of Lake Taneycomo, just minutes from all of the shows and attractions in Branson, we have stopped at Turkey Creek many times and look forward to getting back again. The RV sites are nice, the area has more to see and do than you could get done in an entire season, and the local folks are all very friendly.

Three Flags RV Resort, Wildwood, Florida – On our first visit this membership park quickly became a favorite of ours for its laid back pace, nice pull through full hookup RV sites, and the friendly and helpful staff. The park is located a mile off Interstate 75 for easy access, has a laundry, activity center, pool, and a full activity schedule.

Orlando Thousand Trails Preserve, Clermont, Florida – With 850 full hookup RV sites, a clubhouse, pool, spa, private fishing lake, boat dock, and tennis courts, this membership campground has everything you need or want, and is the perfect base for exploring Disneyworld and other area attractions

Winnie at Orlando TT December 2014

Okay, now I’ve told you mine, so don’t hold back on the rest of us. What are some of your favorite campgrounds, and why?

Thought For The Day – It’s never too late for an apology.

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One Step At A Time

 Posted by at 12:01 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 212015

Yesterday was a better day than the day before, thanks in part to the Codeine I took, starting at midnight. It allowed me to get some sleep and took a lot of my back pain away. Except for checking email a couple of times and dealing with four or five that were pressing, visiting with Orv and Nancy Hazelton when they came over to check up on me, and going down to soak in the hot tub with Miss Terry in the evening, I didn’t get much accomplished.

I napped a bit, watched TV for a while, and did some research on pancreatitis online. I would say that compared to the pain levels I had on Thursday, they were reduced by 75% yesterday.

I appreciate everybody’s concern, and a lot of you are telling me to go to the VA hospital at Loma Linda if the pain persists. But I think I’m beginning to turn the corner on it. And the thing I guess I didn’t explain very well in yesterday’s blog is that the pain I’m experiencing is NOT the same pain that came with the pancreatitis. This pain is something that I have lived with since I was a young soldier, the result of an injury I suffered in a helicopter crash that resulted in several herniated disks.

I’ve dealt with it for 40-some years, and it’s not usually this severe, more of a constant nagging ache that never goes away. But I’ve had flare-ups like this in the past. I think that sleeping on the miserable hospital bed and lying on the different gurneys they moved me onto for CT scans and x-rays is what set it off. I’ve been in this position before, which is why I had the Codeine in the first place. As far as the abdominal pain that took me to the hospital, it’s pretty much gone, leaving nothing more than a lot of abdominal tenderness. When I went to the hospital the abdominal pain was a 10 on a scale of one to ten. Now it’s less than one.

Before she and hubby Orv retired and hit the road as fulltime RVers, Nancy was my original primary health care provider at the VA hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. She is the one I judge all medical professionals against, and I’m here to tell you that I haven’t found one yet that measures up to her knowledge, skill, or compassion. She is monitoring me closely, and believe me, if she thinks it’s time to head for Loma Linda, we will be doing exactly that.

The research I’ve done so far online says that once you rule out the gallbladder (which they did my case) and alcoholism (which is also out), there are about 15% of cases that really don’t have an explanation. They just happen. It may never recur, or it could hit me again next month. Like everything in life, it’s a crapshoot. I trust Nancy more than any other medical person I’ve ever dealt with and she feels that I fall into that small minority of oddball cases. But really, should that surprise anybody who knows me?

If I continue to improve and get the pain levels under control, we will be heading out to Arizona and the Tucson VA Hospital and my primary care team will take it from there. In the meantime, the notorious Santa Ana winds are hammering this area of Southern California. They are supposed to blow out sometime Sunday evening, and maybe they’ll take the rest of this nonsense away with them. We’re comfortable in our RV site here at Jojoba Hills, Miss Terry and the Hazeltons are taking very good care of me, so there’s no reason to rush to get back on the road. We’ll just take it one step at a time.

Thought For The Day – When a gas station toilet seat is cold it’s uncomfortable, but when it’s warm it’s worse.

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A Lot Of Pain

 Posted by at 12:02 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 202015

Thanks to everybody who sent messages and blog posts saying you were glad I was out of the hospital. I’d like to say that I’m feeling better now that I’m home, but I’m actually worse as far as pain levels go.

When I was discharged from the hospital in Temecula they would not give me a pain prescription so I’ve just been taking Tylenol. But last night I remembered I had some Codeine from an almost two year old prescription for back pain. I had taken 4 out of 30 pills, that’s how much I hate to take drugs. But I’m going to see if they will help take the edge off. There is a good VA hospital at Loma Linda, about 70 miles from here, that I may have to go to if things don’t improve, because I’m not in any condition to drive back to the Tucson VA hospital right now. The Loma Linda VA is only a few miles from Redlands RV Service and I know the folks there, so if I have to be readmitted maybe they can help Terry find a place to park the motorhome.

Several people have asked me what brought this attack of acute pancreatitis on. I don’t know, and neither do the medical folks. One common cause is alcohol abuse, and they must have asked me a dozen times, both in front of Terry and when she had stepped into the bathroom, if I was sure I wasn’t a closet drinker. I kept telling them that the last time I had any alcohol was 40 years ago, but I’m not sure they believed me.

I didn’t feel anything coming on that I can put my finger on. Saturday afternoon we had a late lunch with friends in Temecula, stopped at the grocery store for a few things on the way home, and driving back to the campground I sneezed two or three times and felt a sharp pain in my back. This happens quite often, my total back is trashed, and usually when we get home Terry can put me on the floor and rub my back enough to put things back into place. But not this time around. By the time we went to bed I was having pain both in the back and in my upper abdomen and it intensified overnight.

Our dear friends Orv and Nancy Hazelton have a lot here at Jojoba Hills, just across the street from where we are parked. Nancy was also my original primary health care provider at the VA hospital in Lexington, Kentucky before she retired. So midmorning Sunday I called them and they came over. Nancy checked me out and suggested that I needed to get to an ER. And you know the rest.

So at this point we’re playing the waiting game, hoping the drugs will give me some relief and allow me to get some rest and begin to heal. And by the way, the drugs they gave me in the hospital had a side effect I never saw coming, absolutely horrible dreams. I’m not a fan of slasher movies and such nonsense, but I’m sure these would make Freddy Krueger grimace.

And once I do get back on my feet, I realize that I have to make some drastic lifestyle changes. It’s no secret that I’ve abused my body for way too many years.

Thought For The Day – I wish everything was as easy as getting fat was.

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Nov 192015

Hi everybody. I’m out of the hospital and trying to get back to real life, to some extent. I’m still in a tremendous amount of pain, more than I can ever remember experiencing, and my head is pretty foggy so concentration is hard. So I’m afraid this is the extent of today’s blog, just an a quick update and to thank Greg White for keeping you updated and all of you for all of your blog comments, e-mails and get well wishes on Facebook. Your concern warms my heart. And a special thank you to Miss Terry who was by my side all the way, went without sleep or a decent meal, rubbed my back and feet for hours, and did everything she could to make a horrible experience at least tolerable. I’m going to need a day or two to get my wits about me and back on my feet, but we’ll get back to normal as soon as possible.


Another Nick Update

 Posted by at 1:20 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 182015

Well, as you can figure, since I’m typing this, Nick’s still in the hospital in Temecula.

They keep wanting to run more tests, but then don’t seem to get around to actually scheduling them.

So they’re still saying another night or two more in the hospital.

I talk to Nick around midnight every night, so I’ll let you know more tomorrow night, if he’s not back.


First, A Nick Update

 Posted by at 1:31 am  Nick's Blog
Nov 172015

I talked to Nick tonight about 11:45pm CST. As he was told yesterday, he’s still in the hospital, and possibly will be for a couple of more days.

They’re still running tests and checking things out. And of course, everything takes longer than it seems it should.

He wanted to tell everyone how much he and Terry appreciate all your kind thoughts and good wishes.

I’ll update everyone when I have more information.


As far as my updates on this, most of you know who I am and why I’m posting here to help Nick and keep ya’ll informed.

But apparently some of you are wondering who is this ‘Greg’ guy and why is he posting on Nick’s blog?

I’m Greg White, and my wife Jan and I have been friends with Nick and Terry for a few years. We normally spend a part of the year following Nick around so I can fix the stuff that Nick breaks.

But as it turns this year, we’re in Texas oil field gate guarding for three months, and Nick and Terry are in California.

My wife and I have a RV blog called Our RV Adventures, and I also help out Nick from time to time on his blog. So to keep ya’ll entertained so you don’t wander off, with Nick’s permission, I’m reposting my blog from yesterday.

If you get a chance, drop by and check us out.

Just Do It Yourself . . .

Well, it looks like we dodged a bullet on most of today’s rains, with it never getting very heavy, and pretty much over by 2pm. And even tomorrow’s ‘Heavy Thunderstorms’ have been downgraded to ‘Storms/Wind’. It would be nice to have it ‘downgraded’ to ‘Sunny’ for tomorrow, but that’s probably not going to happen.

But on the upside, this weekend is still looking nice.

Todd, our GGS service guy, came back to top off our diesel tank. I figured he’d wait until he came back on Sunday to service the generator, but he went ahead and did it today. He said he probably won’t be back on Sunday since our replacements, Donna and Joe Shelton, were experienced enough to get themselves hooked up.

Of course when you think about it, with everything already here, and set up and running, it’s no different than pulling into an RV park and getting hooked up.

I  had mentioned a while back that as of right now, we’ll be moving back and forth between the Lake Conroe TT park and the Colorado River TT park in Columbus, TX for the rest of the year, into next, depending on park openings down the League City area.

Since I originally set things up on a Friday for some reason, all of our 10 upcoming two week reservations start out on Friday. But since we’re leaving the gate this Sunday and going into Lake Conroe, I had to lop off two days of our reserved 14 days to make things come out right.

But I was thinking this morning that if I pushed everything back two days that it might make things a little easier in a couple of ways. First off, the traffic looping around the top of Houston on Beltway 8 should be a little lighter on Sunday, not that it’s usually that bad in the middle of the day when we travel. But maybe more importantly, by coming in on Sunday when a lot of weekend campers are leaving, it might give us a better choice of sites.

Anyway, rather than me starting at the last of my ten reservations and backing each one up two days, one after the other, going forward, I thought I’d just call Thousand Trails Reservations and let them do it.

Surely their sophisticated reservation software would be able to move all the reservations forward two days, automagically, all at once. But I quickly found that they would have to do it one at a time, just like me.

Geez!  I’ve seen cheap, badly-written campground software that would do this with no problem. So I ended up doing it myself, since the last time I let them change a bunch of reservations, they screwed it up.

Sometimes the only way to get something done right, is to do it yourself.

Of course sometimes I screw it up too, but at least then I know who to blame.

One chore I forgot to tell you about yesterday was to check the water in our rig’s house batteries

Rig Batteries 1

I was immediately surprised to see how much dust from the trucks going by, had accumulated in the battery compartment. When we get settled in after our move this Sunday, I’ll pressure wash it to clean up. I also noticed a little corrosion on the terminals that I’ll take care of at the same time.

Because of the internal bracing in the bay it can be hard to get distilled water into the back set of batteries, so I made up this water hand pump using a well rinsed out windshield washer fluid jug and this Pennzoil Gallon Fluid Transfer Pump.

Rig Battery Pump

This lets me put the hose nozzle in the cell opening and just pump to top it off. No fuss, no mess.

Battery Fluid Pump

I’ve given you a link to one on Amazon, but I think I got mine at Wal-Mart.

My engine batteries are sealed and on a swing-out tray above the house batteries. And since they’re sealed, they need no maintenance, just like the battery in our truck.

One less thing to do.

As far as today was concerned, I didn’t schedule anything major since the weather was supposed to be pretty rainy. But it actually didn’t turn out bad. So I took care of some small stuff that had been pushed down on my list by bigger stuff.

First up, I wanted to install some grommets on the floor mats in the truck. Unlike a lot of vehicles, our Dakota doesn’t have any way to fasten the mats down and they get scrunched up under the pedals after a time.

So I got out my Lord & Hodge Grommet Kit and installed two grommets on each mat like this.

Grommet Kit

When we get back to Conroe I’ll stop off at an auto parts place to pick up some of the screw-in hooks that will hold the mats in place.

I’ve also used the grommet kit to put some additional grommets in our canopy tarp here on the gate to be able to put tie-downs exactly where I want them.

Finishing up, I liked the paracord boot laces I made for my Red Wing boots so much, I made up a set for my steel-toed boots too. I started wearing these boots again a week or so ago when it was so cold and rainy, and my other boots got wet.

I hadn’t worn them since last year’s gate when we had to wear all the Frack gear, and I’d forgotten how comfortable they are. Especially considering they only cost about $30 vs. $175 for the Red Wings.

Boot with Lace Keeper

The only real downside is that they are a good bit heavier than my others, but I certainly feel light on my feet when I take them off.

FYI the little American Flags are called ‘lace keepers’. They keep your laces from gradually getting uneven over time. Most people are stronger in one arm than the other, usually on their ‘handed’ side, i.e. right-handed or left-handed. So they tend to pull harder with that hand than the other one, without even knowing it.. And so the laces gradually get mismatched in length.

But the lace keepers provide enough drag to stop that from happening.

And you can get them in hundreds of different styles, including military branch insignia, sports teams, car manufacturers, and many others.

A few years ago when we were on a drill rig gate, I was waiting to talk to the Company Man, along with another couple of guys. One of these guys was about 6’ 6’ and built like a pro linebacker.

I happened to look down at his boots and couldn’t resist a chuckle. Seeing where I was looking, he smiled at me and said, “My 6 year old daughter gave them to me for my birthday a couple of weeks ago.” And then I understood.

And I must say he did look resplendent in his well-worn boots, complete with large pink Hello Kitty lace keepers.

Hello Kitty

Thought for the Day:

“The best way to teach your kids about taxes is by eating 30% of their ice cream.” – Bill Murray