Friday, May 30, 2014

Toad Tires from Wally World

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Ok, RV Basics for those who need it….a “TOAD” is the “Tow Vehicle”.  We pull a 2009 HHR which has 109,000 miles on it.  It is easy to tow, light (about 2,000 pounds), and it tows well.  Arny put a kill switch in for us a few years ago so all I have to do after hooking it up is to turn the key on ACC, put in neutral, and hit the kill switch to kill the power so the battery does not drain.  We put new tires on the HHR back in 2012, and we have put over 30,000 driving miles. 

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We also put around 5,500 tow miles pulling it with the American Eagle…

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… 9,000 tow miles pulling it with the Jayco Melbourne…

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… and around 4,500 tow miles pulling it with our current motorhome, the Dynamax Isata.  So we had over 30,000 driving miles and 19,000 towing miles.  The Goodyear tires had a 60,000 warranty.  So when I went to Wally World yesterday, they looked at me a bit strange when I told them I wanted new tires.  “But these ones look fine,” he says, “what do you need new tires for?”  I explained how many “real” miles they had on them, and that I feel much more comfortable towing with new tires than tires with 50,000 miles on them.  I feel more comfortable with new tires.

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With the tow vehicle, aka “Toad”, I like to use Walmart because there are so many of them around, many with tires stores in them.  The price is good, even Wally World can mount and install tires.  The one thing about Walmart is it is hard to stay with just one brand each time.  Thursday the best deal was Bridgestone, two years ago it was Goodyear.  Of course, $109 per tire after mounting and road hazard and tax and tire disposal equates to around $550, but that’s how it goes.  (As a side note:  There was a man there who was having his Lexus oil changed, and although it was pulled into the stall just before the HHR was pulled into a stall, it took an HOUR for them to change his oil, it took 75 minutes to change my tires.  I just had the oil changed the day before at a place on Greenback Lane called “All Star Lube”, cost $29 plus tax, took 12 minutes….so I told him about it, and I think All Star has a new customer.  I always use All Star if I am in the area.)

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I asked about the tire tread, and two guys looked them over and both said it looked good and even, as I had thought.  I asked about the rims and the guy changing them said he saw no problem with the rims.  There was on tire which I constantly had to add air to just about every week to ten days.  Previously a Walmart guy told me I had a small nick in the back part of the rim…which seemed strange to me.  If this tire does not leak, then they must have nicked the tire during installation two years ago causing the leak.  If it still leaks, I am going to find another rim unless it can be hammered out by a professional.  I am just glad we have new tires, I can really tell the difference when I am driving it.

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Went by and talked to Kerry McColloch at McColloch’s RV repair and storage yesterday.  Kerry is the owner, his son works there, and Arny has known him for a long, long time.  They fixed our Transfer Relay Box problem last year.  On Tuesday we will take the motorhome in, and Kerry assured me he will have it ready by day’s end…with a “however”, of course.  However #1, that the awning is indeed the one for this motorhome and all the parts are there.  However #2, that the toilet part (which should arrive today) is indeed the right part.  However #3, that does not have to order the propane line that is missing.  Either way, it will be back in our hands Tuesday evening, and we are hoping all three problems are behind us.  My bet is, all three will be done on Tuesday. Winking smile

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Where oh Where Is Our Little Awning Now….

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Quick recap….When we bought our Dynamax Isata six weeks ago, it had no awning over the slide-out.  On the PPL website the picture of the slide-out shows a “ripped” awning, but after the picture was taken the owner asked them to take it off since other potential buyers wanted him to fix the awning.  Now this would have been around a $400 fix…after the awning was taken off and the unit did not sell the price dropped two or three times, once by $1,000 just as we were looking at it.  So it was a bad decision of the owner to remove it and not fix it, that is for sure.  For us, it has been a bit of a drama getting one put back on.


So we took possession on the 18th of April, and made arrangements for PPL to put an awning on the 28th if we returned…and since we would be there, we included some other work to be done too.  Well, they assured us they would have the awning, and we agreed to the other work.  Well, the other work got taken care of, but the awning never arrived in time.  So Joy, the service manager, agreed to ship the awning once they got it to my sister’s house in California.  On May 13th, in response to my email, Joy told me that the awning had arrived, “will be sent out today”.  On Friday May 16th I asked for a tracking number, and, well, here is what it said….

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So “it will go out today” means, “we will ship it out on Friday when you ask for the tracking number”.  But, it got worse….of course….

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As you can see in the upper right corner, it was being sent to Holiday Florida, and not Citrus Heights, California as we had agreed to.

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So on to Tampa it went, where the new delivery location request finally stopped it short of being delivered (it was on the truck!).  Thursday it arrived at Orlando….and it stayed there and stayed there and stayed there.  So Tuesday morning I called and had a harsh talk with PPL, who talked with FedEx, and I was promised delivery on Wednesday, May 28th.  I even talked to a representative at FedEx who assured me that it was going to be on a plane Tuesday and would be delivered Wednesday.  And until 11:45 pm Pacific Time Tuesday, nothing had changed on the website, until…..

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…just 15 minutes earlier it had arrived at Sacramento.  By 8 am it was on the truck and going out for delivery.  And here it is 6 pm and I am still waiting for it!

I have had some kind words said on the blog about PPL, both times we bought from them.  Frankly, I still think good things about them, but I also feel a bit let down.  We made a special trip to Houston for this awning, and although other work was performed, the awning was the reason we went there.  But when they said they would ship it to California, that made things better.  But it arrived to PPL, could have been there a few days and it took my email to inquire about it before Joy said, “It will go out today.”  Even then, it did not go out for another three days….and then, it was sent to Florida, and I am the one who caught the mistake.  Then, FedEx sat on it in Orlando, due to the holiday I was told, and it will be here today unless the truck breaks down.

UPDATE:
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The awning arrived!  Just before we went to dinner, FedEx delivered the awning.  The box was not in the best of shape…the two metal covers were not at either end where they belonged, and the upper end in the picture the box was broken nearly all the way around, but taped up.  As for the awning, I cannot see any apparent damage, but we hope to have it put on next week and the “experts” at the RV repair place we use will determine its condition.  I just hope it is the right size and everything, we went through enough already with this thing.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Our Memorial Day Celebration

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My brother-in-law Arny sure knows how to barbeque!  More on that later….

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The day starts out much like any other day….dogs wake up, wake us up, but with it being a holiday, they had to wait an hour for their “Uncle Arny” treats they get every morning.  It’s a bit hard to let them out, then get them back in with this little “mouth” (above) shooting off her mouth….but she did pretty well this morning, and Sandy and Arny got a well deserved extra hour of sleep.

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When the drapes at the door are open, it is the clue to let the dogs out.  Weekday mornings, with Sandy headed to work before 6 am, the drapes are open very early…today it was around 8:00, and the dogs were out the motorhome door a few seconds later.  Moments later Uncle Arny opens the door with a cheerful “Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning!”, Bubba dances, Skruffy barks, and the ritual begins.

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Lay out the treats at the table, break them up, give them each a piece, a pat on the head, personalize dog talk, until the treats are all eaten.

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Ok, it really isn’t Bubba using the toilet, but it is a fine entrance into our next, unpleasant segment.  This morning, of all days, we had a problem with our Vacuflush Toilet System. 

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For who knows what reason, this motorhome has a Vacuflush Toilet System, one found on boats, similar to one I saw on Amtrak once.  We think it is because the drop from the toilet to the Black tank is not good enough for gravity to take care of.  Regardless, today ours backed up.  It ended up being an easy fix by activating the vacuum switch causing a build up of vacuum pressure, enough to unclog the clog.  Thanks for Arny in helping me diagnose the problem, and showing me how to activate the vacuum switch (upper left in diagram above that I found on the Internet.)  We will get a small plunger which research has shown helps too as long as you are careful...but this switch will be first, plunger if building the pressure more does not work.  Never fun to work on toilets so early in the day…but for that fact, neither is it fun in the middle of the day, end of the day, and certainly not during the middle of the night.

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It wasn’t long before the family had gathered, the ribs were cooking, and it was time to eat.  Ribs, Marcia’s Baked Beans, Donna’s Deviled Eggs, Coleslaw, Bean Salad…yum, another great barbeque.  Three types of Ribs, dry rub, marinade, and with rub and BBQ sauce...all Arny's secret recipes. 

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Dad prays over the food and a special Memorial Day prayer.

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Sister’s Sandy and Patty dig in first…but it is really them getting mom and dad’s plates for them.

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Dinner is over before we knew it….the ice cream cake is gone too.  In the picture on the left, with her back to the camera wearing a dark blue shirt is my other sister Donna, with Marcia to her right, mom, dad and Patty fill out the circle.  Picture to the right is Arny and Sandy, of course, Arny is doing what he does best….petting the dog.  That is one of Patty’s dogs.  I was having a hard time getting a picture of the four dogs all together, so Arny got up and said, “Hold on, I know how to fix that!”

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So around the circle, left to right….Parker, his brother Charlie…both coming from a shelter, and they are real brothers.  Then Skruffy, and finally Bubba.

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The dogs enjoyed their visit, chasing squirrels, birds, sniffing this, sniffing that, showing off who can roll in the grass the best.  (Bubba won if you count the amount of junk one gets on their fur.)   It was a fun, relaxing day for dogs and humans.  Had it not been a bit of plugged up start, and just a little on the hot side at times as it neared 4 pm, it was just a wonderful day.  And each one of us knew that today was brought to us through the great sacrifice by others…..

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Uncle I Never Knew

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On this Memorial Day, the day we remember the members of the military who gave their lives in the defense of their Country, I honor the uncle I never had a chance to meet, James Woodrow Cline.  Jimmy was born in 1920, the fifth of eleven children, Jimmy was 21 years old when Pearl Harbor took place.  His brother Harold was at Pearl Harbor that day, and we are so thankful that he was able to go back to Hawaii and be honored shortly before he passed away.  Jimmy was not as lucky as his brothers who all survived the war.  Jimmy died on May 11th, 1945, aboard the USS Bunker Hill, an Essex Class Aircraft Carrier which was hit by two Kamikaze Pilots on that day, taking the lives of 346 Sailors, including my Uncle Jimmy.
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I have vivid memories of visiting my mother’s mother, Grandma Cline, as a child.  She lived in San Jose, when San Jose was just a small city…long time before Silicon Valley was even thought of.  She had a picture of Uncle Jimmy in her living room, and I saw the purple heart, the letter from the United States Government, and I felt the loss that took place so many years earlier.  A family might “get over it”, but they never forget.  And as this great generation dies off, it is up to us to never forget either.
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I have been to Washington DC many times in my life, and as soon as the WW2 Memorial opened, I visited it on my next visit.  It is a wonderful memorial, and includes a registry of each and every member of the military who died in the war.  Jimmy is in the registry twice.

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My Uncle is one of so many who gave his life for this nation, for us who live here.  I only hope that this sacrifice is never forgotten, and always remembered from generation to generation.  God Bless this wonderful country, may his mercy continue to be with us, may our leaders NEVER forget, and NEVER EVER let these fine men and women who gave this ultimate sacrifice down.

MemDay        Memorial-Day

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Garmin-Kenwood Sound System Update

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Today was time to tackle the Kenwood eXcelon DNX6980 2-DIN Multimedia DVD Receiver With Navigation & Bluetooth.  Frankly, I did not know much about it, had no idea if it was factory or added later.  Well, it was first available in 2011, and we have a 2005 motorhome, so that question is answered.  Next, I needed to know if it needed updating, and if so, how.  It is not an easy process…you connect a flash drive via USB, or in the bottom left there is a place to put in a very small sim card, much smaller than my computer can handle.  So it was the USB method…except the person who installed it hit the usb access under the dash.  So I had to remove the outer console, then the inside engine cover that most vans have, and fish out the wires. 
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While do this, I decided to tackle the non-working auxiliary power outlet above the cigarette lighter.  Well, all I could find out about this without taking more of the dash apart is that there is nothing connected to the auxiliary power outlet.  Hmmm, wonder if the installer of this fancy GPS/Radio/DVD/CD/etc player unhooked something and did not reconnect it?

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As you can see from this rear view, this thing is a monster.  There is so much under this dash I am not sure we can figure out the auxiliary power outlet without taking the dash apart…perhaps Arny might be able to do his magic.  Bottom line, I was able to get our I-Pod to connect, found out that we have life-long traffic, but we will need to purchase a Garmin update for the maps if we choose to do that…along with a 10 gig flash drive for the updates unless I want to use the one I carry with me that has lots of backup stuff on it.
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Earlier in the week our Winegard RV-WING Wingman White UHF Booster TV Antenna came, so I got on the roof and installed this to our Winegard Antenna.  This was the third booster I have purchased, and it does help bring in the UHF channels better.  Had one on my 5th wheel, bought but never had the chance to install on the Jayco before it burned up, and now this one.  It took about 5 minutes to install, and I did a quick check of the sealing done at PPL a few weeks ago.  Looks like we should be leak proof on the roof for a good long time.  One downfall with this motorhome is not having a ladder attached….makes it a bit scary for one who does not appreciate heights, that’s for sure…but I made it ok.

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````Well, I let down MailChimp by missing a step in programing it to send out the blog.  Rookie mistake for someone who has not been a computer rookie for 30 so years now.  This blog should send out Saturday around noon eastern time….I have my monkey fingers and Skruffy’s tail crossed for good luck.  (Bubba doesn’t have much of a tail, or I would tie his too!)  I know other fellow users of “blogger” are struggling with the emailing of their blogs.  If this works, I will try and write a blog about MailChimp in case they wish to do what I have done.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Butterflies….

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Last year we met Mary-Pat up at Crater Lake, Oregon.  Mary-Pat was just starting out on her journey for the year from of all places, the Roseville area near where my sister lives, and near where we currently are located.  I started following her blog, and noticed she was having problems with her header at the top of the blog that she was seeking help with.  I offered a few suggestions, eventually I made the header picture above which she just loved so much….and I was more than happy to be of assistance.  One thing nice about this header picture is that it has a transparent background, so if she changes the colors of her blog, it (the background behind the butterflies heart and wording) will change with it…..and with all those colors with these butterflies, there are endless colors for her to choose from which will match her header.

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Today after her physical therapy for a recent knee surgery, we met her at Brookfields Restaurant in Roseville, not far from her PT.  Mom and Dad live going to Brookfields, and I can remember when it first opened not far from one of the restaurants I use to manager back in 1981…it sure took a dent out of our business at that location for a few months, that’s for sure.  (Thank goodness I got out of that vocation, restaurant work is hard, something I did for over 14 years, starting at 16 years old.)

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This time I remembered to get a picture of Mary-Pat, and I included our lunch with it.  It took the waitress about 45 minutes to get to our order taken, not because of her lack of trying, but because we were engrossed in talking through much of our visit.  That is Marcia to the right, and Mary-Pat across the table from me.  You will have to visit her blog later to see a picture of us….unless I broke another camera.  Winking smile

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At the beginning of the month I talked about FeedBurner problems in that Yahoo, Hotmail, and others, are not sending FeedBurner emails through.  I tried a few fixes, but to no avail.  Read something from a blogger who felt that Google could fix this fairly easy, but they want everyone to use their Google Circles thing, which makes me NOT want to use Google Circles even that much more.  So I have now set up an email list with MailChimp.  By noon Pacific time tomorrow I will know if I set it up right or not to mail out the blog to our followers who have requested it.

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This is going to be the first blog that MailChimp hopefully sends out…if I do it right.  MailChimp is free for email lists of up to 2,500 addresses, which means for me, it should be free for like, forever.  “IF” I ever got that high, then I think we would be having Amazon links, advertising, etc. in order to pay for it all.  Not even my intentions, that is for sure.

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Here is Bubba and Skruffy earlier today on another “hunt”.  Honestly, we really don’t think either will ever get a squirrel, and as we said last year, it would break our hearts if they ever did harm one.  But it is a real hoot watching them try day in and day out.  Yes, that is a squirrel inside the little feeder house.

2b

They have both brown and grey squirrels here in the backyard, and sometimes they can be a bit loud as they “bark” back at Skruffy.

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There are two of these Blue Birds (left) which try to keep the other birds (like the one on the right) away from the bird feeders.  This year, they have even gone after the Doves, but since there are more Doves than Blue Birds, the Dove are less intimidated.

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And this little hummingbird is the same little guy which keeps all but his girlfriends away from the hummingbird feeder, just like last year.

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I have had some very nice places to post blogs from…mostly from inside the motorhome looking out at ocean, a river, a mountain….but here is one of the few places that I can do it sitting outside in the nice cool shade, free from bugs, and enjoy nature from just outside of the bustling metropolis of Sacramento.  Life sure is wonderful at times….

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