Thursday, October 27, 2016

Skruffy & Bubba back home again

Skruffy & Bubba at Arny & Sandy's

These two are doing very well…although they miss their morning view of Sandy and Arny’s sliding glass door because they know as soon as the curtains are open, it was Uncle Arny time!  Sorry kids, but it will be a few more months before you see that view again.  Arny and Sandy were very good about not giving treats to Skruffy, but making her think she was getting a treat.  Each morning, Arny would give her about 1 oz of cook pork loin that I provided to him, while Bubba got a special treat that they provided.  At 4, when Sandy got home, she traditionally has given them both a she would give Skruffy about 1/2 oz of pork, while Bubba got his afternoon treat.  Around 7 pm, they would give Bubba his last treat, which Skruffy never saw and never knew about.  It all worked out great!

R to L: Pixie, Ouzo, Bubba

Bubba was overdue for a haircut, and I had enough on my plate, so I took him to Petco on Thursday.  Al, who has worked there for a couple years now and has cut Bubba at least four times now, did another wonderful job.  Here Bubba is hiding behind his cousins Ouzo and Pixie.  Bubba stays at his Uncle Mike and Aunt Sandy’s house since the Condo does not allow pets.  At Mike and Sandy’s (two Aunt Sandys …one in California and one in Florida), Bubba lives with his two cousins, Pixie and Ouzo.   Ouzo is about a year old, and is a “puppy” still, though in an adult body as far as Bubba can tell. 


Ouzo wants to play and play and can’t understand why Bubba (who is nearly 12 years old) doesn’t want to play too.  In fact, Bubba might need to be neutered again…he seems to have been showing his teeth and even nipping at the jumping around Ouzo…which is just not like Bubba to show aggression.  Here (above) Ouzo won’t sit still for a picture, which I was lucky to get this slightly blurry shot here. I think he wanted to sniff and lick the camera.

Bubba far left, Ouzo middle, Pixie

Pixie is a very active dog, though mellowed out now compared to two years ago.  Here she is standing on the arm of the couch.  She “LOVES” to run along the top of the couches, along the arms, jumping from one piece of furniture to another.  Off to the far left is Bubba still sitting there with the seemingly “uninterested” look on his face…but he knows all that is going on, and Ouzo is learning that Bubba does not want to be bothered.

Skruffy with her service vest and phone   Skruffy with her service vest and phone

Skruffy, of course, is a Service Dog for Marcia and stays in the Condo with us, despite the feelings of the Condo Association.  She has kept her weight down, sitting right at 14.2 pounds.  Above she is showing off her Service Vest, which we attach a cellphone (in the pink holder) to when I leave Marcia alone in the Condo.  The vest is so loose the cell phone does not sit comfortably on her as it did before.  So far Marcia has not fallen while I have been away, but if so, Skruffy will be right there by her with the Cell Phone for Marcia to call me, or call 911 depending upon the severity of the fall. 

Skruffy showing off her smaller tummy    Skruffy

Skruffy is trying a different food mixture.  Since her sickness in Alaska she has been eating a mixture of ground Turkey or ground Chicken cooked up, with Hill’s Prescription ID and WD canned food, a bit of pure pumpkin, and brown rice all mixed together.  Up until last week, I would make a batch of food which would last for six meals (3 days).  Now I have replaced the ground chicken/turkey and the brown rice with WD dry food.  I now mix a can each of WD and ID with a good tablespoon of Pumpkin, and at meal time, I put 3 oz of dry food in her bowl, add 3 oz of the canned food mixture, and at breakfast I also add an ounce of cooked pork loin broken up into many pieces.  I mix it all up in her bowl, and she eats it all down.  Even without Bubba here as competition, she just gobbles all her food down…always has.  I have to adjusted her insulin just a bit, and things seem to be going well with her.  The food passes through her real quick, which is key to her not absorbing too much sugar.  At least we don’t have to worry about her sneaking over to Bubba’s food dish while we are here at the Condo.

AlphaTrak Tester

Back in Alaska we ordered the AlphaTrak 2  testing kit with extra test strips and “pokers” from Amazon, and had it delivered to the Vet’s office in Soldotna.  I have been testing Skruffy at least twice per week, after getting the initial curve test back in July.  A curve test requires testing her about six times through the day from right when she eats, and every 60-90 minutes after until I get her curve of when her blood sugars stop going down and start to rise.  It takes her 5-6 hours to bottom out, so when I do check her, I typically check her about 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours after she has eaten to see how low she is at.  Most of the time she checks out in the 120 to 220 range, which is good.  A few times she has been under 100, two or three times it has been under 60, which is too low.  If she is under 100, I give her some Enercal high calorie gel, about as much as I put toothpaste on my toothbrush, and this raises her blood sugars back up.   Sometimes she is in the 300 to 500 range, which is too high.  When ever she is too high, I test her the next day and she normally comes back to the 200-300 range, or lower.  When there is a change in her food, as we are going through now, I test her more often, and make slight adjustments to her insulin if needed.  Currently I am giving her 2 1/2 units at breakfast, and 2 units at dinner, which is were she was a week ago before the change was made.  She has handled this food change real good.


As you can see, Skruffy is doing real well.  And so far she has been real good staying at the Condo alone when we go to church on Sunday and Wednesday.  Her fear of staying alone is starting to go away.  She does not like it when we leave, but when we return she is not barking and barking, even when we open the front door.  She is excited to see us, and with that excitement she will give out a few little barks, but that is it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Settling in at the Condo, Car Fix(es)

Sink Hole compared to Condo

Two years ago we come home and very quickly a sinkhole develops very close to our condos.  This picture, shared back then, shows the red arrow where the sinkhole was, and the green arrow which points to the condos.  Of course, all the road work and sewer work has been finished for a good 18 months now.

Our Condo

Our condo is way at the other end of the condos where this green arrow is at.  Well, when we got home and did our initial unpacking, I took the RV over to the RV/Mobile Home park for two nights before I put it into storage.  I made the comment, “So, any sinkholes open up while we were gone?”  Surprised when he said yes, just that week a very small, possible sinkhole opened up.  Well, our first Monday home and I hear the helicopter overhead again, and yes, the news had broke about the small sinkhole close to the where the large one swallowed up a car two years ago!  So far, nothing else has happened with this one, and it seems to be a non-issue.  Bad news though…assessment on our Condo went down by $10,000…good news, Property Taxes went down by nearly $200.  With no plans to sell it, not much of an issue UNLESS a sinkhole opens up on Condo property.

Generic Motorhome

When it comes to unloading the motorhome, I sometimes wish we just had a toy motorhome and our journeys are in our mind.  It is a lot of work, for both of us.  I bring things in, Marcia unpacks most of the bags and boxes.  We (she) runs everything from the kitchen that she can through the dishwasher, and if it is to go back into the motorhome, then to the spare room it goes until loaded before we leave.  All bedding, towels, etc. get washed.  There is always a lot of laundry to do too.  And then there is the huge shopping trip to restock the shelves and the fridge and freezer.  And the number one thing to get done fast when it goes into storage is  that I take the motorhome fridge apart and clean it very well, and prop the doors open so that mold won’t pop up.  All the fridge shelves are brought to the condo and washed in the dishwasher, and stored in the spare room.

This is a section of the HHR exhaust which includes not one, but two Catalytic Converters.  There are also two o2 Sensors hooked into the pipe.

HHR Exhaust where it connects to manifold
This area here (left) is where it connects to the exhaust manifold.  There is a flexible area which allows the pipe to move with the vibration of the road.  It is this area which broke, and our HHR sounded much more like a motor speedboat, or a kids street race car. We have a good repair shop near us, and I took it there last Tuesday just for them to look at, and they ordered the parts, including both o2 sensors, and did the work this past Friday.  There goes another $700.

Joe's Auto Repair and Curtis Transmission, photo off Google Maps

Joe’s Auto Repair and Curtis Transmission are all one business.  Joe retired a little over a month ago, and now Jim is the owner…but he has kept all of the staff, has made some improvements in the office, including a new computer system and the hiring of another girl, Nichole, to work alongside her older sister Misty.  Misty is something else…she is very knowledgeable about cars, is very friendly, has a good rapport with the service staff, with the new owner, with the customers, and with the various parts house staff that she is constantly calling to line up parts.  She stands at around 5' 2", and can sure handle herself...told me today that she had a Black Belt when she was like 14 years old.  I can not say enough about how good this place is.  And it is nice to be able to start up the car without thinking that we have awaken all of our neighbors...however I have already ran over three older ladies who couldn't hear me coming as I drive through the condo complex!

2009 HHR Transmission

When I was at Joe’s Auto Repair and Curtis Transmission on Friday Jim, the new owner, mentioned that at 130K, I should have the Transmission Fluids changed, unless I has already done that recently.  We bought the HHR back in 2011 from a Pine Bluff Arkansas Chevy dealer as a used car…it had been a rental car.  The salesman told me that they had changed all fluids, filters, hoses and belts…and I can hear you all saying, “Ya, but salesmen lie nearly as much as politicians lie.”  Well, in this case the salesman was named Gary, and was my youngest son’s baseball coach, and I knew that Gary was an honest person.  He told me that he had seen the work order and was confident it was done.  Above is a 2009 HHR transmission outside of the engine.  Along the bottom you can see the flat area…that is what they take off to get to the transmission filter.  The tech who worked on it today told me that the fluid looked real good…had color, had no sludge, and no shavings.  THAT folks is GREAT news.  It means that the Chevy place in Pine Bluff really did change the fluid and filter as promised, and also that our transmission “should” be in fine shape…good to go for another 50-75K miles.  All I have left now is to replace a tire (front right, the front left blew out last year…will put these on the back and move the back to the front and replace them next year.)  It seems that there is always something…

Next…update on Bubba and Skruffy.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Creation Museum & Ark Encounter -- end of our 8 month long adventure

Creation Museum

At the entrance to the Creation Museum, in Petersburg, KY just southwest of Cincinnati, I got a picture of Marcia getting ready to take a picture of a dinosaur.  Of course, when I show her I “HAVE” to make the remark, “I got a picture of both dinosaurs, how about you?”  Well folks, for any of you that want to “learn your lesson” through me, that is not the line you want to use…

Ark Encounter

Of course, the next day when we visit the brand new “Ark Encounter” at Williamstown Kentucky, about 50 miles south of Cincinnati, the remark, “Are you sure your head will fit in there Dave???” pays off the debt.  Well, any of you that know Marcia KNOW she would never say that…but I KNOW she was thinking it, and I am the author of the blog, so I can pretend that she was at least thinking about it…debt paid!!!

Note: Remember, clicking on a picture will bring up a larger version of that picture for better viewing.

Creation Museum

Trying to write a comprehensive blog about either of these places, let alone one of them, is not going to happen here.  There is SO MUCH at each place that it is just too hard to do right.  There is also the fact that many readers are going to think/say, “I can’t believe someone really believes this stuff.” 

Creation Museum
 Likewise, there is a BIG GAP between those who believe in the creation as told in the Bible, and those who don’t.  I don’t intend to debate any of this, just stating the two sided coin.  What I do want is to share the “museums” as I would share any other museum based on how it looks, how it is presented, and what one can expect to see there.  Both places acknowledge the gap between believers and non-believers by saying that it all depends upon how you look at it.

Creation Museum     Creation Museum

The quality of the exhibits is real good.  To the left there are two anthropologists, looking at the same thing, but seeing a different outcome.  The video above them explains it all in about 2-3 minutes, and then the video repeats.  There are many of these type of exhibits.  On the right is just a passage way that they made a slot canyon out of.  I have been in slot canyons, and this is very lifelike, except the width is a bit wider than most slot canyons I have been in…but after all, this is just a passageway.

Creation Museum

This exhibit of “Lucy” is state-of-the art.  The “blue” you see is projected onto a panel which is in front of the face and the hip/leg areas of Lucy, showing the bones which are displayed up on the wall behind her.  This is a real neat way of showing you where the bones would have been located in Lucy.  On the other side of her, it shows different bones. 

Note: I blurred the faces of people in the pictures since I did not ask them if I could include them in the blog…I try to do this anytime we are taking inside pictures.

Creation Museum

Of course, one would think, and they would be accurate, that the message of the museum has a heavy slant towards God, towards the Bible, towards the Son of God.  After all, that is what the museum is for…to share the word of God. 

Creation Museum

One of the highlights was what they called the Garden Room.  In this portion of the Garden Adam is naming the various types of animals which come to him. 

Creation Museum

As the story goes, while in the Garden Adam and Eve are tempted and they sin, and they see their nakedness, and they hide from God…here it is depicted that they “hid” their nakedness by being in the water. 

Creation Museum

Of course, the sins are known by God, they are banished from the garden, and hardships fell upon all. 

As one goes through the Creation Museum, it is helpful to know that you are slowly walking down to the lower level…it is so slight that you don’t even know it, but it is helpful to understand that when you try to read the map.  At lunch we heard comments from people who said that they were confused by the map given out at the start of the exhibits…knowing that you are going from one level to another helps to understand the map. 

Creation Museum

I have only shown a small amount of the exhibits.  It took us a couple of hours to walk through it, and crowds were large but not so much that it is a burden.   There is a self-serve restaurant there, and we found the food to be alright.  Met a lot of nice people, and there were these four ladies on a tour from North Carolina who were wonderful.  When one found out that we traveled by motorhome, she said that was something she had always wanted to do…almost asked if she could join us until she realized what she was saying.

Ark Encounter

The Creation Museum was nice, but what really brought us to the area was the brand new Ark Encounter, which opened up in July of this year.  The Ark is built using the dimensions found within the Bible.  It is just shy of being two football fields long!  (Roughly, 520 feet long by 86 feet wide and 52 feet high).  Unlike the Arks shown in picture books for kids, this life-size model is more like a barge…almost like a wooden oil tanker.  The Ark contains 3.3 million board feet of timber. 

Ark Encounter
Even when Marcia in the foreground, the size of the Ark is just HUGE.  On the inside there are four working floors, of which three are currently open.  The first two floors give a good example of what the ark “might” have been like.  There is little information about the exact make-up of the ark, so there had to be lots of creative liberties taken.  However, they did a good job of showing cages, storage bins for food and water, living quarters, etc.  Some of the space is also used to tell the story of the flood, of the making of the Ark then and now, and the daily life that Noah and his family had to endure for nearly a year living in the Ark.

Ark Encounter

The woodworking of the Ark and within the Ark is outstanding.  More than 100 workers from Amish, Mennonite and other Anabaptist traditions — about one-third of the workforce at times — applied their skills with heavy timber to help complete the full-scale replica, which can accommodate 10,000 people at one time.  To the right is just an example of “artwork” found in the entrance to the Ark.  Below are three pictures showing cages, food storage bins and water bins.  This is a good example of how they took creative liberties to show how it “could have been”, since the bible tells little of how the ark was laid out.

Ark Encounter     Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter

Besides storing food and water, they also showed how some human food might have been grown, and how water could have been caught from the rains to store for future use.

Ark Encounter      Ark Encounter

The Bible says that God told Noah to take on the Ark two of every kind of animal, and seven pairs of the clean animals and flying creatures.  Not every species needed to be on the Ark.  Species is a term used in the modern classification system. The Bible uses the term “kind.” The created kind was a much broader category than the modern term of classification, species.  They did a good job of showing and describing what is meant by “kind” of animal.  For instance, Black Bears and Brown Bears and Polar Bears can interbreed.  Here is a Washington Post article of a bear which is 3/4 Grizzly and 1/4 Polar Bear.

Ark Encounter

I just had to try and show a picture of the middle of this “Ark”…the large wood pillars, and wonderful woodwork just had me in “awe”.  I do want to add that on one side of the Ark, the side not shown in my pictures since getting a picture would be very difficult to do, there are concrete footings and structure connected to the “Ark” which houses elevators and anchors the “Ark” down to the ground.  Remember, this “Ark” is not meant to be seaworthy…it is meant to show “How” it could have been.

Ark Encounter     Ark Encounter

The “Librarian in me” just had to show this exhibit…Noah’s Ark as depicted in Storybooks.  My good friend and Children’s Librarian “Miss Ann”, who passed away back in 2005 after a 33 year career, would have LOVED this area, with the animals over the entrance, and the many storybooks along the wall. 

Ark Encounter     Ark Encounter
Ark Encounter

A portion of the third floor is dedicated to the living quarters of the human passengers on the Ark.  The bottom of the three pictures above depicts the story of Noah and the Dove.

Ark Encounter

They claim that there are over 200 “legends” of "an ancient global flood" around the world.  Many of these tales speak of "a favored family who built a huge boat and, along with some animals, survived a worldwide catastrophe sent by an angry deity."  I know in our travels that we have seen many evidences of a “flood”, and these evidences have even been talked about on National Park, National Forest, and State Park exhibits.  “When” the flood took place is the big debate.  It is believed by creation scientists that the majority of the Earth's strata was formed catastrophically during the Biblical flood of Noah. On the other hand, uniformitarian geologists hold to the view that most sedimentary rocks were formed slowly and gradually at current rates of erosion and deposition.

Ark Encounter

So if you believe in the biblical account, or not, the Ark Encounter is definitely a work of “Art”.  From this close up, I had to use the camera’s panoramic feature to get the entire Ark in the picture.  It certainly shows the vast size of the structure. 

At $41 each for a ticket which included both the Creation Museum and the Ark, the visit is not inexpensive.  Parking is free at the Museum, cost $10 at the Ark ($15 for RVs).  We left the campground at 8 am with the RV and car, were at the Ark when it opened at 9 am, and by noon we were on our way.  Yes, we should have stayed longer…but it was crowded (and more crowded at noon when we left), and we sure wanted to get back to Florida after this amazing 8 months of travel.  What a way to end our trip!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

We're HOME!

Seven and a half months later, to the date, and over 17,000 miles later...we are HOME!  After 3-4 hours of emptying the motorhome, we are also Tired, and Sore, and yet happy to be home, and looking forward to seeing friends and family over the next few days.

Tonight was a Pizza Hut night, and we killed off a medium and part of another medium, and most of the eight lemon pepper wings. 

We have a house guest this, our first night back at the condo, his name is Bubba, and he is not suppose to be here, but he is.  Tomorrow I plan to give both dogs a big bath, and on Monday take Bubba over to his Uncle Mike's where he resides while we are home.  Skruffy, as a service dog, is free to be here.  It is SO NICE to have her back home after we thought we were going to lose her...we have so much to be thankful for about our trip...but our Fisherman of Dogs, Dr. Marie “Meezie” Hermansen, saved her life, gave us who knows how many more years of life with our beloved dog Skruffy, and frankly, despite all the wonders of the earth that we saw in Alaska, Dr. Meezie was what and who we remember the most.  We love that "Fisherman"!!!

I have a FEW BLOGS that will be written over the next week or so, I promise.  For now, getting settled and getting a few things done is more important. I promise I will get to them as soon as I can...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Near Athens Tennessee

Stopping for the night at a rest area near Athens Tennessee.   We did visit the two places we wanted to see near Cincinnati, and will blog about them after we get home and have settled back into Condo Life.

All was going well until we got to just north of Knoxville, when our tire pressure went off.  Back drivers inner tire went from 80 to 65, sounding the alarm, and slowly continued to get lower as I, of course, slowed down, put on my emergency lights, got to the shoulder and decided to slowly (30 mph) drive the just under one mile to the exit.  Just so happened, a Pilot Gas Station was right there on the left side of the interstate...but it was one of the small Pilots, but right next door, a Cracker Barrel.  SCORE!   About 90 minutes later the repair truck was there to change the tire out, and off we went.  The problem...a bad tire stem, and tomorrow we will drop by a Discount Tire Store and get that replaced, and put back on.  Thank goodness for tire pressure sensor, and for Blue Sky Insurance Roadside Assistance!

Should be pulling into the Condo around noon, give or take a few hours, on Saturday.  As is our custom, we unload some, move the RV over to a RV Park next to where we live for a couple of days until we finish it up, and then it goes into storage. 

Looking forward to seeing everyone back "home" in Florida.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

DJ’s Auto Repair, The Old Mill, near Cincy

DJ's Auto Repair, North Little Rock/Sherwood Arkansas     DJ's Auto Repair, North Little Rock/Sherwood Arkansas

Yesterday’s brake job was not cheep, cost us less than if we did it in Florida or California, was done VERY Professionally, was a pleasurable experience over-all (who likes having to spend money on repairs and maintenance?), and we rate DJ’s Auto Repair as high as any of the other places that we gave excellent rating to.

First off, David Sayles is an excellent front of the house person.  He is very nice, good communicator, as honest as they come, and very sincere.  When he says, “When we finish our work I would put my mother in that vehicle…”, he means it.

Second, our repair person, and I am sorry I cannot remember his name, is real good.  He retired from the local Air Force Base about a year ago, is getting married soon, and is a real hard worker who does it right.  Knowing we wanted to get on the road, he only took a 10 minute lunch hour.  He replaced the brakes, the calipers, and the rotor on both side in the back.  He also replace the axle seal on both sides and inspected the axle and said it was looking good.  He also replaced the back portion of the brake line.  A master line goes to the back, then it T’s off to each wheel.  He replaced from the T to the wheels.  Total time, about 6 hours…and that was waiting for new brake lines because the first set was not correct, and he had to make minor adjustment to the second set to make it work because Ford does not have the original type any more.  Finally, he bleed the brake lines, which took about 40 minutes of the 6 hours..

Third, the owner, DJ (Don Jackson) is also a very nice man, honest, friendly, and instills honesty and trustworthiness to his employees.  The shop has six bays, and a wrecker.  The phone rang off the wall, customers came and went, and so did delivery people bringing parts and taking back unused parts and cores for rebuilding.    They offered free coffee, some rolls while they lasted, and made us feel very comfortable through out our stay in their waiting area.

Finally, it is nice to have full brakes again!

Note:  Three different RV Dealerships bring RV’s to DJ’s, and refer people to DJ’s.  One “unnamed” dealer called them last week asking about the status of one of their RV’s…but it had not been delivered to DJ’s.  The next day they dropped it off, and asked for it to be done ASAP because they had it for two weeks already.  While we were there, the owner of the RV called DJ’s and wondered why it was taking so long.  DJ’s was upfront with the customer, as they should have been, and told them it was delivered on Friday, and it was “next”, but they would need it another day or two depending upon what was wrong with it.  How SHAMEFUL for this “unnamed” dealer to pull this on a customer, and then, try and say it was DJ’s fault it was taking so long.  SHAME SHAME SHAME, and good for DJ’s for being honest about it.  “Unnamed”, we know who you are, but we don’t want to burn your relationship with DJ’s, so you will remain “Unnamed”, except by word of mouth.  That was very shameful…and it is why so many people fear RV dealerships.  Reader beware:  if you are going to have any type of chassis work done at a RV dealer, it would be advisable to ask them if they do the work in house, and if not, that you want the name of who does the work and deal directly with them yourself.  This person thought their motorhome was being worked on for two weeks now, and it just sat at the dealer.   (If there are any comments which name dealers, they will be deleted…again, we don’t want to jeopardize any relationship DJ’s has with RV dealers)

Old Mill, North Little Rock

A few years ago I wrote about the “Old Mill” in North Little Rock.  This mill (above) was part of the opening credits of Gone with the Wind, as shown below.

Old Mill, North Little Rock, as seen in Gone with the Wind

Now the Old Mill is a nice park in North Little Rock, and many students use the area for their senior pictures, many couples use the area for wedding announcement pictures, and some even get married and/or have wedding pictures taken here.  Springtime the gardens are full of flowers…in the fall, the change of colors are wonderful.  Today we went by and found the park fairly empty, and still very charming and photogenic.

Old Mill, North Little Rock     Old Mill, North Little Rock

Old Mill, North Little Rock     Old Mill, North Little Rock

As you can see, it is a lovely place…and since we were nearby taking the dogs to a doggie park while the motorhome was being worked on, I thought I would drop by to share some more pictures of the Old Mill.  Parking in the area is along the street, and it would not be advisable to take a large RV there, but it is doable if during the right time of day and right time of year (like early October on a weekday). 

Memphis at Night     Nashville

Last night Marcia tried to get a night picture of Memphis as we crossed into Tennessee…hard to do in a moving vehicle at night.  We stayed at a rest area in Jackson Tennessee, which was a typical rest area stay (which typically is loud, and this one was loud).  Today she did get a picture of Nashville as we crossed north of town heading for I-65.  We drove just under 400 miles to the town of Crittenden Kentucky.  Two nights here for two special excursions, then off we go towards Florida.