Thursday, February 15, 2024

Changes Are Coming


Well, it is time for some changes...

HHR pulled by American Eagle

HHR pulled by Jayco

HHR pulled by Dynamax

We have been RVing, in general terms, since 2012, although I had lived in a 5th Wheel from late 2005 till 2011 when I remarried (to Marcia in February) and we bought an American Eagle in November of that year.  By March 2012 my daily duties at the Library I was the Director of essentially ended and we hit the road in April.  Shortly after we got married, we bought our 2009 HHR LT in Pine Bluff.  The one thing that has been consistent in our travels has been the HHR.

In 2022 our HHR essentially got COVID.  Well, it got sick...the Check Engine Light was on and nothing I did seemed to help it.  With some help from Arny and his buddy Steve, I changed the Air Filter, Spark Plugs, Coils, Fuel Injectors, Air Flow Sensor and Throttle Body along with the O2 Sensor.  (I think I covered everything).  That pesky Check Engine Light just would not stay away.  We came home a bit earlier that year in late August, and I took the HHR to a local shop I had used before and they said it was a bad computer.  They replaced the computer, and the spark plugs (again because the richness of gas mixture it was getting made them black) and the check engine light remained off for about 50 miles.  But it was still running real good, so I did what I do, ignored it.

Brings us to 2024.  The HHR has over 270,000 miles, and that does not count the over 100,000 miles from being towed behind our 3 different motorhomes.  THAT is a lot of miles.  The suspension is worn, the idiot light still on, and gas millage dropped down into the lower teens from its normal mid twenties.  

Time for another HHR...which they don't make this was going to tough to do.  We like the HHR for two reasons...easy to tow, and easy for Marcia to get in and out of, it has been the easiest car for her to get into and out of with her MS and her advanced age.

LUCK was with us, a 2006 HHR, with only one owner who had the oil changed every year and who drove it about 4,000 miles a year (via carfax) was available from a local car dealer for $6k.  Figuring we could get $500 for our HHR, we had the funds to pay for it outright.  Went over to see it and BAD LUCK struck.  A previous potential buyer wanted it, they put it in their shop for a check, and they failed it due to suspension problems.  Although it was still in their yard, they could not sell it as it even at a discount to me who promised to have the suspension worked on.  GRRRRRR!

So we took the HHR to Wray's Automotive on Wednesday, the place that fixed the breaks for the motorhome last year.  First, the engine...  All it turned out to be was a faulty Air Flow Sensor, which he said the one we put in back in 2022 was CHEAPLY MADE!  He wrote up an estimate for the suspension work, where they are going to put in new shocks/Struts front and back, Suspension Control Arm and Ball Joint Assembly, Tie Rod and Coil Spring for rear.  At just over $2k, we should have a much smoother and safer driving car which we hope will last another 100K or more...that work will be late next week.

So, the BIG CHANGE is that we are looking to move to a Class B Van, with our eyes on a 2024 Thor Dazzle, among other RV Vans.  Went by General RV in Tampa and Marcia was able to get into and out of the Dazzle without a problem.  Also looking at a few other Thor B Vans, but trying to stay away from any that were made in 2021 and 2022 due to problems manufactures had due to COVID and product shortages.  Dazzle has only been around for two years now.  The van is 21 feet in length, 6.5 feet width, on a Ram ProMaster 3500 XT with a V6 gas engine.  

But we have put this on hold right now in order to try and sell our current motorhome (which is well used and shows its age) AND so the Doctor can try to fix my knees (which are well used and show their age).

So this past Tuesday I visited Coastal Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine: Dr. Peter Candelora.  As this was my first visit, it took nearly two hours for them to get all the info they needed and for the Physician's Assistant to do a quick evaluation.  Essentially I need to come back on the 14th of March, have both knees fully X-rayed a week or two before my visit, and he put me on Diclofenac 75mg twice a day in place of Advil.  After two and a half days of being on this medicine, my knees both feel much better...nearly tolerable.  Unfortunately, this drug is not a long-term solution since long-term use will ruin your Liver and Kidneys.  Nothing is easy in quick fixes.

So our search for a RV Van is on hold, unless a GREAT Deal comes along.  In the mean time, we will search out a buyer for our 2005 Dynamax Isata which has been a very good home on wheels for us.  No use in buying a new motorhome, just to let it sit around until I recover from knee surgery "IF" this leads to that.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

January 2024

Crystal Beach Florida

Hard to believe that January is nearly gone.  The "good news" coming out of the month is that we saw our primary doctor, and we both had better results (blood test, etc) than last year.  I still have high blood pressure, Marcia still has high Cholesterol.  With me, it is more a case of "white coat hypertension".  My doctor in Arkansas realized that when he would visit with me for a good 15 minutes and then take a second reading (nurse gave the first upon my arrival) and each and every time it dropped.  Not that I don't have high blood pressure, I do...but not as high as the 'test' says when taken when I first arrive.  At home, my pressure taken by my wrist pressure kit, is normally pretty good, so I took my wrist pressure kit with me just to see if there is a difference and show results I had from the previous 10 days.  There was a difference, the wrist test showed even a higher one than the nurse at least I know my pressure kit is working, perhaps a little on the high side.

Crystal Beach Florida

I will be seeing a Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine specialist in two weeks.  Both of my knees are hurting, with the right knee being the worse.  Hope NOT to have major surgery, but this is my first visit to a Orthopedic Doctor, so let's wait to see what he says.

Pond at the Public Library, full of birds.

Our weather for January has been fairly typical.  We had a low one night in the upper 30's, although where we live it may have only got down to 40 or 41.  Our highs have been in the 70's and low 80's during most days, with just a small number where they were only in the high 50's and into the 60's.  

Wood Stork

Blue Heron

Wood Storks

Great White Egret

So far we have not had any sicknesses to speak of.  A few mornings we were a bit more congested than normal, but it did not amount to anything.

Mom, on the other hand, had another UTI, which is the third or fourth since she had the Antibiotic Infusion treatment back when we were still in California.  The doctor FINALLY has put her on a daily antibiotic pill, and we are hoping that this works.

In 1993 Joe Montana was traded to KC.  Being a 'loyal' Northern California boy, my football teams were the Raiders and the Niners, and among the 'hated' teams were the Rams, the Coyboys, the Steelers and the Chiefs.  This gave me a bit of a dilemma, because mom and dad moved to the Kansas City area in '92 or ' I relented and made KC one of my favorite teams.  In 2020 they Both were in Superbowl 54, Kansas City won.  Now they play again in this year's Superbowl, and my heart is with the Niners, but if KC wins, all is good.


Friday, January 5, 2024

Epiphany Celebration

Tarpon Springs hosts one of the largest Epiphany celebrations outside of Greece.  So, what is this Epiphany celebration all about?

Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs has more Greeks per capita than any other American city. The Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs dates back to 1906.  It's the largest Epiphany celebration in North America and draws more than 20,000 spectators, about as many people who live in Tarpon Springs.  My guess is that half those in attendance are residents, the other half are visitors.

The period between Christmas and Epiphany is called Dodecameron, or the Twelve Days. It is considered one continuous festive period and is where the term “Twelve Days of Christmas” is derived. Epiphany, also called the Theophany (meaning “appearance of God”), celebrates the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan by St. John the Baptist. The first account of an Epiphany celebration is attributed to Clement of Alexandria (d. 215 A.D.).  (Information is from the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral website)

Above is this year's schedule.  From the night of the 5th through the night of the 6th it is a very busy celebration.

What most non-Greek people think of the most when they say "Are you attending Epiphany this year?" is the tossing of the cross into Spring Bayou.  20,000 or so people line the banks of the Bayou.  At the appropriate time, the highest Ecclesiastic Authority in attendance, typically an Archbishop, reads out of the holy book the Baptism of Jesus by John, he blesses the Cross and the Waters, a Dove is released by a young lady, and then he tosses the Cross into the Bayou.  The boys, ages 16-18 years old, jump into the water to find the cross which sinks down into the water. The Cross is 'found' and raised up out of the water by the young man who has probably fought off others who try to take it away before he breaches the surface.  They all swim over to the platform where the Archbishop is, and the young Cross bearer is blessed by the Archbishop, and then he is raised on the shoulders of the other swimmers and carried back to the Church.

Note:  The pictures above were taken by me in past years.  The pictures below are from news sources of previous Epiphany Celebrations.
The Dove is Released.

The Cross Swimmers are headed to the boats which are in a half circle...

...the cross is tossed into the middle, they dive into the water and the fight is on.  Note the boys in diving position on the boats waiting for the Cross Toss.

 The Cross is retrieved and held high into the air.

The young man who retrieved the Cross is carried back by the other swimmers to the church with Cross and Trophy in hand.  This young man is "SUPPOSED" to be blessed for the rest of the year...but the reality is that with some of the young men it has been more of a curse...but we won't go there...

The celebration moves over to the Sponge Docks where food and music are made part of the festivities.  That night the Epiphany Ball is held and there are unofficial fireworks and celebrations until the wee hours of the night throughout Tarpon Springs and the surrounding area.  (Yes Indy, you will have to deal with some fireworks tomorrow night, but it won't be too bad here in our neighborhood.)

FYI:  We do not attend any of the celebration, but have watched the Cross Toss via live television which includes four or five helicopters and numerous news people scattered all over the celebration area.