Absolutely Nothing Happen Today . . .

Well, very, very little, anyway.

When I got up I had a call from the RV/MH Hall of Fame about a problem with their computer system. I’m not sure why, because it’s the same problem I fixed last Monday before we left Elkhart. I guess I’ll have to wait and see next Monday.

Other than that, it was nice and quiet. We just read, watched TV, and played on the Internet.

Our daughter Brandi called about 5:30 to say HI, and then our good friend Nick Russell called about 6 to double-check the name of a restaurant we’d all eaten at recently (It was Cheddar’s).

And that was about it.


Thought for the Day:

"Government health care is like a hospital gown, you only think you’re covered".


Happy Halloween . . .

I stayed up real late reading last night (this morning, actually) so I didn’t get up until almost 11. It went down to 27 here last night so sleeping late in a warm bed was definitely not a problem.

Lowell sent over some more pictures of Landon trick or treating at their church. He didn’t quite know what to make of the giant banana.

Landon Trick or Treat Banana


The reason the doorways looked like this is that they’re fake, set up in a wall so the little tykes can go trick or treating without all the walking.

Landon Trick or Treat


Even with that, ‘some’ trick or treaters pooped out early.

Giraffe is down


We tried Skyping a little after 3 with only some success. We lost the connection several times, and even when it worked we didn’t have very good bandwidth so we only got a few good snapshots.

Video call snapshot 404

Video call snapshot 414


One unexpected treat was when our son Chris,

Video call snapshot 412


his wife, Linda,

Video call snapshot 409


and our beautiful granddaughter, Piper, showed up.

Video call snapshot 410


So we got to talk to the whole family. We’re really looking forward to seeing everyone in about 3 weeks when we get back to Houston.

Video call snapshot 413

About 4 Jan and I put Mister out on his lease and walked the garbage over to the dumpster. We tried to sit out for a while, but with the sun getting low it got to be too cold, so we came in for the night.

Nick called about 6 pm and said they were parked in the Savannah, GA area, and were in their SUV heading to town to have dinner at Golden Corral.

I learned later from a post Nick made on Facebook that they were staying at the same Passport America park we stayed at in June 2009 on our way up the east coast and out to Newfoundland.


Thought for the Day:

“A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicity.” – Thomas Jefferson


Three States . . .

It went down to 30 here last night so I stayed in a warm bed until about 10:30. We really like our heated mattress pad and it makes all the difference on these cold nights.

And the hot coffee this morning just topped it all off.

After a nice quiet morning, we headed out about 1 pm to make the 40 mile drive into Cincinnati for the afternoon.

Our first was a place our friend Nick Russell had recommended, Jungle Jim’s Market.

Jungle Jim 1

It’s really hard to describe this place. It’s a restaurant, an convention center, a Starbuck’s, a Cici’s Pizza, a high end clothing store, a Chipolte Grill, a bank, a pub, a pet store, and a credit union. it even has a monorail.

But most of all, it’s 6 acres of grocery store, with 1 acre for just fresh produce.

Jungle Jim 3

This place probably has every grocery item you’ve ever heard, and a lot you’ve never heard of.

Jungle Jim 2

Thirty six different types of olives, 140 different types of honey, 1,600 different types of cheeses from all over the world, over 12,000 different wines, and 1,200 different beers.

Their meat department carries fresh ostrich, kangaroo, rattlesnake, elk, venison, game hens, wild boar, pheasant, and bison. WOW!

And, of course, foods that are organic, non-dairy, earth-friendly, vegetarian, vegan, allergy-free, gluten-free, anti-oxidant, low-carb, sugar-free, fat-free, wheat-free . . . etc., though probably not all at the same time.

Jungle Jim 4

And while many seafood shops have live Maine lobsters, how many carry live fish? Jungle Jim’s carries over a dozen different species, including Blue Gill, Tilapia, Largemouth Bass,

Jungle Jim 5

and Catfish.

Jungle Jim 6

Regular readers here know how much I like really, really hot foods. As I say, if my nose is not running and the top of my head isn’t sweating, then it’s not really hot enough.

I’ve even twice eaten HOT! wings made with Ghost Chiles, also known as the Naga Jolokia, until recently the hottest pepper in the world.


You can read about it here at the Cypress Creek Café in Wimberley, TX.

The hottest chili in the world is now acknowledged to be the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chili.


But Jungle Jim’s is the first place I’ve found that actually sells them to the public. Besides the fresh ones, they have a salsa made with the Nagas which I bought some of, and a small package of dried Nagas, which I also bought.

Dried Ghost Chiles

The package says to wear eye protection and latex gloves before handling or preparing them.

Not sure what I’m going to use them for, maybe trick Nick into eating one so I can see steam coming out of his ears.

We spent almost two hours at Jungle Jim’s and still didn’t see everything, so hopefully we’ll be able to go back again sometime.

One strange thing happen after we parked at the Jungle Jim’s. Getting out and closing my door, I heard a metallic ‘clunk’. Thinking I had left the seatbelt buckle in the door, I turned around and noticed that I had left my window down, But I didn’t remember putting it down. Opening the door and trying to raise the window, I could hear the motor running but the window was not coming up.

I realized what happened was that when I closed the door, the window had come loose from its mechanism and fallen down inside the door.

Not wanting to ride home with the window down, I came up with a fix. I keep a small roll of Gorilla Tape in the truck console,

Gorilla Tape3

so using the pliers on the Swiss Army tool

Swiss Army Tool

my daughter gave me for Father’s Day years ago, I was able to pull the window up out of the door, and then use the Gorilla Tape to hold it in place, and then seal it up, ending up with this.

Truck Window

Gorilla Tape is perfect for this because it’s much stronger than duck tape, and twice as sticky. Even better is that the glue stays on the tape when you pull it off, and doesn’t mess up the paint job.

When I get home I’ll dig out my manual and see what it’s going to take to get the door panel off and see what happened. I suspect the window glass may have fallen out of its track. We’ll see.

Since my temporary fix seems to be holding, I may just wait until we get back to Texas in 3 weeks or so.

By now it was after 4 pm so we decided to head south to a Texas Roadhouse for dinner. My Ribeye was good, but not quite as good as the one I had in Elkhart last week. The taste was great but the texture was a little mealy.

After dinner we headed on south to the closest Wal-Mart for a few things. Coming home our route took us down through Kentucky for a few miles. Thus we had traveled through three states today, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.


Thought for the Day:

“The older I get, the more convinced I am that God tailors most of our lifespans right to the breaking point of how long each of us can put up with all the idiots we’re surrounded by before we decide we just have to pick up a gun and start randomly shooting morons.”

“The way things are going, if I had a 150 year lifespan I’m pretty sure I’d be on death row by 70 or so.” – Unknown


and then the Boredom set in . . .

or we’re going through Nick and Terry withdrawal.

Well, winter is setting here, with 34 degrees last night, and an anticipated 30 degrees tongiht. But it’s sunny and 50 degrees during the daytime, so it’s not all bad.

When I bought my Droid Charge last week, I saw this Droid Clock Dock on display. It look neat, but they didn’t have any in stock so I put it off.

But yesterday I found it on Amazon and ordered it. I picked it up at the office here at the park about 1pm and quickly checked it out. And it was even better than the specs online.

Droid Clock Dock 2

When you plug the Droid into the dock, it not only starts charging the Droid, it automatically becomes a desk clock. And you can plug in speakers and play your music through it too. It also has a recess to plug in and recharge a spare battery.

Droid Clock Dock

But what the specs didn’t say is that it comes with a spare battery too.


Today was Halloween at Brandi and Lowell’s church so Landon had his first Trick or Treating experience.

Here he is getting into his costume. (It’s a giraffe, by the way.)

Landon getting his Halloween Costume On

Landon Trick or Treating


Landon and Mommy.

Landon at the Fun House


Trick or Treating for the first time.

Landon Trick or Treating3a

Landon Trick or Treating4a

Landon Trick or Treating5a


Thought for the Day:

Have a nice day (unless you’ve made other plans).


Not Much Happened Today . . .

and it was really nice!

All in all, a nice quiet day. Quiet, cold, and rainy. A perfect day for just staying in the rig, and enjoying hot coffee and each others company.

As it is, we probably won’t leave the park until Saturday when we make the drive into Cincinnati for shopping and dinner.

Leaving Elkhart yesterday started our three week journey back to Houston for the holidays. But leaving Elkhart, and Nick and Terry, is like leaving home just to go to another home. Nick and Terry introduced us to Elkhart two years ago, and Bobby and Gita at the Elkhart Campground have always made us feel right at home. Well worth a stay over if you’re in the area.

Jan and I spent a large part of the day just reading and catching up on some of the programs we’d DVR’d.

As it stands right now we’ll leave here on the 7th, then it’s on to Vandalia, IL to visit Jan’s sister. Then after stopping off to visit relatives in north Alabama, we hope to spend about a week in Gulf Shores, AL where I grew up. We plan on being back in the Houston area the Sunday before Thanksgiving, and stay for a couple of months before we head back out for the year.

But who knows, our schedule can always change.


Thought for the Day:

"There is an old saying that if a million monkeys typed on a million keyboards for a million years, eventually all the works of Shakespeare would be produced. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true."


Goodbye to Elkhart and Great Friends . . .

Today was a travel day so I was up at 7 to start coffee and packing away things in the coach. About 7:30 I woke up Sweetie, and after her shower, we sat around and enjoyed our coffee for a while, before we got back to work getting things stowed away.

A little before 10 I cranked up the diesel and then Jan and I went outside say our goodbyes to Nick and Terry. It’s hard to believe we may not see them again until next March. What am I going to do when I need to fix something for someone?

After some tearful hugs, we finally pulled out of Elkhart Campground a little after 10 and headed south.

Our trip took us down US 31 to the loop around Indianapolis and then east on I-74 for a total of about 235 miles.

About 2:30 we stopped for diesel at a Pilot just outside Shelbyville, IN. It was probably the smoothest refuel I’ve ever had at a truck stop. I was in and out in just a little over 15 minutes for 120 gallons of diesel. Wish they were all like this.

We pulled in the Indian Lakes Thousand Trails about 3:30, and quickly checked in, found a nice site and got set up. We’re in one of the 44 full hookup sites, and although the park is heavily wooded, it’s open enough here so that we had no problem getting a satellite signal.

About 5 we headed back up I-74 about 25 miles to Greensburg, the closest town with a Wal-Mart. After eating dinner at a Frisch Big Boy, we picked up some things at Wal-Mart and headed back home. It started to rain while we were in Wal-Mart and was pouring down all the way back. I wasn’t looking forward to unloading the truck in the rain, but luckily it really slacked off by the time we got home.

After raining through tomorrow it’s supposed to clear and just get cold. Highs in the low 50’s and lows in the low 30’s, but it is supposed to be sunny for a change from Elkhart. We’ll see.


Thought for the Day:

Any man who thinks for a half second that he understands a woman, has his timing just about perfect.


Last Day with Good Friends . . .

Today is our last full day here in Elkhart with Nick and Terry, so we decided to make it a play day.

But first Jan wanted to get her hair done, so Nick and I dropped her off at Great Clips, then we headed over to RV Surplus to get a couple of Dometic Cooler Bags.

Dometic Cooler Bag

They’re really neat. Plug it in to a 12V outlet and it quickly cools down to 29 degrees below ambient temperature and keeps everything nice and cool. Great for that picnic or shopping trip.

After picking up Jan and getting back to the park, we got Terry and about noon, headed out.

Our first stop was Fluid Fun, a kayak dealer in Bristol where Nick was looking for a new seat for his Sea Eagle inflatable kayak.

Fluid Fun 1

Leaving there we headed out through the countryside toward Shipshewana. The fall foliage is really something up here, and the roads are just lined with red, and yellows, and golds.

Our first stop was Eash Sales where Terry want to look at some of their specialty stoves. After that we walked next door to E & S Sales, the Amish bulk foods store that we visited back in September. It’s always interesting what the Amish have in their carts. In many cases it’s the same junk food we buy.

Our next stop was the Shipshewana Flea Market. Tomorrow is the last day it’s open so only a few stores were open today, but Jan enjoyed the produce stands and bought some Honey Crisp apples.

After leaving the flea market, we spend the next hour just driving out through the countryside, admiring the neat Amish farms and beautiful surroundings

About 5:30 we ended up at El Maguey for an evening of great Mexican food with our friends, Eldy Tompkins and Jeanne Sparks, Dave and Jean Damon, and Al Hesselbart.

This will be our last chance for all of us to get together probably until this time next fall, so it was good to see everyone one last time.

Getting back to the rig, I packed away the outside chairs and some other things since it’s supposed to rain more tonight.

We plan on heading out tomorrow about 10 am for a 230 mile trip down to the Indian Lakes Thousand Trails for 12 days until they close the park down on the 7th and run us out.

We had our usual great time with Nick and Terry, and since we probably won’t see them again until February, we’re really going to miss them.


Thought for the Day:

“Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” – Frederick Douglass, August 4, 1857.


Happy Birthday to my Sweetie . . .

First off, I want to say ‘Happy Birthday’ to my beautiful wife, Jan. I’ve loved you almost since the day I met you, and you’ve made my life complete.

I got up about 9:30 this morning to find a call from the RV/MH Hall of Fame. The accountant was there to do the payroll and was having problems with the program.

Getting down there I found the problem was with the setup of the new copy of the program I had installed. Apparently some settings are kept in the program directory, and not with the data, so we had to go back in and configure the correct check formats to get everything working OK. I ended up staying until about 4:15 fixing up loose ends, and double-checking everything.

On my way home I stopped off at Lowe’s to pick up a 2” wood chisel to help me get the rest of the carpet up. When we leave here Wednesday we’ll have 12 days at the Indian Lakes Thousand Trails Preserve in Ohio, and I hope to make some more headway on the floor. We’ll see.

About 5:15 pm, Nick and Terry, and Jan and I headed over to King Wha, our great local Chinese restaurant, where we met Al Hesselbart and Dave and Jean Damon for dinner. Another night of great food and good conversation.

I’m more and more impressed by the 4G speeds on my new Droid Charge . . . when it’s working.

Not my phone, it’s working great. But the 4G has only been turned on in this area since last Thursday, and apparently they’re still working out the kinks. Within a 15 minute period, I’ve had 4G, 3G, 1X, 4G, 3G, 4G, all sitting in the same chair.

But when it’s working, it screams. This evening at dinner, I checked with Speedtest.net and was showing 20 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up. Then Jan took my phone away and said it was impolite to play with it at the table. Awwwwh! No fair. Nick was playing with his.

Four years ago, the last time we had broadband in a Sticks & Bricks, I had 5 Mbps and thought that was fast. But 20, WOW!

Wanted to give you a sneak peek at one of Landon’s Christmas presents. Hopefully he doesn’t read the blog and won’t see it.

We saw this rocking horse yesterday at Sam’s Club and just had to get it. Besides rocking, if you squeeze his ears, he whinnies and his head and tail move back and forth.

Landon's Horsey

Tomorrow is our last full day here in Elkhart, and we plan on spending it driving around through the Amish countryside around Shipshewana, and then end up back at El Maguey for Jan’s birthday dinner.

Tomorrow will also be our last chance to spend any time with Nick and Terry until probably next March so we want to make the most of it.


Thought for the Day:

"Always yield to temptation. It may not pass your way again. " — Robert A. Heinlein


Charge !!!! . . .

Today was going to be a play day so at noon we all piled into the truck and headed over to Mishawaka for a day of shopping and eating.

Our first stop was the Verizon store. I wanted to get a Droid Charge and Nick’s new Mi-Fi didn’t want to stay connected to 4G so he wanted to have it checked out.

It took about a hour to get my new Droid activated and all my contacts transferred over from my Blackberry Storm II. Since all Verizon phones now use the online Backup Assistant to store contacts, it’s much easier to move them to a new phone than it used to be.

While Nick, Terry, and Jan checked out the Bargain Books bookstore across the street from the Verizon store, while I sat in the car and played with my new toy. I started downloading a bunch of apps to replace the ones on my Blackberry and was really amazed at the 4G speeds. 4 MB apps downloaded in just a few seconds. And it looks like I may have 4G coverage where we’ll be for a couple of months south of Houston this winter.

Then it was on to the Barnes and Noble bookstore at the mall. Nick wanted to go by the Apple Store because he was having trouble with the AT&T data service on his iPad.

While Jan and Terry shopped, I of course, sat in the Starbucks and played with my toy some more.

The Apple Store people sent Nick down to the AT&T store since the problem was really with their signal. I’ll let Nick tell you the outcome.

By the time we left the mall, it was after 4pm and time for dinner at Red Robin They have great burgers and salads and bottomless steak fries, and we always enjoy it.

After dinner, it was time for more shopping, this time at Sam’s Club and then Wal-Mart. Then after sending a lot of money to Bentonville, AR, we headed back toward home, with a quick detour by Dick’s Sporting Goods for Nick.

Getting back to the Elkhart area, we decided to finish off the day with a cold Dairy Queen treat.

It was really nice to just spend a day doing nothing but having fun. Too bad we only have a couple of more days here before we split up for the winter.


And now for another installment of . . .

Things Every RV’er should have:

The Silverleaf VMSpc is one of my favorite gadgets. Unfortunately it’s only for you diesel owners, but if you’ve got one, take a look.

The VMSpc consists of a cable that plugs into the diagnostic port under your dashboard, an interface box with a cable that plugs into your computer, and a PC computer program.

The whole system costs about $400, but you can download the software program for free and play with it.

The VMSpc ties into your engine computer and gives you much more accurate information than your coach gauges do, and also gives you some info that you don’t even have gauges for, like horsepower, torque, GPH, turbo boost, and a number of others.


As I said, the Silverleaf VMSpc plugs into the diagnostic port underneath the dashboard and connects to my laptop that sits on the center console when we travel.

In my case I run two programs on the laptop: In the bottom section I’m running Delorme Street Atlas w/GPS. The top section is the Silverleaf display.

The really nice thing about the Silverleaf is you get to design your own panel. You can choose the instruments you want to display, where you want them on the screen, what color they are, and what they say. You can also set alarms so that if, for example, your battery voltage drops below 12 volts, an audible/visible alarm goes off on the screen.

Across the top, left to right, I first have the transmission gear indicator. The left ‘6’ shows what gear is selected on the console. The right one shows what gear the transmission is actually in.

Next, in order, are the tachometer, the turbocharger boost pressure, the instantaneous MPG, and the clock. Down the left side, the first four gauges are alarms for voltage, transmission temperature, water temperature, and oil pressure. Next are numerical gauges for the oil pressure, transmission temp, engine temp, and the total hours on the engine.

Starting from the top of the second column, CSPD shows the Cruise Control Set Speed, next is the total miles on the coach (it had 62511 miles when we bought it), the miles we’ve put on the coach, and the fuel minder. It shows the miles left on this tank, the remaining fuel in the tank, and the recent MPG.

The next column starts with a speedometer. The neat thing about this is that the Silverleaf program allows me to set a modifier on the speedometer.

The tires (295’s) presently on my coach are bigger than the original 285’s. This means my dashboard speedometer is not correct. It reads 51 mph when I’m doing 55, for instance. But by adding a modifier to the gauge, it displays the correct speed.

Next are the generator hours. This lets me track the generator fuel usage at about 1 gallon of diesel per hour.

Underneath that, the green ball means the Cruise Control is set and engaged. If the ball was yellow, it means it’s not engaged, and a red ball means it’s turned off. Just to the right is the miles since my last oil change/filter etc., service.

Next is a vertical bar graph that gives me a instant picture of my engine performance, and below is the miles we’ve traveled so far this year. We’ll probably do another 2-3000 before we get back to Houston right before Thanksgiving.

The right hand column below the clock shows the battery voltage, the fuel rate, the engine torque, the Max Intake Manifold Temp, and the distance to the next rest area.

Lastly, across the bottom is the miles we’ve traveled so far today, and the miles we’ve traveled so far on this tank of diesel.

This last reading, coupled with the fuel used from the Fuel Minder gauge, gives me a very accurate reading on the MPG on this tank. In this case, we’ve gone 488.2 miles and used 52.5 gallons (150 – 97.5) of diesel. This gives me a average of 9.3 mph.

Driving 55 does save gas. From testing, I know that if I drive 65, my mpg drops to between 7.5 and 8 mpg. This difference in miles per gallon saves me about $1000 a year.

Just a note, the fuel usage is very accurate on the Silverleaf because the program actually counts the pulses in the fuel injectors, You can’t get any better than that.

Another neat feature of the Silverleaf is that if you ever get a Check Engine light, just use the Diagnostic drop-down menu at the top of the screen and it tells you the code AND what the code means.

It may seem like a lot of information, some of it not too useful, but it gives me an ongoing picture of my engine’s performance and let’s me quickly see any changes.

I hope this all makes sense. If you have any questions or comments be sure and let me know.

For you gas engine RV’ers, there is a product called Scangauge that will work for you, but it does not use a computer display. Instead it has its own display unit.


Thought for the Day:

Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.


Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood . . .

Well, we’re on our second day of nice weather.  So something’s gone terribly wrong.

Once again after lunch I headed back over to the RV/MH Hall of Fame. By the time I left about 4:30 I had everything pretty much wrapped up. I’ll go back over Monday for a little while for a last checkout.

Getting back to the park about 4:45, we turned right about around and headed out with Nick and Terry to the Texas Roadhouse right down the road, where we met Al Hesselbart for dinner.

Texas Roadhouse gave us their usual great steaks and service, but it would be nice if the place weren’t quite so loud. It’s hard to have a conversation.

Leaving the restaurant we dropped Jan and Terry off at the rigs and then Nick and I drove back over to the Verizon store.

Nick had decided to get the Mi-Fi and I was going to get the Droid Charge. But, while Nick got his Mi-Fi, it turns out that they were out of stock on the Charge. Bummer!

But I called the Verizon store in Mishawaka and they have several in stock. That works out perfectly since we’re going over there tomorrow for some shopping.

I was really impressed by the speed of Nick’s 4G Mi-Fi. According to Speedtest.net he was getting almost 15 Mbps, just about 10 times faster than the fastest 3G speeds.

Nice. Now if they would just hurry up and cover more of the country with 4G.

Be sure and tune in tomorrow for another installment of . . .

Things Every RV’er should have:


Thought for the Day;

On Oct. 9, 1903, the New York Times wrote:

"The flying machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million years."

On the same day, on Kill Devil Hill, N.C. in his diary, a bicycle mechanic named Orville Wright wrote:

"We unpacked rest of goods for the new flying machine."