These Lovely Parting Gifts . . .

Not sure if the guys coming through the gate are dropping off  “these lovely parting gifts” because they’re sad to see us go, or are encouraging us to leave, but for the 3rd time this week we got another food delivery, this time a couple of BBQ dinners.

I guess what makes this special is that this is not a catering truck coming though, dropping off a couple of extra dinners for us, out of the 50 – 60 they’re doing for the crew. This is the workers going out for lunch or dinner and then bringing back extra just for us. We’ve even got one guy, Bobby, who brings us coffee every morning.

It’s amazing how involved you can get these guy’s lives, people we’ll probably never see again (we’ve not run into any of the people we met gate guarding last year). We know who’s got a baby or a grandbaby on the way. We know who’s ex is letting them have the kids this weekend, and even who’s getting ready to have an ex.

It is nice to be appreciated.


Well, we did our short move this morning and it all went fine. We cranked up “Beauty”, raised the levelers, and then backed up about 30 feet so that our rear wheels are up on the gravel area where we park the truck and we’re now angled so that come Saturday morning when we leave, I’ll be able to just pull straight out onto the road without having to turn my front wheels and possibly getting stuck.

The reason behind this is two-fold. One, there’s a big cold front coming our way, bringing heavy rain with it. Friday morning the high is supposed to be 85°, but the low that night is going to be in the mid-40’s. Then the high on Saturday is only going to be 49°. And when the hard ground under our RV turns to muck like it does when it gets wet, I don’t want to be stuck here when we try to leave.

The second reason is that after 3 months of sitting here, it’s always nice to be sure everything’s going to work when we go to leave on Saturday, i.e. the engine starts, the levelers come up, the airbags inflate, etc. Unlike other RV’ers I’ve talked to, I don’t regularly crank my engine up when we’re parked for long periods of time. The reason being that Cummins says not to, and Spartan (our chassis manufacturer) says not to. Two different Cummins reps at national rallys told us that unless you plan to run your engine for at least 45 minutes, just let it set. My engine manual says this also.

And Spartan says that to regularly start the engine and not bring the transmission up to running is bad for it too. So I don’t do it.

Twice we’ve been parked for 5 months without cranking up, and every winter we go 3 months while we’re back in Houston. Never had a problem. I do also throw some Biocide in the fuel tank to prevent algae growth, but that’s it.

If you’re going to break down, it’s always nice to do it in a repair shop’s parking lot. It does helpt to be the right repair shop, however.

Yesterday, I followed Orlyn, the gate guard down the road, into Pleasanton to drop off his truck for repair, and then I brought him back here. Coming home, I noticed my engine belt squealing some when I accelerated from a stop and thought I’d check it out when we get back to Houston.

Then this morning I took Orlyn’s wife, Gail, back in to pick up the truck and it happened again. In fact when I went to turn into the repair shop parking lot, the belt was really making noise and the power steering wasn’t working very well. So while Gail was paying for her repair I thought I check und the hood, and then maybe pick up a spare belt at the AutoZone down the street.

But raising the hood, I discovered the belt wasn’t the problem. It was the coolant squirting on the belt that was making it slip. It looked like it was coming out in front of the engine around the fan, which normally means water pump problems.

So when Gail came out, I told her I was going to ride back with her, and left my key and info with the lady inside, telling her I thought I had a leaking water pump and to check it out and let me know. And a couple of hours later they called and said Yep, you were right, Your water pump’s leaking.

They also told me they don’t fix water pumps. Huh?

This is a nice 4 bay shop, advertising “Complete Auto Repair”. Well, complete I guess, except for water pumps. Heck, my son and I have changed out water pumps in shopping center parking lots, and they can’t do one in their shop? They could have at least told me that before I left my truck there, telling them I thought I had a water pump problem.

So now I have to get another ride into town tomorrow to take the truck to another place. I did call them first to be sure THEY fix water pumps. Just in case.

The guy said he won’t be able to get to it until Friday, but that it shouldn’t be a problem to get it fixed before we leave.

My fall-back position (I ALWAYS have a fall-back position.) if they can’t get it fixed for some reason is to stop off on our way home to Houston on Sunday, and just tow it back as is. As usual, we’ll see how it goes.


Lately it seems like I’m getting a lot of annoying sales calls on my cell phone, even though I’m on the National Do No Call list. But I’ve come up with a pretty good fix, especially for repeat numbers.

Most people know that you can assign your own ring tones to specific phone numbers. But did you know you can have a ring tone that doesn’t make a sound?

My solution is to use an app like Hi-Q MP3 Rec (Free) to record 10 seconds of no sound. I then assign this MP3 file (called No Sound) as the ring tone for a contact called Annoying Sales Call. Then when I get one of these calls I just add the number to the contact Annoying Sales Call. My phone never rings again from that number. And it only takes a few seconds to add.

For me it’s easy to identify an Annoying Sales Call. First off I never answer my phone for a number I don’t recognize or expect. If they want me they can leave a message. And Annoying Sales Calls never leave a message. You can also type the number into Google (it’s important to use the format  ###-###-####) and usually get some idea of who it is.

Wrapping up on this phone theme, ever long for the days of only 3 TV channels that sign off with the National Anthem right after Johnny Carson? For the days of no TV remote so one of the kids has to get up and change the channel?  For the reassuring clicking of a rotary dial phone?

Well one of those you can still have today. Well, two if you let the batteries go dead in the remote, or lose it in the sofa cushions. Or a ferret runs off with it and hides it. (true story, He also liked to chew on the little rubber buttons on it).

Or you can get this Rotary Dialer Free program for your smartphone.

You get your choice of modern,

Rotary Dial 1

or not so modern dials.

Rotary Dial 2

Or if you really want to rock it old school, how about this jazzy number, quite possibly actually from the Jazz Age.

Rotary Dial 3

And it evens makes that ratcheting clicking sound when you dial.

Check it out.


Thought for the Day:

If I had to chose

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5 Responses

  1. Mike developed some great friendships with the guys he worked with on the oil rig. Hope all goes well with your departure.

  2. Dick Mott and I will be in the Houston area (at a site in San Leon) through December. We cannot believe it is going so fast but, if we can both find the time, we would love to meet y’all – especially since y’all have been gate guarding in the same area where we were from Jul

  3. OOPS! I hit button too soon. We were in same area from July 9th to October 4th. Please email if meeting works for y’all.

  4. Extra meals? They are gonna miss you guys. Not everyone is as dedicated as you two. I am willing to bet they have had guards who were slow to get out of their RV, were cranky and unfriendly, etc. I am not surprised that you were appreciated.

  5. Always interesting here…glad you are almost done with the job and holidays looming on the horizon soon…I imagine you both will be happy to be situated near your kin for the winter!! We are back in NC again…not sure for how long…time will tell!! Got lots of hugs yesterday from our grandkids…they at least were happy to see us!! Nice kids!!

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