Thursday, June 17, 2021

Sharon Blogs About Our New Grandbaby Allie!

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When our daughter, Katie became pregnant she asked if I would come to help her after the birth. Of course I agreed! John and I made plans around the delivery date but ended up having to scramble for an earlier flight since Katie developed pre-eclampsia necessitating a scheduled C-section because little Allie Rose was also breech and refused to turn even after a hospital procedure to try to flip her. John worked some magic and had me in North Carolina the day after Brooks, Katie and Allie came home from the hospital.

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My plan was to cook, clean and do laundry giving Brooks and Katie the opportunity to bond with little Allie.  The first few weeks had to be lived completely downstairs in their 2 story home since Katie was not allowed to navigate the stairs while healing from surgery.  Thankfully they had given plenty of thought to arranging for living downstairs so we had a bassinet, changing table and sleeping arranged for the new parents on their sectional couches. I slept in the guest room upstairs.

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Because Allie is absolutely irresistible,  it wasn’t long before I was asking to help with her care especially when the new parents suffered from sleep deprivation. Those early morning baby snuggles will be etched in my memory forever.  I know little Allie won’t remember my time with her but I surely will cherish it. Katie and I also had many priceless moments together while getting to know Allie.  Katie is a wonderful mother and never ceases to amaze me. Its heartwarming to see your baby with a baby!

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Katie and Brooks are wonderful parents despite the sleep deprivation and through the confusing times when baby is fussy.  They probably could have handled it all on their own but I am so glad I was able to stay with them to take some of the chores off their hands so they could savor this exciting time. 

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Toward the end of my eleven week stay, John came out for a week to meet Allie which was so wonderful as I REALLY missed him terribly.  Baby Allie took to him right away and loves him just as I do.  We really had a wonderful stay but it was time to let the little family establish their routine. It was also time for me to resume my beloved lifestyle at home with my husband who I have an even greater appreciation for after being apart so long.. We are just not meant to be apart. 

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I took so many pictures of beautiful Allie and want to share them with you all just as we have done with our other two grand children Cameron and Adrianne.  Aren’t grandkids THE BEST?

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NOTE:  We are currently in Waco, Texas until June 18th…

Friday, June 11, 2021

How to replace the end of the shore power electrical cord


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About a year ago the plastic sheathing which protects the wires inside our 50 amp shore power cable came “unattached” to the plug’s end. Knowing that this wasn’t good I did some online research and found that most people were using gorilla tape to re-attach it.

PXL_20210327_154736709One afternoon I decided I would use some acetone to clean the wires and sheathing up real good so the tape would stick better. I applied the gorilla tape being careful to keep it flat so water couldn’t get inside the cable behind the sheathing. Using black tape the job looked almost as good as new, but would it last?

PXL_20210426_013556227After four or five months the taped plug-in re-separated. I once again took to the internet in search of solutions. The obvious one, of course, was to simply replace the end but how difficult would that be?

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Finding no other viable solutions I ordered a new one. After reading about several replacements I chose the Camco PowerGrip Replacement Plug on Amazon because of its great reviews and I liked the large handle on the back of the plug to assist in taking it apart (especially from a 30 AMP adapter).

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Once the replacement arrived through the mail it was time to put it on. I read the instructions carefully and they were very meticulous. The first task was cutting off the old end. I opted to use a hack saw with a metal cutting blade since I didn’t have a large enough wire cutter. Once the end was cut off the directions said to strip each of the old wires in a particular way:

Wire Color        How much wire  unsheathed         How much wire to strip to copper    

green                              3"                                             .75” or 3/4”
black                     1.875 or 1 7/8”                                 .625” or 5/8”
red                        1.875 or 1 7/8”                                 .625” or 5/8”
white                         1.5 or 1 1/2                                   .625” or 5/8”

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Why they gave directions in decimals for the inches I have no idea because I had to convert them first. I used a box cutter to cut the sheathing down the three inches needed for the green wire and then used a wire cutter to achieve the lengths needed for each wire. Finally I used a wire stripper to strip the required amounts off of each wire’s end.

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At this point one must be really careful to make sure to follow the diagram to put each wire in its rightful place. Then tighten each as much as possible. All that remained was to put the rest of the plug together and tighten the sheath collar real snug.

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With the right tools this happened to be a fairly easy task in making our power cord as good as new! It was made even easier when the neighbor’s dog came by to assist…

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NOTE:  We are currently in College Station, Texas until June 15th…

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Back in College Station, Texas for a while…

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After my two night stay in Shiner Texas I was ready for my second RV travel day without Sharon, and hopefully my last time without her. In the morning I readied the RV for travel and then pulled the RV up in my huge site to attach the CRV to the back. Once attached, I checked all the lights and since all was well, off I went.

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The drive was about 120 miles and took a bit over 2.5 hours. I opted for a slightly longer route through Giddings Texas rather than through Brenham Texas since the roads are better and easier for one to handle. Shortly before noon I was pulling into my next RV park, a place we have stayed many times before, in College Station, Texas.

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My being back in our old home town had me reminiscing that this is where we began our journey on the Road of Retirement. I also realized that we are now in our eleventh year and I never did a 10 year review or summary of any kind. Therefore I resolved to work on a future blog with a review of our costs hoping the budget info may be useful to some readers.

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In the meantime I have been taking in some walks at some of our favorite spots in the Brazos Valley. I hiked at Lick Creek Park, the Brazos Arboretum and all around the sprawling Texas A&M University campus.Spring is still in force here as it has been raining frequently but all too soon summer will arrive with temperature reaching into the 90’s and 100’s. I hope we are out of here before we see 100+.

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Next week I will fly out to North Carolina to finally see my new granddaughter whom Sharon has been helping to care for. I will fly out on the 2nd of June and stay about a week, then Sharon and I will fly back together to Texas. I am really looking forward to getting to know our little Allie Rose in North Carolina.

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Finally I wanted to add a note to my email subscribers. Google is discontinuing service to feedburner which is what my blog was using for mail subscriptions. I have now deleted that service and begun using a newer service called follow.it which was really easy to switch over to. Hopefully this will be a seamless process for those of you receiving this blog by mail. Feel free to comment if you are a mail subscriber and receive this blog so I will know it is actually working! I appreciate you and hope to see you on down the road!

NOTE:  While Sharon is in North Carolina I am now currently at in College Station, Texas until  June 15th…

Saturday, May 22, 2021

A Delightful Time in Texas…

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And so it happened… my last day in Rockport showed up on the calendar. As morning dawned it was time to hit the road… but alas, this time would be different. Why? Well, with Sharon still in North Carolina, this would be first time I'd move without my trusty side-kick and navigator…

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My stress level was a bit higher than normal as I embarked upon my checklist. I readied the inside of the RV for travel then it was outside to pull in the sewer and water hookups. With everything nearly ready I fired up the RV and let her run a bit as I pulled in the slides and brought up the jacks.

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One final trip outside to pull in the power cord and the wheels were ready to roll. I pulled out of the site a bit so I had room to maneuver our Honda CRV in behind to get it ready to tow. After texting Sharon to verify what needed to be done to prepare the CRV I completed the sequence. Attaching the tow bar was managed by myself without issue so all that was left was checking the lights and turn signals.

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It took a while as I had to do a little jiggling to get all the lights to work properly. I guess the salt air took a toll on the electronics so I made a mental note to clean them thoroughly at my next site. With the checklist complete I hopped into the driver's seat, put it in drive and off I went. I did pause to double and triple check the route to ensure there would be no surprises. About two hours later I pulled into the county park in Shiner, Texas!

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Disconnecting the CRV and backing in by myself in the empty park with double wide slots was easier than I expected so it wasn’t long before I was all hooked up. After settling in I figured I needed a reward so off I went to the Spoetzel Brewery, home to Texas Shiner Beer. While we have visited the brewery many times before, things sure had changed.

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No longer were free samples allowed but for only $5.00 I received two tokens which could be exchanged for two pints of any Shiner beer. My choice was the Black Lager which I carried outside where I found a fellow strumming his guitar and bellowing out some great lyrics. How nice it was to hear live music again!! It was a great way to unwind after a travel day.

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The next day I had gone in the CRV for one more quick visit to see my son and his family in San Antonio. Our grandson Cameron wanted to show me his new skateboard. Afterwards, we enjoyed a nice time down in the Pearl District of San Antonio where we took in some people watching and enjoyed a nice craft beer while doing so.My son made a great dinner to finish the day off.

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The next morning I left and on the way home I went over to the nearby town of Gonzales to check out the town and play a little disc golf. Gonzales is a town Sharon and I will have to visit again some day to check out its history. Before I got all the way home I stopped in Luling Texas and picked up some of the best BBQ brisket you will ever eat from City Market. Yum!

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Once back in Shiner I had to check out a place I heard about called Howard’s. I couldn’t really believe what I had heard about this little dive so I had to see it for myself. I pulled into the front of what appeared to be a run down convenience store. As I walked in and looked around sure enough there were a lot of VHS videos for rent, Blue Bell ice cream for sale and yes beer on tap for sale!

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I bought a large draft Shiner Bock for a pittance of $2.75 and sat in a booth by the front door. As I sat I saw one cowboy after another walk into the store, plunk down $2.75 for a draft of their choice then leave the store, get back into their pick-up truck and drive off. Yes, it was true! This little dive sells draft beer to people who plan to buy one for the road!!! It’s as if the clock had turned back in time which made for another entertaining day on this Road of Retirement…

NOTE:  While Sharon is in North Carolina I am now currently at in College Station, Texas until  June 15th

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Farewell Rockport Texas, It’s been real…

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Well my time has come to a close here in Rockport Texas as it has been two months since I first arrived. Actually it was two months and one day since I added a day due to heavy rains predicted. This stay was pretty much everything I had hoped for. It was quiet, it had the beach and ocean nearby yielding many fishing and walking opportunities. I was also able to find some great bird watching locations.

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The only downside to this two month stay was the fishing was quite poor.  It could be my fishing skills but I’d like to blame it more on the big freeze which caused a huge fish kill in this area. It was bad enough with reduced limits on some fish species as well as increasing minimum sizes. The size limitations caused me the most grief on speckled trout as the size limit was raised to 17” and every trout I caught was just below that. I do want to thank Barney who pens the Old Fat Man Adventures blog for his fishing tips. Without his advice I may not have caught any trout!

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When I first arrived in Rockport the wildflowers were blooming. My site was close to fields of Indian Paintbrush and Phlox and also close to a neat little spot nearby with a small pond. The pond was loaded with Whistling Ducks and Roseate Spoonbills but of late they have mostly moved on..

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I really enjoyed experiencing the annual bird migration this spring as this area is right in the heart of the migratory paths of many species of birds. Between frequent visits to Port Aransas and Goose Island State Park I also found several good birding spots near town, one even real close to a great happy hour spot.

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For those who haven’t visited Rockport you really should especially to enjoy this quiet location on the Texas coast where there's great places to do a little fishing or for just hanging out at the beach. Rockport has that small town feel where life runs at a slower pace. Between hurricanes and Covid the area has suffered a bit but probably not much more than many other towns in the USA.PXL_20210511_153440639

The small downtown is up and coming. It is really trying to establish itself as a bit of a touristy area mixed with venues to attract locals. There are several well done murals to see that are scattered on the walls around town as it is emerging from the Covid slowdown.

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Having said all this I am certainly ready to move on as hitch itch has become evident these past few days. I have no hesitation of returning to the this area as it appeals to most of my interests. Another huge positive for Rockport is the lower than usual costs associated with full timing while staying here. But alas, the wheels must roll once again…Next stop will be Shiner, Texas!

NOTE:  While Sharon is in North Carolina I am now currently at in College Station, Texas until  June 15th…

Sunday, May 9, 2021

More Birding and Future Planning…

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With my time here wrapping up soon I was able to get out a few more times to see the last of the bird migrating through the greater Rockport area. Focusing on the spots that seem to produce the most birds I often crossed over to Port Aransas on the free ferry. It may be free but depending on what time of the day the wait can be very long, especially on the weekends which I avoid.

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Leona Turnbull continues to be the best migrating bird location. Not only have I seen warblers migrating through but also all waterfowl still trickling their way northward. I have even seen a couple of birds I have never seen before such as the Cape May Warbler, the Blackpoll Warbler and the Black-billed Cuckoo. I was even lucky enough to capture a few photos of two of them.

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So before just ending with some photos of the birds I have seen I thought I’d update everyone on our plans as they are starting to develop. Looks like I will move over to College Station, Texas (our former hometown) for a month while Sharon finishes up her nanny/grandmothering stint. I will be staying three nights in Shiner Texas before arriving there though so I can revisit my favorite Texas brewery in Shiner.

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In June I will be flying out to North Carolina for a week to meet my newest granddaughter and afterward I will bring Sharon back to where she belongs, with me. Then we will begin a westward trek to New Mexico. I plan on stopping in Waco, Tex as a few nights before exploring parts of Texas we haven’t ventured through such as the towns and area around Meridian, Dublin, Comanche and Colorado City. 

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So our tentative plans are to move over to Roswell, NM and then up to Albuquerque. Our biggest challenge in order to finalize this part of our journey will be securing a reservation for the upcoming July 4th holiday… Ahhh, but that is our life on the Road of Retirement….

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Replacing the Bathroom Faucet in the RV…

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As with a sticks and bricks home,  in an RV as it ages things wear out and need to be replaced. Sharon wanted me to replace our bathroom faucet for some time but being the frugal guy I am I just didn’t want to since it worked fine.

I did agree it looked a bit worn but it worked so I figured why replace it. Well several months after she mentioned replacing it it started to leak just a little bit around its base. I couldn’t discern where it was leaking so I gave in and decided it needed to be replaced. I mean after all it was broken now, right?

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As many of you know there is little pleasure in doing plumbing in a house. Well, there is less pleasure in doing it in an RV. Why? Two reasons… One is RV’s are all Pex! While it makes it easy for builders of RVs to put in all the plumbing as it is more flexible than rigid pipes, it becomes a pain in the butt to work with later.

Here is my biggest gripe about working with Pex. In order to connect Pex pieces together you need a special tool. No biggie, right? Well this special tool is over $100.00 and it is a big tool which will then need to be stored. However, there is a solution!

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You can plumb with Pex without the tool but you have to buy specialized plumbing connectors called “Shark Bites.” These babies are really nifty in making Pex plumbing practically a snap, notice I said practically.

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So the other reason this job was a pain other than having to work with Pex, our faucet had two handles and three holes for the faucet to fit into on the countertop. It had a unique attachment to make it affix to the counter. When searching high and low for a replacement it took me a good while until I figured out any faucet would work as long as it had three holes, a pull to lift the sink stopper up and it had long enough threaded parts to go through the countertop so I could secure it firmly to the countertop.

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I finally settled on a stylish Delta faucet Sharon liked and surprisingly it went in with little pain. After removing the old faucet by cutting the Pex lines (they are red and blue for hot/cold) I bought Shark Byte connectors to attach the new one. Instead of a simple union connector I spent a little more money for the Shark Bite shut off valve so in the future I could turn the hot and/or cold water off under the sink.

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If you haven’t worked with Shark Bites before they are a blessing for weekend plumbers working with Pex. Once you have a cleanly cut end of the old Pex you simply slide the Shark Bite onto the Pex until it won’t slide on anymore and it is on there baby! Once on, I attached a normal braided flexible water line from the shut off valve to the new faucet. I have to admit this was the easiest plumbing job I have ever done.

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I did wait to brag about how easy it was for at least a month before I blogged about it just in case it failed…. it didn’t. I am sure when Sharon returns from North Carolina she will love her new, much more modern bathroom sink faucet!

NOTE:  While Sharon is in North Carolina I am currently at Angler’s Retreat in Rockport Texas until  May 12th…