Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Fixing a broken “faux lug” and CRV maintenance…


Ticking off items on my to do list while Sharon is in North Carolina, it was time to take care of our 2011 Honda CRV. It was due for an oil change and now that we are at 120,000 miles, it it is time to also replace the plugs.

Anytime I do an oil change I always worry about the oil plug either being seized or stripping. Since I did our last oil change I wasn’t too worried about it being seized up. I carry an oil change pan for oil storage with us just for this case. A tip for those who want to carry one of these I store ours just on top of the cage over the on-board propane tank. That way it can’t mess anything up. Then I dispose of the used oil when I find a recycling center.


Thankfully the oil change was straight forward and the plugs were a snap to replace as well once I figured out how to detach the plastic plugs which snap into the spark plug holders.Google saved the day again. With new plugs and our regular oil changes, hopefully we will have another 100,000 trouble free miles.

Since my recent tasks were accomplished without any duress I decided to tackle a problem we have had with one of the faux lug nuts (see top photo) that fell off of our simulated wheels. I read the internet once again and did come across a fellow who seemed to have a good idea on how to reattach one of them.


For clarification, the faux wheels have a spring steel insert in the faux lug with a lip all around it making it impossible to reattach.  This left us with no alternative but to buy a new simulated wheel for way more than I want to spend for a cosmetic piece.

Therefore after my reading I took my Dremel with a flat grinder which could grind steel and I carefully ground away about half an inch of the lip on the spring steel insert. I did it in such a way as to create a “screw” out of the insert. The picture  above illustrates what I mean (note the cut that created the “screw thread” on the insert). I took off a bit more than in the picture since I wasn't able to reattach it on my first try.


Once ground even with the faux lug, I took our faux lug removal tool (see the “T” tool in the picture) and I inserted the hacked faux lug in one end and with pressure applied at the other end I slowly kept turning the faux lug tool hoping that the edge I cut into the spring loaded steel would catch and would “screw” on. After grinding a bit more and cleaning up the edges, I tried again with lots of grunting and cursing when it finally magically caught the edge and “screwed” on!

This whole process took about an hour but was well worth it and now our simulated wheel has all its faux lugs! Now onto the next project…

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

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Awning and Plumbing Repairs…

Well, with Sharon away in North Carolina, it finally became time to do a couple of repairs on the RV I have been putting off for some time. As long time readers know I replaced all our slide topper awnings about three years ago during a winter stay in Florida.


This year while wintering down in the Rio Grande Valley I noticed that one of our new slide toppers was showing signs of damage which of course shouldn’t have so soon. Upon further inspection it was seemingly coming apart and appearing as if it were about 15 years old. I contacted Tough Top Awnings whom I purchased them from and told them my story.


After hearing my dilemma they said there was no way these toppers should have failed and it must have been defective material. They therefore agreed to simply send me a new one at no charge as there was a five year warranty on them. Nice, but now I have to put it on. Last time I did this I had help from a friend (Ed) and I sure found myself wishing he was here. I did manage to get the new one on but I can tell you that doing it by myself was not nearly as easy as having help.


With that task out of the way another non-pleasant task awaited me which was a water leak problem. Water was slowly bypassing our city water valve and as such would slowly fill up our fresh water tank only to eventually trickle out of the overflow cap.

After scouring the web I thought it was a faulty check valve in our water pump so I ordered an inline one to bypass the one in the water pump since it was harder to replace. It took less than half an hour to do this but alas, it wasn’t the problem. It turns out the problem was the city water diverter valve. Fortunately Amazon also had one of those.


With the water turned off and the fresh water tank drained I was ready to start. This was certainly not going to be an easy task. Simply getting to this valve was a chore as all of the plumbing and connections on the face panel had to be removed to get to it. Once the valve was exposed I could cut it out. Since everything is pex I used my pex cutter which I had from replacing our hot water heater. 


Once it was out I still needed to take off all the fitting attached to the old valve since the new one didn’t include them. Then I reattached the old connections to our new valve so it was ready to install. I needed several shark byte connections to complete this task. I used a few unions and a “T” connection to complete the task. Once it was all back together I crossed my fingers for no leaks.


Hooray for no leaks! This was not an easy task and one I hope to never need to do again but it did solve our problem. Now it’s back to fishing and birding in the gulf coast of Texas…

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

Monday, April 19, 2021

Rockport, Hurricane Harvey, Covid and Today…

Hurricane Harvey - Wikipedia

On August 25th in 2017 Rockport Texas was struck by a powerful Cat 4 hurricane named Harvey. Life in Rockport changed drastically that day. By the end of the storm it had caused catastrophic flooding and more than 100 deaths.Wind gusts were observed up to 132 mph just south of town and 1,000’s of homes were destroyed in Texas.

Hurricane Harvey devastates small town of Rockport, Texas - National |

In Rockport, entire blocks were decimated from the violent eyewall winds. The city's courthouse was severely damaged when a cargo trailer was hurled into it, coming to a stop halfway through the structure. Many boats were damaged or sunk and the Aransas County Airport sustained major damage. Twenty percent of Rockport's population was displaced by the storm and many were still unable to return to their homes a year later. Yes, even today the town is still slowly recovering.


Three and a half years later while driving around town signs of storm damage are still evident throughout the area. Yet, those who stayed are are excited about what Rockport and nearby Fulton Texas will become with the infusion of federal emergency funding that is still being spent to revitalize.IMG_1947

I’ve been here nearly a month and can see the rebuilding slowly changing the look of the town. The economy is still in a rocky spot especially after a year of dealing with the Covid pandemic. As Texas begins to open up fully, business owners are hoping for the return of tourists to their hotels, restaurants and shops.IMG_1948

I’d say about half of the town takes Covid seriously and still masks up while the other half appears to be ignoring all medical advice while enjoying life as if Covid didn’t even exist. As a result some businesses seem to have catered to these two disparate groups with some not caring about patrons wearing masks while others still adhere to a strict masking policy.


I am not making any political statement about these two different groups I am simply portraying what I am seeing in this small Texas town. No matter what one believes or their political views, I am sure we all hope to see the day this town and others like it are back to being full of people supporting businesses back to the way they were before Covid existed.

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

Monday, April 5, 2021

Daytripping to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge…


Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is only about a 40 drive from the park we stayed at in South Padre Island, Tx However, the drive over to it is not all that scenic. It is on the Coastal Prairies ecosystem of Texas and as such is very flat with rich soils. Nowadays instead of prairie grasses, plowed fields and agriculture are as far as the eye can see.


Once inside the park we used our seniors annual pass to gain entrance into the refuge. Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is a 115,324-acre protected area situated on the Blackjack Peninsula along the Gulf Coast of Texas. It is most well known as the the winter home of one of the rarest birds in North America, the whooping crane.


Today’s population of whooping cranes are all descendants of the last 15 birds found wintering in Texas in 1941 as the bird was nearing extinction. We did see a few Whooping Cranes but too far away for a worthy photo. They have made a nice comeback from those original 15 birds as the whooping crane population assessed last winter cited 506 whooping cranes, including 39 juveniles and 192 adult pairs. This marks the 3rd year in a row that the population has topped the 500 mark.


The refuge is also home to many other species of creatures as it is comprised of wetlands and barrier dunes. The shoreline is interspersed with islands that together making this a great refuge where animal life can thrive.


There are several hiking trails within the park as well. One of our favorites is the Heron Flats Trail. Along the trail remain the remnants grasses such as bushy bluestem which adorn the perimeter. Along the Heron Flats trail there were several large alligators out soaking up the sunshine prevalent that day. We even came across one on the other side of a small impoundment that was as big a gator as I have ever seen.


After enjoying Heron Flats Trail, we drove down to the observation towers and boardwalk further south along the shore of Blackjack Peninsula.  We walked up the observation towers and were able to see a few Whooping Cranes but again but they were way out in the distance as can be attested by the only photo I could get..We also walked onto the adjacent boardwalk which took us out to the beach through a rich and diverse wetland:


Lastly we took the driving loop around the interior of the park which takes up much of the Blackjack Peninsula. We really didn’t see a lot of wildlife on this particular day but we did see a few deer, some feral hogs and a few javalina.


The down side of the day was there were a lot of the trails and areas around the park that were closed.  As a result we were not able to go on many of the trails we wanted to hike. However, all in all it was a nice day at the refuge…


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