Friday, June 28, 2013

No Deal!

After hiring someone to watch our gate we sat sail for Ft. Worth just before three a.m. yesterday. We wanted to avoid traffic and the heat of the day, plus we wanted to get back as  soon as possible. Three hundred plus miles later we arrived at the RV dealership and began negotiations to trade our coach and car for a 5th wheel. This after we had spent hours on the phone with the dealer and sent photos along with a description of our coach. After about thirty minutes of inspecting the dealer announced that he would not make the trade. Apparently he wanted to pass it on to other buyers and they did not offer enough to make it worth his while. The 5th wheel was more or less as described, but some things gave me pause. The bathroom floor was soft and there was a stress crack along with some delamination of the body. Maybe the "big guy" was trying to tell us something. I guess we can do a little more organizing and cleaning since we have everything packed up. Doesn't make it any easier to swallow...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Organized Chaos

When I was abandoned by "big corporate" and forced to move my semi retirement plans up, we were faced with downsizing from an entire house full of stuff-including a storage closet. At the time I was relegated to my lounge chair, recovering from heart surgery. Missy got some friends to help and they paraded by my chair all day long asking what I wanted to keep. Even though I trashed a lot of stuff, donated some and sold even more I was concerned that the poor motor home would be overweight. Missy weighed it and we made it with a few pounds to spare. Since then we have attacked the glut in the motorhome several times. I'm no hoarder, but obeying the "if you haven't used it in over a year, get rid of it" rule is extremely tough for me. I thought we had made a significant dent in the glut until moving day reared its ugly head again. People have a lot of things that they say they will never do again. My mother says she is packing up and leaving with out looking back if a hurricane ever destroys her house again. I personally do not want to ever transfer or move my stuff from one place to another ever again. Especially from RV to RV, house to RV, RV to anything...you get the idea. Missy has been doing a yeoman's job of packing up stuff (we thought it would be easier and faster if we boxed as much stuff up as possible) but we now have crap and boxes scattered from one end of the motorhome to the other. RVs and boats are unique in that the lack of space dictates that everything have a space and be in its space. That in itself is going to make the move a challenge. For years we have had the luxury of basement storage and now most of that space will be gone. We are excited about moving into our new digs-a 38 foot Open Range 5th wheel. Once things have calmed down, I will endeavor to post some pics and tell the tale of  swapping out rigs. Didn't I tell you-the 5th wheel is in Ft. Worth!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Just a Thought

Any of you out there that know folks who are living the RV lifestyle and need work, ask them if they have considered gate guarding. Summer in South Texas is hot and dusty and it is difficult to get folks to do the job. If you can hunker down and work diligently you can make good money as a gate guard. Although the work requires you to be present 24 hours a day, the money allows you to take time off and enjoy life between assignments. Anyone needing more info can contact me at mdbass@att.net. Thanks!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Between a Rock and a Cool Place

I have chronicled our travails with Jesabel (our motorhome) ad nauseam, especially the air conditioners. We have invested thousands of dollars trying to get our basement heat pumps to run. Missy finally said no mas about six months ago and we have been exploring alternatives since. Thanks to moderate winter temps we have survived with a small window unit which we supplemented with a portable unit as things warmed up. We have already experienced temps in the high nineties and probably closer to one hundred degrees of late. When it gets that hot and you're RV is exposed to the elements, you really need air conditioning. After an exhausting investigation I finally called Family RV Center, which I found on Craigslist. Like everything else in the oil patch, finding honest, ethical and knowledgeable folks when you need something done is nigh impossible. When you pay good money that you labored for and get inferior service it is especially hurtful. It  affects your opinion of every service person you deal with down here. This place is a lot like the aftermath of a natural disaster when shysters descend like locusts on folks desperately needing help. But I digress-sorry. The folks at Family RV Center showed up on time, did what they said they would and delivered a quality product at the price they originally quoted. That is exceedingly rare in the oil patch. If you own a RV and need service in South Texas call Paul - http://www.familyrvcenter.net/. The service call will cost you, but I think they are worth it. BTW-the Advent roof air will literally drive you out of our 35 foot motorhome. We had the 15000 BTU unit installed and it has a larger than standard fan enabling it to equal the output of a 16500 BTU model. Now that we addressed that issue, I resumed my search for a newer coach to replace Jesabel. As much as I love this coach I cannot justify continuing to spend the money we have been spending on upkeep and repairs. Complicating the process is the fact that my credit suffered after my cardiac problems. I again found someone on Craigslist that was willing to work with me and we ended up making a deal, Again I feel we were fortunate. If you want to drive me away from making a deal, start applying pressure or try talking me into something I don't want. We had wanted to change from a Class A to a 5th wheel; but not having a truck kind of complicates that. We also had the elephant in the room-we needed to sell Jesabel. Each of these complications that I threw at the salesperson were met with a solution and a can do attitude. He came up with a truck and 5th wheel package and we traded the motorhome, our car and some cash. By the 15th of next month we should be in our new home. Yeah, I know-what about the new air conditioner we just bought? I guess you could say we were between a rock and a cool place-no one wants an RV without air conditioning; especially down here. I'll also take solace in that it will be the last major expense spent on Jesabel.

Monday, June 17, 2013

30 Plus

As much as I hate the intrusiveness of a lot of programs and apps; I do enjoy the breakdown Google affords you when you have a blog. I marvel at how far spread my readership is. There are all kinds of categories, including page views and the number of subscribers. Today I noticed that the number of folks subscribing to my blog is over 30! Yeah! I'm pretty sure that is a miniscule number in the blogosphere but it does make me proud. Hopefully all the subscribers extend their interest and actually read some of my dribble. As always I am humbled and grateful and urge you to feel free to comment. Thanks again and our next goal is 50 subscribers-I'm confident it can be done.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Bug's Perspective

The latest onslaught of rain in South Texas has not only made life  miserable for humans, it has also driven animals of all kinds into a frantic search for higher ground. While we are bitching about slogging around in the mud and getting the occasional drip in the coach some animals have been left homeless. We have been witnesses to the latest frenzy of sex starved male tarantulas who are searching for a mate. Tarantulas burrow instead of spinning a web, which is ideal most of the time in arid South Texas. When it rains, like it has recently, their burrows become a death trap. Yesterday we had dozens of the confused fellows running about, some as large as a dinner plate. Mother nature made the male tarantula for one purpose which is to procreate. Along with that responsibility the male tarantula also has a ticking clock, since they rarely live more than a week to ten days. The female, on the other hand, has been known to live for thirty years plus! They are also gentler than the male and can make great pets. Tarantulas have rarely been studied in depth and there are few scientists dedicated to getting to know them better. New species are discovered with some regularity. In some parts of the world consumption by humans and the pet industry have endangered the spider. Contrary to Hollywood depictions and myths the tarantula can only inflict a bite to us humans-sort of like a bee sting-and can emit a spray of microscopic hairs. The males are skittish (they have other things on their mind) and can be difficult to trap and handle. Both sexes can be calmed down by stroking it with a soft paint brush to the abdomen. If you choose to handle them be gentle and remember that they can be hurt by dropping them. Best to leave them alone, I think!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Paranoia

I haven't given into feelings of paranoia for a long time. Trust me, some of the things I did back in the day would make the most secure person feel a little paranoid (and that's all I'm going to say about that). But this whole deal with our government being so unorganized and internal radicals outing our national security secrets is giving me a case of deja vu. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that current events are giving credence to the aluminum foil wearers out there. For years I have occasionally wondered just who was watching the watchers. As Benjamin Franklin famously said "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." That man was one of our founders and they are folks we all ought to give major credence to. I believe the thundering, out of control train that is technology will eventually run us all over. Perhaps one day someone will read this and wonder about my paranoid rantings. Strange, huh? People are justifiably concerned about identity theft these days. But when it comes to privacy I rarely worry. Want to know why? Technology has let that cow out of the barn. Anyone with a computer and a little savvy can find out just about anything he or she wants to know about an individual. We've gone from mining peoples trash to electronically revealing a person's secrets in under twenty years. The revelations out of Washington are (or should be) truly alarming. Rape is out of control in our military, the president's security detail is out partying and having sex with prostitutes and the same thing, or worse, is rampant among our diplomatic corps. And; just like a lot of government departments, the State department investigates and adjudicates itself. Apparently, while all this misconduct was occurring, our good friend Hillary was in charge. And as is usual for her (and her philandering husband) she claims to have no knowledge of this alleged misconduct. The "sheriff" who is supposed to be investigating and controlling things is the Office of Inspector General, or OIG.  It is the OIG that is investigating claims that the State Department thwarted efforts to investigate the alleged misconduct. Meanwhile, what should be an outraged electorate seems blissfully ignorant of the situation(s). I have a friend that also publishes a blog and he contends that the reason for all this passiveness is the welfare state. Too many folks on the dole that don't want to risk killing the golden goose. What ever the reason, we have an ever growing and controlling government that is apparently out of control. Those founders I spoke of earlier would surely be disappointed at the goings on today. Few envisioned the eventual size and population of the union and how involved government would become in our daily lives. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fox in the Henhouse

I have refrained from writing about our government and the morass that is any kind of legislation these days. Some folks think that that is really not germane to my blog. The chaos that is Washington D.C. these days has almost screamed for me to speak out yet again. My only fear about all this is that it might give rise to even more radical histrionics from the far left or right.
 
The headlines scream that the IRS was targeting groups (especially non profits) that espoused or had Tea Party or Patriot in their names for excessive and unfair scrutiny. Frustrated conservatives are having a field day, rightfully stating they had been saying this for some time. As is common in Washington, the plot thickened after Congress and the President called for an investigation. And, as is the hallmark of the current administration, when the defecation hits the fan no one seems to be in charge. As long as the spotlight isn't on you the money flows and exotic getaways serve as motivational or teaching seminars. Why a federal employee needs a $1000 plus a night suite is beyond me. With everything else percolating on or below the surface this is actually a diversion for some folks in our nations capitol. As I have said repeatedly in the past, it bothers me that most folks are accepting and/or oblivious to the powers and capabilities of the IRS. They are not bound by most common laws. They have their own enforcement group and court system; replete with its own judges. A veritable kangaroo court in the government supposedly run by and for the people.

The shame that was this administrations response and handling of the attack on our consulate in Benghazi smolders and has resisted strong efforts to expose the truth. Obfuscation and spin control have been fully utilized in this matter. Hillary Clinton's bumbling and convenient illness during most of the hearings; not to mention her stepping down, softened the impact of the scandal. That this country ignored repeated requests for stepped up security and was unable (or unwilling) to send aid when needed is a slap in the face to all the selfless diplomats that serve America's interests. The loss of Ambassador Stevens and the brave men who tried to protect him (and saved many lives) deserve better from our country.

Speaking of morass; the long, slow process of converting the Veterans Administration's records onto computers continues to plod along. Meanwhile our country shamefully delays or denies veterans the benefits that they so richly deserve. Interviews with folks in charge there show a defeated leadership that thinks the job will take years without additional help. Meanwhile a decades long cancer of rape and abuse amongst the ranks has finally come to light, allowing some long suffering individuals to hopefully find some justice. Talk about fox in the henhouse, some of the vermin forced out from under their rock(s) are the very people charged with protecting the folks they abused. Makes me wonder why folks were surprised by the disclosure of systematic rape and abuse of civilians in WW2. As a veteran I hope something positive and long lasting comes from this-our country and troops deserve better.

I have mixed feelings about the fourth estate, especially because of the damage that yellow journalism can cause. I suppose I should exercise more tolerance as a blog is a form of journalism. Anyway I was impressed by Bob Schieffer's take on this whole mess. He saw beyond the rhetoric, the pundits and spin and said that he has never seen Washington D.C. this bad. He further said that he had never seen such a lack of leadership and that everyone seemed to be off on their own tangent, instead of moving in a cohesive, unified course. I'm not a big fan of motivational clich├ęs, but we really need everyone to row in the same direction if we expect to pull out of this tailspin.
 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Life off of a Gate

It is fairly easy to break from the day to day gate routine once you're off of it for a few days. We no longer anticipate the sounding of the vehicle alarm and are enjoying being able to do things together. We have also liked being able to sleep in and getting caught up on our rest.
 
As a lot of you know Mother nature has not been kind to Oklahoma and there have been a series of tornadic outbreaks. Other than some stout winds and a lot of rain we have been spared from the worst of it. As long time Midwesterners, both Missy and I are accustomed to extreme weather and it takes a lot to get us concerned. Speaking of weather, who knew 80 plus degrees could be so comfortable? The 10 -15 degree difference between South Texas and 600 miles north is a refreshing break. They are even having some 60 degree mornings up here.
 
We have been spending our vacation time renewing friendships and participating in some chili cook offs. Before we began gate guarding we were very active in competitive chili cooking. We also dabbled in chicken wings, salsa and beans. Our sanctioning body is Chili Appreciation Society International (or CASI for short) and they are a non profit. All of the profits made from entry fees and the sale of taster kits goes to charity. The sanctioning body owns a ranch just south of Terlingua, TX and holds their annual championship cook off there the first Saturday in November. Missy has also used the time off to spend time with her son. She also has family in the area and has visited with them. We plan to participate in a cook off in Arkansas and attend a Monster Truck Show before we head south to rejoin the gate guard community.
 
For those of you following our attempt(s) at keeping a 18 year old coach rolling, here's an update. The latest water leak did indeed turn out to be a loose fitting. FYI: a soaked carpet that you cannot get a lot of air to takes a LONG time to dry. After vacuuming the area several times; and as the days went by, we imagined all kinds of scenarios. Perhaps the water heater had been compromised or the connecting tubing was leaking intermittently-who knew? The carpet just wouldn't seem to dry and we were worried that the fitting hadn't cured the problem. After three or four days of ventilating and vacuuming things started to dry out. We have the area under pressure now and the carpet remains dry. Both of the major leaks that we have encountered have been buried and did not manifest themselves till a lot of damage was done. I guess we are ready for the next challenge Jesabel throws our way.