January 2007 Archives

Awake: 5:46am Temp 49 sleep 5+34 overcast overnight @ Falcon, Texas.

1st thing this morning, I crawl into the rear Joey bed area of our basement storage & thoroughly check (4) more Modules; making notes just in case Joe asks & needs to know about those units also. Then call Joe; he listens to my report of yesterday’s check, which by the way, entailed no blown fuses, loose wires or anything suspicious. Joe takes that all in & then voices my next duty; he wants me to concentrate on the triple stack Module where the Mother board is located. His request this time is to take the triple Module all apart; all (3) sections & make a continuity check on each & every fuse in those sections….then do the same for the double Module. Wow! This is going to take some time. I have no experience taking those boxes apart.

Back to our motorhome, I get our computer desk chair & use it to be somewhat comfortable while taking those Modules apart & measuring each & every fuse inside; plus there were plenty more fuses behind another computer board in the Module that I couldn’t get to without taking the boxes all apart. With a check of all fuses in the double Module, I am finished with that job. Still, I find all fuses to be fine with no unusual marks or indications of electrical trouble. Difficult to tell though, looking @ a computer board.

Joe also wanted another voltage reading of the power plugs that power the Mother board Module (the triple stack) when the ignition switch is on. Carefully, each wire for (3) plugs is measured & recorded. Loaded with this new information (only the voltage readings & color coding of the wiring) I drive the ¾ mile & call for Joe. “He’s busy with another call & soon will be breaking for lunch” the receptionist tells me.

Back to our motorhome, I decide to be like Joe & check each & every fuse station that I checked before…..that was posted in my Newell manuals; it took about an hr. Then I check & double check all the hidden areas & corners that contain a network of fuses relating to other electrical systems on the coach, not to the leveling system or slide out controls.

In the hydraulic cabinet area where the Mother board is located & where I have been spending a great deal of time, there is a small fuse cover containing 4 fuses. (3) of those fuses are protecting the braking system…..on the 4th fuse, the label was partially hidden &, at first, I assumed that it too, was part of the braking system. When I moved the wires leading to that fuse, the label was named: SLIDEOUT! Gosh, my manual doesn’t even mention this fuse. OK, I pull the 7.5 amp fuse from its socket; it looks decent enough. Then I check the continuity of this almost hidden fuse: IT FAILS THE TEST! Well, now we’re getting somewhere.

In my parts supply, I have several 7.5 fuses; I plug in the new fuse, go inside the motorhome & voila …..we have power to the slideouts again. Ok, that glitch has been repaired, alleluia; now to call Joe again & give him my updated report.

Joe liked the voltage reading I reported to him. He surmises that the Newell techs did their own wiring to the triple Module & on the spot, told me what voltage was powering what function. For example: red was 12 volts for either the house batteries or engine batteries. Yellow was for the ignition; blue was for ground, etc. I took notes.

Joe also agrees that the Mother board & the triple Module is fine. He’s glad, that we have power to our slides so we can travel to another campground where we’ll hopefully have better cell signals and be able to talk without traveling ¾ of a mile. He also thinks he’s got the problem solved on our leveling system but to call him on Monday. I like Joe; he’s not only a good trouble shooter but also a very personable individual. Our move should also enable us to get our Suzuki’s radiator & tire repaired also.

Kathy kept busy today by house cleaning: mirrors, walls, carpeting, cabinets, etc.

For relaxing & enjoying the environment, we take a nature trail walk around some of the campground….looking for birds. For whatever reason, those birds have days of exhibiting themselves & days of hiding. Today again, they are hiding.

6:45pm dinner: Beef Stroganoff over whole wheat noodles, mixed salad & toast.

Evening rain moves in. No movie tonight but we do watch the O’Reiley Factor & “Resurrecting the B-25” on the History channel.

High temp=63 Lights out: 12:07am

Awake: 6:38am Temp 46 sleep 6+23 almost sunny overnight @ Falcon, Texas

After Kathy’s breakfast of a big omelet, I try & take more voltage readings with my Fluke Meter making reference to Steve’s input from his schematic on our leveling system.

On Tuesday, he gave me the Module number, the color of the plugs, the wire numbers & their colors. I was impressed with the HWH attention to minute detail until….. I started hunting these specifics down: Neither the wire colors nor the wire numbers matched the ones I came up with. Only the plug colors were as expected. So my voltage readings are erroneous & don’t add up!

More water added to the Suzuki, another ¾ mi drive, & another call to HWH. When I give my special code for tech assistance & ask for Steve, I am told: “he’s not @ his desk today.” Then I am switched over to Joe. Now, I am thinking, I have to start from the beginning. It wasn’t as beastly as I imagined; Joe seemed to know a lot of what Steve was looking for on our leveling system already. In fact, when I reported the “difference in color codes & no numbers on individual wires” Joe asked me if it was possible that the Newell techs could have wired some of these Modules in themselves. “I do agree with that” I tell him.

Joe’s next request is a little more interesting; he wants me to open up the triple Module, (3) computer boxes, then do a continuity check on a row of 5 fuses. Then on the double Module, do the same…..5 fuses. This shouldn’t take too long; the day is nice & the wind has subsided so it’s a pleasant task.

Maybe 1.5 hrs later, my job is finished, my notes are organized & I am ready to make a report to Joe.

In summing up what’s been happening in the last few days: 1st, our leveling system went kaput; then our Suzuki’s radiator sprung a serious leak; next, the 50 amp campground breaker tripped a few times interrupting our activities….but that’s fixed now. Then earlier today, I discovered a nail in the driver’s rear tire which, when I started prying it out, hissed! So I quickly pushed it back in & will keep an eye on it. Now that my assignment with Joe has been completed, something else has occurred: a steady light (orange) is glowing up front above the passenger’s seat that is a reset light. When it is pushed, it resets a solenoid; only now, with the ignition on, it stays lit & when pushed, it continues to stay on. We are being tested, I feel it!

With this reset switch not able to be reset; the power to our slides is zilch. With the slides extended, we cannot travel. Yikes! What have I done? I am proud of Kathy though, she is handling this all pretty darn well…..so far.

Ok, more water in the radiator; call for Joe & the receptionist tells me that he just took another call from another RV person who also needs troubleshooting help. I hold for 30 min but finally give up & call it a day. Quitting time is approaching for HWH as well.

When I return to the coach, Kathy asks me if I would like to walk around on this nice day. I hesitate but then agree. We walk for a good hr. It’s pleasant here; very serene, quiet & sometimes, we hear a lot of chirping birds. It’s then that I realize, I haven’t really enjoyed the environment around this area. I hope to have some spare time & do that before we leave.

7:15 dinner: Creamy pasta with broccoli & cauliflower + leftover “T” bone steak, Waldorf salad & toast.

Evening time: we watch the History channel; making Cognac, moonshine, etc. Then we both do some reading in bed.

High temp=60 Lights out: 12:12am

Awake: 6:53am Temp 43 sleep 6+27 rain, all day & evening Overnight @ Falcon, Texas.

Kathy exercises for an hour; I for ½ hr. Things happen! These last 2 days, our 50 amp campground supply tripped off a few times during Kathy’s usage of the microwave or stove & I suspect a weak breaker. So on one of my runs to the Park Headquarters, I mention this snag to a Park Ranger inside who tells me he is an electrician. He says when his partner returns from lunch, they will visit our site & check it out.

The Ranger electrician & his partner drive up 35 min later. They seemed rather reluctant to change the breaker during heavy rain until I came up with an umbrella for their use. 15 min later, our 50 amp electrical box had a new circuit breaker which gave us no further problems throughout our stay. Kathy also allotted 2 homemade chocolate chip cookies for their good work.

I did no electrical troubleshooting on the leveling system today. It was just too windy & rainy on that side of our coach. Kathy continued reading her novel & I finished reading 2 magazines.

5:00pm dinner @ the recreation building; a 10 min walk or a 3 min drive; we choose to drive. Our dinner: Chili, potato salad, corn bread, rice & peach cobbler for dessert. Seconds were available as long as it lasted. It was a good meal. The cook told me that 79 people attended. We sat with a fellow by the name of Bob; he was entertaining + a bird man. Most of the birds he mentioned that we should be seeing in this park….I didn’t know.

Back to our motorhome, we watch the O’Reilly Factor; then Modern Marvels on the history channel.

High temp=54 Lights out: 12:15am

Awake: 6:34am Temp 44 sleep 6+39 drizzle overnight @ Falcon, Texas.

Before breakfast, we drive to the recreation hall & check with Fran, the bird woman, to see if the drizzling rain cancels bird watching plans for this morning; it does.

Back in our motorhome, we exercise with “Gilad” again on “Fit TV;” Kathy in the bedroom with that TV & me in the living room with the other TV. We use unopened wine bottles for our weights. It takes (2) hrs for us to get (1) hr of exercise because of the commercial breaks. That’s ok though, as we need the resting time.

In this campground, our cell phone coverage is poor, so if we need to communicate, we have to either walk or drive ¾ of a mile to Park Headquarters where the cell signals are a little better. Once there, signal strength depends on, not only the direction you face, but also how you hold your mouth.

On one of my short trips to headquarters, I notice the Suzuki heater was emitting hot air, then cold air. Hmmm, that’s not right. When checking under the hood, it was obvious that our Suzuki radiator was leaking antifreeze, as there was a line of thrown liquid on the inside of the hood above the radiator fan. Ouch! The 1st time, I refilled the radiator with a 50/50 mixture, water & antifreeze. Because it was leaking so much, thereafter I used regular water & left the radiator cap loose so no pressure would build up. Down here along this Rio Grande River, a freeze temp is highly unlikely.

At this campground we are miles from any decent radiator repair facility but we have learned that a Suzuki dealer & repair facility does exist in the city of Mission, TX, 60—70 miles east of here. That will be our next destination.

When we arrived yesterday & parked in our 2nd campsite, I pushed the leveling button twice & the leveling system shut down. That’s not right either? Our parking site is slanted but without the leveling system working, it’s a little uncomfortable. So, out come the tech books. Using my high tech Fluke, I make a thorough check on all the fuses & circuit breakers listed that might have anything to do with the leveling system. I find nothing out of order.

Ok, its time for a ride to headquarters to make a call to the Newell techs & maybe HWH Corporation, the developer & manufacturer of the leveling system & hydraulic slideouts. 1st though, I add more water to the Suzuki radiator & then make the ¾ mile drive. The talk with Mike @ Newell was quick; he assured me that HWH was my best bet for troubleshooting.

@ HWH, Steve was the “over the phone troubleshooter” guy for the company, or at least I knew no one else. Steve gives me a list of voltage numbers, wires with numbers & power plugs to check out on the motherboard computer module using my Fluke. Of course, this is outside in 43 degree temps with light rain & lots of wind. After going back & forth to headquarters, taking pointers from Steve’s troubleshooting ideas, keeping that radiator topped off & trying to stay dry with an umbrella that keeps turning inside out, I had had enough fun for today. My progress was zip, zero & nada. The wiring code & colors I found did not match the schematic that Steve was using & therefore, he suspected a problem with the motherboard module & concentrated heavily on that unit. Most likely I’ll be talking with Steve again tomorrow.

6:15 dinner: Tilapia Fish with brown rice, acorn squash + a Waldorf salad & toasted bread.

We both watch the President’s State of the Union Address on TV.

Late Satellite movie: “The Player” with Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi, Fred Ward, Whoopi Goldberg, Peter Gallagher & a whole bunch of star cameos. A sharp black comedy about a paranoid young movie executive (Robbins), who is threatened by a disgruntled screenwriter until he begins taking the law into his own hands; a biting examination of Hollywood greed & power. 1992. We were fascinated with all the powerful actors who starred in this flick; too many to list. An interesting story, you’ll just have to see it for yourself.
Today’s high=45 Lights out: 12:26am

Awake: 7:04am Temp 49 sleep 6+29 cloudy overnight @ Goliad, Texas.

1st thing this morning, I monitor the weather channel on DirecTV & check our intended travel route. We were hoping for more sunshine like yesterday, but southern Texas is forecasted to have: “more rain.” After my cold coffee & a warm Kathy muffin, we are ready for new adventures.

We leave the Goliad State Park @ 8:28am heading south on US 59, then east-southeast on US 83. US 59 roads were great, but US 83 was uneven & worn; overall, I continue to be impressed with the smooth roads of Texas. About 30 miles down the road from Goliad, the drizzle began….then heavier drizzle. Then those Semi-trucks like Gary C.drives……go flying by us in the opposite direction & “we know,” our clean home is no longer clean. Ouch! Aside from that 30 min of heavy drizzle, no more rain was in our path, but the dirty damage had been done!. Laredo traffic was slow & heavy with lots of signal lights throughout the city. We arrive @ the Falcon Heights State Park @ 11:29am.

Today’s travel: 4+34 time 242 miles 32.3 gal used 7.5 mpg 52.9 avg speed.

They had only (4) available campsites with full hookups so Mike, the park ranger, assigned us to # 211. He also introduced us to the idea of a free day if we sign up for a week; done! Off we go to our site; it was not good. We parked ok but had no space for our slideouts + a tree limb was brushing the MH roof. Also, the 2 foot high site protecting poles restricted any more maneuvering so we were trapped by the RV’s parked in front & in back of us. I detached the Suzuki, drove a mile back to Park Headquarters & gave Mike the story. He had no problem changing our site to # 225 which was a lot better & no restrictions.

7:30 dinner: Sweet Italian sausage and spaghetti squash in marinara sauce, a spinach salad & bread.

Late Satellite movie: “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” with Raymond Massey, Gene Lockhart, Ruth Gordon, Mary Howard, Dorothy Tree, Minor Watson, etc. A sincere story of Lincoln’s life & career. 1940. We both enjoyed seeing this movie again; it’s been many years.

Elevation: 324 ft High temp=60 Lights out: 11:55pm

Awake: 7:20am Temp 46 sleep 6+16 overcast….then SUN overnight @ Goliad, Texas.

After breakfast, I call & make reservations for tomorrow @ another State campground down south in a town called Falcon.

Call Gary & Rosemary C. They are in their comfortable home enjoying a day of leisure while outside, the 1st real accumulation of snow continues to fall.

Call Gary & Grace J. They are motoring down I-95 as we speak; destination, warmer climate with sunshine.

Speaking of sunshine; we finally have some of that. K& I walk the campground, then visit the Espiritu Santo Work Building where the Missionaries taught the Indians crafts: weaving string from cotton & wool; dyeing thread, etc. Charlie the curator & demonstrator, had a lot of good info to show & tell us, but we had to cut him short due to our commitment of watching a demo on: “Birds of Prey.” The lady, (Fran), age 81, works for the Texas State Parks & carries (3) birds in her van: A Great Horned Owl; the American Sparrow Hawk & the Mexican Eagle. Amazing how some of these wild creatures can be tamed & trained. Over 50 people attended this excellent show.

Such a beautiful day; K & I attempt to carry on where we left off with Charlie the Curator & demonstrator but by now, he had already gathered another crowd of interested people in the work shop building. So we took a good walk on a nature trail, then down the road to the group trailer campground area & back to our camping site via an asphalt bike path. About 1.5 hrs of good paced walking; we needed that.

While Kathy’s making dinner, I prep our motorhome for travel; slide tops cleaned off, then retracted; Suzuki hooked up, etc.

7:30pm dinner: “T” bone steak with baked potato, sautéed mushrooms & a mixed salad.

Later in the evening, Kathy sends her friend Marlyce (3) photos from our web site gallery. This was her 1st experience in sending photos from our own web gallery. She was pretty happy to have done that.

High today=60 Light out: 12:35am

Awake: 6:53am Temp 46 sleep 6+50 light rain & fog overnight @ Goliad, TX.

K & I exercise with “Gilad” (the fitness instructor) for 30 min on Fit TV. After a breakfast of eggs, bacon & Kathy muffins, we decide to expand our horizons & drive about 30 miles to the city of Cuero. I am attracted to the famous Hardware store that is over a hundred yrs old & hear told it’s like taking a trip back in history just walking through the place.

The Wagner family has owned & operated the store since 1945. After thoroughly perusing this classic & well stocked store with tools, nuts, bolts & everything in between, we by chance, meet & talk with the owner. “It’s a big job” he tells us. “The building is old & not practical to air condition during the hot summers + we have constant competition from the big box stores.” His grandfather bought the place in 1945 & it has been in their family ever since. He shows us a picture of how the store looked during the early 1900’s & I take a picture of that picture. The town of Cuero has over 60 classic homes, churches & other buildings listed on the National Registry of Historical Structures. We drove a grid pattern through the main part of town confirming that fact with more pictures.

The day is moving too fast for us; we would have enjoyed more time in the city of Cuero but we have more traveling ahead of us. 28 miles later, we enter the city of Victoria. Along the way, we saw very little as the fog thickened & obscured our view. One thing I did see clearly was a regular gallon of gas for $1.96 & we couldn't resist filling our tank @ that price. Then we stock up on groceries & the newly opened HEB PLUS store. What a terrific place. We just didn’t have enough time to take it all in.

We attend 5:00pm Vigil Mass @ Saint Mary’s church in Victoria; the 1st Catholic church in the republic of Texas, 1824. Now it’s dark & we have seen little of the city; so it’s back to our motorhome arriving after 7:00pm.

7:45 dinner: Leftover stuffed pepper. Later during the movie: “The Motorcycle Diaries” we have popcorn.

The movie: The M.D. was subtitled. Kathy’s enthusiasm for this flick was @ an all time…..low; but she watched some of it. The director & actors are foreign as are the countries they visit. It goes like this: Two friends set off from Buenos Aires in 1952 on a beat-up motorcycle to see South America before they settle down. It’s a journey of self-discovery (and political awakening) with these passionate young men as they travel through Chile, Peru & Venezuela, winding up at a leper colony where they have volunteered their services. One of them will become famous as Che Guevara, but that lies far ahead. The story was based on the two friends published memoirs. I found it to be a very profoundly moving film. I do believe Kathy enjoyed it after all. 2004.

Lots of rain late evening & through the night. High temp= 48 Lights out: 1:04am

Awake: 6:15am Temp 43 sleep 5+58 light rain all night + intermittent throughout the day overnight @ Goliad, TX.

Kathy & I do 30 min of cardio & stretching exercise using “Fit TV.”

After breakfast, we tour the: “Presidio La Bahia” less than a mile south of our campground. This Colonial Spanish Fort (established in 1749) served to protect the Texas coast from invasions from Mexico as well as to protect the nearby Mission Espiritu Santo during the Texas Revolution. The Catholic Diocese of Victoria now operates the walled Presidio La Bahia, a National Historic Landmark. Mass is still held on weekends @ Our lady of Loreto Chapel which is attached to the Fort. In fact, we considered attending Mass there on Sunday until Kathy found out: the chapel is not heated.

Back in the town of Goliad, we visit the “SoHo Emporium” and the “Sentimental Journey” both stores in the town Square; lots of antiques from the local areas on display as well as some local art. The museum in town is closed due to illness of the curator; otherwise we are being chased back to our motorhome with heavier rain.

5:15 dinner: Tuna steak, leftover whole wheat noodles, leftover brown rice, fresh cauliflower & asparagus + a mixed salad.

Late satellite movie: “Out of Sight” with George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, etc. During an escape an imprisoned hunk of a bank robber encounters a female federal marshal who is torn between tracking down & getting down with the felon. Once out, the criminal plans a jewel heist with a number of unsavory characters & his hopeful paramour close behind. The movie features probably the funniest fatal-head-wound scene ever filmed. 1998. Not too shabby of a flick.

Today’s high=46 Lights out: 12:03am

Awake: 6:53am Temp 40 sleep 6+25 cloudy overnight @ Sinton, TX.

The weather forecast today calls for PM rain showers….but nothing this morning; now’s our chance to get out of Sinton without getting our home dirty.

We leave the Hitching Post RV Park @ 10:53am. Smooth roads on US 77 North & ALT 183. Arrive @ the Goliad State Historical Park @ 11:49am. We were asked to detach & drive our car around the area, select a campsite & then return to the office & sign in.
It’s a nice park; plenty of space between RV units; big rig friendly & a fair price.

Today’s travel: +57 min 50.9 miles 7.1 gal used 7.14 mpg 54.2 avg speed.

After setting up camp, we drive into town (8 min) & visit the Chamber of Commerce Bldg to get info on this 2nd oldest town in Texas; population 1,985. Then we walk the town square. Classic buildings; most of them have been renovated & are now occupied with another business other than the original. We were particularity drawn to their beautiful county courthouse in the middle of the square. This courthouse was 1st occupied in 1894, then in 1964, the interior was renovated; the entire building was finished in 2003. We did a self tour of every floor without getting into trouble. It’s beautiful!

En route back to our campground, we visit the reconstruction of the Nuestra Senora del Espiritu Santo de Zuniga mission State Historic Site (located in the campground park). The mission Espiritu Santo, established by Franciscan priests about 1749, served the native Indian tribes for 110 yrs, longer than any Spanish colonial mission in the state. However mission life proved destructive to the natives’ traditional way of life. Cattle thrived on the grassland of Espiritu; the origin of the great Texas ranching industry. We toured both the church & the small museum they have there. The church was rebuilt by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) in the 1930’s.

6:45pm dinner: Sweet Italian sausage with spaghetti squash in a tomato Basel sauce + a mixed salad.

1st Satellite movie: “Proof” with Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hope Davis, etc. A woman who cared for her father—a brilliant mathematician & professor who went crazy---during the last years of his life now questions her own sanity. Her meddlesome sister wants her to move out of the family home & distance herself from the past while one of her father’s protégés is digging through his papers to find any hidden gems (or proofs) among his work. 2005. You’ve gotta see this one; especially if your good @ balancing the checkbook!

2nd Satellite movie: “The Brothers” with Connie Nielsen, Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, etc. A man leaves his wife & (2) daughters to fight in Afghanistan, just as his chronic screw-up brother is released from prison. The family does its best, feeling the pain of the “good” brother’s absence & the tension of the “bad” brother’s presence. Subsequent events reveal the true nature of the leading characters. Searing, intense, adult drama; 2004. I had to sweet talk Kathy into watching this late show; she was reluctant of course, because it had subtitles. Turns out, it’s a keeper. You’ll want to watch it twice.

Elevation: 137 ft Today’s high=47 Lights out: 12:17am

Awake: 6:41am Temp 34 sleep 6+44 cloudy & windy overnight @ Sinton, TX.

Before breakfast, K & I do cardio & stretching exercises using “Fit TV” for (1) hr. That’s not counting commercial breaks.

After a little research & talking things over with Kathy, I call our potential next campground for details about their campsites.

Mid afternoon, K & I walk over to the clubhouse & play some 7 games of pool. Kathy played well + the table was responsible for some of our unpredictable losses or wins. And it was fun, but not quite like the fun with the boys down @ Aransas Pass.

7:05 dinner: Kathy’s award winning chili with whole wheat noodles.

1st Satellite movies: “84 Charing Cross Road” with Ann Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, Judi Dench, Jean De Baer, etc. A loving, literate, & totally disarming film about the longtime correspondence, & growing friendship between a feisty N.Y.C. woman (Bancroft) & the British bookseller (Hopkins) who provides her with the rare volumes she cherishes more than anything else in life. Based on the memoirs of Helen Hanff. 1987. One of the best films Kathy & I have seen in years.

2nd Satellite movie: “Unfinished Life” with Robert Redford, Jennifer Lopez, Morgan Freeman, Josh Lucas, etc. Needing to escape from her abusive boyfriend & with no money; Lopez & her 11 year-old daughter go to the only place they can: the
Wyoming farm of her father-in-law (Redford) who still blames her for the death of his son. Warmhearted, embracing story about family ties & the need for forgiveness. 2005. It was, hmmm ok, but after watching “84 Charing Cross Road” ……no comparison.

Today’s high= 40 Lights out: 12:28am

Awake: 7:23am Temp 38 sleep 7+23 cloudy & windy overnight @ Sinton, TX.

This morning, Kathy & I start an exercise program inside our motorhome using a Direct Satellite channel called: “Fit TV.” It took us (2) hrs to get (1) hr of good exercise because of the commercial breaks. We needed those commercial breaks however. Today we did cardio & stretching.

Where we would like to visit (San Antonio), is currently under a snow & freezing rain forecast, so for now its stay @ this campground & avoid the inclement weather.

We drive into town (3 min), stop @ a bakery to check out their products; they don’t use whole wheat flour so it’s a no sale for us. Next, we visit 1 of 3 antique stores downtown. This place was loaded with good stuff; the store had 18 dealers who were displaying their wares. Luckily we have no use for any of those good things. Stores # 2 & 3 were closed for today so our plan of downtown entertainment just fell apart; that’s ok because we have a backup plan of selective movies to watch.

5:30 dinner: Chicken veggie stir fry over rice.

Double feature movie tonight: “A Raisin in the Sun” with Sidney Poitier, Claudia McNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands, Ivan Dixon, etc. A black family tries to escape from their crowded apartment life by moving to a house in an all-white neighborhood. 1961. Great story; watch for it.

“Say Anything” with John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney, Lili Taylor, etc. Satisfying teenage comedy-drama about a self-assured loner who goes after the class Brain & finds her surprisingly human. Amusing, endearing & refreshingly original. 1989. We both gave this one high marks.

Today's High= 40 Lights out: 11:57pm

Awake: 6:00am Temp 43 sleep 6+18 lots of rain & strong winds
overnight @ Sinton, Texas.

This nice lady I have been hanging around with for a long time & who has
lived in Alaska for 14 yrs, flatly refused to take a walk around the
campground for exercise this morning in between rain squalls. What do you
think of that?! Well, I showed her & I did it; then I returned to our warm
motorhome & sat close to the heater for the next hr or better.

It was a “stay in the coach” kind of day. Reading magazines & novels; some
computer usage + every now & then, tune in the weather channel for updates
on the Texas weather.

5:45 dinner: Stuffed peppers with spinach salad.

Mid evening: Satellite movie: “Of mice & men” with John Malkovich, Gary
Sinise, Alexis Arquette, Sherilyn Fenn, Joe Morton, etc. A hauntingly
poignant adaptation of John Steinbeck’s melancholy study of Depression-era
California migrant workers. John Malkovich steals the film as the hulking
Lenny, an inarticulate simpleton equally fascinated by puppies & pretty
girls. 1992. A superb story. Don’t miss it!

Elevation 47 ft Today’s high=44 Lights out: 12:00 midnight

Awake: 5:39am Temp 63 sleep 5+42 cloudy….then sunny
overnight @ Aransas Pass, TX.

Early morning, I tune in the weather channel to see what’s happening in
Texas. Today, if there is no rain, we travel. I am not ready to have our
home dirty so soon.

Later, Kathy goes grocery shopping @ the nearby HEB store. Then about
10:30, the clouds begin lifting & the threat of rain subsides. That’s my
clue to retract the slides & prep the bus for travel. After that tradition
is accomplished, I walk over to the manager’s motorhome & let Ben know
that we won’t be signing up for another day. He looks a little
disappointed; it bugs him to have an empty site. Tomorrow that site is
reserved & we would have been forced out anyway. We talk for maybe 10 min,
and then his wife, Marissa, came out to say her goodbyes. We will miss the
friendly people & their comradeship in this park + the wonderful
activities & cleanliness.

When Kathy returns & has the groceries stashed away, we drive out of one
of the best RV Parks we have encountered in a long time, leaving @
11:58am. Rules have it that you leave by 12:00 noon. Our GPS takes us
south on State road 35 to US 181 west to our next campground called:
“Hitching Post RV Park” in Sinton, TX., arriving @ 12:32pm.

Today’s travel: + 32 min time 25 miles 3.4 gal used 7.4 mpg
45.3 avg speed.

This park lists 40 parking sites; when I called yesterday morning & also
this morning, Susan reminded me that they have only (1) site open & I
would be parking on a concrete pad. I liked the concrete pad idea. She
also wanted to make sure we were coming so as not to give this only site
to someone else who hadn’t called 1st.

Parking assistance was professionally directed by both Kathy & Susan. They
had me backing onto that concrete pad very close to the laundry building.
By having the tires on the drivers side only an inch from the concrete
edge, there would be enough room for patrons to walk up the stairs & into
the building. It was obvious that Susan had done this before, she was very
good @ directing.

This town of Sinton has a population of around 5,000 people. As we drove
thru town on Main Street, we observed many buildings that were from the
past; old, but very interesting.

The forecasted weather for a wide area of Texas is not good for the next 2
days; but this afternoon, the temp is mild with some blue skies now &
then. K & I drive the Suzuki into town (3 min), park & walk the town in a
grid like fashion for 1.5 hrs. We needed the exercise & found the place &
some of the architecture to be of interest. We also visited the local HEB
store just in case they had some of our # 2 choice wines.

Dinner (don’t remember the time): Breaded fried Tilapia, brown rice,
asparagus & a spinach salad.

Late evening, we watch the movie: “The Croupier” with Clive Owen, Gina
McKee, Alex Kingston, Alexander Morton, Kate Hardie, etc. Highly original
film about a young man who, while pursuing his goal to become a published
author, takes a job as croupier in a London casino….but never stops
observing those around him, or remarking on his own behavior. 1999. Quite
intelligent story; you’ll need to watch closely. Not for children.

Today’s high=71 Lights out: 11:42pm

Awake: 6:05am Temp 68 sleep 6+15 cloudy, then rain
overnight @ Aransas Pass, TX.

Katrina calls en route to her Masters class in Denver. She had a question
for me about her car & a quick chat with Kathy. I believe Denver’s temp
may be in the minus range this morning & that makes me feel comfortable
just being this far south.

My Sprint Air Card arrived this morning along with our other mail from
Alaska. After 10:00am, I call another campground to begin making
arrangements for leaving this wonderful Ransom RV Park. As of Monday, this
place will be 100% full with no exceptions. It is certainly understandable
why this park is a very popular winter hangout. A lot of these die-hards
reserve their same site yr after yr.

Heavy rain sneaks into our area around 3:30pm. Now what shall we do? We
can’t take that walk around the campground that we talked about. Since we
have church and evening activities planned, Kathy suggests an early dinner
of: pork chops, broccoli, whole wheat fried noodles & a spinach salad
around 4:45pm. I barely have the dinner dishes finished when Ray calls
from Ocean Park, WA around 5:20pm. We don’t talk long as we are about
ready to walk out the door to attend the 6:00pm Vigil Mass @ the Church of
Saint Mary of the Sea (10 min drive).

The early dinner was a great idea and we are only slightly late to listen
to the ole “professional” musicians’ Jam Session in the club house planned
for 7:00pm. What we found when opening the door: some 150 fans (not
counting the musicians) of old time rock & roll, country, & some swing
aficionados. Dee pointed us to a couple of empty chairs. We enjoyed the
performance of these fellows and 2 women playing their instruments;
guitars, fiddles, drums, spoons, harmonicas, keyboards, & one accordion
without music sheets, blending their instruments. Many performed
individual instrument solos and some came out of the audience to sing. It
was impressive!

Much later, K & I watch the weather channel, the latest news & do some
light reading.

High temp=72 Lights out: 11:57pm

Awake: 5:27am Temp 66 sleep 7+47 cloudy overnight @ Aransas Pass, TX.

Flash news: This morning I tried our computer connection thru our cell
phone & its working normal again. I don’t know what changed or transpired
but we are both delighted to have the Internet available again.

Zack calls from Seattle on his new “Blue Tooth” cell phone using the
Cingular Service. He’s driving to work & has a question for both of us: a
car question & a cooking question. Our answers are both correct so I hope
we get high marks for being there when he needed us.

Next, I visit the Park Manager, Ben; our (1) month of camping @ this park
has expired. Now I pay the extra metered charge for electricity used for
the month that we were away: $52.00. Not too shabby! Now for the next (2)
days, we are on a daily rate & that means unlimited electrical usage. So,
today is laundry day. Would you believe 5 loads?

4:00pm social hr was busy. 4 teams sign up to play pool. This means: when
your team loses, you wait a long time for the next challenge.

@ 5:00pm, we are all invited to the Margarita gala with finger foods &
other goodies, all made by fellow campers. The Margaritas were concocted
by seasoned professionals in the campground. Clare made strawberry
Margaritas, Judy made regular with Splenda, Wayne made traditional, and
Lorraine made mango Margaritas. We sampled the traditional and strawberry;
both were g-r-e-a-t as was the all too plentiful food.

Late evening movie: “The Barefoot Contessa” with Ava Gardner, Humphrey
Bogart, Edmond O’Brien, Marius Goring, Rossano Brazzi, etc. A gaggle of
Hollywood vultures headed by director Humphrey Bogart picks naïve dancer
Ava Gardner out of a Madrid nightclub & proceeds to mold her into a film
star. A simple unpretentious soul, she marries an impotent Italian
nobleman (Rossano Brazzi) dies, & is buried by her chief mentor who tells
her tragic story in flashbacks. 1954. A sad tail but it had my attention
throughout; how to find true happiness & be with a good man; so

High temp=74 Lights out: 12:10am

Awake: 5:25am Temp 63 sleep 6+23 partly sunny overnight @
Aransas Pass, TX.

It feels good to sleep in our own bed again & we are sleeping in the same
bed---together. Kathy’s wheezing & snorting due to her sinus condition
has not made any recognizable progress. However, she thinks it is a viral
condition rather than bacterial.

After breakfast, Kathy heads to the nearby HEB grocery store to replenish
our food supply. While she is shopping, I spend time going through &
sorting some more of our mail; checking off credit card receipts & filing
papers. Around 10:00am, my cousin Roger calls from Harlingen, TX. We have
a nice chat, updating each other on our recent retirement activities.

Early afternoon, I begin getting our motorhome ready for travel by
removing some things I had stored in the engine compartment during our
trip to PA; then making a check on all the motorhome tires for proper air
pressure + other little inspections.

Next, K & I attend the traditional 4:00 pm social hr @ the club house. The
pool playing sharks wasted no time in inviting me to join their group.
That was nice. I did notice however, that the usual sharks were not
running the table as before…..now, at least for today, the duffers were
playing quite well. Hmm.

6:30 dinner: Pacific salmon, asparagus in a Boursin cheese sauce & a salad.

Evening movie: “Enduring Love” with Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Samantha
Morton, etc. After college professor Joe Rose (Craig) witnessed a fatal
hot-air balloon accident, his disorientation & widening alienation from
his girlfriend (Morton) are further complicated when a fellow witness
contacts & begins desperately shadowing him. 2004. Kathy didn’t much care
for this movie, but after it was over, she had a few questions. I am
suspicious that she was too relaxed! Not recommended for children.

High temp=72 Lights out: 10:40pm

Awake: 6:20am sleep 6+41 clear overnight @ Sulphur, Louisiana.

Our complimentary breakfast this morning consisted of: hot sausage,
scrambled eggs, boiled egg & cereal of oatmeal with raisin bran + yogurt;
quite adequate & tasty. That’s more like a breakfast should be &
therefore, this is “the best” hotel we have stayed in since the Holiday
Inn Express. It wasn’t just the breakfast, the hotel and room were clean
and the room more spacious with a few extras like frig and Micro and
in-room coffee maker; toiletries and hair dryer. Guess you get what you
pay for!

I have to back up a little & mention my slight miscalculation of
yesterday’s travel after leaving Birmingham, Alabama. We’ve been following
our Lady Garmin’s shortest/easiest travel plan return to our motorhome in
Aransas Pass, TX. The interstate routing she suggested is a diagonal to
the southwest & so far, we have basically followed that principle until
mid afternoon yesterday. Coming southwest from Birmingham on I-59 & I-20,
I convinced Kathy that we should go west on I-20 through Mississippi &
then continue to Monroe, Louisiana; then take US 165 south to I-10. My
reasoning @ the time was brilliant, simply because I-10 East of Baton
Rouge, Louisiana is very rough with some construction & we could avoid a
hundred miles or more of that sort of thing.

Well, I failed miserably; US 165 was 50% (4) lane divided hwy with new
asphalt; the other 50% had construction squeezing down to a single lane,
and small towns with traffic signals (usually red) slowing our progress &
rough roads to boot. And….. thus, the late arrival into Sulphur,

We leave the Hotel Wingate @ 9:00am. I-10 from Sulphur to the Texas border
west, construction delays & rough roads continued. From that point & all
the way to Aransas Pass, smooth roads prevailed. One fuel stop @ Baytown,
TX., paying $2.06 per gallon.

Arrive @ the Ransom Road RV Park @ 3:32pm.
It takes us about 45 min to unload our things into the motorhome & maybe 3
hrs more to organize, go through some of our mail & talk with some people
we know in the park. It feels good to be back to our home-on-wheels again.
The nearby neighbor, Mike, tells me they have had a lot of rain during our
absence. The motorhome looks good, inside & out. The only glitch we found
was a slight damp spot on Kathy’s closet floor. Darn skylight!

7:45 dinner: Italian beef sandwiches.

After the dishes are clean & put away, we continue to read some of our mail.

Lights out: 11:02pm

Awake: 5:00am sleep 5+56 clear & windy overnight @ Birmingham,

Again we sleep in separate beds; Kathy’s sinus condition is not improving,
but the good news is: her sense of humor, patience, driving skills,
knowledge, etc has not been affected.

This Microtel Inn was “the worst” that we have ever stayed in. Last night,
the 1st room we were assigned was being worked on & not yet cleaned. The
room we spent the night in was a handicapped room, not very clean & with
many little things not working properly: light bulbs burned out;
electrical outlets worn & needed to be jiggled to get power; a towel rack
broken; the toilet base loose & moving when sat upon + other nit-pick
items. This 1st floor was in rough condition. I did tell the desk clerk
about some of those items & she did take notes.

We passed on most of the complimentary breakfast items; all sweet.
However, we did each have a small cinnamon & raisin bagel.

We leave the “worst” Microtel Inn @ Birmingham, AL. @ 8:00am. Down the
road about 2 hrs, we make up for our skipping breakfast & stop @ the
Cracker Barrel restaurant in Meridian, Mississippi & have a real breakfast
for a change.

En route, 2 fuel stops: Livingston, Alabama paying $2.08 per gallon &
Monroe, Louisiana paying 2.18 per gallon.

We arrive in Sulphur, Louisiana @ 8:00pm. The 1st hotel we stopped at: the
Hampton Inn was booked solid. When asking the desk clerk for other nearby
hotels & their prices, she gave us current info; and upon our request for
a good place to eat, also recommended a Cajun restaurant for us to try.
She warned: “You have to get there before 9:00pm; that’s closing time.” So
we each ate a bowl of Crawfish Ettoufee (sp), which was spicy but very,
very good. It was after our 8:30pm dinner that we checked into the Hotel

Today’s travel: 573 miles. Driving time: 9+40 Lights out: 11:39pm

Awake: 5:05am Sleep 5+30 light rain overnight @ Christiansburg,

We sleep in separate queen beds……Kathy is still stuffed up & a very noisy
Our complimentary breakfast of 3 small bowls of cereal + sharing a bagel
is good enough for now. We leave Christiansburg, VA @ about 8:30am.

We make (1) fuel stop @ the Flying “J” in Chattanooga, Tennessee paying
$2.11 per gallon. A moderate crosswind kept the driver’s hands busy during
our traveling day; we arrive @ the Birmingham, Alabama Microtel Inn @
5:00pm. We were lucky as we barely skirted the rush hr traffic of downtown

After check-in, we asked the desk clerk where we might find a decent
restaurant around the local area. She suggested “Jim & Nick’s BBQ” just
down the street. The desk clerk wasn’t kidding: J & N’s place was
excellent. We had some good wine and BBQ hand pulled pork, coleslaw &
fried green tomatoes with a ranch dressing. We shared that BBQ meal of
course. The steep walk back to the Microtel Inn did get our heart rate up
a bit, which was good.

Mid evening: we take advantage of our free calling & talk with Denise &
Mike in Florida; then it’s more evening computer time for both of us.

Today’s travel: 483 miles. Driving time: 8+30. Lights out: 11:04pm

Awake: 6:15am Temp ? sleep 7+02 partly sunny overnight @
Kemblesville, PA.

Not a good sleep for either of us. It had nothing to do with the
comfortable accommodations or temperature. Simply, Kathy’s sinus condition
of the last several days suddenly escalated during the night & she made
loud noises that woke both of us up many times. UGH!

We move our dress clothes & overnight bags into the Suzuki, then visit
Grace & Gary @ their house, have a bowl of cereal & say our
Congratulations to Grace + our goodbyes & thanks to both for now. Gary
insists on driving his truck & leading the way to the Holy Angel Catholic
Church (20 min) where we attend the 9:00am Mass. We thank Gary again for
the opportunity to be here & spend some time with them + his many other
favors & good humor.

We leave the Holy Angel Catholic church & start our journey @ 10:40am to
Aransas Pass, Texas. It’s a beautiful day for traveling. Just before
getting onto I-95, we stop for fuel & top off the Suzuki’s tank. I-95
traffic moved swiftly through the Washington DC & beyond areas. I-66 &
I-81 all very smooth roads. It was amazing to experience the fast change
of weather conditions. When Kathy & I switched seats & she took her turn
at driving, the crosswind picked up & then the drizzle changed to heavy
rain. She always told me she abhors driving in darkness & rain. Well
today, she drove like a champ regardless of the windy & rainy conditions.
2 fuel stops en route; the 2nd one being in Troutville, VA., paying $2.06
per gallon.

We arrive @ the Microtel Inn in Christiansburg, VA @ 5:25pm. The building
is like new & very nice inside. After checking in, we drive the Suzuki 2
min to Applebee’s in the rain & share a Talapia fish & shrimp dinner @

Microtel offers free local & long distance calling + free wi-fi. We do
take advantage of the wi-fi & both of us spend some time on our computer.

Today’s travel: 368 miles Driving time: 6:00 hrs Lights out: 11:35pm

Awake: 5:05am Temp ? sleep 5+32 clear overnight @ Kemblesville, PA.

We both slept well in Grace & Gary’s plush Newell motorhome. They keep an
extremely clean machine so K & I are being very careful to maintain it
that way. We have cereal & milk with us so we simply have that for
breakfast. Then walk up to their main house around 8:30am for a visit. G &
G were surprised that we had already had breakfast. We sit & talk for an
hr, then Grace & her daughter, Vicki leave to have their hair done.

Later today, Bruce Industrial is having a retirement party for 2 people:
Grace & another employee by the name of Skip. Both have been with the
company for a long time. Grace has 41 yrs with the company but I’m not
sure how long Skip has been there. Kathy & I are here not only to visit G
& G, but also to help them celebrate Grace’s retirement.

Gary invites me to take a ride with him over to Home Depot to pick up a
technical part for his home. Meanwhile, Kathy decides to get some exercise
by walking around the nearby golf course for 1.5 hrs.

@ 3:30pm Gary, dressed to the 9’s, & I, in my Sunday clothes, make a trip
to a nearby Italian restaurant to pick up 2 large containers of stuffed
Pasta shells; part of the dinner meal tonight. Then we proceed to the
Holloway Terrier Fire Hall in New Castle, DE., where tonight’s retirement
party is being held.

Keep in mind, when we visited G & G on August 25, 2005, they toured us
through their company during working hrs where we met only a few dozen
people. Tonight, thoughtful Gary was determined to introduce me to the
office people + the workers as they arrived at the Fire Hall, one by one.
He did a good job, maybe 70 of the estimated 150 all together; that’s a
lot of names to remember. We also had the pleasure of meeting G & G’s
sons, daughter-in-law, and grandsons and their daughters and son-in-law
and granddaughter.

Kathy & I were honored to be seated @ table # 1 along with some of the
other VIP’s including G & G. The dinner was superb; the music enticing &
the Bruce Industrial people, phenomenal! A great bunch of dedicated
employees who obviously admire & respect their bosses so much that they
remain committed workers for many yrs. Gary gave a wonderful ad lib talk @
the podium covering some of the scary yrs when the company was young; then
Grace gave a reminiscent & touching account of her 41 yrs with Bruce
Industrial. Also, Gary’s silent partner, Clem, gave a heart-rending
account of how it was that if you needed to know anything about what was
happening, you would ask Grace; she ran the company! It was one GREAT
company party!

We rode back to their home and plush Newell motorhome in separate cars;
Kathy with Grace; me with Gary & said our “thanks & goodnights.” It was a
wonderful day.

Lights out: 11:13pm

Awake: 6:20am Temp 45 sleep 6+52 light rain overnight @
Indiana, PA.

Today we travel, but 1st its pack our suitcases, organize our hanging
clothes & miscellaneous other bags. I get the luggage cart from
downstairs; make 2 trips to the Suzuki before checking out with Patty &
saying our goodbyes to her & the 2 room cleaners. Our 18 day stay at this
Super 8 Motel & its location worked great for us; having the Wal-Mart
nearby & Martin’s grocery store along the way to the Foote mansion made
our nearly daily trips most convenient. We may do this again next yr.

After a quick stop @ Martin’s for milk, we leave the town of Indiana @
about 9:40am driving eastbound on Route 422 to Ebensburg; Route 22 to
Altoona; I-99 to Bedford; I-76 to Harrisburg; then Lady Garmin took us on
a number of country roads too numerous to mention & we magically arrived @
Gary & Grace’s place in Kemmelsville, PA @ 3:30pm.

As soon as we drove in, Gary opened the door of his workshop & greeted us
with an invitation: “If you’re not tired of traveling, how would you like
to see the almost completed sculpture of the Madonna @ the Charles Parks
working Studio & Gallery in Wilmington, Delaware 40 min away?” “Lets go”
we tell him. “We have to hurry, because they close @ 5:00pm” he says. Then
he calls his wife, Grace, and tells her to call the studio to let them
know we are on our way.

This Madonna will be the 3rd one constructed since 1982. Made entirely of
stainless steel strips, it will stand about 34 feet tall, not including
the 5 ft concrete pedestal & weigh around 8800 lbs when finished. We meet
Grace @ the studio, talk with the secretary of the Gallery & walk
downstairs to the working studio. Here we see only the magnificent head of
the Madonna; so huge with penetrating eyes. I take pictures. Right now,
the Madonna is in 3 sections with the other 2 sections @ Bruce Industrial,
Gary & Grace’s place of business.

Next, in 2 vehicles, we meet @ the Bruce Industrial building; they open
doors, turn on lights & we view the mid section of the Madonna being
stabilized by the overhead crane in this large building. Gary directs
Grace in running the crane to reposition this section so I can get better
photo shots; more pictures & some with Kathy & Grace standing next to the
large hands and torso illustrating their enormous size.

Just around the corner is the 3rd section & base of this Madonna. Soon,
all 3 sections will be welded together here in this shop; then the Madonna
will be fitted into a cradle, moved to its final resting place on the
grounds of Holy Spirit Catholic Church here in New Castle, DE & be
dedicated as “Our Lady Queen of Peace.” She will stand on a hill
overlooking the Delaware Memorial Bridge and Rt 295. The final welding of
three sections & moving the sculpture will be done by Bruce Industrial.
Gary & Grace’s company makes little profit from this as they are dedicated
to giving a number of institutions helping hands.

Then its dinner time @ the Lone Star Steak House in New Castle, DE. Where
we have wine with our meals; Kathy & I share an 8 oz filet steak, baked
potato & salad.

Back @ the Grace & Gary estate & workshop, they show us their latest
investment called a 1988 Georgie Boy Motorhome. Sometime this yr, they
will drive their GBM cross country and, along with others tour Mexico incl
having the GBM loaded on a flatcar train to tour Mexico’s Copper Canyon.
Gary & a few of their very talented workers are slowly checking the GBM’s
systems & updating the machine for the trip. Then K & I retire to their
Newell for the night.

Lights out: 11:33pm

Awake: 6:23am Temp 32 sleep 5+45 cloudy overnight @ Indiana, PA.

We both have different projects & goals today….that’s why Kathy is up
early. She is doing our laundry + Melissa’s towels, bed sheets, blankets,
duvet covers, etc. I have the easy job: just making a few phone calls to
the Sprint Company, or so I thought.

Kathy leaves @ 9:15am with a few bundles of our laundry under her arms.
The Foote bundles are already taking space in the back seat of the Suzuki
as Kathy collected those items yesterday before heading back to our
hangout @ the Super 8.

The young lady from Sprint that I had been talking with last night who
wanted our business agreed to call me back later this morning sometime
between 10:00 & 12 noon EST. While waiting for her call, I continued
looking up different Sprint & Nextel phones & air cards using the WI-FI in
the Super 8 Motel. The young lady called around 10:30am; we talked &
haggled over rebates & price differences comparing the Internet price vs
the Sprint price. This back & forth discussion continued for over an hr;
many times apologizing to me that she had to talk with her supervisor. I
was very patient & finally we were both in agreement of what was
acceptable for the contract. She apologized one more time, told me she
would have to have the contract signed by her supervisor & would call me
back in 15, 20 minutes. “Fine, I told her. I will wait for your call.”

Time went quickly as I continued browsing on the Internet & doing other
things. When I finally realized the time, it was about 2 hrs later. She
never called back & there is no recourse. You cannot call them. There are
46 call centers in the USA + they don’t give out their last names. Wasted
time, I couldn’t believe it!

So I called the Foote house, left a message for Kathy to come over, pick
me up so I could spend a little time with the boys. I waited 20 min or
longer & left another message. When Kathy did call back, she said they
were outside, missed my call & now Matthew is taking his bath. She said
it’s probably too late to come over now. Dang and I wanted to spend a
little time with the boys & say my goodbyes before we leave tomorrow. Yes,
I thought I would have the easy job today, ha!

Well, not to have a completely wasted day, I did patiently make another
call & connected with another Asian person, Dennis. He was more
understandable, was computer savvy, told me that the air card that the
other person selected would take up two USB ports & suggested another card
that would plug into the side of my Dell computer & not use up my USB
ports. I was glad to get that information. He also educated me on the air
card; saying that it is really like another phone & utilizes a phone
number as well. I did order this recommended Air Card from Sprint with
Dennis’ help.

6:45 dinner: Spinach Lasagna, Oriental beef over rice with a
broccoli/bacon salad & Waldorf salad. Kathy brought this dinner back from

Late evening: we watch the O’Reily Factor & other assorted shows.

High temp=56 Lights out: 11:28pm

Awake: 6:23am Temp 28 sleep 6+18 sunny overnight @ Indiana, PA.

K & I have a quick breakfast, then drive to Nicktown & attend the 8:30am
Koffee Klub meeting for an hr. Afterward, we attend the 9:30am children’s
Mass with Father Job presiding. It was another interesting homily scenario
for the young kids to hear. After Mass, we have a short chat time with Flo
& Anna before walking across the street to check on our local mail.

Then it’s back to Indiana & lunch @ the Valley Dairy. En route to our
Motel, we check out: “Rosanne’s” take out or eat in restaurant. We’ve been
watching cars drive in & out of this place for weeks now so it’s time the
mystery was solved. They have been in business for 21 years & by the
obvious activity, they’ll continue to do well. Cafeteria style hot food is
purchased by the pound; then you can either eat inside the restaurant or
outside on pleasant days or just take the hot food or cold salads with you
for later.

Back @ our Motel room, I try desperately to log onto the Internet using my
cell phone as a Modem, just like I’ve been doing for 2 yrs or more.
Nothing! Something is wrong & I am suspicious that the young man @ Radio
Shack who I gave permission to upgrade my cell phone by giving him my
number, had something to do with it. Radio Shack sells Sprint products &
Derek mentioned to us that Sprint was now offering free roaming on their
cell phones. Well, when anyone mentions “Free” it gets our attention. I
innocently gave Derek our cell number; he called that # into the Sprint
system & bingo….from that moment on, our computer connection via cell
phone has been zip!

This is serious, so I felt compelled to get a man right on the case; I
even passed up the opportunity to visit the Footes because of this. 1st I
talk with technical support @ Sprint; they asked simple questions like:
are you putting the USB plug in properly & do you have a good signal on
the cell phone to work with! It takes time to connect & get anywhere with
this company; name, social security number; address, what kind of phone,
etc. If I answered those questions twice, I answered them a dozen times.
Finally some lady told me I needed to talk with an advanced support
technician. Aha, now we’re getting someplace. Michael had me go on line
with our computer using wi-fi & download a program that he felt would
solve our problem. It didn’t! Then he had his supervisor get involved; we
spent over an hr trying to solve this fluke to no avail. They think our
phone is an older model no longer recognized for Internet activity &
recommended us using our rebate dollars to purchase a new model. I thanked
him for his efforts & started looking for new phones with a faster
Internet connection method.

Around 6:00pm Kathy returns from the Footes; she brought hot food & cold
salad from Roseanne’s with her for our dinner: rolled, stuffed eggplant
and broccoli salad.

Later this evening, I spend more time looking @ the various hi-bred cell
phones & air cards listed on the Sprint & Nextel sites.

Even later, I call a Sprint call center in Arizona & talk with an Asian
girl about upgrading our cell phone. She says she really wants our
business & will do her best to help us make the right choices. I wasn’t
going to make a fast commitment with her so I hinted that I need more
time. She told me she will call tomorrow; I said “OK, between 10:00am & 12

High temp=51 Lights out: 12:38am

Awake: 7:23am Temp 33 sleep 7+19 sunny overnight @ Indiana, PA.

This morning on TV, we watch: “Farewell to a President.” Gerald Ford. The
coverage of the funeral was most mesmerizing.

@ 10:35am Gary & Rosemary visit us @ our Motel. They had spent a few days
in Ohio visiting Rosemary’s brother & her nephews. After our visit, they
will be visiting Rosemary’s sister right here in Indiana. We have no
problem yakking with G & R; the time goes quickly & they move on to seeing
Rosemary’s sister.

Mid afternoon, we pay a visit to the Foote mansion where I introduce young
man Matthew to the science of Magnetism. The kit I used was found @
Hobbytown USA in Pittsburgh when we stayed there overnight Sunday 17th
Dec., & went shopping on Monday. With Matthew’s strong interest in the
Brio train setup, bringing this out any sooner would not have held his
interest. But today, my timing seemed good as just him & I had a good 45
mins of Magnetic experimenting, before his brother Andrew found us & began
washing some of those magnets in his mouth. Thus, magnetism class 101 was

Today’s weather: sunny but a cool Northwest wind which didn’t hold K & I
from getting some outdoor exercise. We drove over & up to the Saint
Bernard church area, parked the Suzuki & then walked down the east side,
then back up & down the west side, then back up to our car. It was ok but
very cool.

En route back to our motel, we make a quick stop @ Martin’s for milk; then
another not so quick stop @ the Indiana Mall where Kathy finds a few
things in several stores of interest on sale; then another stop @ the
Valley Dairy where we share a Meatloaf, mashed potato with gravy & salad
dinner. Back to our motel @ 7:30pm.

Kathy suggests calling FedEx to determine the blackout shipping date; I do
as suggested & find out the blackout period is over. Then, drive the
Suzuki all of 2 min to the Staples Store nearby, where I take the big
package containing Zack’s cheap computer that was left behind when they
left the Foote mansion early Saturday morning 30th Dec. It will be shipped
@ 4:00pm tomorrow to Isilon in Seattle.

High temp 43 Lights out: 12:05am

Awake: 8:00am Temp 34 sleep 6+30 partly sunny overnight @
Indiana, PA.

K & I watch some of the Rose Parade from Pasadena, CA while lounging in
our room @ the Super 8 Motel this morning. After finally being convinced
that the Southwest states have nicer weather than we have, we are so
jealous that we quit watching & leave @ 12:07pm, drive on Route 422 to
Ebensburg, then approximately 5 miles on Route 22 & 2 miles on Route 53 to
the small town of Lilly, arriving @ 12:58pm.

Again we are doing some family, cousin & friends type of visiting. My
sister Sister Corinne lives here in the Convent House with 3 other nuns:
Patty, Jane & Leah. Patty’s friend Cindy, also a nun, is visiting for a
few days. We have known Patty since 1979 when my sister & she were
missionaries in Borba, Brazil & we were brave enough to pay them a 2 week
visit. Corinne wanted to see her brother sweat……and she did.

Corinne, Patty, Cindy, Kathy & I all sit in their living room for well
over 2 hrs chatting away on many, mostly profound subjects. Patty served
us wine with cheese, crackers & nuts during our visiting time. I found it
to be a most amusing, casual, educational & enjoyable visit with my sister
Sister & her roommates. I would like to do this again sometime.

Next, we reverse direction by motoring back to Ebensburg where we drive up
a hill leading to the Bishop Carroll High School to get a better cell
phone signal. I had called my cousin Florentz mid morning leaving a
message. Florentz had called the Foote’s trying to return my call. Now we
connect & are invited over to their place for a visit; 20 min later, we
are on a priority tour of his basement. Now one might think this could be
a spooky deal but these guys are very creative thinkers with a lot of good
ideas. Since Flo (Florentz) has installed geo-thermo heating & cooling in
his home, they no longer have use for their old coal bin. So Flo & his
wife Anna pressure washed & scrubbed the walls, floor & ceiling of that
room; then Flo cemented & painted the walls & carpeted the floor. This
former coal bin of some 50 yrs is now a gentleman’s hang-out corner; a
very nice conversion.

Then we find our way upstairs & join a few more of Flo & Anna’s family
members; they have 9 kids altogether. Visiting today: Jake + his wife
Denise & Cyrus + his 3 children: Fred, Ben, & Kate...his wife, Mary,
stayed home doing other chores. I haven’t talked with Jake for many yrs so
this was my chance to catch-up on his career & activities. Jake has been a
railroad train engineer for 30yrs so far. I learned more from him about
driving a train in the next 45 min than I could ever learn from reading a
book. I thought trains guided themselves & those engineers who lean out
the windows & wave are simply watching the scenery. Not so! I had a lot of
questions & Jake elaborated with a lot of answers but, he ran out of time
& they had to leave; it sure was an interesting ground school lesson

We didn’t plan on staying so long; but with homemade wine flowing,
cheese, crackers, home made venison sausage & homemade sauerkraut being
passed, plus the subject matter & conversations are always so interesting,
who can possibly look, eat & run? Not us, for sure. Eventually though, we
say our thanks & goodbyes for now. As we drive away, rain mixed with snow
flurries follow us part of the way to Indiana. We return to our Motel @

High temp=56 Lights out: 12:04am

Awake: 8:00am Temp 33 sleep 7+57 cloudy….then rain
overnight @ Indiana, PA.

Casual morning for us; the Footes are attending 9:30 Mass & usually return
to their house around 11:30 am or later. Today is Andrew’s 1st birthday so
we’ll go the Foote’s & help them celebrate.

We visit the Footes around 1:30pm & soon after our arrival, the party
begins: the lighting of one candle on the cup cake & watching Andrew
trying to blow it out was picture worthy ( I missed it); then watching him
eat some cupcake was dullsville but; tra da, his 1st taste of “Ice Cream”
was a real hoot! He learns quick & used some of his German language to get
more….fast. Matthew helped him open the 2 presents. He sure is a cute &
casual fellow.

Katrina calls from her rental home in Denver during our festivities: one
of her friends with a 4 wheel drive picked her up from the airport so she
did fine getting home on the return trip.

5:10 dinner: Leftover sloppy Joes; leftover green bean casserole; leftover
grilled potato bites & fresh mixed salad.

Kevin cleans the dishes & kitchen while Kathy works with Matthew in
creating a new, never before witnessed, Brio track system. It was Kathy’s
1st engineering job & she did great!

We wish the Foote family a “Happy New Year 2007” & leave @ 6:45pm.

En route to our motel, we make a quick stop @ Wal-Mart for cereal.

At the hotel, we both make a few “Happy New Year” calls …then watch the
countdown to the new year of many countries around the world and several
states in our Union.

During some of this time, I set up our computer for uploading some more
family photos to our web site.

High temp=58 Lights out: 1:32am

Awake: 6:23am Temp 27 sleep 6+01 mostly sunny overnight @
Indiana, PA.

We eat breakfast early, call Melissa & leave a message that we will be
visiting people around Nicktown most of the day. Then we speed eastward in
our attempt to be on time for 8:00 Mass @ Saint Nicholas church…..arriving
@ 7:55am. Good job, we comment to each other, but where are the cars? Then
we find out: Mass was canceled that day. Fortunately we met Al & Donna
coming out of their driveway, so we quickly turned the future idle time to
good use by getting started @ our conference room table with the Koffee
Klub news & update. (7) of us gab (but no gossip) for nearly (3) hrs. It
was good to get reacquainted with some of the koffee gang members again.

Then a trip to the local post office for our local mail, followed by lunch
@ Rolands Café just 2.5 miles away. Next we top off our Suzuki fuel tank
@ Sheetz, drive back to Nicktown & visit “Waterfalls Road” where the fresh
spring waters have never stopped running. There we fill our 13 plastic 1
gallon jugs full of this drinking water to be used in areas where we are
not comfortable with the local water during our travels.

Next we visit Herm & Rosemary; longtime, close friends of my parents. One
of their daughters, Dorothy, & her husband, Mark, & youngest son, Paul,
were visiting and we happily joined them. We have a good hour chat session
with a small percentage dedicated to reminiscing about those “good ole

Then we drive ½ mile down the road & visit my 1st cousin Bernie, Ethel, &
her daughter, Sharon. I brought my computer along to give them a long
awaited slide show of our 2005 Asian Pacific Cruse. We had planned to have
this showing on our motorhome’s plasma TV but that plan fell apart when
the TV failed last Sept. So for now, they seemed somewhat happy that we
didn’t forget about them.

After that “really good show,” we drive another 1.5 miles & attend the
Rosary service & vigil Mass @ Prince of Peace Catholic Chapel in Spangler.
After Mass, we spend a few extra minutes yakking with one of my ole high
school classmates, Don, & his wife, Mary Ann. I do believe Don P. & I are
beginning to look like twins now that we sport a similar hair style.

Now we have to get serious about food: we have snacked with Herm &
Rosemary + Bernie, Ethel & Sharon, but more healthy food would be best. We
drive to Clymer (18 miles) to Luigi’s where we are told: “It will be a 50
min to an hr wait.” The waiting areas are packed; its 7:30 & the aromas
from this Italian restaurant are tantalizing us. A sneak peek into the
large bar area shows more waiting customers. Ahaa, but an idea develops: I
ask one of the bartenders if one can order food from the kitchen & eat @
the bar? “Yes sir!” he replies & as the saying goes, the rest is a full
stomach. We shared a Sweet Sausage over linguini dinner meal with salad.
Excellent! By the way, more couples begin to copy our strategy before we
had finished.

Melissa had left a message on our cell phone that I finally picked up mid
evening: she called @ 8:30am to tell us that Matthew was requesting our
company for 2 hrs of playtime as he was lonely now, had no one to play
with because everyone has gone. Oh, sorry; tomorrow Matthew.

High temp=? Lights out: 12:03am


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