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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

No Need For Plan B

It’s not often that a mechanical symptom fools me, but I certainly was snookered this time.  Our Honda Element toad did pull a fast one on me, but I’m not complaining.  Why?

The Honda technician inspected the Element’s CV joints on the axles, and they were fine and not the cause of the violent shimmy we’d experienced.

Instead, it turned out to be a seized right front brake caliper.  I was overjoyed.  Why?

Because to replace the caliper, machine the rotors on both front wheels and install new brake pads, as well as flush the brake lines and install new brake fluid cost me half of what two new axles with new CV joints would have.  My wallet was happy, too.

So we’re back on track for our drive to Florida on New Years Day, with a night spent visiting my Coast Guard buddy Ron in Jacksonville, before heading to Port Canaveral for the cruise. 

We’re leaving the Journey here at the COE campground.  Since there is a slight chance of freezing weather while we’re gone, I’m disconnecting the water hose and turning off the water pump, putting a drop light with a 75watt bulb in each of my two wet bays and leaving the propane furnace on set to about 40 degrees.  With an almost full onboard propane tank, everything should be fine.

Now for the major challenge:  Pack a suitcase.  ;c)

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Counting Down

Yep, we’re counting down the days, not just to the New Year, but to our very first cruise, departing Port Canaveral, FL on January 3rd for 7 days.  We’ve got lists of things to take with us and items set aside to pack.


Of course our car has acted up today.  It seems to have a bad CV joint on one of the axles, so first thing tomorrow I’m heading for the Honda dealer to see about getting it fixed ASAP.  We’re planning on driving the car from here in SC to Port Canaveral and back, so the axle needs replacing.  We have to leave on New Years Day to make the cruise.  While I’m at it, I’ll have the other one replaced,too.  If one CV joint is bad, the other can’t be too far behind.

I’m not complaining, the CV joints have lasted over 225,000 miles, so I certainly can say I got my monies worth out of them. 

Here’s hoping the Honda dealer can fit me in right away or we’ll have to come up with a Plan B fast… 

I’m open to suggestions for a Plan B.  ;c)

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pin Hunting Hiatus

The other day, we ventured out on our last pin hunting expedition for the year.  A foggy morning as we left, driving over the Thurmond Lake Dam, it looked like we were driving off the edge of the world.


Off into the deep woods we went, armed with all our gear and maps.


The maps give us the general locations of the boundary line pin markers.


Once we’re in the general location, it takes quite a bit of hunting with the metal detector to find the pin.


Scratch another pin off the “To Be Located” List.


Sometimes, despite our best efforts, the pin is never located.  We tried to get at this pin, but had to give up after digging and digging around a large tree that had fallen right on top of it.


We’re on a Christmas break now, so no more pin hunting for a while.  We took advantage of the break to have an early Christmas with grandsons Andrew and Owen.

What did we get them?  Metal detectors, of course.  Do you sense an ulterior motive?


We’ve had the boys out pin hunting with us before and they took turns with our metal detector.  Now they each have their own device to use. 

While we were there, Owie serenaded us with his guitar, he’s taking lessons.  He can play and eat a candy cane at the same time.  Multi talented.


Unfortunately Owie won’t be pin hunting with us for a few weeks.  He jumped off the couch and broke his ankle!


Marti and I are having a quiet Christmas together this year, we’re all decorated for the special day. 


We’ll be having a nice Christmas dinner with some of the fellow volunteers here at J. Strom Thurmond COE. 

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Little Christmas Cheer

Here’s something to smile about amidst all the Holiday Season stress:



                   Cartoon Xmas

































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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ugh. Computer Troubles

I’ve had a great run with my laptop I got in 2009, but it’s been acting up a lot lately.  I didn’t want to do it, but I broke down and bought a new computer.  After hearing all the horror stories about Windows 8 and 8.1 supposedly being better, I plunked down my hard earned (plastic) cash and bought an 8.1 equipped laptop.

The horror stories?  They weren’t horrible enough.  I’ve had no luck trying to understand this system, what was Microsoft thinking anyway?

Out of desperation, I’ve ordered a user manual for it while my old laptop (which I’m writing on now)is still hanging in there.  I passed on Windows 8.1 for Dummies and moved on to Windows 8.1 for Total Computer Idiots.

I’ve also ordered a large box of tissues for use as I cry my eyes out trying to learn this *#@^*&% crazy system.

Remember my background is fixing things with hammers.  If they are stubborn, then I use a bigger hammer.  Bit, bytes, “0”s and “1”s are over my head.  Gee, I wonder if Rick, the all knowing Computer Guru makes house calls?   ;c)

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bird Mystery Solved

My investigator skills may be a little rusty since I hung them up when I retired three plus years ago, but I thought I’d drag them out and see if I could find out more about that mysterious upside down hanging bird Marti and I saw the other day.

It turned out to be a simple explanation, and I even found out who did the hanging!  Maybe my investigator skills aren’t as rusty as I thought…

I went and talked to Ranger Ken, who is the staff biologist here at the COE.  He laughed when I told him what we had seen.  He knew all about it because he was the person that hung the bird up in the first place.  In fact, he told me he had hung several others around the COE property and by the Thurmond Dam, too.

There has been recently a bunch of Turkey Vultures that have be causing some problems around the COE property.


The vultures seem to have acquired a taste for roofing shingles, rubber roof coatings at the dam and automobile weather stripping.  Evidently there is something in the rubber that the vultures love to eat and they have caused quite a bit of damage to those items.  By hanging the imitation vulture upside down, it actually scares the real birds away preventing further damage.  Amazing!

It seems to work very well, so I’m going to see if I can find a Murphy doll, hang it upside down near my RV and scare that annoying Murphy away from causing things to break and malfunction on our Journey.  Brilliant, eh?  :c)

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Calling Judy And Nancy, the Bird Ladies

Marti and I have seen many amazing things as we’ve been workamping around the J. Strom Thurmond COE Project.  It certainly keeps one from getting bored.

We’ve completed our inspections of the 25 campgrounds, boat ramps, beaches and day use areas around Thurmond Lake, it was a lot of work.  Now all that is left is to compile a work list of all the discrepancies we’ve found for the volunteers and contractors to tackle and try and complete before next season.  We want to ensure this great COE park project stays in tip top shape.

As we’ve been out and about in the wild areas surrounding the lake, we’ve been thrilled to see many birds, from Great Blue Herons, Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks, even the majestic Bald Eagles.  Yesterday, we came across a bird that really confused us.

It appeared to be dead and was hanging from a branch upside down by a short piece of rope.  We looked at it through our binoculars and couldn’t tell what species of bird it was and who would be so cruel as to hang the poor bird up like that.


I thought it might be some kind of woodpecker, but it was fairly large, about the size of a football.  I couldn’t get much of a better picture than this.  We scratched our heads and couldn’t figure it out, we’d never seen any birds like this.

We debated contacting the Department of Natural Resources to get an agent out to investigate what appeared to be animal cruelty.  Looking closer with the binoculars, I noticed the legs didn’t look right.


This wasn’t a real bird after all!  We felt relieved that there wasn’t  any cruelty here after all.  But why was this fake bird hung up in the tree?  Then it dawned on us, the tree was over one of the fish cleaning stations near a fishing pier.  We figured it must have been placed up there to scare other birds away to prevent them from swooping in as fishermen were trying to clean their catches and keep them out of the trashcans.  The fake bird probably was tied on top of the branch, but must have slipped down at some point.

Just another funny tidbit that makes our workamping job here so interesting.  Now if Judy or Nancy can identify what kind of bird it is supposed to be, that will make it really interesting!  :c)

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Jersey Christmas

Since we were not going to be in New Jersey visiting our granddaughters on Christmas, we had them open the presents we bought them to see how much they’d enjoy them.  Calendars and dates don’t mean much to a two year old and a five month old.

Anabelle ripped right into her gift bag and pulled out her presents.


Mom Amanda and Anabelle looked over the Leap Frog Learning tablet we bought her.


Dad Corey opened the box and got it all set up for her.  She found it fascinating and she didn’t even realize she was learning things with the games on it.


Lizzie was wondering what this thing was we got her.


Turning it on, it showed all kinds of lights and played music.  She really liked it and had a hard time taking her eyes off it.


The gifts were a success, we’re glad we got to see the girls enjoying them.  Sadly, we had to kiss them goodbye when they went to bed, because we had a 4:45 am wake up for our trip to the Newark, NJ airport.

Just our luck, we had to drive our rental car back to the airport in driving rain, the temps were just above freezing and with the wind, the cold was downright bitter. The area was being hit with a winter Nor’easter (of course!).  We are not used to that piercing kind of cold anymore.

We made it to the airport after a slow, soggy ride and turned in the car.  We thought we got a good deal on a week’s rental at $159.  When I got the total bill, it had some additional strange charges on it like $25 “Security Fee” and a $23 “Airport Fee”.  Taxes, state and county plus a “Rental Tax” added almost another hundred bucks to the rental.  That would have bought a lot of diesel for our motorhome!

We can’t drive the Journey up to NJ in the winter because in the area where our kids live, there is only one campground and it is closed from 1 November until 1April every year, so we have to suck it up and fly/drive a rental.  Not the way we like to travel, but seeing the girls is so worth it.

Getting off the plane in Augusta, GA, we shucked off our coats and enjoyed the sunny weather in our shirt sleeves.  A welcome conclusion to our trip.

We are taking tomorrow off from COE work to catch our breath.  We burned a lot of energy keeping up with Anabelle and Lizzie.  :c)

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Workamping Intermission

Three am is a time I haven’t seen in years, although I saw it way too often during my career.  We were up and out the door in fifteen minutes, for a good reason.  We were flying up to New Jersey to see our granddaughters Anabelle (2) and Elizabeth (5 months).  We hadn’t seen them for a while and we wanted to get there for a Christmas time visit.

We arrived, parked the car and got checked in.  Our flight was for 5:25 am, so I took this picture to remember how I don’t enjoy this hour anymore, we’re retired.  :c)


We arrived at our son Corey and DIL Amada’s house in NJ and in no time got to work grandparenting.

It didn’t take long for little “Lizzie” to steal our hearts.


We had a bunch of things planned to do with the girls. Mimi Marti and Anabelle worked on building a gingerbread house,


closely supervised by Lizzie in her high chair, dressed appropriately for the occasion.


Lots of work but the result was worth it.


I got to put together the train for under the Christmas tree.


Do you know how many times a minute a 2 year old can derail a train?  Answer: Faster than her Pa can put it back on the tracks!

Another reason we visited now was to celebrate my dad’s 93rd birthday.  My brothers, sister and two SILs met for dinner and a long overdue family get together.  Dad had not yet met Lizzie (his twelfth great grandchild) so she had the seat right next to him.


My brothers fought over who would get to hold Lizzie next.  Neither one has any grandkids (yet) so they got some practice in.



It’s been a good visit and we’ll be sad to have to leave tomorrow.  We’ve had lots of fun watching the girls, including seeing Anabelle help her parents decorate their house with Christmas lights.


Thankfully, we have wheels under our house, so we’ll be able to roll back next summer for a much longer visit.  :c)

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