Mary, Hood to Coast Relay, & Spaghetti

Before getting to the cheerful stuff, I’m compelled to report that we’ve lost another friend. Mary Newell-Dickinson depart this mortal domain on August 20th. She was only 68, and passed peacefully in her sleep. Her departure was a total surprise to everyone, especially her husband, Ross. It’s a tragedy, but we rest comfortably in the knowledge that she’s just gone ahead to help us find our way when it’s our time. So, whether or not you knew Mary, please remember her and send healing prayers to Ross.

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Incidentally, Mary was a member of the OMTAAMB (One More Time Around Again Marching Band). Maybe you’ve heard of them.

Our friends Jeannie, and Susan are also in the band. I’ll talk about them on another day.

Yesterday Diane and I chipped in to help daughter Jennifer prepare food for the Hood to Coast walkers and runners. For those of you who are not familiar with the Hood to Coast, it’s a relay race from Mt. Hood to Seaside. It’s about a 200 mile trek for the runners. Walkers also relay but start from Portland. The object of this event is to make it to Seaside before all those who went before you drink all the beer.

Team members take turns and each member normally runs or walks three 5 KM segments. The runners/walkers start in the morning and continue throughout the night with the last participants arriving in Seaside Saturday morning. It’s one of the largest relay races in the world, and they always come through St. Helens. One of the main stops for food is the Columbia County Fair Grounds which just happens to be located on the outskirts of St. Helens. One of the traditions for providing food is for the St. Helens High School parents and Seniors to sponsor the main food service for the Senior’s Safe & Sober program. They make lots of money doing this, but they provide some pretty good food in return. High Carb stuff to keep participants moving.

Diane and my contribution was to make spaghetti for 200. We’ve never done that before so it was an exciting challenge. During our effort we made 8 gallons of sauce and boiled up 10 double packages of spaghetti noodles. The spaghetti noodles were cooked to perfection. I know that’s true because we know who Al Dente is. He lives just down the street.

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Now, here’s where I must share what learned during this evolution … when stirring either sauce, or noodles, it’s beneficial to have tools with handles that are longer than the water or sauce is deep. Not observing this rule results in repeated, painful burns to fingers when attempting to get stuff from the bottom of the pan. I only burned myself twice before opting for a long-handled spoon to finish the job. In all we had two very large pots of sauce, and I cooked the noodles 3 packages at a time in the same pots after moving the sauce to holding tanks with heaters. The hardest part about doing the noodles was waiting for the water to boil. For some reason it took an incredibly long time. Once it got going, however, it worked just fine so I just kept using it over and over, adding water sparingly to keep from cooling it down too much.

The final vote of confidence for all that work was received from the runners who complimented Jennifer and Lydia on the great spaghetti. And, they sold every bit of it. We did good.

After turning over our spaghetti efforts to Daniel & Jeran, Diane and I made ourselves presentable so we could join some of our Winnebago friends, Cliff, Susie, Carolann, & Terry at the St. Helens Elks Lodge for dinner. These folks park at the Elks a couple of times a year which gives us more opportunities to visit with them. We treasure our time with these folks.

That’s Susie, Diane, Carolann, Terry, Me, and Cliff after the end of a pretty terrific meal served by one of the happiest waitresses I believe I’ve ever seen. As Terry said, “she should smile more.” She couldn’t do that, of course, because there wasn’t a moment when she wasn’t smiling.

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The St. Helens Elks Lodge #1999 sits on a hill with a terrific view of the Columbia River. I don’t have a photo to prove it, but that’s OK. I’m sure everyone believes me. Right?

While Diane and I were playing with spaghetti, Jewel went to the Portland International Airport to meet her daughter, Jessica, and family when they arrived from Perth, Australia. That, my friends, is a very long trip.

Now it’s Saturday, 1530 hours in the afternoon. This morning I mowed the entire yard, as well as one of our neighbor’s yards, edged stuff, and hauled a trailer load of debris to the burn pile. I could do that because it was only in the 80’s. I’m allowed outside when it’s under 90. I don’t know why it matter becasue I sweat just as much either way. But, rules are rules, ya know?

That’s it for now. I have some ball games to watch.

Jeran’s 16, and other Important Stuff

Miss me? I’ve been busy doing all kinds of stuff. And Golfing. You may be happy, or amazed, to know that since my last post I have failed to injure myself. I believe this is a personal record – seven days with no injuries! Might have to put up one of those boards our front advertising this milestone. You know, like they do at factories. But they do their in hours, I believe. I’ll stick to days.

Today is another milestone for another family member. Jeran, Daniel and Jennifer’s youngest, is sixteen (16) today. Sixteen! Seems like just last month Lydia turned 17 not here’s Jeran turning 16. something’s going on. For his gift he wanted a bicycle so he could get more exercise and increase his stamina. The reason? He’s looking ahead two years when he plans to join the Navy, as did Cedric. He has a two-year plan to get ready. I find that amazing because when I decided to join the Navy, way back in 1962, I probably thought about it for a couple of days, tops. Two years to plan.

Jeran’s birthday party was last Saturday and it was planned without his knowledge. Diane, Cedric, and I took him out for breakfast, then we went to Portland to play putt putt golf at a strange indoor course where everything glows under black light. Even the balls. It wasn’t overly challenging, but was an experience. The outdoor ones are far more fun. Still, we all had fun. I won, of course. Because I’m better at golf. And, I kept score. Hard to lose when you keep score. On the way to the golf game, which didn’t open until 12:30 pm, we stopped at Wal*Mart, Fred Meyer, Costco, and Target to see if any of the bikes appealed to Jeran. After seeing dozens of possibilities, he settled on the one at Fred Meyer because it was blue. That’s a good reason. It’s also got disc brakes and eleventy-seven gears, but the defining criteria was the color. That’s OK.

The plan, as told to Jeran, was that Daniel and Jennifer were going to meet us in Portland then go to an arcade that has all the old games. J and D had to stay back because Lydia was taking the ACT at school all morning. During that free time they set up for the surprise party and greeted a herd of his friends who were invited. Jennifer said the first 7 friends who accepted the invitation were girls. Then, around 2 pm, Jennifer called to report that she wasn’t feeling well and that we should come home. Jeran was very good about doing that because he was hungry and wanted to stop at every fast food place we passed. But, there was pizza waiting at home so he was easily swayed to continue the trip. On the way back we stopped at Freddie’s in Scappoose to get he new bike.IMG_0368

When we arrived we unloaded the bike so Jennifer and Daniel could check it out. Finally, Jeran went into the house and the noise level increased logarithmically to the point where it was difficult to maintain a conversation. When the gear for the planned Nerf War arrived Diane and I felt it was time to depart to calmer climes. Like our electric couch. Plus, the dogs had been alone for nearly 8 hours and no doubt needed a trip outside. But, we stopped to see Diane’s Mom on the way, because we hadn’t seen her for a couple of days. The dogs had seen us that morning and could last another hour, we were sure.

Mom was just fine, you’ll be happy to know. Hovering on the edge of 89 she’s doing very well. We suspect she’ll out live us.

The dogs were very happy to be released from the house which was evidenced by their very loud happy barks and jumping. Their happy barks are distinctly different from their, “Hey, there’s a cat sitting on the fence” bark. Or, “The UPS guy is here” bark. Or, “That car I’ve seen about 700 times just drove by the house again” bark. The happy barks sound different because they’re smiling.

Yesterday we played hooky from church and just layed around most of the day. Diane worked in the basement, Jeff brought Jerrie, Baylee, and Gilligan over for a visit, and I moved the Winnebago and the old Chevy truck to new parking places across the street from the house. They had to be moved in order to make room for the trailer we bought the other day. Don’t know if I mentioned it or not. It’s a 2013 Jayco Eagle 266RKS that we found at the Rainier RV Center. The graphics are the same color as the truck so it seemed to be a sign that we should get it. So, we did.

Speaking of the trailer, we drove to Rainier this morning to pick it up. Diane’s truck, purchased with a trailer like this in mind, pulls it nicely down the road. I was a little concerned about getting it parked in the driveway, but that turned out to be pretty simple. I was able to stuff it into the proper spot with only a couple of tries. Made me proud.IMG_0363

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I didn’t get any pictures of the noisy people we encountered upon our return because non of them seemed to be in the proper frame of mind to stand still long enough for that to happen. They were very energetic. I did get Cedric, Justin and Uncle Don who chose to sit at the table with the food.

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At one stop where we checked bikes, Diane demonstrated her belief that when you have a handicap parking pass you can park in designated spots pretty much any way you want.

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When we left with Jeran and Cedric Saturday morning I caught Jennifer at her best. Immediately after snapping this one, she jumped behind the bush to her left and moaned “Nooooooo!”, but it was too late.

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It’s been a good week.

Sad News

Well, it’s finally happened. After spending the best years of my life attempting to fulfill the desires and wishes of someone who was a stranger to me in 1960, she’s accepted my most recent offer to get a lawyer and split the sheets. This is something I’ve alluded to, in fun, of the years and I never thought she would actually take me up on it. But, she did.

Now I have to either find a lawyer, or just leave. She’s agreed to let me have the motor home and the old pickup, and the PT Cruiser so I’ll have a place to stay, transportation that works, and a truck to work on. I’ll be looking for a new place to park the Winnie, so if any of you can find it in your heart to provide a temporary parking place, I’d appreciate it. Perhaps someone will trade time in their yard for one of the power tools I won’t be able to bring with me. It’s kind of pointless to even try doing that since I won’t be starting any more projects. So, they are up for grabs as either barter, or cash. Whichever works.

Since electricity will only be available by my benefactors, or when I get the generator running, this could be the last post you receive from me for a while. I’ll return as soon as I can.

Until then, I trust that each of you will continue to enjoy your lives and that I may have added a little joy to your days with my mental wanderings. Stay safe and be happy. Now, it’s time to go.

Oh, by the way, Happy April Fools Day.

 

I’m The Maytag Guy – The Winnebago Guy Too – Who Knew?

Today I successfully resurrected a 20(+)-year-old Maytag Neptune washing machine. It’s been sitting in the basement, unused, for the last 4-5 days because it wouldn’t drain. That malady made it a little difficult to wash clothes so Diane just didn’t do that. I’m not an expert Maytag repairman, but neither am I a rookie at bringing this particular washer back to life. When it was fairly new it was used to wash some really old area rugs, one of which had some old crispy rubber backing that the washing successfully stripped and attempted to flush out the drain hose. Needless to say, it didn’t drain well and it was necessary to dismantle the drain system and remove about a gallon of those little bits of rubber from the drain hose and drain pump. It was an enlightening evolution, one about which I knew nothing in the beginning. But, I’m not shy about taking things apart, something I may have mentioned in one or more previous posts.

As luck would have it, removing all the rubber solved that problem and imposing a ban on washing rugs that have questionable backing has allowed the washing to work quite nicely for the next 20 years.

Since I wasn’t sure what the problem was this time I ripped it apart again to check the pump. I dismantled the pump housing and confirmed that the motor ran OK, I thought, put it all back together and reinstalled it. Then the computer came in to play as I searched for parts that I thought might resolve the problem. The only choices I could think of was the timer or the pump motor. They arrived this afternoon.

When Diane returned from her trip to Longview, to take Cedric to the dentist, I was knee-deep in getting the parts installed. I’d already replaced the timer and had determined it wasn’t the problem. Therefore I pulled out the old pump, which was very hot, indicating that though it didn’t drain the washer, it gave it a good try. Too bad I didn’t feel the pump first, right? Well, I was going for the easiest solution first.

Diane arrived just I was in the process of tightening the last hose clamp on the new motor so she got home just in time to help me check it out. Before running a test I pushed the washer back into place, pretending it was going to work fine. Turns out it did just that.

As the water was being pumped from the washer Diane clapped and jumped up and down because she was so happy that she would be able to spend all day tomorrow washing clothes. I think that makes her the best wife ever.

Long before the washer parts arrived, we made a trip to Portland with the hopes we could purchase a replacement hose that would keep the transmission fluid from vacating the Winnebago, leaving messy drips all over the place. The business we found is one that makes replacement hoses as needed. When we got it back home I dug out some work clothes, found my wrenches, and crawled under the RV to see if what I had was, indeed, the solution. It was, and I was elated. All that took place after Diane left for the trip to Longview with Cedric, and it was a quick fix. I was very gratified that I was able to resolve that problem with a simple solution. The custom hose, by the way, only cost $14.11. I was figuring it would cost between $30-$40. Can’t wait until I have to get another hose made, now that I know they’re so inexpensive.

After all the work was done, I received a phone call from Legacy Health to report the results of my MRI last week. Turns out I have a full tear in the rotator cuff of my left shoulder. So now I’m being referred to a Ortho Surgeon to see what can be done. Oddly enough, the pain I have from this injury is mainly when I lay down to sleep. Golfing isn’t a problem.

So, tomorrow I’m going golfing. Doug said so.

A Birthday Milestone, a little Football, X-Rays, and an MRI

I’ve been a little remiss in getting information out to all of you who think there’s a need to keep tabs on me for various reasons, so here I am to bring you as up-to-date as possible.

Before I get going, however, I must report the most important news for this day, the 23rd of October which just happens to be my favorite Daughter’s, Jennifer’s, 40th birthday. Here she is at 6-years-old – she’s the one on the right.Jennie 1981

Here she is a little older …

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She’s a very lovely, very special Lady.

Using my handy-dandy calendar, the one on my computer, I will do my best to report events in chronological order unless, of course, I either see something shiny or a squirrel runs by my window. Should that happen, all bets are off and you will be at the mercy of my random thought generator.

Since October 14th, the date of my last post, we have attended three of Lydia’s soccer games (won 2 lost 1), spent three days in the RV in a field in Hood River, went to see my local doctor because stuff hurts, got an X-ray, played golf, had an MRI, fasting blood work, attended a meeting at our church with the ladies who write all the checks, and attended a Scappoose High School football game against Seaside.

That’s about it. But, I suspect you’d be more interested in the details of some of those events, particularly the one about staying in the RV …

Regarding that … we joined our Winnebago friends in Hood River, at the Hood River County Fairgrounds, so we could enjoy traveling the Fruit Loop through the numerous orchards that dot the countryside around Hood River. There’s a bunch of them and they are all selling tons of fruit. Since we like fruit, we bought some gigantic Jonagold versions at $.50 a pound. That’s only if you buy 20 pounds or more. If not, they are $.89 a pound. I got 23 pounds for $11.50. That was most of an entire box. I love those things. They are my evening snack along with a piece of Tillamook cheddar cheese.

Everything went nicely on this short little visit until we were well on our way home. That’s when the transmission started giving me fits. We’d be flying along just fine then it was like the transmission just shifted to neutral and the engine revved up a bunch. Then smoke started pouring out behind us making it difficult for me to see how close people were following. That really wasn’t a problem, however, because everyone passed me and no one was following us. The problem was the transmission was losing fluid from somewhere that I couldn’t find during a quick stop to see what was the matter. The smoke was from transmission fluid burning off the exhaust pipe on the left side of the engine. I looked all over for a possible leak but it was difficult to pin it to just one place because pretty much the entire bottom of the transmission and the frame was covered with the stuff. Still, I looked, hoping to get lucky. At this point we were about 50 miles from home and I wasn’t in the mood to spend the night parked alongside the road. So, I dug around in the from part of the RV and discovered a nearly full quart of transmission fluid which I poured into the proper receptacle to, hopefully, top off what was missing. I knew, from prior experience, that a relatively small amount of viscous material, like oil, and transmission fluid, could cover an astounding area making one think the reservoir must surely be dry, but it isn’t.

Once the fluid was added I cranked the rig up and shifted to reverse and D a few times to see what would happen, got the appropriate response, put it in D and took off down I-84 West once again. We made it all the way to Warren when things took a decidedly bad turn in that no amount of coaxing would provide enough friction in the transmission to increase the speed even a little. The result was that we coasted slowly to a stop. Knowing this was going to happen gave me an opportunity to get off Highway 30 onto Old Portland Road, across from Bennett Road, with enough forward momentum to ensure the coasting stopped in the Moose Lodge parking lot. That rig would not move another inch. I tried.

We were towing the PT Cruiser most of the way but figured removing that tow weight might be easier on the RV transmission. So, it was available for Diane to make a run to Wal*Mart to get some more transmission fluid for just one more effort to got that next 2 miles to home. There was just enough of everything to do that with nothing to spare beyond parking it off the street. What a trip. It took us 5 hours to make what is normally a 2 hour ride. But, we made it.

The next morning I got up and tried to figure out where all that fluid was going, but didn’t have any luck. So, I decided to do something else and went to our Lions Club meeting. I went alone because it was Diane’s bunco night with the girls. I told everyone at the meeting where she was, of course.

The next day, Tuesday, I went to visit one of the Legacy doctors at the local free clinic to make sure I didn’t have any STD’s and to see if they could do something about my left arm which had been a problem all weekend. I made an appointment the previous day so they were expecting me.

After poking, prodding, and asking a zillion questions it was determined that I needed to have an MRI of my left shoulder and X-rays of my left wrist to see what was up. The X-ray was done right away and the next day I received the news that my left wrist was severely diseased. I know that sounds kind of like my wrist was in such terrible shape that my hand was in danger of falling off. Not quite the case. It’s just that those little tunnels in the wrist bones through which blood vessels pass to give me warmth and feeling to my hand are severely restricted which causes my hand to be cold most of the time and to ache pretty much all the time. It’s been that way for about 20 years. I’ve tried to get doctors to amputate it, but none of them would because all the fingers still worked. So, I’ve just lived with it. You may be happy to know that I don’t have any STD’s. I know Diane is.

But the shoulder was something else … It keeps me awake long into the night and wakes me up sometimes when I finally to get to sleep. It needs to go, too, but I know I’ll have to keep it. So, I’m curious to learn the results of the MRI I had yesterday. At 0715 in the morning. That means we had to leave town at 0615 to make sure I made it on time.

Since I don’t normally do well in MRI machines, I was given a Valium to ease the tension, allowing me to lie very still with no fear that I would have to claw my way out of that tube before it collapsed in on me. Nope. It all went just fine and I was deemed to be a model patient for that procedure.

Later that afternoon we went to school to watch another one of Lydia’s soccer games. Unfortunately, they lost 1-0. It was a good game. Directly after the game Diane took me home to get my car so I could drive myself to my American Legion Meeting at the Moose Lodge. It’s been deemed advisable for me to attend those meetings because I’m the Sgt. At Arms for the group and I’m sure you can imagine how rowdy a bunch of old Viet Nam vets can get when they’re off their meds.

That brings us up to today and the news that I discovered the reason all the transmission fluid disappeared. There’s a little rubber tub connected to the bottom of the radiator and a rigid line running to the left side of the transmission. There’s a matching tub on the right side of the radiator that is flexible indicating it’s been replaced. The one on the right was hard like a rock and it was leaking around the brass fitting. So, I took it off. In doing so it pretty much fell apart. I took the pieces to both of our auto parts places, NAPA and CarQuest and neither of them could produce a replacement. Turns out I’ll have to take it to a specialist and have one custom-made. Maybe tomorrow.

This evening we decided to attend the Scappoose High School football game because they are playing really well. They are 11-0 on the season and made it 12-0 after stomping Seaside 55-6. The tone was set when Seaside kicked off and Scappoose ran it back for the first touchdown. During the course of the game Scappoose intercepted 3-4 passes and ran most of those back for touchdowns, too. It was pretty bad. So bad, that we found ourselves hoping Seaside would score at least once, which they did.

Now it’s late and I must quit. Need to rest up so I can search Portland and the surrounding area for a place that will make the connector I need to resurrect the Winnebago. When that’s done, it’s going on the blocks and we’re going to buy a trailer.

A Vacation & Other Stuff

On September 8th we started working in earnest to get the old RV ready for a trip to the beach. The main focus was to run the water system through a cleansing process to ensure we wouldn’t catch some exotic disease from critters that seem to linger there. Though the RV is 36 years old, we can only verify that such a cleansing has never happened in the last six years that we’ve owned it. Prior to that, I suspect it was never done, either. Since we’ve been known to use the RV a number of times in the past, and have never suffered ill effects one may wonder why it was necessary that this task be performed prior to this next trip. The answer, of course, is that Diane determined it was necessary meaning nothing else was going to get done until the water streaming from the various exits of the system smelled totally like bleach. Therefore, we made it happen. Then we cleaned it, over and over until the offensive bleach odor (and taste) was removed. Let me tell you … adding the odor and taste of bleach is a snap. Getting rid of it, not so much. It took a while.

Part of the cleaning process included adding water to the grey and black water tanks then driving around a while so it would slosh around and make sure all interior surfaces received a cleansing rinse. Doing this was fun for me because it was the first time Diane rode with me while I drove the RV. All previous trips involved her driving the chase car, the one with air conditioning and a working radio, while I drove the RV which has neither. That’s not really too bad if it’s a cool day because the heater works great. So, having Diane with me was special.

Most of the sloshing voyage was on narrow back roads with lots of curves and bumps that put my rookie RV driving skills to the test and solidified Diane’s belief that we don’t need a tow car because she’s perfectly OK driving the chase car. However, we had already purchased a tow dolly for the PT so she was just out of luck. By ending the trip with a stint on a nice wide road her fears were soon forgotten.

Last Sunday morning, the 13th, the trip took on a serious note when Diane went took her Mom, Jean, to the store and left instructions for me to pack my underwear. So I did. It took me about 3 seconds then I went out and went to work getting the tow dolly connected to the RV and getting the PT secured. That took me about 20 minutes, something I was very proud of because I’d never done it before. All that remained was to get Diane home, crank up and head on down the road to see if it would fall off.

When Diane returned, that’s just what we did.

Eight miles down the road we stopped at Fred Meyer’s for gas because we had no idea how much was in the two tanks on the RV. The gas gauges don’t work very well. When I got out to unlock the gas tanks I was supremely gratified to see the PT still behind us. Since I hadn’t felt anything odd, or seen anything flying off the road behind me, I was pretty confident we still had it, but it was nice to eliminate that tiny little bit of doubt. Apparently I did an OK job of connecting all those chains and wires and had more confidence that it would stay put and follow us all the way to Cape Lookout State Park south of Tillamook.

The 2.67 hour trip went entirely as planned with the exception of where to dismantle the tow car lash up so I could back into our assigned spot. After driving around the park for a while, we came upon a turn around with a wide area that would allow me to stop and unstrap the PT so Diane could drive it. Though I can easily push the tow dolly around when it’s not connected to anything, I just can’t push if a mile which is about how far we were from our spot. So, I left it attached with the hope no one would get angry and start throwing stuff when I stopped in front of our spot to un hook it and push it out of the way so I could park. Thankfully, all went well even though the guy in the Flair next to us pulled up a chair to watch me do all of that. He said his favorite part was me attempting to get the rig level so we wouldn’t be sleeping with our heads downhill. It was the hardest thing I did all day. But I finally did it even though the parts of the inside of the RV I was using to check level are so not on the same plane as the beds. Discovering this anomaly proved to be the first step of successfully getting our heads at least level with our feet. Then I put the awning out and the RV adopted an obvious starboard list. Since that meant Diane’s bed (we have twins) leaned her into the wall, I called it good.

Oh ya. With the starboard list in effect, unless it was securely latched, the bathroom door would swing open and stay that way. Fortunately, if one were sitting down when that happened, it was fairly easy to grab the little knob on the door and pull it shut without allowing the folks in the trailer or RV next door to see anything important.

Cape Lookout State Park is a great place because the farthest spot in the back of the park is only about three blocks from the beach. Being back there isn’t a bad thing, we learned, because the closer one gets to the beach in the park, the denser the pack of mosquitoes becomes. Being closer, of course, conditions one to traverse the last 30 feet of solid mosquitoes with little or no pain after the 4th trip. Those in the back generally don’t make it more than 2 times before giving up and just staying close to the back of the park. It was OK.

Here we are being happy that we survived the Mosquito gauntlet …IMG_2272

We looked like this the entire time we were on the beach. The only difference is that sometimes Diane didn’t hide behind me.

Four days of no TV, no phone. Just us and the mosquitoes every time we left the rig, and leaving the rig on a fairly regular basis to walk the dogs. They insisted, according to Diane and I believe everything she tells me. When she tells me they want to go out, though I’ve not heard them exchange even one word, I believe her and take them out. I got pretty good at it.

The only casualty of this trip was when I lit the pilot light for the water heater. I got it lit the first time, then it went out when. So I lit another match and held the pilot button down a bit too long so that when I touched the match to the place where the pilot light lived, all that extra gas caught fire and blew out virtually every available hole on the water heater and burned off most of my eye brows and the last 1/4 inch of the hair on the left side of my head. The air around me immediately smelled like someone had just had a permanent. It was awesome. I couldn’t wait to get inside to share it with Diane. She wasn’t impressed. Turns out the frizzled ends brushed off quite easily. The ones that didn’t are on my eyebrows. I believe they are permanently curled, now, giving the appearance that I’ve had a bunch of pubic hairs transplanted mainly above my left eye. Since I only see it when looking in a mirror, which isn’t often, it doesn’t bother me. Diane was more comfortable with me wearing a hat low on my head whenever we took a walk. I think it’s sufficiently curly that I can use it to hold a little velcroed curtain over my eye when I sleep. Kinda dumb, but bet I could do it. If Diane lets me, I’ll take a photo.

One of the dogs loved the trip because she didn’t have to be on a leash any time we were on the beach.

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The beach is over a mile long and, at this time of year, if there are 10 people visible, it’s crowded.

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Looking south …

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Looking north …

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Alas, Thursday showed up signaling the end of this mini-vacation was near. Even so, we both felt as though these few days were much longer because we totally enjoyed ourselves and had a very relaxing time in one of the most beautiful places on earth. It was OK to be heading home.

First, however, we had to make it to Warranton for an afternoon soccer game between St. Helens and Astoria high schools. It was an uneventful trip because the rig ran really well with an exceptionally loud squeal from one, or both, of the belts on the engine. It didn’t bother me much, but Diane was totally embarrassed. As far as I was concerned, it just added to the authenticity of our 36 year hold ride. It wasn’t constant, but quit once we got up to speed. We understood the game was at 4 pm, figured it would take 2 hours to get there, left at 1 pm, made it in 1.5 hrs, and learned the game was really at 4:30. So, we were two hours early. The times are probably wrong, but that’s OK. The point is, we were early. The JV team won 10-2 and it could have been much, much worse. Lydia was moved from Keeper to Defender when the score was 7-1 so she got some field time which she also enjoys. Her team mates took turns filling in for her as the keeper. Most of the second half our girls spent playing keep away from the Astoria girls without attempting to score. It was like a drill they run all the time in practice. Varsity also won, 5-1.

After the games we headed home in the dark. Again, it was an uneventful trip. Everything worked just great. I had to take the PT off the trailer and put everything away before going to bed because I was being forced to go golfing Friday morning at 0830. I golfed better than I ever have. Part of the reason for that is because I started actually counting all my strokes instead of just guessing. Funny thing.

Another interesting thing we saw at the beach is this caterpillar. We seen hundreds of these things over the years, but none that had grey spikes.

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Personally, I think it’s an alien. How about you?

Spark Plugs & Mixers

PT Cruiser Turbo 2.4L mechanic – Engine light came on after the engine sputtered a couple of times. After a bit of internet searching I discovered that PTs have the ability to display error codes on the trip meter. There was only one (P0300) for multiple misfires. So, I got new plugs and wires and swapped them out. Two of the old plugs were so tight I’m guessing that whoever installed them used a torque wrench. The plug gap on all of them was worn beyond a .070 gap, much larger than the recommended .040. Total cost $45, mainly because I bought expensive plugs.

Once the parts were installed I have to discover how to clear the error code. That turned out to be very simple … just had to disconnect the battery for a little while and let the juice drain from the system.

Getting the PT back on-line was imperative because we have plans to drag it behind the old Winnebago to Ocean Shores, WA next weekend, then south to Cape Lookout State Park in Oregon for the following week. Ocean Shores will be fun because it’s the Rod Run To The End Of The World weekend sponsored by the Beach Barons.

As a way to test out the Winnebago, we drove it to church, together, to pick up some tables to use for Cedric’s graduation party last Saturday. It drove really nice and Diane only fainted once when we were on the back roads. She doesn’t like back roads because they’re narrow and she’s convinced I’m going to run the rig into a ditch. Thankfully, most of our planned trips will be on major roads so she will be able to relax a little. Regarding the reference above that we went together … that’s significant because until this point in time we’ve never traveled together because we had no way to tow a vehicle. So, Diane drove the car and I drove the motor home. Now we have a tow dolly for the PT so we can enjoy each others’ company during the trip.

Here’s what we’ll look like going down the road … IMG_1740

A few weeks ago Diane bought a Kitchen Aid Pro 6 mixer at an auction for $200. That’s a real deal for a $400-$500 unit, so I thought she did real good. When she got it home I plugged it in and discovered why it was sold. I worked, but it made a horrible grinding noise. So, I figured out how to dismantle the thing and discovered a couple of gears were destroyed. Another trip to the internet revealed many how-to videos of how to replace those specific gears and most of the videos were by women.

Having this information in hand, and knowing it was a simple process, all I had to do was find a source for the gears, which I did more quickly than I thought I would, and had them on the way lickity split.

While I waited for them to arrive, I removed all the old grease surrounding the remaining gears, and cleaned up all the surfaces to ensure no ground up gear pieces could find a way to destroy any of the other gears. When the parts arrived it was a simple matter of putting it all back together, and replacing the grease. I cheated a little here because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to pay $15 for a small container of OEM grease. Instead, I just used what I had in my grease gun and called it good.

Once it was all back together it worked good as new. Now Diane and mix stuff twice as good as she could on the old mixer that went nuts, flipped itself on the floor and kind wrecked itself in general. It was a Kitchen Aid, too, but the smaller version.

I may have done some other stuff, but don’t remember what it might be. So, guess I’m done here.

Happy Labor Day – Stay Safe