Oct 30, 2012

Oct 30 - New Rubber

One of the joys of owning a bus-house is having to replace the tires every few years. Having first discovered sidewall cracks in our 5 year old tires more than a year ago, I've been procrastinating and delaying the inevitable ever since. Like most good procrastinators I guess there's a subconscious hope that the need for action was all imagined. If you wait long enough the problem simply disappears... evaporates into thin air.

Off with the old...

and on with the new. The torque spec for these lug nuts is 450 - 500 ft.lbs.
Well, tires don't heal themselves and cracked sidewalls never improve. So over the past month I've been working on getting replacements. Got a quote here... another there... and a third down the road a piece. I wasn't happy with any of them. These things are expensive!... like more than 5 "Ben Franklins" with maybe another "General Grant" or two... per tire.  And every time I walk around the bus-house to count tires, I always come up with 6.

I'm happy to report that yesterday this project came to a conclusion. In conjunction with an FMCA/Michelin National Account program, Pomp's Tire Service in Deforest Wisconsin, and a rapidly decaying calendar of available days before we head south, I was able to overcome procrastination and get some new "shoes" installed.

A few details if you're interested:  I replaced the original 275/70R22.5 tires with 275/80R22.5s. The higher profile new tires are about 2" larger in diameter, which means they turn about 5% fewer revolutions per mile... which means engine RPMs drop 5% for any given speed... which should mean a little less fuel is used. Additionally, these higher profile tires can carry our loaded weight at lower inflation pressures, meaning an improvement in ride comfort. I'll carry 95psi on our steer tires (carried 105 with the old tires), and 90psi on the rears (95 previously).

The folks at Pomp's Tire in Deforest were professional and made the experience enjoyable. Bill, the manager, Josh, the tech who did the installation, and every other person I met made me feel comfortable and almost glad to be turning over a Brinks truck full of cash. Thanks guys.

We're now down to a few days before departure. Not locked in yet, but it looks like Friday is the day.

Today we're on the western margin of the Sandy super-storm that's messing up the folks out east. The wind is hard out of the north and gusting to well over 30mph. But I'll take the wind as long as we can avoid the rest of it.

Super-storm Sandy... on Tuesday Oct. 30

Oct 22, 2012

Oct 22 - A Huge Personal Dilemma

Early voting in Wisconsin starts tomorrow and I'm facing a huge personal dilemma. Do I vote or not?

Consider the puppets we refer to as our Presidential candidates. Both of them are lying to us. They're both saying whatever their organizations calculate will produce the most votes and the best chance of winning. They are NOT saying what they'll actually do, what they actually believe, or which power groups are controlling them. It's really a sham. I have no way to determine which of them is the bigger liar. And the same goes for the Senate race here in Wisconsin. Liars all.

If I vote, I'll be buying into the game devised by those pulling the strings on these characters. I'll become a supporting cast member of the fictional play they've scripted in the name of democracy and the founding principles of this nation. Sounds good but it's all a sham. And it just doesn't feel right.

If I don't vote, I'm a bum in the eyes of many who believe voting for the lesser liar is better than not voting at all. That doesn't feel right either, especially when I can't determine who's the lesser liar.

I could vote by writing in the name of someone I respect. But the reality is that this just becomes background noise to those in power, and has the same effect as not voting at all.

In the end, it won't matter either way, as the ones pulling the strings are in control of both candidates. The ones pulling the strings have crafted this fiction to keep the population divided. Regardless of who wins, we'll still be involved in meaningless wars in the Middle East, concentration of income and wealth at the top will continue to increase, the old middle class will be on the hook for continued deficit spending for as far into the future as we can see. And most people won't give a rat's ass as long as there's a little food on the table, a roof over their heads, and their cable TV is still connected.

What do I do?

Oct 21, 2012

Oct 21 - Talkin' bout My Bike...

For the past 10 years or more I've been using a hand-me-down Specialized (brand) hybrid bike as my daily driver. It's nothing to be proud of, but it gets the job done. At least most of the time.

I love being on this bike. It feels natural for me... very relaxed and comfortable. But I'm feeling the urge to change... to upgrade?? to something that might serve my needs better.

There are two things that I'd like to change about my bike. First, often I truly wish it were a mountain bike. I spend very little time biking on paved roads (consider it too dangerous as cars and trucks usually win any conflicts) preferring crushed rock and dirt trails... often the old railroad grades converted to bike trails. I'd venture onto more primitive trails, roads, and fields, but my skinny-ish tires prevent that. Thus, my wish for a mountain bike with wider tires.

Second, bikes get abused in this lifestyle... hanging out in the open on a car-mounted bike rack they're subjected to road grime and dust, nasty weather, jostled around, cabled to picnic tables in campgrounds... it's just not the way a bike should be treated. So my second wish is that there's some way to keep a bike inside, out of the elements, while living in an RV. I don't want to buy a new bike only to have it outside 24/7, in the dirt and elements of nature.

Sure, people with a toy-hauler RV, a van tow vehicle, or a cargo trailer do have a place inside for the bikes. But it's really not practical to keep the bikes inside our motorhome. And there's just no room in those storage bays in the basement, ya know? Dar's got 'em pretty full.

What if I could come up with an affordable mountain bike that folds up and could be stored in the back seat of the car or truck? That could be a solution to both of my wish-list items.

I found this online:  from Montague Bikes, a company headquartered in the Boston area. What do you think? Here's a link to a short video of how it folds.

Oct 20, 2012

Oct 20 - South, maybe East-ish First

Rockport Beach 2007
The first Winter of our Sabbatical (the Winter of '07/'08) we wandered pretty much aimlessly through the South from November thru February. Moving from East to West, we hit all the southern-tier States from the Atlantic to the Pacific. I say "aimlessly", meaning we really had no pre-set plan, no reservations, nor any per-conceived ideas of what we were doing. It was great.

During that Winter we did stop for a few weeks in Rockport Texas, where we spent the holidays and met a bunch of new RVing buddies. Mostly snowbirds, they are an enjoyable group... so much so that we found ourselves spending most of the following 4 winters right back there at Sandollar Resort. We had fallen into snowbird mode and found ourselves in the same spot for three months each of those winters.

But not this year.

Perhaps we're trying to regain that feeling of discovery and adventure we felt during our first year on the road... chasing that first "high"... but this year will be more like our first. Our very rough plan is to spend the core of Winter '12/'13 traveling through the south, trying not to stay in any one place longer than a week or so. It's what we set out to do when we began all those years ago. It's back to our roots.

At first we thought we'd pretty much head right for Arizona. We're really growing to like the desert during winter and being able to spend months there is an attractive thought.

But now we're thinking we'll head to the Southeast first... to see some very good friends... before pointing west and making the crawl to Arizona.

Whatever we finally decide... we're re-energized and excited to get back on the road. Only a couple weeks to go.

Oct 19, 2012

Oct 19 - Rain Drops and Ink Drops

"I will not complain about the weather... I will not complain about the weather... I will not complain..." 

We're thoroughly enjoying our Midwest Fall experience this year. Wonder why we haven't lingered longer here in previous years. We've had some very nice days, with full sun, mild breezes, cool at night and warm during the day. Not as many as we'd like but...

"... I will not complain..." 

the old i70... in better days
Our Canon i70 printer finally crapped out for good the other day. We've carried this old guy around since the beginning and even though we don't use a printer much, it has performed admirably for us for more than 5 years... and actually some few years before that even.  Tried what I could (which wasn't much) to rescue and resuscitate it, but it passed over to the other side and was buried in a local landfill after a brief service. No tears please. It had a good life.

Our requirements for a printer is that it be small and portable. Cheap would be good too. But if "small" and "cheap" can't be found in one package, we'll opt for "small" as we're already preparing for "Sabbatical II" in a significantly downsized camper. There won't be room for much during S-II and what we do take will have to be very compact.

Actually, it wouldn't take much for me to be convinced we don't need a printer at all. Except for those few times there's a legal document to sign and return... or that special someone I live with needs to print out a portion of her family tree research. You know, things like that. We almost never print photos, opting instead to keep them in digital format so they can be organized and shared online. When we do need to print pics we send them off to the nearest Walgreen's who will take care of the task for less than 25 cents each. It's a heck of a deal as far as I'm concerned.

Walk through the printer aisle of your local Best Buy or equivalent and you'll find no shortage of oversized multi-function machines (nee "printers")  that look like they were designed by a team from Texas (where big is better, humongous is best, and useless features and functions are a lifestyle). Had to resort to an online purchase of a Canon iP100 to get close to what we wanted. And even it had grown larger compared to it's ancient ancestor... our old i70. Whad'ya gonna do?

Beyond Branson; Pondering Future Travel

This past Tuesday, we moved from Branson to a very nice Corps of Engineer’s Park on Wappapello Lake.  We’re in the Redman Creek CG. This fac...