Friday, April 30, 2010

Good Dentist Visit

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 74 degrees, high 81 degrees, cloudy, light sprinkles, humid

The gulf coast humidity started making an appearance today, as it got up to about 90%. It will be this high or higher most of the time until this winter. The first day of cooler and drier weather at that time will be like a breath of fresh air.

Remember I said I hoped I could sleep until 0500 hours this morning? Success!! I didn't wake until shortly after 0500, and felt pretty good. I didn't get up right away, enjoying not having to jump up and go to work. About 0800 hours, I went for a long walk for the first time in about five weeks. I had forgotten how much I enjoy those morning walks.

We went to the dentist later in the morning for our six month checkups, and everything checked out good. The dentist joked and said he couldn't make a living off us, didn't we need a crown or something like that? We've known him for a long time, and he's always joking like that. At least I think he's joking.

After lunch, I did some work on the computer that I had been putting off because of the outage. I had some chores I wanted to do outside, but the light sprinkles, with the threat of heavier rain, kept me doing little tasks inside the RV. Of course, I wasn't hard to discourage, since I was starting to run down a little.

We watched a movie after the computer work (Burn After Reading, with George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, and Brad Pitt). It was a comedy with a twist, which I enjoyed, but Carolyn didn't care for. When the movie was over, I enjoyed some meditation for about a half hour.

Lori came over after school was finished and we went to Pizza Hut for supper. They have a good special going on now that let's you buy any pizza, fixed any way, for $10.00 (large Super Supreme with the original crust for us). I couldn't pass that up, and we brought enough home for lunch tomorrow.

Tonight, we watched a show on television about different people and their ancestry, with the show concentrating on Spike Lee. Carolyn has been working on the different branches of our families, but I didn't realize how hard it is to find some of the information. She has been able to find good information on everyone except my father's side of the family. It's almost like they avoided the census takers. Hmmm, I wonder what that means?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Ada, Oklahoma: Home Of The Chickasaw Nation

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This Job Is Finished

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 67 degrees, high 84 degrees, mostly clear skies

Today was my last day at work. The latest job lasted two months, and if Carolyn has her way, will be the last one. I’m inclined to feel the same way, but I remember getting excited in the past when I was offered other jobs. I guess time will tell if I can resist temptation when the next job calls.

Leaving work felt strange, as I said good-bye to friends and co-workers. I felt sad about saying goodbye to people I like and respect. At the same time, I was excited about doing something different and being on the road again. We enjoy going to new places and meeting new people, and seeing what’s around the next curve and over the next hill. The main thrill to us is not so much the destination, but the journey to get there.

When I arrived home, we had a late lunch. About the time we were finished eating, mediation called me. Today's session was longer than usual, probably because I was tired. It's amazing how good that little period of time helps invigorate me.

I didn't want to get involved with any chores today that would take much time, so I took care of several little tasks that needed to be done. One of our roof vent cranks was difficult to operate, so I used some WD-40 to lubricate it. Now it works like new.

Lori came over for supper, and we enjoyed another good visit. It makes us feel good that she wants to spend time with us when she can. Even better is when she talks about what a good childhood she had. I guess we did something right.

I'm going to stay up longer tonight as I try to adjust to not having to get up so early. If I can sleep until 0500 hours in the morning, I'll be happy. I'm hopeful that by the end of next week, I'll be waking up no earlier than 0600 hours.

We will stay here through the weekend as we make preparations for travel again. That gives us time to do the chores that I've put off for the last two months.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Annetta, Texas: The Friendly City

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One More Day

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 53 degrees, high 84 degrees, mostly clear skies

Most of my day at work was a little slow. I helped some other groups with what they needed from the health physics division, and I got out of the office a little for a couple of walkdowns and to see how the outage was finishing up. While I was out, I took the time to visit a couple of my friends and give them some razzing. Don't think I was picking on them. You have to have a tough skin with some of these guys, because they can give as good as they get.

When I was in my office, there was a steady stream of trucks going by the window moving equipment that was used in the outage to a staging area outside the protected area. The plant is in the early stages of starting back up, and should be generating electricity in a couple of days.

I meant to do a couple more small chores when I got home from work, but Lori had come over for a visit. I'm glad she came, since I always enjoy visiting with my girls. It also gave me an excuse to not do the chores. I didn’t have the energy or inclination to do a lot. The long hours will take a few days to recover from. As I begin to feel more rested, my pace will pick up. I’m looking forward to being able to go for my early morning walks again.

While Lori was visiting, we decided to go out for supper. We went to a Chinese restaurant that has gone through several owners over the last few years. There is another owner there now, and the food was good, there was plenty of it, and the price was reasonable. I'm not sure why this location can't seem to make it, unless the people here don't care for Chinese food.

I’m a retiree from the plant where I’ve been working the last couple of months. As a retiree, I’m entitled to participate in the site’s medical plan. Today, a site wide message went out about the changes to the medical plan and what those changes mean to the medical plan participants. After reading the message and what the changes mean, I’m more concerned about the changes that have not been decided upon by the federal government than anything else. What’s the deal with a new law like this that has been enacted that will affect every person in this country, and the government still hasn’t decided what the new law really means? I guess the bureaucrats will decide for us. More surprises on the way.

One more day at work, and we're free again. Wahoo!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Dayton, Tennessee: Home Of The Tennessee Strawberry Festival

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shorter Hours

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 58 degrees, high 84 degrees, mostly clear skies

All the little odds and ends that are required to finish an outage were completed by our project today. At least the ones inside the containment building were finished. We still have some paperwork to review and get sign-offs on, but that should finish in the next day or so, and won’t delay start-up of the plant. We are so close to being done that we’re back on ten-hour days. No more getting up at 0400 hours to get to work by 0500 hours. That doesn’t mean I won’t wake up early.

Now that I have a little more time at home after work each afternoon, I can start doing some of those chores that fill more than a page. I began with inspecting the RV and truck tires for cuts, nails, and other problems. I don’t want to get back on the road and have a tire problem that might have been avoided if I had checked earlier. No problems were found with the tires, and while I was doing something besides working, I decided to check the underside of the RV. Again, no problems noted. One thing I realized I need to do before we leave is make sure the spare tires for the truck and RV are aired up.

After I got those little chores finished, I thought about doing more for about ten seconds, but the thought passed in a hurry. I'm tired from the long hours, so I don't want to push getting back in a normal mode.

Remember in last night's post that I said Carolyn waded in the cold water near Brookings, Oregon? This was one of the two days that were near 90 degrees that we saw along the coast. Don't tell Carolyn I put her in the blog.

Tomorrow will be another short day at work of only ten hours. Okay, so in most jobs that's not short, but compared to the 13-hour days I've been working, it seems short to me. On Thursday, I only have to be there seven hours. Then I find out what it feels like to be retired again. Cool!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hot Springs Village, Arkansas: America’s First Resort

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Closer And Closer

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 53 degrees, high 84 degrees, clear skies

Work for the project I’m on is just about finished. I should still be able to leave in another two or three days. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the station has had a delay in starting up the plant that may cause the outage to last another couple of days. Even with the little delay, the outage should still end on schedule or slightly ahead. That’s not bad for an outage that involved so many people working on a large number of activities over a period of about 35 days.

This is the time in a project like this that becomes a little sad. People you worked with in planning and executing a complex project begin to leave, going on to other jobs or taking some time off. In some cases they retire, or like me, go back to retirement. Everyone promises to stay in touch, but the reality is that you usually never see the people again unless it’s at another project. I don’t plan to work any more, other than the occasional week or two on special assignment (if that), so I probably won’t see most of these people again. That’s too bad, because I enjoyed working with them.

Here's another beach with a lighthouse and the light keeper's house at Heceta Head on the coast of Oregon. Note the kids with swim suits on. They're not doing anything in the water except wading. That's cold water, folks! There were not any adults out there.

The funeral for the father of our son-in-law John was held today. This is a difficult time for the family, and our heart goes out to them. The only help we can give is the advice that time usually helps with the pain.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Coos Bay, Oregon: Oregon’s Adventure Coast

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fingers Crossed

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 62 degrees, high 80 degrees, clear skies

Work on the project is inching to a finish as the plant gets ready to start producing electricity again. Sometimes, the last few days of an outage seems to be the hardest. Perhaps it’s because everyone wants to get through with their work and go back to a normal life. My part of the project is almost complete, and I should be done by Thursday at the latest. There’s always the possibility of problems arising to extend the outage, but it shouldn’t be anything that would cause me to be here longer.

One of the ladies that supports the project has a son who has been sick for a couple of months. He had surgery last week that is apparently going to require him to be off work for another few months. His mother and brothers held a benefit for the son’s family, selling bar-b-que plates as a way to raise money. Most of the people on the project bought plates, which were so-so. The brisket was okay, but the beans and potato salad left a lot to be desired. The potato salad was the consistency of mashed potatoes, which would have tasted better than what we got. Goes to show you that even Texans can mess up bar-b-que. At least it was for a good cause.

Here's another Oregon beach scene, along with the jetty near Newport, Oregon. Notice the lack of people on the beach. I wasn't trying to take pictures without people. There were not many people on any of the beaches we saw, other than the one at Brookings. That one had a state park right on the beach with RV spaces. The two days that were near 90 degrees while we were there may have been what drew those people to enjoy the nice beach. Carolyn enjoyed it, to the point that she took her shoes off and waded in the water.

Carolyn has been doing some research on her vertigo problem. Nothing helpful was found until Saturday when we went to the library. She found a used magazine with an article about Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), which is what she suffers with. The article suggested a different exercise than what she had been using with little or no help lately. She tried the new exercise today, and says she had one of her better days. She is going to continue the new exercise, and expand on it as the article suggested before we make an appointment to see our doctor. We've got our fingers crossed that this will help improve her quality of life.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Baxley, Georgia: A City Of Excellence

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Last Saturday Off Work

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 72 degrees, high83 degrees, clear skies, breezy

I managed to sleep until 0430 hours, which was better than last week on my day off. By the time I finally got up, it was 0500. Carolyn was already up, so I didn't have to be quiet so I wouldn't wake her up. We took it easy until about 0900 hours, when I took the laundry to the nearest laundromat and washed it. As we have since we arrived here almost two months ago, we went to K-2 for lunch. The restaurant is pretty good, but we're at the point where we want to try something else. In about nine days, we should be leaving here for something different, as in traveling again. Yes!!!

After lunch, we stopped at the library, where I picked up some new books to read and Carolyn checked out a book of crochet patterns. When we got home, I dropped Carolyn off and went to the WalMart Mall to buy groceries and fill up the truck with diesel. Meditation was in order when I got back home. I guess you know what I'll be doing when the job's finished in less than a week. The rest of the day was spent doing little chores around the RV and getting ready for the last few days of the job. I'm more than ready for it to be finished.

When we went to the library, I checked out a video titled The Ice Harvest, starring John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton. We watched it tonight since there wasn't anything on television we wanted to see. Not bad, we've seen better and worse.

The beaches of Florida are famous tourist draws, and with good reason. The beaches of Oregon have their own beauty, but not nearly as many people are seen on them as there are in Florida. That's probably because the water is much cooler in Oregon, as is the air. This picture was taken in July, and we only saw two people on the beach. Neither of them looked as though they were interested in sunbathing or going into the water. The date was July 2, and we were wearing jackets, which was a first for us on our wedding anniversary.

Only a few days to go, and then back to the retired life and traveling. Yahoo!

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - West Pittston, Pennsylvania: The Garden Village

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Weather: low 72 degrees, high 80 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

I think summer is starting to sneak up on us here near the Texas coast. The humidity is starting to be thicker each day, and we had a thick haze this afternoon that will probably only be gotten rid of with a thunderstorm. I'm happy with the weather we've had so far, which has been the best that I remember for an outage at this plant.

At the job today, we were provided lunch, which consisted of fajitas, beans, rice, tortillas, chips, pico de gallo, and sauce. Ummm, good! I’m not used to eating more than a sandwich for lunch, so I saved some of my fajitas to take home. I guess you know what I had for supper.

Before moving to Texas, we had never had fajitas before. We didn’t know what we were missing, but have eaten our share since then. Our oldest grandson is a fan of fajitas, and likes the mixed ones with chicken and beef. I prefer the beef ones. Wrap some of the meat in a tortilla with pico de gallo, and you’ve got a treat.

We're in the final push at work, with the major work expected to be completed by Tuesday. I should be finished with my part in another day or so after that. It's been a much better outage than the one we had last fall, and it's probably a good one for me to go out on. There's nothing like success to make a person feel good.

Another picture was taken at work today, and this one is with my friend Craig. Note how we're dressed. Who do you think does the work? Of course, work is a relative term. At least I look like I'm working.

I'm off work tomorrow, so I have the usual chores to take care of. Laundry, shop for groceries, buy diesel, go to the library, take care of any chores around the RV...... Next weekend, I shouldn't have to do all that stuff because the job will be finished. On the other hand, I'll be busy getting everything ready to travel.

Our son-in-law John's father passed away suddenly today. Our sympathies and thoughts are with the family at this time.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Akron, Ohio: Rubber City

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 62 degrees, high 75 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

We were busier at work today, which is a good thing, as Martha would say. There’s still a significant amount of work to do, but when spread over two 12-hour shifts in a day, it becomes possible to get it done. It still looks as though I’ll be finished in about a week.

We were talking about bar-b-que at work today, and the differences found in it in different areas of the country. When we lived in Florida, we thought there was no better bar-b-que than what we found at Sonny’s Bar-b-Que. They specialized in pork, and their side dishes, such as cole slaw, were pretty good. When we moved to Alabama, we found that the way they prepared bar-b-que was much different than what we found in Florida. The sauce was different, with vinegar being the main ingredient. The big seller appeared to be sandwiches with a big scoop of cole slaw on top of the meat. We never could acquire a liking for the strong vinegar taste, and always enjoyed eating at Sonny’s when we went back to Florida for a visit.

Trips to other states in the south didn’t impress us with their bar-b-que, and the worse we had was in South Carolina. It was almost uneatable, and I don’t know if it was just that restaurant, but it was pretty bad. Luckily for us, Sonny’s has restaurants in the state, and it was just like what we found in Florida.

Eventually, we moved to Texas, where we found a different taste in the bar-b-que. At first we didn’t think much of the taste, but it grew on us. We found that we began judging the bar-b-que found in other states against what we were able to get in Texas. In most cases, the Texas bar-b-que was better. One exception to the rule was a restaurant we found in Brookings, Oregon. We were hungry for bar-b-que, and decided to try a local restaurant there. What a surprise! The meat and sauce as well as the side dishes were exceptional, and the price was reasonable. I wish I could think of the name of the restaurant, but I remember that it was on US 101 south of town, on the left side of the road as we were driving south. I know how to find it when we make it back out there.

A famous bar-b-que restaurant in Alabama is Dreamland, located in Tuscaloosa. We’ve been to the original restaurant, which is hard to find if you don’t know where to go. It’s very popular with local folks, and if you ever watch college sports from Tuscaloosa, the announcers usually mention eating there. It’s some of the best free advertising they could get. The business has expanded, and they added another store across the river from Tuscaloosa as well as at least one in Birmingham. They may have more now. Our favorite bar-b-que restaurant in the Tuscaloosa area was Johnny Ray’s, which went out of business a couple of years ago. Too bad, since we liked the sauce and the meat was excellent.

Do you get the sense that we like bar-b-que? We do, and are always looking for the next good place to try. The next time we're in Memphis, we're going to try some of their food. Someday, we'll make it to Kansas City, where there's supposed to be some good stuff. In the meantime, we'll enjoy the good restaurants in Texas, and Sonny's in Florida.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Asheville, North Carolina: The Land Of The Sky

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Slow Day

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 55 degrees, high 75 degrees, clear skies - a beautiful day

We had our slowest day of the outage today as the project waits for other groups to perform work that is needed before we can finish up our part of the outage. The folks on nightshift should be busy, and we'll continue our drive to finish up. At the rate we're going, we have the potential for completing the outage 48 to 60 hours ahead of schedule. About half the people who were working on the project have finished their work and left the site. By the time I leave next week, there will only be a handful of people left to take care of the last of the paperwork and demobilize equipment.

While I was waiting for our work to resume again, I wrote up a list of things I wanted to get done before we leave here. The list has about 30 items on it, and ranges from things like cleaning up the truck and RV to going through our cabinets, closets, and basement to make sure we're not keeping stuff we don't need any more. Every time we do the exercise of looking through our things, we find stuff that makes us wonder why we're hanging on to it. In another five years, we should be pared down on stuff to where we're lean and mean. Just kidding on it taking five years. Actually, it's getting harder to find something we don't need.

Has anyone noticed that the older you get, the more you depend on lists to remember what you need to do? A lot of people make lists because they can't remember, but I don't have any problem remembering because I have a mind like a steel trap. The only problem is that it stays closed all the time. So, the lists help me get things done. I started this practice years ago because I was so busy at work, and I didn't want to miss anything. Carolyn doesn't like lists, but she admits that they do keep us focused on what we need to be doing.

Here's a blast from the past from our time in Oregon. Don't tell Carolyn she's in the blog.

This picture was taken on Harris State Park beach, during one of the two days that the weather was near 90 degrees during our time in Oregon. Those were probably the only two days we didn't wear a jacket while in Oregon.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Hastings, Florida: Potato Capital Of Florida

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 59 degrees, high 75 degrees, cloudy skies

The job is still going well, and we gained about 18 hours on the base line schedule in the last two days. The new reactor head was placed on the reactor vessel today. Activities are being performed now that were scheduled for two days later. That means we expect to gain even more time before the end of the week. Hey, maybe I’ll be finished before the 29th! That would work for me.

In past posts, I've written about how resistant we are to new technology. Or I should say how resistant I usually am to new technology. We didn't buy a cell phone until we started traveling as much as we do, and now it has become a necessity. We use the cell phone a lot, but we chose to buy one as simple as possible. It doesn't have a camera, or a recorder, or a GPS unit, or all the other gadgets that are sold with cell phones. Such as a level, a light, or a hammer. Wait a minute. None of them have hammers, but you can do just about anything with them except build a house.

A couple of years ago, circumstances required that we obtain a second cell phone for the times when I'm away from Carolyn and we need to be able to communicate. Instead of adding another phone to our account, I chose a Tracfone, which has worked well for us. I don't have to use the Tracfone very often, but it's nice to have when it's needed. Plus, the Tracfone is cheaper than another phone on our account.

I had resisted buying a GPS unit, because real men didn't need a GPS unit to find their way around. We bought one a few months ago, and we've found that using the unit can become an adventure if we blindly follow the directions that we're given. We're all about adventure, but not when pulling the RV and getting bad information from the GPS unit. Now, we use the GPS unit, but we also check our maps, as well as Google maps.

The next leap in technology (at least for us) was to buy a flash drive with a capacity of 8 gigabytes. We have a lot of files on cds and dvds, and in the interest of trying to cut down on that stuff, we decided to try the little flash drive to see if it would work for us. I used it for the first time today, and I am totally sold on the little drives. It is amazing how much stuff can be put on an 8 gigabyte drive. I think if we get a couple more, we'll be able to get rid of all the cds and dvds. Imagine that: the flash drive is the size of my thumb, and holds the information on a bunch of cds.

Maybe this technology thing is not so bad after all.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Beacon, New York: Tree City

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Last Day At Work Set

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 59 degrees, high 75 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

The project continues to go well, and it appears we’re about 18 hours ahead of schedule. I think we’ll continue to gain time on the base line schedule, with the possibility of completing the outage three days ahead of time. That’s much better than the last outage, when we were almost two weeks behind schedule. Lessons learned do make a difference.

My last day on the job will be the 29th of this month, and maybe a day or two sooner. On Friday of the same week, we have appointments with our dentist for our checkups. We plan to take a couple of days to clean the truck and RV and get everything ready to travel, and leave Bay City on May 3. Final plans are not set after that, but one thing we’ll be doing is trying to get Carolyn some relief for her vertigo problems. It’s a good thing our plans are usually as firm as Jello. We do know we plan to be back in Bay City for our grandson’s graduation from high school on June 5, and then go to Florida to visit family.

Here's another picture we took along the coast of Oregon. This point is called Cape Perpetua. One thing we saw along the coast was signs warning people to be on the alert for tsunami warnings. The first time we saw one of those signs, it caught Carolyn by surprise. She said maybe we shouldn't be down near the water. The warnings are there to give people time to leave the area if a tsunami might hit. Given the events of the last couple of years, I imagine people are paying more attention to the signs.

Do you get the idea we enjoyed our time in Oregon?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Nashville, Tennessee: Ca$hville

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Arch Rock

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 66 degrees, high 75 degrees, partly to mostly cloudy skies, light showers

We had our first rain in about two weeks today, but it wasn’t heavy enough to cause any problems at work. It should wash some of the crud out of the air that’s causing so many people problems with their allergies.

I was away from the job for about 36 hours, and it was nice to see the progress that was made. We are still tracking on schedule or slightly ahead, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see us finish ahead of time. What a difference this outage has been compared to the last one in the other unit. We have had very few problems and issues this time, and the few that we had were quickly dealt with.

We thought that our grandson’s high school graduation ceremony was scheduled for May 28, but found out Saturday that it is scheduled for June 5. So, that means we will be leaving for Florida about a week later than originally scheduled. I can remember June in Florida being the hottest and most humid time of the year to be there. Maybe it will be different this year. I don’t think I would bet any money on that.

While we were at the WalMart Mall yesterday, I took the time to get a haircut. Remember what I said about Carolyn measuring me for a dog collar if I didn’t get a haircut? Instead of waiting on me, Carolyn went over to the grocery section and started browsing the aisles. When I caught up with her, she was leaning against the grocery cart, and looked like she was sick. She had a vertigo attack, and could hardly stand, it was so bad. I got her home, and she laid down for the rest of the day. By about 2100 hours, she was feeling a little better. When this outage is finished, she wants to go see her doctor to see if anything new has come up in the last couple of years in the treatment of the ailment. She has suffered with this problem for several years now, and it has severely limited what she can do. I hope something can be done. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

On to happier times. I've mentioned several times how much we enjoyed our trip to the west coast, and up the coast to Washington. Here's a picture we took of Arch Rock, located on the Oregon coast near Brookings.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Blakely, Georgia: Peanut Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Day Off

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 68 degrees, high 76 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

You would think that I'd be able to sleep a little later in the morning with a day off. Not really, as I woke up before 0400 hours this morning and was unable to go back to sleep. Finally, I got up about 0430 hours and did a little reading as I waited for Carolyn to wake up. She finally woke up about 0700 hours (I'm glad one of us could sleep). Since I was ready to get started, I took the laundry and washed it, hoping to get ahead of the Saturday rush at the laundromat. When I got home, we had breakfast and went to buy groceries. After that, we met Lori and the grandkids at K-2 for lunch. Craig, one of my friends from work, said he and his family were going to be there, but they didn't show up while were eating. Too bad, since I was going to buy them lunch.

After lunch, we stopped by the library and picked up a few books, along with a new movie. After we got home and rested a few minutes, we watched the movie, which was Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood. Pretty good movie. We're Eastwood fans, so it's always fun to watch his movies.

When we were in the Charleston, South Carolina area, we visited the only tea plantation in the USA. Part of the visit included a tour of the processing facilities and tour of the fields where the tea is grown. The company that owns the plantation almost went out of business due to labor costs. The work was labor intensive, including cutting the tea from the plant. Through a lot of trial and error, they were able to create equipment that could do most of the tasks that humans used to do. As a result, the labor costs were brought under control, and they became profitable. Here's a picture of one of the fields. Did you know that the tea plants are a member of the camellia family?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Ada, Oklahoma: Home Of The Chickasaw Nation

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Picture From Work

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 67 degrees, high 75 degrees, partly to mostly cloudy skies

The nightshift folks had a very productive night, and we continued that momentum today. Refueling of the reactor started, and that will be followed by other activities that will eventually lead to the new reactor head being installed on the reactor vessel. We’re still on schedule, and might be gaining some time. It’s good that we may be getting ahead a little, but what’s most important to me is that we don’t make the outage longer, like the last one was.

Carolyn and I went out to eat tonight, but I won't say where, since it was forgettable. I was tired and would rather have stayed at home, but I have to remember that she needs a break after staying at home all week. The food wasn't good, but the company was the best. We talked about our plans when the job’s finished, bouncing ideas around about what to do when the family obligations and a couple of other things are taken care of. She seems to be intrigued by the idea of going to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but she also likes the idea of going farther west. I like talking about where we’re traveling next and planning the trips. I guess it’s my detail oriented brain kicking in gear.

I’m off work tomorrow, and it’ll be a repeat of the last few days off. Wash the laundry, buy groceries, go to the library, have lunch with Lori and the grandkids, take care of any chores I need to do around the RV, and most important, get in some power meditation. Oh, and one more thing. Carolyn says she’s going to measure me for a dog collar if I don’t get a haircut soon. So I guess I’ll have to take care of that. Maybe.

Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to work at the same place as my brother Terrell. A couple of years ago, he retired from the same place as I did, except I "retired" about eight years before he did. After about a year off, he decided to accept a job as a contractor doing the same job at the same place he retired from. Funny thing about his job now, though. Before he retired, he had a lot of stress. Since returning to work, his stress seems to be gone, and he makes a lot more money. We are both here at the same time, and today we happened to be in the same office at the same time. Someone grabbed a camera and got our picture. Terrell is the one sitting, while I'm the one who looks like a real working person. Another way to recognize him is that he's the older of the two of us. Not really, but everyone thinks he is. I'm actually almost three years older.

How neat is it that we work at the same place? At least for a couple more weeks, and then I'm outta here.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Cold Spring, New York: Come For A Day, Stay For A Week

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Loco Coyote

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 69 degrees, high 75 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

When I looked at the baseline schedule today, I realized that the outage is on schedule. In some areas, the work is finishing up. On our project, I think much of the work will finish ahead of time, and the only thing that might slow us down would be crane issues. Hopefully, we’re past those problems.

One of the things that I like about the business I retired from and keep finding myself being drawn back to is the people. The vast majority of them are hardworking, dedicated professionals. They understand the complexity of the technology we work with and the responsibility we have to perform our jobs as well as we can. The social aspect of the work place can make the job easy or difficult. It has been my pleasure to work with great people over the years, which has made going to work every day easy. The proof lies in the fact that I came back to work when I thought I was retired. If I didn’t like the people I work with, I wouldn’t be here. Having said that, I think I’m not working any more after this project is finished. Now, let’s see if I can remember this when the next phone call comes asking me to help on a project.

Texas has many good places to eat. One place we really liked while living in Glen Rose was The Loco Coyote, an old farmhouse that has been converted to a restaurant. Calling it a restaurant is actually making it sound more impressive than it is. The inside walls are covered with newspaper and advertisements for country music shows. The tables are rough bunkhouse style with benches. The floor is covered with sawdust. A swamp cooler is used for cooling, but seems to make more noise than cool air. The front door is a piece of tin nailed over a frame. The windows are covered with screen so if the weather is nice enough they can be opened. Outside, the roof and walls are covered with tin, and there is a large porch with tables and benches where you can drink and eat, if you don’t mind the flies and heat. The restrooms are about 100 feet away from the building and look like the old outhouse style, but have half way modern plumbing. A bandstand is set up outside for those times when they have live music. The restaurant is located about ten miles outside of town, and if you didn’t know where it was, it would be hard to find.

The first time we went there, we were amazed that something like this was still around. It looked like all the stereotypes you would think a restaurant in the country would be like about 100 years ago. On top of that, the food was good, and there was so much of it, there was no way you could eat all of it. Last year, I went with some people from Florida as part of a dinner meeting. They were overwhelmed with the experience, and one of them said that was what he always imagined Texas would be like.

Now, having said how good the food is, we went there one night with friends from the park. This is not a large restaurant. We thought that if we got there around 1700 hours, we would not have any problem being served fairly quickly. In addition, Texas was playing Oklahoma plus other activities were going on that we thought would lessen the number of people who would be there. Boy, were we wrong. There were a lot of people waiting, and it took us over three hours to get seated, served, and to eat. One of the problems was that the way they take care of people is so inefficient. In addition, they did not have enough help. That's the worse experience we've had there, and it was awhile before we went back. If any of the readers are in the area, it might be worth the trip to experience a real Texas eating place.

Thirteen days left at work, and I'm outta there.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Little Rock, Arkansas: River City

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 67 degrees, high 75 degrees, cloudy skies

We had some minor issues at work that occurred last night which we had to resolve today. Once those items were taken care of, the momentum picked up again, and we continue to be on schedule for the outage to end on time. That means about fourteen days left for me unless something unexpected happens. Do you get the feeling that I’m ready for the job to be finished?

When the clock alarmed this morning at 0400 hours, it didn’t register with me at first. Eventually, I realized what that loud noise was. It’s a good thing the clock is sitting across the room from the bed. If it had been by the bed, I might have turned the alarm off and rolled over for more sleep. Well, not really, but it was nice to think about.

While I was at work, Carolyn left a message on my telephone to stop at the local DQ on the way home and pick us up a hamburger. So, even though I was working, I cooked supper tonight. She thinks I’m a great cook, and it’s hard for me to argue with her. Here I am putting in 13 hours a day on the job, and I still find time to cook supper.

One of the worst pests that an RVer has to put up with is ants. They are very sneaky about getting inside, and most of the time they're not noticed until they have become a real problem. Our biggest problem with them occurred in Leesburg, Alabama. We stayed there for about four days, and the ants showed up on the second day. We didn't see anything outside that clued us to what was coming, but when they started appearing inside, I checked outside and found where they coming onto the RV by way of the satellite antenna cable. I sprayed around that area and put some Vaseline on the cable, which is effective in stopping ants and other bugs from crawling up cable and wires. A little later, I found another place where they were coming in by way of the water hose. Again, I treated that area. Later in the day, there was an explosion of ants inside. I don't think I've ever seen that many ants inside before or since.

We did a little brainstorming about how to get rid of the ants inside, and came up with the idea of using the vacuum cleaner with a hose to vacuum them up. That was a good idea, as we were able to quickly get all the ants we could see in a short time. It took us a couple of days to finally get all of them, along with closing all the pathways into the RV.

When we park now, one of the first things we do is spray around anything on the ground that might be a path inside the RV, as well as close off any pathways for them to crawl up and get inside. As much as possible, we try to not park directly under trees so the ants don't fall onto the roof and make their way in. Since the bad infestation, we've not had any more problems. That makes Carolyn happy.

Tomorrow is April 15, tax day. Good luck on everyone's return.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Leesburg, Alabama: Crappie Capital Of The World

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Air Cards

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 65 degrees, high 73 degrees, partly cloudy skies to cloudy skies

The woes with cranes inside the containment building continued last night, and didn’t get resolved until just before dayshift started. Once we were able to use the cranes again, we made good progress the rest of the day and it appears we’re back on schedule. Looks like about 15 days to go for me! But who’s counting?

The Texas coast is famous for having weather systems move into an area and sit in one place for days at a time, with heavy rainfall and high winds. Several times in past outages at the job site, I’ve seen torrential downpours that dropped as much as 12 inches of rain in a day. We were concerned about how the weather would affect us for the current outage. So far, the weather has been great. Only a small amount of rain has fallen, and best of all, the temperatures have been very nice, with lows from the 40s to the 60s, and highs in the 60s and 70s. We’ve had some minor delays with cranes due to high winds, but less impact than in past outages. If this is global warming, bring it on.

When we first started this RV lifestyle, we had to search for places to use the Internet. There weren't many libraries that had access at that time, and the few parks that had access had slowwwww systems. Once in a while, we could find an RV park that had wifi systems, but they were usually slow. In 2007, we finally decided to take a chance on buying an air card that we could use with our computer that allowed us to access the Internet through AT&T. The speed of the air card was better than dial up, but slower than most wifi systems.

Eventually, we realized the limitations in accessing a good signal with the air card. In an effort to enhance the signal that we could get, I did some research on ways to improve our signal strength. Eventually, I decided to buy a trucker's cell phone antenna (the air card is nothing but another cell phone) and a signal amplifier. Boy, what a difference those two components made in the accessibility of signals and connection speed. Since we like to travel the back roads and stay in small towns, we have found the antenna and amplifier to be essential to maintaining a good connection to the Internet. Most of the time, the blog is sent out on the air card. It would be much more difficult to stay in touch through the Internet without the extra equipment we added to the system.

There are several different companies that provide air cards, and it appears most people swear by the Verizon system. Recently, I've heard that the Verizon system has slowed down due to the heavy traffic in some places. So far, I've not felt the need to change from AT&T, but if I started having poor service, I would start looking around for a better provider.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Oakman, Alabama: A Proud Past And A Promising Future

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Broke Down Cranes

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 60 degrees, high 73 degrees, mostly cloudy skies

Yesterday at work was one the most productive we've had for this outage. Today, it was a different story. Big projects like this depend on several cranes to handle big pieces of equipment. Outside the containment building is a huge crane that was used to remove the old reactor head from the containment building. It was out of service for most of the day, not getting repaired until late in the afternoon. Inside the containment building, two of the three cranes were out of service all day, and won't be back to work until early on night shift. We didn't stop all work, but were hampered by our inability to lift heavy loads. Our fingers are crossed that we don't have any more crane issues this outage.

My post a few days ago about the rudeness we encountered at a stop light in Charleston, South Carolina, generated a couple of comments that we may have been too hard on the city and the people there. That was not the intent, because we did meet good people there, and, overall, enjoyed the area. As I said in my responses, we enjoyed the remainder of our time there. The seafood was outstanding.

When we left Charleston, we eventually made our way to Columbia, which is the capitol of the state. The city is in the geographical center of the state, and was selected as the site for the capitol over Charleston and Greenville. We stayed in a nice park in Lexington, which is about 12 miles from the center of Columbia. Everything we needed was close by, including a grocery store across the street. In addition, there was a flea market about 300 feet away that was open on the weekends.
It was one of the best flea markets we have been to in our travels.

The terrain around Columbia is hilly, with different types of trees than what we had been seeing. The economy was booming, with all kinds of building going on everywhere. We took several trips around the area, including along Lake Murray, a 50,000-acre lake that was built to save water and control flooding. One day, I went into Columbia and took pictures of the state capitol building and many of the significant statues. The capitol building is a beautiful building, and the landscaping is outstanding. I saw a statue of the Confederate soldier that was erected in the 1800s, which is unusual, since many towns have chosen to remove that symbol of their past. What a shame that people are being so politically correct that they don’t want to remember a part of our past that was so important to the building of our nation. There were also tributes to the soldiers that served in our wars, as well as law enforcement officers who had been killed in the line of duty, and even a tribute to the women of the Confederacy, erected by the men of the Confederacy.

Now, before someone thinks I'm endorsing some of the causes of the Civil War, be aware that I think everyone should be free to make their own decisions and be owned by no one. I do appreciate the traditions of bravery and honor handed down by generations throughout our country that came before us. Our country's history is fascinating to me, and that includes southern history. After all, it took people all over our country to build what we have today.

Here's a pictures of the South Carolina Capitol Building. I get just as much of a kick out of seeing these grand buildings as I do of seeing an old courthouse.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Columbia, South Carolina: The Heart of South Carolina

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Fresh Produce

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 61 degrees, high 72 degrees, partly cloudy skies

We had a great day at work. The old reactor head was moved out of the containment building and placed in storage, and the new reactor head was moved into the containment building. That's a lot of work that was performed safely with no issues. To make things even better, we gained several hours on the schedule. It's looking more and more like I will be finished in about 17 days. Or sooner.

One of the things we like to enjoy when traveling is the local produce. We had our first heritage tomatoes while in the Hendersonville, North Carolina area. In addition, the green beans, squash, and corn were outstanding. The real hit with us was the tomatoes. It seems to us that a lot of the taste has been bred out of the tomatoes we buy in the grocery store, or they're not allowed to ripen fully. The heritage tomatoes were generally colors not normally seen, such as purple, orange, yellow, etc. In addition, they were not the uniform shapes seen in grocery stores. But the taste was outstanding. Since then, we are always watching for these tomatoes when we're traveling, especially on the back roads where the little road side stands are usually found.

Another thing we like to buy is the local fruit. Several years ago, we bought a half bushel of apples from a road side stand near Athens, Alabama. They were fresh picked and so good that we used them fresh and cooked, as well as in salads. There were not any of those apples that were allowed to spoil. In fact, we should have gotten more of them.

When we're traveling this summer, we'll be on the watch for more fresh vegetables and fruit. I'm getting hungry thinking about it.

As I said earlier in the post, we had a good day at work, but that also means that I was on my feet so long that my legs are wore out. I think I'll close for tonight, and try to have a better post tomorrow.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Athens, Alabama: Southern Splendor

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Busy Day Off

Weather: low 60 degrees, high 75 degrees, partly to mostly cloudy, a few sprinkles

One short day is not enough time off work! I had so much to do that I was busy until about 1500 hours. Our laundry had to be washed, which took more than an hour. My friend Bo retired from the same company on the same day as I did. He has worked several of the jobs I have since then. He needed some help with his water heater, since it was acting up. He had previously asked me what might be wrong with it, since it seemed to be using more electricity than normal. The symptoms indicated that his heating element was bad, because it was heating most of the time, or the tank needed flushing, since he hadn't done that in the time he had owned the RV, which was about seven years.

After I returned to the RV with the laundry, I gathered some tools and went to Bo's RV, where we turned off the water heater, and drained the tank. Wow! There was a lot of crud in the tank. His water heater doesn't have a sacrificial anode, so we didn't do anything about that. Instead, we flushed the tank until we had gotten all of the crud out that we could. Then, we filled the tank and turned the power back on to see if the meter had slowed down. Bo said it looked like the meter was turning slower. He's going to see if it turns off like it should when the water gets hot. If it doesn't, he's going to the Atwood website to look at his particular model's specifications, since he doesn't have the paperwork. If needed, he'll order a new heating element.

After helping Bo, we met Lori and the grandkids for lunch guessed it, K-2. Let's face it, there's not many choices in Bay City. And, as we said before, we like their nacho bar on Saturdays. I do have to say that the jalapeno peppers were much hotter today. But, still, we enjoyed the visit and food.

When lunch was finished, we went to the library and picked up some books and a new video to watch tonight. Then I went to the WalMart Mall for groceries and diesel fuel, since they have the cheapest diesel in town. By the time I was finished with all the chores, I was ready for some meditation. But before the meditation, I decided to watch some of the Masters Golf Tournament, primarily because Tiger Woods was playing again. Regardless of what we think about how he has conducted his personal life, we still think he is one of the most talented golfers ever. He brings an excitement and electricity to the game that very few ever have before. Unfortunately, I couldn't concentrate on the show, and soon went to the bedroom for some serious meditation. Boy, was that needed!

Back to work tomorrow, but each day brings us one day closer to the job finishing up. Only about 17 days to go.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Canon City, Colorado: Canon

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Job Continues Well

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 42 degrees, high 69 degrees, mostly clear skies

Did you notice the temperatures we had today? The jacket felt good this morning! This weather is unseasonably cool, and we're loving it. I can remember past years when we were already seeing highs up to 100 degrees. We'll never complain about weather like this. In fact, we're going to try to find similar weather this summer.

Work continues to go well, and we gained a few hours on the schedule today. The last major hurdle that we had problems with last year comes in two days. Everyone is optimistic that we won't have the same problem this year. The trick now is to quickly solve any other problems that might arise, and keep moving forward. Remember, my goal is to be finished by the 28th of this month.

When I got home from work, Carolyn decided she wanted to go to the local DQ for supper. So, we went to the one nearest the RV and enjoyed a sumptuous meal of chicken strips, white gravy, toast, and french fries. Ummmmm. I can hardly wait until the next time.

I'm off work tomorrow, and I'm ready for it. We have several chores to do, including the laundry and shopping for groceries. Maybe I'll stop at the library before settling in at home for the rest of the day. Oh, one more thing we'll do is meet Lori and the grandkids for lunch. We enjoy the little get togethers, and Saturday is the only day I have time while I'm working.

We have been fortunate enough to have been able to visit a lot of places during our travels. In the vast majority of the places we have visited, the people have been friendly and helpful. There is one place that stands out as being the exception, and that was Charleston, South Carolina. We encountered something that may have been isolated, but it affected our perception of the area. We did not enjoy our stay in Charleston as much as we might have, primarily because of the rudeness we encountered on the roads. An example: our first full day in Charleston, we drove into town, with the intent of taking a bus tour of the city. While looking for a place to park (parking is as scarce as hens’ teeth) we pulled up to a stoplight in the center of town. Keep in mind that the streets are narrow and traffic is thick.

While at the stoplight, I noticed a pickup truck on our left side at the light. Apparently, the truck had an electrical malfunction, losing all electrical power. The engine stopped, the windows would not go down, and the doors locked and could not be unlocked from the inside. The passengers could not get out of the truck, and could not get anyone to help them. They had called 911 asking for help, but it had not arrived. Their windows were down about three inches, and they were frantically trying to get someone to take their keys and unlock the doors from the outside. Everyone was ignoring their pleas for help, including pedestrians, who basically shrugged and walked away. Drivers were blowing their horns, yelling, cursing, etc. The people in the truck caught my attention and asked if I would unlock their passenger side door so they could get out. The light was red, so I jumped out quickly and took the keys through the opening at the top of the door. About that time, the light changed to green. That really set off the horns, yelling, cursing, and so on. I unlocked the door as quickly as I could, jumped back in our truck, and took off as fast as I could. That incident soured we way we looked at Charleston for the rest of our stay. We never went back downtown, and probably missed some interesting sights.

Were we too quick to judge the way people acted in Charleston? Perhaps, but one of the things we like about RVing is that we don't have to stay in a place that we perceive as being unfriendly. Will we give them another chance? Possibly, if we're back in the area. But, it won't be the end of the world for us if we don't go back.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Charleston, South Carolina: The Big Sweet Grass Basket

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cooler Weather

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 50 degrees, high 68 degrees, clear skies, breezy

A cool front passed through the area last night, but without any rain where we're parked. Once the front passed, the temperature dropped quickly and the wind blew out of the north. Even without any rain, the crud that was in the air yesterday was blown away, making conditions better for allergy sufferers. Carolyn loves this kind of weather, and I have to say I can stand it, too. We were talking tonight about how the weather reminded us of what we encountered while in northern California and Oregon.

Work continues on schedule, with the major issues appearing to be behind us. That doesn't mean that everything will be smooth sailing now, but the problems we had last outage have been overcome this time around. It looks more and more like I will be finished by the 28th of April.

I've mentioned several times how much we like the spring in Texas, with the wild flowers taking center stage. It appears that this spring, there is a bumper crop of wild flowers, which means that scenes like the one below are being repeated throughout the state. This picture of a field of bluebonnets was taken outside Brenham, home town of Blue Bell Ice Cream, some of the best ice cream we have eaten. In a previous post, I mentioned that from a distance, fields of bluebonnets look like blue smoke on the ground.

Today was a busy one, and I'm wore out. I'll try to do better on the blog tomorrow. Until then,

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Birmingham, Alabama: More Magic Than Ever

Not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Backing The RV

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 70 degrees, high 77 degrees, partly cloudy to mostly cloudy skies, showers expected tonight

The job tackled the biggest challenge we have for this outage today. So far, everything is going as planned. This particular task is the one that caused us to lose several days on the schedule last year, but the lessons learned appear to be working. It's looking as though I will finished by April 28th, which is fine with me. Now, if I can just resist taking another job.....

When I arrived home from work, Carolyn was sneezing and coughing. We have a front passing through the area, and there's a lot of stuff in the air. Normally, I can do without the rain, but this is one time when a little rain would be beneficial in helping clear crud out of the air. That should help Carolyn's allergy symptoms.

When we bought our first RV, I had never pulled anything approaching the size and weight of that 31 foot long fifth wheel. Think about the nervousness I experienced when I pulled out into the traffic that first time. Of course, I had plenty of help in driving, as Carolyn was continually giving me directions on what I should be doing. This was coming from someone who had never pulled an RV before, but she was free with her advice. After awhile, I had to tune out the help, and concentrate on what I was doing.

We had rented a storage space to place the RV in while I was finishing a job, which was going to take about three months. The space we rented was about 12 feet wide, and barely long enough for the RV to fit in. Think about this. I had never pulled an RV before, which meant I had never backed one up. In fact, I can't remember ever backing up any sort of trailer before then. Can you imagine the fun I had placing the RV in the storage space? Check it out.

Carolyn may look calm and cool in the picture, but doing this little job took about an hour, several stops to try to get our signals straight, and a little frustration. I never knew that women think in a different way about how to do a task like backing up an RV. I have found over the years that I'm much better at backing the RV, and don't even fret about it. Also, Carolyn is much better at giving signals on what I should be doing. Does she still tell me how to drive? Yes, but she's calmed down a lot. But aren't women supposed to tell us how to drive?

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Calera, Alabama: The Heart Of The Heart Of Dixie

Not all who wander are lost.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

High Winds

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 68 degrees, high 75 degrees, partly cloudy skies, winds gusting to 40 mph

An unexpected problem came up at work today when the wind blew as hard as it did. By this afternoon, gusts were hitting 40 mph, which meant that any cranes operating outside had to stop operations. As a result, all crane lifts, which involved several different cranes, were suspended for about five hours. That resulted in some minor delays, which we're hopeful can be made up tonight. Work in other areas continued, and one of the tasks that gave us many problems last outage begins tonight. The project should know if the lessons learned and applied solved the problems by the time I get to work tomorrow. One more time, my fingers are crossed that everything goes well.

Carolyn was still sleeping when I went to work this morning, which I was glad to see. Why should she have to get up that early, and then try to stay awake all day? She's used to getting up when I do, but it's not anything that I expect her to do.

Today's pictures of California flowers are even prettier than the last two days. As good as the pictures are, they don't capture the true beauty that we saw.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - San Francisco, California: The City By The Bay

Not all who wander are lost.

Monday, April 5, 2010

1300 Contract Personnel

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 70 degrees, high 75 degrees, partly cloudy skies to cloudy skies

As most of the readers know, I get up every morning at 0400 hours in order to be at work by 0500 hours. This morning was an exception, as I woke at 0330 hours and couldn't go back to sleep. I hate when that happens. Maybe I’ll do better tonight.

Work continues to go well, as jobs that gave us problems last fall are being performed without any issues this time. Our biggest test for the remaining work will come tomorrow, when we begin to remove some components that gave us all kinds of problems last outage. If we get through that work without problems, the project should finish on time. That means about April 24 for me, and I’m done!

The site has about 1300 people here to support the outage, in addition to the normal station staff. Most of the people who come in to help with the outage are contractors that provide specialized skills. An interesting fact that came up was that every state is represented, with the exception of Alaska. Most of the people claim Texas as their home state, with the next largest groups being from Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia, with the remainder spread out across the country. This is an industry that is relatively small, yet people can live wherever they want and travel to their work locations for the outages. It’s the perfect industry for people who like their time off, yet they make enough money when working to be able to take time off. Sounds like a good job for RVers who have the skills.

Last night, I shared some pictures of flowers that we took along the coast of northern California. Here's a few more.

Arrrggh!! Another train just passed by, and the engineer blew his horn just as he got to the RV. I'll be glad when we're outta here.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Trinidad, California: Where The Redwoods Meet The Sea

Not all who wander are lost.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

First Big Test Passed

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 68 degrees, high 74 degrees, partly to mostly cloudy skies

Carolyn's allergy problems continue to improve, and she is still sleeping through the night. Anyone that has ever had the problems with allergies like she has knows how difficult it can be to control the cough so enough rest can be gotten.

At work, we encountered the first job that gave us problems during the project last fall. It was a different story this time, as the lessons learned that were applied to the job made it go so much better. Our next big test comes on Tuesday, and we're optimistic that we'll have similar success then. I've got my fingers crossed!

I've written several times about how much we enjoy the Texas wild flowers in the spring. This year, the wild flowers are having an outstanding year, as everything came together with enough rain at the right time. Unfortunately, we're not able to go looking for them with me working. As a substitute, occasionally I'll go back in our files and look at flowers we have seen in our travels. One of the best places for wild flowers was along the coast of northern California.

There's not much going on here today other than the job. Carolyn spent some time with Lori and the grandkids, as they went to breakfast together. I'm glad we have family here. It makes things a little less lonely for Carolyn as she waits for the job to be finished so we can start doing our thing again.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Willits, California: Gateway To The Redwoods

Not all who wander are lost.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Atomic Fire Balls

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 68 degrees, high 83 degrees, partly cloudy skies

Today was my day off from the job, but that didn't mean I didn't have to do any work. I was hoping to sleep until about 0600 hours, but woke up like I had to get up and go to work at 0400 hours. Arrrrgh! Don't you hate when that happens? I finally managed to take a little nap between 0530 and 0700 hours, but that didn't make up for getting up so early. On the other hand, Carolyn was able to sleep in, which is good for her and her allergies. She continues to feel a little better each day.

Laundry was the first thing to do, since I have just enough of the clothes I wear for the outage for a week's work. That meant if I was going to wear those clothes tomorrow, we had to wash today. I took everything over to the laundry we normally use, but they were so busy, I had to go to another one that we hadn't used before. The new laundry is just that - brand new. New high tech front loading machines, and the facility is spotless. What's even better is the price, which is $2.00 per load, which equals about three loads in the old top loading machines we were using.

By the time the laundry was finished and put up, it was time to meet Lori and the grandkids for lunch at K-2, where we had a good time, eating and catching up with what's been happening over the last week. The main reason we go to K-2 on Saturday when we're in Bay City is that they have a special on Saturday that includes a nacho bar. I am a nacho connoisseur, and I can prepare them the way I like, which includes plenty of pico de gallo (is that spelled right?), fresh tortilla chips, melted cheese, bacon bits, and the topper, sliced jalapeno pickled peppers. Ummmmm, boy!!. The jalapeno peppers were exceptional today. Just a little bite of heat and very flavorful.

Speaking of heat, at one time, I used to like to suck on atomic fire balls, a hard candy that is red in color and has a little heat of it's own. That's why they're called atomic fire balls. When we were here last fall, one of my co-workers gave me one at work. All right! I love these! Hah!!! Little did I know what I was getting into. That little red fireball set my mouth on fire! I like to pride myself on being able to eat hot food, but that thing was too hot for me. I finally had to give up on it after feeling the inside of my cheek starting to shrivel up. The company that makes those little fire balls must not have any quality control to keep them from getting too hot. I've been offered another fire ball several times since then, but have declined on the grounds that my mouth hasn't recovered from the last one I tried six months ago.

After eating lunch, we went to the WalMart Mall and picked up our groceries for the week. Then back home where everything was put away, and I finally had time for some meditation. Today was the warmest day of the year so far, so we turned the air conditioner on. Carolyn claims I took a nap, but I know deep inside that all I did was meditate. It may be that she doesn't understand what meditation is.

Overall, it was a good day off. If everything continues to go well, I should be finished with the job about the 28th of this month. Then we'll take a short trip before coming back to Bay City for our oldest grandson Julian's high school graduation. Then it's on to Florida to visit family.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Coeur d’Alene, Idaho: City By The Lake

Not all who wander are lost.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Off Work Tomorrow

Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 66 degrees, high 74 degrees, mostly cloudy skies, light sprinkles late in the evening

Carolyn had another good night of sleep, which may be helping her allergies more than anything. Rain is in the forecast, so maybe some of the stuff in the air will get washed out.

Progress at work continues on schedule, without any major issues at this time. As I said yesterday, our first real test as to whether things will continue well comes Sunday. The next major test will be on Tuesday. If we get past those two issues, I should be finished here in about four weeks.

We had supper at Chili's with my brother Terrell and his wife Kathy. They are thinking about buying a motor home to use when he has to travel for his job, which is about two weeks a month. I've been trying to give him some advice on what to look for, since we have a little experience. Everyone's needs and wants are different, but I can tell him what to look out for. Things like cargo carrying capacity, what to look for as far as mechanical condition, engine type, and on and on....

When we started looking for our first RV ten years ago, we had no idea what we were doing. The most important thing we realized out of that experience was that we didn't know anything about RVs, and decided to learn all we could before we bought. As a result, it took us a year to eventually buy, and it happened that the first RV we looked at was the one we bought. Was the first RV perfect? No, it wasn't, but it was as close to perfect for our needs at the time as we could get.

One thing I advised Terrell was that they might find it helpful to rent an RV for a week or two. That would allow them to try driving and living in one before spending a lot of money to buy something that wasn't right for them. I'm excited for them, and I hope they find what they're looking for.

I'm off work tomorrow, and I'm ready for it. This first week of the outage went well, but the long hours start to wear on me. Maybe I'll be able to sleep until 0600 hours. We have several chores to do tomorrow, but I'm going to make time for some meditation in the afternoon.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Kenner, Louisiana: America’s City

Not all who wander are lost.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Bay City, Texas

Weather: low 60 degrees, high 72 degrees, partly cloudy skies

Carolyn slept well again last night, and we hope this little trend continues. She’s been suffering from her allergies so long and was getting very little sleep and rest. I’m off work on Saturday, and it would be nice if she’s back to feeling better.

The outage continues to go well and it looks as though we’re about 12 hours ahead of schedule. If that trend continues, we’ll begin performing some of the tasks on Sunday that gave us problems in the fall outrage. Then, we’ll get an idea if the lessons the project learned help or not. I’ve got my fingers crossed.

I think it's known by now that I admire most of the old courthouses we find that have been saved from the wrecking ball. Another thing we like to see and explore are old lighthouses. When we were in Oregon several years ago, we were fortunate enough to be able to see several lighthouses located along the coast. Of course, Jerald, they're on the coast. Where else would they be, right? Anyway, I think we saw just about all of the Oregon lighthouses. The one below is the Alquinal Bay Lighthouse, located near Newport, Oregon. Obviously, it doesn't have to be a tall structure to qualify as a lighthouse.

This next picture is of the Coquille Point Lighthouse, located near Bandon, Oregon.

Here's another short lighthouse, located near Brookings, Oregon.

As far as I know, few of the old lighthouses are still being used. The ones that are used are automated, so the lighthouse keeper of days gone by is no more.

More later, be safe.

Today's Town - Bandon, Oregon: The Storm Capital Of America

Not all who wander are lost.