January 2011 Journal

December 28-31, 2010

The Rio Salado club had their 1st Saturday match on Friday because the range was going to be closed for some reason on Saturday. Can't imagine why. Anyway, it was cold, cloudy, and windy. It wasn't windy on the first stage, and I tried to shoot the rifle through the smoke. 3 misses. I was shooting FCD because of the hand/thumb/wrist problem. No good stages. 31 seconds was the shortest. Oh well.

That evening The Redhead and i did our traditional bacchanalian party, lying in bed, sipping cheap champagne, and watching the ball drop in NYC. It gets easier the further west we get, because that happened at 10 pm here.

This hasn't been a bad year. If I had decent medical care instead of the VA system, it would be better. Still can't get the orthopedic surgeon or his PA to call me back. The picture for the country is improved with the recapture of the US House of Representatives. I feel like it's 1943. We've been under attack for over a year and have finally started fighting back. The difference is this enemy is well entrenched in our own country and is much more dangerous than the Japanese. If that doesn't sound like a very cheerful view of the new year, well, okay. Everything is roses and lollipops. Forget the rest of the paragraph.

December 27, 2010 Monday

Went to Dillon. The place is bipolar, and it's getting to scare me. 2 weeks ago I went with a list of parts I needed. No problem. The gentleman gave me extras of some I didn't ask for. He missed some lines on my list, but no problem. They were in the list today. The main thing I came in for was 4 decapping pin mechanisms were screwed up, threads stripped, acorn stuck with bent decapping pin. Broken one in another. I handed them to the guy, and he asked, "What's wrong with this?" He was holding one that was stripped, and even my eyes could tell it from 3 feet away. It went downhill from there. When all was totaled up, he said, "That'll be $36.59." I asked what for, and he said I hadn't brought in all of the old parts. I only brought those because there were 4 of them, and they might have trouble giving me 4 over the phone. (I had been putting getting them replaced off because I would just use one from another set of dies. Eventually you run out of dies.) He asked if I wanted to talk to someone else. I said yes. A lady came out and told me I hadn't brought in the old parts. I've never brought in the old parts unless there was something I wanted to discuss, and, of course, I never bring the old parts in on the phone. I was my most polite, friendly best, not the old, pre-retirement me (you know, the real, mean, angry me). She was a bit too prosecutorial for me, so I asked to talk to Gary Kieft (Mogollion Monk), who I've known for 7-8 years. She said there were 14 people on line waiting to talk to him. Then she gave me the parts. I think she didn't want me to talk to him for some reason. I could be wrong. I came away with the conclusion that unless I absolutely need the parts that day, I'll just phone.

Then I went to Sportsman's Warehouse to use a $10 certificate that expires 12/31/10. When I went to check out the lady told me my VA ID card wasn't good for the discount it's gotten me for 4 years. The reason I show it is I once showed it for ID for the credit card, and the lady told me it was good for a discount, (as it is at Home Depot but not Lowe's). Then she gave me the discount but said she wouldn't next time. No problem. I headed north as fast as traffic would allow for fear that this sort of thing was contagious.

December 26, 2010 Sunday

Went to Home Depot for parts for a project. Then worked in the garage some. Finished up the 105 gr. .38 bullets. Decided to go to Dillon tomorrow.

December 25, 2010 Saturday

Wonderful Christmas. George loved his gift. Angelique loved hers. Arthur didn't show, of course.

I got The Redhead a big Coleman grill on wheels. The box was huge, requiring more than one roll of wrapping paper, resulting in an "interesting" package. Getting it in the bus was a chore. Then, after I had assembled it, getting it back out onto the patio was a problem. I managed to carry it wrong, and it fell, denting the top, taking the paint off. Wonderful. But par from the course. Got it working, though. It'll be SO much nicer than the last one, the GRILL FROM HELL, which is now in the dumpster closest to us. My gift was throwing it in. The Redhead got me practical gifts, too, including a digital tire inflating gun. My previous tire inflating gun, also from Griot's Garage, had died during the year. She also gave me a ratcheting screwdriver from Griot's. It works well, too. Other gifts included a package of Wrangler denim shirts. My civilian uniform is a denim shirt and 7 pocket blue jeans. I'm trying to match my fashion idol, Jay Leno. I don't have his garage, though. The denim shirts are replacing Wally World work shirts that are wearing out. If I didn't shoot SASS, the closet in the bus would be almost empty. 7-10 identical shirts, 7-10 identical jeans, coats, a vest (concealment), and one suit for funerals, weddings, and court appearances.

I gave The Redhead Turbo Texas Holdem. It has an optional analysis program called Sidewinder Sid. She was having trouble loading the demo of it to see if she wanted it. So she went to a search engine, and put in Sidewinder Sid and got Sidewinder Sid shoots CVV. I hope SASS's Sidewinder Sid is getting royalties from Wilson Software.

December 24, 2010 Friday

Finally someone put a review of "Common Valor" on Amazon.com:

(5 stars)Vietnam War Story November 22, 2010

By
Cheryle Katribe "teacher"
(Houston, TX) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

This review is from: Common Valor (Paperback)
Even if you don't like reading about the Vietnam War, you'll enjoy this novel. The characters seem so real they could be your best friend or next-door neighbor. I'm sure some of the adventures are based loosely on fact, but it has a happy ending so all of us that are romantics at heart will enjoy the ending.

If you read "Common Valor" and liked it, your review on amazon.com would be appreciated.

December 23, 2010 Thursday

Switched from .45 ACP to .38 Special and started loading. Much adjusting, of course. Things are perfectly adjusted when I take them out of the machine, but not when I put them back in. I'll get into the groove soon. Larsen E. Pettifogger came by. We talked Winter Range, etc. While I was gone he traded his Toyota Highlander in on a Mercedes-Benz GLK. Nice SUV.

Things of note about WR. Since it's the 20th annual, the board members will all be dressed as Rough Riders. A new building, a saloon, has just been approved by Ben Avery. Construction will start asap after the first of the year. Larsen thinks that's cutting it close.

See Stephen Hunter's Review of "True Grit." He did a better job than I could.

December 22, 2010 Wednesday

Saw "True Grit", the new one with Jeff Bridges. Outstanding movie. It had all of the things I look for in a western except for naked saloon girls. The costuming, leather, and firearms were perfect. The scenery looked realistic. The acting was outstanding. The plot, dialog, camera work, makeup, etc. were all superb. The guns sounded like black powder guns shot nearby, with the decibels toned down just enough that they were still startling but didn't hurt your ears.

Finished loading .45 ACP.

December 21, 2010 Tuesday

Made .45 ACP ammo until I was almost out of brass. Will finish next session.

December 20, 2010 Monday

Went to the VA clinic in Anthem to change my address for the winter to here. Then if the VA wants me for another @#$!^%! evaluation, they won't schedule it in Houston. I'm not sure she got it right, though. At one point in time it was half this address, half the Livingston Escapees address. She had red hair and fair complexion, but I'm suspecting she's a blonde in her roots.

Got a haircut. The Goth young lady must've been an Army barber in a past life. I told her clippers, #1 spacer on the sides, #4 on the top. She made about three passes and asked me how I wanted the back done. 5 minutes at the most. Now I look like the oldest recruit at boot camp.

Picked up a GFCi to replace a faltering one in the bathroom. Then drove to an undisclosed location for Santa duty.

Then came the job of replacing the GFCI, a job I hate. Big rig truck drivers learn how to drive a truck in a week then spend 3 weeks learning how to back the damn thing up onto a loading dock between two other trucks. I figure electricians spend a week learning electrical theory and the next three weeks learning how to a) pull the wires out of the wall enough to work with them and b) how to stuff the damn things back in. Electrical wire is stiffer than it should be to work with. But finally I had it in place and working. This is the equivalent of the prehistoric hunter bringing home a bison on his back for turning on The Redhead. She's tired of the GFCI popping.

Then I went to the shop and did more Santa duty, wrapping a present that is about 4' x 2' x 2' and weighs 44 lb with the packing removed. The Redhead had left parts of 3 rolls of wrapping paper after she wrapped the cats and dog's presents. I used them all up on that package plus other smaller, more manageable packages.

December 19, 2010 Sunday

Shot the Cowtown Wild Bunch match. Did okay, but my wrist was hurtin' pretty bad by the end. I'm typing this with a brace on my left wrist. It helps.

Dan Diamond sent better pictures of Mae B Cinnin's LoneRider Leather Rig. "I forgot to mention that Trish is also wearing the matching pants belt that Jack made for her to match her rig. She is really happy with the rig as you can see by her giddy smile......"

This rig epitomizes what B-Western is all about, drop loop holsters, lots of bling, and 30s-40s Western style.


We're also looking at a rig that works very well for 21st century Cowboy Action Shooting, low front holsters so you can grip the weak hand gun by the topstrap and trigger guard, very stiff leather holster with a funnel effect on top with the top of the holsters rolled out to facilitate speed reholstering.

For women the belt rides higher on the hips than on men's hips because of the shape of the hip bones. So putting the shotgun loops on the main belt makes sense.

The reverse curve belt and the shape of the back of the holster puts the guns vertical and easy to access. The buckle is in the back, leaving room in the front for the shotgun loops. It's both efficient and good looking. Mae models it well.

 

December 18, 2010 Saturday

Shot the Cowtown match, FCD. No problems with the Vaqueros. One brain fade caused a safety, a procedural, and a miss. 25 seconds!

Winter Range's Wild Bunch match is filling up, close to 120, so I sent the application in. Since writing is very painful right now, I wanted to fill the form out on the computer. This is impossible with Adobe Reader unless you send Adobe $100,000 and your first born daughter for an upgrade. But, using Preview, with some difficulty, I was able to do it. It took more time than writing, but it hurt less.

December 17, 2010 Friday

Made a couple of hundred rounds of .45 ACP. Should have been able to make a lot more, but the usual happened. Ran errands. Got the guns and ammo into the car for Saturday's Cowtown match.

December 16, 2010 Thursday

Went to Dillon and got a batch of parts. I didn't check everything, and a couple are the wrong parts, and two parts for the CV500 are missing. Figures. Anyway, I carefully rebuilt the XL650 about 60%. By the time I did that, it was time to quit.

LoneRider Leather's Rig for Mae B. Cinnin

Mae B. Singin's Lone Rider Leather lady B-Western Rig

The photos Jack sent were small and low rez, so you won't see all of the details. Nice rig. You'll note the contoured gunbelt with 8 shotgun shells in front (buckle in back). The matching belt (no suspenders allowed in B-Western.) has plenty of bling.

Mae B. Singin shows off her B-Western bel

Mae B. Singin's B-Western belt

December 15, 2010 Wednesday

Today's most unusual letter:

Hi,

I don't mean to be a nuisance, but=[] I wanted to tell you that I've been using your resource page: (http://www.curtrich.com/baylorslinks.html) for my students, I hope that's okay! I'm a teacher working on resource pages and your page had a lot of great stuff I could use.

Anyway, I also wanted to let you know of an article I have also been referencing in my class: http://www.remilitary.com/article-major-us-wars-and-military-involvement.html (great activities and webquests page on U.S. war history) that one of my 4th graders found. I figured you might have a use for it as an additional resource link on your page above. Plus I would love to show her that the page she found is incorporated on your page :)
Let me know what you think!

Thanks Again!

Sincerely,
Karen Galvin
http://www.teacherpage.com/karengalvin/

So I added the link to my links page. I always did what teachers told me to do. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

I got the shop ready and started working on the XL650 only do discover the only one of its 4,999 parts for which I didn't have a spare was the ring indexer, a notoriously delicate part. I'll have to go to Dillon tomorrow.

December 14, 2010 Tuesday

Drove to Pioneer RV without incident and got the rig set up.

December 13, 2010 Monday

Michelin owning RVers will want to read this:

Went to Purcell's Tires to get the 6 Michelins mounted. Since we had changed stores, some delay was involved in getting Michelin's payment reauthorized. Eventually it came, and we got the tires on and left at 1320 hours.

For the record, the tires were made 6th week of 05. We purchased the bus October of 06. Michelin paid half of the retail price of the tires. We paid the other half and Federal Excise Tax plus labor for mounting and balancing the front tires. There was no disposal fee because the tires were going back to Michelin. Still it was almost $2500.

I'll note that Camping World did not mention any Customer Goodwill program at Michelin.

Driving to Kingman, we were able to take the new bridge instead of the previous truck route. The new road doesn't go over Hoover Dam, so trucks and big RV's can go there now. It saved 50 miles or so. The drive was incident free.

December 12, 2010 Sunday

We spent Sunday with two of our oldest friends, Zoe Harrington and her daughter Darcy Harrington Perez--and Darcy's 3 children, the oldest of whom, Alexia, is 21. I believe Darcy was 14 or so when I first met her father in the Clear Lake Sports Car Club. He's no longer with us, but the two great ladies of his life are. The day was a mixture of old times and marveling at her kids, who have grown well. I corrupted the boys by taking them to the convention floor so I could talk to a couple more people. One fell in love with Ruger's SR556. He's 14 and looks big enough for high school football, which he plays. He asked me about how much fun going through the jungle with an M16 was. Not so much I replied. I think I've convinced him that becoming a Navy Seal, Marine Recon, or Army Ranger isn't the fun it is in movies or books. (I didn't give him a copy of Common Valor.) I did mention that the guys in the Air Force have longer life expectancies, more comfortable beds, and no brass to polish. Lacking that most Navy guys, SEALS and Brown Water Navy excepted, have more comfortable beds and longer life expectancies. He's overqualified for the USMC, since he knows who his parents are and can tie his shoes without adult supervision.

Redhead, The, and a vicious polar bear who excaped in Las Vegas.  He was looking for Al Gore, pissed at his lies about polar bears.

Zoe took this photo of The Redhead's encounter with an escaped Polar Bear who was looking for Al Gore, angry with him for telling lies about polar bears. Like everyone else, the bear fell in love with The Redhead on sight.

Three beauties in winter

Three beauties in a Winter Wonderland, Darcy, The Redhead, and Zoe. Amazing. None of them have aged any since I first met them.

We wound up at New York New York for some reason. The kids wanted to ride the fiendishly overpriced roller coaster there. We had drinks at Nine Fine Irishmen Pub, where the greeter successfully spotted my Orvis vest with Gunsite Raven emblem was a concealment rig. I wasn't carrying, it being in a casino, so all was right with the world. When he asked, I said, truthfully, "Not today." The waiter, seeing my "Vietnam Veteran" cap, identified himself as an Afghan veteran. We compared war stories. He was quite smitten with Alexia, but since they were leaving the next morning, it was a case of two ships passing in the night.

Dinner was at Benihana's. It was Darcy's birthday and Alexia, her oldest's birthday, or close enough to celebrate them together. Alexia is hiding her beauty in the shadows. She's shy. The boys (identities protected, you'll notice) are hiding their faces because they're sipping the Scorpion Bowl, a 60 oz. concoction that might just contain alcohol, just a little. All of these pictures are from Zoe's iPhone. Apparently iPhones, for all their sophistication and high-tech features, don't have a flash. I'm crushed. Hmm, or, maybe Zoe, thinking ahead, made sure the photos were blurred so that when one of the boys is trying to get into the FBI years from now their advanced facial recognition software won't be able to identify who's in the photos.

After dinner we wandered to Fremont Street, where the kids did the zip line, and Darcy, after 2 scorpion bowls, ran through the street singing Jingle Bells while shedding her clothes. She swears she doesn't remember that. Neither do the other two ladies in the party. I promised never to tell anyone. Alexia has the pictures so she can show her therapist in 20 years. Her mother's uninhibitedness doesn't seem to have passed on to her. She is, however, quite artistic.

We dropped by the Pawn Shop in "Pawn Stars." The boys wanted to meet Chumley. The sign, viewers of the show will remember, says, "OPEN 24 HOURS". Yes, it's open 24 hours, just not these 24. It was closed. It's much smaller than it looks like on TV. Wide angle lenses.

Eventually the carriage turned into a pumpkin, and we said goodbye. I'll miss them. They live in Bakersfield, California. Right wing pro-military Texians driving huge busses pulling huge trailers full of arms, ammunition, and gunpowder aren't welcome in California. I'll have to break all kinds of rules to go there. We'll see. The California State Championship is near Bakersfield, but the timing conflicts with several things, not the least of which is my arm surgery. But Zoe tells me we can go there without having to go to a match. I didn't know I was allowed to go anywhere that there wasn't a major SASS match.

Convention Extra:

Tupelo Flash Demonstrates his Bandoleer

Bandoleers don't work in SASS. They flop around, and you can't get the shotgun shells out quickly. Tupelo Flash and Tombstone Leather have re-designed the bandoleer, and it works. Not everyone agrees. Evil Roy said he tried it, and it didn't work for him. I don't know if he tried this version.

Instead of one piece on the top it is two, laced together, so it will hang better and stay in place. It's backed with suede, so it doesn't slip around, and the bottom is rounded so as to avoid interfering with the gunbelt.

Tupelo with his bandoleer

In one, he slides his hand up toward the shotgun shells.

Tupelo 2

In two, he grabs 3 shells, thumb parallel to his fingers.

Tupelo 3

In 3 he rolls the shells out, not pulling, rolling. The loops are tapered. so they pop out easily if you, when you get yours, put shells in half way and leave them there for a week.

Tuprlo 4

Now he has 3 in his hands. That's all he can grab with one hand.

Tupelo 5

In 5 imagine the '97 is staged. He grabs 2 with his strong hand and three with his weak hand.

Tupelo 6

Now he can throw one into the ejection port as he reaches the '97 then feed 4 more in as fast as he can shoot. Rifle loops can be placed for either strong hand loads like Tupelo uses or weak hand reloads like I use (T-Bone Dooley's method).

December 11, 2010, Saturday

I taught Authentic Men's Costumes and finally had some time on the convention floor, talking with most of the vendors I wanted to, arranging articles, etc. Results of that will be in future articles, I presume. I didn't make it to any of the seminars.

At the banquet the re enactors from Tombstone gave a great show, doing the Ringo/Doc scene with gun spinning and cup spinning, then a hard to describe "Wild W

Entered the costume contest as Colonel Baylor. 2nd again. This time to a Teddy Roosevelt impression. Col. Baylor has won EOT and WR and a bunch of Regionals, etc. But it has a perfect record of second place here. The good news is I can still compete with it. Sorry, didn't have the camera, and didn't take notes for the others. Solomon Star won best dressed man.

I did note that tiny bar drinks were $6.25, tiny glasses of wine were $6.50, and a Coke was $3.50. It's Vegas.

December 10, 2010, Friday

I taught Black Powder for Dummies and ROII with mentoring and assistance from Dusty Lone Star and Nevada Turtle. Tex was my grader. It went well, but they allowed 3 hours for a 4 hour class. We had to hurry a lot during the range portion. Afterwards Dusty told me Tex's comments, that I did good but need more practice and need to move around more, not to read too much.

I don't know if that means I passed and will get the black pin or not. I never got to talk with Tex after that.

Buckaroo Bobbins dsplayed their new buckboard.

Buckaroo Bobbins displayed their new buckboard.

Tombstone Chamber of Commerce

The Tombstone Chamber of Commerce displayed. They had their re enactors

December 9, 2010, Thursday

The Wooly Awards were given out at the opening ceremonies. I don't remember most, but D Bar J was vendor of the year. So I'm not their only fan.

I taught both "Black Powder for Dummies" and "Authentic Men's Costumes."

My classes conflicted with most of the classes I wanted to attend. I was too tired after teaching 2 to attend any.

Fernando of D Bar J stands behind the crown sanding machine he and Dave restored from a basket

D Bar J's Fernando stands behind the 1940 crown sanding machine that he and Dave restored from a basket case. Beautiful. If you handle it, it's chrome plated. Lots of zinc plating, stainless steel bolts, beautiful

We went to the Life Member's reception and the Classic Cowboy dance. Lacking anything better to do, I entered the Classic Cowboy costume contest. 3rd. I presume that meant there were 3 entries.

I need to get a new pocket camera. There was a LOT of cleavage on display among the contestants for B-Western lady and Classic Cowgirl and just in general. Victoria's Secret would be proud.

December 8, 2010, Wednesday

On Wednesday registration opened, and we went to the meet-and-greet. Talked with a lot of people. Dinner at Kristopher's. The Redhead got 20% off for her gold player's card, and we had a coupon for a free bottle of wine from the Convention coupons page.

December 7, 2010, Tuesday

I went back to D Bar J and picked up the repaired hats. Good work.

Dave reinstalls the sweatband using an invisible chain stitch, the way they were done on expensive hats in the 19th century

Dave reinstalls the sweatband using a chain stitch, which is invisible from the outside. This is the way expensive hats were done in the 19th century--by hand

Dave uses steam to soften the brim for pencil rolling

In preparation for pencil rolling the brim, Dave softens the brim with steam

Using a pencil rolling iron, Dave puts in the pencil roll

Using an iron with a groove in it, he rolls the pencil roll.

 

Cactus works on one of the helmet bodies for Coon Creek Old West. These are for 1872 pattern and 1881 dress uniforms for the US Army. Buck at Coon Creek does the adding of fancy pieces.

D Bar J has a lot of antique hat blocks and restored antique machines. Dave is enthusiastic and well-versed in hat lore. He is also expert in all parts of making hats.

December 6, 2010, Monday

Went to D Bar J Custom Hats. I took 4 hats in to be worked on. They're now drying or on machines. I'll pick them up tomorrow. Dave showed me his beautifully restored machines. His shop has restored some basket cases, having new parts made, plating everything that gets handled or would flake if painted, etc. Some is chrome plated. Some zinc. Stainless steel bolts and other parts are used where possible. One custom screw cost $155, but the new one is stainless steel. He made a copy of a chain cover from thin plywood and took it to the metal working shop for a pattern. The metal chain cover fit perfectly. The machines are restored like classic cars, but for function. Parts are color-coded according to OSHA standards. If you're into machinery, they're seriously cool.

Hat making is a dying art. One of the reasons is the lack of machines. Stetson bought out competitors and destroyed their machines and blocks since before WWII. During the war a lot of hat making machines became scrap metal in the scrap drive. Dave has been unable to buy a machine at auction in 15 years.

December 5, 2010, Sunday

Day By Day Cartoon, 12-05-10

To update non-readers, Zed has been recalled to active duty for a tour in Afghanistan, and his wife, Sam, is worried about him:

Day by Day Cartoon

I'll admit that there's one thing that Democratic Presidents have been historically better at than Republican Presidents... getting American soldiers killed.

Arrived at Camp Baylor's secret Las Vegas enclave without too much drama. Driving the bus now is almost fun, certainly out west with the giant vistas and clear skies. The section with the 20 miles of 100% grade and constant decreasing radius corkscrews with the stop sign at the bottom was no longer as scary as a combat assault on a hot LZ. The light was even green. I'm exaggerating the steepness a bit, just a bit.

We got set up, and The Redhead took poor Arthur Pendragon to a PetSmart vet. Not to criticize vets willing to work on Sunday, but they nicked him when shaving him and didn't offer a discount. In fact, they charged extra to sew him up and dress the wound. He wasn't cut when we brought him, just having problems with a urinary infection. His hair is about 6" long, so it got matted over his privates as a result. Thus the shaving/clipping necessity. $300. There goes the money I was going to spend foolishly at the SASS Convention. Oh, well.

TODAY'S RV DRIVING TIP:

If you're driving from Kingman to Las Vegas on the truck route (the one that goes through Railroad Pass rather than over Boulder Dam just in case your rig is carrying 40,000 lb. of C4), when you see a casino sign, PULL IN at the first parking lot you see. That'll be the truck parking lot. There will be parking for big rigs. There are 2 truck parking lots, one at Laughlin, one at Terrible's Casino and McDonalds, and one at Railroad Pass Casino. Those are the only places to pull off the road to rest, switch drivers, use the john, have lunch, etc. on the entire route. Stop at Railroad Pass and use the john because when you get into Vegas driving 44,000 lb. in traffic filled with drunks, depressed gambling losers, and hookers driving to the doctor to have a terrible vaginal itching treated, you will wish for an empty bladder. None of those people can drive.

Example: I was on I15 in the right lane. Cars were entering from the right. I saw a Honda minivan creeping on, going slower than I was. Ahead his lane ended. He was beside me. I hit the Great Mother of all Air Horns, and he just sat there, unaware, or perhaps thinking that I would politely move the 65 ft. rig over into the next lane of traffic, the one filled with traffic moving bumper-to-bumper at 75 mph, to make room for him. He went out of sight. I assumed he woke up and stood on the brakes, pulling in behind me while contemplating where to get new shorts. But no, he was still beside me. As the shoulder got narrower and narrower, he discovered the right pedal and pulled just ahead of me enough to get by. Then, of course, he stood on the brakes.

December 4, 2010, Saturday

The coating on the finish of the bus that I couldn't remember the name of in last month's blog is Xzilon

Drove from Gallup to Kingman, AZ. The newly aligned bus steers and tracks so much better you'd almost think it should have a 3 pointed star on the hood. Amazing difference. The Redhead drove a while and encountered twisty up-and-down sections with a lot of aux braking and loved it. Things went so well we went on to Kingman. Would have gone to LV except neither of us wants to drive in the dark.

At the Kingman KOA we encountered one of those, "What the hell were they thinking?" situations that keep cropping up at RV parks. When we went to put the slides out we had to leave the driver's side front in because of a tree branch. It had been trimmed just enough that the end of it would have damaged the topper. Yes, parking crooked in the spot could have cured it, but we didn't catch it until 3 slides were out, and, of course, jacks down, power plugged in. Life in this thing isn't fun with one slide in. Constant bumping into things, like the kitty bathroom, which now has no place to go out of the way. Also working the TV remote required walking to a spot between the driver and navigator's seats. Add to checklist: Check for branches that seem okay until you pull out the slides.

December 3, 2010, Friday

We decided to leave today. Too !#%ing cold in ABQ, and, with the problems we've had, I want an extra day in the schedule. Of course leaving wasn't that easy. Clean windshield. Discover crack. Check tires. Most low. I can pump everything up except the front with the air from the diesel. But I need more air for them. I had to plug the one in the trailer back in for those. Got all the stuff stowed, the slides in, the ML loaded into the trailer, took the bus to the propane guy, who also does windshield crack repair. It was after 1300 when we left.

Needed fuel, so we stopped at the Pilot in Gallup. Both Amex and MC were rejected. Pulled the bus out of line and called Amex. They assumed a $400 charge at a gas station was fraud. Got them to turn the card back on. I've discovered the magic word for getting past the machine. "Representative." That delayed us another half hour or so. Got back into line with the trucks and filled up, $389. Got $11 back (They run the card before you're allowed to pump).

Note: Pilot has bought Flying J. Flying J is very RV friendly. The Flying J RV card gets you the cash price with a credit card. This is not true at Pilot. The card was noted on the receipt, but no discount was given. Pilot goes back to "emergency" status again.

Decided at that point to stop at the USA RV Park in Gallup. The MC still didn't work. Had to call them. Same thing. They thought all the Pilot charge attempt was fraudulent. They turned it back on, and we were allowed to park. By the time we got the cats out of their crate, it was 1730.

The life of a full time RVer is an adventure... whether you want it to be or not.

December 2, 2010, Thursday

The guy showed up at 0815, fixed the electrical problem and the leak. He is the newly appointed Splendide repairman, so, when we get back in March we'll have him check out the broken washer/dryer. Jason Quinn, RV Specialties, LLC, 505-480-9882. Ex-Army Ranger. His father was a Command Sergeant Major. The electrical problem was this thingie that allocates power in low power situations was out. The company that made it is DOA, so he'll be looking for one on eBay. Meanwhile he wired it off the breaker. It works on electricity now. The leak was the top fitting loose. If I had only had that problem I would have been in there with a wrench when I found it, but since I wanted the electrics fixed, too, I didn't try. I couldn't have fixed the electrics.

Cindy at Purcell Tires called and said the truck with the tires was broken down, and she wouldn't have them in time. Since they're a chain, she gave me the names and numbers of the managers at Las Vegas and Phoenix. I called the LV guy, Dan Hopp, and he'll have them next Friday. I'll get them installed on the way out of LV, assuming---

December 1, 2010, Wednesday

While I was getting the trailer ready to travel, The Redhead told me the water heater was leaking. Sure enough, icicles were hanging below it. An RV repairman was working on the RV next door, so I made an appointment for him to work on it tomorrow at 0830.