Journal of A Gypsy Cowboy

formerly Curt's Fulltime RV Journal

June 2007

2007 End of Trail section

July 2007 Journal

June 30, 2007


Cleaned the windshield before driving off. Took a while. The windshield has an expensive treatment that's supposed to make it easy. I believe it's called "Snake Oil." I feel dumb for having sccepted the sales pitch. (Several people online in one of the RV forums vouched for it. Makes me distrust them.) We'd been through a lot of bugs, and they were no easier to remove than on the ML, which doesn't have the treatment. I used Griot's Garage glass cleaner, the best I've found, and their non-linting cleaning sheets. I didn't kill myself because I got the Little GIant ladder out of the trailer. It extends tall enough to reach and is stable. I'm ready to trash the lightweight 6' ladder, which is good for very little on a 12 ft. coach, but The Redhead doesn't want me to as she can't lift the Little Giant. If I'm not here she wants the lightweight ladder, though I don't know what for. Normally she will just put it off until I return. If's one of the things she has me around for:

Manual labor, especially heavy lifting and tasks considered dangerous.

Protection against insects, especially flying ones,

Vehicle maintenance,

Driving her around, but only under close supervision,

Dog walking after dark,

Protection against anyone who really needs shooting,

Occasional sexual favors.

We need to replace one of the ratchet tie-downs. It sticks and is too hard to free up. It'll stick some day when we're 200 miles from a Wal-Mart or auto parts store. I'll get ratchets for the rear tie downs, too The plan according to the dealer was to attach the rears, then pull them tight by tightening the ratchets in the front. But (a) nothing is moving that 5,000 lb. vehicle when I put it in park and set the brake, and (b) the ATP parking chocks keep it from moving:

ML tied down with ratchets and ATP parking stops

Drove to Raton without incident. Nice drive. Wouldnt want to break down on most of it. Pretty desolate. Staying at the Raton KOA. Expensive, but very nice, very personalized service. ($34.78 for one night, no discounts for anything other than KOA). Within walking distance of a K-Bobs, which has some kind of a birddog deal with them, as they gave us a 10% off card. Still, it's not Mexican. I haven't had anything else for several days. Actually it was pretty good. Chicken Fried Steak gets an A. The Shish Ka Bob (their signature dish) was undercooked for The Redhead's taste, but good. Now if the waitress hadn't abandoned us... Tipped big anyway.

June 29, 2007


I got back to Albuquerque about 9 last night, late, of course. No problems with my flight, but the one tying up the gate was 3 hours late getting off.

Found a more overpriced Margarita than the one at the High Noon, at Hobby Airport. To make up for the expense, it was mixed by "THE bitch from hell squared." I broke my overtipping rule. I'll make up for it on the next nice waitress.

The Redhead won a poker tournament at Route 66 Casino while I was away. I took her to the casino this morning and ran errands and worked in the garage. At 9:40 she told me the ML was low on gas. I got in. The gauge was on empty, and the range said 27 miles. It was 9 miles to the casino, and she said they had diesel at the truck stop there. No problem. I drove her there and went to the truck stop, and, indeed, they had diesel--in the truck lanes only, with the big nozzles. The next nearest diesel station was 16 miles away. I set the cruise to 55 and made it. It has a 25 gallon tank. I put in 24.93 gallons. Hmm. I don't know what the hidden reserve was, but that's what I had, 629 miles on that tank. Over 25 mpg.

Both of us were so exhausted we put off leaving until Saturday morning, allowing us to go to the Albuquerque Museum for the Billy The Kid exhibit. Pretty cool.

We walked around Old Town and stumbled on Julia's Restaurant, the one we couldn't find before. The term "Hole in the wall" comes to mind. It has one, count 'em one "Julia's" sign inside a courtyard, nothing from the street.

Tried Sadie's Restaurant at the suggestion of several poker players. Good, big Margaritas, very spicy food, good service. VERY crowded. (Friday night).

Medical update:

I went to Houston to see doctors. The Retinal-Vitreous specialist, with the easy (for me) to remember name of Dr. Benz took a perfunctory look at a new scan and in my eye and said it's not getting better. It won't get better. I can have surgery after a couple of months if I want, but it has a 1 in 1,000 chance of infection, and 2-3 in 100 chance of detached retina, "But we can fix that." The vision might improve a little after the surgery.

Wow, what a sales pitch. How could I turn that down?

The ophthalmologist who did the surgery said the swelling is down, and the vision on that eye has gone from 20/100 on May 30 to 20/40-20/50. He expects the swelling to continue to go down, but the pseudo-hole (think scar) will probably still mess up my vision somewhat. Much less pessimistic than Dr. Benz.

The other eye is still healing normally.

No problems with the cancer surgery.

New Mercedes-Benz ads

1. Used by more terrorists than any other car!

In an interview, terrorist bomb maker Achmed Ahmanutjob said, "We use Mercedes because they're reliable, and they're so strong they really maximize the carnage. Anyway, who would want to drive a Toyota on his way to meet 72 virgins?"

2. Used by MI5 to assassinate troublesome princesses since 1997!

Once more discrimination rears its ugly head:

sign at a bar

Joke Du Jour

A man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard.
Suddenly, the light turned yellow, just in front of him. He did the right
thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red
light by accelerating through the intersection.

The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in
frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection,
dropping her cell phone and makeup.

As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up
into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to
exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she
was searched, finger printed, photographed, and placed in a holding cell.
After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the
door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer
was waiting with her personal effects.

He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your
car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you,
and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'What Would Jesus Do' bumper
sticker, the 'Choose Life' License plate holder, the 'Follow Me to
Sunday-School' bumper Sticker, And the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem
on the trunk, Naturally I assumed you had stolen the car."

June 26, 2007


We left Founders Ranch yesterday morning and came to Enchanted Trails RV Park, the only one in town, apparently, that can handle our rig. In fact, it was handling, last night, 3 forty ft. coaches with long trailers behind.

It's all dirt, except for trees that overhang low where you can't dodge them when moving a big rig. This seems to be a common RV Park feature. I presume they're in collusion with nearby RV repair places.

The laundry of this big park has, according to The Redhead, "4 washer dryers and several rude people arguing over them."

She "remembered we have a washer/dryer" and did a load in it. It takes a long time, but we have time.

While at Founders Ranch, faced west, we were hot most of the day. The DirecTV unit failed from the heat several times. It was mounted at the top of the console over the driver's side, close to the top of the windshield, and without a lot of ventilation. The console has 3 shelves on it. The second one was deeper and occupied by the DVD player, which is thinner than the DirecTV unit, so i went about switching them. Getting the wires moved was the hard part, as you would expect. Then I could get only one receiver to receive, indicating the second wasn't hooked up. I pulled everything out and looked for TV cables. The unit uses 3, 2 for input, one for output. There are 6 cables in the bundle. Two are properly marked. The others are unmarked.The trouble was I only found five until I had tried every combination of the 5. Finally I found the sixth.

We haven't had anymore problems, but we're faced east here. I can add spacers under the unit for better air circulation, and, if necessary, add some sort of fan to cool it.

Or we could get the hell out of the desert area. It's very hot, very dry here during the day.

Went to dinner at the "High Noon" restaurant in the Old Town. Expensive, good food, lousy, overpriced Margaritas. I almost told the manager he should take them back and make them to The Redhead's recipe.

We had scheduled mail to be sent Friday to the Edgewood post office general delivery. Stupidly I figured we could pick it up on our way out. But, of course, the ML was in the trailer the night before. So we drove back to Edgewood for the usual mess of semi-useful mail, along with 2 letters from the VA wanting me to meet an appointment on July 3. I called and rescheduled for late September, when we'll be back in Texas, at least, if not Houston. Running errands took a couple of hours--cleaners, alterations shop, Sportsman's Warehouse for shotgun wads. What we did before GPS navigation units I don't know. The one in the ML is very good.

Spent the rest of the afternoon in the trailer loading shotgun shells. Then went to dinner in Old Town. Looked for Julia's Mexican Restaurant. Found a different Mexican restaurant at that address. Pretty good. Decent Margaritas, unlike the night before, but not as good as The Redhead's.

Flying back to Houston tomorrow for 2 days of medical stuff.

Stuff Learned in 9 days of dry camping

We ran out of water because SASS gave us the wrong paperwork to post to get the roving water trucks to refill us ($20). But The Redhead chased down the truck and got it straightened out. Another $20 for grey and black tank dumping. It took half an hour to fill the water tank. The guy doing it said something was wrong, but that's the way it's been since new. Will mention it to the dealer at the annual.

Bad Gene Poole never needed water and never had to have the tanks dumped. His wife was unhappy that they hadn't been able to shower enough. Omaha John told me some of how they did it. Paper plates, plastic silverware, used toilet paper put in plastic bags instead of the black tank (half of the flushing I do is trying to get the paper down the drain, so I can see that). Hair washing is apparently a no-no, and Navy showers to the extreme. We'll see how much better we get at it with practice. Bad Gene Poole has 10 years experience at it.

Dry camping in hot weather is much more expensive than living at an RV park. $75 for camping, $20 for tank dumping, $40 for water, and almost a quarter tank of diesel fuel for the generator, say 30 gallons, $90ish. But minimizing that would be difficult. For one thing, the batteries went dead every morning if we didn't start the generator, and for another, if was nearly 100°F every day. It was also in the fifties at night. One night the Pressure Pro alarm went off, scaring the hell out of me. One trailer tire was at 55 lb. The next morning it was back close to 65, the correct pressure. The Pressure Pro is inconsistent on reading the trailer tires anyway. They usually all work when stationary but not necessarily when moving. I suppose I'll have to get the repeater.

I need to be able to do something to level the trailer. It was going down hill enough to be a pain in the neck. The gun cart had to be placed just right or it rolled toward the tailgate. I dropped some lead balls, and they all rolled down the hill. The bus was on the level. The trailer wasn't. If both are on the level it's not a problem.

Bought curb feelers for the slide outs from Camping World (next door to the RV Park) to use when going into a parking place. They use suction cups, and you adjust them to the length of the slideout on that side. That'll prevent a repeat of the electrical post incident that occurred early in the ownership ($880).

Blonde Joke Du Jour
            A blonde walks into a coffee/sandwich shop and orders a cup of coffee.
            “What’s this sticker on my coffee mug?” she asks.
            “We’re celebrating our 1 yr anniversary, and giving prizes.  Look under the sticker and see if you won anything!”
            The blond removes the sticker and shouts “I WON A MOTOR HOME!
            You couldn't win a motor home exclaims the waitress, we only give things from the restaurant!
            “No I WON A MOTOR HOME !!!”
The waitress grabs the cup and reads

June 14, 2007

Arrived at Founders Ranch. Successfully found a space long enough for all three vehicles with the aid of the guy with the pickup truck who met us as we came in and pointed to some long spaces and to Old Man Meadows, who let me in a spot next to his RV. There were a lot of people there already. The Founders Ranch guys were nearly all there already. Pecos Clyde and Silver Heart came by in their Jeep.

Nice parking place, easily leveled. The trailer, when attached to the bus and the bus is leveled, is pointed uphill toward the front. Makes it easy to get the gun cart out using the ramp.

I'll continue this at the Cowboy Action Shooting Log, specifically the 2007 End of Trail section. We'll come back here when the event is over.

June 13, 2007

GGeorge S Patton, Jr and The Redhead in the bus

George S. Patton, Jr. has mastered the art of being the RV Dog. Instead of sitting in The Redhead's lap, he lays down beside her. He has been known to lay his head on the keyboard, so far without writing anything of consequence.

We got into the Wichita Falls RV Park after they closed last night. Remember that.

This morning we discovered the trailer had a flat tire. Fortunately I had signed up for Good Sam's Road Service just before we left. No, expensive motor homes don't come with Roadside Assistance or Tele-Aid like much lower priced Mercedes-Benz. When I got them on the phone they asked two logical questions, "What's the name of the RV Park, and what is the address?" I had no idea about either. Remember Trailer Life Directory gives directions, not addresses. So I walked to the sign at the entrance: "RV Park." So I walked to the office and asked the crusty old desk clerk what the name of the place and the address was. "Did you register?"

"I thought my wife did that."


"I'll register. Can you tell me the name of the place and the address?"

"When you register."

So I kept the Good Sam operator on the phone while I gave him a credit card. He asked me if I had a Good Sam card. I mentioned I had all of them from Escapees to FMCA to Good Sam, not to mention VA, MOPPH, VVA, and SASS. This brought a ten minute lecture of why he wouldn't do business with Escapees. (They would like a 50% discount for their members.) SASS members will understand if I say he would qualify for GOFWG if he had a gun. He's the owner, so there was no one to complain to, if I'd wanted to. $24.50 with Good Sam.

Eventually I got the information to Good Sam, and 30 minutes later a kid showed up with a jack and a wrench or two. He had me back the ML out of the trailer because the jack was for a 5000 lb. load (yes, I'd told them a 10,000 lb. GVWR trailer). Then I had to loan him a socket that had thin enough walls to work. Then I had to come up with a different socket to take the spare off the mount. Yes, the spare mount needs a different sized nut.

But he got the tire into the back of the ML and brave me directions to a shop that could fix it. So I went there and got it fixed. It's on the spare now. The spare wheel and the road wheels were different, of course. I'll swap them out when feeling industrious—or not.

Then we drove to Amarillo, not getting out of the Wichita RV Park until 1 PM. We've got to either get luckier or or faster in getting our act together. If you make that drive be aware that truck stops get scarcer and scarcer the closer you get to Amarillo. So, surprisingly, we were staring at 3 different low fuel indicators for miles and miles. We turned the AC off and crept along at 50 mph. You do NOT want to run out of fuel in a diesel, especially a diesel that requires going in through the bed to reach the top of the engine.

But we made it to the Flying J on I40—right behind about 50 eighteen wheelers. We turned the engine off, not wanting the ignominy of running out in the line. We were in the slowest moving line, and I wasn't going to anger any eighteen wheel drivers by moving to a faster moving line. So it took an hour or so to get in and out, 127 gallons of low sulphur diesel fatter, and over $300 poorer. 5.29 mpg between the Flying J in Brookshire and the Flying J in Amarillo--pulling a 9500 lb. trailer uphill. Not as good as I'd like, but this is no Prius. It should be noted that we had a 5 cents/gallon total discount for an RV. I get 1 cents/gallon when filling the ML with ULSD, but when you buy 127 gallons, I guess you get more. The Flying J discount card came from FMCA. $2.62.9 cents/gallon, cheapest I saw in the last week.

The RV Ranch in Amarillo is a very nice place, with well-laid out sights and all the amenities. $25/08 for one night with a 15% Escapees discount. They led us to our big rig site with a golf cart. A limousine came from The Big Texan Restaurant, the one with the 72 oz. steak and took us there and back. It's obviously a tourist's idea of what a Texas steakhouse should be, but everyone I talked to was from Texas. Figures. WARNING: They stick a jalapeno on every Margarita. If you don't like jalapenos, don't drink from that part of the glass, and don't use the toothpick. When you take the jalapeno off, don't rub your eye with the fingers that did it. We could tell who the non-Texans were. Those of us who were given Jalapenos in mother's milk, meaning native Texans, could, at least ignore it if we didn't like it. I'm not a fan of jalapenos to excess, but the hottest jalapeno is about half the heat of the stuff the Vietnamese put in their combat rations.

Yes, I was born in Vernon, Texas, about a million years ago. My father was a mastodon hunter. My mother was a gatherer.

No close calls today. I make wide, square turns, using whatever road is available and starting the turn VERY late. Remember the front wheels are behind the driver, and all vehicles pivot on the rear wheels. They're about 25-30 feet behind you. The addition of the trailer makes you add about 10 feet to the radius, making you want to make left turns instead of right ones. Wider is better.

A neighbor at the park called it tedious. I haven't gotten to that point yet. Precise it is. I ran over a tire tread, or more precisely, hit it with the right front tire and sent it flying, because I moved to the right on the highway while an eighteen wheeler was passing. After that I kept it centered in the lane, and they'll just have to go around.

To quote the guy on "Mythbusters," it's almost like we know what we're doing."

To all the people who told me I'd be bored in retirement: Bite me.


According to Jay Leno, Mercedes Benz' slogan is "Unlike any other," which he says is much better than the first draft, "Crashed by more drunken actresses than any other car."

June 12, 2007

Catching up

Yesterday we took Texas Alline's back roads shortcut to Houston in the ML and did two medical appointments, bought lead shot (forgot the price. The brain tries to forget terrible shocks) at Carters Country, and got a 50F to 30M adapter so we can plug in the trailer and the bus at the same time.

The latest eye problem is an allergy attack. The doctor gave me another Medrol Dosepack. I believe I'm getting addicted. This is my third since mid May. (Only $4 at Wal-Mart. Since The Redhead is retired and her insurance stopped, and the COBRA hasn't gotten started, we tried this. It cost $4 more there than through the insurance. Hmmm.)** The Macular Edema is getting better, but the allergy swelling (both eyes) kept me from seeing the front sight all weekend (or anything else out of the left eye). That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

(**I am in the VA Medical system, but I did all these surgeries via civilian doctors through insurance, figuring there were enough guys in line in the VA system that don't have anywhere else to go, and I didn't want to take their place in line. Now that I'm retired, I'll stand in line.)

We took George S. Patton, Jr. because we didn't know how long we'd be gone. He sat up in my lap (passenger because of the eye problem) most of the trip, guarding the ML. He was looking for elephants. He's done that since I named him Elephant Control dog. Since I did that no elephant depredations have occurred on or near Rich property.


Cheating Death and Destruction again.

This morning The Redhead suggested/asked/something to get me to start the trip early. I had planned on practice shooting, but a) it's 95° and 95° humidity and b) I still can't see the front sight (but sight is improving.) So I planned on reloading in the air conditioned garage. She convinced me it was time to start going toward the Route 66 Casino, which happens to be near EOT. It took us till 1 pm to get the bus moving, but we got the trailer reattached, the cables stowed, the blocks stowed, the slides in, etc. and drove to Wichita Falls. Everything went fine until construction in Wichita Falls sent us to never-never land. It was dusk, and my vision was failing, and we had no idea how to get back to the road we were looking for. The Trailer Life Directory doesn't give addresses or GPS coordinates. They give directions—BAD directions.

Eventually The Redhead put something into Co-Pilot*, and it got us to the park. Nice park. Has high marks from Trailer Life. That'll keep us away from ones , low ratings, as if it wouldn't anyway.

*CoPilot is a computer navigation program with GPS receiver that thinks like an RV, not a Miata, and picks roads accordingly. You probably won't have the roof ripped off by a low overpass or have to turn around at a tunnel forbidding propane, and it'll pick the freeways over the stop-and-go route. Nice, sexy voice, too, at least the one we chose.

The Redhead did a lot of ground guiding, getting us out of Oakwood and into our spot at the RV Park. We didn't bother to unload the ML. We got here after 7, and I don't know any place in Wichita Falls worth unloading to get to when we have a kitchen onboard and The Redhead has a selection of little-to-no work entrees for nights like this.

George S. Patton, Jr. did a good job for a while, convincing The Redhead to carry him in her lap for most of the trip—along with her laptop, the big Dell, not my lightweight MacBook. Then The Redhead convinced him to sit on the couch. That worked until he got tired of it and wanted back on her lap. She tried to shoo him to the couch, and he jumped under my feet. That got him relegated to the cat carrier. It's big enough, 3' x 2' x 2' (and folds/rolls up pretty small, Camping World), but for the rest of the trip the cats were in the far corner, and he was staring out of of the front and whimpering until I reminded him he was named after a man who never whimpered.

Driving a big RV with everything you own in it is, indeed, exciting. Driving a nice car around the country has gotten boring. You have to stop at stop-and-robs every couple of hours for bathrooms and refills of your caffeine laden drink of choice. At night you have to stop at the Bates Motel du jour. They're all awful, as were all those stop-and-robs. No fun. Seeing the world through the big windshield of a motor home is exciting, terrifying, and never boring. For one thing, drivers of a lot of vehicles keep trying to commit suicide using your vehicle. You're sitting in the right lane at 10 mph below the speed limit trying to get the gas mileage up to 7, and some idiot comes whipping around, and as soon as he's in front of your bumper, he jerks into your lane and slams on the brakes. Hint to idiots: the average diesel pusher weighs 30,000 lb + the weight of the toad. Ours is over 40,000 lb. combined, and it has drum brakes. Physics, that course you failed twice before getting your GED, has some rules about inertia and mass and the like that means it's going to take about the length of Quigley's shot at that bucket to stop, and we're sitting up high enough that we'll be to look down at your sunroof as your car accordions on the generator in the nose. There's also that physics stuff about what happens when 40,000 lb. hits 4,000 lb. of idiot carrier.

We stopped a couple of times at roadside rest areas. I did walk around inspections of the bus and trailer. The Redhead walked George S. Patton, Jr. The restroom was in the bus, no walking into a strange room with people urinating in the sink or waving machetes at people walking in. It's clean and actually has toilet paper. There are advantages to RVs.


NOTE TO TRAILER LIFE DIRECTORY and people who do the advertising for RV Parks:

Put in an ADDRESS in addition to cryptic directions. More and more RVers have GPS systems and can find addresses. IN ADDITION, PUT IN THE GPS COORDINATES, CoPilot and others can go right to them. Right now I'm sitting at GPS Longitude 98.52449W ° GPS Latitude 33.9107N °, It took all of ten seconds for me to get these off the MotoSat. We would have been here half an hour earlier if you'd done that.

Another notable letter about the last newsletter/my retirement:

Curt: Got your ultimate newsletter today and was saddened to see you were retiring .. saddened for totally selfish reasons.  You'll be happy and free of the daily grind, but I'll be stuck here in humid Houston without the benefit of a great newsletter that was unapologetically direct, opinionated, often outrageous, and feline-friendly.  Not only that, but I read most of the cat stories to my blue Abyssinian, Max.  Now I'll have to read him dog stories, which he hates.  He'll probably kill a gecko in retribution.
Here's hoping you and the redhead have great fun chasing your dreams down Route 66.  I expect to do the same thing in a year or two -- on a Harley.  Hey, everyone has their dreams, right?  Thanks for years of great wit, wisdom, and just the right amount of useful information.  
Graham Painter

The bus and trailer ready to leave Oakwood

The Bus and trailer ready to leave Oakwood

From the Antique Guns Newsletter:


"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."

-- Winston Churchill

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about"

-- Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great

-- Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the

-- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

-- Ernest Hemingway (about William Faulkner)

"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know."

-- Abraham Lincoln

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." --

Groucho Marx

"I didn't attend the funeral , but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of

-- Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." --

Oscar Wilde

"I enclose two tickets to the first night of my new play, bring a friend...
if you have one."

-- George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night; will attend second, if there is one."

-- Winston Churchill, in response.

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator."

-- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."

-- Irvin S. Cobb

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."

-- Billy Wilder

"He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others."

-- Samuel Johnson

"He had delusions of adequacy."

-- Walter Kerr

"There's nothing wrong with you that reincarnation won't cure." --

Jack E. Leonard

"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human

-- Thomas Brackett Reed

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."

-- Charles Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."

-- Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?"
-- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."

-- Mae West


June 10, 2007

Oakwood Outoaws  Shooters Meeting

The Oakwood Outlaws is one of the best Cowboy Action Shooting Clubs I've encountered. It's a labor of love started by Texas Alline and Justa Hand, on their land. They and club members built everything, and they never stop building. The restrooms are air conditioned! Most clubs have Porta Johns even after several years. They just built a ladies sitting room that's air conditioned and very comfortable. Justa Hand cooks, and lunch is available at their matches, breakfast, too, for those not living in RVs with The Redhead's cooking. Summer dress code is in place. It was in the nineties and humid.

Hopefully I made all of my stupid mistakes here instead of at EOT next week. A short round (I loaded up some rounds with a bullet too short for the rifle) got in the rifle (same caliber), and locked it up after two rounds on one stage, and I miscounted stages and cleaned guns after the next-to-last stage. Then one of the percussion pistols went pop instead of bang. 4 chambers had no powder in them. The cure it, after the stage, to take the gun where no one is watching, unscrew the nipple, pour in a little powder, put the nipple back in place, put on a percussion cap, and aim downrange at a close pistol target and fire it. If you hear a ding, you know the bullet left the barrel. It will with just a few grains of powder.

Bought primers from Joe Brisco, $109 for a case (5000) Winchester small pistol primers and $35 for 1000 Winchester 209 Shotgun primers. $79 and $20 were the prices not long ago. And I didn't want Winchesters. I wanted Federals, but they weren't to be had. Either there is a shortage of primers because of the war, or someone selling primers started such a rumor and is making a killing, assisted by people falling for the rumors.

Swinging Saloon doors on stage 6

A saloon has just been built for stage 6,complete with swinging saloon doors. Since knockdown targets have become a big topic of conversation in SASS, stage 6 has pistol, rifle, and shotgun knockdowns. Somehow they manage to keep their knockdowns properly calibrated. I don't know what their secret is, but there are clubs who should ask Justa Hand or Texas Scrounger what they do.

The targets range from small rifle knockdowns on 6 to a life sized bison at about ten yards on one stage, a swinger or two, huge saw blades, etc. Generally they follow the SASS Guidelines of big and close, with some challenges for a change of pace.


June 9, 2007

Arthur Pendragon surveying his kingdom

Arthur Pendragon sitting on his throne while we are parked at Oakwood Outlaws

George S Patton, Jr. at Oakwood

George S. Patton, Jr. relaxes in the living room

Shot at the Oakwood Outlaws match. Great people. Fun stages. If my left eye had just worked, I would have been really happy. Shot 4 out of 6 stages clean, but slow. I have enough troupe shooting well when the eyes work as well as they're going to, considering their limitations from ischemic optic neuropathy.

Justa Hand told of 2 RV parts and accessories dealers in Palestine, so we went on a quest for a 50 amp male, 30 amp female adapter. Both were closed. Went back to Wal-Mart and go the 10 ft. 30 amp extension so I could plug the trailer into the power. Then we could run both ACs on the bus when on the generator. But we can't plug in both. I'm convinced that when you full time you need every kind of adapter. If you have a powered trailer, then you need 2 of everything.

June 8, 2007

Practiced in the morning. With the left eye still screwed up it was pathetic. If you can't see the front sight, you can't shoot.

Went to Wal-Mart. Reminded of something I wrote for the newsletter that never had room:

I go to Wally World for several reasons:
            I like to see fat, poorly dressed women beat their children.
            Seeing hundreds of rude, really out of shape people makes me feel better about myself. (At least I'm polite.)
            I like to walk through the automotive department and look at cheap crap.
            I've seen more cleavage there than at any Rick's Cabaret. Unfortunately it's always on women who weigh north of 300 lb. -- or men who really shouldn't go out in their undershirts.
            I really want to know TomKat's secret shame--whoever the heck that is.
            I enjoy the fact that at the nearby "Super Center" pet food is in another zip code from people food. I don't have to do my 5 mile walk on the days I go to Wal-Mart.
            I enjoy watching fights to the death over a parking place.
            I love getting wide open lanes to shop in if I wear my "Border Patrol" cap.
            I get a kick out of standing in the only checkout line open with my 3 items while the 22 people in front of me with 2 shopping baskets each check out. And that's the express lane.

Also went to Lowe's and had them cut 2 two by eights into 24" long pieces for leveling blocks for less than ideal terrain.

I've been overwhelmed by emails from friends and customers congratulating me on my retirement and telling me they'll miss the newsletter. Here's one of the most memorable:

We'll miss you, the newsletter, and especially your stories about your pets.
Wish you and your family well and maybe we'll see you on the road.

Safe travels,
Teresa & Robert Williams
Lake Jackson, TX
P. S. We lost one of our precious babies this year - the best little dog there ever was.


                                            1999 - 2007
                              Waiting to greet us in heaven

I'm very surprised and overwhelmed by all the emails. Thanks, guys.

Adventures in Motor Homes, Pt 2

Where we're parked are 2 thirty amp sockets. We have 50 amp plugs, of course. I have one 50-30 adapter and plugged the bus in. This left the trailer without power on a 95° humid day. When we went to Wal-Mart we looked for another. Nope. 50 amps does not exist at the Palestine Wal-Mart.

I figured we'd use the generator for the bus and plug in the trailer. Wrong. We're parked 3 feet too far away. I have a 30 amp to 15 amp adapter. So we started the generator and plugged the trailer in to the external plug on the bus. This was fine until I stupidly turned on the air compressor. Wrong. Popped the 35 amp breaker on the generator. Took us a while to find it. After that we could run one AC in the bus and the one in the trailer, so I got some work done. Then Jericho Walls came by and invited us to Lafitte's, a very casual fish place on the way to Palestine. 10 SASS people at one table. The waitress took it well, though, remaining cheerful and working her ass off. I tipped $10 on a $36 bill, keeping my resolution from a few years back to over tip.

Thought for the day, from a call in radio program found while scanning for Limbaugh:

If you meet two assholes in one day, you're the third one.


Day One
June 7, 2007

Pete, Sandy, Sparkle, George, and The RedheadXXXXXXXXXXX neighbors at West Houston RV Park, Sandy, Pete, and Sparkle, with George and The Redhead . Making friends is easy in an RV Park. Pete and Sandy are selling their home in Katy. Then they'll be traveling full time.

Well, actually day one was June 6, 2007, when I emptied most of the contents of my desk into a 55 gallon drum, and brought home a few books, some photo paper and labels, and my office computer (accidentally leaving the cables needed to make the printer work).  I also brought home the “National Product Champion” plaque, from 1991.  Since they dropped the contest after that, I’m still the reigning champion.  I brought home a “Platinum Award Winner” for 2003 sales.  They dropped that program after that. No doubt I'll keep them in the basement until I'm in a cleaning and organizing mood (which you better be often in an RV). Then I'll throw them away.

One of the beauties of leaving at noon is that everyone you haven’t already said goodbye is at lunch.

Someone asked me about the Gold Submariner presented for 26 years of service to the company. I laughed for ten minutes. I did get a handshake and a thank you from the owner. It should be noted that when Roz, the office manager, asked about a going away party, I suggested she have it Friday, because I would be guaranteed to be gone then. Those things are awkward at best.

But today we put the ML320 in the garage, unhooked everything, put the slide-outs in, raised the jacks, and did all the other things in the checklist and left West Houston RV Park for The First Day of The Rest of Our Lives.

The Redhead had the Eureka moment she was expecting to happen somewhere along the way, the moment when she would think, "This is so cool," or, "What the hell have I done"?!"

Fortunately it was, "This is so cool."

We stopped at a nearby Flying J and weighed the bus.  Unfortunately I didn’t look at the weight slip until too late.  The scale weighed it like a 18 wheeler, weighing the front axle as one number, the “steering axle”, and putting the rear axle and the trailer into one number.  The total, 43,200 lb. (!) was the only usable number.  We had set the bus’s tires at the pressure from the manual appropriate if you haven’t weighed your bus, and thus applicable to max gross weight, so we were okay, just need to weigh it again when we can.

We had mounted a Pressure Pro Tire Monitoring system last weekend.  It worked fine on the bus’s tires, but it was inconsistent about reading the trailer.  There are optional parts to help that.  Sounds like we need one or another.

Other than sluggishness climbing hills, the bus didn't notice the 9,000+ lb. trailer behind. Methinks I'll want to learn more about gearing down the Allison 6 speed before climbing Raton Pass (probably in July, en route to a match in Colorado).

Getting from I10 to I610 was a lot of fun through the construction and incredibly bumpy section at the exit.  But the trip was pretty uneventful.  The freeway doesn’t go through Huntsville anymore, and wherever the truck stops were there, they’re not on the new section.  Then the next Rest Stop was closed, so I didn’t get to stop and make sure everything was still attached and such until we’d gone over 100 miles.  The trailer wheels were supposed to be checked at 50 miles.  They’re still there.

We were going to the range that’s the home of the Oakwood Outlaws, a club started by Texas Alline and Justa Hand, who own the property and built a fantastic facility with the help of their friends. It's home to the Texas State Championship and the Regional Black Powder Championship, both great SASS matches. I missed the State Championship this year since it was a few days after the prostate cancer surgery.

Then the fun started.  The entrance is marked by a small sign designed to be inconspicuous.  So we were going down the shoulder looking for it.  I pulled out to turn wide, but not wide enough, and we could see that the trailer was about to hit a post on the edge of the trail.  A call to Alline brought the cavalry.  We disconnected the trailer from the bus and hooked it to a Denali to pull it away from the post.  Didn’t work.  It was about to scrape.  Justa Hand went and got his tractor and pulled the post away with a chain long enough for the trailer to get through.

Alline mentioned something about giving new nicknames to people who did stupid things there. They're up to Dumbass 22. I'm sure they'll have something more creative for me.

When we parked the bus we had to move it twice because the slope exceeded the capabilities of the leveling jacks.  We have 8 leveling blocks, but 5 were used to raise the trailer ball.  The Denali was a bunch lower than the hitch on the bus.  5 blocks were the most we could get under the jack while the trailer was hitched to the Denali, but it was impossible to raise the trailer high enough to attach it to the bus.  Justa Hand’s bottle jack will be needed.  We decided about 8 2x10s cut to length would be useful.  Then when the other blocks are tied up, we could use them to spread the load on the bus’s leveling jacks when we park on ground that might be soft when wet.  Additionally if the ground is unlevel, maybe 8 2” thick blocks used judiciously can make the space useable.

They have only 30 amp power, so only one air conditioner at a time. They do have 2 plugs, so I'll need to get a second 50-30 adapter so I can reload in the trailer, plugging it in to the second plug. Wal-Mart, Palestine, probably tomorrow.

Don’t expect this much every day.