Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Gabby Bot

Elk’s Lodge #2456, Monte Vista, CO, June 13, 2018

Remember the movie "Alien", you know the one where the creature explodes out of the chest of actor John Hurt scaring the living daylights out of everybody? Well we had our own version of that scenario yesterday.

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For the last week we have been treating what we thought was a cyst on the side of Gabby's (our younger cat) chest. Twice a day we would clean it with warm water, then apply peroxide and an antiseptic ointment. But after a week of treatment, the "cyst" was not going away. And there was a small opening, smaller than the head of a straight pin, that would not close. You would think that eventually that little hole would close up as part of the healing process. Plus we thought we could see movement through that little hole, but we thought it was her breathing causing that .

After a week with no improvement, we decide that it's time to seek the help of an expert. Of course we are in a campground in the Rio Grande National Forest and the nearest vet is over 30 miles away. EJ goes to the Web looking for reviews of the few veterinarians nearest to us. We found one in Monte Vista, Colorado that had the best reviews and she called and made Gabby an appointment, at 8:45 the next morning.

Not wanting to subject Gabby to a 30 or 45 minute car ride as she gets very vocal expressing her displeasure of that method of convayance, we decide to leave our idylic spot in the woods and move the RV to Monte Vista(she has no problems with traveling in the RV).

Unhappy Gabby

Only problem is, there are no campgrounds in Monte Vista. But there is an Elks Lodge right downtown. So I call the lodge. No answer. But I leave a message, telling of our plight, and hoping it is OK to spend a few nights in their parking lot while we get Gabby tended to.

We move over to the Monte Vista Elks Lodge and get set up. No hookups, so we are on our own. Pretty soon this fella wearing a tie wanders over. We think "Uh-ho, the moment of truth"! Turns out this lawyer, bar tender, head of the local Elks Lodge (his name is Ben Gibbons) wanted to see if we were OK and welcomed us to stay as long we needed.

Monte Vista Elks

The morning of the appointment everything is going great. Gabby is being her normal rambunctious self tearing around the RV. Then a garbage truck shows up next door and makes a great deal of noise clanging and banging a dumpster to show the neighborhood how deligent he is ensuring the dumpster is truly empty. Gabby panics at the noise and disappears up under the RV's dashboard which is a mass of wires and cables totally inaccessable by humans. By this time it is about 20 minutes before we have to leave to make the vet appointment on time. Cajoling and threatening have no effect in convincing Gabby to emerge from her cave. Finally we put some dry food in her bowl and shake it to make sure she hear the delicious morsels rattling around in her dish.

It works! She squirms out of her sanctuary and we let her have a few bites as a reward before whisking her off to the vet in the car, listening to her caterwauling the whole way. Fortunately it was less than a 10 minute drive.

At the vets, they take us right in. We explain what we think the problem is and a veterinary assistant shows us to one of the patient rooms.

Gabby at the Monte Vista Vet

He examines what we think is a cyst and proceeds to shave the area around the site.

Bot Hole

He squeezes the "cyst" and nothing happens. He puts some vaseline over the hole in the "cyst" and almost immediately this "thing" begins to poke out of the "cyst". Using a pair of forceps he tries to grab this "thing". Finally he decides that he needs to get the veterinarian involved.

She puts a really big glob of vaseline on the "cyst" and the "thing" starts getting more active. She too, tries to grab it using forceps. Pretty soon we're seeing some blood and vaseline every where. But, the "thing" is evading capture. Next she places her fingers on either side of the "cyst" and squeezes it like a giant pimple. (We had to borrow this picture, because we forgot to take one)

Squeezing the pimple

What happened next must have resulted in expressions of incredulity and revulsion on EJ's and my faces. This "worm" squirts out of the "cyst" and lands in Gabby's fur.

Gabby Bot

As it turns out, this happens to animals and humans fairly often. What popped out of Gabby was the larvae of a Bot Fly. It lays an egg and attaches it to another insect such as a mosquito which then bites an animal or human and deposits the egg. The egg turns into a larvae which thrives just beneath the skin using the hole created by the bite to breathe trough. That's why when you seal the hole with vaseline the larvae gets agitated and tries to reopen the hole.

Gabby is fine now. There is no disease or permanent damage associated with this unfortunate incident. Only the temporary indignity of patch of skin devoid of any fur.

Indignity

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Heating Up in San Angelo

San Angelo & Colorado City, TX 4-18 to 5-10-2018

San Angelo and Colorado City

We arrived back in San Angelo after a peaceful week at Ft. Davis. It was really special seeing all the wildlife and the observatory.

Dad was waiting for us when we got back and this time there was no one blocking the power pole where we park. We used our combiner and plugged into 2-30 amp receptacles and then hooked our 50 amp cord to that. It’s just an electric hookup (No water or sewer) but we can last close to 2 weeks here without having to dump the tanks. We use the facilities in Dad’s apartment to minimize the usage of our tanks.

Dad had a few more projects he wanted help with. For instance he was not happy with the screen on his desktop computer, so we found a 32 inch LCD tv with an HDMI connection that allowed us to directly connect to his PC. This worked perfect. Larger screen means larger print which makes it easier for him to read.

Dad has always been ahead of us technologically speaking. He had a smart phone before we did, he has an Amazon Echo and we don’t, and now he has hearing aids that answer when his phone rings. Hopefully it will be a while before we catch up to that last one.

But the point is, that he was having trouble with the volume when using the smart phone. Well we drug out the manual and went through step by step with no success. We finally gave up and went to the hearing specialist shop and within 10 minutes it was fixed, but we don’t klnow how. Well, at least he knows where to go now to get it fixed.

It was also time for Sunny (the Explorer) to get an oil change. Well the local San Angelo Ford is close by, but in his commercials he drones on and on about how great he is. Since he was the only dealer within 30 miles we thought this was curious since you are the only  Ford dealer in the area why do you have to tell everyone you’re the best Ford dealer?

This San Angelo Car Dealership Wins Coveted and ...

So we decided to go to that dealer that was 30 miles away in Robert Lee, Tx. It was a small dealer and we figured he had to work harder to keep his customers happy. After all, the “BIG” Ford dealer was only 30 miles away.

Ivey Motors - Begär offert - Bilhandlare - 724 Austin St ...

While Ivey Motors changed the oil in Sunny, we took a walk around town. Pretty deserted wouldn’t you say?

Robert Lee downtownEJ loves flowers and we found this patch in a small city park in Robert Lee.

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Back to Ivey Motors, we found Sunny almost ready to go, but first we had to receive the bad news. One of the rear shocks was leaking oil and should be replaced. I asked for a price to replace both rear shocks and got shocked (pun intended). We negotiated back a forth a bit and agreed on a lower price. Of course this meant another trip back to Robert Lee as the parts were not in stock.

This time Dad returned to Ivy Motors with me and we made a morning outing of it. Both shocks were replaced and the price ended up being lower than the agreed price. And Dad and I ended up back at Rio Concho in time for lunch.

Pretty soon another week had gone by and EJ and I decided it was time to take off for another short trip. This time we had Colorado City, TX in our sights. It’s an out of the way place and it gave us another chance to use our Texas State Park Pass.

Best of all, it wasn’t very crowded and because it was slowly getting warmer day by day which meant the 50 amp connection at the state park was greatly appreciated.

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And we always like having a water front site, so we reserved a “Premium Site”. We keep forgetting that west Texas lakes are in pretty sad shape.

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Yep, lots of vegetation and real estate between us and the waters edge.

We ended up going to Snyder, TX to stock up at Walmart. In downtown Snyder we stopped at a Pub that had just opened up for dinner.

Back at the Phaeton we discovered a worn out Gabby.

Worn out kitty

Abilene had a brewery that had been recommended to us by the Casual Pint in San Angelo. Naturally, since we were now only 70 miles away this just shouted “Road Trip!”.

So we hopped in the Explorer and headed to Abilene. We don’t normally like going to big cities on the weekend, but the brewery we were visiting is only open on Saturadays. First our journey takes us on a side track through Sweetwater, TX which on this particular day is pretty dead.

Sweetwater, TX

Our first stop in Abilene was the “Frontier Museum” where we saw buffalo dancing in the sky and a giant skull.

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Next stop was Pappy Slokum’s Brwerey. We had been told that this was one of the better breweries in this part of Texas so we were eager to try their offerings.

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Unfortunately, their beers were just so-so. Nothing really outstanding as they were rather bland. But using our phones we discovered there was another brewery mere blocks away.

Sockdolager 2

It wasn’t nearly as crowded as Pappy Slockum’s and the brews were much better. I enjoyed a stout and a porter while EJ had the blonde ale.

Plus there was lot’s of room to sit outside and there was even a food truck for the hungry drinkers.

Sockdolager 1

We don’t care to drive in the dark anymore so before long it was time to head back to the rig. The kitties were very glad to see us even though they were complaining that they were treated cruely and were near starving. But a few spoonfuls of canned food took care of that.

While we were at Colorado City Lake State Park there were some chores that needed down. EJ created created this delicate piece of art that whirled freely in the wind.

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For the readers that are going “Whaaat?” at the artwork, those are the filters in the return air vents for the Phaeton’s air conditioning.

And wildlife was limited, but these little fellows entertained us frequently.

Prarie dog 1

And this one even took a liking to our covered patio. Chilling during the heat of the day.

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A week has gone by already and its time to head back to San Angelo to see how Dad is doing.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pogo Stick Express To Texas

Rio Concho Towers, San Angelo, TX – March 19, 2018

Tupelo to San Angelo 2018

Our last post left off with us bouncing down the road on our way to Texas. It was so bad with the new Motion Control Units (MCUs) that we were begining to doubt if the Phaeton was the motorhome we wanted to continue traveling in. EJ was emphatic when she said “No way I’m going to Alaska in this motorhome”.

We were so disappointed because when we installed MCUs on our previous motorhome the improvement in ride was amazing. On the Phaeton I was convinced I had made a huge mistake.

What are MCUs you ask? They are air flow restrictors that are placed in the air line between the air tank and the air bag suspension on all 4 corners of the motorhome. Their purpose is to reduce side to side rocking motion caused by things like semi trucks passing you and going over driveway dips at an angle. This is sometimes called the “Walmart Wobble”.

Super Steer MCU

When you cross over a driveway dip at an angle the motorhome leans to one side then violently leans in the opposite direction. This has been know to cause cabinet doors to fly open spewing contents all over the floor. This generally results in a very unhappy co-pilot/navigator.

When we had the MCUs installed on the Itasca, it totally eliminated the side to side rocking motion. In no way did it affect any other aspect of suspension reaction.

On the Phaeton,while it did suppress the “Walmart Wobble” it also violently accentuated every dip in the road. Riding in the Phaeton was now like bouncing on a Pogo Stick!

pogo.stick.10

However, Dad was expecting us in San Angelo, so we pressed on.

Due to lot’s of rain in the area quite a few of the low lying areas were flooded.

Mississippi Flooding

Mississippi Flooding (2)

As faithful readers know, we really try to avoid interstates and enjoy cruising the back roads of America. This leg was no different. We overnighted at the Walmart in Tupelo, MS; Harlow’s Casino in Greenville, MS; the RV corral in Queen City, TX; Walmart in Mexia, TX; Faunt Le Roy in Gatesville, TX and finally the Rio Conch Manor parking lot in San Angelo, TX.

We had intended to stay at a Corp of Engineer’s Park near Queen City, but it was closed due to flooding. And in Mexia we raced to the Walmart barely outrunning a severe thunderstorm. So along with the bouncing the trip was not without it’s excitement.

And in Gatesville at Faunt Le Roy Park our campsite had neighbors right across the fence. But at $20 a night for full hook ups who’s to complain?

Faunt Le Roy Park

The next day, before we begin to make preparations to leave for San Angelo, Gabby greets the early morning.

Early morning Gabby

See you in San Angelo, where we continue the MCU story.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Second Highest Place in Texas

Ft. Davis State Park, TX and other places April 4 to 19, 2018

San Angelo to Ft. Davis

The Pogo Stick effect had been bugging me ever since we departed Red Bay, AL. I had talked to the manufacturer and to the designer and both agreed that even though our Super Steer MCU’s for the front air bags were correctly sized for the weight of our Phaeton, maybe switching to the lighter weight version would be better. But since we could never coordinate with Chris at Bay Diesel to swap us for the lighter pair we decided the best thing was to just remove them. In fairness, we had a hard time getting ahold of Chris. We tried phone calls, messages and even emails. Eventually we communicated and he did not have in stock what we needed.

San Angelo, fortunately, has a Freightliner shop. We made an appointment with them which determined our departure date from Dad’s.

Image result for freightliner san angelo

So bright and early on April 4th we rolled the Phaeton over to their lot not knowing exactly what the fix would be. Luckily, they were able to simply remove the MCU’s from the airlines and replace them with a splice designed for just that purpose.

By noon we were done and drove over to the San Angelo State Park, about 5 miles away. And the best part? The Pogo Stick Effect was gone!! Woohoo!!

Image result for san angelo state park

We picked a water front site, well sort of. The lake (reservoir) is at about 15 % capacity, so waterfront entails a whole lot of dry land and scrub brush between you and the actual water.

San Angelo State Park our site

Gabby adapted right away, becoming a prowler in the high grass.

Gabby in the high grass

Miss Maggie, her regal highness, was content to bask in the sunshine.

Maggie Sunshine

Including getting the Pogo Stick Effect fixed, we needed a few days to resupply and take care of some chores.

Our ultimate goal was to check out Ft. Davis State Park and enjoy some more cool weather. We got lucky and scored a week long reservation.

We had a couple of days to to make a one day trip so we opted once again to avoid the interstates as much as possible and come into Ft. Davis from the south. This meant we got to spend a night at Walmart in Ft. Stockton. We had to drive a few miles on on I-10 but our reward was to see this.

Ft Stockton arrival

The next night we decided to try our luck at seeing the Marfa Lights for the third time.

Marfa Lights

Yep, that’s pretty much all we saw. At the Marfa Lights park there was quite a crowd of people, probably about 40 in all. After a couple of hours we cursed our luck and went back to the Phaeton to go to bed. About 10 RVs and half a dozen car campers spent the night in the parking lot.

The last time we were in Ft. Davis we still had Roadie, a 19 foot Roadtrek. I was such a newbie then when we made reservations I asked if you could see the mountains from the campground.

Here is Roadie 12 years ago.

Roadie 1

And yep, you can definitely see the mountains from the campground.

Davis Mountains

One of the benefits of camping in remote state parks is the abundance of wildlife. Not only did we have rabbits and deer wandering by our campsite, there were lots of opportunities to bird watch.

Brer RabbitDeer at Ft Davis SPHummerIMG_1348Pretty bird1Pretty bird2Pretty bird3Quail

We had an anniversary while we were here too. We celebrated the 1 year mark of Frank’s hip replacement.

One Yr hip celebration

Couldn’t do that a year ago!

Last time we were here we didn’t have time to make the MacDocnald Observatory trip. But this time we did it.

The road to the Observatory.

Ft DAvis Mountain Roads

A few of structures at MacDonald’s.

MacDonald Observatory

EJ and  one of the observatories.

EJ Observatory

The telescope inside the observatory.

Inner workings of observatory.

Our guide. A millenial if we ever saw one. He definitely had the look, but as a young man he developed a love of astronomy. While he goes to college he guides up here in the summer. We threw all kids of questions at him, but never managed to stump him. Sorry for the bright picture but the sun was intense.

MacDonald Guide

We purposely chose the hottest day during our stay at Ft. Davis State Park to do a day trip to Balmorhea, TX. Now Balmorhea is just a dried up little Texas town with not much to show except for a filling station and a couple of bars. But what makes it unique is that just outside of town is the San Soloman Spring.

In the 1930’s the Civilian Conservation Corp built this enclosure to confine a natural lake fed by the springs. The water temperature runs between 72 and 76 degrees. And with the surrounding humidty at about 15 to 20 percent it’s mighty cold when you get out of the pool as all the moisture immediately evaporates off your skin.

The pool is home to thoushands of Rio Grande Tetras

which like to nibble on the dead skin on you feet and hands. At first it’s rather startling but you get used to it after a while.

San Saloman Springs

The spring boils up in the deep part of the pool supplying about 28,000,000 gallons of water to the pool everyday.

San Saloman Springs2

This seemed so incongrous to us, all this water in the middle of the Texas desert. But it was certainly refreshing.

Again, as happens in so many wonderous places we visit, we feel a little sad as our time here draws to an end. EJ prepares a fantastic dinner in the Phaeton prior to our departure tomorrow.

What's for Dinner We’ll see you next back in San Angelo.