2018 Travel Season Wrap-Up

Can you tell it’s cool and rainy here today?

I normally do an end of season post on where we stayed and how things shook out. I do this mostly so we can remember ourselves. This year we hit the ground running to prepare to move into our little house.  How hard can it be to move from one small place to another? Especially when they are right next door? Ha!

Anyway, we are in a pretty good spot with that, so that we don’t have to work and organize every minute anymore. Still stuff to do of course.

We knew this would be a shortened season because we had to be back in Texas by mid October instead of mid November. The season also got shortened when we sat in Minnesota for over two weeks trying to find Astrid.

This year we went north and west, first to Missouri and Kansas, then on to Colorado, Utah, Montana and beyond. We traveled to 15 states, some twice.

A fairground in Osceola, Iowa
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Elks Park in Jamestown, North Dakota

We try to avoid RV parks and prefer Elks Lodges, Corps of Engineer campsites and county fairgrounds as well as city parks.
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We only stayed at one city park this year but it was right in the town of Pine River, Minnesota along the bike trail. And $5 a night.

Elks Lodge in Grandview, Missouri:
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We only rode eight bike trails this year. This was the summer of the two cats

This year we moved 43 times. Last year was 55.

Elks Lodges/Parks: 17
Friends: 2
Corps of Engineers: 5
Walmart: 5
RV Parks: 4
Fairgrounds: 6
State Parks: 3
City Parks: 1
BLM Land: 1
Diesel Shop: 1

One smart thing we did was get the bus washed at a truck wash before we parked it here in Texas. When we wash it ourselves it takes a whole day and we are exhausted at the end of it.
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Best $45 we ever spent!

Radio Silence Ending…

Where did we leave off? Oh yeah…

We got to our winter destination in the Rio Grande Valley on October 12 and closed on our new little house on October 17. We have been really busy ever since then. It’s a good thing it’s a very small house and the bus is parked right next door for now.
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In February, before the floods.

Before we arrived it started raining again and our little 5 x 8 foot trailer was parked in front of the house. There had been flooding and it looked like it would flood some more. Jim was concerned that the trailer could be flooded from the bottom so we called Doc and asked it he could move it to higher ground. Doc and Jare the ones who dragged it to Texas for us. Turned out it was so flooded he couldn’t get to it with his truck! What to do?

Doc gathered up help in the form of Richie and Ed and they emptied the entire contents of the trailer into the house. In the pouring rain with the water over their rain boots. In the dark. What a great bunch of guys! When we finally got around to unpacking, everything was A-OK and intact with absolutely NO water damage. Talk about gratitude!

We decided right then that that group would be our first dinner party. Entertaining is one of the reasons we got the house in the first place. And now we have space, furniture and dishes we need. We have had two so far, including Thanksgiving, my favorite.
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We planned on leaving a lot of stuff in the bus but needed some of the essentials; clothes, pots and pans, computers, cameras, quite a few things actually. So we spent a lot of time schlepping stuff back and forth.

We wanted to do some work on the house and the garden needed lots of attention after the floods wiped out a bunch of stuff. We have our new (to us) little car and the timing couldn’t have been better with that so we started going shopping. For paint, furniture, supplies and garden tools. We ordered a new toaster oven and coffeepot and I bought a food processor. We did move over our cookware from the bus. Jim wanted to get all new stuff, but I figured if it made the cut from our house in Kansas to the bus, it was worthwhile and besides, we both hate shopping. We ordered everything online that we could and blitzkrieg shopped for the rest.

One of the first (and biggest) projects was to raise up the washer and dryer and make room for the kitty litter box below. They have a great setup in the bus where they just push through a cat door into the box under the pantry. The clearance was going to be lower than what they have in the bus too. Some cat people friends were skeptical….

Again, Doc to the rescue. He loaned Jim his Skilsaw and helped with the heavy lifting and delicate balance of the removal and replacement. Jim was practically doing yoga in the box space to get all the electrical, venting and gas readjusted. When he first looked at it, he saw it was all crimped up and askew with no way to reach up into the cabinet. Then someone suggested that he cut an access panel in the closet wall into the washer closet. Brilliant! That’s what he did and he got it all smoothed out and working. And I am happy to report that the cats are using their box just fine.

The day we went furniture shopping, it was like a military mission. We made a list of all the stores, figured out a route and went for it. I think we hit twelve stores that day and found what worked at about the third one. We actually just looked in books at DGM, where we bought it and it was delivered before Thanksgiving. We scoped out and measured everything and decided on two love seat recliners.
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One came first and when we got it in the house we discovered that a second would not fit where we planned. We thought about different arrangements and finally decided to just keep the one and bring our dining chairs over from the bus. The large screened in porch has lots of chairs that can be brought inside. So far, so good.

We painted the whole inside of the house. Well, Jim did. I’m a pretty messy painter. While Jim did the painting, I tackled the garden. The ground was very wet (still is) and things I wanted to pull out came easily. I made several very large brush piles that the owner of the park had hauled away. That is a big help. I got everything cleared out and the trees trimmed up before I planted anything.

We also have resident chickens! A group of six chickens visits daily and they chicken scratch everything. I also discovered that they snip of emerging plants so all the upcoming stuff now has wire cages around to keep the chickens at bay. Carmella is very curious about the chickens and tried to rush them once. What a squawk that was! They are bigger than she is and they have those claws…

At the end of each day we would examine each other’s progress before collapsing. It’s a lot of work even with the bus next door.  Good thing it’s not any bigger.

A month after we closed, we slept in the house for the first time. Carmella had been going back and forth from the bus to the house but I had to carry Astrid over and deposit her in the house. She quickly found a secure hiding place under the bed drawers which we now call Astrid’s Apartment. She is getting more acclimated and goes into the garden daily. The chickens chase her back onto the porch but Carmella hunkers down and watches them carefully. No eggs yet.

Oh. Another result of the flooding… We bit the bullet and put in a split air conditioning system. The old system had duct work under the house which got flooded twice this summer and the previous owners had to replace it. We worked out a deal on the second flood and went for the split which has no duct work on the ground. The only problem: it was going to take up a whole closet inside. And we only have the one besides cabinets and the bedroom. Again, cutting through the wall and adding an access panel in the bathroom saved most of the hall closet.


And the outside unit is raised up to avoid any future flooding. Adolpho and Sonny got it done in two days and it works great. When we told them that a tattoo artist painted our bus, Adolpho showed us his tattoos.

Random scenes from around the house:

We still have several projects to complete and there are plenty of unhung pictures and loose ends to be tied up. Come on over anyway! It’s starting to feel like home. We are also making time for music on the porch, happy hours, lap swimming, visiting and just enjoying life. We are grateful.

And one of the high points of the year? Getting Astrid back.
She says Merry Christmas.
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Digital Paintings

I have been fooling around with iPad art for a while now. Ever since I’ve had one, actually. When I had to replace my old iPad a few months ago I got the Apple Pencil to draw and sketch with. I have two other styluses, a Paper 53 Pencil and a Wacom Stylus. Both of them have squishy tips that don’t work real well for line drawings or watercolor. I have been getting used to the Apple Pencil and experimenting with it.

I offered people in a group I’m in on Facebook digital paintings and have completed a few for them. I told the first girl when she asked my hourly rate that it was “Free. I don’t work for money anymore.” She had me do this one for their next door neighbors who are moving.
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When I posted that, a few more people wanted one too. I usually do a few different versions so they can choose the one they like.
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This person is moving from this house. She liked the first one, I like the second.
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This lady’s pet died last year and she wanted something to commemorate him. I have had fun completing these paintings and thought I would show some more here.

The Apple Pencil was perfect for the fire hydrant.

Pets are a favorite.
KERRI-1And a few from past years…

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And one from today in Lockhart, Texas. Guess where we are parked!

Every single time we have been to this part of Texas it has alternated between pouring down rain and sunshine. This time is no exception. We came here for the barbecue and ended up staying an extra day so Jim could replace his failing iPad. I already had to replace mine in Kansas City this year. We are as close to an Apple Store as we will be for many months before we get to the Rio Grande Valley.

Need/want a digital painting? They make great gifts. Hit me up.

More Friends… More Texas

Once we left the Okies in Oklahoma we weren’t in any big hurry to get back to our winter park because they are experiencing heavy flooding. Great.

We decided to head for Lake Mineral Wells where there is a bike trail we have ridden before and we have friends in Weatherford. Time for some sightseeing and visiting.

Viv and Gary were some of the first people we met in our south Texas park when we first went there. It was time to catch up. We settled into our spot at Lake Mineral Wells State Park where they have really nice big sites right on the lake with very few people there. Kitty country.

Our first full day we headed to Viv and Gary’s place where they landed after downsizing from their place in Possum Kingdom. Really.

We settled on a plan to have lunch then go to Fort Worth for some touring around. We had been to the stockyards many years ago. Viv likes to shop but we can’t really buy much being in the bus and all. We did decide to hit some thrift stores next time, both of our favorites.

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We ate at Carshorn’s a real Jewish deli in the heart of Fort Worth near the TCU campus. Had to fortify ourselves before we hit the two main art museums in the Cultural District. Fort Worth has everything grouped together, the Hospital District, Cultural District… As it turned out it was Free Friday at both of them!

The first one, the Modern Art Museum is mostly modern art. Duh. Even though parts of it were undergoing renovation they still have an impressive collection. Touring both, I felt transported back to my art history days in college with so many artists I recognized from my studies. Picasso, Mondrian, Pisarro, Corbet, Pollock, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Pouissin, Manet, Monet, Edvard Munch, Liechtenstein, Bracque, Joan Miro, Paul Klee; the list goes on.

There was the normal mix of older stuff too. So many museums have so much of this stuff. Some pieces date back to 25 AD.

The Kimbells…

After the art fix, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and a drive through some of other districts, we were thirsty! Gary steered us to Eddie V’s nearby and we had happy hour.
Of course we did…
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Then of course it was time to eat again. We enjoyed dinner at a steakhouse near Weatherford. We always treasure our one-on-one or two-on-two visits when we meet up with friends while we travel. It’s the best way to get to know people better and we look forward to these times.
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Aw….

Gary was volunteering at a 5K the next day and Viv was flea marketing, so we rode the Lake Mineral Wells Trailway for the third or fourth time. It is a fairly well maintained small gravel trail. A few rough sections but they didn’t last long.  Along the trail. Gorgeous day to ride. And nice to be back on the bikes.

When we got back to the bus deer roamed by our campsite and the cats wandered about. We were right on the water so they had their own private dock in the form of a pallet raised above the water. And they’re getting really good about sticking around the bus or under it. They are senior citizen cats, after all.

We decided to stay a couple of extra nights so we could watch the Chiefs play on Monday Night Football. We lucked out by getting satellite positioning on our shady site.

There had been a bunch of Boy Scouts tent camping on Saturday night. We had a fire ring and a ton of nearby kindling and a couple logs. Jim went into his scour-the-campground mode and got quite an unused stash from the Boy Scout leavings. So we built a fire which we forgot to light that night so it was Monday night or never.

We made the fire and burned up all the wood. We watched the Chiefs eke out a close one. We ate homemade hamburgers on ciabatta rolls with tomato and avocado. We got to ride our bikes. We shared a day with friends, art, good food and drink.We are healthy. We are high and dry with our kitties safe and well.  We are BIG BIG lucky.

We are delaying our arrival in the RGV till things dry out down south and flooding gets under control. Apprehensive about the whole situation but, ever optimistic, we remind ourselves constantly how much we have to be grateful for.

Friends are right at the top of the list.

Dos Okies Otra Vez…

After three thankfully uneventful days of travel, we pulled into the fairgrounds in Norman to catch up with Bill and Janelle, Dos Okies. We always stop on our way south, a little earlier this year. As usual, we had a fine time. Taylor has grown and is a very smart and exuberant dog. He loves treats though so he’s pretty easy to win over.

We were lucky to be in Norman during Bill’s regular music group and Jim sat in. They meet every week and play and sing together. It was nice to experience it after hearing about it for years. A fine tradition.

The rain has been following us and one day it rained hard all day and night. Glad we were parked on pavement, snug and dry and plugged in. As Jim says, in our little spaceship.

The rest of the time we ate and drank and watched OU beat Army in overtime while chowing down on Janelle’s sister Fran’s delicious lasagna. We actually extended our stay to partake in that.  And it was well worth it. They live about four blocks from the OU stadium and we could see the parachute guys drop into the stadium from their front porch. Sometimes they have a flyover. We ate sushi one night and Janelle cooked beef stew one night and grilled salmon and sausage another. Her table always a delight.

Salmon serving dish made by Janelle when they lived in Alaska. It has served many a salmon. We so enjoyed falling back into conversation with good friends. We also got to see Carol and John but we were too busy talking to take a pic of all of us. Such gracious and easy hospitality that comes naturally. A treasure indeed. Before we knew it our time together had flown by. Time to start heading south where our winter park flooded for the second time since June!

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Jim found a Corps of Engineers Lake in Waurika, Oklahoma, a short travel day. We have a large site but it has been raining so much the grass is like two feet tall! They mowed our site though and we extended our stay because it’s a quiet spot right on the lake. Kitties like it too.
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An iPad drawing of Taylor and the fire hydrant across the street from Bill and Janelle’s. I’ve been doing alot of iPad art with all the rain lately.

And now it’s raining again. Of course it is…

Columbia and Beyond

Once we got the bus squared away in Odessa, we proceeded to Hartsburg, one of our favorite places to park. Marni and Eric live right on the Katy Trail and we needed to get some downtime and biking in. And visiting with friends. And music and art. This is a great place for all of those things.

As it happened the Missouri River Relief Eco Art Fest was going on with music and art at Cooper’s Landing on the river. Eric was scheduled to play Saturday night and the pouring rain stopped and it cleared up enough so we could hear his awesome set. Cooper’s music policy is that musicians only play their own original music, no covers. It really makes for an enjoyable experience. Eric’s set with Rob Lampe was original and exciting as usual.

Click here to see some video.

Since we got stuck in their lower parking area last time we were here we backed into their driveway this time to avoid ruts. Of course we brought the rain with us after they had been in a drought for months. Want it to rain? Call us!

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We cause ruts every time we’re here! These smoothed out when it dried up.

The next day we went back to Eco Fest and I met up with an old friend I hadn’t seen for about 25 years, Alyce. At least. She was celebrating her birthday and we all ate cake! None of us have changed a bit! Ha!

Astrid and Carmella love it here and they explored the garden, climbed trees and ran around like crazy kitties. Which they are.

We ate from the garden, rode bikes and started to get our lives back after the whole Astrid Affair. Their place is always a welcome relief from the road and we really did get to relax by the river.

We met up with our friends Joe and Kathy a couple of times and had dinner with them. Jim and Joe have been friends forever and we always enjoy catching up with them. Just fall back into conversation with old friends. Joe was Jim’s Best man at our wedding and a few years later I got to photograph theirs.
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Another blast from the path, Chuck. We go way back. See the castor beans? I haz seeds!

Some of his art. When I asked him if OK to put on the blog, he texted “Finally my ART will be given to a grieving nation so the healing can begin…blah blah blah.”

On Sunday we packed it up and headed for the Elks Lodge in Springfield along the Dead Animal and Blown Tire Memorial Highway. Thankfully, we had an uneventful trip in both the bus and the car and arrived without incident. It continues to be very hot here so the Elks 30 amp was welcome.

We are working our way back to Texas but the park has been flooded since heavy rain and other factors. Sigh. More on that later. We want things to be dried out when we get there and it’s looking better now.

A night at the Elks in Tulsa and on to Norman, Oklahoma to visit Janelle and Bill, Dos Okies. We always have fun with them. Food, wine, good conversation; what’s not to like?

Third Vet Is The Charm

Today is a month since we got Astrid back.

The past month and a half has been a roller coaster of high hopes, emotional letdowns and very slow healing for Astrid.  Once we got to Kansas City, Jim called a friend of his from high school who is a veterinarian here and Jim told him the whole long story on the phone. Her eating was erratic; it got to the point where she wouldn’t even eat shrimp! That’s serious. She acted like her mouth was very tender and sensitive and of course she wouldn’t let us look at it. The chin abscess was healing but her foot was tender and she yeowed big time when we tried to apply the antibiotic ointment to her messed up claw.

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Astrid and Dr. Steve

We took her into his Brookside Animal Clinic the next day and Steve exchanged pleasantries with us before he got down to work. We had told him that both the Minnesota and Iowa vets had given her an antibiotic shot and the Iowa vet sent us home with a two week round of oral antibiotic tablets. We took her bag of medicines with us and he looked them over. He said, “I like to identify the problem first, then figure out how to treat it.”

When he looked in her mouth, he discovered that her teeth were not perfect as the Iowa vet had said. Not at all. On each side she had FORL lesions from her gums growing down between her teeth and the teeth were crumbling and rotten. He said it was very painful and that explained her hesitance to eat and pawing at her mouth. She would walk over to the food bowl, look at the food, try to eat some and drop it from her mouth. Even shrimp.

He did bloodwork again since it may have changed since the Minnesota vet did it and declared it perfect after we got her back on August 8. That came out fine this time too. As Jim told him, besides the not eating, she didn’t act like a sick cat. She was still grooming herself and going outside on leash and supervised. On the first day of the appetite stimulant she even played her favorite game, paper ball. That slacked off after the three day window was closing.

His recommendation? Do oral surgery, extract the bad teeth and clean the rest, remove the lesions and put her on a liquid antibiotic, much easier to administer to cats.

And her claw needed to be surgically removed. He said it would grow back and that “Kitty will take care of it.” We brought her in the next morning at 7:30 AM and picked her up at 5:00. We were worried about the anesthetic especially since a friend in Texas took her little dog in to have his teeth cleaned and he died on the table from the anesthesia. Steve texted when she was out of surgery so we could enjoy the day with our friends during trailer pickup, which was the same day.

When we picked her up he showed us BEFORE and AFTER pictures they took during the surgery on his iPad. He showed Jim how to administer the liquid antibiotic and we took her back to the bus.

Her eating improved a little but she was still lethargic. Except for that, again, she didn’t act like a sick cat. Jim and Steve texted back and forth about her continued lethargy and Jim thought it might be a reaction to the antibiotic, which Steve said could be likely but we needed to give it to her for at least five days, twice a day.

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We were still exhausted and very nervous. What cruel irony it would be to get her back from the woods after 13 days and then have her go downhill after that. We were determined to see things through to the end. No more Xanex either. We made an appointment for Tuesday in case she needed it and took her back to the bus for the weekend. Steve texted us and we let him know that she was still lethargic. He said the next thing he wanted to do was to X-ray her abdomen and make sure nothing was going on there.

We wondered if she could have PTSD and when I posted the last cat update, a Canadian friend of mine called almost immediately and said to get her checked for Lyme disease. She had lost her dog to that and was adamant. More research. She was not exhibiting any Lyme disease symptoms but we wrote it on our list of questions. Once we finished up the antibiotic she seemed to be better and her appetite improved. We continued to give her the appetite stimulant and it works. You can pretty much set your watch by it. Steve gave a different type that you can apply to their ear daily, so they continue to eat.

We planned to stay at the Elks through the Labor Day weekend in case she needed to go back to the vet. We had a good spot to park and Astrid was improving, going outside and eating better.
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Our view from the bus.
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We made an appointment for Tuesday after Labor Day, just in case. We took her back in and he checked out her mouth; it was all healed. Her claw is growing back and is no longer tender.
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He took X-rays and everything inside looked good. He saw a little piece of bone in her colon and said it may have come from her food.

Because the Internet needs to see the inside of our cat…

Once she was done with the antibiotic, she continued to improve. Steve said that could be the cause of her lethargy. She was grooming herself, not hiding and her mouth was healed up enough to eat well. He said the dental problem could have been exacerbated by her sojourn into the wilderness. He wanted to make sure “she got back online.” And so did we, of course.

We were planning to leave for Columbia on Wednesday but it was pouring down rain when we got up and it continued all day. I didn’t have a good feeling about taking off in the driving rain so we stayed another night. Astrid continued to act more normal and we passed the day by provisioning, reading and taking it easy. We had already been in Kansas City way longer than we planned but the vet was crucial to the plan.

By this time she was acting pretty normal (for her) and continued to eat without the appetite stimulant. We finally began to relax a little and see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It has been a very long and very stressful six weeks but it was worth it to have Astrid back. Thank the Lord! And Dr. Steve Smith. He is thorough, experienced and responsive. And he got results! If you are in Kansas City, we highly recommend Brookside Animal Clinic at 85th and Wornall.

Now she is interested in food again and going outside regularly. Today she even climbed partway up a tree! We are getting our life back.
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We moved on toward Columbia on Thursday but not without a hiccup or two.

 

Meanwhile…Back at the Bus

Since it was pouring down rain the day we planned to leave we sat it out at the Elks in KC for another day. It’s a good thing we did.

We hit the road and dumped and fueled up in Oak Grove before heading to Marni and Eric’s place in Hartsburg. I was driving the car behind the bus and all went just fine for about 20 miles. Traffic was heavy but started to thin out a little once we got away from the city. It wasn’t raining but was supposed to later that night. The rain has been following us.

The bus had been running fine before we went to get some maintenance done at Inland Truck in Olathe. This was the first time we drove it since then.

We only had about 100 miles to go and figured we would arrive in time for Happy Hour. A few miles more and Jim pulled off onto the shoulder. I stayed in the car as he came back to the engine compartment. I could see that the engine belt was loose and he tightened that up. The guys at Inland must have bumped the switch that tightens up the belt. Jim has fixed this before; it is on the every travel day checklist. So is checking the oil which was at just the right level in the morning before we left. Inland Truck had changed the oil too.

Once the belt was tight he checked the oil again. I could see his shoulders slump when he did and it looked like he was cursing. Uh oh… Then he got on the phone while I watched and waited. He was calling Howard, his bus guru. Then he came back to the car. When he checked the oil this time it was way high on the stick. WTH? He figured some fuel must have gotten into the oil, overheated because the belt was loose, and the engine wouldn’t start because of it.
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What to do? We put out triangles to warn traffic while he got on the phone with Coachnet, our roadside service. They have always been very responsive. This time he got on hold and that was it.

Meanwhile, finally the Highway Patrol pulled up. I had been waving traffic off but once he showed up, everybody moved over. He was on his way to a wreck up the road and couldn’t stay but he called Jackson County Tow and got them to come get us.
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Jim was still on hold with Coachnet and tensions were rising as was the volume of traffic. I went back to waving off the traffic and he continued to be on hold with Coachnet. As I was waving away the traffic, an RV flashed his lights at us, in a show of solidarity I assumed. They pulled off on the shoulder ahead of us and walked back to the bus. It was some friends from our winter park in Texas! They had been going in the other direction and saw us on the shoulder. Jim and Renae said “Is that The Mighty Bus?” We took a quick pic and they moved on. It was very thoughtful of them and boosted our spirits. A little.
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Finally the tow truck arrived. They said they worked with Coachnet but we hadn’t gotten the go-ahead from them so we weren’t sure if Coachnet would pay for the tow. And it would cost $550! Yikes!

Meanwhile traffic was picking up. We had been on the side of the road for a couple of hours by the time another Highway patrolman pulled up. Officer Shubert stayed behind us for quite a while but he stressed that we needed to get off the road as it was getting closer to rush hour and a storm was coming. The tow company sent out another truck to back us up on the shoulder when he had to leave. We found a diesel shop in Odessa, just a few miles down the road and they proceeded to hook us up. Oh, and the drive axle needed to be removed because otherwise the transmission would spin during the tow and that is not a good thing.
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The second tow truck ran interference for the eighty plus feet of rig that was the bus and the tow truck. We followed in the car and they pulled us into a bay.

John, the elder statesman of the garage took a look at the oil and determined that it was just oil, not contaminated with fuel or anything else. That was good news but why was the oil level so high? All they could figure was that the guys at Inland Truck had overfilled the oil. GRRR…

They told Jim to try and start the engine and guess what? It fired right up! And it sounded right. They let it run for a while and then the oil level was back up. Jim called Howard again and nobody had any idea what was going on. They couldn’t find anything wrong. They put the drive axle back together and said we could stay in their lot that night. By this time we were more than ready for a cocktail.

That night the rain caught up with us and it rained all night. By the next morning it was overcast but not raining. The shop only charged us a half hour of labor to replace the drive axle. Howard told Jim to just go down the road and check the oil every 50 miles or so.

In the morning we took off again and decided to pull over and check the oil periodically as Howard suggested. By this time it was raining hard. The first time we stopped, Jim came back and said it was not overheating and the pressure was fine so we just kept going.

We made it to Marni and Eric’s place without further incident and settled in. It was finally time to relax by the river. And concentrate on getting back to normal. Whatever that is….
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We know. We are BIG BIG Lucky. And thankful for our good fortune.

Where the Action Is…

Once we moved to the Kansas City Elks we continued to medicate Astrid and see friends. We knew we would be here through Labor Day so we had some happy hours. On one day, Jim was seeing his dad and there was some police action in the parking lot.

I saw two police cars pull to the back of the lot and figured they were just having a chat. I went out to throw away our trash and two Elks were talking to a guy by the dumpster. Apparently he was not an Elk and they told him to leave. He told them he came to vote. On Sunday before Labor Day. Right. He didn’t leave so the cops rousted him out.

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We had a couple of friends, Nancy and Laura, over for Happy Hour and Laura had already left when a pickup pulled up next to the bus with music blaring. I went out and asked him to turn it down. It quickly became apparent he was very drunk and refused to turn down the music or move his truck. I went into the Elks and told Pat and Mike about it and they came out. By this time Jim was calling the police. So were the Elks.

It took a while for them to arrive so I took a picture of his license plate in case he decided to take off. He knew we had called the police and just sat there in his truck even though he knew they were coming. By the time they got there, he had reclined in his seat and fallen asleep.

The police asked the Elks if they wanted the truck towed and Pat said “Yes!” They also said they wanted to press charges. I don’t think this guy knew how expensive DUIs can be but he is about to find out.

Elks are awesome.
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Out and About in Kansas City

We got to Kansas City and found that our usual spot at the Grandview Elks was taken! The horror! Missouri is in a huge drought so we took the other spot which had electric but was on the grass. And the bus is heavy.  We figured it would be OK since it was so dry.

We had friends to catch up with, happy hours to attend and host, Jim’s dad to see, our trailer to pick up, the Apple Store to go to, peonies to dig, our financial adviser to see, ahi tuna to eat, martinis to drink, bad haircut to fix, art to buy, maintenance on the bus and a million other errands. Oh, and we had to pick up our new (to us) car. And, of course we were determined that Astrid continue to get better. We are ever hopeful.

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The first day we arrived it rained all night. Hard. We figured the spot would be OK since it was regularly getting packed down by RVs. It rained the whole next day too. Hmmm.

Jim saw his dad and got the car (that’s another whole story) so we had a way to get around. We proceeded to complete our lists. We also got the first Shingrix shot. We had the Zosterax vaccine two years ago. The next day I got shingles. GET THE SHOT!

Sunday evening we went to Marg and Jay’s for happy hour and to see the quilt she is making for our new house. She is a prolific and talented fabric artist and we have a quilt of hers in our bus plus a couple of other pieces. If you are in the Kansas City area, her work is a must-see. She has a show every year at Darling Yoga in Johnson County and this year she has another one in Brookside. She also has a huge and eclectic yard sale every year where she sells all the stuff she has been collecting for the past year. All really cool stuff. This year her sale is September 14 and 15. Go to 52nd and Wornall and follow the signs. You won’t be sorry. We even got a few advance items from the sale including some antique quilts and an older one of Marg’s. The prices were just too good. This is one of the antique quilts.
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Some of her work..

And the piece we got for our new place in Texas. And the new quilt she is working on for us…

Work in progress. This piece is going to be amazing. It already is.
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When it freezes she is going to send me some cannas and elephant ears for our new garden. We have some of Jim’s mom’s peonies from our old house and I am going to try them too.

We really needed the happy hour and met Peter and Theresa, a British couple who run a B&B here in KC. They have just purchased a Sprinter van and are planning to sell the B&B and hit the road. We invited them to happy hour at the bus the next day along with our old friends Betsy and Ralph.

Oh. On Sunday we had noticed that Astrid had started to get lethargic again and had trouble eating. The appetite stimulant works for a day or so. Jim called a friend of his from high school who is an experienced veterinarian and explained the whole situation. We took her in on Monday and we will update on that when we have a few more days behind us.

Meanwhile…

Tuesday we met Doc and J and Bob and Carma, friends from Texas. Doc is hauling the trailer back to Texas for us and that was the pickup day. The guy who stored it for us had gotten it out of the barn and when we were here in May, Jim packed the bearings, put new tires on, got a receiver hitch lock and readied it to roll. Then we went and ate really good Mexican food and drank margaritas. It was great to see everybody and get our minds off the cat.

We had work scheduled on the bus for Thursday and decided to move to the Elks in Kansas City after we had scoped out the much better (drier) parking spot. We had planned to stay at Inland Truck the night before but it was good that we moved early. When we went to pull out of Grandview, the bus had sunk down into the grass quite a bit and at first it wouldn’t budge. The tires weren’t spinning though so Jim gave it another shot and it began to creep out of the holes the tires had created. Slowly at first, then when it was working, a steady effort. Our leveler pads were in a U shape…

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The next morning we got up early to take the bus across town for the preventative maintenance. Right before we left it started raining like hell. We had to go so we got on the highway and headed west. Then the heavens broke loose with a monster thunder and lightening storm. The lightening was some of the longest lasting I have ever seen. And it was close by. Jim did a great job and we got pulled into our bay and the guys went to work.

Brake adjustment, oil change, lubrication, lug nuts torqued, and fuel filters changed. When it was done, Jim went to fire up the bus and it wouldn’t run. It usually starts right up when you flip the switch and push the button. Made sounds I had never heard before and wouldn’t stay started. And we cranked it many, many times. Too many for my liking. The shop stunk and they were all trying to figure out what was wrong. Jim called his bus guru, Howard, while the very experienced mechanics were standing around scratching their heads. Meanwhile, I took over the engine starting so Jim could hear the sounds we had never heard before. Finally one of the guys in the shop asked if he could do the throttle, like I didn’t know what I was doing. It didn’t work for him either. I hate mansplainers. None of this helped our anxiety level.

Finally Jim found that they had primed the new filters with automatic transmission fluid, not diesel like he did when he changed them. They said they do that all the time. But then they found that air had gotten in the system because they hadn’t closed the check valve and the fluid had run back out of the hoses. They fixed that and after some more cranking, it fired up. Whew! We don’t need any more high anxiety these days.

We got the bus back to the Elks and figured we could just relax! Finally! We are staying put through the holiday weekend to make sure the cat is good to go.