Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day two with the new family

Yes, today is our second day with Sandy and her pups. We notice that these pups are a lot healthier looking than the last litter, but we still took them to the vet this afternoon to have them all checked out. Mom and pups have some fleas and we removed wood ticks from Mom and one pup. Mom also has some ear problems and some other things that we are addressing.

Everyone at the vets office was taken with the pups and Sandy. She is such a quiet dog and didn't give the vet or the assistants any trouble what so ever. Naturally, she tries to be with her pups all the time.

Helen was up all night just in case there was a problem. Sandy had 10 pups, but one got smothered at the shelter. On the way home from Lake County, every time one of the pups would screech Helen would want me to pull over. Just as soon as I stopped the mother would get up and the screeching would stop. In our last litter we lost one to smothering the first night and we are paranoid about losing another.

There is a great variance between the puppies and when we asked the vet what she thought they might be, she would not commit. However, when we told her that the dog came from animal hoarders who had over 60 dogs. she stated that the puppies could have two or more fathers. I didn't know that could happen, but apparently when there are a great number of males available it can happen.

This last picture is a real cutie, Momma and the white male. Because the puppies are so different, we are able to easily tell them apart by their color and markings. Helen thinks one father might be a Lab, another a Husky, and a third a pit bull. The animal shelter told us that all three males were part of the hoard, so it is possible.

They are a cute bunch of puppies and we, again, feel privileged to be doing this again. In a few days, when we're both in dire need of sleep, we may feel differently, but for now we are elated.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Busy, busy, busy, busy.

We seem to be in a situation where we are idle for days at a time and then all heck breaks loose. Last week was an easy week, sleeping in most days and taking it easy. Friday evening we drove to Clarmont to pick up Grandsons 2 and 4, Keaton and Kyle who are children of my older son, Paul Jr. and his wife Robin. We had a nice ride home. They watched "Back to the Future" on TV and went to bed. It was all very peaceful.

Saturday morning we rose and made plans to go to Brandon to watch Grandson 3 and Granddaughter 2, Kolbie and Kourtnie, children of my younger son Scott and his wife Heather. Kolbie plays football for the Brandon Cowboys Peewee team and Kourtnie is a cheerleader for an older boys' team. Grandson 1, Branden, was around but I guess it's not cool to be around parents and grandparents because we saw him from time to time, but only in passing.

The whole atmosphere in Brandon was about the Brandon Cowboys and Keaton, Kyle, Helen and I were more like bumps on a log. After Kolbie's game we went back to Scott's house for a couple of hours and soaked up the air conditioning. It was HOT at the football field, even in the shade, and I don't know how all those kids can stand all the phisical activity in that heat. Heather was head of her cheerleading squad and Scott was the videographer, so we kept company with Heathers father and step-mother and her grandmother. Keaton and Kyle were playing with one of Heather's neighbor's kids. With all the heat, humidity, and boredom, Keaton and Kyle were remarkably well behaved.

We got home and I was able to find a tape of "Back to the Future II" and I set that up on the bedroom TV so the kids could watch from the bed. After that, they had me comb my tapes to find "Back to the Future III" but it could not be found. Sunday we all rose late and Helen took the boys to see the latest "Nanny McFee" movie. Later on, we called PT and Robin and made plans to meet them for supper at the Golden Corral in Clarmont. Luckily, we were joined by Kristin and Kimmy, too. It was nice having that whole family together. Kimmy is an animated little doll. We left them at the restaurant and headed home to a life of ease, or so we thought.

At home I checked our email and found a plea from a member of Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida to save a mother Lab and her nine puppies at the Lake County Animal Shelter. I checked with Helen to see if she felt up to doing this again and she said yes, so I emailed back the Helen and I would intervene. This morning we drove the 48 miles to the animal shelter in Tavares and picked up the yellow Lab and her nine offspring. Unlike our experience last year in Suwanee County, This one was clean and modern. The animals appeared to be well taken care of. The mother lab and all her pups were in very good condition.

So I've started to build a new kennel in the corner of the family room as we had last year. Only now, because of past experience, it goes up a lot easier. A couple of pictures are posted on Jodie and Coco's blog, but I will post more here later on.

Jodie and Coco are a lot more reserved with this group of new-comers than they were last year, though both of them are sticking pretty close to me.

More later.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

We're back to two drivable cars.

I did finish with Helen's car yesterday, but it's a good thing I took a lot of pictures to show me where everything went. It's all too easy to rationalize that you'll remember where this goes and remember where that goes, but it doesn't work like that in real life. This is especially true when there is a time period between the taking apart and the putting it back. As it was, when I started it up, it ran EXTREMELY rough. Another check of the connections found that I had not connected one bank to the coil assembly. When reconnected, it ran amazingly smooth. That's one thing about the old Lincoln. It's so quiet and smooth that when you pull up to a stop light, it feels like the engine quit. We've tried to start a running engine more than once.

Since it was all apart I took the time to thoroughly flush the coolant system and add fresh antifreeze. If all goes well, it will last for another five years.

Today, Helen and I are celebrating L S I D, Late Summer Idle Day. We'll sit around and nosh, watch TV, and vegetate. Ahhh. Feels good already.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I've been making progress

Today I FINALLY got the bugs washed off the front of the motorhome. It might not seem like much, but there were almost three months of bugs there! Well, that's not true as I cleaned the front a number of times, but only concentrated on the windows the last week or so. I used car wash and that didn't work too well so I tried the old fabric softener sheets. They worked better, but still not real easy. I finally settled on a bottle of black mark and bug cleaner that Helen bought me eons ago. That was the best of all and I finally got the front washed. I started a few days ago, but shortly after I started a violent thunder storm struck and that chased me inside. The same happened yesterday. Today I started early, but I could only do a little at a time as the sun was beating me on the back and it was in the high 90s. Finally I was done and since everything inside was completed, I moved the RV back under its canopy.

The dogs are getting a lot of exercise each day now. We start with a session of fetch, during which they make a detour into the woods to take care of business. Then it's into the pool. They do love the pool and jump in every chance they get. Again, I toss the balls and Coco does most of the retrieving, but Jodie will occasionally grab a ball that comes close to her. Then I leave them alone for a while. Jodie wants Coco to chase her but Coco only wants to fetch the toys. She'll push a ball off the edge of the pool and watch the current take it away. Then, when it gets far enough she'll pounce on it and bring it back. From time to time during their pool time I will take them out to play fetch and give them a chance to do business in the woods. I'll even take some time to play tug with Jodie. It's funny how each dog has her own likes and dislikes.

Later this afternoon I sprayed the engine compartment of the Jeep with solvent and let it set a while. When I hosed it off, I was amazed at the amount of sand that came out of the compartment. I guess that all those miles behind the motorhome caught a lot of dirt.

Also this afternoon, the gaskets for Helen's car arrived. I just don't feel like tearing into it today, but first thing tomorrow that will be a priority. I'll get to see just how systematic I was in taking it all apart. Thankfully, I had the sense to take pictures as I went along so I can see how everything should look as it goes back together.

Although we have the internet connection and internet phone, we've had no TV since the awful thunderstorm several days ago. It's almost like camping where we do a lot of reading and turn in early. We wonder what's going on in the world though.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Getting Back in the Groove

With vacation a thing of the past, it was only a matter of time before I really got back in the groove. After a good night's sleep, I was full of enthusiasm this morning as I tackled one job after another. In this motorhome, the batteries are in the rear as is the engine. My battery isolation system should have been in the back, also. In my Southwind the batteries were in the front and the isolator was also in the front. With our Safari, the batteries were in the back and the isolator was in the back also, under the bed, but easily accessible. This morning I took off the access panels under the bed to get to the battery isolator, or at least where I reasoned the isolator would be. It was not found! With a lot of grunting and groaning I got under the motorhome and searched there. Nope! OK, time to call Winnebago and find out where it really is. A few minutes later I had the answer. The solenoid is in a front panel under the hood, it's chest high and very easy to find.

It was! I did a few tests and became positive that the solenoid was the problem. When power was connected to the solenoid, I could hear the click, but it would pass no electricity. I went to a NAPA auto store and got a replacement and installed it a few minutes ago and all works fine now.

In addition to the previous, I repaired the runners on several drawers and I'm in the process of strengthening the drawers as well. One down and several to go. I'm also waiting for the gaskets for Helen's Lincoln so I can put the engine back together.

Yes, I'm getting a lot done today, but I'd rather be fishing in Alaska.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Vacation is over!

Wow, have we had a grand three months! I didn't count the states and provinces, but it added up to 11531 miles. Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? YES!!! In two years if I can talk Helen into it. There will be some changes next time, more time on the Kenai Peninsula. Halibut fishing from Homer or Valdez. Time my stay for the lowest tides, for clamming and also for the best fishing , for salmon. We will plan to see places on the way, as we did this time, but Glacier National Park will not be one of the destinations.

Now the fun begins as we transition into life at home. Being the super sensitive husband that I am, I took steps to make Helen's work easier. A few days ago I bought her a new lawn mower. She doesn't like to use the riding lawn tractor and has been using an old push lawnmower. Last year it was so hard to start that I'd have to give it a shot of starting ether to get it going. The new one starts easy on the first pull, but Helen doesn't even have to pull the start cord as it is electric start. And, it's self propelled. I know, I know, I'm too good to her, but she deserves the best.

Before vacation her car developed a bad coolant leak that made it undrivable and that is the project I'm working on now. I know I whined about the wet, cold Alaska coastal weather, but it's really hot and humid and I'd like some of that Alberta, Canada weather right now. OK, I've been avoiding the garage by writing this blog, but now it's time to get back to work.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Things are starting to come together!

Helen and I had an interesting few days heading home from Glacier National Park. At first, Helen wanted to skip the Crazy Horse Monument, then later decided that we should. A slight alteration was all it took because our route home was going to take us very close anyway. IT was a very interesting site and I'm glad we stopped.

Next on the agenda was a stop to see some blog friends. Left to right it's Me, Helen, Donna, and Sam. Coco is the dark chocolate Lab on the left and Riggs is the HANDSOME Lab on the right. Sam and Donna were excellent hosts and we're waiting for us.

It was just a little tense at first, Riggs being a healthy young male and my two being females, but soon the sniffing was over and they all wanted to play. We then decided to take the three dogs to the local off-leash dog park where they could run and SWIM. Since I had a bit of trouble getting to Sam's, (GPS problems.........yes, REALLY!!), I chose to ride with Sam and Riggs and let Donna ride with Helen and our dogs.

They all had a grand time as they will say on their blog.

We should have spent more time with Sam and Donna, but I was all too anxious to get home. The plan was to continue on and drive enough so that I would have two easy days of driving. However, I drove and drove until I got to within 626 miles of home. I knew I could do that. Helen was a bit miffed, I think, and she didn't enjoy spending the night at a steep angle in a Cracker Barrel parking lot. Still, we made a very early start and got home Sunday evening instead of Monday afternoon.

My efforts to have our cable turned on didn't work out as planned and I had to call Brighthouse service and finally got the cable to the TV working. I had no luck with the computer linkage and had to wait until this morning for a technician. He solved the problem in short order and now I'm back in business.

I uncovered the pool to find that the water was crystal clear and the dogs are enjoying their normal swimming hole. There is still so much to do, to the house, to Helen's car, and the motorhome that I am a bit confused, not knowing where to start. I guess it will all sort out in a day or two.

Monday, August 9, 2010


Well, the problem isn't REALLY my computers this time. The problem is that I can't get my cable to work and it will be Wednesday afternoon before a technician will be out to fix the connection. The company claims the modem is dead.

To those who read this, Helen, Jodie, Coco, and I are home in Florida safe, sound, and hot. I love it. The pool is uncovered and is as clear as can be, so the dogs and I will be in for a swim tomorrow. I will catch up on the last few days, including out visit with Sam and Donna and their wonder dog, Riggs. I will post pictures, too, once I get Picasa working again.

At least the WiFi at the library is working well.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Doing a little better.

We did a little better with the miles covered today. It helps when you get an early start, but we had a few errands to tend to on the way. Coming across South Dakota, I wanted to stop in Madison at "My Dakota Address", the firm that has been handling our mail. They have been SUPER, but I can't say the same about the US Postal Service. Getting mail in Alaska proved to be a major problem. It always takes several time longer than in the lower states. Added to that, the PO in Valdez was a mess where they were unable to find packages that were traced to that very office. In the end, it was all waiting for me in Madison. Then we wanted to pick up a few supplies at a real USA type Walmart. Fresh fruit at a SMALL fraction of what it costs north of the border. In addition, we can find the products that we've been used to. Still, we covered about 450 miles today.

Yesterday?? I think, I mentioned the Circle 10 campground someplace east of Rapid City, SD. It was not the fanciest campground but it more than makes up for it with the friendliness of the staff. Very, very pleasant people and a great continental breakfast, not to mention a potent WiFi connection.

Tonight we're at some Lighthouse campground right on the Missouri River, a bit west of Whiting, Iowa. This is a nice grassy location and the natives are very friendly. Tomorrow we'll let the dogs swim in the Missouri prior to giving them a bath. For $22.00 we were given our choice of any site and I think we actually cover two. There are showers and laundry. They are very dog friendly, and the free WiFi is as good as any I've had on this vacation. The only downside to this location is the mosquitoes. I hope it will be better in the morning when the sun is out.

Tomorrow we make tracks down the western edge of Iowa and then across Missouri. I hope all continues well. Right now it looks like well reach home on Monday.

Getting the last tank of diesel is always a consideration before we get home as there has not been a suitable site in our town. However, just before we left for vacation a new Racetrac station opened up with easy access for my rig, and it's only three miles from home. No more worried about condensation in a partially empty tank.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Heading Home

We got the first early start in quite a while when we left the campground in St. Mary, Montana, just outside the East Entrance to Glacier National Park. We drove to Browning, Montana where we filled the motorhome from the same pump that we used on that cold, snowy night two months ago. It was a real difference. Helen noted that she was unable to see rivers that were visible before there were leaves on the trees.

I put on some heavy mileage, over 626 miles yesterday and felt that I could have driven several hundred more. It was a delusion on my part. We settled for the night in the Walmart in Gillette, Wyoming with several other campers.

I refer to the delusion on my part because here it is the next day and I couldn't manage 300 miles, and the last 50 I was falling asleep. Happily, we found a nice campground right off I-90 called the Circle 10. We ended up here because I got confused with my destination and thought I was actually 100 miles further east. Hot, endless showers, dog friendly, EXCELLENT free wifi, and a continental breakfast. WOW!

So I've fallen behind on my intended travel and will TRY to make up some time tomorrow.

More later,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back in the Lower 48

Yes, we're back in Montana, just outside the east gate of Glacier National Park. We got in yesterday afternoon and before dark I took quick ride into the park a ways. Glacier is not in the same league as some of the glaciers we saw in Alaska, but it was very scenic just the same. I saw a herd of elk as I was coming out, but that was all.

Today Helen and I took a drive all the way through and it was an ordeal. Thankfully, Helen was driving, because the traffic was terrible and construction on the road held us up for long periods on several locations. When we got to the west gate, rather than turn around and follow the Glacier road back, we chose to drive the long way around. It was longer, but there was no traffic or construction problems. Besides, If we had driven the Glacier road back, I would have been on the outside looking down into the abyss. It's not a feeling I treasure.

I think or rather I know that the vacation is now behind us. Helen has given up on the Chief Crazy Horse monument and just wants to get back home as fast as possible. We've been at it a long time and it will be good to get home, heat, humidity, and all.

This brings us to another question. Does she mean as fast as possible by my standards or as fast as possible by hers? She doesn't let me drive too fast or too far in a day because it upsets Jodie. My best bet might be to fly her and Jodie home and Coco and I can cruise our own way.

We'll see what happens. What ever else, we're leaving tomorrow for points south.