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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Confederate rose


     Since I am barely ambulatory these days, Durelle has also become the photographer.  Our "Confederate rose" has started to blossom.  As a plant it is a rather ungainly and inelegant critter, but the pink blossoms are really quite pretty.  I'll have to find out the proper name.  It's almost a weed and propagates easily from cuttings. I suppose it would benefit from some well-timed, judicious pruning.
     On another note, recovery from the foot surgery is proceeding.  We did have an unscheduled return to the surgeon because an infection raised my temperature to over 101.  This morning it was 98.5 and I felt up to cooking the bacon and eggs.  Next, I'll slip on a waterproof sleeve/sock and take my first bath in five days.  There are some advantages to not having a sense of smell.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bunionectomy

     In a world full of friends with serious ailments, bunions are a relatively minor inconvenience.  Nonetheless, when the big toe grows toward the second toe far enough to deflect the second toe upward, complications arise.  The range of motion on my big toes is about 20 degrees versus the normal 60.  This makes balance more difficult, and renders my gait something less than graceful.  In the hope that the resulting domino effect is partly to blame for stiffness in my back and hips, I elected to get those bunions removed and toes straightened...one foot at a time.
     While I occasionally succumb to the temptation to turn a travel blog into a food blog, I d*** sure am not going turn this into a clinical discourse.  This turn of events will, of course, restrict my participating in "bloggable" events and photo ops.  It will be a few weeks before I regain normal mobility  and then it will be time to do the left foot.
     As the picture shows, we can adapt.

     The next picture shows that Baxter can adapt, too.  I suspect that Durelle will have little trouble reclaiming her recliner when she wants it back.
     Durelle will be taking on the unaccustomed role of nurse, and I shall make every effort to be a good patient. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Treager Grills

     This blog will be about the saga of our new Treager Grill, but first, let me start with a picture I took over our fence this morning.
     Now that we have that out of the way, you may enjoy my story about our new smoker/grill.  As I set out to figure out what I wanted, the most obvious source of information for me were our friends, Tim and Wendy Boucher who are presently at Lynchburg competing at the nationals sponsored by Jack Daniels.  Based on their recommendation I checked out the website for Treager Grills, an Oregon firm.  I liked what I saw and was pleasantly surprised to find a dealer right here in North Charleston.  I went over to Ferguson Enterprises on Rivers Ave and bought one of the smaller units, a cover, a digital controller, a dome thermometer and three bags of pellets: an apple, a mesquite, and a pecan.  Yes, I said pellets.  It works like one of the increasingly popular pellet stoves for heat.  There is an auger that feeds the pellets into a firebox under the control of a thermostat.  Although half the size of my natural gas grill, it weighs at least twice as much.
     Saturday I assembled the unit and replaced the existing analog controller with a digital one.  I had to work on my back lying down under the unit.  I followed the instructions and even marked the connectors with a Sharpie for safety sake.  I rolled the unit around the house and into our screened porch...not easy.  I filled up the hopper with apple pellets and turned it on as recommended to burn off any manufacturing odors.  Having done that, I next attempted to check it out regulating at a lower temperature.  Here's where the difficulties started.  It regulated at 450 degrees no matter where I set the thermostat, and the fire was smoky and smelled bad.  I shut it down and Sunday I emailed their service department and got a reply in five minutes!  They (Frank Carson) said to call 1-800-TREAGER.  I figured it was an automated response (it wasn't) so I waited until Monday to call.  Frank explained that I had swapped the wires to the auger and the fan.  Well, I fixed that and then had to clean up a very sooty grill.  The auger is supposed to run at a minimum of 15 seconds on and 65 seconds off.  The fan is supposed to run continuously.  The opposite was happening.  Once I got it wired correctly, everything worked fine.  On the "smoke" setting it will now cook at temperatures as low as 130!
     As a graduate electrical engineer and long time radar maintenance guy, I was more than sufficiently embarrassed at mis-wiring the controller.  Now that it is ready to go, I am looking forward to trying some new things.  I'll send some pictures of my successes.  The failures we will eat, but not advertise.
     

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Georgetown, SC


     This was a Saturday in the mid 70s, dew point in the low 40s, and no clouds all day.  Cindy, Durelle and I decided to make a long overdue visit to Georgetown.  We drive through the industrial section on route 17 every time we go to or from Huntington Beach State Park.  After decades of driving by, we needed to visit the historic part of the town.  Do not expect me to know much about the history, but I took a picture of a well-preserved house that was built in 1737.  There is a bronze plaque that proclaims that Marquis de Lafayette first stepped ashore on this continent in Georgetown on June 13, 1777.
     Our intention was to take advantage of the weather and Cindy's vacation to drive up, walk the waterfront boardwalk, have lunch at one of the many seaside venues, and drive home.  Lo and behold, we walked into a maelstrom of activity.  Front Street, the main drag through the historic district, was shut down and occupied by the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show.  As if that weren't enough, there was a wildlife art exhibit, and a local church was having a fall festival.  Given the weather, the scene was chaotic.  We parked a mile away.  While walking to the center, we saw part of the art exhibit and (pay attention, Ann Dunn) some "Redneck Wineglasses".

     On the way to the center we saw some river front homes whose decks were over the river.
     We eventually got to the center and put our name on a waiting list for lunch.  It promised to be more than an hour.  I had a beer while the ladies nursed their soft drinks out on the deck.  After a while we changed our plan.  We took our name off the list, walked through the display of elegant wooden boats, walked back to the car and drove to a good restaurant away from the historic district.  There were wooden boats of all sizes, and the craftsmanship was impeccable, stunningly so.  Look at the seat in the picture below that reflects the wheel.  It looks black, but it is varnished mahogany as you can tell at the starboard side of the picture.
     I will include a couple more (while apologizing for abusing your bandwidth) including a classic old Chris Craft...can you say,"On Golden Pond"?

     The restaurant was the "Land's End" on 17 on the north edge of Georgetown.  The next picture was taken through the window from our table.  These boats were almost all sport fishermen.
     As they say about blind pigs and acorns, we stumbled into a very pleasant afternoon.  I would be remiss if I didn't report on Durelle and Cindy's round of golf yesterday.  After struggling all summer and getting pretty discouraged, Durelle (after a long layoff) shot an 88.  The front nine was a model of consistency: seven 5s followed by two 4s.  The back was less consistent, but she had a 45 with a couple of 3s...one on a fairly long par four.  I guess we won't be selling the clubs after all.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Re-adapting to South Caroliona

     We are well into the change of modes.  The bus is emptied and at the shop for a wash and wax as well as a repair of our main slideout.  The washer here has been going almost continually, and Durelle has completed all of the ironing.  There have not been a lot of photo-ops but I thought that a blooming magnolia in mid-October was interesting...especially with Baxter in front.
     Cindy is on vacation this week, so I am enjoying some cooking for the three of us.  But, first, we had to get the disposal replaced.  It "threw a rod" yesterday and made a dramatic demise.  I have replaced them before, so I went to Home Depot and bought a replacement.  While the replacement had the locking collar with which I was familiar, the failed unit did not.  I was forced to call a local plumber this morning in hopes that he could come today.  Like Ann, washing dishes in the bathroom is something to be avoided.  Steve Dyson showed up two hours later.  My attempts stalled at the removal of the mounting collar of the old one.  While I hated to admit defeat, I was somewhat vindicated as Steve had to break out the old one in pieces in order to proceed.  Once that was done, everything proceeded smoothly.  We were back to normal with grilled steaks, a salad and Durelle's rice pilaf.
     The doctor's and dentist's appointments are behind us, and we are settling into a different routine.  Durelle and Cindy are watching the weather to determine some golf date(s).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

No longer on the road

     Well, I don't have any dramatic or colorful pictures, nor do I have any tales of great escapades.  We arrived in Hanahan on Wednesday.  Since then. Durelle has done over a dozen loads of wash and several hours of ironing.  In comparison, I have done little.  The bus is at the shop to figure out why the main slideout won't completely close.  They will also do a wash and wax.  We have done a few walks around the neighborhood, and the Corvette's battery has been recharged and the tires re inflated   It is ready to go.  It seems to take us longer each year to recover from five months on the road.  Tomorrow we both go in to see our primary care physician, Dr. Amy Fairfax, to see where we stand.
     Tonight Cindy joined us for supper: ribs plus a special mac and cheese.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Safely Home !!

     After nearly five months and 6,302.6 miles, the bus is once again parked at 1435 Cooper's Hawk Drive.  For your interest, fuel consumption was 730.188 gallons at $2857.93.  That's $3.913 per gallon and 8.6 miles per gallon or about 45 cents per mile.  Camping fees were the big ticket item at $5,099.76.  Groceries were $2,487.36 which was just slightly less than eating out which totaled $2,762.82.
     The bus will go into the shop Friday to take care of the slide.  We had to stop twice in four hours today to heave it back in, and we arrived with it extended about five inches...not fun, but we traveled carefully and safely.  Fortunately there was no rain.
     No pictures, and it is time to go out with Durelle for one more load until we crash for the night.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lumberton, NC

     This our last night on the road for our Summer '11 excursion.  We should be home by noon tomorrow.  We had a wonderful, no-notice visit with the Wegners in Fairfax, VA and got away this morning exactly at nine.  Monday morning, as we were getting ready to mount up in Williamsport, MD, the main slideout (driver's side, forward) declined to retract.  By going outside and heaving upwards  and inward while Durelle used the rocker switch we had some success.  By alternating on the front and back corners we got it almost all the way in.  It lacked less than an inch, but it wasn't far enough to latch.  We actually had a precursor to the problem the day we left Maine on 14 September.  There were no problems until Monday.  The slide stayed put until Fairfax.  We couldn't use the street side slides while we were parked in front of their house anyway.   The next morning it was a different story.  An hour down the road it started to drift slowly out.  We stopped a few times and repeated the process to get it almost in.  When we stopped for lunch a burly fellow RVer gave me a hand.  With the two of us on both ends of the slide and Durelle on the switch, it almost seated.  It wasn't until the end of the day at nearly four that it started to slide out again...perhaps three or four inches.  By then we were stopping in Lumberton.  We will heave it back in tomorrow, stopping as necessary, and get it fixed in Charleston.  If ProTech can't fix it, they will at least be able to secure it until our next trip to Red Bay, AL.  Such is life on the road.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Army 45 - Tulane 6!

     We just got back from Michie Stadium. As many of you are aware, Army's football prowess has declined in the past half century.  There have been some bright spots, but the results have been rather dismal of late.  Today gives us hope like a golfer who has just birdied the 18th.  Tulane received the initial kickoff and scored three plays later at 13:56 of the first quarter.  I figured we were in for a long day.  Would you believe Army responded with 45 unanswered points?  
     We had a couple of opportunities to met with friends at the level of the plain, about halfway from North Dock to the stadium, but we did not want to forego the door to door service of the shuttle buses.  Those of you who have been here know that the geography that made it an effective fort 250 years ago also made it a difficult venue for aging football fans today.
     Happy hour will be on the banks of the Hudson under pleasantly clearing skies.  The picture below was taken out the windshield of the bus looking north from West Point toward Newburgh.