Here in Baytown the weather has been cold and rainy. At least it is consistent. We head out into the cloudy gloom and brave the mist to get our five miles a day goal in. The 50 degree air is a chilly reminder that winter happens everywhere.
What makes it easier to deal with is knowing that we are going to meet some friends this afternoon for a distillery tour. For Katie and I this is a first. We have toured a few breweries, but never a distillery. I find a small place that looks like it can't even be big enough for a tour, but what the heck. We have been surprised before. A walk through the front door quickly diminished any notion that this place isn't the real deal. The interior tasting room is well decorated and the guy behind the bar gave us a warm welcome. Then the same guy ushered us back into a small back room and started the tour.
Kenny spoke with a real slick enthusiastic approach. Listening to his backstory explained why. He formerly was a key figure in the sales and roll out of Bass Pro Shop's boat line during a long tenure of growth. My guess; he retired and took a gig at a small up and coming distillery even though money was the last of his worries. Don't let that be translated into a negative. It means he is here because he cares, and it really shows.
After some thorough backstory Kenny (great name by the way) walks us outside and into the business end of what's going on. Our first stop is a quick hands on demonstration of an old sugar cane press.
Wandering past the sugar cane press brings us to the back building with the still. Now what makes this tour even more interesting is the fact that it is a micro distillery. They only have a single still and it must do it all. Although Rum is the main focus, vodka, whiskey, and tequila are also generated out of this facility. Our tour guide invites us to stick our dirty fingers into the tiny stream of 190 proof alcohol that is coming out of the still so we can get a taste. Have no fear: there is nothing, and I mean nothing, that is going to live in terms of bacteria after touching our finger.
Kenny keeps talking (it's just an awesome name) and keeps throwing info at us about how all this stuff works. It really gives us an interesting perspective on the process and how all these things work. I'm glad we spent the paltry sum of $12 a piece to visit Railean. It has been an enlightening experience that was carried out with a great presentation. That's really saying something coming from me. You've read my other blogs.
This will be the last blog that comes to you in a guaranteed daily chronological order. I'm at work now and I'm not quite sure I can keep you entertained enough with my daily grind to keep you reading. Have no fear. Random updates of awesomeness will keep coming your as things happen.
It's 0545 and my eyes pop open to check my phone. Almost time to get up. Guess I'll sit here for a few more minutes. Nope. Time to get up and get ready for, wait for it.... work. Oh yes my friends. Today is the day that I start doing things for money once again. Fortunately for me I have the advantage of going to work for a friend. Tony and I worked together a decade ago in past lives back in St. Louis. Fast forward ten years and he decided to open up his own custom metal fab shop that specializes in making CNC way covers. It turns out that he just happens to be at the stage where he needs some help in getting things put together in order to make the business operational and can't quite do it alone. We are on the road traveling the country looking for a place to stay in the south for the winter and I want some work. What are the odds?
That's a 80 ton press brake sitting in the corner.
It's a small shop with just enough room for us to get the job done.
I haven't seen this guy in a year, and it's been ten since we have worked together. We get to work within the first half hour of my arrival. Things start to click and the shop comes to life. One of us is cutting steel and the other is on the floor laying down some beads. We both shake the rust off and get into a groove of knowing what the other is doing in no time flat. Just like old times.
Tony burning some metal with his MIG welder
The steel rack gets laid out and put together in quick fashion. A few tack welds here, a couple of pieces of metal there and voila! Big ass metal rack on wheels. I'm able to get back behind a welding mask and I like it. Our project gets wrapped up earlier than expected which is always a good sign for a business. We'll call it an early day today and start making plans to prep for next week. There is some real cool stuff coming to this blog and I can't wait to share it.
I go home and catch up on the day with Katie. This is the first day in two months that we have spent a full 8 hours apart from each other. It's a nice change of pace for both of us. We decide to head out for some shopping and on the way I see this badass truck off to the side. It's a full size old school Kodiak work truck that has a bunch of money put into it for some inexplicable reason. Southern Texas weather allows people to drive hotrods year round. Lucky Bastards.
This will be the last day off before I start work. You heard that right. I used the "W" word. Part of the plan was to pit stop here in Houston to help Ninja Tony start up his business making wayfair covers (stuff to protect metal cutting machines). I still have no idea what awaits me in the new place. For now, Katie and I take the day and explore our new hometown. The surrounding area is a little on the rough side. Industrial real estate almost always means that the towns nearby are going to be less than pretty. All things aside we still happen to find our way along the roads of Port Houston. Here dozens of cranes stand awaiting their next assignment.
A quick turn north and into a small subdivision brings us to a rocky jetty. It's a small place to park with a couple of other cars who are probably on lunch. An oil tanker silently glides past us on the way to fill back up. This is going to take some getting use too. Chalk this up as a brand new environment for both us of. Oh well, life could be worse.
An easy going day to just sit back and take in the surroundings of our new home. It's good to see grass and water once more. This is the pet walk area and they are not messing around here. Houston grass is so thick that your foot goes sideways after it finally compresses under your weight. I think if I was a little bit lighter I could walk on top of it and never touch the dirt.
Grass will be the key theme of this post. GRASS!!!!! No more sand and cactus, but actual grass. Our animals of all species are in full approval. Earlier today the dog lost his mind when we were visiting my new workplace and spent a few solid minutes rolling around like a puppy. Upon our arrival home the orange cat was just begging to go outside with his endless meows. He just wanted to see it for himself. Too smell it and all of it's grassy goodness.
Further down the grassy path is the end of the RV park. At the properties edge sits another, you guessed it, grassy place. From here we can see the other side of the bay. Giant cranes tower over the horizon for the Port of Houston. It's still a strange sight, but I think we'll get used to it.
Time to pack up and hit the road for the last time this month. Leaving here is a little easier than most places we stay at. Unhooking the utilities only takes a minute and Shirley is still hitched up from yesterday. We didn't unpack to much so moving on down the road is an easy affair. On the way out I spot something for the first time in our travels. A Tesla Model X is pulling a small travel trailer. They have Massachusetts plates which means traveling distances with an electric car and camper is possible.
Penny motors on for a couple of more hours before hitting the west side of Houston. Ringing in at the 5th largest metro in the US, this bustling metropolis of 6.7 million people owes much of it's backbone to the gas and oil industry. All of these people need a way to get to work. Seven lanes of traffic will take care of that.
All this gas production means low prices in the area. This is good news for Penny. A stiff cross/headwind zapped the mpg down to 6.9 on the last leg of the journey. We'll pull over and top off the tank before she sits for the next couple of months. Tech tip*- Always fill gas tanks full before long periods of sitting. This will prevent condensation from building up and contaminating the gas.
Our arrival at Galveston Bay RV resort doesn't go very smoothly. The lady checking us in moves us to another spot, and takes 15 minutes to figure out if it is the same rate. I'm forced to unhook the jeep and wiggle the RV around to get away from the office. There is no space to turn around once you pull in. Gary proceeds to take us to our spot with a gruff attitude. We pull in and get settled. It's a nice spot. Maybe this place won't be so bad after all.
Exploring our new surroundings is always top on the list of activities. This place has a lighted fishing pier and a great place to sit down and watch the boats go by. Best of all is the fact that we have grass. Beautiful, luscious grass. Goodbye rocky desert with your endless prickly stuff trying to stab me. This feels more like home.
Another day another 300+ miles on the road. This is already starting to get old. Wake up early in the AM and hit the highway to watch bushes pass by the window. Our goal for the day is to make it all the way to San Antonio and park our junk at Hidden Valley RV park.
Lunch time necessitates us to pull over. A few hours of driving means it is time for me to take a break. This scenic way point 70 miles east of the city is a welcome relief my tired mind needs.
It has been one year and one week since we have been at this very spot for last Thanksgiving. Kinda funny how the world works out. Texas is starting to become a natural place for us. Things here are familiar an we already know the local culture. Almost feels like we are home.
It's early in the morning. Katie is still sleeping and I just can't lay in bed anymore. The RV has cooled down to about 50 degrees inside. Coffee gets brewed and I take a seat in front of the windshield. This will be the last desert sunrise I may ever see, and I'm sharing it with Kitty.
More miles need to be slammed through in order to reach our final destination of Houston. We have already traveled this route and neither of us really feel the need to stop anywhere again. All of the real interesting stuff is hours out of the way anyhow. Out the front window is a constant repeat of desert scrub and rolling hills. The landscape is starting to change and Texas is rolling into view. Our first real taste of Texas once again was the bustling city traffic of El Paso. Shortly after leaving the city we get stopped at a border patrol station. Every single car heading East or West on Interstate 10 outside of El Paso needs to stop and be checked for illegal immigrants.
Six hours of driving has finally come to an end. We had originally planned on grabbing an RV park for the night but opted for some free Wal-Mart boondocking instead. With out spot secured we still had a bunch of distance to walk. Sigh.... let's go rack up a couple of miles.
Gaze upon our deluxe accommodations for the night. A total of 12 RV's, and 3 vans settle into the back of a small Wal-Mart parking lot for the night. Oh yes, life on the road.
The day has come. Time to point Penny east and start hammering out the miles. Everything is going better than expected. Cool air and bright sunshine make for an easy drive as the miles start to click off leaving our home in Phoenix.
A few hours and a couple of hundred of miles later, the glaring sunshine evolves into a light cloud cover. Traffic heading east is heavy on Interstate 10. This must be typical Saturday stuff in this neck of the woods. We aren't helping measures any either. I'm that jerk in the slow lane with the cruise set on 65 mph even though the posted speed limit is 75. Penny gets her best gas mileage between 60-65, and gas isn't cheap. Today's average is coming in at 7.47 mpg. Not too shabby for a gasser class A that is making the slow steady climb into the high desert of New Mexico.
Deming New Mexico is a place we get to call home for the night. A grand total of 352 miles of highway passed under out tires and it's time to give it a brake. RV miles are a lot different than driving your car. It takes constant attention to keep the big box between the lines. Small breezes, passing semis, ruts in the road, and potholes lining the lane are enough to force the driver to make corrections non stop. Being the seasoned travelers that we are, plans were made ahead of time with the help of a fellow RV'er for tonight's rest stop. Last year we joined a RV forum for folks who have a place for there comrades to park. This spot right here was 5 acres of land owned by a family who lives in North Dakota.
Recent rains made the sand a little soft. I get out and check the ground on foot. Seems good enough. Maybe I should drive the jeep over to the parking spot just to maker sure. Yep, still seems ok. Then I hop back into Penny and start heading across the lot. I feel her slow down just a tiny bit and my heart sinks. It was one of those 5 second internal panic attacks you have when you know stuff just got bad. Lucky for us it was only one little spot and the heavy girl on 6 wheels stays above the topsoil. I'll just go throw on a new pair of underwear and we can go for a walk.
Not everything is roses and rainbows. Some times getting a free place to park means you take some risks. A little soft sand can ruin your day real fast. With the tragedy averted Katie checks her fitbit. We still need to walk 3 miles today. Hats, gloves, and jackets come out of storage compartments as we prepare to suck it up and hit our goal of 5 a day. The temp has already dropped into the 50's and the wind is blowing pretty hard. Down the street is an old neighbors place that may have been empty for a little while.
Darkness envelops us and the temperature begins to drop. Tonight is supposed to be down into the upper 30's. The furnace gets set at 52 and we take some precautionary measures to make sure everyone survives the night. All three kitties jump into bed with us and absorb some body heat through the blankets. Eli is left to fend for himself. Well, sort of.
Today is the last day full day for us in our little RV village. I cleaned the windshield and it was still dirty. The outside was covered in a film of dust and the inside full of cat nose smudges. It took me three attempts to make it good enough to not see any streaks. I'll let you in on a little secret. A fine steel wool with some glass cleaner will make your window the cleanest you have ever seen it. Sounds crazy, but a fine steel wool (grade 0000) takes away all the little bugs and even mineral deposits. I picked up this trick of the trade from my time detailing cars at an auto body shop.
Priorities are always put into place when packing comes into play. A clean windshield keeps us from bashing into some moron driving to slow on the highway. Safety first. My next chore on the list is to re-install the kayak racks onto Shirley. She had them stripped off to haul supplies for grandma's house.
Up against the back wall is the rest of our stuff. The kayaks and bikes will go onto Shirley while T-dub needs to get loaded onto the back of Penny. Wait a minute. It's 70 degrees outside and our last day here. I bought this motorcycle for a reason. To ride. We say goodbye to Phoenix in the best way I can think of.
It's so close. We are getting read to leave and the anticipation is building. Today will be the last day we see grandma for a while. She will be greatly missed and we loved our time here with her. Our lunch is spent with her and the final goodbyes are said. A few last packages are grabbed from the house and then it's back home to start packing up. One of the packages delivered was a set of new thermostats for the RV water heater. A few days ago it decided to overheat and send the water heater into a fault code. This is where owner's manuals come in so handy. Just open it up and scroll down to the troubleshooting section.
Above you will see the pics of the water heater from the outside. It's rusty from that leak I already fixed and I think that also had something to do with this problem. An astute eye will notice the shiny new brass valve is directly located over a few electrical wires. Those wires go to a thermostat which controls the water heater temp. Quick work gets made of the existing parts and things get stripped out in just a couple of minutes. The rubber foam is a mess with the adhesive residue remaining. A little WD-40 (which was made by NASA to displace water for the APOLLO missions; attempt #40) does a pretty good job of cleaning adhesive. That gets followed up with some Goo Gone (invented 1984 by American products to remove grease) and then a light soapy rag.
These things are filled with wax. They get hot, wax expands, pushes metal thingy to make current either start or stop.
With the repair completed my attention turns back to Penny. Her tires have covers that need to be cleaned. The reason for this is to stop the rubber from getting blasted by UV rays. This will cause the tires to wear out faster than anything else. RV's rarely ever wear out the tread.
Clouds roll in and the night starts to chill. Goodyear is forecasted for rain tonight. The drizzle is a welcome relief after 29 days of straight up sunshine. One thing is for absolute certain, we will miss the amazing sunsets in the desert.
Today will be the last work day at grandmas. On the way there we swing by a UPS location to return some amazon stuff. While Katie is inside I spot this incredibly stupid car parked next to me. I should have gotten out and taken a better picture, but this will have to work for now. It's a late model Mitsubishi Eclipse with an anime vinyl decal on it.
The kitchen only has a couple of more outlets that need to get replaced and today is the day. They get replaced in quick fashion. Lucky for me some jerk wired all the kitchen outlets with #10 wire. That means it is thick enough to handle enough power to run a stove. It also means the wires are a real pain in the butt to bend and get into place.
Thick wires are no match for my tool bag. Outlets are getting installed whether the house wants them or not.
The house fights back and one of the breakers in the main electric panel refuses to re-energize. Sometimes stuff like that happens. A breaker that has been in one spot for 40 years does not necessarily want to move from its position. It most likely had a little corrosion on it and decided to longer make a circuit once the switch had been moved. Oh well. Just another parts run to the hardware store.
Have you ever had a problem with technology? Katie is trying to apply for a job and it requires flash player. My Chromebook doesn't have an operating system so that's out. Katie's tablet is a droid and there isn't any flash downloads available from the app store. The last option is the laptop we have with Windows 10 on it. I hate that piece of crap. It's cumbersome and difficult to use. After some work and finagling I get the laptop to work for what she needed.
A few hours go by as the afternoon dwindles on. I ask Eli if he wants to go for a walk. Below is his answer.
Easy way to end an easy day. Maybe tomorrow we'll do something exciting.
We are down to just the last couple of bits at grandma's. Today will be a big day for Katie. Her hatred for painting doors has come full circle. The newly installed front door gets ripped off the hinges and laid out in the backyard for it's first coat of paint. A single stage Rust-Oleum will seal the outside facade against the mighty Arizona sun.
While the paint is drying I go about my business and tidy up the cabinets with the handle installation. It's easy going as the sharp new drill bits make a hole without destroying the laminate finish. Then it's off to install a couple of more outlets and light switches.
The day winds down into the late afternoon. We stuck around a bit later than usual so that we could give the door paint enough time to set. Cautiously the door gets hinged back to the frame to avoid damaging the new paint. It will be a full week until it cures to maximum hardness.
Ah yes, another exciting book came in. This one is quite a bit older but still holds some information that I will be able to use. The end goal is simple: build a cheap car which looks slow that is stupid fast.
We get home and I settle in for some reading. The first few pages are all about the basics and then we get into the real fun stuff. Algebraic equations will lead me to the path of building a motor that can handle some forced induction. Finally, all the crap I was forced to learn in high school has paid off. This will be the first time in my adult life I've ever needed to understand this stuff.
Some reading material that I picked out a few days ago has finally arrived. We have a very advantageous situation and we should be utilizing it. In my free time I'll start to do some more learnin' about things that matter to me. I'm already looking forward to settling down and owning another house. Houses come with garages, and garages get filled with cars to work on.
The book of dreams gets put to the side so we can finish up a few lingering items at grandmas's house. Her cabinets that were previously installed still don't have any handles on them.
It's an easy task that doesn't take much time. Measure, then measure, then measure once more. Now step back and admire the work because I forgot my drill bits at home. Dammit.
Tibbs is running around the house like a meth addict on a fresh high. It's 7am and the RV park is still silent. I wonder if I can get outside and beat on some Jeep parts before anyone notices. Slowly, I climb out of bed and look out the window. Yeah... let's do this.
A few quick and hard wraps with a hammer pops the u-joint out of it's driveshaft home. The bearings are still in decent shape but the trunion and cap have worn down enough to make some slop. Then it's the same process in reverse and the new u-joint gets put back in. Once bolted up we are ready to head out for today's adventure.
Four Peaks Brewery in Tempe Arizona offers free tours of their process on Saturdays. The brew pub is located in the oldest poured concrete structure in Arizona. Built in 1892, this old creamery and ice house retains much of it's charm. The bare concrete walls and steel beams are all original. Most of the wood trusses appear to be original along with a few single pane windows.
Our tour guide for the day starts pouring samples from cans.... which is odd. This is our fourth brewery tour and the first one that didn't give samples out of the tap. To be fair the other three were Budweiser (St. Louis/ Houston) and Miller-Coors.
Our tour guide takes us aimlessly through the brew process and rooms. He is knowledgeable in the process, but lacks fluidity in the lecture. The facts just kind of drone on and on with no real rhyme or reason to the process. Below you will see special edition beers aging in old whiskey barrel casks.
Halfway through the tour I'm standing around staring at the floors and walls of the building. This place is a mess. I have 15 years of food and pharmaceutical manufacturing experience under my belt and I know what to look for. The floors and equipment do in fact appear to be clean. It's the final execution from the last shift worked that is ridiculous. The tour takes us in between tanks where guests have to step over hoses. Pallets are on edge and boxes are not put away. This place is a slip/fall hazard just waiting to happen.
Look at this jumbled pile of crap. I don't want to hear that they have nowhere else to go with it. If that is the area you must use, then organize and store it on shelving and hooks. And that paint.... ugh.
The end of the tour takes us into a small bottling room for the special editions. Here our guide points at the wall and talks about what other businesses where here over the years and how they took plaster down to find this beautiful old brick wall. What you can't see is that the wall has flaking paint. Actually, a lot of rooms were in a state of disrepair due to paint. That's not historic, it's called being lazy. I sure hope the boss of this place gets his act together and cleans this place up. It is at a tipping point of either being something special... or getting them a 483 from the FDA.
Problems never stop coming up in an RV. Penny is a 13 years old and she is starting to show her age. The water heater has slowly dripped from the pressure relief valve since we left St. Louis. Mineral deposits and rapid heat/cool cycles lead the seal to stop sealing. A huge benefit of being parked in one spot for this long is the ability to order parts. This special sized water relief valve was delivered for the paltry sum of $12. Nice.
Now it's off for our morning walk. This time we are going to shake it up a little bit more than usual. Eli has really been showing his age lately. Last week he busted out of grandma's house while we were gone and galloped through the neighborhood. He has had a limp that followed him from that day. The old man just can't do that stuff anymore but he doesn't know it. We leave gray face at home and hit the streets for a long walk. Our goal is to rack up 4 miles first thing this morning.
Our first find of the day is this jug of pee. Maybe it's not pee, but it looks like pee to me.
This is the overpass for Cotton Lane. Get it? Why they felt the need to spend tax payers dollars on frivolous concrete work escapes me. Looks nice though.
We trundle forward and get further into this side of Goodyear. I turn left and take us north through a small park that lines a subdivision.
The little park marked the halfway point of our quest. An abrupt turn back south will take us back home to face the rest of the day. I sit down for about 30 seconds and the boredom swoons over me. Hmmm.... what to do. I know Shirley still has the shakes. I guess I can crawl underneath and start looking at things I can't fix here.
Uh, that's not supposed to do that. A u-joint on a vehicle shouldn't move around. Shirley isn't your typical car. She is a 30 year old design that has been at the foothills of glaciers and pounded through sand drifts outside death valley. The part is an easy fix, but fixing it an the RV park is frowned upon. This is supposed to be a nice place with no garbage. I'd be "that guy" outside beating on his old jeep with a hammer which is not good. That kind of behavior could very likely lead to a polite invitation for us to leave.
I sneak under the jeep as night falls and crack a couple of bolts loose. The driveshaft comes out easily and I get a good look at how difficult this will be to do without any real tools. It looks doable. Katie gets her goodbye kiss and I saddle up on T-Dub for a ride to the parts store. Upon my return the driveshaft gets sprayed down with penetrating oil to sit overnight. We'll beat on it with a hammer tomorrow morning. Hopefully it will be quick and quiet.
No matter what we are doing or where we are I can't help but to think about really stupid stuff. It's a disease really. I inherited it from my dad's side of the family. Your mind just never stops wandering. Case in point: A majority of the houses and buildings down here have tile roofs. I had never seen these growing up and sure as heck have never installed one. Makes me wonder..... what does it weigh? Where do they make them? How long do they last? How do you install? The questions keep tumbling into my mind as I'm standing in front of a house staring at the roof like an idiot. This day in age I'm able to pop open my phone and find out anything I want to know. Technology is amazing.
I'll stop the ramblings about tile roofs and we'll roll straight into the main event. It's thanksgiving here in Arizona and the air has a chill. Clouds block out the sun on what is a rare occasion and the temperatures are still in the lower 60's. The Adams family football game is about to get underway. There's a 20 minute hold up once we realize nobody brought a ball. Yep, it's gonna be that kind of game.
The family clan and friends run around for an hour and call it good. After that we kill some time at grandma's and I take a few minutes to shower some stank off. Then it's off to Katie's aunt and uncles house for what is supposed to be a big Thanksgiving. When they say big they mean it. A total of 37 people show up from around the neighborhood. There are 4 turkeys, 2 hams, and more side dishes than you can shake a stick at. Everybody grabs a fork full of something and passes it to the right. Coolers are filled with frosty beverages and there is even Dos Equis on tap. This is Thanksgiving done right.
During all the chaos of preparing I spot a car tucked behind a fence next to the house. If you are not a car person go ahead and stop reading now. The next blurb of letters underneath the picture will be mostly gibberish nonsense.
Quick Specs: 1979 Mustang Indy Pace Car Edition First year of the Fox Body 5.0 2 valve with a C4 automatic, factory rated at 140hp 53,000 original miles Front and rear TRX sway bars Recaro Seats
Total pace car production was 10,748 units. They could be had with the 2.3L turbo 4 cylinder or the 5.0 v8 with either auto or a stick. This car is one of the 2,106 v8 automatics that were made. Katie's grandpa had bought this new from the dealership in Hales Corners Wisconsin and driven it for a number of years. Then when one of his sons graduated from high school he gave the car to him. From there it cruised the streets of Milwaukee before ultimately making it's way down to Phoenix. It's been sitting in this fenced prison for a number of years now. Hopefully it will once again roam the streets as a ferocious Fox Body Stang.
Another day another morning walk. We need to hit our goal of 5 miles a day and the sooner we do it the better. This is the view of the back of our park from the street. It is the closest sidewalk that we have and we like the smooth pavement opposed to the gravel shoulder sometimes.
Katie and I sit around the RV for the rest of the day and catch up on some simple chores. Katie ops to work on hemming some of her pants up from recent goodwill purchases. She's got no problem wasting a day away doing next to nothing.
I on the other hand hate to sit around. Being bored is not really for me. The RV is covered in a layer of dust from the surrounding area. Dust is bad for the paint. More importantly it makes us look like a bunch of poor schlubs who are homeless. Not this ride. This 32 foot house is getting a bath.
First time I got to use my new collapsible ladder.
I'm forced to basically give the RV a sponge bath. The RV park charges $25 for "water usage" if you want to wash your rig on site. It's really just a deterrent to keep people from getting bored and washing their rig once a week. I skirted around this by wiping a section down with soapy water, then wiping it down with a clean water sponge. One of the security guys who cruises around saw what I was doing and slowed down to catch a look. No hose... no problem. It's the kind of situation where you are better to ask for forgiveness than permission. All turned out OK and Penny got a much needed bath. It only took me 4 hours. Now what to do with the rest of the day...
Nothing quite like a romp on the motorcycle to bring a smile to my face. Work at grandma's is starting to run on the lean side. Most of the things she needed done have already been accomplished. There's a couple of things left to do but we still want to enjoy Phoenix to the fullest. A ride on the motorcycle to go hang up some curtains is the best of both worlds. T-Dub clicks off 500 miles on the way. Another milestone.
Katie picked out the curtains and now she gets to hang them up. We stick around long enough for a delicious lunch and head out on our way.
I wanted to stop at Cycle Gear and start looking at some cold weather jackets for the bike. Preparation to ride in the cold Houston winters is going to require a jacket of some sort. The prices here are way out of our range. Maybe if we had jobs it would be fine, but it's a much harder justification when you are just burning through the bank account. I will keep looking through thrift stores in order to save us some cash. Even though we are at an RV resort for the month, we are still living life on the road.
In my head I have been preparing for this day. I'm already trying to figure out how it is all going to be hooked together in the easiest fashion possible. In the past, old retrofit lights have been a real pain in the butt for some of my projects. That's not the case this time. Grandma's house already has wiring and switches in place. That's a huge bonus for just adding a couple fixtures. Daisy chaining a few lights together turns out to be a piece of cake.
Step #1- Lay out where the lights are going to go. Measure equal distances off the wall and find your spot. Check the ceiling for rafters, duct-work, wires and other obstructions if you can. At the very least you have to make sure there isn't a rafter in the way. This can be done with a stud finder or a trip up into the attic. Use the template provided in the box to mark you cut out. DO NOT CUT THE HOLE TOO BIG. You will never be able to cover it with a trim ring otherwise. You don't need to go full Hulk Hogan on this stuff. Make the hole small and enlarge it too fit.
Step #2- Using a drywall saw (or a an old sawzall blade) cut the hole out. Ask your beautiful wife to hold up a box to catch the insulation that is bound to fall to the floor. The insulation will most likely be fiberglass and make you itch until sometime next week. Now we can run a wire over to the existing light fixture.
Step #3- Hooking up the wiring is easy. You can simply turn off the switch and the power will be off at the wires. Sure you can flip off the breaker, but that's all the way outside. These retrofit recessed lights came pre-wired with simple push in connectors. Strip the wire back and match the colors up.
The recessed light gets pushed into the hole and then the trim gets added. I opted for the trim/baffle and LED light all built into one. It is the same cost as buying all the parts separate and way easier.
Step #3- Snap the little spring thingy's into the light fixture and... VOILA! Super sweet LED lighting.
Super simple post today. We didn't do a whole lot besides sit around all day long. I didn't even think to take some pictures until the end of the night. Enjoy some pics of our oasis during a night walk.
Buckeye Arizona holds one of the only free parks in the area. Most places try to scalp the users for $7 a car or $80 a year. We figured it was time for us to get out and see a little bit of the countryside. Katie gets the Camel-backs cleaned up for the first time in nearly a month. Most of the hikes look easy and the temperature is lovely. I think we will keep today to only 3.5 miles. Let's roll.
We took a 3 day weekend off from working at grandmas and did a little shopping. Katie has been flipping through all the local Goodwil stores in order to find some cold weather clothes. Houston winters still get chilly and we simply are not prepared for the weather that lay ahead. While out on our little trip we drive past a grocery store and I see something I want to share. This is a normal thing down here in Phoenix. The parking lot for the grocery store is entirely shaded.
It's just another example of people adapting to the local environment. Obviously this roofed parking was put into place to stop cars from spontaneous combustion in the summer heat. Last summer it was so hot here that they grounded some flights from the phoenix airport because it was too hot to fly. I want this to be clear. It gets so hot here that physics do not allow air planes to develop lift because of the air density. This is a sign. Move north.
Lower cabinets need a friend. Who would have thought they make wall cabinets that match? This will be an easier install than the bottom was yesterday. First thing to do is measure and then start laying out the outline. Figure out where the studs are and which cabinets go where. Proceed to screw the first cabinet to the wall and step back to admire your work. Then, and only then, can you notice that the cabinet is off center and doesn't line up with the bottom. Huh... I only measured once. Dammit.
I have to pull the cabinet down and start over. Now I'll eat my words and do what I said in the first place yesterday. Time to measure, then measure, and check it once more.
Katie and grandma start going through the Arizona room looking for things to start filling the cabinets with. There is still a lot of unpacking to be done here.
I get the cabinets wrapped up for the day and we decide it's time to head home. The handles and finishing touches will be taken care of another day.
Our glorious day gets wrapped up with daily chores that still need to get done. Kitty has got some dirty ears and I get volunteered to hold him down. This is my life.
Another day of the handy-couple lifestyle. Mr. Kitchen is a little short on space and Grandma wants things to change. She needs room for her good china and guest glasses. Who are we to deprive her of that? The bottoms get put in first. It will be a lot easier to line up the top row once we have something to use for support and more measurements. Now we got fairly lucky here. The floors in the house are already level and there is no need for shims. Under the cabinets is nice flat linoleum that serves as a great base for a small row of cabinets. I cannot stress this enough.... measure, measure, measure. We planned on putting in these cavernous storage containers while still leaving room for the fridge door (remember we turned that around) and a wine cart on the other side.
Lady luck struck twice in this installation. A piece of 6 foot counter top fit where we needed it with just enough room. The three separate cabinets get screwed together and then the counter top gets laid on for a test fit. Again... don't be stupid. Check, measure, then measure it again. The counter hangover (it had a long night) gets split between both sides and glued into place. There are a few different ways to attach this but a quality wood glue will never let go, never squeak, and most importantly never allow the top to shift from a good bump. After that we stack on about 500 pounds of boxes and let it sit overnight.
The cabinets will form a bond with it's new counter top overnight with all the weight pressed on it. It's going to be a long marriage so they might as well get a chance to talk alone. We head home with some cool boxes that showed up for Shirley. In preparation for our trip to Houston next month I've ordered a bunch of parts for the old girl. The front suspension is just plain worn out. Tony's got the space and tools which I plan on taking full advantage of. Below you will see what $500 in Cherokee suspension parts look like. No off brand crap for me. When you buy cheap crap it works like cheap crap. Our lives are at stake when we head 20 miles into the desert alone or drive down the sides of mountains with no guardrails. Shirley is getting the good stuff.
A nightly dog walk outside the park caps off the evening just the way we like it. Another gorgeous sunset over our little piece of paradise.