Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

We Followed Them Home

At home near Fort Worth, Texas...

I suppose we hadn't quite had our fill of the kids after our long time away, so what do grandparents do when they're retired? Well, just about anything we want, I guess. In this case, we decided to follow them home!

We know that the common response of most young folks faced with the prospect of such an invasion by grandparents would be something other than positive; it might even be laced with epithets of some kind. We have been blessed, however, in that Tyler and Mindy have always been solicitous of our presence, even for extended periods of time. We do go to great lengths, however, to remain on the periphery as much as possible, and we do our best to provide support for them as they go about their busy lives. We like to do grocery shopping for them and prepare and take them meals they like, then we fade away back to Phannie in the evening so they can still maintain their family time.

As far as Mason and Pryce go, we can do no wrong in their eyes, as we always have surprises for them and find little need to say "no" to anything they want unless we get busted by their parents-- something that happens fairly regularly.

In Houston, we stayed at Northlake this time, as it was a little cheaper than Rayford Crossing, which has obviously been discovered and whose rates are now in excess of $50 a night. Even though it's a very nice park, we think this is a little over the top.

Although it's a little out of the way for us, Northlake has many of the features that make it a premium park:

See Phannie in the background?

We have found that since it rains so often in Houston, a concrete pad is the only way to go to avoid tracking mud into the coach.

Before we left Marble Falls, we noticed one morning that we had no hot water. I checked everything I knew to check in regard to the water heater and found that it was operational on both electric and propane, but the water from the hot faucet was nothing more than a small trickle. I went online to the Tiffin owners forum and quickly found that the likely culprit was the check valve in the hot water line exiting the water heater. I removed the panel that separates the water heater compartment from the middle cargo bay, spotted the check valve and tapped on it with hammer. The valve obviously opened, as we suddenly had hot water again. However, it didn't last for more than a few minutes before it shut off. Because I could not contort my arthritic body into a position that would allow me to replace the valve myself, I elected to call for help. We arranged to meet up with a mobile RV mechanic on our way through Austin. We met up as planned, and the very personable mechanic had the valve replaced in about 20 minutes. We're glad to recommend RV Specialists in Austin. Their number is 512-470-3070.

Another thing I noticed that had the potential for giving us trouble was the electrical cable that provides power from Phannie to Mae, operating the taillights, brake lights and turn signals of our little red toad. The cable was beginning to show signs of wear because of its heavy use, and I was reminded that the current cable was a replacement for the original that was installed in 2011. The failure of the original cable occurred on the road, and we didn't discover it until we went to hook up one morning and noticed Mae's lights were not working during the light check that I always accomplish before each departure. This meant that Sandy had to drive Mae and follow me until we reached an RV parts store that had a replacement cable. Now you must know that, although she is a good and safe driver, Sandy is not fond of driving at all, especially in unfamiliar territory. So, I thought I would save myself some future ridicule by ordering a spare cable:

I thought this was a wise addition to my "fly away kit." (This is aviation lingo for a cache of critical spare parts and specialized tools carried aboard mostly charter aircraft that will enable a quick repair in a remote location. During my career as an airline pilot doing many charter flights, the fly away kit proved indispensable for avoiding expensive delays.) Phannie's fly away kit contains things like oil and fuel filters, a spare fan belt, extra bolts for slide torque tubes, extra towbar ring pins, special outsize wrenches and a small high-capacity air compressor, in addition to an assortment of other bolts, screws, washers and other kinds of fasteners and other small parts.

By the way, Amazon has these Blue Ox cables for about a third less than RV retail stores I've checked.

So what do we do while we're around the grandkids? Well, perhaps this gives you some idea:

We hope you do not infer from these photos that taking the boys to get smoothies, frozen yogurt and ice cream would be considered spoiling them. Nothing could be farther from the truth. At least, that's the way we see it!

After a week in Houston, we came back home for (what else?) another doctor and dentist appointment. But we won't be here long...stand by!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I do not appreciate it enough each day.

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