Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Shade Fixed, I Receive a Pilot Award

At Northlake Village RV Park, Roanoke, Texas...

After pausing for a few days in Tyler to keep from having to drive Phannie in rainy weather, we made it to Mckinney and MCD Innovations for repairs to Phannie's windshield shade. There are actually two shades on each window, one a 'day' shade to reduce sunlight and glare and the other a 'night' shade that is opaque. It was the night shade that was giving us trouble. Here's a photo of the day shade; you can see the bottom of the night shade near the top of the photo:

The day shade lowers on the inside of the night shade, and each has an electric motor to roll them up and down. The problem was with the night shade motor but, just for peace of mind, I wanted the technician to replace both motors with an improved version they are installing nowadays.

We were met on arrival by Calvin, the installer, who did some troubleshooting and confirmed that the motor was likely the problem. He said he would be at the coach at 8:30 a.m. the next day to install the new motors. 

Not being in the mood to do any food prep, we decided to go to Hutchins BBQ, a place highly recommended in all the foodie apps. We were not disappointed. I had brisket and ribs that I thought were at least as good as Franklin's in Austin and perhaps even better. Hutchins BBQ will definitely go in the Favorite Restaurants list:

We spent the night there at the factory in one of their dozen RV parking spaces, along with four other motorhomes parked there for shade work. Sure enough, at 8:33 the next morning, there was a knock on the door, and there stood Calvin with his toolbox. Here are photos of our parking spot and Calvin, getting to work:

After a couple of hours, the work was done, and we left MCD behind, along with nearly four hundred of our dollars. It was worth it, though. We love our MCD shades, and they have been rolled up and down an uncountable number of times without a hiccup over the past seven years. 

Another reason for us to be in the Dallas area was for me to receive an award from the FAA for my long career in aviation. This was the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, signifying that the recipient has spent at least 50 years as an active pilot with no accidents or safety violations. 

I never really thought this was very significant until I was informed that only one pilot out of perhaps 500 receives this award. Of course, I started flying very early in life; my flying lessons began when I was 16, and I received my commercial pilot's license and multiengine rating before I graduated from high school, something that's almost unheard of. And, since I'm still doing some flying now that I'm in my seventies, I have, indeed, been at it for over 50 years, soon to be 60, I guess. 

I had the good fortune of knowing exactly what I wanted to do for a career from the age of eight when I took my first airplane ride. And I feel doubly fortunate for having enjoyed every one of my 15,000 flying hours and my having flown many kinds of airplanes, from single-engine Cessnas to large commercial jet airliners. 

I received the award from an old friend and fellow FAA manager, Bill Smith, who himself was an award recipient:

(And no, we didn't coordinate our attire for the ceremony, but it surely looks as if we did.)

Here's a photo of the type of airplane in which I took my first flight and then my first flying lesson--an Aeronca 7AC:

Here's a photo of the last type of airplane I flew as captain before retiring from airline flying--a Boeing 727-200, after which I began a second career with the FAA:

I'm still not convinced that my status as an aviator is such that an award is appropriate. In my view, I'm being awarded merely for being an old pilot who made it through 50 years without bending an airplane, hurting myself or any of my passengers or doing anything that resulted in a safety violation. There are many thousands of others who could say the same thing. But I'm grateful, very grateful for the career I've had and this nice bit of recognition.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it each day as I should.

You don't stop playing when you get old; you get old when you stop playing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Last Hurrah in Branson, Jury Duty and a Blast From the Past

At Tyler Oaks RV Resort, Tyler, Texas...

Winding up our Branson holiday get-together, the boys had to take a turn at one of the indoor go-kart tracks. I just had to include these photos of their sheer delight. This was the first time Mason was old enough to drive a car by himself:

Pryce and Mindy share a ride until he's as old as his big brother:

Even Tyler got into the act. Boys will be boys:

After the kids left Branson, we took in a great Christmas show starring Jimmy Osmond and the Lennon Sisters. The girls are looking pretty good to be in their seventies:

As I mentioned in the previous post, we returned to Livingston to volunteer for jury duty. I know this sounds odd, but we appreciate the accommodation given to Escapees by the local courts, and we don't think it's unreasonable to accede to their request for us fulltimers to volunteer occasionally in return for the flexibility given for appearing. As it happened, Sandy and I were not chosen for duty this time, but we felt good about having our presence recorded to keep our part of the bargain.

As we were making plans to leave town, I pushed the button to raise the motorized MCD shade that covers the inside of Phannie's windshield, only to have the motor stop and begin a series of beeps, indicating either a voltage problem or a programming problem. At this point, the motor would run only sporadically, sometimes not at all. This was something entirely new; all of the shades in the cockpit are motorized, and they had never given a single problem in the seven years since they were installed by MCD in McKinney, Texas.

I gave a quick call to the factory, and a tech guy answered right away. After I described the problem, he said that I should make an appointment in McKinney for assessment, possibly to have the motors replaced. Not wishing to be without this oft-used shade, I quickly made the appointment, which they will be able to accommodate in a few days. So, that's where we're headed next. 

It's been a while since I included a blast from the past, so I thought I would include photos of a couple of our fulltiming RV friends whom we have known the longest. These are from approximately ten years ago, taken when we first met. 

Ed and Marilyn are known by many through Ed's blog:

Gordon and Juanita, whom we also got to know through their blog, visited us in Fort Worth for the first time ten years ago. Here we are at Angelo's, an iconic Texas BBQ joint:

One of the things we didn't anticipate about RVing when we started 14 years ago was the number of good friends we would make along the way. We count dozens of them now; these two blogging couples just happen to be among the first.

More updates to follow, of course, so stay tuned!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; 
please forgive me if I don't appreciate it as I should each day.

You don't stop playing when you get old; you get old when you stop playing.