Tag Archives: severe weather alerts

2016/02/22-24 (M–W) 1 SP, 2 S-A-H

2016/02/22 (M) Myakka River State Park

Our destination today was Myakka River State Park (MRSP).  We agreed yesterday to pick up Mara and Michael at 10 AM.  That allowed us to sleep until 8 AM, have coffee and breakfast at our rig, and take showers before leaving for the day.

MRSP is only 25 miles from Arcadia so we did not stop for fuel or coffee.  We stopped at the visitor center near the main entrance to study the maps and displays before heading deeper into the park.  As on previous visits, our first stop was the bridge over the stretch of the Myakka River that runs south from Upper Myakka Lake to Lower Myakka Lake.  We hiked south along the east edge of the river for quite some distance.  Unlike previous visits we did not see the quantity or diversity of wildlife that we expected.  Absent from our visit today were Wood Storks and Roseate Spoonbills.  We saw alligators, but only one somewhat up close.

We stopped at the Forest Canopy towers and suspension bridge which is one of the special treats of this park.  After that stop we drove to the vendor area on the southeast shore of the Upper Lake to have our picnic lunch.  The parking lot was full but our timing was lucky and we waited as someone backed out and then took that spot.  This area has a boat launch, restaurant, pontoon boat tour, wheeled vehicle train, gift shop, and restrooms.  After lunch we walked out to the weir across the outflow of the Upper Lake, which maintains it at a slightly higher level.  We saw a few more alligators and birds there.

We drove to the end of the road at the north gate and checked out the other picnic area that someone at lunch told us was there.  On the way back we stopped at the Birdwalk, a boardwalk that goes out through a marsh to a point near the eastern edge of the Upper Lake.  We saw a few more alligators from a distance and got a close up view of a couple of birds.

By the time we were done at the Birdwalk it was approaching 4 PM.  We drove slowly back to the Visitor Center to use the restrooms and then exited the park and headed back to Arcadia.  On the way back Linda and Mara decided that, in spite of a nice weather forecast, we would stick around the RV Resort tomorrow and have dinner together.  Not only will that give them time to plan/prepare the meal, it will give us time to do laundry and relax at the swimming pool.  It will also allow me to finish proofreading and correcting articles for BCM.  The forecast for Wednesday has an 80% chance of rain so that was already planned as a stay-at-home day.    My hope is that I will be able to upload the rest of my blog posts for October 2015.  I do not like being this far behind.

For dinner Linda made a dish with vegan Italian sausage on a bed of angel hair pasta with onion, garlic, and broccoli sautéed in EVOO.  Yum, yum.  After dinner I off-loaded the photos I took today.  We then watched the Nightly Business Report and NewsHour on PBS followed by the X-Files and Lucifer on FOX, NCIS Los Angeles on CBS, a few minutes of news and weather, and then Charlie Rose’s interview with Bill Gates on PBS.

So many shades of green.  A view to the south from the observation platform atop the north tower of the Forest Canopy Skywalk.  Myakka River SP, FL.

So many shades of green. A view to the south from the observation platform atop the north tower of the Forest Canopy Skywalk. Myakka River SP, FL.

2016/02/23 (T) Green Taco Wraps

It rained briefly last evening and more rain was forecast starting later this afternoon and extending through-tomorrow.  Today and-tomorrow were planned as stay-at-home (S-A-H) days so we got up just before 8-AM and had coffee, juice, and granola with bananas.  My plan was to take care of our fresh- and waste-water tanks and do the laundry before settling in to work on computer-based tasks.  Linda received a package yesterday of year-end accounting documents from the bakery and planned to work on those today.

The skies had clouded up late yesterday and gotten darker and thicker by sunset.  We had dark clouds to our west this morning and had just finished breakfast (granola, bananas, fruit juice) when it started to rain lightly.  I had no sooner closed the bathroom vent/fan when the rain came down hard.  I closed down the awning style windows until they were only open about an inch at the bottom.  We planned to roll up the patio awning before the rain came today but now had to wait for it to dry off, assuming the rains let up and the sun came out for a while.

We dropped below 1/3rd tank of fresh water yesterday.  When the rain stopped I went out to check the level visually.  It was barely below the 1/3rd sensor so I decided to forego dumping and filling for a couple of more days.  I might even run off the city water for a day or so to push the whole dump/fill/recharge routine off until the weekend.

I moved my laptop computer to the dining table so Linda could on work at hers on the desk.  The accounting work she had to do for the bakery required space to spread out the paperwork she got from Dave (the controller) yesterday.  I decided to just keep editing blog posts from November 2015 in preparation for eventually uploading them.

At 12:45 PM I started sorting the soiled clothes and linens.  Linda quite working on the accounting and made sandwiches for our lunch.  She made a grocery list and then walked to the supermarket.  At 1:30 I loaded the laundry and my iPad into the car and drove over to the laundry room.  By 1:45 I had four washing machines in operation.

I connected my iPad to the Resort’s public Wi-Fi signal at the activity building and connected through to the Internet, which always takes some doing.  The problem is that the various browsers load cached versions of the tabs that are open and I have to go to a new webpage in other to trigger the filter and connect to the Internet.  Until I have done that successfully I cannot check e-mail or update apps.

By 2:25 I had transferred all of the wash to three dryers and started them.  I had six apps with updates available totaling just over 400 MB (0.4 GB) and initiated those.  On our 12 GB Verizon data plan that is more than a whole day’s average data usage for a typical month (0.4 x 30 = 12.0).  I also noticed that I had two new updates for apps on my phone but when I looked more carefully I discovered that I had 22 app updates pending.  I had been deferring them until I could use the resort (or other) free Wi-Fi.  When the last iPad app update downloaded and installed I connected my phone to the Resort Wi-Fi and initiated the app updates.

I worked on the draft of today’s blog post and played a few games until the laundry was dry and then folded it and put it in the car.  It was 4 PM at that point and only 10 of the 22 apps had updated, so I pulled the car around in front of the activity building with a clear, short path to the antenna on the roof.  I had a much stronger signal in that location and the updates progressed much more quickly.  23 apps were updated and the process finished at 4:18 PM.  I noticed that my phone had somehow gotten set to show Homestead, Florida as my “home” location so I enabled Location Services, changed it to Arcadia, Florida, and then disabled Location Services.  I checked to see if we had any snail mail and then drove back to our coach and put the clean laundry away.

When I got back to our coach Linda was cooking her part of this evening’s meal.  We would be dining with Mara and Michael at Mara’s rig having “green taco wraps.”  Linda made a crumbled meat substitute from brown lentils, walnuts, sautéed onions, and peppers.  She also supplied the tortillas, lettuce, and vegan sour cream.  Mara made salsa and avocado cream and a side salad with cauliflower, tomatoes, and lemon juice.  We brought a bottle of Chardonnay and Mara had a bottle of Spanish Rioja, a very dry red wine.

We walked over with our contributions just before 6 PM and were greeted by Michael.  Mara had walked to Walmart for some tomatoes and other last minute items and returned not long after we arrived.  Good wine, good food, and good friends made for a great meal.  We were still there at 8 PM and it turned out that we like to watch the same TV programs, so we all watched NCIS.  Linda and I walked back to our coach when the show ended and watched NCISNOLA and Limitless before going to bed.  I watched most of Charlie Rose before falling asleep.

An Egret tries to swallow a fish that it caught near the Myakka River.  Myakka River SP, FL.

An Egret tries to swallow a fish that it caught near the Myakka River. Myakka River SP, FL.

2016/02/24 (W) Another Tornado Warning

Today was planned as a stay-at-home day.  The forecast was for wind and rain with a marginal risk of severe weather.  I was up a little before 7:30 AM and thought about going to the Wednesday coffee “social” but decided against it.  I began preparing our morning coffee but waited until Linda was awake to grind the beans and finish the process.  Linda got our Verizon Mi-Fi and Wi-Fi Ranger online and checked the current weather, which we compared to what was being reported on the local TV news.  Wind and rain were expected in our part of southwest Florida by 10 AM and the Wundermap app radar showed a large storm front drooped from southwest to northeast in advance of a cold front and moving our way.

I finished my first cup of coffee and then went outside and put up the two window awnings on the driver side of our coach.  While I was out there I drained the auxiliary air filter / water separator and stored the two folding bag chairs in the front bay.

We had granola and blueberries for breakfast and it started raining while we finished our coffee.  We both had computer-based work to do today but Linda needed to update some things first.  The rain stopped, at least temporarily, so we packed up our mobile technology and drove over to the activity building to use the RV resort’s public Wi-Fi system.

We set up our tech toys in the library and connected them to the resort’s public Wi-Fi system; two laptop computers, two iPads, and two smartphones.  I had three app updates on my phone and Linda had 14.  She had eight app updates on her iPad and I had one OS-related update on my computer.  Linda downloaded a new audio book.  I downloaded/installed the OfficeSuites Free – Mobile + PDF app on my iPad and the 2016 U. S. RVers Edition (PDF) of The Mobile Internet Handbook by Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard from the Mobile Internet Aficionados membership website.  We also checked our e-mail while we were there.  Between our six devices we greatly exceeded our average daily data allocation of 0.4 GB that our 10+2 GB Verizon data plan provides.  Our normal 10 GB plan averages out to about 0.3 GB per day, and it is not sufficient for our needs when traveling in the motorcoach.

As we were packing up at 1:30 PM to return to our coach the skies opened up and heavy rains poured forth.  Moments later both of our phones notified us that a tornado warning was in effect for our location until 2 PM.  Our car was parked near the front door of the activity building so we decided not to wait for a lull in the rain.  It was raining even harder by the time we got back to our coach but we had our technology in ballistic nylon travel bags and got them inside without getting them wet.

Linda set up her computer on the desk and I set up mine on the dining room table.  We did not need to be online so we left the Verizon Mi-Fi turned off.  Linda worked on accounting for the bakery while I proofread and annotated corrections for two BCM articles.  When she was done for today I moved my computer to the desk, plugged in the power supply, and spent some time reading and responding to e-mails.

By 3 PM the severe weather threat had passed but densely overcast skies continued with occasional lighter rain.  All of this was, once again, in advance of a cold front that will bring high temperatures only in the upper 60’s for the next four to five days.

For dinner Linda improvised a sauté of onion, garlic, kale, and turmeric with boiled red potatoes.  It was a hardy dish; perfect for a cool, dreary evening.  We watched a PBS Nature episode on Emperor Penguins, a Nova episode on rescue robots, and another program on Big Data.  We then went to bed as we had to be up early in the morning.


2015/06/23 (T) Grounded

As I wrote in yesterday’s post we did not turn off the lights last night until almost 1 AM because we were keeping a close eye on the weather moving across the lower portion of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.  Although strong to severe storms were still forecast from 1 AM to 5 AM they either did materialize at our exact location or we slept through them.  We had the house closed up and the air-conditioning on, so that cut down the sound level of outside noises.

A cold front had pushed through by sun up and we woke to a cool morning with blue skies and noticeably lower humidity.  We did not have any trees, or even big limbs, come down and there was no damage to our brand new roof.  The forecast yesterday was threatening enough, however, that in the morning we took the potted plants, and as much of our outside lawn furniture as we could find room for, inside including our sun umbrella and trash cans.  I planned to be gone most of the day, and Linda was leaving mid-afternoon to go to dinner and a movie with Diane Rauch, so our first chore was to put all the lawn furniture, plants, and other outdoor stuff back outdoors.

This week is mostly being devoted to ham radio with the ARRL Field Day as the crowning event this weekend.  My specific focus for most of the week, however, has been the “communications tower” adjacent to the east wall of our house.  As described in previous posts we installed a cable entry box (CEB), mounted the cellular booster in the basement, mounted the inside cellular antenna, and ran coax cables.  The antennas will (hopefully) be mounted on the existing 40 foot tower tomorrow, cabled into the CEB, and cables run from there to devices inside the house.  With any luck by the end of the day tomorrow we will have decent cellular service inside the whole house, the ability to watch OTA TV programs on two different TV sets, and finally be able to connect one of our radios in the ham shack to an antenna.  Today, however, was planned to mostly address other things.

I had an appointment with our dentist at 10:20 this morning and left at 9 AM.  I planned to stop at Chuck’s bus garage and check that the key he lent me worked, but I needed gas for my car.  I did not have time for both and did not really have a choice; I would have to check the key some other time.  I ordered two cables yesterday from Scott (AC8IL) at Adams Electronics.  Later in the evening I was unsure if I had specified the connectors correctly so I called and left a message.  I called again this morning to make sure the message got through.  It did, and my original connector specifications were correct.

I arrived at the dentist’s office about 10 minutes before my appointment time.  I called Rick Short at Isringhausen USA to make sure he was going to be in before I drove two hours to Galesburg, Michigan after my dentist appointment.  I got his voice mail a left a message.  “ISRI” makes very high tech air suspension driver’s seats that are used as original equipment in motorcoaches, semi-tractors, heavy equipment, and locomotives.  I would really like one for our bus, but it is not proving easy to get.

Dr. Steve and his assistant, Leslie, made molds of my upper and lower teeth and a bite impression.  The molds will be used to make a mouth guard that I can wear while I sleep.  Dr. Steve has a strong suspicion that I am clenching my teeth and the mouth guard will reduce or eliminate the irritation it causes.  I will have to ask if I can wear it during the day too as I am occasionally aware of clenching my teeth while I awake.

I had not heard back from Rick by the end of my appointment so I called the main number at ISRI and talked to the receptionist.  It turned out that Rick was not in today and she transferred me to Jeff Woodworth.  Jeff was willing to meet with me but thought it would be a better use of my time to wait until Rick was available.  My next opportunity to drive to Galesburg will be Thursday and I will likely go as the ISRI seat is holding up our ordering of Flexsteel seats through Coach Supply Direct.

I stopped for coffee and then re-routed for Chuck’s bus garage in Novi.  The key to the garage worked perfectly.  I called Linda to let her know about the change in plans and headed for home.  There is too much to do at the moment to waste much time so I installed the #4 AWG bare copper ground wire I bought yesterday at Lowe’s.  I mounted an offset copper wire lug using the center support stud for the copper back plane in the CEB.  I replaced one of the plastic hole plugs with a rubber plug with a small hole in the center.  The hole I chose in the bottom of the CEB allowed the ground wire to come straight up into the lug.

Another view of the cable entry box on the east end of the house by the 40-foot tower.

Another view of the cable entry box on the east end of the house by the 40-foot tower showing the bare copper ground wire that runs to the ground rod and then to one of the tower legs.

Outside the CEB I routed the ground wire around to the existing ground rod and secured it using the new clamp I bought yesterday.  There was an old ground wire connected from a clamp on the tower to the ground rod.  I removed that wire along with some coax and control wires that I had clipped when we removed the old satellite dish.  I then attached the new ground wire to the clamp on the tower.  While we were at it Linda trimmed back a small bush that was growing between the tower legs and I pulled leaves, grass and other stuff out from around the Day Lilies that we transplanted last year around the tower base.

With the CEB grounded we looked at how we might get a video cable up to the TV/monitor in our bedroom.  The wall where the TV is mounted has a hot water baseboard radiator that comes almost to the trim on the door wall.  That end of the radiator has a copper pipe that goes through the floor into the basement and it was easy to locate the pipe in the basement.  I determined that there was enough space behind the pipe to safely drill a hole but I had to drill it from the top side at an angle.  A 5/8″ wood boring drill bit created a hole just big enough for the molded F-connector on the end of the cable to pass through.

We fed the video coax cable above the suspended ceiling in the ham shack area to the location of the hole.  I then fed the cable up from the basement as Linda pulled it up into the bedroom.  We adjusted the amount of cable in the bedroom to allow the wall mounted TV set to move through its entire range of motion.  The other end of the cable was then routed into the sump pump room.

By the time we finished pulling this cable it was 3:30 PM and time for Linda to leave to pick up Diane.  They were headed to Royal Oak for dinner and a movie as the movie they wanted to see was only showing at the Royal Oak Main Theater.

While I was out during the morning Lynch Carpet had called to let us know our Armstrong vinyl tile was available for pickup so after Linda left I closed up the house and went to get it.  The 12 boxes of tiles, container of vinyl adhesive, and container of vinyl grout were all neatly arranged on a small pallet and tightly wrapped in shipping plastic.  Rather than break this down and load each thing individually they used a fork lift to set the pallet in the back of my Honda Element.  The rear suspension settled at least two inches when they transferred the full weight of the pallet to the floor of my car.

When I got back to the house I backed the car up to the garage.  I cut the shipping plastic loose and unloaded the tubs and boxes of tiles.  I put the pallet on the garage floor and then neatly stacked the boxes of tiles on it to keep them off the floor.  Each box contained 14 tiles measuring 16″ by 16″ for a total area of 24.89 square feet.  The Armstrong Alterna tiles are a “luxury vinyl” product, and are about 1/8″ thick.  Even so, the boxes were heavier than I expected so I decided to weigh one.  It tipped the scale at just under 42 pounds.  That meant the entire pallet weighed close to 500 pounds, and, ignoring the weight of the cardboard box, that is about 3 pounds per tile.

When I drew out the design I determined that I would need 158 tiles, some of which would be partial.  Figuring conservatively at 150 full tiles equivalent, and ignoring the weight of the underlayment, adhesive, and grout, the floor tiles will weigh about 450 pounds.  I have no idea what the carpet and ceramic tile that I have removed weighed but the tiles were heavy.  I also have no idea what the furniture weighed that we have removed but also have no idea what the new furniture will weigh.  The intent was that the new floor and furniture would weigh less than old stuff but we will see.

I traded phone calls with my dad and we finally got to talk for a half hour starting at 4:30 PM.  He turned 90 this past Sunday.  Mike Fearer from Bid-Rite Concrete called at 6 PM and arrived about 10 minutes later to discuss the foundation for our 70 foot ham radio tower.  I had printed off a page from the Universal Tower website showing their tower base.  I also downloaded and printed their base and tower installation instructions.  I had a set of these to give to Mike so he would have some idea of what the project is about.  We looked at the proposed location for the tower and access for his dump cart.  We also talked about the base, a rebar cage, a form around the top of the hole to allow the concrete to be slightly above ground, and a jig to make sure the base is level and the tower is plumb.

He said he was interested in the job and would work with me and Phil Jarrell (the excavator) to get it done.  Rather than bid the job he would just do it for time and materials.  He also said the current price of concrete was about $100 per cubic yard.  We will need about six (6) cubic yards to fill the required 5′ x 5′ x 6′ (deep) hole.  He thought he might be available the middle of next week but I don’t think I could have everything pulled together that quickly.

After Mike left I went to Lowe’s and picked up five 40 pound bags of topsoil, a 1-in/2-out signal splitter (rated for 5 MHz to 2.4 GHz), and a plastic snap cover channel for hiding the video cable we ran up into the bedroom from the basement for the TV set.  I then went to the Meijer’s supermarket just across Grand River Avenue for soy creamer but they did not have what I was looking for.  As long as I was there I had a salad for dinner at the in-store Subway.

While I was sitting there I called Mike Sharpe (W8XH) to confirm that he was available tomorrow to help with the antenna installations on our 40 foot tower.  I mentioned that the only thing I lacked was a standoff with a pulley at the end of it for hoisting stuff up to me.  He suggested that something like that was essential and I agreed, so I headed back to Lowe’s to see what I could figure out.  What I ended up with was a three foot long 7/16-14 threaded rod, a pulley that had a closed eyelet on top (and was big enough for the 3/8ths rope I bought), some 7/16ths washers, and some 7/16-14 nuts.

When I got back to the house I unloaded the topsoil near the part of the east yard that needs to be filled in, took the other stuff inside, and then assembled the threaded rod pulley system.  I secured the pulley on one end of the rod using two of the nuts, one on either side of the eyelet.  I threaded a nut onto the other end, put on two washers, two nuts, two more washers, and another nut.  I ran the first two nuts, with two washers between them, part way down the rod.  I left the second pair of nuts, with washers between them, near the end of the rod.

I took the assembly out to the tower and adjusted the position and spacing of the two pairs of nuts and washers so they would bracket two of the horizontal tower members.  In use I will secure the rod to the tower at each pair of nuts/washers using plastic cable ties.  This arrangement will put the pulley at least 18″ from the tower which should be far enough out that we can hoist the DB8e OTA TV antenna to the top of the tower without it banging into the tower or hanging up on something.  This antenna is the largest thing we need to hoist up. The old TV antenna is considerably larger and heavier, but it is coming down via gravity.

There was a message on our answering machine from Linda’s sister, Sr. Marilyn, who lives in St. Louis.  She was listening to the news earlier today about the storms that went through our part of Michigan and wanted to make sure we were all OK.  By the time we finished talking it was dark and I was done working for the day.  Linda called shortly thereafter to let me know she was on her way home and I mentioned the call with Marilyn.

I finally opened the box with the vertical omnidirectional outside antenna for the cellular booster system and discovered that I should have opened it sooner.  The mounting bracket was designed to be mounted to a vertical surface, such as the side of a house, not a tube, such as a tower leg.  I did not want to postpone tomorrow’s tower work so I will have to get up early and figure out a way to adapt the existing bracket so I can mount the antenna to the top of the tower.

My initial thought was that an aluminum U-channel of the correct size might solve the problem very nicely.  I could drill two holes in the bottom of the “U” to match the two holes in the bracket.  I could then drill three pairs of holes through the sides of the channel.  The antenna would be bolted to the bottom of the channel.  With the open part of the channel held against a vertical tube I could secure it with three long plastic cable (zip) ties.  Conceptually it should work and be easy to fabricate, but will take time which I won’t have a lot of in the morning.  We have to get the two coax cables from Scotty (AC8IL), drop off my car at Brighton Honda for its 100,000 mile service, and be back in time to have the mount fabricated and all of the antennas and tools ready to go by 10:30 AM when Mike shows up.

Linda got home at 9:45 PM, earlier than she thought she would when she left.  She and Diane ate at Luigi’s and had a very nice meal.  They also enjoyed the movie.  We had a big day on tap for tomorrow and we asleep by 10:30 PM.


2014/09/05 (F) WordPress 4.0

We awoke to temperatures in the low 70’s this morning and by noon it was forecast to be 85 degrees F with rapidly rising humidity.  We turned our A-C on yesterday and left in on overnight and through the day today.

WordPress 4.0 was released yesterday and just before midnight I updated the four websites I manage, including this one.  I was looking forward to working with the new version today, but first things first.  Darryll called at 8:15 AM to make sure it was OK to come over.  We finished breakfast and then opened the garage and moved a few things that might be in his way. Although we would have liked to continue working in the garage during the morning, before it got really hot and humid, we were glad to have Darryll here working on the HVAC installation.

Instead of working on organizing the garage Linda worked at her desk and baked a loaf of bread while I assisted Darryll.  He wired up the library thermostat and showed me how the wires were connected.  He installed the return air grill, which required some minor drywall trimming, and installed a 6″ combustion air duct in the ceiling of the utility closet.  The duct had a screen on one end with a hood, like a dryer vent, and was open on the other end.  He installed it from the attic side with the hood in the attic and the open end sticking down through the ceiling into the closet.  I may decide to caulk or apply drywall compound to fill that gap between the duct and the hole Darryll made in the ceiling.

Darryll’s main focus, however, was hooking up the four pieces of duct, two rigid and two flexible, that will carry conditioned air into the library and installing the two ceiling registers.  That involved working in the attic which was very hot.  The flexible duct for the two ceiling registers was the same kind of product that was used in the main house; a pre-insulated flexible accordion tubing with an 8″ inside diameter that comes in 25′ lengths compressed to about 3′ for shipping.  To feed the two registers on the lower part of the west wall of the library he cut lengths of 8″ diameter (circular cross section) metal duct and assembled them.  He attached them to the supply air duct (plenum) with flange connectors.  He then slide insulation blankets (tubes) around them and connected the bottom ends of the duct into the back of the register ducts using several elbows to bring the duct around and close to the wall.  Finally, he slid the insulation down and secured it.

While Darryll was doing all of that I finished connecting the AC power to the condenser/compressor. That involved the following:

  • removing the terminal cover panel from the inside of the fused disconnect box
  • knocking out access holes on the right side and bottom
  • mounting the fused disconnect box to the side if the house
  • cutting a piece of 3/4″ plastic conduit for the cable from the soffit to the box
  • running the NM cable through the conduit
  • installing a watertight 90 degree elbow into the conduit
  • attaching the elbow to the side of the box
  • cutting, stripping, and connecting the line wires
  • cutting the plastic armor on the hookup cable to the right length
  • installing a straight screw-in watertight connector on the box end of the armor
  • installing a screw-in 90 degree elbow watertight connector on the condenser end
  • cutting, stripping, and connecting the load wires in the box
  • cutting, stripping, and connecting the load wires in the compressor.

I had Darryll check my work and then installed the fuses in the pull-out disconnect but was not able to get it to plug all the way in.  Darryll bent the blades slightly and got it to seat fully.  (I need to get two different fuses.  All he had were 30A fuses but 20A would be sufficient.  Also, the fuses he had in his truck were notched on one end.  I think fuses with full barrels on both ends would be better as they would have more contact surface than the notched ones.)  I reinstalled the terminal cover panel and closed the box.  I then re-installed the cover panel on the A-C compressor that Darryll had removed earlier.

With the power connected and most of the ducts run, we turned on the 120VAC/15A circuit breaker (for the unit in the utility closet) and the 240VAC/20A circuit breaker (for the compressor/condenser).  Darryll turned the thermostat mode switch to “cool” and the fan switch to auto and the A-C came to life.  Hooray!  I love it when that happens.

While Darryll finished installing the ducts and the registers I connected and mounted the thermostat for the garage furnace and then connected the wires on the other end of the cable to the terminals on the back of the unit according to Darryll’s instructions.  I removed the end panel from the Reznor ceiling-mounted garage furnace, removed the documentation packet from the inside, checked that the gas valve was in the “on” position, and put the end panel back on.  I also removed the protective plastic film from the bottom of the unit.

Darryll gathered up his tools, extra parts, and unused materials and loaded them in his truck. He then pressurized his portable air compressor and used it to pressurize the black iron gas pipe.  It has not been holding pressure, so he pumped it up to 15 PSI and we went in search of leaks with a spray bottle of soapy water.  We used my inspection mirror to see behind and under connections and found three leaks.  One was in a 2″ pipe fitting behind the garage, one was in a 2″ pipe fitting near the end of the run by the generator, and one was at an elbow in the 1/2″ pipe where it exits the utility closet on its way to the garage furnace.

Darryll was checking air temperature readings at the registers and in the main plenum of the library HVAC unit.  The library was 89 degrees F when he first turned the A-C on, and the attic was a lot hotter than that.  He connected his gauges to the compressor/condenser and said the readings were close enough to correct that he did not want to add or remove any refrigerant until the room had cooled down and stabilized at the requested temperature.

I was hoping he would get the job finished today but he needed some equipment, which he did not have with him, to work on the iron pipe and he was obviously tired from a long day working in the high heat and humidity.  He may be back tomorrow; if not, Monday or Tuesday. Whenever he returns, I have complete confidence that he will get it done before the gas meter is hung and that it will all work correctly for many years with very little attention other than changing a filter once or twice a year.

We deferred lunch until Darryll left.  We had chickpea salad on a slice of the bread Linda had baked earlier, corn-on-the-cob, and the last of some fresh pineapple.  Nothing says “summer” like organic, non-GMO corn-on-the-cob.

After lunch I called Bratcher Electric to check on the status of the estimate/quote that Mike was putting together to service our generator, convert it to natural gas, and run a 100A Service Entrance Cable from the transfer switch to the garage panel, converting it from a sub-panel to a main panel.  Karen said they have been really busy but he would work on it over the weekend.

I also called 1-800-Pack-Rat to arrange pickup of the storage container on Friday September 12th.  Steven was not able to schedule the pick-up during the call and said he would contact the local office and get back to me.  I made it clear that we did not want to roll over into another billing cycle and I was calling one week ahead of time as we had been instructed.  He assured me that it would not be a problem.  About an hour later we got a return call and follow up e-mail confirming pickup for Friday, September 12.

Late afternoon I checked on the library A-C to make sure it was not freezing up.  Everything looked OK.  The thermostat was set to 76 degrees F and the temperature was down to 77, so I bumped the setting up to 78 to let it cycle off and on.  Although Darryll did all of the heavy lifting on this project (literally) I spent my fair share of time in the attic on warm days installing the pull-down folding ladder and working on electrical wiring and attic lights.  It was very gratifying to see that all of this work—his, mine, and Linda’s—finally result in something that operated correctly.

We were relaxing and reading when severe weather watches and warnings for our area started arriving on our iPads.  Naturally we went outside to see what was going on.  We were both born and raised in the Midwest, the St. Louis, Missouri area, to be exact, and as kids in the 1950’s, threatening weather was a form of summertime entertainment.  Not that we were stupid; we learned from the adults around us when the show was over and it was time to head to the basement.  When I was about 5 years old we lost a plum tree in our backyard to a close encounter with a tornado.

The gathering storm.  The clouds were very dramatic in all directions.

The gathering storm. The clouds were very dramatic in all directions.

The clouds were very dramatic but eventually gave way to a formless mass of gray with swirling winds and a few raindrops.  We checked the Weather Channel app and the Weather Underground Wundermap app on our iPads.  The radar returns showed that we were likely in for some rain, and we got some, but as often happens the worst of it passed north and south of us.  The rain we did get was very welcomed.  We had heavy rain on Monday (Labor Day), Keith mowed the grass on Tuesday, I spread grass seed around on Tuesday and Wednesday, and a flock of six wild turkeys feasted on the grass seed on Wednesday and Thursday. We needed a nice light rain to help the seeds germinate and take root rather than be eaten or washed away in a thunderstorm.

Storm clouds looking east.

Storm clouds looking east.

Around 7:30 PM our power flickered several times and we received e-mail messages from our generator letting us know that utility power had been lost and then quickly regained.  We decided to check the Kohler OnCue software to see what the generator was doing.  We thought sure we had installed the software on Linda’s computer, so we could monitor it from her desk in the kitchen/dining area, but it wasn’t there.  After much searching and head scratching we checked my old laptop and there it was!  When we thought about it we realized that the generator had been installed about a week before Linda started configuring her new Samsung laptop, so there was no way we had put the software on her machine.  We’ve been very, very busy the last 20 months, so it was not surprising to us that we had forgotten the exact sequence of events.


Approaching from the southwest the clouds got more ominous.

The severe warnings expired at 8 PM and the severe watches at 9 PM, but that did not mean the rain was done.  A big fetch of moisture was located south of Chicago, Illinois and moving through southwest Michigan in our general direction.  The rain was forecast to continue into the early hours of tomorrow but be done before sunrise.  When the rains finally came it rained hard for a while.  Tomorrow is forecast to be a perfect Michigan day and I plan to buy another bag of grass seed to spot seed the areas that got washed away, again.


2014/04/15 (T) A Taxing Day

At 1:30 AM (Tuesday, April 15) my cell phone issued a severe weather alert tone.  The message from the Weather Channel app was an emergency notification that a flash flood warning had been issued for Freeport and advised us to seek higher ground but to not drive through water.  If we had not already been awake, we were now!  But then, that is the point of having your cell phone set up to alert you to dangerous and threatening conditions with a sound that announces an imminent nuclear attack.  As if that wasn’t enough, the leak at the passenger-side rear corner of our bedroom vent-fan reappeared.  I had applied a liberal coat of Dicor self-leveling lap sealant to the outside of that vent-fan back at Williston Crossings and it had not leaked during two subsequent heavy rain events, so I thought I had taken care of that problem.  Either I missed a spot or the water got in somewhere else.

Although Live Oak Landing is on the Choctawhatchee River it is on ground that is noticeably higher than the water level and the RV sites are not right at the bank.  I figured we were safe as we could see the east end of Choctawhatchee Bay from the front of our bus.  Ocean water levels rise and fall with the tides, but oceans don’t flood.  The interior roads and sites are paved, so they were not going to get washed out by the rain and we were not going to be mired in soft ground.

We had a lull in the rain between 3:00 and 5:30 AM and I used the time to work on blog posts covering the 12th through the 14th and keep an eye on the weather.  I prefer doing one post per day, and uploading it before I go to bed, but that is not always possible.  When I first started blogging I would often write the rough draft in bed on my iPad, e-mail it to myself, get up early the next morning, finish it, and upload it.  I still do that sometimes, but just as often I end up several days behind.  BTW:  The WiFi at Live Oak Landing is very good.  We have been able get connected and do what we needed to do, even when it was raining.  We also have an acceptable Verizon 4G/LTE signal here.

The rain resumed briefly at 5:30 AM but without the previous intensity and fanfare.  It started again at 6:50 AM.  I checked the radar on my iPad Wundermap app and it showed the cold front just a few miles to our west and another fetch of rain beginning to come on shore and positioned to train over us.  It was not severe, however, and the band ultimately drifted east of us before coming onshore.  The rain event in most of the panhandle was done by 8:30 AM.   The end of the rain event, however, was not the end of the weather warnings.  Flash floods occur during and shortly after heavy rain events, but rivers can rise above flood stage long after the rains have moved through as large volumes of water upstream try to make their way to the sea.

There was no sunrise today, just a gradual change from night to muted, grey light that continued through the morning.  By mid-morning the cold front had passed by us, the winds had shifted from southwesterly to due north, and the temperature had dropped. A low pressure center had moved directly over Atlanta, Georgia with the cold front trailing SSE into the Gulf and the rainy weather shifted to northeast Florida, downeast Georgia, and up the Atlantic coast.  A wider view of the continent showed the heaviest weather farther north.  The cold front stretched along the Appalachian Mountains, up through Quebec and then wrapped around through Labrador and into the Labrador Sea.  There were four additional low pressure centers located in northeast Pennsylvania, southwest of Montreal, over the middle of Labrador, and just off the coast in the Labrador Sea.  Behind the front was cold and snow; in front of it, rain.

Linda checked the weather back home. The 3+ inches of snow recorded overnight in Detroit, Michigan pushed the total for the season to a new record of over 94 inches.  The old record was established in 1880/81.  This has been a historic winter with records broken across much of North America.

By early afternoon the storms were gone and the day was struggling to become partly cloudy instead of all cloudy.  The temperature barely broke 60 and it was windy so it still felt like winter’s last hurrah.  Linda discovered last night that the dish soap we bought at Publix never made it into one of our grocery bags.  It happens.  We needed more toilet paper, so we headed back to Publix in the early afternoon and stopped at the customer service desk with receipt in hand.  Mary said it was “no problem, just pick up the soap and tell the cashier that Mary said it was OK.”  It was only a $0.69 item, but we appreciated that Publix took our word for it.

With our shopping taken care of we decided to drive west on US-98 about eight miles to Destin, Florida.  The closer we got to Destin the more developed the area became.  We saw a sign for a Panera at a premium outlet mall and decided to go there for lunch.  Destin is a very upscale, resorty kind of place.  We crawled through traffic, and some of the worst engineered traffic signals we have ever encountered, to get to the mall and the restaurant.

The parking lot was packed and so was the Panera.  Apparently the stormy weather had prevented the residents from getting their maximum daily dose of high-end shopping, and they were all out on Tuesday afternoon making up for lost time.  In spite of the crowd it did not take long to place our order and receive our food and it was the same good quality we have come to expect at Panera wherever we find one.  Unlike Watercolor, which seemed vibrant but relaxed when we drove through yesterday, Destin seemed crowed and almost frantic; not our kind of place.  The traffic lights were so stupidly set up I concluded that the traffic engineers must hate rich people and were using them to inconvenience them to the maximum extent possible.  Being neither wealthy nor tolerant of stupidity, we finished our lunch and got out of town.

Before returning to Live Oak Landing we drove past Topsail State Park, a former commercial RV park, and through the very upscale community of Santa Rosa Beach right on the Gulf of Mexico.   We then drove to Freeport just to check it out since Live Oak Landing has a Freeport mailing address.  It was a one intersection town without anything special to recommend it.  Been there, done that, no reason to go back.

Back at our coach we were both very tired, having had very little sleep last night, and took a nap.  Naps are a great thing.  I used to consider them a luxury, but I’m seriously considering making them a part of my daily routine.  When we finally woke up Linda made a green salad and re-heated the spicy quinoa and black bean dish from the other night.  A beautiful sunset suddenly developed and I grabbed my camera to try to get a view shots.  This kind of lighting situation really requires a tripod and the use of the high dynamic range (HDR) technique, but I did not have time for either of those, so I got what I could hand held.

Sunset at Live Oak Landing.  (This photo has more image manipulation than normal.)

Sunset at Live Oak Landing. Our coach is lower right. (This photo has more image manipulation than normal because of the extremely high contrast lighting.)

Live Oak Landing has cable TV but we were able to pick up a surprising number of channels over the air (OTA).  We watched a couple of shows while I worked on blog posts.  The forecast low for early tomorrow morning was 39 degrees F, so we closed the ceiling vents and windows before we turned in for the night.


2014/04/14 (M) Photos And Articles

We were still tired from our 350 mile repositioning to the Florida panhandle yesterday, and the weather forecast for today and tomorrow called for thunderstorms with a high probability of heavy rain, so we did not plan on doing any site-seeing.  I worked at my computer, editing photos for two gallery posts, and then turned my attention to editing photos from our Suncoast Designers visit and putting the finishing touches on my article for Bus Conversion Magazine about our a RV window repair experience.

Our site at Live Oak Landing near Freeport, FL; an RVC Outdoor Destination.

Our site at Live Oak Landing near Freeport, FL; an RVC Outdoor Destination.

We needed groceries and Linda located a Publix on US-98 in South Walton about 10 miles from the RV park.  We decided to take a short drive east on US-98 and then down to the coast.  We drove past Grayton Beach State Park as far as the resort community of Watercolor. We could not figure out if Watercolor is a condo development, a timeshare resort, or just a regular old resort.  It’s an “architectural” place, very attractive and interesting, but planned and intentionally designed.  A bike trail runs along the south side of US-98 and there were lots of cyclists, runners, joggers, and walkers using it.

Live Oak Landing Outdoor Destination borders one of the branches of the Choctawhatchee River on the north side just before it empties into the east end of Choctawhatchee Bay.  This is a very large bay that connects to the Gulf of Mexico on the west end.  The Choctawhatchee River was already above flood stage at Ebro, east of our location, when we arrived on Sunday at 4:00 PM CDT.  We were watching the weather while we were in Hudson, Florida and heavy rains had pushed through this area and up into SE Alabama and southern Georgia early last week.  All of that water eventually flows to the Gulf of Mexico through the Florida panhandle.  From the time we got here my cell phone Weather Channel app issued a steady stream of watches/warnings for strong/severe storms, river flooding, and flash flooding for most of the panhandle, including Freeport.

Another view of Live Oak Landing.  Our coach is at towards the end on the left.

Another view of Live Oak Landing. Our coach is towards the end on the left.

What better time for a thanksgiving dinner?  We bought a Tofurkey brand roast, two yams, and fresh green beans on our trip to Publix and Linda cooked all of that for dinner.  We finished off our box of red wine and had a few dark chocolate covered almonds for dessert.

A strong cold front approaching from the WNW provided the lifting mechanism for a massive fetch of Gulf moisture, resulting in powerful, sustained thunderstorms training northeast over much of the western Florida panhandle, southeast Alabama and southwest Georgia.  Over the course of the day and into the evening the cold front pushed steadily eastward across the region and the rain finally reached us around 9:00 PM accompanied by a spectacular lightning display and booming thunder.

The Choctawhatchee River from Live Oak Landing RV park.

The Choctawhatchee River from Live Oak Landing RV park.

I had finished my article for Bus Conversion Magazine an hour earlier, had Linda proof-read it, and had made final corrections.  I was uploading the article and photos to my Dropbox, and e-mailing the publisher and editor to let them know, when the storms arrived.  I finished those tasks, shut down my computer and unplugged the power supply.  I also turned off the NAS and unplugged both the power and data cables.  I left the WiFi Ranger and the Amped|Wireless router on.  It would be inconvenient to lose them it a lightning strike, but the loss of programs and data would be catastrophic.

We went to bed and tried to sleep but it was pointless.  The coach was a bit stuffy with all the vents and windows closed and the lightning, thunder, and rain were non-stop.  The most intense rain fell at the rate of 3 – 4 inches per hour accompanied by the kind of lightning and thunder that signals the end of the world.  Warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico is the fuel that makes serious weather in this part of the country.  Life in an RV puts you in intimate contact with nature.