Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Where'd My Window Go?

Yesterday, while scrambling in the blazing 105 degree sun to get the toddler into the car, the LW lowered the RF window on the superdeezle only to have something malfunction. She pressed the button and evidently the regulator went all the way down, but the window didn't, well, not at that time anyway. After a few seconds then window just fell into the door. SWEET! 105 degrees with 20% chance of rain all week and the (hopefully downsized) engineer at VW who decided to put tabs on the bottoms of the windows without adhesive has let us, and our window, down. I could go into the door and retrieve said damned window, but it's covered under a recall since a whole lot of other VW owners have had this happen to them. It still chaps my arse a bit.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Max

While waiting for various Miata owners to get their heads out of the clouds, I found a used 1995 Nissan Maxima for $600. It needs a head gasket or a new engine and I'll know more by tomorrow afternoon. It had a bad coil and an injector that was dumping fuel into the cylinder and on down into the oil pan. There's no telling how long it ran like this, so there may even be a rounded off cam lobe or two. Anyway, I'll pop the top on it tomorrow and see where I need to go. It's a $2000-2200 car with a stick shift and 176k when I'm done with it. It'll probably go down the road and leave us with some hot water heater/swamp cooler money for the house.

Next up is a '99 Subaru wagon with engine trouble. It shouldn't take me long to fix this one since it's just like the wagon that Auntie M had. The engine came out of that one in a little over an hour and it was an automatic. The engine rebuild price has tripled since then though, so I'll have to get it cheap or rebuild the engine myself. Probably just another head gasket, but an entire rebuild kit, that includes new pistons, sells for $900. It'll be a tough call whether or not to sell this one. Perfect for hauling people and photo gear in snowy weather or back roads or combinations thereof, heated seats, sport package and I can have the engine completely out of the car and replaced in less than a day if needed. Winnerrrrr. The best time to buy a Miata is in the winter it seems anyway.

Having CP in preschool could really pay off this month. I was able to get all of my photos (290/460) processed and up for sale this afternoon, but I got slowed down by a mouse failure. The LW came home from errands this afternoon with a long-lusted-after track ball mouse..YAAAYYYY!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2nd Car

I've been looking lately at getting a Miata for a 2nd car, but craigslist hasn't led me to much. I even considered an old 944 from San Diego since I was a Porsche mechanic for a while. It's really tough to get anyone to respond to an ad. I don't know if it's the "don't respond to someone from out of town" fear or what, but I can't even get folks from Phoenix to respond. It's just silly. If you post an ad for a car on craigslist, respond to the inquiries....and put the damned VIN in the ad so folks can run their own carfax reports. Putting "clean car fax" in the ad just doesn't cut it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Why

My wife and I were shocked to hear of the Tiller murder in Kansas, but not really surprised, given the level of general ignorance and stupidity that's pervasive there. I assume that most of the readers here know my wife and also know that she has little time for small-minded, sign-your-kids-up-early jeezusness, especially when it comes to lawmaking. This post won't change any of the minds of the pro-life (yet pro-war?) crowd, but it speaks to what happens in situations where folks like Dr. Tiller were, and continue to be needed.

First Day

Today was CP's first day of preschool at our local YMCA. She'll be going from 8am to noon, five days a week. She was excited and nervous about going, but since we're there all of the time anyway, she's accustomed to the place. About two minutes after walking through the door, she walked away from me and didn't look back. It's been a fun three years, but now I'm wandering the house aimlessly.....without a toddler to worry about.

Update: CP came home happy, ate some lunch, took herself to the potty, then walked to her room for a nap. Year 3 is looking good so far.

Trip Recap Part II

Day 10 - Charlotte, NC (Wednesday)

Pool Pool Pool...everybody to the pool. The girls wanted water and nothing was going to stop them. We were in Charlotte for a day of unwinding, so the LW sent me off to tour Speed TV world HQ with her sister Cyndi, who works there. It was cool and if there were grandparents and more cousins there, I'd probably end up working there just to sweep floors or something. I managed to stay out of the way for the most part while watching things happen and I even got to sit at Dave Despain's "Wind Tunnel" desk. Good stuff. My sister-in-law works with some fun people.

Day 11 - Charlotte to Folly Beach, SC (Thursday)

The Lard's got home and we loaded up, headed for the beach. It was a crazy drive through S. Carolina (passed while doing 80mph), but we made it and immediately had to get the kids over the dune and out to the water. The house was across the street from an empty lot, which provided us with a clear view of the waves from the balcony. It was perfect. If you haven't seen the photos, let me know and I'll send the links.

Day 12 - Folly Beach (Friday)

Morning Beach/Afternoon Clouds. Perfection repeated.

Day 13 - Folly Beach (Saturday)

Beach all day. Once again, perfection.

Day 14 - Morris Island and back to Charlotte, NC (Sunday)

Time to go? Already? We visited the Morris Island lighthouse after a rather warm walk and headed out. We got to pass by the suspension bridge. It's really somethin' to see. We made it back to Charlotte and had a great dinner with Aunt Cyndi and SuperDave.

Day 15 - Charlotte to Eddyville, KY (Monday)

Up and out early, so we could get some time on the road. The kids slept through the treed hills and into Tennessee. We stopped to have breakfast and it was on with the day. On the way home, we stopped at Cracker Barrel twice for breakfast, and while expensive, it provided a little bit of slowdown for the kids. We pulled into Nashville to meet someone and drop off some prickly, well-traveled succulents and were back on the road out of town. I didn't listen clearly enough to the LW, (no really?) so we ended up on the wrong highway out of town and had to double back....sheesh. Finally we got that fight out of the way and were cruisin' into Kentucky. The LW was on the laptop when things settled and found a nice place in the "Land Between the Lakes" region. I'd never heard of it, but the LW learned later from her mom that they had stayed in the area when she was a kid. We pulled into the Palisades Resort just in time to let the kids spin out for a bit. The first thing they saw was the pool. Hmm.... We let the kids run around the room for a bit and figured that there was nothing else to keep them busy until lunch. The LW and I were totally wiped out by this time, but I dragged my butt into the bathroom with my suit and got ready. They all came off of the floor and started bouncing up and down when I stepped out of the bathroom ready for swimming and asked, "Who wants to go to the pool?!". "MEEEEEEEE!" from the trio and we were off for about an hour. Later we went into town for lunch and ice cream, then off to the park. More pool time rounded out the day.

Day 16 - Eddyville to Lone Jack & Gardner (Tuesday)

The kids slept through until sunrise and we were well on our way into Illinois. We took a break in Mt. Vernon for breakfast, then headed on. Mid-morning found us in St. Louis and a discussion came up about the arch. The girls said that they knew people who had gone up in it, but had never been there. Well, that just was not going to work. The LW found directions, got us to a primo parking spot, and we were off. It's sad to see the TSA style searches at national parks, but after what recently happened, I see why and appreciate it more. The girls had a great time in the pod that takes you to and from the top, but I was nervous. 630' in the air provides a really good view and we all soaked it up before heading back down to the really nice museum. The girls wanted something from the store..the candy store in the museum, so the LW took care of that. Soon thereafter the baby breakdown happened and we all huffed to the car aggrevated. It was pretty smooth sailing all the way into Lone Jack save for some heavy rain on the way that ran me down to 40mph, even with rain-x.

Day 17 - Gardner (Wednesday)

Visited with Grandparents. More fun with cousins and Annabelle.

Day 18 - Gardner (Thursday)

Visited with my Bro while Cady was under the weather.

Day 19 - Gardner to Tucumcari, NM (Friday)

Took 54 from Wichita after riding the interstate. Everyone should run 54 if they have the chance. Beautiful scenery. I found that the worry about "where's the next stop" wasn't there like it is on the interstates. There was a town with at least a gas station every 10-30 miles and it didn't really slow us down. We did stop in Greensburg, KS to see the place. It was a fun diversion and they have some really cool playground equipment there next to the Big Well. We pulled into Tucumcari after a beautiful day's driving and stayed at a Route 66 motel. Yes, just like in the movie 'Cars'. CP loved it.

Day 20 - Tucumcari to Tucson, AZ (Saturday)

The last day was a fairly easy run through some beautiful NM scenery. I don't think that I'll jump on I-25 again. The run from Las Cruces to Tucumcari is nice. We stopped in Carrizozo, NM for breakfast and loved looking around the little town. We even bumped into some locals who shared a bit of town history with us. I figure in 20 years, you won't be able to afford a place there. Word will get out about it. After Las Cruces, we were back on a fast road and the little diesel was happily back up to 75-80mph all the way to T-town. It was a good trip and I'd do most of it over in a second.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Trip Recap

Day 1 - Tucson to Midland, TX (Monday)

This leg of the trip is pretty plain Jane and we're accustomed to the route. Usually we overnight in Van Horn, but on this trip, we figured that we'd push it a bit to get a short day into Dallas. Pushing it worked out and we managed to find the Midtown Hotel on the web. Their website is really nice and the photography makes it look great, but the place seemed like a worked over Super 8 that they forgot to finish remodeling. It wasn't anything glaring, just little detail stuff around the edges. The beds were really nice and that was the saving grace of the place. The piles of tile here and there combined with the taped off lobby parts and a weak breakfast made this a stop that we won't be making again.

Day 2 - Midland to Euless, TX (Tuesday)

Out relatively early and on the road to Gramma's. We made a stop in Big Spring and were into Euless by early afternoon. CP got to play on the playground and in the pool to burn off some energy. We took Gramma to Chili's as is custom, and I was a bit shocked to see how much of her long term memory has begun to fade. Strange things popped up too, like a supposed allergy to lettuce. It all comes with being on this earth for more than 80 years, but it's hard to see. We had a good time and CP enjoyed visiting with her great grandmother nonetheless.

Day 3 - Euless to Gardner, KS (Wednesday)

By now, the time zone jumping combined with DST was catching up with us. We still had a good day that started off with a breakfast stop in Paul's Valley, OK. It's the LW's father's name, so it's always goofy when we stop there. They have a really nice little park in town by the tracks that has a couple of rail cars that the kids can check out. We ate at a place that was a Denny's at one time, but is now a 50's themed diner called Happy Days. The staff was really nice to CP and we enjoyed our non-motorized time there. We made it into Gardner and all of the usual suspects soon started arriving with the little ones. Mayhem ensued....and it was good.

Day 4 - Gardner, KS (Thursday)

We decided to take a day off of driving to let CP visit with Grandpa. The usual suspects came over again, and, just like the day before, had a blast. In the evening we started rounding all of the stuff up and preparing for the early morning run to Lone Jack to get the nieces.

Day 5 - Gardner - Cary, MS (Friday)

The nieces were groggy and waiting when we arrived at 5am to pick them up. After the requisite craziness, we were off and running. Well, we were driving and the kids went back to sleep. This was our longest day and we knew it. We bet on a few games and toys, but hoped that the newness of the three of them being together in the car would see us through. With a little help from the brilliant LW, it did. We found a great little cafe in Morrilton, AR for lunch and I introduced the kids to fried dill pickles. Yayyy! After a long ride, we decided to stop to let the kids run at the new visitor center in Lake Village, AR. It's as nice as the old one was when it was new, and I look forward to them fixing up the old one as a fishing/picnic place. We made it into Rolling Fork, MS and at at Chuck's Dairy Bar. The kid at the counter asked me if I knew what I was getting when I ordered a Chuck-burger....it was pretty funny. I told him on the way out that the burger was just as good as they were 35+ years ago. This place has dished out great food to four generations of my family and you shouldn't miss it if you're in the area. A dash of fried food and a slaw burger later, everyone was ready to roll. The great grandparents were happy to see all of us and we enjoyed catching up. It was good to be out of the car after almost 15 hours.

Day 6 - Cary to Learned, MS (Saturday)

Today was the day of the reunion and despite the rain and the prickly MS state trooper that hangs out on Hwy61 between Vicksburg and Cary, we made it on time. The church where my great grandmother is buried was the place that was chosen for the reunion. It had a nice adjoining gym and there was plenty of space for tables and for the kids to run around inside since it was raining. My mother's cousin made sugar cookies using my great grandmother's recipe and it was the best food of the day, and that's sayin' something in this crowd. Everyone had a great time and I set up my umbrellas and took photos of everyone who dared step in front of the camera. Afterwards it was off to Bolton to stay with my grandparents.

Day 7 - Bolton to Cary, MS (Sunday)

We missed "Queen Victoria's" birthday party, but plans had been already made to get my dad's side of the family together for lunch to see the three visiting kids. The girls haven't been down to MS much since my bro's divorce and everyone wanted to see them. For some of the folks, the reunion on Saturday was their first time to see my youngest niece. We had a wonderful catfish lunch that came complete with my aunt's hush puppy recipe and plenty of dessert. Both of my cousins were there and it was the first time that I've seen them at the same time in years.

Day 8 - Cary to Atlanta, GA (Monday)

We stopped by Bolton to pick up some stuff that we'd left behind and motored on to points east. My itinerary was shot for this leg of the trip, but it couldn't be helped. We needed to put the restless trio nearer to the beach, or it was going to get ugly. We stopped in Vicksburg at the most disorganized big box store that I've ever encountered just to get some fresh back seat distractions for the trio. Of course, it was a damned Wal-Mart. I can't stand going into their clean and organized stores, so this was a distasteful bit of roadside history for me. When in Rome.....I guess.

We made it out of MS unscathed and into Alabama with only rain. It cleared up when we passed the Mercedes Factory and Talladega Raceway, which incited quotes from the movie. It was a crackup to hear the little one talking about spider monkeys and mountain dew. The back seat crowd was getting hungry near Birmingham, and the call from the back seat went out for Chinese food for dinner. The LW quickly searched for directions to a nice place in the heart of town and we found it. PCS cards and google maps work pretty well...when you're near town. The kids ate a little dinner and we packed their contented butts back in the car for the run into Atlanta.

Aunt B called the LW as we were buzzing down the highway and informed us that the hemisphere's largest aquarium was in Atlanta and that we should see it if we get a chance. Well, we made a chance since the oldest niece is into all things oceanography.....especially whale sharks. We pulled into the Georgian Terrace Hotel around 10pm eastern and were in the pool on the roof shortly afterward...shivering. It was a great view from the roof though! The hotel was good for traveling with little ones since it had a kitchen and laundry equipment in the room. It was a bit rough around the edges, but still a grand space. (note: If you have little ones, don't let them get near the railing near the elevators/atrium. This hotel has slipped by the codes for the 3" rail spacing updates.)

Day 9 - Atlanta to Charlotte, NC (Tuesday)

We all slept well and were off and screaming about watery mammals and sharks the next morning. We found the Aquarium by signs since google maps calls North Ave in Atlanta "N" Avenue. The kids were ecstatic, even though we left the LW back at the hotel to telecommute. Yup, it was me and the three in the Aquarium. We all had fun. The kids got to touch sharks and rays and really enjoyed the new environment. I got introduced to a 4-D movie experience, which was interesting, but involved spraying water on $1100 worth of equipment for entertainment's sake. The oldest niece was the happiest at the big tank. It held hundreds of fish and three whale sharks. It's worth making a trip to Atlanta to see this place. CP gave me the greatest amount of static, but she was wayyy off of her eating and sleeping schedule by this point. After a $35 lunch and $150 in the gift shop (which you have to pass through in order to exit the facility), we were...well....lost. The sun wasn't shining and I got turned 180 degrees around. We ended up stopping to call the LW who found a 7' tall map of Atlanta in the lobby of the hotel and guided us expertly back to pick her up. CP managed to leave her favorite pillow at the hotel.

More days soon....

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Here....

....are the totals for being on the road and having a blast for 20 days:

Dining/Groceries - $899.19
Fuel - $269.53 (+ $75 for start and end fuel)
Hotels - $333.38 + $350+ for priceless Beach House weekend
Stuff/Tickets - $553.76