Living Our Dream


Feedly – The Friendly News Reader

Just like Dad, I was an avid newspaper reader. This is how I got my daily dose of ‘news’. In fact one of my early jobs was delivering the Houston Chronicle newspaper.

DSC_2094 That was in my BC (Before Computers) days.  Somewhere around 2006, I realized news was more readily available on-line and it was free. Yes, I knew it may not be accurate, but then what made newspapers more accurate than on-line news? In many cases, it all came from the same source – AP, or other syndicated news feeds.

Prior to hitting the road as a full-time RVer, I scoured the internet for news from others RVers. I wanted to hear from them about their experiences living full-time in their RV. I found several people had created travel log using a web applications like Typepad  that Howard/Linda Payne use and MyTripJournal that Fred/Jo Wishnie use.

I can remember those early days of spending hours going through my bookmarked pages reading updates from my RVing buds. I would click on bookmark after bookmark finding some of my buds had not updated their postings.

I created our first blog using Google Blogspot in 2008, then moved the blog to WordPress 2012. Both of these products had readers that I could use but I never liked their layout.

Eventually, I stumbled upon Feedly – a news aggregator.  Wikipedia defines a news aggregator,  also termed a feed aggregator, feed reader, news reader, RSS reader or simply aggregator, as a client software or a web application which aggregates syndicated web content such as online newspapers, blogs, podcasts, and video blogs (vlogs) in one location for easy viewing.

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The main things I like about Feedly is that I can access my feeds from all my devices. It reminds my of reading a newspaper again. Only I control the news I want to see. Keep in mind that my news sources are my family and RV bloggers. I get enough depressing news from AP sources. I prefer to keep my daily reading on the up swing.

I have found that (reading blogs) is a great way to keep up with friends and family. Blogs take more effort to write than posting on Facebook and Twitter. Blogs certainly contain richer content. Do you blog? I imagine most of our followers do. Perhaps you can let me know why you do or do not blog.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.

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Playing Tourist

Today we played tourist. We enjoyed a lazy morning while waiting for the sun to burn off the morning fog.

DSC_0076The Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument is a 60 foot, three-tiered spire with a large model of a helium molecule in the center of the spire. The monument was erected in 1968 to commemorate the centennial of the discovery of Helium (HE) in 1868 by French astronomer Jules Jansse and British astronomer Norman Lockyer.

In 1925, the Federal Government set up the National Helium Reserve in Amarillo where 1 billion cubic meters of Helium is stored in a natural geologic gas storage formation, the Bush Dome reservoir, located about 12 miles northwest of Amarillo.

Due to the debt incurred in collecting the helium, Congress decided to phase out the reserve. The  “Helium Privatization Act of 1996″ (Public Law 104–273) directed the US Department of the Interior to start liquidating the reserve by 2005. While the reserve was slowly dwindling, in 2013, the House of Representatives voted to extend the reserve under government control.

Each spire is filled with books and artifacts from 1968. When constructed in 1968, the stipulation was that the four time capsules would be opened at 25, 50, 100 and 1000 years after initial construction. The first spire was opened in 1985, the rest are to be opened in 2018, 2068 and 2968.

Next we drove about 10 miles west and visited the infamous Cadillac Ranch.

DSC_0098Cadillac Ranch is the creation of  Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels.  It consists of 10 Cadillac automobiles that represent the evolution and death of the tailfin that defined Cadillacs from 1949 to 1963. The original project was completed in 1974 and subsequently moved to its current location in 1997 about 2 miles further west.

From a distance, the cars do not look like much. Up close, the cars are an interesting sight.

DSC_0079Forty years of spray painting  preserves the steel bodies pretty well. In some spots, the paint has been carved away so visitors can see just how many layers of paint are there. The photo on the left shows the depth of paint. The blowup of the same photo shows the individual layers of paint that has been applied.

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There are some sections of some cars where the depth of paint is even greater than this. Pretty amazing, if you ask me. Even the undercarriage of these vehicles is canvas to graffiti artists.

DSC_0084One problem with allowing the public to have open access to this display is the amount of liter that is left behind. There are two dumpsters at the entrance, but I guess visitors cannot see them. I imagine someone comes out here to clean up the spent paint cans. It is sad to see the public abuse this display by litering. Apparently some feel liter is an art form.

DSC_0086Ready to get up close and personal with these 10 works of art? Here they are. You can click on any photos to see even greater detail than what you see here.

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Hope you enjoyed the day as much as we did. Thanks for stopping by. Y’all come back now.

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It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas

We are ready for Santa and his reindeer. Normally we decorate for Christmas on Thanksgiving Weekend. That did not happen this year because we were fixin’ to move to another site. We finally got it done and wanted to share our Christmas with everyone.

IMG_2118About a week ago, I got the outside lights up. This is the first year we decorated outside our RV. This is also the first year we will be spending Christmas in our RV and away from family. Last year, our kids came to Townsend, TN for Christmas. We used our decorations to deck the halls in a rustic cabin the kids rented. For Christmas 2012, we parked at Admiralty RV in San Antonio while the kids rented a condo across town. We used our decorations then to deck the halls at the condo.

IMG_2159All the stockings have been hung with care just knowing Santa will make an appearance. One can never be too careful about stocking placement, especially when there is no fireplace or anything that resembles a fireplace nearby.

IMG_2160Our living room slide is decked out as well. The lighted garland provides ambient lighting while we chill when not working or playing.

IMG_2151Of course we have Santa and Annie Claus with Rudolph keeping our printer warm. Carol made the quilted pad they sit on and she made the cowboy stocking that is waiting for Santa’s visit.

IMG_2152Carol also made the angel stocking that is perched next to her Elf head ornament.

IMG_2150This is a new tree for us this year. Our 32″ fiber light tree will not fit on the credenza. New 24″ tree means new ornaments as well.

IMG_2157This cute Twelve Days of Christmas tree has been with us for several years. The 12 Jim Shore ornaments represent the items from the song.

IMG_2154And no Christmas decorating would be complete without a manger set.

Simple and sweet – Christmas in an RV complete with snow on the blog. We will miss our kids this year. We will be together in spirit, just not in body.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.



Catching Up Is Hard To Do!

I’ve fallen of the blog wagon. It’s been two months since I last posted and I’ve been trying to figure out how to catch up. Best solution seems to be start with something current and sprinkle in the past.

Five days ago, I noticed a wet spot near one of our RV sites. Wet spots are not a good sign unless there was a recent rain or a camper washed the front end of their RV. Neither of these scenarios applied to this wet spot. Over the past several days this wet spot grew from about 12″ in diameter to about 10 feet in diameter. Yesterday, we dug into the wet spot and found what a cavity that was full of water. We drained the cavity and hoped for the best. The cavity quickly filled with water. Time to dig a deep hole to figure out why there is water here.

My work bud, David, is experienced in running the back-hoe while I am experienced in getting into the hole to fix the leak.

IMG_2122On the left is a PVC coated steel pipe – on the right is a standard PVC pipe. The two pipes were connected with a coupling that is not supposed to leak. In this case, the coupling leaked. We figured this happened because the PVC flexed while the steel pipe did not. A better solution would be to have solid connection between the two pipes. We also included a short piece of flex line so the PVC could flex under ground and not break the connection to the steel pipe.

IMG_2125Once everything was glued and the glue had a chance to set up, it was time to turn on the water and test our fix. We were fortunate to find a water cutoff valve about 3 feet away from the leak. I gently turned on the water valve to pressure up the line. Within a minute, the connection between the PVC and valve came apart.

IMG_2128From the looks of this, it appears the glue did not chemically weld the pipe into the fitting. After replacing the fitting on the cutoff valve, we were able to get a secure connection.IMG_2127So here is what the weakest link looks like. This is called a Mueller Coupling and is easy to find at Lowe’s or Home Depot. While it can be used to connect PVC and Steel pipe, I do not recommend this because it is prone to leaks.

Well, there you have it. My most recent project. This is the fourth water leak I’ve fixed since we’ve been here. We are off for the next couple of days so I think we may finish our Christmas shopping and do a little sight seeing. Thanks for stopping by. Y’all come back now.





The Weakest Link

When we moved our RV a couple of weeks ago, i noticed a small drip coming from our Atwood water heater. After investigating this drip, I found a drip coming from the water heater’s drain. While we were at Lone Star Yogi in Waller, TX we had an issue where the hot water line was blocked at the by-pass valve. At that time, I turned off the water heater, drained and flushed it but could not dislodge the blockage. We had an RV service tech come out to clear the blockage. The service tech may used the original plug when he finished up the job.

So what does the weakest link look like? Atwood apparently uses a plastic plug instead of metal because they are less expensive than other plug types. That may be fine for folks who use their RV occasionally. For full-time RVers, that may not be the best choice.

PlugFull time RVers typically keep their water on 24/7, just as homeowners. The constant heat will cause the soft plastic to become brittle. When I applied a little pressure to remove the plug, the head broke completely off.  I was able to dig out the plastic threads and discovered pipe dope was apparently applied by the service tech. That gunk now has to be removed so I can install a new plug.

IMG_2025The discoloration is a good indicator that the plug failed due to heat and brittleness. I used a 3″ 1/2 pipe nipple to clean pipe dope from the threads so I could insert a new plug. After liberally applying Teflon tape to a brass plug,  I was successful in fixing the leak.

IMG_2026So here are my tips after fixing this leak:

  • The constant heat will cause the plastic drain plug to fail.
  • Trying to tighten it will not fix the leak.
  • Have a spare plug. You might not be close to a hardware store or the store may be closed when you need one.
  • Before you attempt ANY work on the water heater, turn it off and let the water cool. Failure to turn the water heater off will cause the heating element to burn out.
  • Turn off the water supply to the RV before working on anything plumbing related.
  • Purge the hot water lines of air to make sure the water heater is full of water before turning the water heater back on.

Now it is time to sit back and watch a little college football. Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.

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Amarillo’s Historic Churches

Five of Amarillo’s six historic churches are nestled in a small area just north of I-40, West of I-27 and Southwest of downtown. The sixth is located 10 blocks to the north.

Amarillo ChurchesFirst Baptist Church – founded 1889

First Baptist Church - Amarillo Left to right, FBC sanctuary completed in 1929, education building completed in 1954 and the original church building used for worship from 1889 – 1904. This original building was quiet an achievement in 1889 considering the church was without pastor until 1891. In 1964, the congregation moved this building to their current location.

Polk Street United Methodist Church – founded 1889

Polk Street United Methodist Church - Amarillo Inspired by First United Methodist Church – Dallas, this Gothic style facility towers over the Tudor Style parsonage on the right of this photo. The sanctuary on the left and 4 story education building were completed in 1928.

First Presbyterian Church – founded 1890

First Presbyterian Church - Amarillo Founded as Central Presbyterian Church, the stone structure is Gothic Revival style designed around an open courtyard. The steep pitched gable roofs are brought close to the ground to keep the massive structure in scale with the surrounding neighborhood.

Central Church of Christ – founded 1908

Central Christian Church - Amarillo This 1930’s structure stands in contrast to its modern counterpart (turrets shown on the right), which was completed in the 1980’s. In 2009, the church completed a $3 million dollar renovation and constructed a youth center on its campus.

Mt. Zion Baptist Church – founded 1910

Mt. Zion Baptist Church - Amarillo First Baptist Church Amarillo assisted with the site and structure of Mount Zion. One year after Amarillo was first settled in 1887, Jerry Calloway, recognized as Amarillo’s first black resident, moved to the Amarillo with a white family from Georgia, living as a domestic in the home of his employer. He helped start Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Amarillo’s first black church.

In 1998, Oprah Winfrey visited the church twice during her time in Amarillo while she was tending to her libel lawsuit trial which was held in town. The church sign reads:

“Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church is the friendly church on the corner where we enter to worship and depart to serve.”

St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral – founded 1959

St. Mary's Catholic Church - Amarillo While not the first Catholic Cathedral in Amarillo, St. Mary’s  is the seat of the Amarillo Diocese. St. Mary’s became a parish in 1959 and met in a chapel that was moved from Amarillo Air Base to property that also housed St. Mary’s School. A new sanctuary was dedicated in 1981 but was tragically destroyed by fire in 2007. The new building was dedicated in 2009. In 2011, the church was named by Pope Benedict XVI as the third cathedral for the Amarillo Diocese. Radius pews echo the shape of the near round  sanctuary. Fourteen Stations of the Cross (similar to the Cross at Groom) encircle about 75% of the perimeter of the sanctuary. Two carved wooden angels plus windows and other articles from Sacred Heart Cathedral that closed in 1974 are currently in use at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

So there you have it – a short visit of Amarillo’s historic churches. Thanks for coming by – y’all come back now.

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Groom, Texas – The Rest of the Story

Yesterday, I posted about the Cross of Christ in Groom, Texas. I hope you enjoyed the photos. While that was the highlight of our day trip, there where more things to see and do. Today you get the rest of the story.

Stockyard CafeWe started the day with breakfast at the Stockyard Cafe. This quaint cafe is located in the Amarillo Livestock Auction Building. The Amarillo Livestock Auction operates the largest independent livestock auction in Texas selling over 100,000 head of cattle annually. We will have to visit this auction but will sit on our hands. Breakfast was good enough for us to say we will go back. They advertise a tasty looking Chicken Fried Steak dinner that I will have to try out.

Groom-TXGroom, TX lies about 40 miles east of Amarillo on I-40 along the route of Historic US-66. The city occupies less than 1 sq.mile and, based on the 2010 census, registered around 600 people. Groom was named for Colonel B. B. Groom who leased over 500,000 acres and purchased 1,300 short horn cattle in 1882. Unfortunately, this was a failed venture that resulted in foreclosure in 1886. The city was platted in 1902 along the Chicago, Rock Island and Gulf Railway route.

On the north side of I-40 near exit 114, sits an old water tower. Normally this would not be of interest to anyone except this water tower leans like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

DSC_0047The Leaning Tower of Groom was a marketing ploy of Ralph Britten in the 1980’s. He figured if people saw a tower that looked as if it was about to fall over, they would pull of the highway and tell someone. When travelers pulled off the highway, they would find themselves in the parking lot of Britten Truck Stop and Restaurant. About 5 years later, an electrical fire permanently closed Britten’s business. Today, the Leaning Tower of Groom is all that remains.

Slug Bug FarmOn the west side of Amarillo, travelers will spot the infamous Cadillac Ranch where 10 Cadillacs are buried in the ground. Not to be out done, the Slug Bug Ranch, (AKA, bug farm)) is located in Conway, TX on I-40 at exit 96, about 16 miles west of Groom or 30 miles east of Amarillo. This quirky display of 5 Volkswagen Beetles buried nose first mocks the Cadillac Ranch. A photo from 2002 shows these bugs where painted yellow. The bugs are in pretty rough shape but are easy to get to.

Me With A BugOf course I had to take a selfie.

OOPSOur last stop for the day was  the United Supermarket on the west side of Amarillo. We have not been impressed with the quality of produce at our nearby Walmart so we decided to checkout a local grocery store.

Carol dropped me off in front of the store to pick up a few items. Just as she parked the car, steam billowed from the hood and coolant spewed in all directions. She called me to let me know what had happened. I continued shopping and decided we would deal with it when I got done.

When I got the few groceries loaded into the car, I took a look under the hood. Things were pretty steamy under there but I could not see any evidence of a busted radiator hose. I asked Carol to start the engine so I could check for the obvious. When I saw the coolant boiling in the reservoir, I knew we would not be able to drive the car back to the RV park.

We do have a bumper-to-bumper extended warranty on the car and we have towing on our car insurance so Carol called Gene Messer Ford. We could see their dealership sign from the parking lot. However, their service department closed about 30 minutes earlier and they did not their own tow service. SHEESH!

After a few phone calls, we were able to locate a tow service who would tow us to the Gene Messer Ford and contacted our manager at Amarillo Ranch RV who would pick us up.

IMG_2016When we got the car unloaded at the Ford dealership we though about our Good Sams Roadside Assistance policy. Perhaps it would have saved us the $60 towing bill. We’ll call Monday morning just to find out. We will be better prepared next time something like this happens. Over the last three years we have traveled over 5,000 miles with our RV plus about 25,000 additional miles without having a need for towing. Our day ended a little stressful but we managed just fine. Monday we find out what caused the car to overheat.


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