Living Our Dream


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.


Groom, Texas – The Cross of Christ

Today we headed East, about 40 miles to Groom, Texas. “Why?”, you ask. well to go see the Groom Cross.

When approaching Groom, TX from the west on I-40, you will see this looming cross on the South side of the highway. It stands 190 feet high and is visible form 20 miles away. The cross and accompanying stations were erected in 1995 by Steve Thomas of Pampas, TX. The cross was built on private property to avoid any legal issues with the ACLU. Truly an awesome testimony of one’s faith. To see detail, click on each photo.


Station 1 – Jesus Is Condemned To Death

Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” They shouted louder, “Crucify Him.” Mark 15:14

Pilate called for water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, declaring, “I am innocent of the blood of this just man.” Matthew 27:24


Station 2 – Jesus Carries His Cross

“He emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of man.” Philippians 2:7


Station 3 – Jesus Falls The First Time

“I looked about, but there was no one to help, I was appalled that there was no one to lend support.” Isaiah 63:5


Station 4 – Jesus Meets His Mother

“For He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness, all ages to come shall call me blessed.” Luke 1:48

“She gave birth to a Son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.” Revelation 12:5


Station 5 – Simon Helps Jesus

“A man called Simon of Cyrene was coming in from the fields and they pressed him into service to carry the cross.” Mark 15:21


Station 6 – Veronica Wipes The Faces Of Jesus

“Then the righteous will answer him and say, “Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you drink?” Matthew 25:37


Station 7 – Jesus Falls The Second Time

“He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds we have been healed.” 1st Peter 2:24


Station 8 – Jesus Comforts The Women Of Jerusalem

A great crowd followed him. Including women who lamented over him. Jesus said to them, “Do not weep for me, weep for yourselves and your children.” Luke 23:27-28


Station 9 – Jesus Falls The Third Time

“I am like water poured out, all my bones are racked… my throat is dried up like dried clay. My tongue cleaves to my jaws: to the dust of death you have brought me down.” Psalms 22:15-16


Station 10 – Jesus is Stripped Of His Garments

“They took his garments and divided them four ways. A share for each soldier.” John 19:23

“They divided my garments among them. And for my vesture they cast lots.” Psalms 22:19


Station 11 – Jesus Is Nailed To The Cross

“Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me, they have pierced my hands and my feet, I can count all my bones.” Psalm 22:17-19


Station 12 – Jesus Is Crucified And Dies On The Cross For Our Sins

“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the son of man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:14, 16


Station 13 – Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross

They shall look on Him whom they have pierced and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son. Zachariah 12:10


In this photo of the last supper, the table top is about 4″ thick, 40″ wide and 24 feet long and is made from one piece of wood.


For more photos, click here. For donations to this ministry, click here.

All statues are life size and are highly detailed. It has been estimated that 10 million people pass by on I-40 annually and several hundred people stop by each day. Many of those are repeat visitors.

I’ll continue today’s journey on the next blog post. This will give you time to ponder the Cross of Christ.

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

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Going to The Dogs

At the end of yesterday’s blog entry, I mentioned we would be going to the dogs today. After breakfast we went to the Amarillo Civic Center to watch the last day of the Panhandle Kennel Club Dog Show. As with many AKC sanctioned dog shows, there are three main events: Rally, Obedience, and Confirmation. The Panhandle Kennel Club Dog Show did not have Agility, Tracking or Field Trials events.

  • Rally is an interesting event that is gaining popularity with many dog lovers. The dog and handler navigates a course that tests the dog’s ability to follow the handler’s silent instructions. Carol and I participated in Rally several years ago. The orange cones identify the stations and are marked with instructions that the handler must read, then instruct the dog on how to act. Points are assessed based on performance.


  • Obedience is similar to rally except there is no course to navigate. Instead the handler follows the judge’s instruction and signals the dog to behave accordingly. Some of the instructions are simple like, left turn or about turn. Some of the instructions are more complicated such as finding an article with the handler’s scent on it. In the following photo, the dog was released to go find the object that has the handlers scent on it. A well-trained dog will find his handler’s scented object. This level of competition requires many hours of training and dedication.


  • Confirmation is (in my opinion) the most complex and tedious competition for dogs. You may be familiar with the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship Show or the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York. Entrants in these two nationally televised shows are by invitation. Smaller shows, such as what we observed today is open to all AKC registered breeds. There is no way I can justly describe the confirmation process other than to say, you should attend a local show or watch one of the national shows.

Today we saw plenty of pampered Poodles of all sizes.DSC_0009We also saw cute and adorable wiener dogs better known as Dachshunds like this pair.

DSC_0016And a rather large Neapolitan Mastiffs, like this ‘friendly’ fellow.

DSC_0019It was an enjoyable morning watching all the dogs being primped and prepped for the judges’ sharp eye. And it was enjoyable watching the different breeds interact with each other. If you are a dog lover and have never observed an AKC sanctioned dog show, I urge you to contact your local kennel club and volunteer. They always need help at dog shows. I believe you will find volunteering very educational.

After a morning with the dogs, we came back to our home on wheels. Today was moving day. We have been parked in a temporary site since we got here. A couple of the summer workampers have left making room for us to move into our winter site. It was a short move, just across the street. After a couple of hours, we were set up in our new location with our yard sign and flags posted in the yard. Our new site faces north instead of west. We may need a blanket on our windshield when Mother Nature decides to send her cold arctic air southward. At least we will be a little cooler when the setting sun no longer hits the windshield.

IMG_2006Tomorrow starts another work week for us. We work the 1:00PM to 8:00PM shift for the next five days. We are enjoying our time here and are making new friends with the other workampers and RV park manager. Thanks for stopping by – y’all come back now.

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A Day With The Cow Ponies

Well, not quiet a day. How about a morning at the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum in Amarillo. This is one item on our Amarillo Bucket List.The museum, which opened in 1991 and was expanded in 2010, receives between 20,000 – 30,000 visitors per year.

The mission of the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum is to preserve and interpret the history and modern uses of the American Quarter Horse and cultivate future enthusiasts. The American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum houses the living history of the American Quarter Horse. The Hall of Fame showcases the people and horses who shaped and changed the breed and the American Quarter Horse Association.

DSC_0983Upon entering the museum, visitors are greeted by this beautiful statue of a typical American Quarter Horse.

DSC_0981The ground floor of the museum is filled with art and exhibits depicting the life and care of the American Quarter Horse. Also on display, from Ruidoso Downs Race track in New Mexico, is the original 4-horse gate from the straight track where early cow ponies were raced.

The second floor houses a timeline exhibit that showcases artifacts, attire, tack, photos and many more interesting pieces from each inductee’s life. As an example, Robert J. Kleberg, Richard Kleberg and Stephen “Tio” Kleberg (from the King Ranch),  Helen Michaelis (first woman inducted into the hall of fame in 1985), Louis Pearce, Jr. (better known as “Mr. Houston Livestock Show”) are just a few of the many people represented in the exhibit.

The saddle in the following photo belonged to Louis Pearce. It was crafted for the 75th Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo in 2006. It looked as if it was never used.

DSC_0979The museum preserves the history of the American Quarter Horse and highlights the people and horses who had a significant impact on the breed. Thanks to the donors and contributions to the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum, entry cost make it affordable for anyone to visit.

Carol pauses for a brief rest as we get ready to leave the museum.

DSC_0976Before we visited the museum, we paused for a selfie at one of the many painted quarter horse statues that are placed around Amarillo and Canyon. This particular statue is owned by the Amarillo Globe News and is called Nay-boring Vistas. We will had a few more of these as we pause along the way.

DSC_0973Tomorrow we are going to the dogs!

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



After breakfast we drove through downtown and then headed for this attraction.


Modifying an RV Mod

A few weeks ago I modified a stock cabinet for our motor home. This gave us a place to store cookware and other items. There was only one problem with the cabinet. Well, actually, there were two problems.

IMG_1968First, I did not install the shelf at the correct height. This meant the file box would not fit in the bottom as was the plan. The second problem was the doors on the cabinet opened the wrong way. In the photo below, you can see the middle doors open from the center, which just happens to be directly under the table. What we wanted to do set the larger pair of doors to the left and the smaller pair of doors to the right.IMG_1954To do this, I had to remove the vertical pieces around a bit. Fortunately, I have the tools to do this job so removing the two stiles. After removing the vertical pieces, I had to attach them in the correct position.

IMG_1996I attached these using pocket hole joinery.  When I cleaned out my wood shop, I decided to keep my hand tools since I knew there would be a time when I would use them. The small blue gizmo attached to the end of the board (below) guides a special drill bit into the wood at the precise angle that allows a special screw to be used to attach the piece to the cabinet.

IMG_1995Once the holes are drilled, I just need to screw the vertical pieces into their new locations. One down, one to go. Oh, yeah, I also had to trim the width of the second board as well.

IMG_1997With the vertical support in their new locations, I then raised the middle shelf so our file box could fit on the bottom shelf. Carol was a good helper with this task. With the cabinet back against the slide wall, Carol could not organize her craft books in the bottom of the cabinet. After she finished that, I arranged our cookware on the middle shelf. We had great weather today for this project. We opened the windows so we had a chance to air out the motor home. IMG_1998Cabinet is all loaded and the table top is back in. Time to sit back a relax a bit, then cook supper. I am glade to get that little modification to our RV mod completed.

IMG_2001Now, where did I put that skillet?

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



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