Dailyish Thoughts #76

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Productivity doesn’t always fit into a perfect definition. Some days you are “productive” because you got one large task done. Other days, a dozen small tasks fit the bill. Some days it feels like no matter how many small tasks you have done along with a couple big ones, you really weren’t “productive”. Today was one of those days. I suppose I should find some joy in the little accomplishments, even when it feels like ten steps forward, fifteen steps back.

The brakes are…fixed? I got the caliper put on, and new pads in both front wheels, but man are they still clanky. I replaced the one sensor with a new one since it was still under warranty. Still no luck. It idles like the motor wants to jump out. Give it gas, it’s fine, but I can’t really sit at stop lights with Uber passengers with a motor that seems like it could go at any moment.

At this point I’d just like to sleep. But my internal clock is still two hours behind it seems. And my mattress is the most lumpy thing I have ever slept on, and I’ve slept many nights in cow pastures and firelines.

But hey, I ran two miles this morning. With the elevation difference I was able to shave three minutes off my average mile time. So yay me!

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Daily Thoughts #74

There are a million little annoyances in life. Some people are good at ignoring them and only see the big picture. Me? I see the little details, and sometimes those little details are the million steps to get some task done. And man do I get sidetracked. But at least I got some stuff taken care of that I might not have without distraction.

Retailers occasionally surprise you by actually taking care of your needs. I will trust but verify the promise that the brake caliper for the truck will be here by Tuesday or Wednesday. Prior experience puts it here next Wednesday or Thursday.

It is incredible how dirty a house gets being empty for six months. The dust fairies had a few parties here…

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Welcome to The Jungle

So I got a little lax in my travel log. After surviving Texas there was little energy for writing more. Louisiana was a bit more gracious (after the roach motel) and provided us with more po boy than we could fit in our ever growing bellies.

I will say this about Louisiana, even though 90% of my known and unknown relatives live there: they are worse drivers than Texans. I swear every one of them wanted to run into me. That would have actually worked out though, since both vehicles have been acting a bit rough. The last time we got hit we were given quite a bit of money by the insurance company to promise we wouldn’t sue, completely out of nowhere.

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Traffic brought on by roadwork or by deadly accident? I’m going with deadly accident.

Mississippi and Alabama were a blur, there really isn’t much to them way down near the Gulf.

But Florida… Oh Florida. Y u so big?

The panhandle of Florida is nothing but pines in lines and a whole bunch of nothing. It doesn’t help that we live almost as far as you can go to the other side of the state. We made it 96 miles in before passing out at a rest area for the night. I have a hard time believing it, but I slept like a rock, despite the fact that the van was like a greenhouse.

I awoke to the sound of Haitians. Haitian is a very distinct dialect of French that I only recognize because there was a Haitian church meeting next door to us for awhile. I thought “wow, you don’t hear that out west.” Then I noticed they had Colorado plates. It’s funny where you will run into people.

Once I was awoken from my deep slumber it was a mad dash across the state to get home.

When I pulled in the driveway I swear I heard “Welcome to The Jungle” starting up and a whole band of gorillas scattering out of the yard. Six months has certainly taken its toll on the yard.

The inside wasn’t much better. We left in a hurry and I forgot how bad it was. The stagnant air doesn’t help and there is a layer of dust on everything. I am not throwing my hands in the air about it though. It’s a lot of work but it’s not insurmountable.

I won’t lie. We haven’t completely emptied the cars yet. We had a few favorite places to visit first. Our Chinese buffet, Publix, and Target.all the places Alamogordo and Cloudcroft don’t offer.

Now with well fed bodies and a few local itches scratched we can face tomorrow. As of now that means a two mile run followed by trying to make the yard look less terrifying and making the truck not so scary to drive.

We’ll see if our actions will match up with our desire…

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Daily Thoughts #72

Not on the road yet. We have wayyyy more stuff than I thought. And of course the truck has to start misbehaving.

But my confidence was lifted a little by an old man in the Walmart parking lot. We had just taken our wheel off because we suspected the caliper was stuck. It was not. He listened to the motor and gave a few suggestions about the odd noises and sensor issues. So tomorrow morning is electrical connector test day.

My body is rebelling. No amount of positive thinking or praying makes the gut sickness and chest tightness go away. The Anxiety Monster is a disrespectful jerk.

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Daily Thoughts #68

Been one of those days. Near panic attack in the morning, still broke truck in the afternoon, and then a porcupined dog in the late afternoon. I suppose you could say I was productive?

One more week. Probably why my body is in flight mode. There really is not a whole lot to do, at least not stuff that I can do right now. So shut up body!

Again I am forever grateful for YouTube. If you need to fix it, there’s probably a video, whatever “it” is.

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Daily Thoughts #60

If it’s not one thing it’s another. I celebrate victory only to discover that it wasn’t victory at all. Off to order more car parts…

My mood is apparently tied to my wife’s. Even when she is four states away her hormones are affecting me. That must be it.

Had more fun with costumer service today. Or rather human resources. Gotta love when other people’s incompetence messes up your life. Come on people, answer your phone!

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Daily Thoughts #53

‘Twas a four beer project…

Car repair manuals should use a “Number of Beers” difficulty scale. It would range from one beer to two shots of Tequila. Also, they should add music suggestions ranging from Sarah McLachlan to Seventh Star depending on how angry you’re going to get.

And the wife is gone again. This time to Montana. She better remember to bring me some huckleberry stuff. I might not pick her up this time…

So many things to do…

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Daily Thoughts #13

Some days you are a mover and a shaker. Other days you are just a shaker.

Lucky 13…hmmmm.

Some thanks today: thank the internet for YouTube. Without it I would never get anything on my vehicles fixed.

Thank you Honda engineers for not being like Ford engineers and making it impossible to fix your product.

Sometimes I wish I was a squirrel. Winter plans would be so much easier…

Mending Of Broken Things

‘Twas the fuel pump that did her in.

Almost a month to the day and we fixed the broken truck!

Over the past two days I’ve completely emptied and cleaned our trailer, did several loads of laundry, organized some very irritatingly cluttered tools, and replaced a fuel filter.

That last one was no small feat. Thanks to some brilliant engineering, the fuel pump of our “trusty” Expedition is buried inside the fuel tank. With much wrenching (and a couple fuel soaked shirts) I managed to get the tank down and out.

Then came the fun part…

The same brilliant engineers (I assume) decided that a rusty piece of steel was needed to hold the pump in place. According to the Haynes manual one should use a special tool to get this off. Or… a brass tap and a hammer.

Why brass? “To prevent sparks.”

I was not deterred! Armed with a hammer and very non-brass screwdriver I laid into it.

Thankfully no death occurred.

The ring popped off and the old pump was removed. Determined to make sure it was the pump that died, I plugged it in and had the wife turn the key just to see what happened.

Nothing!

Aha! It was the pump!

After running the same test with the new pump and finding it in working order, in went the new pump. With the same deadly hammer and screwdriver combination the ring was tapped back on.

Again, no death. I think those Haynes folks are a bit too cautious.

After the successful pump installation came lots of cussing and bruised knuckles as the tank was reattached to the dead truck.

Then: The Moment of Truth.

Sputter, sputter, give it some gas…

It’s alive!!!

I have not been this happy in a long time. Not that I showed it. But you know, there was a moment where I danced a little on the inside. It was awesome.

This was going on… In the fuel tank… Eek.

And then I was thoroughly exhausted. The wife suggested that I do a manly thing and take a bubble bath and drink a little wine to celebrate.

So I did (minus the wine). Then to be really manly, I enjoyed a cigar and a Kentucky Mule (the only good kind of mule IMHO).

No shirt to boot. Oh so manly!

Not a bad way to end a day.

The best part of the experience was my very excited nine year old exclaiming “You fixed it! Now we can get out of the ugly house!”

She’s looking forward to western adventures.

As am I.

Ownership of Broken Things

Fixing a broken thing…

It’s official: We are now the proud owners of a broken vehicle!

It’s tax return time, which in the US means that with five children and a low enough income you get enough money given to you to pay off a truck. (Commentary on this eventually…)

Said truck is still currently not running. I think I have it narrowed down to a fuel pump issue. So while the new fuel pump is in transit I get the fun task of removing the fuel tank to get the old pump out. Good times.

After several hours of frustrating work attempting the tank removal (i.e. siphoning the tank and not much else) the wife informed me that the alternator on the other owned vehicle was officially kaput. Yay. So yesterday instead of finishing the pump removal it was alternator replacement day. Thankfully the wife has small hands and I didn’t have to do much wrench turning.


You should have seen my hands.

After a successful replacement we spent our core return money on new spark plugs, oil, and some entirely-too-fancy wiper blades (apparently seeing is important to driving). Those are all today’s jobs. After pizza delivering. And schooling the kids. And cleaning up something.

Come to think of it, this is going to stretch out over the whole weekend…

Even though things break, it does feel good to own something instead of dealing with payments every month and trying to make money stretch. Instead we just become mechanics at the YouTube School for Those Who Can’t Mechanic Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too.


There is more to life than really really really ridiculously good mechanicing…

A Haynes manual is helpful too…

We have done the summer season out west twice already. Both times we had to travel separately and spend weeks apart while waiting for issues to resolve. The first year was a horrific RV experience, last year was a terrible buying experience for a truck to pull our trailer. This year we hope to beat our record and actually leave together. I plan to document the experience as much as I can this year, just so I can look back later. And maybe entertain some folks in the meantime.

It’s a slow adventure, but it’s happening. At least I don’t have to make any more car payments… For now.