Escaping Texas

Today I finally left Texas. But not without Texas putting up a fight. 

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Other fun things: two trips to the registration office and an inspection of the trailer. 

But, I haves the plate! 

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And we made it out of Texas.  

With a couple bugs.  

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Preparing for getting on the road

Today I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to get the safety chains attached. The hitch is different and most trailer places didn’t know what to do. 

Six stops later I had the right attachment.  (Since been adjusted further). 

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Georgia is obsessed with chickens.  

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And we experienced a pretty crazy thunderstorm. 

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And more Texas

Today the dealership completed the spray liner and I installed a toolbox in the truck. I exchanged my California ID for a Texas license and worked on getting the trailer registered and ready to move on. 

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Unfortunately I have to go get it weighed at a commercial scale because California doesn’t put the weight on a title.  

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Still trying to get the weight distribution correct as well. 

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Cow Transport 2.0

Today we completed Cow transport enhancements. I traded in the F-150 for a F-250. The new truck is heavier than my tiny trailer and this will improvise road feel for towing for 8 to 10 hours a day.

I’m also more than doubling my towing capacity and should get better milage (Diesel). The new truck has adaptive cruise control, forward collision/lane keeping, the blindspot system extends to the trailer. There are also better headlights and automatic wipers… basically making continuous driving better.

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It’s also Georgia approved.  

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The Universe of Energy

Today we fixed a golf cart. And acid etched the concrete unintentionally.

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And discovered the insanity of Texas (or my assumptions) where camo wearing men take their wives to see drag queens.  And people freely tell you how Texas is the best country in the USA. 

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Pleasure Pier

Today we are visiting my parents in Galveston, TX. 

Georgia tried to ride a golf cart. 

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We also looked at some fish. 

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And I visited Pleasure Pier which is not at all related to Pixar Pier. 

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Not all days are sunshine and rainbows

Today Wednesday, April 24th was a bit of a mess. 

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It was moist outside.   

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It was moist inside. 

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Forgetting to remove the sink stopper before trying (unsuccessfully) to clear the gray water tank sensors was not one of my brightest moments. After a day with a shop-vac and damprid things seem to be okay. It’s pretty tight in here when you can’t go outside without getting soaked. Georgia did get a chance to play ball during an interlude in the deluge. 

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The evening was a reminder to appreciate everything, every person and every moment.

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Catching up New Mexico to Texas

I think I might get more value out of returning to a format I used once before where i made a post everyday no matter if I did anything particularly interesting.

But first to catch up I’m now in Austin, Texas after a stop in Santa Fe to check out Meow Wolf, a visit to Meteor Crater, a tour though White Sands National monument and a night sleeping in a rest stop because I tried to rush through the nothingness of west Texas.

While leaving Flagstaff you must see the Impact:

Then it was time for New Mexico. We made an overnight pitstop in Grants before making it to Santa Fe. The KOA there might need a new copywriter.

Santa Fe was a neat town, I didn’t expect it to have such a heavy art influence. I had a chance to see some old friends, fight with a evil credit card reader on a washing machine and check out Meow Wolf. House of Eternal Return a bit hard to explain but definitely worth taking a visit to. One of my favorite things was the signage on areas that Guests weren’t authorized to enter. Strange details make things fun.

After we left Santa Fe we stopped in Alamogordo, NM to check out White Sands National Monument.

We then continued on to possibly the least enjoyable part of the trip so far, West Texas. I tried to drive through to Austin but only made it within 125 miles. That’s a 531 mile trip in one day going no more than 62 MPH. I started to feel exhausted and we parked at a rest stop and slept for a good 8 hours before continuing on. Naturally, I can’t get away from ‘Star Trek’ either.

That brings us to Austin. We spent a couple days at a small RV park in South Austin and are now hanging out a few miles out of the city at a quieter location for a few more days. There’s a lot to see here and Georgia even stepped into a lake!

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Lights, Wind, Snow
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Today I’m in Flagstaff, AZ by way of Las Vegas. Current trajectory is Santa Fe.

The week in Las Vegas was a bookend to everything that happened in the last year and it was great to see old friends. Still, a week in Vegas is a bit much. Georgia spent some time at a boarding outfit where they don’t have cages and the dogs play as a community all day.

We also had lunch with a Canadian friend who had never been to Fremont Street. For being such a nervous dog sometimes, Georgia was a natural tourist.

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While in Vegas I finished installation of a crappy backup camera. Most of these devices are ‘chinese specials’ and this was the least bad unit I could find. I’m tempted to replace the Wi-Fi unit with a Raspberry PI if I can find a decent USB input card. I’ll eventually make a write up of all the mods.

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The hotdog while driving trick is helping Georgia get a bit more comfortable.

Which was good because a high wind advisory made driving to Flagstaff pretty white knuckle. The speed limit was 75 for a majority of the route but I kept around 55 because the wind was throwing the trailer and truck around.

The heater cover again popped out of place but no other significant damage this leg.

Still, 16 MPG isn’t that bad for a significant elevation change. So far it seems like we can travel about 2 hours before needing to stop.

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Roughing it at 146 Mbps

Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area is a reservoir in San Bernardino County, California. I had never heard of the place but it looked interesting after searching for state campsites with availability. And this week John and Omar joined us to celebrate John’s birthday!

The trip started with a provisions stop. I still haven’t got the temperature sensor to work quite like I want. And I learned there is a parameter I can change on the truck via the OBD port to enable ‘secure idle.’ This allows the truck to be on but it won’t shift out of park until I return with the passive entry key. This means I could leave the truck on to operate AC for Georgia without worrying someone could drive her away.

Georgia protects the car while we purchased supplies.

Georgia protects the car while we purchased supplies.

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Driving into the lake, you transition from I-15 to a two lane windy and hilly road that tested the capabilities of the sway control hitch. Thankfully everything was fine. After driving up a steep hill you’re presented with a view of the reservoir before diving back down into the trees. The campsites were about 2 miles away from the lake by car, but we later found a walking path that was a bit shorter. Thankfully, the environment was much quieter and Georgia didn't as frequently feel the need to protect everyone.

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Fast

The lake must be in an underused cell because the internet was faster than cable internet at home.

The week at the lake mostly encompassed eating grilled food, walking around the lake and slowing the pace of life. On John’s birthday we rented a pontoon boat and explored the water.

My favorite discovery was S.S. Relief, a floating toilet.

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Georgia was surprisingly okay with the boat ride until the wind started to pickup. The ride back into the dock was a bit choppy.

We were able to confirm that Georgia still likes water too.

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Georgia adjusts to life on the road… or not.
Georgia being a happy cow.

Georgia being a happy cow.

It’s the end of our first week on the road. The location here in San Diego is beautiful. I also hear the city is beautiful. Unfortunately I didn’t really get a chance to explore much. Instead we focused on “Quiet” and “Look at me” Georgia’s two new commands.

Meet AlphaCow™

Meet AlphaCow™

While at the campsite or in the trailer, Georgia freaks out anytime she hears another dog. Barking, growling even lungling (with a wagging tail, strangely enough). When we walk around the campsite she is friendly and has no issues with other dogs.

I want her to be comfortable and I can’t leave her alone in this stress state. We tried a number of remedies this week:

  • Thundershirt

  • Chamomile calming treats

  • Benadryl

  • Jazz music

  • Extensive exercise

  • Kong with liquified cheese bacon treat inside

Nothing really solved the stress. The one thing that is working about 75% of the time is keeping treats nearby and distracting her when she starts to get agitated. She gets a treat for making eye contact with me “look at me” and listening to the command “quiet.” She can be completely asleep and will wake up to protect.

I haven’t been able to leave her unattended at all. Thankfully John came down to visit for a couple days. He baked cupcakes in the trailer and we filmed it for an application to a Netflix cooking show.

John bakes in the convection microwave.

John bakes in the convection microwave.

Cupcakes.

Cupcakes.

Not being able to leave the campsite without taking Georgia along, I started to do some modifications. I installed a LTE booster and permanently mounted the cellular modem. It’s kind of incredible how crappy the assembly work is by Forest River. Build em fast and cheap. I have also been troubleshooting issues with the tank sensors (cleaning them over and over) and haven’t had much luck getting that fixed.

By far the best part of this week was Georgia discovering she’s a lab and rushing into the bay to retrieve the ball. Georgia doesn’t like water and doesn’t like the car. Or didn’t like water. Now she does!

The next stop is Silverwood Lake.

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First stop, San Diego
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Georgia and I left Burbank today to make another test trip. This is the first travel with just the two of us. The truck drives surprisingly well with the lift kit and re-gear, possibly even better than it did stock.

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I tried placing Georgia’s bed on the floor of the truck, she still wasn’t particularly enthused.

Naturally, I had some problems getting into the site because of a vehicle parked in front of a trailer directly across. Thankfully another Tom (Tommy) and his son helped me get backed in.

Once we were situated, Georgia and I watched the sun set in San Diego and organized the trailer. Alexa, 3M Dual Lock and Command Strips provide a magical way to enjoy music . I am trying to decide if I should remove the television antenna and replace it with a cellular one. It wouldn’t be too hard to make the lights controllable by Alexa too…

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One of the more exorbitant purchases, this is a dual LTE Cat 6 cellular router. I signed up for a dual carrier unlimited data plan from  livinlite.net . They have been great to work with.

One of the more exorbitant purchases, this is a dual LTE Cat 6 cellular router. I signed up for a dual carrier unlimited data plan from livinlite.net. They have been great to work with.

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Cow Safety

I’ve also started working on a temperature and humidity sensor for both the truck and for the trailer to make sure Georgia is safe.

There are a number of companies selling temperature and humidity sensors that are cellular based with exorbitant fees and fancy apps. My version is using Particle Electron to report the data and Losant to display it. The SHT31 China Special™ sensor is not particularly reliable. I am planning to replace it with a more robust sensor.

We still have a long way to go.

We still have a long way to go.

Not a bad way to start things off.

Not a bad way to start things off.

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