Sunday, November 25, 2018


Retired-being so tired that you have circled around from being tired, to being awake, back to being tired.

Retired-to continuously replace tire after tire.

Retired-adjective-withdrawn from ones position or occupation: having concluded ones working or professional career.*Merriam-Webster

When I think of being retired, I think of myself sitting on a secluded beach, being served fruity little drinks with umbrellas by women in coconut bras and grass skirts. (I would have said Lisa but I know she won't wear a coconut bra and a grass skirt. Or serve me drinks. "Get your own damn drink and while your up get me one!" is what she would say.)
Anyways, the only thing  to worry about is if I will have a tan line or not(think about that). Even though that may sound like paradise, too much of it is boring.

"Shut your pie hole!" my inner voice is yelling at me.

"Calm down!" I tell  it. For some reason there is an uncontrollable flinch, but I get over it. Don't get me wrong. I like idle time. I like it alot. Lisa says I may like it too much. When she sees me in a coconut bra and grass skirt, she knows that it is time to do something.

Which brings me to our current situation. We committed to driving for the Polar Express after many months of not really working at any paying gigs. In fact the last paying gig was in 2017 when we worked in Fargo and then Lisa's father passed away and we then had to handle his estate. So that is behind us and we can carry on. As bad luck would have it we lost our water tank(The Great River Road from Hell Part Deux) and headed to Texas earlier than we had planned but it worked out for the better.

We have been here a month already and that month has flown by because of being so busy. We have been doing so many things that I just could not blog about everything. You know about Working for Santa and also Tanks-giving. At least I hope you do. For those that don't (everyone in my family) I shared the links again. The only reason I say that is because I called everyone at Thanksgiving and they all say "What have you been up too?" Really?

So instead of boring you with all of the boring details I will just post some pictures of the things that have gone on.

Pouring the brick ledge in front of the shop for a stone wall.

Residing the front of the shop while working on trams. Here the stone is being put up but not finished yet along with the trim.
Working on the front end of a tram. Replacing tie rods, steering boxes, tightening bearings.
Cutting steal to make a golf simulator in the shop.

Driving the trams for staging at the Polar Express.

 Doing the final prep for the big night.
This is just one house. I hope to do a video later when there are more lights up.

That's just stuff that we happened to remember to take photos for. My body aches tell me that I have done so much more than that. 

I trust that everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Mine was horrible if anyone wants to know. I woke up that morning with the flu. My most favorite meal of the whole year wasted. I couldn't eat a thing and I really didn't. I had to remain within eyesight of the toilet or something was going to hit the fan. Literally. Butt I am finally over the worst part. My stomach feels like it was used as a punching bag for Chuck Norris. One good thing about this Thanksgiving is that instead of gaining 10 pounds, I lost 10 pounds. That has never happened before. 

I wanted to add that a bucket list item has been crossed off. Never in the whole wide world would I have thought that I would know so much about Trams.

November is quickly coming to an end and then December. I wonder what will happen then?

Sunday, November 11, 2018


As all of the RV world knows, we lost our fresh water tank driving "The Great River Road" somewhere in Iowa.
It just bounced right out from under our fifthwheel. We didn't hear or see anything, so who knows where it fell out. Looking back at the time, it looked like it would be a major undertaking to get it fixed. Fixed by a professional. So we cancelled our trip. Called some friends in Texas looking for recommendations and a place to stay. They said we could stay with them and they knew of a place to get it fixed.
All set up at Camp Kephart.
Our friends let us move into their huge shop and they had full hookups in there so that was nice. We talked to the RV maintenance shop and ordered a tank. However, they were a month out for the repair but knew of another tech who could get to it in 2 weeks. The same amount of time it would take to get the tank. Well we are at their mercy and we will have to make the best of it.

The tank came in, so we picked it up and brought it to Camp Kephart so that the tech could just work on it in his shop.
Easy peasy. We called the tech and told him the tank was here but now he was busy and couldn't get to us until Nov. 26th. Again at their mercy and more time to kill. Mike and I were looking under there and the thought occurred to us that we could do this. If not the tech could always finish where we left off.
We needed to get fittings for the overflow and the inlet. A google search said that we were missing a wiring harness for the sensors.  I found one of those in town and a quick trip to Lowes and then we had things prepped. To be honest, it was about 10 trips to Lowes.
Next we cut the plywood to support the tank and made sure that fit in the space.
Then we laid the tank on the plywood and with the both of us we jockeyed the tank and plywood into position.
Snug as a bug in a rug. Now to start hooking things back up. Mike had the water fittings and the special tool needed to attach those.

I wired up the sensors.

Glued all of the fittings into place. I added an extension and a ball valve to make draining the tank so much easier. No more climbing under there to remove the original screw cap. Once everything was in place it was time to re-enforce everything so that it won't happen again.

Mike welding new supports across the bottom of the tank. The original design didn't have those so we are making it better.
We also added brackets up over the top to keep it in place. Once that was done we filled it and leak checked it and made sure the sensors worked. Everything worked great. Now replacing the underbelly. Mike knew a guy who made signs and we got a 4X8 sheet of that black corrugated plastic. I cut off most of the damaged underbelly.
It is starting to take shape.
I was under the rig in Minnesota and noticed some of the underbelly coming loose. So I was re-enforcing the old parts and installing the new.
I added flat strap along both sides to hold up the underbelly and then put changle iron across to keep it from sagging. Again, better than the original. All in all it was easier than I thought it would be and it required many hours on my back looking up, so it was a pain in the neck. I also want to thank Mike and Robin for letting us be in your shop. It was so much easier having access to so many tools. Since it has been inside I have also done the wheel bearings.
Also the last bit of damage to our side when we had a tire blow out 2 years ago.
To say the least, it has been a very busy time and a very productive time for us. Less than two weeks until the Polar Express starts.

Friday, November 9, 2018

A Tug Drive Down Memory Lane

"Red 8, Red 2."

"Red 8, go Red 2."

"Red 8, deliver a -70 to Sierra Oscar Niner, Over."

"Red 8, copy."

In my days of being an Airman stationed at Cannon AFB New Mexico which was flying F111D's at the time.
One bad ass plane.
Working in the 27th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, that's how a typical radio conversation would go for me. I delivered Aerospace Ground Equipment  to all and any aircraft that needed it. Breaking it down for you civilians goes like this.

The color denotes the Squadron. We had red, blue and yellow.
The number represents who is calling you. The lower the number the more important that person is. 2 being an expediter and 8 being me the A.G.E. driver.
-70 (dash 70) means they need a -60 (dash 60) gas turbine generator and a -10 (dash 10) air conditioner delivered to spot 09 (Sierra Oscar niner).
Copy means that I understand the directions and will carry them out.

Conversations where short and to the point because of the number of people on the channels and it keeps the airwaves open.

The reason I am sharing this bit of info is two fold. One being Veterans Day is around the corner and two out of the blue, Mike and Robin who run the Polar Express here in Texas just happened to buy a warehouse tug which brought back some good old Air Force memories.

This baby has seen some hard use and many years of neglect. As they would say in the old westerns. "It was ridden hard and put up wet." The plan for this little beauty was that it was going to get painted and then sold off with some tram cars to make a complete set. So a sanding I will go.
There was a lot of rust on it and took a day to just sand it down.
Here I am driving it back into the shop and hoping the brakes work. They did.
All prepped, Mike did the painting on it.
All finished and it looks great. Breathing life into this old girl.

Back in the day we used these tugs to move equipment around the maintenance yard. Out on the flight line we used tow tractors and Bobtails.
Dodge Bobtail
If you got to drive the bobtail that meant the boss liked you because there were only 2. Most of the time we drove small tractors from Ford, Case and the dreaded International Harvesters. 
It was very hard to find any photos of the tow tractors but here is a Case tow tractor. They were all fun to drive and I really enjoyed my tour in the Air Force.

I thought I would just share some of my experiences and I would like to say Happy Veterans Day to all military members of all the branches. Remember, freedom isn't free.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Working for Santa

Hunkered down in our superest, secretest undisclosed location is going well. It is so secret that spy planes and spy satellites can't find us, thanks to being inside.
The tinfoil hats are working wonders. Except one time. I went to bed and it fell off and I then had the craziest dream. So don't tell me that they don't work. In fact that reminds me that I need to put a chinstrap on mine.

The dream went something like this.

"Dino. Dino. DINO!!!! It's me Santa. I have a job for you. I want you to go someplace secret in Texas and spread some Christmas cheer to some Texans." Santa said.

"But Santa, I am in Texas." I said.

"You are. You must be in a super secret undisclosed location then. Anyways, get back on point. Go see one of my helpers and spread Christmas joy to all, Santa out."

"Lisa, wake up. I just had the strangest dream and why does my mouth taste like candy canes?"

So we found Santas helpers. They run the "Polar Express" in northern Texas.
Mike and Robin at the Pelican. Ignore the picture above their heads.
What the Polar Express is, is they have trams that go by the "Festival of Lights" and people pay to ride the slow moving trams and view the beautiful Christmas decorations. It's becoming a Christmas tradition here and we have agreed to drive for them. It doesn't start until Thanksgiving and runs through Dec. 29th.

The trams are ready. They have been painted red and white and Christmas lights have been strung on all of them. I am glad I didn't get there for the painting. They look great.

What can we do in the meantime?

"There are some big crowds that form so what we are going to do first is build a queue line management system for crowd control." Mike said.

"What!? Those are some pretty fancy words for a rope line." I said.

And build it we did. It started with metal that needed to be welded together.
The queue line management system for crowd control taking shape.
Then ground down for smoothness. I was given the grinder and put to work. I had Lisa try grinding one day and now she has given the grinder a new name. She affectionately calls it "The Tickler" which is a story for telling around the campfire.
I was grinding so much that my hand was going numb. So numb that I almost couldn't hold my beer. The key word being almost. Once done they then needed to be painted and then bolted together.
The final product. It looks great. It took a team of 4 of us to get that built and it will hold well over a 100 people. They get some crazy lines for the Polar Express. It is that popular.

"Dino, Dino, DINO! It's Santa again."

"I have got to get a chinstrap for my tinfoil hat."

"I want you to replace a sewer line. The old one was crushed." Santa said.

"How is that spreading Christmas cheer?" I said.

"You will see. Santa out."

I have never been a technician in the arts of sewage management butt (pun intended) I was willing to give it a try. Mike rented a miniature backhoe and we started tearing up the yard. First thing we accomplished was to break the water line. Just to make it more interesting.

Notice how I am correctly leaning onto the shovel.
The problem we had was that little backhoe could have been bigger. This is the north side of the shop and doesn't ever get any sun so the ground does not dry out, especially with all of the rain lately. So instead of moving dirt, we were moving mud. Heavy mud.
What a mess. I can now cross shoveling mud off of my bucket list.
Our new sewer line is in the ground.
Now it looks like a union job. One worker with 3 supervisors. We finally got the new line installed and repaired the water line. We can finally empty our pooper. Good call Santa!

It has not all been work. Mike and Robin have taken us out a couple of times and showed us around their town.They took us to a local watering hole called P2. Not sure what that stands for but there is an area were you can park your vehicle and the waitress's will come to your car and serve you alcohol.
Those trucks under that overhang are enjoying adult beverages right inside their cars. Awesome! We also went to the Lazy Dog Saloon. A very local bar. The owner was a friend of Mike and Robin's. He was giving us shots. Like the Crowndog and Snicker. That was fun.

They even had a working cigarette machine. I haven't seen one of those since my childhood. 

So we have been busy working and having some fun. Lisa has even spent time taking Moose for some walks.
Our water tank has been ordered and hopefully enroute. In the day and age of 2 day shipping why would it take so long?

What's next for us? Only Santa knows.