Back home in Florida

I arrived back home on Friday, November 18th. I left Waco, Texas, Monday and it took me five days to drive the approximately 1,450 miles home. As always, I had a nice visit with my friends in Waco at Homestead Heritage. I helped in the cheese shop, the bakery, and the gristmill. I will share the story about how once again God let me know I was in the right place. My van engine just happened to need repairs when I got to Waco… and the friends I stay with there just happen to be mechanics… coincidence… I think not!!!

I now have WiFi so I will try to write the stories and post pictures for the time I have been gone and didn’t have WiFi. It might take a while, but I will eventually get to it.

This week is Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for, I am so very blessed. My friends I am extremely grateful for the love and friendship we share, even if we don’t talk often I know we think about each other and keep one another in our thoughts and prayers.

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Visiting friends at Homestead Heritage, Waco, Texas

I have been so busy enjoying life and helping with various projects here that I realized I have not updated my stories. I will try to add a story about my time in Waco including how G-d once again showed me clearly how He is taking care of me and keeping me safe, I will try to add photos of a spectacular sunrise I got to see here recently. I’m so glad I was walking and saw this sunrise.

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Waylon Jennings Museum, Littlefield, Texas

I stopped in Littlefield, Texas, which is between Muleshoe, Texas and Lubbock, Texas. This is where country singer Waylon Jennings was born. His brother James D and his wife Helen have a drive through package goods store in Littlefield and the back room is a museum, along with a store room, as you can tell by looking at the album of pictures.

There are lots of pictures, and other sorts of items, of Waylon, his family, and friends. It was really interesting listening to James and Helen telling stories they remember when showing me pictures, and also background on some of the stories and memories they shared with me. I didn’t realize that Waylon was good friends with Buddy Holly, and that he also went to Graceland to visit Elvis a few times.

James and Helen pointed out various items like the gold record that Waylon presented to his mother, Waylon’s first guitar, a record he and Buddy Holly recorded together, and many more stories were shared.

There were several family photos. In one of them Jessi was wearing a wedding dress. James told me the story about this picture. On Waylon’s and Jessi’s 25th wedding anniversary he wanted to surprise her with something special. He picked out a wedding dress, had all of the arrangements made himself, no one helped him it seems, and he surprised her with a wedding ceremony to renew their vows. She was totally surprised!!!

It was not easy to get pictures due to the glare of the overhead lights, and the cases of soda, etc sitting all around the room. I did the best I could, and I know there are duplicates and even triplicates or more of some pictures. I posted all of the pictures I took. Some day, most probably when I am back home looking for something to do, I will delete some pictures, and add some to this story. Until then, feel free to enjoy the pictures.

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Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

It’s been an exciting and busy 10 days during which the Balloon Fiesta took place. I was busy every one of the 10 days. I got up about 4:15 a.m., yes that is correct, 4:15 a.m. That gave me enough time to get dressed, get down to the balloon field, eat breakfast, and meet my pilot Scott at the far northwest corner of the field. The field is the size of 84 football fields. I walked a lot of miles the past 10 days.

Here is a link to Album 1 of my Fiesta photos   Here is a link to Album 2 of my Fiesta photos.  I am only allowed to have 2,000 photos in a Google Photo Album, so there are two different albums.  When I get wifi and time permits, I will add photos to this story. It may be when I get back home. Until then, you can look at the pictures in these two albums.

I took about 2,200 pictures during the Fiesta. This year there were lots of balloons I didn’t see in previous years, and there were many new and different special shape balloons. There were a few days of questionable weather and the morning flights were either delayed or cancelled. A few of the afternoon glows were also cancelled due to the weather and high winds. Even if the balloon glow was cancelled, the fireworks still went off. They were really awesome. There were five nights of fireworks. Three nights I watched them from the top of the hill where my camper was parked. One night I was on the field and watched them from near the grid we just had the balloon glow in, and the other night I was on the field I watched them next to where the speakers were for the music and not very far from where the fireworks were set off. There was also a laser light show each night of the fireworks. Watching them close up and listening to the music was the best way to experience the firework show!!!

This is the fifth year that I have been at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, and the first year that I really have taken time to experience the entire event. In the past years, I crewed on a balloon and then if I was needed I went on chase crew to retrieve the balloon and if I was not needed I worked shifts at the Balloon Discovery Center. The row just south of the row we launch from are all of the large ride balloons with larger than usual balloon envelopes. Once they go up it’s very difficult to see anything past them. Right after they launch, our balloon launches. So in past years I rarely got to see the other balloons, including the special shape ones. Unless I saw them flying.

This year since I had about 200 volunteer hours before Fiesta began, I didn’t need to work much if at all during Fiesta. Most of the days there was enough chase crew so I didn’t have to go out in the truck to retrieve the balloon and pilot. So, I stayed on the field and walked around the balloons that were inflated on the field, or taking off, and of course also the ones flying overhead. I got to walk close to the balloons and take lots of pictures of the special shape balloons that I have loved to see over the years, and also the new ones.

On Thursday morning I was walking around taking pictures and I stopped at the balloon called Norman who is a serpent on a balloon. My friends Mary and Denny crew for Debbie who owns this balloon and also one called No Worries. One of Debbie’s friends stopped by and wanted a picture with her, so I put my camera in my pocket, so I thought, and I went far back to get a picture of them with the balloon showing Norman, and then a closer picture. After I gave their camera back, I reached into my pocket to get my camera and it wasn’t there. I searched all of the pockets on my cargo pants, and the pockets on my sweatshirt jacket, my other jacket, and my vest. I couldn’t find my camera. I looked all around the area I was just in and no camera. I was not happy, this is a new Canon camera I bought, it’s just a point and shoot but still a good camera. If I had to lose something, it was better to lose a camera than my phone.

I was going to go to lost and found and report my missing camera. One of my new friends here is the deputy security person, and also a Fiesta Board Member. He happened to stop by where I was walking as I walked to lost and found. I got into his golf cart and as we were driving something fell to the floor of the golf cart. I looked down, and there was my camera. I have no idea where it fell out of, but I was very grateful and relieved that I had not lost my camera. I thanked God and the angels and Universe and was very grateful that I still had my camera. It must have been in the lining which I thought was a pocket? I have no idea. I couldn’t feel it when I searched for it and emptied my pockets looking for it.

Other than that it was a pretty uneventful Fiesta. Before it began, I had a leak in a fuel line between the gas tank on my camper van and the generator mounted underneath the chassis. I was parked in the officials lot and I saw a puddle under my camper near the rear tires. I bent down to see what is was and when I touched it I knew it was gasoline. I called a RV friend and told him what it was and that I found a hole in the hose. He came over to get me and we went to an auto parts store and bought what was necessary for him to splice the line and make the repair. I was very thankful that I noticed it before Fiesta and that it was a fairly easy repair.

I took lots of pictures once again for Scott, the pilot I crew for, so that he and his crew and their families could have these pictures of them together. Since everyone is busy inflating or packing the balloon they aren’t able to take many pictures. When we have enough crew I seem to be the official crew photographer and I give them a flash drive with all of the pictures I take every year so they can have them. This year we had a few days that were pretty windy, so some days we tried to inflate but didn’t stay up long. Or we just stood up for a while so the public could see a show of the balloons and a glow. Some of the balloons caught the wind and had to come down quickly.

Overall, it was a great event, even with the not always cooperative weather conditions. Some mornings the temperatures were in the low 40’s which the pilots like. They can fly their balloons at a cooler temperature which is better for the fabric of the balloon envelopes and they can fly longer. This year it seems due to the winds that most flights were short ones.

I got to go up one day and we flew about 10 or 15 minutes. We landed in a parking lot not far from the balloon field. Due to the winds, and the fact that our chase crew was not at our location when we landed, which was not their fault, we landed soon after we took off and they had to try to determine where we were going to land and then navigate the traffic to get there, we had a pretty hard landing. Thankfully, none of the three of us in the basket nor the balloon was damaged. When we hit the ground my knees hit the inside front of the wicker basket. Then I crouched down and turned so when we bounced again I would hit the padded propane tank. Paul the other passenger held on to the basket and tried not to fall on me, Scott the pilot was holding on and trying to keep me from falling out of the basket and not to fall on me.

We finally stopped and got out of the basket while it was still dragging a little bit from the wind blowing the envelope. Thankfully, none of us was hurt and I’m glad all of us were experienced and it wasn’t our first ride or rough landing. I took a picture of the track we made when the basket touched down and dragged. Paul said it was about 100 yards. Shortly after we landed another balloon came down near us and we caught their basket so they had a pretty smooth touchdown. It turns out it was the first time flight for the passengers in that balloon. A little while after we were down our chase crew arrived and helped us pack up the balloon. Then we drove back to the field.

Being at Fiesta is a wonderful experience. Every year I get to see friends from previous year and meet new people that I become friendly with. This year one of the tasks I worked on before Fiesta was calling people on a waiting list to tell them Gondola Club tickets opened up if they wanted to purchase them. During Fiesta I went to the Gondola Club for dinner and I sat at a table and talked with a man named Tex that was sitting there. He told me he was from California and that he won the trip to Fiesta, a balloon ride, tour of the balloon museum with Troy who flew a balloon over the Pacific Ocean last year with a man from Russia. Tex told me how excited he was to be at Fiesta and how he won the trip by donating to a charity. He said he really wanted to attend a Gondola Club session but they were sold out and he was on a waiting list for three months and a few weeks ago someone called him to say there were tickets available. I told him I was the person that called him and it was really great that I could see how much it meant to him that he could have this experience.

I will get a photo album posted sometime, hopefully soon, but I’m not sure when. I am using a computer in the Fiesta office to write this post, I don’t know if I can create an album from this computer and I don’t have wifi where I am parked in the RV lot. I will leave here in a couple of days and head back east. I think I will take my usual route through Texas and Waco and across I-10 back to Florida. I was going to take I-40 across and go through Tennessee, South Carolina, etc., but the weather is colder that way and I want to avoid cold weather if possible. It’s about 2,400 miles back home and I think it will be a challenge. My pain is getting more intense, especially in the morning which may impact my driving times. I will see how it goes as I travel back. When I need to stop I will.

I most probably will stop in Waco to visit my friends there for a week or so, then stop near Jacksonville, Florida, to see my friends there as I travel back home. I will add photos to this story as soon as I can. Since I can no longer use Picasa to create an album and I have to figure out Google Photos it may take a while to get it figured out. I think I was able to properly create two different photo albums of pictures I took during Fiesta.

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Busy in Albuquerque

I have been extremely busy helping at the Balloon Fiesta office. Mostly I am doing office work and getting packets ready for the volunteers. This year instead of getting a jacket and t-shirt we are also getting a vest and a hat. We also get passes to several parties and a gate pass. Getting all these items and many more irems for about 1,100 people is a lot of work. Sometimes it’s good when others help and sometimes it’s not, depending on how good and accurate the people are.

I’m so grateful I have electricity and dont have to run my generator to operate my lights and fridge. In a day or so I will be moving to a different parking area, I will still have electric but water will have to be brought in on a truck to fill my water tank. I like having a water hookup at my camper, I’ve been able to wash my clothes and my hair easily. It will be okay when I move, I did just fine last year getting my tank filled once or twice a week. I don’t use much water and it will only be for two weeks. It’s hard to believe next Saturday the Balloon Fiesta begins. So far I have about 150 volunteer hours.

Purple is one of my favorite colors and our jackets and shirts are purple this year. Also, it’s the 45th Balloon Fiesta which makes it extra special. There isn’t really anything to take pictures of yet. A few balloons have been flying in the morning but they are too far away to get a good picture. It’s rained the past two nights and it’s been really windy. My camper rocks and sways a bit in the wind. Both nights before dark the sun shines through the clouds and there has been a full arc rainbow over the Sandia mountain. It’s a beautiful sight. When I get wifi on my computer I will upload some sunset pictures. I a m using my tablet to write this post and I can’t upload photos from the tablet.

That’s about it for now. When I get wifi after the Balloon Fiesta begins and I get time, I will try to upload some pictures. I can no longer use Picasa because Google changed to Google Photos which is not as user friendly as Picasa do I will have to see how to create photo albums for the pictures I take.

 

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Arrived in Albuquerque… and leaking windows finally fixed!!!

After a change of plans due to my windows still leaking, I left Littlefield, Texas, Monday morning without getting to go to the Waylon Jennings museum. The gorilla tape that my neighbor and I put on the leaking windows, see previous post, did not keep the water out during the rainstorm Sunday night. I woke several times to be sure towels were still catching the water coming in, mostly over where I sleep.

Monday morning it was still raining hard and water was still leaking in. I decided it was more important to get the windows fixed than visit the museum. So I called a few places in Amarillo and finally found one that said they would look at it and they should be able to stop the leak. I had not planned to go through Amarillo on this trip but God had a different plan. I drove some back roads to get there which was good since it was raining hard and I didn’t have to drive the interstate.

It was still raining when I got to the RV place called Custom RV. Justin was really nice and got me connected with a repair person upon my arrival. Between the periods of rain they worked on my windows and when they got done the windows still leaked. They didn’t have an empty bay to put me in or the repair could have been done better and faster than waiting for the rain to stop. I ended up staying there overnight in hopes the sun would be out in the morning… no such luck. It looked like rain for several more days. I made several phone calls to other RV and glass places and found one called Bill’s Auto Glass that said they would try to fix my leak. They had a bay to put me in out of the rain to work on my windows. I was glad after making many calls to find someone willing to help me. All the RV places I called said they either didn’t work on windows or couldn’t get to me for over a week. Some glass places I called wouldn’t work on camper windows.

It turns out that the continuing leak is due to the extremely bad repair job done by Waits RV in West Palm Beach, Florida. Do Not use them for repairs. When Mike the Custom RV guy was assessing my windows to figure where it was leaking from, he noticed that the screws holding the window frame were not fully tightened, so he tightened them and putty came out around the frame. He scraped the excess putty and put silicone around the edge of the frame. Waits RV should have done this when they put the window back in and told me the leaks were fixed. Then Mike put more silicone around the window and gaps that were left from my bad repair job. It was still raining and water still was coming in, not a little, but quite a lot. When I left to go to the glass place, I asked Justin what I owed for the work they did the day before. He said there is no charge since they didn’t fix the problem. If you are in Amarillo, Texas, and need RV repairs go to Custom RV at exit 76 off Interstate 40.

Since Custom RV still could not work on my camper because of the rain, I drove to Bill’s Glass Repair which was only about 7 or 8 miles away. I explained the problem and the very kind and knowledgeable workers looked at the windows and discussed the best way to fix the leak and they put more sealant around parts that are missed from the previous places. I waited in their shop for the sealant to dry because it was still raining periodically. Delores the owner was really nice and she got involved asking her workers what they thought would fix the leak and she explained it to me. I was assured they think what they did should fix my problem and the windows should not leak now.

Delores and I had a nice talk while I waited and it turns out we gave some similar life situations and we were able to share our stories. I feel like I have a new friend. There are no accidents in God’s plan. I was lead to this repair shop. I kept praying for guidance to find a place to help me and I kept calling places when I called somewhere and they couldn’t help I asked if they could recommend any place that could. That’s how I found Bill’s, and Custom RV. If you are in Amarillo and need glass repairs go to Bill’s Auto Glass at 2403 E Amarillo Blvd.

After the rain stopped temporarily, and the sealant had time to set up, I thought about staying in Amarillo overnight in case I still had a leak, but it was still early afternoon and Delores and her workers felt confident they fixed the leaks, so I headed west so I could drive about 100 of the 300 miles I was away from Albuquerque. It rained periodically as I drove and I stopped after a while to see if there was water in the window tracks, praying there wouldn’t be which would mean the leaks were fixed. The passenger side was dry but there was a little water in the driver side track. I dryed it and thought it could be left from the earlier leak. When I stopped again there was more water. I dryed it again and stopped for the night in a city park in San Jon, NM.

I continued to travel west the next morning and when I got propane in Moriarty I asked if they knew of a glass place. There was one called East Mountain Glass in Edgewood, a town west of where we were which was on my route. I found the glass repair and explained my problem. Phil the owner looked at the window and agreed with me what a bad repair job was done on my windows. He got a strong sealant and put some where he thought the water was coming in and said that should fix the problem. I offered to pay him and he said there was no charge because it only took a few minutes and he didn’t know if it fixed the problem.

I continued on my way. I was only an hour or so from Albuquerque. I stopped at Hidden Valley RV Park in Tijeras, NM. I have stayed there before and they are very nice. I didn’t need to stay there this time since it was early in the day. I did want to exchange some paperback books of ones I read. This campground has a book exchange area, I’ve swapped books here before. I asked if I could use their shower since I hadn’t had one in a week and it’s been raining so I couldn’t wash my hair at campground faucets like I do often. I was told I could and they didn’t charge me. It felt good to take a nice warm shower. I think of a nice warm shower as a luxury, especially when I’m camping. When I was using my hair dryer to dry my hair, some hair blew into the end of the hair dryer and I smelled the burnt hair. The hair dryer got hot and stopped. I thought I need to buy another one. This happened last year too. I try to be careful but long hair blows and gets caught in things. I stopped at a few stores to get food and a new hair dryer and arrived at the Balloon Fiesta office late Wednesday afternoon and then went to the camper area and got plugged in to electricity.

As I was plugging my electric cord into the camper I noticed a burnt spot on the end of the connector. I showed one of the men and we agreement it should be replaced. One of the men was going to a RV store and said he would pick up the part. Another man put the new connector on the power cord and I watched and helped. I like to watch as any repair is made, I always learn something new. The RV guys here told me when I connect to power to be sure the breaker is off before connecting the power cords to the camper and outlet and to always plug the end to the camper first, then the other end to the electric box, then turn the breaker on. If the breaker is on it will cause an arc and it can blow out or damage electric items like the fridge, lights, electric outlets, etc. I know there have been several times I felt a zap of current when I connected the power cord to the camper, now I know why. That is what evidently what caused the end of my power cord plug to be burnt. So now it’s fixed and I know the proper way to connect. No one ever told me this important info. After having my camper for 10 years I am still learning.

The day after I arrived in Albuquerque we had some rain in the evening. I checked my window tracks on both sides and there was water in both trackswhich means that there is still a leak. A spot or spots have been missed with the sealant. Gene one of the other volunteers took me to Home Depot and I bought a silicone sealant that is flexible and says it has maximum flexibility for extreme joint movement. That sounded like what I needed. Gene put the silicone around all the edges of where the glass meets the frame and around the outer edge of the frame. It went over the other silicone so there is now a fairly thick strip of sealant around most of the windows. It doesn’t look very good, but if it works to keep the water out that’s what counts. I let the sealant dry overnight and in the morning let water pour over the windows and thankfully no water in the tracks. I think it’s finally fixed as far as the leak is concerned.

I miss having windows that open, especially on cooler days, but I’m managing okay without it. Thankfully I have electricity although I usually turn it off at night when I sleep.

Wednesday and worked in the Balloon Fiesta office Thursday and Friday, and will from now until Fiesta. I do all sorts of projects. One day I taped LED fairy lights in three dozen clear quart jars and then tied different colors of raffia around the rim. These will be used to light tables in a tent during Fiesta. They really looked festive and pretty. I was surprised how bright the fairy lights are.

I will add more to this story, and perhaps a few photos soon. Check back in about a week.

 

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Travelling to Albuquerque

Before leaving Waco I had the tire pressure and fluids change checked in my camper. All was okay. If not you have been reading my posts for the last few months you know about the issues I had with the upper windows leaking. I thought when I was told by the RV service place that the windows were sealed and would not leak that the problem was solved, even though I could not open those windows. We had several days of heavy rain in Waco and there was water in the inside window track which I did not think should happen if it was sealed. Before I left one of my friends put strips of gorilla tape along the bottom edge of the window where it was a few months ago while waiting to get the leak fixed. This time that did not do the trick. I drove through intermittent heavy rain on Saturday and when I stopped and checked the track there was water in it. I prayed to see what I should do. The sun was out today so I though I wouldn’t have to deal with it for a few days. Since it’s Sunday all of the RV dealers I passed were closed.

I stopped in Littlefield, Texas, today for the day, I drove almost 200 Mike’s and it was more than enough. Littlefield is the home of Waylon Jennings. I have driven by here many times without stopping. In one of my Texas camping books, in addition to a sign on the highway saying free campground, I decided to make this town my stopping point. PBS had a special on television in June with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. I watched it several times. I loved not only the music but also the interaction between the guys. Part of the special showed a museum in Littlefield run by Waylon’s relatives. That was why I decided to make Littlefield my stopping place on the way to Albuquerque since it was on my way. This is a nice little campground with some trees for shade. It’s on the main road through town and next to an Ace Hardware store that has lots more than the usual hardware store. I had fun exploring their items.

After I got settled in the campground and explored Ace Hardware I was in the camper and thought I heard thunder. I looked outside and sure enough there were really dark clouds. I didn’t want as any water in the track but I didn’t have anything to stand on to reach the high windows to tape the sides of the window, the bottom edge was taped yesterday. I saw a man sitting at the table near my campsite and went over to ask if he had something I could stand on. It turns out he does not speak English and my Spanish is very limited, I was able to ask his name and was told it’s Fred, when I said mine is Carol he said Carolina. We were able to communicate and he had a tall bucket in his truck, and he was much taller than me and he very kindly put tape on the sides of my window. I hope this works. I had some silicone gel in a tube I was going to use but the tape was a better option today. Maybe as I travel towards Albuquerque I can find a RV repair place that can fix my windows so I can open them again. It sure would be nice. At least in safe, dry, and have delicious food to eat.

Tomorrow morning the Waylon Jennings museum opens about 10:00 a.m. so I plan on going there and taking pictures. I saw an article on it on a website I found called Roadtrippers. That website has lots of great tips and travel routes.

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Still in Waco, Texas, at Homestead Heritage

What was only going to be about a week stay at Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas, with my friends here has turned out to be about a 24 day stay. I am grateful to have the extra time here with my friends. It has been a huge blessing for me. Not only have I been able to have time with people I already knew, but I have been able to see them more often and we have gotten to know each other better. I have also made some new friends this visit. One lady and her daughter live in Florida about a half mile from where I live, only they are going back soon and packing up to move here to this community.

Some of the families I visit during my time here over the years on previous visits are away on vacation. I am staying here a few weeks longer so I can see them when they get back the end of August. Also, part of the delay of my travels to Albuquerque is that where they park the campers who arrive early, to help and volunteer for Balloon Fiesta, is under construction. I don’t want to arrive in Albuquerque until there is a place I can park and have electricity. It’s too hot to dry camp.

So, during the time I have been here, like I have written in a previous post a few stories before this one, I have been helping at the Cheese Shop, the Bakery, the Gristmill, and also helping make soap, lotion, lip balm, and other tasks related to each of these areas. It has been fun, and also educational for me. I have learned to do things I haven’t done on previous visits. When we work there are several people doing the tasks so not only are we working, but we are visiting and getting to know each other as we work.

When we work at the Cheese Shop, sometimes we get to snack on the pieces of cheese that are extra or when we want a snack. One of the best selling items is marinated Feta cheese. We seem to make between 25 and 30 dozen jars a week. When there are two or three of us the process goes quicker, however, it’s still a task that takes many hours. One of the men, whoever is available, cuts the Feta cheese with a french fry cutter. This picture is what a 5 gallon bucket of Feta cheese looks like after the whey has been drained from the container. After the cheese is cut, we mix ground up basil, garlic, and sun dried tomato into the cheese, fill the jar, and fill it with extra virgin olive oil. It’s really good on crackers or pasta, or even chicken.

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At the Bakery, there are always cookies and other items that are baked and come out that are not perfect to sell, or a loaf of bread may be a new recipe we get to sample. One day there was scraps of croissant dough, we made chocolate croissants and almond croissants, and I took some pieces of extra dough and made a few small croissants for me to take back to the camper to eat later. They were so good. It’s been fun to see how some of the baked items are made. All of the dough and batter is weighed before it’s shaped and baked so they come out to the same size. I have learned to make stuffed croissants, pita bread, sour dough bread, and of course cookie dough which I have made many times at home. Everything is measured either by ounces and pounds, or grams.

When the bread is sliced, the slicing machine automatically lets the next loaf in line go down to the cutter when the previous loaf is cut and removed. One day we even defrosted the large chest freezer. It just so happens that I had a hair dryer with me the day they did that. I was going to take a shower at a friends house after I finished working that day. I didn’t know we would defrost a freezer. When I was younger we had a chest freezer and used a hair dryer to melt ice. Having the hair dryer with me this particular day shortened the time to defrost the freezer and we were able to get food put back into it quickly after we cleaned the freezer and got the water from the melted ice out of it. It was amazing how much more room the freezer had after it was cleaned and organized. We were able to put more bakery items in the freezer for them to use when needed.

The Bakery makes their own vanilla extract. They take a 2 liter bottle of vodka and add about 40 split vanilla beans and let it sit for about 6 months. It smells really strong and adds a nice flavor to the baked goods. I love the boxes and packaging from the company Nuts. Several friends have invited me to dinner at their house. One of them has a very interesting clock in their kitchen. The hands of the clock have a knife and fork as the hour and minute hand. I learned how to make different shaped pastry to be filled and glazed. The big machine with the white dome is a dough rounder. A large circle of dough is placed on a red tray with circles and in less then a minute the dough becomes round balls and all of the dough is used, no scraps. It’s really cool to see. The mixers are next to the ball rounder and they make about 50 pounds or more of dough at a time. All of the baked goods including the croissants on a rack to rise and more baked items and breads that were stacked in bins was made in one day. The white bins under the large tables are filled with different types of flour, and one with sugar.

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As for making soap and lotion, it was really cool to see the soap we made after it set up for a few days and we were able to cut it into bars. Each brick mold of soap was different for the soaps where we used a few colors in it. Each bar of soap was also different. Since there were some skinny ends to the soap that cannot be sold and are scraps, I got to take them with me. I can give them to a few friends and say that I helped to make this soap!!!. How cool is that. A few times we made lip balm, three different flavors. We took the empty tubes for the lip balm and put them in holders and poured the melted mixture into the tubes. In about an hour they were solid and we could remove them from the holder, put caps on and then label and shrink wrap them. I learned how to finish the edges of soap, polish the soap with a damp cloth and let it dry, then shrink wrap and label them. They look like they are store bought even though we made each one by hand. I love smelling the different soaps too. Some of the soaps are the same scents, but they smell different depending on the ratio of the oils to each other.

IMG_0959In a previous story a week or so ago I added pictures and more stories about the soap and lotion making, including when the oil container overflowed because we didn’t watch it closely. Here are a few more pictures taken when we made another batch of soap. Because the soap contains lye which is very caustic, we wear goggles and gloves when making and pouring the soap. Sadly, I didn’t think to take pictures of the blue soap bars after we cut them. Each bar looked different due to the swirling we did in each soap brick when it was poured. After the soap hardens and comes out of the mold, it is cut into bars which have to cure for about six weeks before they can be used. I like to cure mine longer. The longer they age and the harder they get, the longer the bar of soap will last. I also put a hole in a bar of soap and make soap on a rope that I use in the shower. It works great to not have the soap sit in a soap dish and melt. I especially like soap on a rope in campgrounds because many of them don’t have a shelf in the shower to put soap, shampoo, etc. In addition to being a creative and wonderful soap, lip balm, and lotion maker, Rachel is a fantastic artist. I love this watercolor painting she did for a mutual friend of ours.

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I’m glad this campground has wifi. It allows me to update my website. I found out about a children’s book series called Amelia Bedelia. I had not heard of this character and I found several video’s on You Tube of the book being read and showing the pages of the book. If you get a chance check it out. You will laugh and enjoy the various books. Amelia Bedelia is a child and she takes things people tell her to do literally. If she is told to dust the furniture, she dusts the furniture. She actually takes dust and puts it on the furniture. If she is told to draw the curtains, she takes a pad and pencil and makes a drawing of the curtains. In one book she went camping. She was told to pitch the tent, so she threw it into the bushes. Or she was told to catch a fish, she waded into the water and caught a fish, then let it go. I found out about this character because I was telling someone about Oh, The Places You’ll Go, and the real story of the Big Bad Wolf. I’m so glad I found out about Amelia Bedelia.

On Friday, August 26th, the day before I left I worked at the bakery for about 7 hours. The people that work in the bakery have become my new friends. We spent many days and hours working together and getting to know each other. We had lots of fun in addition to working. It helped that I like to bake and I do it at home very often, I was able to be given a task and able to do it without instruction often. When we made croissants I asked if I could make some with the extra pieces of dough to take on my trip and they said yes. My creations were filled with either chocolate, almond paste, or plain. They tasted delicious and will be enjoyed as I travel. I also was given an apricot almond bread, cinnamon raisin bread, and pumpernickel bread for my trip.

I cooked some pasta to eat as I travel, I can hear it easily and put marinated feta cheese on it for a fast meal. I usually eat cold cut sandwiches with potato salad as I travel so this will be a nice change.

I will leave Waco on Saturday, August 27th and head towards Albuquerque. I will stop along the way and I think it will take me several days to get there. I have a few campgrounds scouted out to stay along the way. I will miss my friends here in Waco, but I am also looking forward to all of the projects I will get to do helping before the Balloon Fiesta like I did in previous years. We have had a lot of rain this past week in Waco. It was really needed, but I’m not sure 5 or 6 days in a row was best. It did cool the temperatures from 100 and a little above that to the low 80s and even a few nights in the high 70s which has been very pleasant.

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Picasa Photo Albums now Google Photos…. Help!!!

Since 2011 I have been using Picasa to create the photo albums for my website. Now Google decided to retire Picasa and use Google Photos. They said they transferred all photos from Picasa to Google Photos and it seems they have, but Picasa is not as easy to use and it had more features it seems then Google Photos.

So, this means that under my Photo Gallery Tab where there was a link to all approximately 150 of my photo albums, this is no longer possible. In Picasa, I was able to select an option to make an album public for anyone, for only me, or only for someone I gave a link to. Google Photos doesn’t have the option to make it public unless a link is provided. In my posts from this point forward, I will include a link to a photo album for the story if I created an album because I had enough photos for an album, like for the Balloon Fiesta or a wildlife care center, etc. If the only pictures are the ones in my story, there will not be an album.

I clicked on links in some of my recent stories and some of them go directly to the album referenced in the post, and others go to a page where all albums are shown, then we have to scroll through the albums to find the one referenced in the post. I guess that has to do with whatever link I used for the story. I think there are a few stories I wrote that perhaps related to an event like Balloon Fiesta, or Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center where I had several photo albums, so I used the link to the entire set of albums vs. a specific album. I really don’t know why it does that, it was just a guess. So, you may click on a link and get either of those two options, either a single album, or all of them.

When I began writing stories on this website, I didn’t know how to create a link from a story I wrote to a photo album until I think it was 2013, so in my posts from 2011 through mid-2013 there are not links to albums, which I wish I realized back then that it was possible. So now, as time permits and as I have wifi access, I will go back to those early stories and put in a link to the album. This is going to be very time consuming because in 2011 and 2012 is when I took my longest trips and saw the most places and I traveled the most distances from south Florida to northern Washington and many states and National Parks along the way. I hope to someday complete that task. I will miss being able to go to the Photo Gallery Tab and click on it to look at all of the albums, every now and then I liked to look at the pictures and it was easy for me when I met people that were traveling to a part of the country that I had been in to go to my albums and look at the pictures of that area or place. Now, I can’t do that.

If anyone reading this post knows anything about Picasa and Google Photos, please contact me if you have any information or suggestions on what I can do to make this transition smoother. I think there are many other Picasa users who are not happy with this change that Google has made.

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My activities at Homestead Heritage, Waco, Texas, includes working at the Cheese Shop and making soap and lotion… Also change in Photo Albums from Picasa to Google Photos

I am still in Waco, Texas, at Homestead Heritage, where I have been coming for many, many years. I love seeing my friends here and also I stay busy. I have worked several days at the Cheese Shop packaging cheese, and making marinated Feta cheese which is really delicious especially when it’s put on pasta or crackers. I have also been peeling and slicing pears from the pear trees and putting them in a dehydrator to preserve them.

Yesterday I was unpleasantly surprised when I went to my Photo Gallery Tab to show someone an album of pictures I took a few months ago of spectacular sunsets. When I clicked on the link that I have been using since 2011 for my pictures, I got an error code. Upon further research, it seems Google retired Picasa which is what I was using to upload my photos and to create albums. It was easy to use. It seems that Google transferred all my photos to their Google Photos, however, it seems that the links in my stories takes my readers to the Google Photos page where all of the albums are now stored. It doesn’t go directly to the album that relates to a particular story like it did when Picasa was still an option, which it no longer is.

I tried to upload a small album of pictures I took while making soap and lotion last night using Google Photos, it’s not as user friendly for me, but I guess I will get used to it. So, bear with me and PLEASE let me know if you are not able to see albums or have trouble getting to them so I can work on resolving any issues. Please also be patient with me as I navigate this new procedure for photo albums. I wish they waited until the end of the year. I think it’s going to be more of a challenge when I get to Albuquerque and want to upload hundreds of balloon pictures. I doubt I can create an album as easily as I did in Picasa. I’m hoping I will be pleasantly surprised and it will work just fine. Like many others, I don’t always like change!!!

I have been in Waco at Homestead Heritage almost 2 weeks and I will be here until about August 16th, then I will head towards Abilene, Lubbock, Texas, then Santa Rosa and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Once I leave Waco, I will have limited Internet service.

It’s been lots of fun helping at the various places here and going out to eat and visiting with my friends here. Rachel, one of my friends makes fantastic soaps and lotions using various scents and materials such as oatmeal, essential oils, etc. The soaps all smell so good. the purple and pink one on the top is black cherry, the green on the next shelf is spearmint.

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I told Rachel that if she makes any while I am here I would love to help her. She said she is making some Saturday and Monday nights, I offered to help. Saturday evening she picked me up and took me to her shop. Rachel was great at explaining the chemistry of the ingredients and the process for making both soaps and lotions. I found it really interesting to listen to how the ingredients react to each other, and also to watch the consistency change as the ingredients are heated and mixed. Watching water, lye, oils, and other ingredients go from a boiling mix and using a mixer to see it become more congealed and beginning to look like liquid soap. Then we poured the scented oils into the mix and poured it into molds. It was fascinating.  The batch we made Saturday night was a mixture of Eucalyptus oil, Spearmint oil, and Peppermint oil. We kept adding the oils until we liked the scent and that it was balanced and one scent did not over power another one.

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The same goes for making the lotions. Ingredients were measured and poured into a mixing bowl and a stand mixer mixed the ingredients for about 20 minutes or so. As the mixture cooled it began to thicken and change color and consistency. While it was still warm, we poured it into the lotion bottles. After it cools, we top off the bottles and cap them.

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IMG_0925One of the ingredients we needed was castor oil. Rachel put her bottle under the nozzle of the large caster oil box so that only the amount we needed would be used. We got busy filling and capping lotion bottles and forgot to keep an eye on the caster oil container that was being filled. It was coming out slowly so we thought it would take a while. When we remembered to look at the bottle, we saw that it not only overflowed, but there was a very large puddle on the floor where the castor oil overflowed. We turned of the valve and got to scraping up the oil and cleaning the floor. Castor oil is a thick and sticky oil and it wasn’t very much fun to clean off of the floor and our shoes, but we managed and then went back to making the soap and a new batch of lotion. Rachel uses Shea Butter in her lotion and I put some on my really dry skin and it worked great. She has several different scents.

Sunday morning Rachel and I prepared tomatoes for dehydrating and also sorted more pears so they could soften to be cut and dried. I’m looking forward to tomorrow night to make some more soap and lotion. Monday and Tuesday I will be working at the Cheese Shop again, and Friday I will be working at the Bakery. If the pears soften, I will be working on those Wednesday and Thursday.

I had only planned on staying here for a week and then traveling north and staying at a Corps of Engineer Park at Lake Whitney which is about half of an hour north of where I am. The owner of this local RV park said that he preferred that I stay here when I have friends rather than spend two weeks camping alone. Since I love being here and there is always lots to do, I decided to stay here where I keep busy and get to see my friends, that is the ones that are here and not traveling like some of them currently are doing. I miss them but I’m so happy that they are able to take a great vacation. While I was here I had the transmission fluid changed in my camper and they put a conditioner in it too. It’s been 27,000 miles since it was last done. I have had my camper van for 10 years and I have driven 70,000 miles, most of them since 2011 when I retired.

One night this past week one of my friends and I went out to dinner in downtown Waco, after dinner we went by the Waco river where one day the city hopes to build stores and restaurants sort of like the San Antonio Riverwalk. Many years ago the Chisolm Trail came through Waco, and in tribute to it bronze statues were placed along the road where the trail came through and crossed the river. It was really interesting to see these amazing real looking bronze cattle and cowboys on horses. It stretched out about half a block in downtown Waco along one of the main streets. There was so much detail sculpted into the statues, especially on the cowboys and their saddles, I’m not sure it shows up very much in the pictures. I took a lot of pictures, but it was using my phone since I didn’t have my camera with me.

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At the campground, I hung my hammock in the shade between two trees and have been relaxing in it when I can and when it’s not too hot to be outdoors.

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Relaxing after balloon rallies and having time with friends in Texas

While it’s lots of fun being at balloon rallies and competitions, we have to get up really early usually 4 or  5 a.m. and we are usually finished about 9 or 10 a.m. depending on where the balloon lands, how long it takes to get to the pilot, pack up, etc. Then I think most of us take a nap. At least I try to a while after I get back. I was at two back to back balloon events, there are no more that I have planned at being at until Albuquerque which is the beginning of October. However, I will be there from the end of August until mid-October so that I can help at the Balloon Fiesta office before the event as well as volunteer and crew during the event.

In the Fort Worth area, I visited my friend Sue for two days and got to see a few other friends that lived nearby while I was there. It was great having time to visit with my close friends that I miss since I don’t live in Texas anymore. we talk on the phone, but it’s not the same. I also got to eat at a few restaurants that I like eating at while I’m there. Not to mention Braum’s where they have the best ice cream!!!

When we were at a grocery store we saw this can of Coca Cola product soda boxes in the format of the Olympic rings, we thought it was very unusual and cool looking so I took pictures of it. Sue and I looked at this display and wondered how someone thought to plan this out and build this display. It must have taken quite a while to design and create this display, especially without the boxes falling. The boxes creating the lettering and circles are protruding a few inches from the boxes that make up the background.

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After visiting with my friends in the Fort Worth area, I drove to Waco to see my friends there at the Homestead Heritage community. I was invited to dinner at a few friends houses, and I also helped another friend prepare food for a wedding that was held while I am visiting. I was also unexpectedly invited to the wedding. I love being here and because I have been coming here for a little over 18 years, I have seen many of my friends children grow up, they have also become my friends, and now they have children of their own. I also get to see the younger children grow up and they know me and greet me warmly. It really touches my heart.

My friend Rebeccah who started a cheese business many years ago was in Iowa at the American Cheese Society awards this past week and we found out that she won first, second, and third place in the Brie cheese category, first place in the Blue cheese category, and first place in the Labney cheese category. We are all so very proud of her and happy for her. Many years ago when she first told me that she was starting to make cheese for her family, we had no idea it would develop into the wonder award winning cheese business it has become. Rebeccah and her family moved to Deary, Idaho, a few years ago and they opened a cheese shop and bakery there. They took an old, dilapidated building and remodeled it into a new store. If you are in the area, please stop in and tell them hello and of course buy some of their wonderful foods and gifts.

Saturday, July 30: I don’t have television or listen to the news while I am traveling, I seldom have Internet. I am staying in a campground in Waco about a mile and a half from Homestead Heritage and they have wifi so I am able to update my website and write stories. I figure if something happens that I need to know about someone will let me know. That happened today. I got a text from several friends and a few phone calls about a hot air balloon accident in Lockhart, Texas. My friends didn’t know if I was there or if it was close to where I am. Lockhart is south of Austin which is about two hours south of Waco where I am. It is very sad to hear about any accident, and balloon accidents are not that common. But this accident was especially tragic, 16 people were killed in this accident. It has not been determined what caused this crash yet, the FAA is investigating. I have been at balloon events where accidents happened, but they usually happened off field when pilots were getting ready to land and I didn’t see any of them, only heard about it after the fact. We can all pray for the families of this accident, and all of the tragedies happening around the world.

All of you that are concerned about me, I am okay. I still have some pain and complications from my medical condition and tumors. I manage pretty well most days and I am so grateful and thankful that I am able to take this trip and travel. I plan on leaving Waco on Wednesday morning and traveling north and west towards Albuquerque. I was going to be there by about August 8th, but they decided I don’t need to be there until about August 24th or so. That gives me additional time to camp along the way that I had noplanned on.

I found several camping areas along the way that I can stop in. I will take back road route from Waco to Abilene, then the Interstate for a little while to 84 north, and camp near Lubbock for a few days, then head towards I-40 west of Amarillo, and probably stay in a state park near Santa Rosa until a day or so before I need to be in Albuquerque the end of August. My plans are flexible and written in the sand, my route often changes as I drive. I look at maps and campground books the night before I leave somewhere to drive to another location, but along the way if I see something of interest, I sometimes change my route and take a different direction. The tentative route I am taking this year is about the same one I took last year when I left Waco so I know of some city owned RV parks about three miles off of highways and other types of roads that I can stay at again, or I can try different ones. It’s nice to have freedom and flexibility as I travel.

I will write again when I get wifi and have something of interest to share.

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Great Texas Balloon Race, Longview, Texas

I arrived in Longview, Texas, early this afternoon after finishing my crewing tasks in Shreveport. I came early so that I could help assemble pilot packets and do pilot registration. Thankfully, at Maud Cobb Convention Center where the pilot registration took place there is a campground with electric hookups so I am staying here until Friday morning when I have to move out to the regional airport where the balloon rally takes place. There is no electricity there so I will do the best I can to stay cool when I am not working the gates or crewing for a balloon. Several pilots that were in Shreveport also came to participate in this event, and I also saw several balloons I had not seen before which is a nice surprise. Several pilots I have met at other events and it was nice to see them and catch up on life. There is an album with all of the pictures I took at the Longview balloon rally.

Since I was there a few days before the competition began, and there was time for some practice flights, I went around to various pilots asking if they needed crew. I found a couple from Longview, Joe and Lynn who have a balloon repair business and it was just the two of them, so I crewed for them the entire time I was in Longview. It worked out pretty good and I did some tasks I had not done before which made it more interesting for me. It’s very different crewing when there are only 3 or 4 people than when there are 6 or more. Joe didn’t usually many choices where he landed and twice it took us quite a bit of time and effort to get to him because we couldn’t find the roads to get back to where he was, or we finally got to where he was and had to find people to open gates so we could get into a pasture. One day we landed in a locked gated pasture that took us about an hour to get to and when we got there I realized I was in that same place last year when I crewed for a different pilot. One morning after we were packed up and driving back to drop me off at my camper, we passed a balloon that landed near a main road and the crew was having trouble handling the balloon envelope with the winds blowing it towards the road. Joe did a u-turn and we quickly got out of the truck and helped the crew get the balloon down and thankfully there was no damage to the balloon or any of the crew. It was a bit scary for a while when the winds kept trying to take the envelope towards the road, a mailbox, ditch, etc. we were glad to be able to help.

Joe and Lynn’s balloon is called the Spirit of Texas and it displays five different Texas flags from different periods of time. The balloon envelope is about 69,000 cubic feet and it is a traditional shaped balloon. For some reason it seemed a larger size. Joe said it could be because of the wide white band in the design. One of the mornings we were on crew we stopped in a parking lot of a gas station and Whataburger and we watched the balloons fly in over the target. We decided we were hungry so while waiting for Joe to fly in and over the target we got something to eat. Some of the balloons went really high so they could catch the directional winds they wanted and drop down to the target. When that happens the balloon envelope gets to be a different shape since the winds are blowing the envelope in different directions.

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There was a party on Thursday night for everyone and it was lots of fun. On Friday afternoon I went to the gate for my assigned times, and after working the gate I went to get something to eat and then went to help Joe and Lynn set up their balloon for the glow. We also were able to listen to the concert and see all of the other balloons around us glow. It is really beautiful when the balloons glow in the dark. It’s not easy to get good pictures, especially when I am trying to hold the balloon basket down and snap photos.

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It was fun watching the balloons flying over the target, it takes a lot of skill and dependence on the winds to get the pilots from more than a mile from the target to navigate the winds at different altitudes to get the pilot to fly over a target at a designated location. Sometimes they are able to catch the winds to get them there and sometimes they aren’t. Also, when they drop their marker or beanbag down to the target, the winds can catch the item and not let it go straight down to the target. One morning I saw the moon in the sky when a balloon was flying and another morning the sun was behind the balloons, these gave me the opportunity of taking unusual photos. Another interesting picture I took, was a bird sitting on a power line and as a balloon got closer, I took a picture where it looks like the bird is almost sitting on the balloon.

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On Saturday afternoon, I worked my shift at the gate, got something to eat, and saw that the weather was getting bad. We could see rain off in the distance and hear the thunder. Then the lightening began and we knew that the balloon glow would be cancelled. Then the heavy rains came and everyone ran to their vehicles. It was too bad the weather turned rainy and most people left. About 10:30 p.m. or so I looked out my back door and saw a balloon or two inflate, and I heard music. The concert started late, and the band performed until early morning. I still heard the music about 12:30 a.m.

On Sunday morning I crewed again for Joe and Lynn and after we got to the field where the balloon landed and it was packed up I was driven back to my camper and I packed up and drove to Crowley west of Fort Worth to visit my friend Sue for a couple of days.

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Red River Balloon Rally and National Championship, and Challenge Coin, Shreveport, Louisiana

I arrived in Shreveport for the Red River Balloon Rally and National Championship on July 12th. The Rally begins on July 13th and I have signed up to crew for several days. This is the first year Shreveport is hosting the National Championship. It changes locations every three or four years. In the previous story I wrote about my journey to Shreveport and some of the things I have been doing since I arrived here. I created a photo album with pictures I have taken at this event.

For the morning shifts, I have been assigned to a pilot named Jayson Kimball, who is from Napa Valley, California. He has been a commercial balloon pilot for about 20 years, but this is his first time in a national competition. His balloon is named Turbo. Helping him is his brother Colby and also Odin who happens to be the Mexican National Champion who will be going to Japan this year to compete in the World Competitions. And then there’s me. It’s the four of us on this team and we seem to work well together. Jayson is really excited that he is here and getting to participate. Jayson comes from a family of long time balloonists. There are about 36 balloons at this event. I found this page on the website that shows the names of the pilots and a picture of their balloon. Odin flew all the way from Mexico to help Jayson with his first national championship, that is a great friend!!!

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Since we all go in different directions in the morning trying to find the best location to launch in order to have a good flight to the various targets every day I am not able to get many pictures. Also, with just the four of us as crew we are very busy inflating, and then packing up and being the chase crew. Colby is in the basket with Jayson so it’s just Odin and me in the vehicle and we are also packing up the trailer after Jayson lifts off.

I have been getting up at 4:00 a.m. and about 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. when we get back it feels like it should be mid-afternoon and I’m ready for a nap. Friday and Saturday in addition to crewing in the morning, I will be volunteering as a crew member in the afternoon. It’s nice to meet new pilots because they all seem to do something a little bit different, but it’s also nice to work with a pilot I’m familiar with because I know a little how they work and what they want me to do. However, that also is determined by how many crew members there are. I didn’t really want to pack up everything in my camper and drive a few miles to the LSU campus where the Friday and Saturday afternoon and evening events take place. I asked one of the volunteers who lives in town if she could swing by and pick me up and she said she would, it’s sort of on her way to LSU. I thanked her very much. This is her first time volunteering at a balloon rally and she loves it!!!

I saw Al Nels from Ohio who is a several time National Champion. I crewed for him in Longview, Texas, last year. His balloon is the one with the blue top and green grass. You can read the story about his special balloon in July 2015 Great Texas Balloon Race story if you are interested. Everything on his balloon has family meaning. The balloon with the multi-colored squares in a geometric design is Jayson’s balloon, this is the one I am crewing for this year. The pictures  of Jayson’s balloon are as he is coming in over the targets during practice on Wednesday morning.

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Jayson is a commercial hot air balloon pilot, he says that he frequently pilots a balloon that is 300,000 cubic feet and it holds 24 passengers. The balloon he is flying here is about 56,000 cubic feet and it’s a racing balloon which reacts very quickly to the propane burners rather than the larger balloon envelope which reacts more slowly. In fact, it was interesting watching the balloons this morning, the winds were very different in the air and many of the balloons were affected by this difference. The top and bottom of the balloon looked like they were at an angle rather than straight due to the wind differences. I don’t have a picture of this, and it’s a bit difficult to explain. I guess if you look at the pictures above you can see a slight slant to the balloon envelope. Sometimes, if the winds are blowing a lot the balloon even looks like it’s collapsing on one side as it’s swayed by the winds. On Thursday, July 14th, the winds were really picking up and when Jayson landed he came in pretty fast and hard, and there were only two of us to try and stop the basket. We got it done and got the balloon envelope down quickly. I’m glad I wasn’t in the basket when it landed.

Friday, July 15th: The winds were not the best for flying, but these balloon pilots are determined to compete whenever the conditions are safe. The winds were supposed to be getting worse as the morning progressed so the pilots and crew all rushed to their vehicles after pilot briefing and we went to the best location for launching and being able to fly to the targets. Many of the balloon teams went to the same location which was a church with a very large grassy lot next to it. I’m guessing there were about 14 balloons that launched from this site. When I was talking with my friend Jeanie in the afternoon it turns out her team launched from the same site as my team. I was able to get lots of good pictures today. Also, Colby gave me a few pictures he took from the air, and also one of me holding the balloon envelope open while the balloon was inflating. There is a yellow balloon that has cats on the balloon, it’s pretty cool to look at. There are many balloons that I have not seen at other balloon events.

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We went to the LSUS campus in the afternoon for the evening glow and concert, but the weather did not cooperate and the winds were really high, then instead of the balloon glow, concert, and fireworks show that was supposed to happen later on tonight, God decided to give us a big display of lights, sound, and wind, provided by Nature. There were high winds, lightning, and then heavy rain. Jeanie and I ran to her car but we still got soaked. It was really sad because all of the people came out to see the show and some wanted tethered rides. We will try again on Saturday. Before the event was canceled, we all went into the gym to wait and see if the storm would pass and allow us to set up the balloons for the glow, but it turns out after about an hour or so it was only getting worse.

While we were in the hallway at the gym, I saw a young boy, probably about a year old in a wheelchair and there was a sign on the chair saying: Please do not touch me, my bones are brittle and break easily. I prayed for the little boy and his family and thought of all of the things he would not be able to do and how carefully he had to be handled for any activity or life experience, even changing his diaper, or dressing him. Once again, I got to be extremely grateful for my life and physical condition. Before I left home I was in a lot of pain, and I prayed and asked God to please lessen my pain. So far, God has been answering my prayer. The pain has not been too bad and I am able to take my medicine when it is and just relax and not drive.

Saturday, July 16th: I got up in the morning and went to the hotel lobby and found out that the winds and weather were not good for flying so the morning event was canceled. The organizers said that they could use help going to the field and getting it ready for the evening events, so I went and helped. The field was wet and the barricades blew over, but other than that things were okay. The rain really cooled the temperatures, it was 75 degrees at about 7:00 a.m. which felt really good after the high 90’s we have been having. The little fridge in my camper is having trouble staying cool with the hot temperature and me not having electrical connections. So, I went into the hotel restaurant and got some ice in a few small containers I have and I put them in the fridge. I change the melted ice for real ice twice a day and it seems to be helping to keep the fridge cooler. I have a little bit of food that I don’t feel safe eating because the fridge thermometer was not in the zone that I felt was food safe. I also run the generator for about half hour in the morning and afternoon to charge the batteries and also I think it helps the fridge to operate better, at least I hope it does.

Saturday evening: Tonight is beautiful weather for the evening events. There was live entertainment and as it got dark approximately 32 hot air balloons inflated and glowed for about an hour. It was an awesome site to see. I crewed for Jayson and since we have all been working together all week I know more about how he likes things done. After the balloons were packed up the fireworks show began and fireworks exploded in the sky producing a beautiful light show for about 20 minutes. When Jeanie and I arrived at the LSUS parking lot we parked in a spot that would allow us to leave easily without waiting in long lines of traffic and it worked great. Partway though the fireworks display we began walking to the car to get ahead of the crowd and we would stop every now and then to watch the fireworks. By the time they were finished we were at the car. I wish the weather last night was this good, but I guess we needed the rain last night.

I am still getting used to my new camera and when it’s dark I can’t see the settings to change them for night pictures, so the evening photos are using the automatic setting. I didn’t take pictures of the fireworks. I know the camera has a fireworks setting, I need to practice finding it so I can take fireworks pictures in Albuquerque where they have five nights of spectacular fireworks. Sometimes when I take pictures I turn the camera sideways to take a picture. I download it to my computer and the pictures all look like they are the correct way, nothing looks sideways. However, after I insert pictures in my post, for some strange reason, the ones I took holding the camera sideways the pictures look that way, and I have to go into edit and rotate them. It also does the same thing in the photo album sometimes. This is a bit frustrating and also time consuming to rotate the pictures but I want to do that so that when you look at the pictures they are facing the correct way. I took a short 25 second video of the balloons flying over the target but the file was too large to insert in this post. It’s at the end of the photo album pictures.

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Sunday, July 17th: I met Jayson in the lobby in the morning and we drove to the location he wanted to launch from. There were several balloons launching from this spot, but not as many as the other morning. As soon as Odin finished tying down the equipment we began our journey following the balloon to the first target location. We arrived in time to watch quite a few pilots fly over the target and throw their markers. It’s really interesting to watch the pilots navigate the winds from a few miles away and actually get to where the target which is X is on the ground, or where a pole is that they drop a plastic ring about 12″ in diameter over the end of the pole. There is a lot of skill and knowledge involved in competition.

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After watching the pilots trying to get their bean bags on the target, we kept going until we arrived where Jayson decided to land his balloon. He landed in some red dirt on a road where we were not able to get the vehicle down due to a gate. So, Odin and I walked around the gate and go to the balloon and Jayson kept it slightly off the ground while Odin and I walked it down the road and over a few mounds of high grass and dirt to a flat dirt field where we could lay the balloon down and pack it. Our shoes and the balloon envelope had a layer of red dirt, but that’s part of ballooning, we never know where the landing places will be until it happens.

I decided to stay here until Monday so that I could crew for Jayson one more day to make it easier for him. I got more ice for my little fridge to help it stay a bit cooler and I threw away some food that I didn’t feel safe eating since the temperature was not in the safe food zone.

On Monday, after I finish crewing for Jayson, I will leave Shreveport and head towards Longview, Texas, which is about an hour and a half or so west of here. I am updating this story at 3:30 p.m., on Sunday, July 17th.

Monday, July 18th: When I showed up to sign in for crewing this morning John Storey, who also goes by Stormy, asked if today was my last day at this event and I said it was. He reached into his pocket and presented me with a Challenge Coin. He said he was a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force and when he retired after 27 years he had these Challenge Coins made with the name he was known by which is Stormy. He said that these coins are given out to to people who go above and beyond and do something extra special. John was a volunteer at this balloon event and was mostly in charge of the crew volunteers, among other responsibilities. He said that he had these coins made in Turkey by a friend that makes them because he didn’t want to be restricted to giving them out like the Air Force requirements state. I was extremely surprised that he gave me this very special coin and the honor I felt for receiving it was overwhelming and a huge surprise. I didn’t know about these types of coins. I stayed a few extra days and worked a few extra shifts to make it easier for John and the pilots and I also did other tasks when it was needed.

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After this unexpected surprise by John, I met my pilot Jayson and went to crew for him. Since today was my last day, John assigned Robin to help us because she could crew for Jayson the rest of the days of competition. I introduced her to Jayson, Colby, and Odin and explained what we needed to do to help them with the balloon and chase crew. Robin said this is her first time being involved with hot air balloons and she was so excited to join us and help. Watching her joy and wonder as she saw the balloons laid out, inflating, and flying was contagious. Odin drove and we tried to keep track of the balloon and we got to some of the targets to watch the balloons fly over them. Robin took lots of pictures, including some of me. It was a fun day and we got to enjoy our time together before I left for the balloon rally in Longview, Texas.

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Traveling west on another expedition… time for another journey!!! AND UPDATE as I traveled to Shreveport for hot air balloon rally.

I left home this morning on another journey west. Maybe next year I will leave earlier and head in a different direction… that is if God has it the plan for meto take another long trip. For now, I am blessed and grateful I’m able to take this one.

Getting me and the camper ready for this trip has taken a lot of thought and planning, not so much for the route, but researching ways to keep my camper cooler inside, especially when I am not hooked to electricity which will happen mostly in the beginning of this trip while I am in Shreveport, LA, and east Texas for hot air balloon events. I have dry camped many times in the ten years I have owned my camper van so I know I can do it and survive okay. The difference this year is not having the upper windows to open. This is really the same as dry camping when it’s raining because I couldn’t open those windows when it was raining. In previous posts I wrote about what I have done to try to keep the interior cooler and why. After reading the post when I wrote about figuring out the best way to lay out the window sizes I needed for the sunshade, one of my friends told me that all of my jigsaw puzzle experience helped me figure out the layout. I was thinking about that as I did many layouts for the various sizes I needed. It seems that no experience we have is ever wasted, we use it in many different unrelated ways.

As time passes and as I get wifi I will update my posts or this story on how successful all the things I am trying on this trip are working as far as keeping me comfortable temperature wise. Today I drove about 180 miles and stopped in a campground in Ocala, FL, and I have the air conditioning on. I’m also hoping by being plugged into electricity that my small fridge won’t have to work as hard as it does when it’s not connected.

Every day when I travel and stop for the day I text several friends and let them know my approximate location. A friend told me about a FREE app for the phone called the Life 360 app. It shows a person’s exact location when GPS is on and the people add each other to the app. I did this with one of my friends so she will know my exact location at the end of each day. This is great to keep track of family members, children, etc.

UPDATE… I arrived safely in Shreveport, Louisiana on Tuesday, July 12th. Along the way since I left home, I stopped in a few different RV parks including Percy Quin State Park near McComb, Mississippi, on I-55 which was very nice. This campground also has many nice cabins that can be rented. The weather has been really hot but I stayed in parks that had electric hookups. The first day I had great traveling weather, the second day I drove in and out of heavy rainstorms all day. I averaged about 300 miles a day of driving for four days which got me the distance to Shreveport, LA. I was able to stay at three different campgrounds for two days each in between driving. I didn’t know how far I would be able to drive each day so I left several days down time before the date I needed to be in Shreveport for the Red River Balloon Rally and National Championship in Shreveport.

When I stayed in the Percy Quin State Park, I was able to see the beautiful lake from my campsite and there was a picnic table at my campsite. Since I was going to be there for two days, I decided to work on the sunscreen material for the windows on my camper. I received the necessary suction cups and snaps before leaving home. I ordered clear snaps since my fabric is black, but the company sent white ones since they were out of the clear. I didn’t know until I called to tell them. They said when they get the clear ones they will send them to me. After seeing how much work it was and how much effort it took to put the snaps through the sunscreen material, I may just leave the white snaps in place rather than changing them out. But then again, maybe one day I will change them since they are being shipped to me on my travels.

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Since I had this really nice big picnic table at my campsite, I held the sunscreen pieces I cut up to each of the windows and attached the top of the sunshade to the top of the window glass and I tried to get it as straight and even as I could. Then I took a nail and inserted it into the screen where it would go into the top of the suction cup where the hole was for the snap, then I separated the fabric more to insert the snap. This was not easy, the screen kept trying to go back into it’s original small square shape. Finally, with much effort, I got all of the snaps inserted into the screen and suction cups, except for the front windshield. I will need some help with that window since the sunshade fabric is 72″ by 29″ and I can’t hold it up by myself and mark where the suction cups and snaps need to go.

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For my upper top windows on the side of the camper that used to open and now are sealed closed, I wrote about that in previous stories, I put the sunscreen on the inside of the window and leave it up all of the time, even when I put the silver reflectix over it to keep the sun out. I really wish I was able to open those upper windows, I really miss having that cross breeze and hearing the sounds of nature when I’m camping, but it’s not meant to be at this time. When I had the sunshade fabric on the driver and passenger windows at the campground I did open those windows to get some air during the daytime. And at the Wyndham Hotel where I am in Shreveport I am opening the windows when I’m inside during the day without the screens. So far I have not had many bugs come inside, other than lots of ants. I put ant traps in the camper so hopefully soon the ants will be gone.

While I am in Shreveport volunteering at the balloon rally, I am parked in the hotel parking lot in a spot that gets shady in the afternoon, it’s on the side of the building and so far no one has told me I can’t park there, thankfully. Otherwise I would have to drive a few miles down the street and park at Walmart and drive back and forth every day which I really don’t want to do since I need to be at the hotel about 5:00 a.m. to meet with the pilot I am assigned to. It has been as high as mid 90’s in my camper. To keep me a bit cooler, I have a small fan that has a USB connection so I plug it into either my auxiliary battery with a 12 volt adapter, or I use an external power supply to run it which allows me a little more flexibility where I can place it since I don’t have to deal with a small length cable. During part of the day I come in the lobby and visit with balloon people, or like now update my website and write stories. I go back into the camper during the day and take a nap when needed.

Also, I have been using my battery operated LED lights that I bought to read which seems to be working well and it keeps the heat down since my regular light bulbs put out a lot of heat. One of the campgrounds I stayed in outside of Shreveport in a town near Homer and Minton, LA is called Kels Kove. It’s a Passport America campground on a nice lake and it has cabins and RV sites. I found a few sites I could use, but it turns out I could not get very level in them, and the ones I could it seems the electric was not working. Finally, I drove around the campground and found a site under a tree that was pretty level. I asked if I could use that spot and even though it was a 50 amp and I only need a 30 amp they let me use it and I have an adapter that would let me connect to the higher amp box. It worked out pretty well for two days. However, other then that location being about 20 miles north of I-20, there was no phone, text, or internet service. I couldn’t even send a text to let my friends know I arrived safely. I tried calling, no call would connect.

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In addition, when I got there and got out of my camper I noticed that the two driver side hubcaps were missing. They were there in the morning when I left the Mississippi state park. Maybe they came off when I was going driving the rough roads with construction near Vicksburg, MS. I don’t know. It seems every trip I lose two hubcaps no matter how well I think they are on the rim. I wrote about the new rims a couple of years ago. When I bought new tires three years ago it was noticed that two of my chrome rims were cracked. The tire store told me that steel rims would be more durable and last better and keep the tires aligned better. So I went with them, and thought hubcaps would work. Evidently, they don’t stay on these rims. When I get home I may go back to the tire place and have them take the tires off and spray paint the rims either black, silver, or white so they look better then the plain steel and then just not use hubcaps. If the hubcaps were going to come off, I wished it was the ones on the passenger side that were not the newer ones, but it is what it is. If that’s all that happens on this trip, I am very grateful and it’s not a big deal. Thankfully, nothing serious has happened. Gas prices seem to be a bit lower as I travel west so I’ve been putting medium grade gas in the camper to help it run a little smoother. While I’m parked at the hotel with no electric, I try to run my generator for about half hour in the afternoon to keep my batteries charged.

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2016-07-09 10.09.03A few months ago I decided that instead of painting my toenails all one color that I would use two colors and do them in different designs each time. It amazes me that I get several comments about the way I paint my toenails, and all comments seem to be positive. So, I took a picture of the way I did them before I left home. Today they will be changed, but I have not decided on the design yet, they will be a medium jade green with turquoise highlights of some type. Maybe just the tips of the nails with the 2nd color. I will see what I feel like when I paint them. That’s about it for this story, I will write about my experience at the Red River Balloon Rally and National Championships in a new post.

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Baby Camel born at Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Camper Update, and Health Update

This post has been updated on June 25th. I added the word Update before the parts I added.

On June 17th, I received a picture from Sue Arnold of a baby girl camel born to Lulu at Arnold’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Okeechobee, Florida. Last I heard the baby has not been named yet. I also received a picture when she was 4 days old. The mother Lulu is a brown camel and she was bred to a Pinto/Paint camel that was brown and white. The baby was born with the brown and white markings like her dad. Until now, I didn’t realize that there was any other camel colors or types other than brown. The picture in the top center is the day she was born and a few hours old. The photo on the top left is when she was 4 days old, the other pictures are her mom Lulu. The top right is when she was expecting the baby. She’s very cute. I have never seen a camel this young. After learning about this species of camel, I did a search on the Internet and found a website that has info and pictures of various types of camels. There are several photo albums and stories on my website about my visits to Arnold’s Wildlife over the past several years. There is a date on each photo album, then you can go to the archives for that date to read the story about a particular album, or you can do a search for a story by subject.

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annie camelUpdate June 25: The baby camel has been named Annie. Here is a picture of Annie when she is a week old. It looks like her mom Lulu is a great mom.

 

 

 

 

As for my camper, I finally got it back from the RV dealer that did the repairs. I would NOT recommend using Wait’s RV in West Palm Beach/Riviera Beach, Florida. When I first contacted them I was hopeful that they would be a great repair place because I was told by the then service manager to bring my camper up that day, he said he knows what the problem most likely is and when I arrived he diagnosed it quickly. Well, after a long drawn out process and leaving it there for over a month, then again 10 more days, not to count the month in between when I was told they would fix it… I brought it back for what was to be 3 to 5 days, which turned into 10 days. The only option I was told is that they had to completely seal the windows closed, and that I would not be able to open them. I had hoped to avoid this solution. But since my camper is older, there is no option to order new windows unless I have them specially made which will take time and a substantial amount of money.

So, the next best thing is that I have a good 12 volt fan that I can run on my auxiliary batteries when I am not plugged into electricity or if I don’t want the noise of the rooftop air conditioner. I bought a 4′ x 25′ roll of Reflectix which is the silver material that is used for sunshades in vehicles. Only being on a roll it is a smooth surface, not folded accordian style like the sunshades. I cut a piece for every window in the camper, hoping that it would keep the camper cooler inside, it works to some degree, but it also makes it very dark inside. So, I went online and found several battery operated LED lights that I can hang in various places in my camper for light. My camper does have lights that operate on 12 volt but the bulbs put off a lot of heat and also run down the auxiliary batteries rather quickly, especially if I am reading for several hours at a time.

I have seen sunshade material on large motor homes, it’s a UV sunscreen that blocks out UV rays and heat from the campers. I had not ever considered it for my van because I don’t keep a ladder with me to reach the top of the front windows. I did some more exploring on the Internet and found out that even though it might not be quite as effective, it can be placed on the inside of the windows. It provides privacy during the daytime where I could see out, but it would be difficult for anyone to see in. It comes in a few colors but it seems that black provides the best visibility and would look the best. I also found a similar material at Home Depot and Lowe’s. The quality might be a step down from the types sold at RV dealers but I won’t have to pay the shipping cost of the screening material, only for the suction cups which I can’t find locally. I even found one of the manufacturers of this material called Textilene in Dothan, Alabama, a town which I drove through several times on trips. They want about twice the cost per yard from a company in Arizona I found that sells their fabric by the yard. However, the shipping cost is about the same cost as the material.

I decided to buy some of this material from the local home improvement store and I can hang it on the inside of the front windshield, and on the driver and passenger windows, and other van windows I can hang it either on the inside or outside since I can reach those windows easily. The upper top windows that I can no longer open I will place the material on the inside of the glass. I had  to do a lot of research on both the types of UV materials, and also methods of how to hang it. I decided suction cups with snap rivets will work the best. I got this idea from one of the RV sunshade companies I found online. After more research, I found a company online to order a large quantity of these suction cups and snap rivets.

I drew out several sketches of the best layouts to maximize the use of the yards of material so that I don’t have much waste. It has taken me many hours for this project, but it’s okay, especially if it helps to keep my camper cooler inside. There are pro’s and con’s to whether to hang this sunscreen material on the inside or outside of the windows, so I will play it by ear and try both ways to see which works best. It will also depend if I am staying in one place for quite a while like in Albuquerque for 6 weeks. I cannot drive with this on the windows, so I have to take it off when I am driving. Unless I have a nice neighbor at a campground that has a ladder, I won’t be able to hang the screening on the outside of the front windshield, it will have to go on the inside, which in some way might be best because it won’t get dirty or wet like it would hanging outside.

The end of last week I received some sad news, one of my close friends told me that her daughter’s husband was found dead on the floor of their house. It seems he died unexpectedly of a heart attack, he was 47 years old. It’s very sad, he left a wife and two young teenage boys.  We never know when our time is up… as I have written many times, live life now!!! Don’t wait, don’t put things off… you might not get the chance for a later time.

I have an inflatable kayak that I would like to sell if you know anyone that is interested, please let me know. It’s in excellent condition, and it weighs about 32 pounds and is in a carrying case.

Update June 25th Sunshade for Camper: After doing more research, I decided not to use the sunshade material I bought at Home Depot. I wanted a better quality product that hopefully will last for a long time. I found out that Textilene 90, made in Dothan, Alabama, is one of the best sunshade materials and it blocks 90% of the UV rays. I called the manufacturer of what I felt was the best quality sunshade. They told me that Innovative Industrial Solutions, Inc. in Boynton Beach which is about a half hour from where I live that carries their product, I called them and spoke with Rodger, he said they have the sunshade I want in stock. However, their fabric is 72 inches wide. So I spent several more hours planning a layout, my other layouts were based on 48 inch fabric, and finally after many attempts and many calculations, I was able to get a layout where there was no waste, no unused fabric for 72 inch fabric. I really was a couple of inches short of what I needed but I would be able to be okay with the few inches short.

I called Innovative Industrial Solutions, Inc. and spoke with a man named Rodger. I told him that I want to buy 9 yards of 72 inch fabric, and asked if he could add an extra couple of inches. I wasn’t sure if he could or not. I drove up to get the fabric and brought it back and went to the local library. Buying locally saved me shipping, and also supported a local privately owned company. If you live in Florida check out their website to see the products and services they provide. If you need awnings or other items give Rodger at IIS a call. He was very nice, and courteous, and he worked with me so that I could get what would work best for me.

I don’t have anywhere at home to lay out a 6 foot by 9 foot piece of material so that I could mark it and cut it. I called the city library and they let me use a conference room where I could put three tables together. It worked out perfect. The width of the tables is the width of the fabric and the length was almost the same as the fabric. Rodger gave me a yellow wax pencil so that I could mark the fabric. I brought yardsticks, tape measures, scissors, etc. and began to mark the fabric. When I got to the last section of two pieces, I realized that they gave me a few extra inches of fabric. So, I went back to the beginning and added an inch to other pieces so they would be a little bigger than the glass measurement.

I ordered suction cups and tacks that I will use to attach the sunshade to the camper windows when I am parked for a few days. I am hoping that it will do what it’s advertised and keep my camper cooler inside and still let me see out.

After I got it all marked and triple checked my markings to make sure it was correct, I cut the pieces and rolled them up to take them home. This material can’t be folded, it has to be rolled. When the suction cups and tacks arrive I will put them into the sunshade fabric. The cost of the sunshade material and suction cups with tacks came to about $120. I know that seems like quite a bit of money, I also spent $40 on the Reflectix to put in the windows. If both of these window treatments work to keep the camper cooler it will be well worth the money.

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I spent many days researching various companies, materials, and suction cups online and decided to do the sunshade fabric myself rather than having it made by one of the companies that does this. Most of them wouldn’t make the sunshades to fit my camper van. They primarily make them for the large motorhomes. One place wanted $240 plus shipping just to make a sunshade for my front windshield. My camper has the windshield and 8 windows. I also found the company that sells the suction cups to those companies so I ordered the same ones since they seem to be made of a better quality material and design.

I saved a lot of money by doing this project myself, and it gave me something to do. I’m glad I attempted to do this myself. I think it turned out well. Since I don’t have a ladder, most of the time the sunshade for the front windshield will be hung on the inside of the van. Maybe when I am camped somewhere for several days and I know I won’t be moving someone in a nearby campsite might help me hang it on the outside. The downside to that is if I want to drive somewhere and no one is nearby to help get the sunshade off the window that will cause a problem, so maybe I will only hang it on the inside. It will still help with reducing the inside temperature.

Update June 25 Health Update and music from Hamilton: On June 17th I had an abdominal/pelvic area CT Scan to see what changes there are in my tumors since May 2015. I still have a few very small tumors and a few other minor things going on. The GREAT NEWS is that my large tumor significantly improved according to the report. It went from 6.0 x 4.9 cm to 5.9 x 3.2 cm. That’s about a half inch smaller. I have not done any treatments, or anything else. I pretty much try to ignore it and I tell the tumor that it’s not wanted in my body. I think of it as an alien thing, not anything that is a part of me. Thank you to all of you that are keeping me in your thoughts and prayers, it’s working. This is the first time since September 2012 when I first found the tumor that instead of growing from a small size to this larger one that it has actually become smaller. I still have several of the symptoms of the tumor’s effect on my insides, like my left leg still gets numbness and pain, my lungs are still compressed, as is my stomach and other organs. The main thing is that I am doing pretty good most days. I have some tough days, but so does a lot of people and compared to what some others have to deal with, I don’t complain. I am so very blessed.

I am starting to get my things together for my trip. Target date is July 6th to be on the road. First stop is the National Hot Air Balloon Championship Competition in Shreveport, Louisiana. I pray that the weather cooperates as I travel. All of the flooding from the heavy rains, and the high winds that many states are experiencing is not something I want to be near or in.

As part of my trip preparation is keeping the inside of my camper van cooler, and also to know I will have periods of time where I will be dry camping without electric. The lights in the camper operate off of my auxiliary batteries and they also burn hot. I went online and bought several LED battery operated lights. They seem to be pretty bright and they don’t put off much heat, if any. I will stick them up in various places throughout the camper. Also, I figured out a way to have some clothes on hangers and not take up much space. I bought some chain and I can hang the hangers into the sections of chain so that instead of having the hangers go horizontal, they will hang vertical. I can move the chain up to be horizontal if I need to. Sometimes we have to be creative to get things accomplished, and also to save money.

I have seen parts of the broadway play Hamilton on various TV shows and I love the music, so I bought the CD set on Amazon when I bought the LED lights. I was surprised that in addition to getting the actual CD, I was given a link to a digital version. So instead of having to wait a week for my CDs I downloaded the music so I can listen to it on my tablet or computer. I am listening to it now as I am updating this post. I can see where this music and the story it tells is addictive. I have a feeling I will put it on my MP3 player and listen to it when I am on my trip. Lin-Manual Miranda is extremely talented to come up with the story and lyrics to Hamilton and everyone else involved is also exceptionally talented. If you get a chance, listen to the music. You Tube seems to have the tracks of this play that you can listen to. Maybe one day they will come out of a DVD of the performance.

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