Sunday, June 26, 2016

Almost Time To Head West

Monday 6/13

Sunny and warmer today, headed for high 80’s. Did some paperwork first thing in the AM, then hooked up and dumped tanks. Checked tire pressures and replaced a couple of Pressure Pro senders that had died. Then I painted the muffler and tailpipe on the Wrangler with black hi temp paint.

Late in the AM we headed into Geneva to run a couple of errands, stop to pick up prescriptions, post office to mail package, then lunch at Cotto Linga on third street. Then a stop at the Blue Goose, the library and back home mid-afternoon.

Tuesday 6/14

Up early and headed into Geneva to have some accessories installed on the Wrangler at Lou’s Jeep. I worked closely with John and his Dad when I worked for AMC/Jeep and they were a Jeep dealer, long before I actually lived in Geneva. Had side steps and front grab bars installed. Also purchased a bag for storing the plastic windows and a Best Top bikini top for use in Arizona. Once we get settled this winter with an actual garage the regular top will be coming off and the bikini top will go on, more or less permanently!

Nancy drove in to the Chicago Outlet Mall in Aurora to meet Joan and do some shopping, then they had lunch at Nosh in Geneva and came back to Big Rock.

Quiet afternoon other than a run into Sugar Grove to pick up ice for the cooler.

Wednesday 6/15

Quick run back into Geneva this morning to look into rattles in the Jeep “A” pillar after the grab bars were installed. I thought a couple of bolts had dropped behind the trim pieces, but it turned out to be just loose bushings in the grab handle mounts. Fixed in about 15 minutes.

A lot of heavy rain last night and some serious thunderstorms! Good thing there is good drainage here in the campground! Beautiful sunny day today, but warm and humid.

Headed into the city this afternoon for an F1 roundtable discussion with the commentators from NBC Sports. Taking the train, unfortunately my Metra senior reduced fair card is packed with our household goods! Had to pay full fare! Bummer!

We’ve made a decision about taking the Jeep back to Tucson. We had thought about Nancy driving it and following me while we went back in July, but that was always an unfavorable option for both of us. The noise and discomfort of the half doors and soft top on the interstate pretty much sealed the deal on that option anyway.

Alternatively I had planned to fly back in September after we returned from our cruise and drive it back by myself. Now we have decided that we both will fly back in September and then drive the Jeep back using only US and State highways, avoiding the interstates and taking our time along the way. Nothing really going on in Tucson in September other than house construction, so no real hurry to get back at that point. We tend to stick to the Interstate highways with the truck and trailer, so it would be fun to try the “blue highways” with the Jeep.

Had a nice evening in the city. Took the train from Aurora and walked over to the Union League Club. Decided to take advantage of Irene’s membership before we cancel it.

Had a drink in the Rendezvous Room and then a really nice dinner in the Wigwam. Nothing like a place like that to make you feel wealthy and privileged! 

Taxi to Park West and a very enjoyable two hours with Lee Diffey, David Hobbs, and Steve Matchett. Very interest behind the scenes info and a lot of humor.

Train back out and home around midnight.

Thursday 6/16

Nancy headed into Batavia first thing this morning to meet with Maria Elena, her former English as a Second Language student. I did some cleaning.

We went into Hinkley to South Moon Bar-B-Que for lunch. Split a full slab of ribs with frys, cole slaw and good beer!

Back home I put top dressing on the Jeep soft top, but ran out of my old supply. Checked on-line and found a dealer for Wolfenstein's products in St. Charles, Riggs Brothers, and made a quick trip in to pick up another bottle. Very helpful manager also recommended Mother’s plastic window cleaner and polish for the Wrangler windows. Helps keep them clean and protect from scratches.

Back home I finished treating the top and polished all the plastic windows inside and out.  Nancy headed off to St Charles in the late afternoon for a pedicure.

Friday 6/17

Off to Joan’s this morning. Took the Jeep and went the surface street route: US 30 to Plainfield, across to Lockport, IL 7 across I-355, then 159th St. to 84th Ave, to 167th St.  Bit of a construction delay on US 30 just east of Plainfield and then on 159th, but still only took a bit over an hour & half. A much more relaxing drive than the tollway, especially in the Jeep.

Quiet day at Joan’s, Nancy did laundry (“Your gypsy relatives are here with their laundry!") and we ran down to Culver’s for lunch, our favorite lunch spot!. Joan made sandwiches for dinner and we headed home early in the evening. Nancy was a good sport and agreed to make the whole drive both ways with the upper door halves off! One drawback to the half doors is you cannot just roll up your window if it rains or gets cool! No window! Just upper frames with plastic windows. You have to stop and put the upper door halves back on!

On the way back home we ran into the remnants of a parade and community celebration in Lockport. Main streets through town closed, both East - West and North - South!! You have to go through the center of town to get to the bridge across the river so the apparent solution is just to close the streets and just direct traffic in both directions into the neighborhoods! Narrow streets, full off parked cars and pedestrians, parade floats wandering around in every direction and no posted detours!!! Chaos and really stupid! Spent more than half an hour wandering around through town, frustrating, but interesting none the less.

Saturday 6/18

F1 qualifying from Baku, Azerbaijan, on TV simultaneously with the start of the 24 Hours of LeMans! Thankfully with the DVR we can watch one - qualifying - and record the other. Almost wall to wall coverage of LeMans on Fox Sports.

Quick run into town for ice and a few groceries, then a relaxing afternoon watching Lemans.

Late afternoon we dumped the tanks. Could have gone another day, but we did not want to tie up the dump station when weekend campers are leaving on Sunday, get a line there sometimes and we have almost 40 RVs in the campground this weekend. We also want to have full tanks so we can dump when we leave on the 30th. We go five to six days between dumping so it should work out just right.

Sunday 6/18

Watched the end of LeMans, then F1 race. Late in the morning we drove into Batavia and had lunch at Panera. Used their WiFi to scope out camping at San Luis State Park in Colorado and made a reservation for five days after we leave Cherry Creek in Denver.

Stopped at the library in Batavia and returned some books, I used the WiFi there for a while.

Stopped at the Ace in Sugar Grove to get a bolt to fix our outside steps. We noticed the last couple of days that they were looser than normal and Nancy had said they did not feel right when she folded them to move to the dump station the other day. When I looked closely this morning I found that the pivot pin on one of the primary support arms was broken. Thought I could just punch out the broken pin,  but nooo, frozen in place! After couple of hours I finally managed to cut the head of the pin off with the Dremel, drill it out partially and then drive the remains out with a punch. Temporary fix with a bolt, but the bolt head interferes with folding the steps, so I will have to refine the repair before we leave.

Monday 6/20

Off at mid-morning to Kathy Reller’s in Oak Park for haircuts. Amazingly light traffic all the way in and not bad on the way out either.

Back home by a little after three and relaxed. Hot again today, low 90’s

Tuesday 6/21

Just a perfect day today, right around 80 with a light breeze and not a cloud in the sky! As a result I got a bit of a burn working outside all day

Right after breakfast I went out and did the final repair on the entry steps. Then I replaced a broken foot on one of our lawn chairs. We have two nice ones and two cheapies, so I took a foot of one of the cheap ones to replace the broken one on the good chair.

Then as long as I was on roll I washed the outside of the trailer!

After lunch we made a run into Hinkley Fresh Market in Hinckley to get brats for dinner. They have a really amazing butcher shop for a small store and a hardware section.

Back home I cleaned off the cars and washed the truck. Nancy spent the day studying Spanish and enjoying the beautiful weather.

Cooked brats on the campfire tonight! Ate outside and then made smores on the campfire. 

Wednesday 6/21

As nice as yesterday was, today went in the opposite directions. Rain during the night and when we arose in the morning. Then thunderstorms off and on most of the day, sometimes the sun came up and the heat and humidity went up between storms.

Good day to stay inside and read!

Thursday 6/22

Drippy and foggy this morning. Once the fog burned off we headed off to Joan’s for the day. Took the Jeep and the surface streets as we did before, a bit slower but more pleasant in the Jeep.

Nancy did laundry, I paid bills using Joan’s WiFi. At Big Rock we have to be using the hot spot on our phones. We expanded our Verizon data plan to 12 gig to cover cover our usage.

Turned into a nice afternoon. Back home around 5 PM and then we ran into Hinckley to South Moon BBQ for dinner.

Friday 6/23

Headed into Geneva this morning to run a couple of errands, doctor’s office, financial advisor’s office, lunch and groceries. Had to wiggle around the back streets in Geneva as it is Swedish Days and the traffic is pretty much gridlocked. 

Back home we dumped our tanks and then back into North Aurora to Mark & Renee’s for great home brewed beer and fried alligator! Had a nice evening with a mixture of old friends from the mill, folks we had met at Mark or Ron’s parties, and some new people. Always good beer at Mark’s!

Saturday 6/24

Headed into Geneva this morning for a quick stop at Swedish Days to hear the Swedish Choir. Took the smart in case we had to squeeze into a parking space. Plenty of parking around the train station though.

Listened to the choir, stopped at the All Chocolate Kitchen for a gelato, did some shopping - Nancy picked up a couple of T shirts with a Minion in Blackhawks hockey gear. Down to Batavia to East China Inn for lunch, back to St Charles to Josef’s Meats for Italian sausage. (Dodging around back streets all the time to avoid the Swedish Days traffic!)

Then we stopped at the mill to help Mark and Scott set the sails and visit with friends there, then back home late afternoon.

Sunday 6/26

Starting to get things ready for hitting the road. Tonight is our last night “on duty” as Campground Hosts. We plan on heading West on Thursday. We have enjoyed spending time back in the Chicago area and visiting with Joan and our friends in the area.

Quiet day, Sunday AM news shows and Indy Car race from Road America. Sure wish they would run Formula One there, but it is way to small a market for the high rollers!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bad News - Good News!

The Bad News? Lost Data is Gone Forever!

The Good News? My New Wrangler has Arrived!

Tuesday 5/31

I do my backups on a separate hard drive. Since I am using a laptop it is a real pain to keep the back up connected, so I usually do a back up once a month. So why do we care about that right now? Well, I have been having an issue with laptop for a couple of months. Occasionally it bogs down and needs to be restarted. When I do that 5 times out of 6 it fails to restart! Starts to load and stalls. I have talked with the Apple help desk a number of times and every time it seems like they have fixed the issue and then it happens again.

So I have been putting off going to the Genius Bar at the Apple store until last week. I knew my warranty was going to run out in June. On Tuesday 5/24 we were at Joan’s and I looked at my e-mailed receipt from last year - Oops! I bought the laptop on 6/1/15! Warranty runs out next week!

So, I called the Apple store and set up an appointment for that afternoon. Of course my backup hard drive is back in the trailer at Big Rock. Decided to take my chances. After an analysis the tech decides it needs a new hard drive! Which means it has to go out for repair - 3 to 5 days - AND I will lose all my data! Last backup was 4/26! Bummer, losing a whole months worth of changes, especially my blog notes! So I will take a shot at recreating!

Sunday 5/15 through Sunday 5/22

On Monday 5/16 Nancy and I both had appointments for an interview to get approved for the TSA pre-check. Having appointments was the right way to go as we were in and out of the place in less than a half hour! There were people waiting as walk-ins when we arrived that were still waiting when we left! Nancy received her approval the next day, I received mine on Wednesday. Pretty efficient! Or maybe it just proves we’re harmless!

On Tuesday 5/17 we had our annual meeting with our financial advisor, Dave Kohlmeyer at Stifle Nicolas in Geneva. Dave has done a great job for us over the last decade plus and we can highly recommend him if anyone is looking for a good financial guy!

Wednesday we both had appointments with our dermatologist for our annual check-up and things were fine there as well.

Thursday we ran into Hinckley to the little grocery store, not quite as close as the Jewel in Sugar Grove, but a nicer drive through the country and we avoid the construction on US 30. Turns out they have a really nice looking meat market with a lot of fresh pork. Picked up some locally made brats for later.

Also noticed an active Bar-B-Que place in Hinckley, South Moon BBQ. So that evening we tried it. Pretty good ribs and pulled pork. We will be back here. 

No idea at all what we did on Friday and Saturday!

On Sunday we went over to Fabyan windmill to visit with our friend’s. Spent most of the afternoon there, no wind so we could not turn. 

Sunday 5/22 through Sunday 5/29

Off to Joan’s house Monday morning, laundry and lunch, then we stayed overnight so Nancy could go with her to the eye doc on Tuesday morning. Hung around Joan’s most of the day on Tuesday, then back home.

Thursday we both had appointments for blood draws at our doctor’s office in Geneva, a few errands and that was about it. First night on duty as Campground Hosts. A lot of work, I have to walk out late in the evening and turn the sign by our site from “off duty” to “on duty” and the next morning I have to flip it back!

Not much going on the rest of the week.

Monday 5/30

Memorial Day pancake breakfast at the United Methodist Church in Geneva, so we headed off first thing. As usual great pancakes and we ran into several old friends. A beautiful morning, a bit unusual for Memorial Day around here, frequently rains.

A couple stops for groceries and then back to Big Rock and relaxed. Cooked the brats we picked up in Hinckley last week for dinner and they were delicious! While they were cooking I took a walk around the trailer checking things out and found that one of the spring mount bolts was broken and partially in place!

This has been a chronic issue, really the only one we have had on the fiver. Replacing them can be a real PIA if they have fallen out completely. Maybe the way this one is I can get a new bolt in, I do carry spares!

Tuesday 5/31

First thing in the AM I decided to tackle the spring bolt. We have to move today to dump our tanks and I don’t want it falling out - we can make it about 6 days before we have to dump. 

So I crawled underneath while Nancy ran the front jack controls. I was able to get my pry bar into the open end of the bracket and while Nancy lifted the front of the trailer to take the weight off the suspension I was able to pry the spring back into place enough to start the new bolt in. Then I was able drive it into place, knocking the old one out. Nylock nut on, tighten, and presto - fixed! Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while!

Hooked up the truck and pulled around to the dump station. Then I did a particularly smooth job of backing the trailer into our site. Unhitched, leveled the trailer and looked over to the campsite next to ours - a grille just like ours on the table! A cooler just like ours beside the empty site! … Oops, I backed into the wrong site! Good thing no one was watching! Hooked back up and moved back to the correct site!

We both had doctor’s appointments for our annual physicals this afternoon, so we ran into Geneva for those, then back home late afternoon. Once again we passed with flying colors - life is good!

Wednesday 6/1

Cool and rainy this morning, so we did not really get going until afternoon. Then we ran into Batavia to GNC for a couple of supplements our doctor recommended with a stop at Walmart and Walgreens to fill a couple of prescriptions. Back home for burgers on the grille.

Mosquitos are getting really nasty here! Maybe because of all the rain.

Thursday 6/2

Headed off to Joan’s this morning, ran into heavy traffic on I-88 almost as soon as we got on, close to an hour from US 30 entrance to Farnsworth! Finally heard on a traffic report that there was an accident at Eola Rd. Showed no sign of breaking up so we jumped off at Farnsworth and took Butterfield over to Rt 59 where we got back on, smooth sailing from there.

They made a run to the bank working on Irene’s accounts. After lunch at Culver’s Nancy did laundry while I took advantage of Joan’s WiFi to catch up in e-mail and forum postings.

Back home in time for dinner. Keep hoping the new Jeep will show up next week! They said three weeks for the reorder, but it will be four weeks as of tomorrow! 

Friday 6/3

Headed into Geneva first thing this morning to help John with Geneva Concours prep. We're going to miss the Concours again this year as we will be in Alaska in the APHC Cruise. Then back home to change our clothes and into the city to the Union League Club for a family dinner. Everybody from Denver was in town this weekend and we had originally planned a get together for Irene’s 102 birthday, unfortunately she did not quite make it, so we held the event in her honor anyway. This will be the last event the family has at the club, since Irene had the membership as the surviving spouse of a member. We have had some nice meals there over the years and this one was no exception. A really good dinner for 12 adults and 3 toddlers. I think everyone had a good time.

Took us and hour and forty minutes to get in leaving at 3 PM, fifty minutes to get home at 9:30!

Saturday 6/4

Overcast and drizzle this morning. We can’t remember the last time we saw a day like this. Slept in for a while and had a leisurely breakfast.  Sun peaked thru a bit mid-morning then it closed down again.
Early afternoon there was break on the weather, we cleaned all our screens, inside and out. They tend to collect dust when we have the fans running in our ceiling vents. Then we ran into Sugar Grove to the Jewel. 

By mid-afternoon it had turned into a beautiful day! Had a number of campers come in late in the afternoon, one group of tent campers with a whole passel of kids. The kids love riding their bikes around on the roads in campground.

Sunday 6/5

Quiet morning, watched Sunday AM shows - CBS Sunday Morning and Fareed Zakaria. Housewarming at our Nephew Lawrence’s new house in Chicago this afternoon.

Not a bad trip in, but it took an hour and a half to get to Lawrence’s house. There is no easy way to get from here to the near North Side. Eisenhower was stopped at Mannheim, so we jumped off and took surface streets.

A very pleasant afternoon with all of the family and Lawrence has a really nice home in a nice neighborhood.

Nancy went home with Joan while I went back home to Big Rock. 40 minutes just to get to the Eisenhower expressway, then 10 minutes all the way out to I-88 on the Ike! Still took close to an hour and a half.

Monday 6/6

A red letter day! I lazed around home most of the morning, then I had a doctor’s appointment at 2 PM. While I was sitting in the waiting room John called from Riverfront Chrysler - my Jeep is in and ready to go! Made arrangements to pick it up later in the afternoon!

After the doctor in Geneva I had to detour back out to Big Rock to pick up the check for the Jeep. Got there about 4:20 and it took a bit more than an hour to get the rest of the paperwork done. I love my new Jeep! It is just what I have been wanting and I am really happy with the way it drives and the way it looks! 

Here it is sitting in the Big Rock Campground! I'm a happy camper!

I went into Batavia to Wendy’s for dinner (Nancy is still at Joan’s) and then stopped at Best Buy in Geneva for a radio cord. Mainly just for an excuse to drive the Jeep! I put about 55 miles on it tonight! It is really comfortable and I really like the half doors. 

Nancy reported from Tinley Park that Laurie and his brother Bob got off OK in the Z3 this morning, headed for Omaha the first night. 

During the evening while I was watching the hockey game I sorted through the bag of stuff that I had taken out of the Z3. A lot of stuff that had just accumulated.

Tuesday 6/7

Up early, cold this morning and I could have used another blanket! Missed my sweetie!

Took my small plastic toolbox out of the Volvo that is not really necessary now since I always carry a big tool box. Turns out it fits perfectly in the small cubby under the rear compartment in the Wrangler. Found places for the all the other stuff I wanted to put in the Jeep.

Closed up the trailer and pulled around to the dump station then back into place and hooked everything back up. A bit of a pain once a week, but no big deal in the big picture.

Took the Wrangler down to Tinley Park, a bit too chilly to run without the side windows. One drawback to the soft top with half doors - it is quite noisy on the expressway in heavy traffic!
Back home early evening,  we stopped at Riverfront Chrysler and picked up the smart that I had left there yesterday afternoon.

I have been puzzling out what to do about a spare tire cover for the Wrangle. I really wanted a Blackhawks cover, but the only one they sell anywhere is just the Indian Head logo. Not the thing to have in AZ I’m afraid. Too racist. Might be better if I could find one with “Chicago Blackhawks” actually spelled out.

Riverfront Chrysler provided a free cover though, “Only in a Jeep!” with the Wrangler grille. Unfortunately it also has the dealer name on it. Anyway, the cover decision is in abeyance for now.

Wednesday 6/8

Headed for the mill first thing this morning to help Mark move the sails for the painters. Then we made a few stops and had lunch with Pat & John at a new deli in Geneva.

Back home late afternoon. I spent 2 hours on the phone with Humana trying to get a mix-up with my prescription meds policy straightened around!

After dinner we took a short ride to where we knew there was a gravel road and tried out the 4 wheel high and 4 wheel low on the Jeep, just to make sure everything works! Then went the rest of the way into Hinkley and stopped at Dairy Joy for a soft serve cone.

Thursday 6/9

Overcast and raining most of the day. We pretty much just sat around reading. I went over the inside of the Wrangler with Meguier’s rubber and vinyl protector, already did the fender flairs and bumpers on the outside. Man, there is a lot of plastic in there, other than the seats and carpet almost every surface is plastic. Better for cleaning it out I guess.

I also crawled into the back seat in the process and that was a treat! Nancy & Connie had managed to get in there on Tuesday, but I don’t think we will be using it much. Roomy enough once you get in there, but a real chore to get in and out!

I will probably take the back seat all the way out and just store it in Tucson! Unfortunately you cannot fold the rear seat and leave it in place on the 2 door. You can do that on the four door, but on the two door it is no longer safely secured in the vehicle when it is folded. Conversely, the one in the four door cannot be easily removed like the two door.

Dinner at Two Brothers Roundhouse (Used to be Walter Payton’s Roundhouse) with Mark and Renee’, our friends from the mill.

Friday 6/10

Nancy off to have brunch with Joan and some of their cousins this morning. I took the truck up to the TA truck stop in Marengo for an oil change and lube. After a one hour drive I found a two hour wait! Knowing how easily that can turn into a three to four hour wait I declined and came back home.

Figured out how to get the back window out of the Jeep, then drove into Hinkley and had a burger at Dairy Joy. Shortly after Nancy got back we took a ride around to the other five of Big Rock Forest Preserve and around the area.

Still very, very windy, has been windy for something like ten days! I have never seen winds like this in June this area and I have lived here for 40 years!

Saturday 6/11

Nancy had picked up some sirloin tips at Joseph's Meat Market, so we went down to Joan's for a bar-b-qua in the afternoon. Since the Jeep was so noisy on the toll roads we decided to go by surface streets. Took US 30 to Plainfield and then East to Tinley Park. Took about 25 minutes longer, but much more comfortable. You have to make some sacrifices for what you want. I read a review of the Wrangler where the writer said: "Practically speaking - what and I talking about? If you were "practical" you would not even be reading this! The Wrangler is not about practical!"

Sunday 6/12

Relaxing day, watched CBS Sunday Morning and then the F1 race from Montreal. Did a few minor chores around the here, quick trip into the grocery store and hardware, then back to watch game six of the Stanley Cup playoffs.