So I had big plans for my President’s Day, none of which involved doing home labor. I wanted to go out on my EUC and do some filming with my Mavic at the same time. I had ideas of doing a long ride that could cover multiple locations. My first stop was north collier regional park. I thought this would be a good spot for me to do an auto follow test with the drone. I had already done a similar test but this time I wanted to try to have the drone lower and closer to me as I rode.
So I got all the gear up and running and took off slowly on my wheel with the Mavic in pursuit. I immediately heard a noise coming from my wheel that concerned me. It was a nasty rubbing sound that changed depending on speed and angle. The EUC noise concerned me much more than flying the Mavic so my drone air time used only half of the battery before I shut it down.
I rode around the wheel some more to see if I could get a better idea of what was going on. The noise sounded bad. Now when I rode at the Greenway off road with Katie the day before there was an incident where something got sucked up into the wheel, it sounded like a vine, I never saw it. However after that happened I rode another mile or two without a problem. Why I would be hearing a noise the next day baffled me. I threw the wheel up on the tailgate of the truck and did my best to look inside for any sort of debris. I saw nothing. I was bummed out that my big riding plans were cut short but there was no way I was going to keep riding with that noise going on.
So as soon as I got home I did further diagnostics with my wheel. I utilized the LED light on my phone to try to get a better look inside the wheel. I finally spotted what looked like a piece of wood jammed at the very top of the casing above the wheel. I was relieved to see I found the problem I now just had to find a way to get it out.
I spent at least a half hour digging inside the wheel with a straightened wire hanger, trying to push the wood towards one of the openings so I could grab it. Even once I got it to the edge I had to pry it out with a needle nose pliers. The piece was so big I wondered how it got up there in the first place. Once the wood was removed I took the wheel out in the driveway for a quick test which verified the wheel was now noise free. I was very happy my beloved MSuper was intact.
So I played some WoW during the afternoon before deciding to take the now wood-free wheel back to the swamp. Instead of driving my truck there and wheeling from the parking lot I decided to ride the wheel the three miles to the trail instead. I planned a much shorter trail ride this time, without venturing into the heart of gator country.
There were only four or five vehicles in the parking lot but I passed no less than a dozen people on the trail which surprised me. It looked like a number of the holes in the boardwalk were fixed since my last ride, I saw a lot of fresh lumber in place. They also removed the large tree that was blocking the path rather early on.
The ride itself was nice. I had one close call when I spotted a striped snake at the last minute and had to dart suddenly to miss it. I was right on the edge of dumping it. I decided to only go into the path until I saw my first gator which happened around the two and a half mile mark. I saw what I assume was a mother gator with two 1 foot long babies right next to her. That was enough reptile action for me for the day and I back tracked from there.
On my way out a guy that was taking wildlife photos asked if I could pose for a picture. He thought the EUC was pretty amazing and couldn’t believe I was able to ride it on a trail. The ride back home was smooth. At one point I was actually going fast enough that I started to feel mild tiltback on the wheel, something I hardly ever feel with the Msuper since it’s top end speed is so high.
Even with the stick incident early in the day it was a very enjoyable day off where I just got to do my own thing pretty much all day long. I could use more days like that.
Saturday morning I was up and outside early. After doing the chicken clean up I hit the yard chores like weeding and weed whacking. I turned the pool equipment back on after leaving it off overnight as the pool guy recommended so the freshly cemented joints could dry. I was not thrilled when later in the day I noticed another wet spot by the plumbing. It was coming from the back flow valve that was part of the heater install. There was a very steady drip.
I sent pictures of the leak to the pool guy along with a description. He called me back and suggested I try to tighten the connector on the valve as it is threaded. He said it was possible his other work may have caused it to loosen up. Luckily I had a big pipe wrench. I turned the valve very slightly, skeptical that I would be successful. However it appeared the drip did cease as the concrete pad stayed dry from that point on.
After I was done in the yard Cindy and I did a Rural King/Home Depot run. At Home Depot we just planned to get some mulch, both the conventional and the rubber variety to refresh more landscaped areas that were chicken casualties. We wound up getting some shelving material as well for a seat of the pants project, building a shelf in the master bathroom.
The bathroom counter in our bedroom has a large chunk of dead space under the drawer. It’s something that always bugged me to some degree for the last 16 years but I never acted on it. Well since Cindy repainted the bathroom and we installed the new faucet this seemed as good of a time as any to do it. Cindy had been looking at some stuff online but none of it was a great fit to the dimensions we had so building something seemed like a good option.
I have built other things out of this shelving material before, most notably the dog food platforms. We had a drawing of the approximate dimensions we were going to use. The construction process took place outside the large shed. We used the Honda generator for power for the saw. Like most projects I do, this one was organic where construction plans change on the fly.
When we thought we were done the first time I stood back and eyeballed the shelf. One of the rectangles formed by the shelving was whacked, despite us using a level to try to keep everything squared up. Luckily we were able to just remove the screws of the affected shelves and reattach them in a more visually congruent method. The shelf looked good in the bathroom although I miscalculated slightly. When we picked the width of the shelf which would leave just enough room for the trashcan we forgot to add in the width of the shelving pieces, meaning the trash can no longer would fit. That problem will be addressed by a new trash can.
I was tired of doing work so late afternoon I threw two of my wheels in the back of the truck. I brought my low end $200 wheel to do some going backwards practice, not wanting to damage my expensive Msuper from all the falling that is part of learning to ride the opposite direction. As expected I struggled a lot, not able to go more than a couple feet before falling off the wheel. Once I scraped open my ankle I called it quits. In addition to the EUC video I also shot a 10,000 mile review of the Tacoma.
Saturday night Cindy and I stayed home and watched The BFG. I thought the movie was sweet, endearing and very well done, an A rental.
Saturday night was a rough one in the sleep department due to dog activity. Since Katie has moved in with us most weekends she is out late at night. Well Bowser does not do well if left alone so Cindy has been trying to stay up with him. Katie was out extra late Saturday night and Cindy was exhausted so she tried leaving Bowser in Katie’s room which seemed ok at first however he eventually started barking. Elsa, who has been having some bathroom accidents lately had another one in early in the AM which was another prolonged sleep disturbance. If I was lucky I may have gotten four hours of sleep Saturday night.
When we were up from the dogs I turned off the 6AM alarm to go run as I did not want to wake up Cindy if at all possible. I instead woke up on my own around 7 and headed out. I planned a very conservative run of two miles to see how my knee/IT band would respond.
I was hoping for some nice cool weather to run in. Instead it was warm, humid and incredibly foggy. The thermometer in the truck read 74 degrees. I could instantly tell the nearly two month layoff from running was impacting me. The run was slow and steady with some pain in my right leg early on that evened out as I continued. Today it doesn’t feel horrible which is a positive.
When I got home Cindy was still in bed so I wanted to allow her to sleep as much as possible. I went straight outside and did the chicken clean up in just my running shorts, the sweaty shirt went right in the laundry.
We had talked Saturday about going for a ride Sunday but it took until late morning for that to happen until Katie woke up from her late night. We decided to go to the Greenway again since Cindy said she likes practicing there. I brought both her wheel and the Minipro just in case she changed her mind.
It was a big day, Cindy made her most progress to date, riding at least a couple hundred feet without support multiple times as well as pulling off a couple free standing mount and goes in addition to some clean dismounts. Her wheel hit the ground a few times but for the most part Cindy was able to bail cleanly which is another important skill. It was funny, for the first time ever it was Cindy being the one extending the riding timeline. She was actually having fun and excited as she kept building on her accomplishments. Katie was sitting on a bench as Cindy kept chugging along. I was proud of her. On the drive home Cindy talked a lot about how much fun she had. Even though she had been able to stay upright prior to yesterday, I think yesterday was her true “click” moment where she actually was able to feel the fun instead of the fear.
Yesterday afternoon I made a run to Autozone to get coolant for Katie’s truck. The Ram is losing coolant somewhere and more than once Katie has had to stop because the truck overheated as a result. I could not see an obvious coolant leak but I wanted to make sure she at least had coolant on hand so she doesn’t get stranded.
To be honest her truck is a mess. It costs a ton to operate between gas and repairs and is pretty much the worst possible vehicle she could own based on her current circumstances. Cindy has tried to urge Katie to think about getting more sensible transportation but so far that effort has been unsuccessful. If I have learned one thing living with a 23 year old is they don’t welcome advice much at all, regardless of the experience that leads to it.
The rest of the day I mostly chilled out with a lot of WoW thrown in. I am hoping today is filled with a lot of what I feel like doing, my work quota for the three day weekend has been fulfilled.
So Saturday I had another back breaking session of labor. I loaded up the back of the Tacoma with 10 bags of mulch 10, bags of top soil, and 25 pieces of sod. I was a bit annoyed and a little more amazed by the Hispanic family that was parked in front of both the mulch and sod, making my loading process more of a hassle.
They jammed an INCREDIBLE amount of things into their Ford Expedition SUV. I saw at least 6 patio chairs, a table, a bunch of mulch, at least 20 pieces of sod, and at least a dozen medium sized potted variegated plants. The vehicle had to be stuffed from ceiling to floor. Oh, and the couple had to jam their three children in there as well somehow.
After they were done I was commenting to another customer about how amazing it was they managed to get all of that stuff inside the Ford. The sod went on the back seat, that must have been neat and tidy.
So once I got home I got busy. I parked the truck right outside the front gate of the new chicken grounds and used our little pull behind wagon to cart stuff into the fenced area. I spread the mulch first. A bunch of it went into the center of the chicken play area we created. My thinking was I knew they loved digging through mulch around the yard so I wanted them to have their own collection of it.
The rest of the mulch was used around the pond and the small area that has the birds of paradise. In the past couple years it had become pretty pointless to add mulch to landscaped beds because the chickens would destroy it with their endless scratching shortly thereafter. It felt sort of strange to place mulch down and realize it would actually stay put, making those areas look nicer than they have in quite awhile.
I then worked on getting the top soil and sod down. A lot of the grass went around the perimeter of the coop. When the chickens dig, quite often they like to do it against some sort of structure. Putting a thick sod border around the coop is one way to encourage the chickens to excavate elsewhere. Even though the temperatures were nice and cool to start the day it quickly got warm. I was out there a good five hours plodding away. Even though I certainly did not enjoy it, having the chickens mulling around me wondering what I was doing most of the time made it less annoying.
I picked up Sadie Saturday morning so she had a bunch of crazy play time with Bowser and Elsa. It seemed most of the time Bowser and Elsa would tag team Sadie which for the most part Sadie was ok with. A couple times it got a little out of hand and Sadie let out a quick warning snarl that let the other dogs know a boundary had been reached.
I have had an issue with the connection to the outlet of the pool pump leaking for awhile. I have tried to fix it by applying fresh pvc cement to the outside of the joint but it accomplished nothing. The only way to fix it correctly is to rip that section out and replumb it to the input of the filter. If pressed I could probably do it but with something like this my preference is to just pay a professional to do it to minimize the potential for future leaks.
So when I got more chlorine at Pinch-a-Penny I made arrangements to have someone come out to do the work. In addition to fixing that section I am also going to have them pull out the pool heater that has been broken for at least five years. Once it is pulled out they will have to replumb the lines some more. Even when the pool is warm in the summer we hardly use it, putting in a new pool heater would be a huge waste of money not only in up front costs but also the ridiculous impact it has on my electric bill.
On Saturday night Cindy and I went on our Valentines Day dinner early to Stir Crazy. We invited Katie along as well as we didn’t want her sitting home being bummed out. The food was good but our waitress, Nicole was pretty awful. From the first word out of her mouth you could tell she hated being a waitress. Although the entrees came out lightning fast, things that seemingly did not require much preparation like draft beer and desert had these inexplicable delays. She brought out plates and forks for desert 10 minutes before the desert actually arrived. We actually got the check before we got desert. It was bizarre. Nicole did not clean up in the tip department as a result.
Sunday morning I was up pretty early. I gave Cindy a break from chicken duties since she does it pretty much every other day. Katie had said she was interested in riding EUCs Sunday morning but was still asleep so I kept myself busy for awhile. First I put my Mavic up to get some more updated aerial video of the additional improvements we made to the chicken area. I am still fumbling around trying to figure out everything the drone can do. I have only grazed the surface thus far.
I then sat down and paid my bills for the week which took extra long since it was credit card reconciliation time which is tedious and annoying. Katie was still asleep so I grew tired of waiting, I didn’t want to have half the day pass before getting out. I was just loading the truck up to head out on my own when she came out of the room. She said she still wanted to go so instead of a solo trek, Cindy and her piled in the truck for a ride at the Greenway.
The weather was really nice for riding and we were having a great time. When people see us on the wheels it is very common to get comments like “Wow, that’s cool!”, “What is that??” and other statements of intrigue or interest. Well as I was exiting one of the boardwalk areas I passed an older couple whom were obviously not born in the US based on their accent. As I was passing them the old man says, “the sign (at entrance of the boardwalk) says no motor vehicles” I at first thought the guy was just being funny as universally, we have never had anyone be negative about our EUC riding. I told him in a friendly voice, “well this is basically like an electric bicycle” (bikes are allowed).
Well the old prick continued “well that thing still has a motor doesn’t it???” Instantly I lost all patience with this guy. I now used my overtly sarcastic, fake friendly voice as I told him. “well why don’t you go ahead and report us then. Have a great day!” as I rode away from him. They walked by me again when I was stopped by Cindy who was practicing on Katie’s EUC. The guy had no additional commentary for me, good for him.
Like I said, Cindy who rode the MiniPro for most of the ride got more practice in on the boardwalk on Katie’s wheel. Cindy likes the height of the rail as a support if needed. She did well, riding without support for 50-75 feet a couple times. She stepped off it a bit awkwardly during her last roll and called it quits. When I was learning I always made sure the last ride I did was not a fail. I think it helps a lot to get right back on and have one more small success before stopping. It just helps build confidence going forward.
After the ride we stopped and grabbed lunch at a pizza place. The main pizza maker used to work with Katie at her old waitress job, his name was Tommy. I could immediately tell he was from NYC. I don’t know if you could find a more stereotypical pizza guy. He looked and talked exactly as you would imagine. He was very funny and had all of us laughing throughout the meal. The pizza was very good.
We didn’t get home until after two. Cindy was shocked when she discovered Kristen, our white chicken outside the fence. She was able to quickly grab her and put her back before Bowser could react. When reviewing the security dvr she saw the escape on video. Kristin was able to simply fly up to the cross post and jump over.
Well obviously we can’t have that and chickens have a lemming mentality, when they see one do something they are apt to try it as well. We had to do some wing clipping. We only trimmed the wings of four of the ten chickens, Pumpkin, Peaches, Stephie, and of course Kristin. They are the smaller birds with good flying/jumping ability. The process only takes 30 seconds per bird so it wasn’t bad. Early on when the chickens became adults we had issues with a few of them flying over the main fence but they eventually stopped trying. We are hoping they come to the same conclusion with the new fence as well.
I got some WoW time in the rest of the day as well as some backyard EUC riding just for fun. Tonight I need to go to a jewelry repair place to get my beloved Casio G-shock watch repaired. I broke the main pin that connects the band to the watch body when I was chasing down Bowser a couple weeks ago. The attempts I made to replace the pin myself have been utter fails.
Last night before dinner I wanted to get a quick ride in before dinner so I hopped on my Msuper and headed to the first cross street. I quietly carved back and forth as I traveled both ends of the street under the bright full moon. It always feels good to just get out and ride. Even brief 10-15 minute sessions like last night helps clear the mind and dull some of the sharp things jabbing me in my daily grind.
I was surprised and happy to hear that Cindy was actually out on her wheel in the backyard yesterday practicing, using the new chicken fence as a support. She said she actually launched herself away from the safety of the fence a few times and free wheeled it. She said she feels less danger when the potential for falling is on grass instead of asphalt or concrete.
So today on my way to work I had two annoying things happen with my Tacoma. Shortly after pulling out of the driveway the RPMs on the truck jumped way up, it almost felt like the truck was in neutral. I immediately backed off the gas. After doing so when I reapplied the gas the truck felt normal but it concerns me because of the widespread transmission issues that have been reported with the new Tacomas. I already had mine at the dealer once to have a reprogramming done to the transmission controller to address shifting problems.
Then about five minutes later my information center lights up with alternating ABS/BSM warning lights, the same problem the truck spent 3-4 days at the dealer for a couple months ago. At that time they replaced the driver side wheel sensor and the problem had not reappeared, until today.
I have to say my new Tacoma ownership experience has not been as smooth as I had hoped it would be. These various electronic gremlins, transmission issues, and dealing with a shitty dealer have been the source of a lot of frustration, the sort of frustration you hope to avoid by buying a new vehicle. I turned the truck off and on which made the error disappear but I am pretty sure it will be back.
This weekend I hope to do one more big load of sod and topsoil to raise certain areas in the new chicken run and patch up areas that are bare. It is always dirty, unfun work but I am hoping it will be the last of it for a little while. I’d like to take the wheels down to Marco this weekend to try riding around the hilly areas. We will see how that works out.
It is one of those days where I am fighting the urge to throw a bunch of memes here that sometimes express thoughts and feelings in a far quicker and funnier way than a paragraph of words can.
Yesterday Cindy continued the work in the new chicken area, laying a bunch of sod along the fence line where the ground was low. Of course new sod needs consistent water so we have been dragging a hose out there to try to do the work. I am considering relocating the one sprinkler we have near one front corner of the fence to the middle of the new fenced area to make that job more automatic. The idea of doing more excavation work at the moment doesn’t sound appealing as I am still trying to heal up form the fence work.
One of the weirdest injuries I incurred during the work was to the big toe on my left foot. Being in my rubber boots all day on Saturday somehow managed to push the toenail back and up, leaving the toe in a very tender state. The area around the nail is all red and I am assuming the nail is going to fall off eventually. I have to be very careful putting on socks and any sort of footwear that compresses the toes in any manner are off limits. My dreams of being a foot model are over.
I officially listed one of my electric unicycles for sale the other day, the MCM4. This is the wheel I originally bought for Cindy for Christmas but it turned out she liked the style of wheel that Katie has better. The wheel is practically new and I went ahead and put larger pedals on it several weeks ago. It’s a much smaller wheel than the Msuper and has the coolest LED light configuration of any of my wheels.
The reason it is for sale is I am interested in a new 84V model of a Gotway wheel and although I could outright just buy it but I am forcing myself to get rid of a wheel before getting another. You know sort of like Trump’s brilliant executive order that if you add a regulation you need to get rid of two. I like to follow his lead wherever possible.
I listed the wheel on the electric unicycle forum and our local FB yard sale group but have not gotten any bites yet. It is a unique item that is not going to have mass appeal so I am prepared to be patient.
Yesterday was the last day of my four day weekend, the first three of which had been almost entirely consumed by fence construction. So although the chickens are now secured within their smaller confines there is still more to do.
Cindy and I wanted to do some things to the area to offer the chickens some more protection, shade and entertainment. Cindy and I did a run to Home Depot in the morning to get a few palms, top soil, and sod. Unfortunately they had absolutely no sod so that part had to be put on hold.
When we got home we went right to work. I spread the top soil along the portion of the fence line that was a little off the ground because of low spots. We will then drop sod on top which will eventually grow through the fencing to lock it to the ground. We also used a combination of left over fence posts and left over lumber scraps to make a “chicken deck”. I did not spend much time leveling or squaring corners, I sort of wanted the structure to be haphazard looking. Cindy had the idea of putting some of our old tires down a rail in the middle to give the chickens something to go under and/or through. We planted palms around all four sides which will hopefully provide a nice shady hang out spot as they grow. I took the other three tires we had and buried them halfway in the ground to give the birds something else to hide in on jump onto.
Early in the morning I put my Mavic up in the air to get some aerial shots of the end result of our three days of fencing labor.
Mid-afternoon, despite still having a very sore back and other fence building ailments I got the idea to go take my Msuper to the swamp to ride around. Cindy, Katie and I had talked about doing it at some point and I thought it would be cool if I went and scouted it out ahead of time to see how suitable the path is for one wheel riding.
I drove the Tacoma there instead of riding to the swamp. Very early on I ran into obstacles on the boardwalk. Someone strung some pink caution tape across marking a huge foot or more section of decking that had fallen out. That boardwalk is in very, very bad shape. I won’t be surprised if they close it down for awhile so they can replace all of the decking sometime soon.
So as I exited the boardwalk and onto the walking path for the first time ever on an EUC. I was VERY cautious at the onset and it was necessary as the compacted trail had a ton of exposed roots, waiting to knock me off.
My original idea was to maybe go a couple miles into the swamp, just as a test. However I was enjoying the ride, despite the additional complexity of the terrain. I found myself at the portion where the trail becomes one big loop. Once you head in it’s a long time until you come back out. I decided to go for it.
So up until that point I had really not seen any wildlife outside of birds. About 10 minutes into the loop that changed. I saw a long black obstacle half on the path. Of course I knew it was a gator. I have experienced this before when I rode the trail on mountain bike with Randall. At that time we just gave the gator as much room as possible and rode by as quickly as we could. I decided to use the same strategy although I felt more vulnerable being on a single wheel instead of two. I accelerated past the large gator without it flinching.
Within another few minutes I encountered another large gator and this one had me more concerned because there was a much smaller gator next to it. I theorized this could possible be a mother gator with one of it’s kids. This scenario held more danger in my eyes because I have heard how female gators can get very aggressive if they feel their kids are endangered. I stood there for a minute or two weighing my options. Even though the gators had their heads facing the water, I was imagining a scene where one or both of them suddenly flailed, knocking me off the wheel. I was genuinely scared when I took a deep breath and launched myself in their direction. I zipped by them without either moving a fraction of an inch, whew…..
What followed from that point was pretty surreal. I rode by at least a couple dozen gators on the path and saw many more in the trenches and water by the path. The ride around the loop seemed to go on forever. It went from exciting to ridiculous eventually. Not only did I have to deal with the gators, I was dealing with terrain that was beating the hell out of me. The ruts and roots were taking a toll on my already sore back. At one point a hidden rut threw me off the wheel right by another large gator. Luckily the sound of the crash scared the reptile into the water.
As I was deep into the swamp I did think repeatedly how it was not the smartest of things to make this trek solo. If I hurt myself or the wheel died for some reason I was on my own and depending on spotty phone service in the area, out of reach of help. I knew at that point my only option was to keep moving forward. There were a couple areas of the trail that were washed out. One point was really treacherous with the only path across the water being a couple small logs haphazardly thrown across the ditch. I carefully walked across the logs while trying to balance the 45 pound wheel in my left hand, freaking out about the possibility of me falling into the muddy water with my expensive electronic unicycle.
Finally I found my way back to the feeder path that lead back to the parking lot. I was very relieved to return to the truck and resolute that I don’t need to ever do that entire loop again on a single wheel. Once was enough. I highly recommend you set a half hour aside to watch the video of the ride. You get a good sense of just how nuts it was at certain points.
It has been another one of those “vacations” that I am glad to get back to work from. My body feels like it was thrown into a grinder.
Last night after dinner Cindy, Katie and I drove out to Ave Maria to ride around for a bit. We had hoped to grab some desert but the place we targeted had already closed. Ave Maria is a pretty sleepy town, almost everything is shut down by 7PM. Cindy and Katie wound up going into Publix to grab us something that we enjoyed in their outdoor seating.
Both Katie and Cindy were feeling quite cold riding despite being bundled up significantly more than I was. Katie was actually riding one of the Minipros instead of her wheel to mix things up. It didn’t take long for her to miss the extra speed and agility her EUC has. She was very lucky to not faceplant at one point when she accidentally went down some steps on the Minipro. She was able to bail without hitting the ground. The self balancing magic in the Segway kept it upright as it crashed down the steps. Because of the girls feeling cold we didn’t stay all that long but it was better than nothing.
Earlier in the night I took one of the side panels off the Msuper to check some connectors used in the motor wiring. There have been some reports of these connectors in some cases not being soldered correctly, causing them to come apart. If they would happen to come apart while riding the end result would be the wheel shutting down and sending whomever was riding it flying in some direction. You have to love Chinese quality control. Luckily my motor connections appeared to be intact and secure.
Tonight I am hoping to pick up some of the fencing supplies I will be needing this weekend. I would not be able to get it all in one load anyway so I figured I may as well get the first load out of the way so on Saturday we can use my truck and possibly Katie’s Ram to get whatever else is left.
So I didn’t receive any word back on the truck from the dealer by 3PM so I gave them a call. They said they identified the cause of the airbag warning light. It has to do with a wiring harness connected to the passenger side curtain airbag. They said they did not have the part in stock nor did they have an eta for how long it will take to get it. The truck was still apart so they said I should just keep the loaner for the night. Today they will get more info on the part availability. If it is going to be a considerable delay they said I can pick the truck back up but I would need to sign a waiver as driving a vehicle with any airbag issue could be a liability.
It certainly isn’t an ideal scenario as it sounds like I will have to take the truck back again once the part becomes available. I’m not really worried about driving with an airbag issue as it first showed itself back around 6000 miles. I recapped the situation on video as anything Tacoma related seems to have a lot of YouTube interest.
This weekend will include Ali’s Run for the Paws 5k, a race I have been involved in since it’s inception 11 years ago. The first 10 years I was involved as an organizer and race timer. This will be the first year I will be a normal everyday participant. Ali is sort of excited to have me there with Sadie. With my bum right leg I don’t plan to run the event but instead walk it with Sadie. I don’t even know if we will do the full 3.12 mile distance which may be too far for Sadie but we will give it a go. Ironically this was the last running club race I was involved with last year and will be the first running club event I have attended since. It will be nice to see some of the familiar faces that I spent so many early morning hours setting up events with over the years.
I am doing some planning and thinking about some additional fencing in the backyard to accommodate the addition of Katie’s dogs to the mix. Tank and Bowser do not yet know the chickens are out of bounds. My thought was to create an additional large dog run area down the one side of the back yard. Cindy came up with the idea of instead creating a fenced in area around the chicken coop to restrict the chickens instead of the dogs.
My knee jerk reaction to Cindy’s plan is yes, it would be nice for me to not have to deal with the chickens ripping up various sections of the property and scattering chicken poop far and wide. However the crazy compassionate animal lover in me hates the idea of taking away the freedom the 10 birds all have come to love. The other problem is the chickens prefer to be more or less hidden during a good portion of the day and they use the underside of the large shed and the bushy areca palms around the pond to accomplish that.
However if I fenced the area around the coop there really is no cover available other than the coop itself. The other problem is the area behind the coop that would likely be fenced is flooded out badly through a good portion of the summer. Of course the cheapest and least labor intensive option is for us to train Tank and Bowser that the chickens are part of the family. Cindy actually has some training collars that she has used a little bit to start that process so we will see how that goes.
I am sure the weekend will include some EUC riding. I have the idea of heading down to the hilly area of Marco Island to ride for something unique.
It is quite the scene coming home from work with three dogs in the house. Let’s say the greeting is very enthusiastic. They were excited that on my pit stop at Sam’s Club I picked up a pack of deer antlers to help alleviate some of the bone contention that was going on. Cindy said the dogs got along well during the day which I was glad to hear.
Katie got home earlier than normal and Cindy suggested we go out and ride while she made dinner. I would have preferred to just ride the wheels over to the school but Cindy didn’t like that idea. Instead Katie and I drove over to the school and launched from there. We had a nice 45 minute ride where we traveled to the high school up the road to explore. The temps were a little on the chilly side. I had a hooded sweatshirt on although I was wearing shorts which was a little uncomfortable. It was fun to ride around with Katie. It’s a good way to keep her from focusing on the negative feelings surrounding her break up with her boyfriend.
The night with the dogs was mostly fine. Bowser has this spontaneous barking thing which we need to address somehow. He will think he hears something outside and will bark like mad, which triggers Tank to bark as well. They run up to the front window and continue barking at nothing. It’s ok while we are out there watching tv, we can call him off. But when I was laying in bed half comatose trying to fall asleep it made it sort of impossible. Today we are picking up Sadie so the dog craze-o-meter should be pegged all the way to the right.
This morning I was up early to drop off my Tacoma at the dealer. It was due for it’s 10,000 mile service and I am also hoping they can fix a random airbag warning light that has been popping up for several months. I was glad they were able to give me a loaner Rav 4 to minimize the impact on my workday.
Wow I’m really glad I didn’t do an impulse buy on the GoPro Karma drone when it came out. I just found out that shortly after it’s launch they were all recalled due to dangerous random shut off issue. The drone could simply fall out of the sky without warning. Since the recall it appears that GoPro has scrapped the Karma altogether. They offered full refunds to any customers and I think they gave then a free GoPro camera as further reparations. GoPro stockholders can’t be happy.
I have been in one of those periods of time where I feel like there are so many little things that need to be taken care of and I don’t feel like I am getting anywhere. It’s not a feeling I enjoy. The funny thing is feeling that way despite getting a decent amount of things done over the weekend.
It started out early Saturday with me getting outside to work on weeding a little after 7:30. That rolled almost immediately into doing the oil and filter change that was due on the Prius. Cindy and I headed out to do a Rural King run, something I hadn’t done in a couple weeks, a long time for me. We brought Elsa along for the ride and she once again oscillated between being ok one moment and terrified the next.
We stopped at Home Depot on the way home. We picked up some more vegetables for the garden including tomatoes, something we historically have a horrible time getting anywhere with. If first you don’t succeed, try, try again. I also picked up a new LED floodlight for the other side of the house, similar to the awesome stadium style bright unit I installed on the other side a couple months ago.
When we got home we made plans to go with Katie to go look at rvs/trailers/park homes. She is looking to move ahead with having a place to call her own and wanted to get a first hand look at some options. The first place we went surprised the hell out of me, they sold Airstreams. For some reason I had it in my head that Airstream was no longer in business. I am not sure where that notion came from.
Not only did they not go out of business, they make some of the highest quality trailers on the market we came to discover. Katie loved the stainless steel shells that wrapped around highly functional living spaces. We looked at models that ranged from 16 feet to 30. Regardless of the size, every single model we checked out was really, really nice. Of course top of the line comes with a price tag, they are far from cheap.
I talked a bit with the sales manager at the location. He used to work at the Airstream factory store in Ohio for a long time. He really stressed how well made they were and how they steered clear of shitty Chinese components as much as possible. He also told me that depending on the price of he unit, they can be financed for as long as 20 years, making one affordable even for someone just getting started like Katie. The last interesting fact was they are just over 8 feet wide, meaning in theory one could be driven into our wide open backyard through the 10 foot gate with little fuss.
In addition to the Airstreams we looked at more traditional trailers as well as “park homes”, another thing I wasn’t aware of. These were apartment/condo sized homes on wheels. When you were inside it looked like conventional construction. When you were outside you saw the big trailer it was built on and would be a permanent part of it’s structure. I guess the name comes from the idea that typically you park these once and leave them there, unlike an Airstream-like trailer which could be relocated pretty easily.
Out of everything we saw Katie definitely liked the Airstream option the best. The ability to pick up and move while having all the basic necessities to live day to day was very appealing to her. The design of them was really interesting to Katie and she spent a good portion of the drive home researching the hell out of them on her phone.
When we got back we didn’t waste much time before we headed over to the school to ride our wheels. I also brought my Mavic with as I wanted to see how it did tracking Katie and I as we rode around. Well the drone did pretty damn well. Even with sunset approaching rapidly the Mavic did a good job of following us around autonomously , keeping us in it’s field of view.
Cindy was doing more of her fence EUC training and did well again. I think all she needs to do is get more frequent training sessions under her belt so she can keep building where she left off instead of having to refamiliarize herself when 10 or 14 days have passed.
Saturday night Cindy called in a food order that I picked up. We had a Netflix rental in an envelope, a movie called Memento that Cindy picked out, some murder mystery flick. Well we gave it a solid 15-20 minutes to spark our interest before all three of us gave it the gong. I pulled out the dvd and instead rented Deepwater Horizon on X1. The movie reenforced why fossil fuels and the companies that provide them need to be put out to pasture. The recreation of the disaster on film was incredibly realistic and impressive. I’d give it a B+.
I felt guilty when I didn’t start my Sunday morning off with a run. The reality is my knee/hip/IT band on my right side is still messed up and running would just amplify it. That didn’t make me feel any less guilty however. I did however get busy once again outside, tending to the chickens, planting the vegetables I bought Saturday and starting the work to replace the floodlight.
Installing that floodlight was one of the very early home projects I took on after we built the place in 2001. As I ripped down the old beat up light I realized that back then I did some pretty shoddy work. I had the old light sloppily and loosely attached to the aluminum flashing, it wasn’t very solid at all. I got the old light ripped out but realized if I wanted to install the new one correctly I was going to need a proper electrical fixture mounting box, which I didn’t have.
The three of us went to Dunkin Donuts and followed up with another ride into the Esplanade development. It was SUPER windy during the ride. At times if the wind hit us dead on it felt like it almost brought us to a standstill. It was nuts.
After the ride we made a couple stops, including the hardware store so I could get the mounting box I needed. When I got home I got to work. Instead of mounting the light to the aluminum I attached the box to the concrete wall with tapcons, a much sturdier solution. Once that was in place the rest of the light install went pretty easily. It looks a lot better and lights up that area of the yard in a much more efficient manner.
I had a few other projects/chores keeping me busy during the afternoon. Late in the day Cindy mentioned that Katie was interested in going over to the nearby Bird Rookery Swamp to walk with Elsa. We came up with a plan where I would leave ahead of them on my Msuper and they would drive there with Elsa in the Prius. With the ability to cruise comfortably at 18-20 mph, I got there pretty fast, fast enough that I had time to ride the length of the boardwalk and back before they got there.
Katie had never been to the swamp so it was cool for her to see. We ran into a decent sized gator shortly after getting onto the grass path. Cindy was scared, Katie was concerned, I just sort of shrugged. I have seen so many gators at this location it just doesn’t affect me much. Elsa seemed to like the hike as well although she got scared by random people along the way. We stayed later than I ever had before, getting back to the parking lot a few minutes after the sun had set.
I told Cindy I wanted to ride the wheel back to the house as well instead of hitching a ride with her. She was not thrilled with the idea but knew I was going to do it regardless. The ride back was fine, possibly even faster than the ride there. The headlight on the Msuper was definitely necessary as it was almost pitch black by the time I pulled back into the driveway.
I have a work week that is going to be very meeting heavy so don’t be surprised by short and sweet entries as standard practice.