So a few weeks ago during a phone call with my dad he told me that he planned to install a whole house solar system which I thought was very cool. However what surprised me was how he intended to mostly pay for it by selling his two investment lots in Arizona, his BMW motorcycle AND his Alfa Romeo. I am embarrassed to say I don’t recall which year his Alfa is but I think it’s 1963 or 64.
So the first three things he was selling made sense. The land, which much like my investment land in Lehigh Acres is worth a fraction of what he paid for it and will likely never recover appreciably. With dad’s aching lower body long motorcycle rides just are not enjoyable any more so there isn’t much reason to keep the bike. Selling the Alfa however is a BIG deal.
That car has been around prior to the point in time my memories started. It lived in the garage in the Gouglersville house during most of my childhood. Hell there was a junked Alfa in the barn that was used for some parts as well. The junked Alfa also was my make believe vehicle. I remember crawling into the cruddy, rodent infested cockpit and imagining I was out on the road many, many times.
For almost my entire life the Alfa was under some sort of cosmetic or mechanical restoration. At no time was the vehicle driven on a regular basis. I don’t think I would be inaccurate in my guess that during my lifetime the car has seen less than 1000 miles added to the odometer. When I got my drivers license it happened to coincide with a time where the Alfa was actually running. I got to drive it a few times and even took it to my senior prom. The car had a very unique, low posture and the ticking sound it made before you started it will always be ingrained in my brain.
The car has moved around the country with dad, from PA, out to New Mexico, and back to western PA in the span of about five years. When I say the car was undergoing restoration for the last 30 years or so I am not exaggerating. Some of the work dad did himself but a lot of it was outsourced which of course lead to a LOT of money being spent over time. I would say the restoration more or less was complete a couple years ago although I think there were still a few things left to do.
So anyway, yea, for dad to be willing to finally let go of his young man hobby car after more than four decades is a real big deal. I talked to him again today and it sounds like he actually has a legitimate buyer lined up for the car, via Craigslist no less. If things go well, as of this weekend the Alfa Romeo will no longer be under roof.
I am curious if dad will feel similar to how I did with the SSR, where I surprisingly felt minimal remorse after it was gone. The sale of the SSR allowed me to do a lot of great things. The sale of the Alfa is going to allow dad to become much more energy independent which is something that sounds very appealing to him at this point in his life. I’m proud of him for making the decision to let the car finally go, it was a long, very long, time in the making. Hell the car almost felt like a distant sibling that was always around but never said much. The older I get the more I put value on things I do, feel or accomplish and less on what I own. You can’t buy happiness, after all.
So yesterday was big day for the Prius, crossing 200,000 miles while Cindy was driving it. I have owned a lot of vehicles with more than 100,000 miles on them but I think the Prius is the first to ever make it to the double century mark. I have to say despite the big number on the odometer the car is still performing quite well.
Yes there are a few things that I need to do it, first of which will be replacing the front and rear struts. Since we bought the car at around 132,000 miles we have had to do very little to it repair wise. We went through a set of tires, I replaced the trunk switch, the rear hatch struts and I think that is pretty much it. I am sure there will be some maintenance and repairs to come but the heart of the car still feels rock solid.
The Prius has been a part of a couple epic western road trips and has been a reliable daily commuter from day one. If someone is looking for almost the perfect used car for daily driving, a 2004-2009 Prius is hard to beat. I am hoping it will continue to serve us well for several years to come.
The other night (actually two separate nights) I went outside after the sun set to try to get some video of the new Tacoma lights. The first time I tried using the GoPro and got nothing but distorted starburst footage. The second time I used my Canon camera and got some better but not great results.
I started the video with a funny clip of me counting the amount of sections of the grille I did NOT cut out. As expected I caught some shit from the YouTube world about my decision to cut out a couple spots on my grille to accomodate the lights but overall the reaction has been pretty positive.
So as my Memorial Day weekend is winding down I thought I would enjoy the AC while I recapped what was a fun yet productive 72 hours. Saturday morning we started off with another 5K run around the track. If Cindy’s GPS was accurate it was right around the fastest pace I have carried in 2017 which I wasn’t really expecting.
So I first dug into regular Saturday chores like weeding and chicken duties however we had a much more time consuming task lined up, repainting various areas of the coop. Cindy was tasked with repainting the wooden sections of the chicken run and deck. I was up on the ladder, repainting the roof white for the third time. The first two times I painted it I used spray paint. To hopefully get some increased longevity, I painted it this time out of a can with a brush. I also used primer first before applying the high gloss white paint, a requirement for reflecting the brutal summer heat off the roof of the coop.
As we both broiled in the sun we wondered why we opted to wait till the end of May to do this instead of during winter when conditions are much more favorable for outdoor projects. Neither of us had a good answer but we knew we had to get this done before rainy season started in earnest.
So while I was waiting for the primer to dry I did my other project, making the chicken water stand more protective. A couple months ago I made a simple stand for their water that at least got it off the ground so it stayed cleaner. However there was another problem, for a good portion of the day the water was in direct sunlight. The sun not only made the water hot, it also promotes algae growth which is a pain in the ass.
So I created yet another mental blueprint in my head to add a roof to the stand to keep the water out of the sun for most of the day. I used a technique similar to what I built over the house water equipment, building a slightly down pitched frame topped with durable white PVC roofing material. Despite my seat of the pants engineering the stand turned out well and should accomplish what I intended it to do.
So by the time I was done with the stand the primer on the roof was dry. By the time I got the paint layer applied I was beat. Standing on the ladder all that time and suspending myself awkwardly for prolonged periods reaching the remote corners and edges of the roof just wore me out. I was quite happy when I applied my last stroke of paint. I am hoping the extra step of priming the surface will get me at least an extra 6 months of duration before I have to do it again. Cindy and I were both beat by the end of the day. We decided to just chill at home. Cindy had some serious sunburn on her body and my face got blasted despite wearing a big hat all day from the sun bouncing off the coop roof.
Sunday morning we headed out for a fun EUC ride. We parked at Dunkin Donuts and rode from there. Cindy wore full pads for the first time because she intended to kick her speed up on the Msuper a few notches. She certainly accomplished her goal. According to Strava she topped out at 23.5 mph.
Sunday afternoon I handled a couple Tacoma projects. First I did my 15,000 mile oil change, something a dealer won’t do since Toyota recommends only changing the oil every 10k. I recorded a video of the process, thinking it would be much faster than my other video I shot of the work which was over 25 minutes in length. Despite knowing what I was doing this time it still took awhile and the video is almost the exact same length, oh well.
I then turned my attention to installing my OEM Tacoma TRD Pro fog lights. Installation of the lights was not quite as simple and straightforward as I anticipated but it still wasn’t bad at all. I like the look of the lights but the fact that they are now LED makes my non-LED headlights stick out like a sore thumb. It is now very likely I will be getting LED bulbs for my headlights soon.
Last night we again opted to stay put and watched a Netflix rental I had sitting for awhile, The Secret Life of Pets, an animated movie that I think was made as the same crew that made Minions. The movie was cute with a slow part in the middle sandwiched with a strong start and finish. I’d give it a B all day long.
So my Memorial Day which used to be almost 100% running club consumed between the 5K race in the morning with a a club picnic late instead had a nice leisurely flow to it. Cindy taught her water aerobics class mid-morning and I used it as an opportunity to complete my final project of the weekend, installing auxiliary LED lights in the front end of the truck. I had stumbled across the lights when I was buying oil for my oil change and did an impulsive snap purchase of them.
Chuck, the guy that helped me with my lift had a LED light bar installed on his Tacoma so I had been thinking about doing something loosely anyway. The front of the box actually had a 2016/17 Tacoma with the kit installed so I assumed I should have little to no problem doing the same. Well as is normally the case, things did not go quite so smoothly, although I did have Elsa in the truck for most of the install offering me moral support.
My issue was the cool TRD Pro grille I installed was different than the grill on the picture which was a base model Tacoma. As a result I did not have an unobstructed area to mount the lights behind the grille. Well after a lot of thought and more than a little hesitation, I decided to cut out one small section of the grille on either side which gave me a near perfect opening for the lights. I spent over $400 on this grille, tasking a snips to it seemed a bit surreal but I was somewhat confident it would work out in the end. Later in the process I even got the drill out to knock a hole in the back of the grille to get me access to turn a mounting screw for the lights. It was kind of crazy as you can see in the video.
Anyway, everything came together in the end and I like the outcome. The small parts of the grill I cut out aren’t really noticeable and the lights almost look like they were meant to be there.
The rest of our Memorial Day has been very nice. For the first time in I have no idea how long, I actually used our pool for more than just a psuedo shower after yard work. Cindy and I floated around in the pool for a good 30-45 minutes, escaping the ridiculous temps hovering around 95 degrees.
I then suggested we take Elsa on a ride to The Cone in Bonita Springs for some ice cream. Pool time and ice cream, the perfect Memorial Day one-two punch. Elsa got to try her first doggie ice cream ever and seemed to like it. We limited how much she had, just in case. My cookies and cream and Cindy’s black cherry cone were both very enjoyable.
From here out I plan to just veg and get some WoW time in. Even though the weekend started off very front loaded with work with a large amount of projects peppered in, overall I am happy with the end result. It’s nice to just have simple fun and get shit done. Hey, that rhymes.
I made three videos last night that pretty much covered the excitement from yesterday. Feel free to catch up below. There is some big related news, I have now crossed over the 2000 subscriber mark on my YouTube Channel. The second 1000 subs happened about 300% faster than the first 1000 so I hope to keep that acceleration pattern going.
This Memorial Day weekend we will of course have labor to complete but I am hoping for once the relaxation/recreation side of the scale will be the heavier one.
So I completed the transfer of Prius ownership to my name yesterday. I transferred the plate that used to adorn my SSR to the Prius to save a few bucks. I have to say the plate looked much cooler and appropriate on the SSR but I do like the humor and irony of having the plate on the 50 MPG Prius as well.
I dropped off the Tacoma this morning for it’s 15,000 mile service. I am hoping that it does not have the symptoms of the latest Tacoma recall, a leaking rear differential. If the truck is found to have the problem Toyota is pulling the trucks off the road and providing loaners until a solution is found. That would not be good, at all.
I have my Msuper along to take to the gym today, hopefully it stops raining before then.
So early in the afternoon I asked Cindy if she heard anything back from the Hyundai dealer yet regarding her car. She hadn’t so she reached out to them. She talked to a woman service advisor who said they were still working on it. She made a request that seemed odd to me. Cindy had told her I took a picture of the error my code reader pulled from the car. She asked if I could send it to her. I found this odd because obviously they have the ability to read engine codes too but what the hell, ok, I’ll send it. Cindy said the woman was talking some technical stuff that didn’t quite make sense so I said I would call her since I had a pretty good grasp of the scenario.
So I get a call back after leaving a message. The woman, who Cindy identified as being very nice on the phone started to explain the situation. She said that although the salesman and the mechanic initially saw the check engine light was on, it was now off so they couldn’t get a code with their equipment. I told her that didn’t seem to make sense since I thought whenever a check engine light condition exists, the code is stored in the ECU until it is forcibly cleared. As soon as I made that statement the woman’s nice switch flipped to off the position.
She immediately developed a large attitude with me, how dare I question anything that she tells me? She said several things in a very smart ass tone to me, including “Well if it is not showing a code there is nothing we can do…” I told her I wasn’t quite sure why she was taking an attitude with me but I did not appreciate it. I told her the general manager said they would do whatever it takes to get the car fixed asap, yet I am hearing “there is nothing we can do” It was a very poor choice of words on her part, considering the circumstances. I knew I was not going to get any further with this woman so I asked if she could transfer me back to our salesman.
So I recanted my phone interaction with Matt and he was not happy about it. He told me he would get on it asap and someone would call me back. A little after 4PM the general manager called me and let me know that they replaced a relay that they believe was defective. He said to make sure they wanted to keep the car overnight and drive it some more just to make sure. I was fine with that plan, so hopefully Cindy is back behind the wheel tonight. I guess they COULD do something about it.
I am not an overly confrontational person. However when someone steps on my feet and brings it to my face I can react quite strongly. I can put up with a lot of shit but when I decide not to, things can heat up pretty quickly.
We started off our Saturday with an early morning run at the track. Cindy actually joined me which was cool. I think I am going to try to permanently move my weekend run to Saturday mornings instead of Sunday. It’s nice to get it out of the way up front. When I was at my running peak I was always doing my weekend run on Saturdays anyway. The warm and muggy weather made it a tough slog but we made it.
So I told Cindy I had a lot of small chores I wanted to get done Saturday morning and she was more than willing to jump in and help. She actually weed whacked the yard using the battery powered whacker. One of the things I wanted to do was my every 3 month generator start up. I take both generators out of their respective sheds and fire them up so when the time comes where I actually need them, they will start. Of course the small Honda unit fired up very quickly, that thing is bullet proof. The big 5000 watt unit I bought in 2005 was a different story.
After pulling on the starter cord until I got a blister it still would not fire up. I pulled out some tools and carb cleaner and got busy. I disconnected the fuel line and shot a ton of carb cleaner in there. I also removed the air filter and shot another large amount of cleaner in through the butterfly valve. I pulled the spark plug to make sure it didn’t look fouled out, it didn’t. Even after doing all of that, it would not start.
Although I knew it likely wouldn’t help, I decided to leave the generator out to bake in the sun. I thought maybe, just maybe once it got good and warm it might start. Believe it or not, when I came back around 4pm, it started. Not only did it start but it ran for hours, something it normally won’t do anymore without intermittent shut offs. I was quite happy I was able to resuscitate the generator.
So after doing the chores Cindy and I had planned to drive up to a Fort Myers Hyundai dealer to test drive a Hyundai Ioniq. Like I mentioned previously, with the Prius on the cusp of 200,000 miles we were looking at options. Although Cindy and I had seen an Ioniq a couple weeks prior we never drove one. Not only did we want to drive one, we really wanted to drive one of the Limited models that has the sunroof since that is what Cindy really wants. We wanted to see if the sunroof headroom penalty would have my head jammed against the roof. The only problem was Fort Myers didn’t have a Limited on the lot.
Well as we were getting DD coffee Cindy just happened to browse the inventory of Tamiami Hyundai, our local dealer. We did not approach them originally because they were not a TrueCar affiliated dealer. Well according to their website they had TWO Limited’s on the lot. She called and talked to a salesman named Matt to verify they were there, they were. Even better news was one of them was the Ceramic White color that Cindy wanted. We canceled the GPS navigation for the Fort Myers dealer and headed to the local dealer who was only 5 miles away. The only “negative” about this car was it had the tech package which of course is a positive to me. The only bad thing is the additional cost. This car basically had everything you could possibly get in the Ioniq line.
Our sales guy Matt was cool. He has been selling cars pretty much his entire adult life but he has a baseball background like me so that gave us some common ground. We wasted little time before doing the test drive. Cindy and I were both happy to see that even with the addition of a power sunroof I still had plenty of room for my cranium. I also immediately noticed that as a passenger I have more leg room than I do in the 2007 Prius. When I later drove the car I had a lot more leg room as well.
The car drove great and Cindy loved pretty much everything about it. We had already talked about keeping the Prius as a third vehicle instead of trading it in. Ever since I got rid of the party van and the SSR, making us a two vehicle household (if you don’t count the electric unicycles), there have been multiple times when having a third option would have been convenient. So without a paid off trade in we were going to see how the numbers worked out with a couple spiffs Cindy qualified for, as a veteran and an Uber driver as well as taking advantage of 60 month 0% financing that Hyundai was currently offering. Cindy also brought her TrueCar pricing certificate which the dealer also honored.
It took a little bit of haggling but in the end we came up with a number that worked for Cindy and would fulfill her transportation needs for the foreseeable future. Even though we didn’t enter the weekend anticipating Cindy having a new car in the garage, that’s how it worked out, at least for one night. More on that briefly. So I drove my Tacoma home escorting Cindy in her new wheels. The report card she gave when we got home was A+, she just loved the car in pretty much every way. She was extremely excited to take the vehicle to the movies Saturday night. I was very happy for her as well.
So as we were ready to leave for the movies Cindy offered to back the car out of the driveway so it would be easier for me to get in. I could tell something was going on as she was trying to back out as she paused. She told me the car was making an odd noise and an error light was on the dash. Surely I thought she had to be misinterpreting something so I asked her to let me start it. I could hardly believe that the check engine light was on as well as a HEV system error. Cindy was immediately very distraught but I tried to calm her down. We did a little test drive up and down the street. The car drove fine but the error lights were still there. Not knowing what was going on we decided it would be better to park the car and just take the Tacoma to the movies.
Cindy called the salesman and let him know of the problem. They were open Sunday’s so he said we could take the car there the next day. I spent most of the drive to the movies trying to talk Cindy down as she had nightmare scenarios running through her head that she just bought a lemon. I assured her I had confidence that the problem was likely minor and that the dealer would take care of it. Of course I felt badly that Cindy’s new car euphoria was cut short by the problem.
Despite the Ioniq roller coaster we both really enjoyed the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I would rate it as highly as the first, meaning it is in rare A+ levels. Marvel just knows how to do it right.
So while we were driving the Tacoma I noticed that my headlights, which I had adjusted after the lift were still pointing too far downward, giving me very limited light distance on the road. Despite it being late I wanted to get them adjusted when we got home. Before doing so I also wanted to get some more clarity on the Ioniq error. I hooked up code reader to the brand new car’s diagnostic port to see what it would tell me. In a few seconds it told me that something in the circuit that controls the battery cooling fan was amiss. Getting this information was a bit of a relief as it would seem that would be a rather simple thing to fix. It also made Cindy feel a bit better as well.
Sunday morning we did stuff around the house until mid-morning. I followed Cindy in the Prius. While I filled the car up with gas she headed to the dealership to get the loaner process started. Ironically, the error lights had reset themselves during Cindy’s drive however when the salesman turned the car back on the HEV error once again reappeared, leaving no question of it’s existence. They gave Cindy a nice Elantra Sport as a loaner and assured us they would get the problem addressed quickly. They said if it requires a part to fix they will pull it from one of their Ioniqs on the lot if need be, which was reassuring to hear. Below is my video documenting my initial Ioniq impressions as well as talking about the CEL issue.
We then met up with Katie and Daniel for some EUC riding, something we had not done as a group in awhile. We had a fun time zipping around the Vanderbilt Beach area although it was ridiculously hot outside. Daniel is ready to upgrade to a bigger/faster wheel. I recommended he look at a Gotway ACM which has power, speed, and range to spare. We actually cut the ride a little short because my old Ninebot One I gave to Daniel ran out of juice.
After the ride the four of us had lunch at Fuzzy Taco’s. The experience was good once again although Katie ordered a margarita that she was not fond of at all.
When we got home we turned right around and headed back out, this time with the dogs in tow. They had looked disappointed repeatedly over the weekend when we headed out without them. We wanted to get one small Home Depot road trip in for them before Sadie went back to Ali’s place today. Elsa and Sadie appeared to have fun. Elsa is definitely acting better in public spaces. Her freak outs are fewer and farther between.
We didn’t get back home till after 4pm. I just chilled out for the rest of the day. It’s funny how even with a very busy and eventful weekend, just a few consecutive hours of doing nothing makes me feel sort of lazy.
Yesterday the new tail lights I ordered for the Tacoma arrived. They are the tail lights that come on the $45,000 Tacoma TRD Pro trucks. They have a more blacked out appearance which goes well with other black accents I already added to the truck like the grille, nerf bars, and tail gate letters.
Installation of the new light assemblies was easier than I anticipated with only two bolts holding each in along with a couple clips. In total the job probably took 20 minutes including time futzing with the camera. The light swap gives the back end of the truck a sharp new look.
I actually went nuts and ordered the TRD Pro front fog lights as well which should show up next week. The dealership I bought them from actually cut me a break on price and shipping because I told them I had been mentioning them in my other videos. I like mutual back scratching scenarios.
This weekend we hope to finally get out to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I also have a number of home chores on my mental list as always. An EUC ride or two would be fun as well.
So Chuck showed up pretty much right on time, despite only pulling out of Maryland very early Sunday morning. It felt somewhat weird meeting someone that you “know” from YouTube but I had talked to Chuck on the phone before he came down so it wasn’t a huge deal. Chuck’s personality in person matched what I had seen online which was a good thing. I could tell we wouldn’t have a hard time getting along.
So I had done some prep ahead of time, pulling out all of the tools I thought we would need and setting them up on a folding table in the garage. Despite my best efforts we did have to make one trip to AutoZone to grab a deeper 14MM socket to torque the bolts in the recessed area of the front spacer. It gave me an opportunity to ride and drive Chuck’s truck which was a cool experience. Since Chuck had already installed a more involved lift on his 4×4 Tacoma we used a combination of his past experience and the detailed color instructions I printed out to guide us.
So from the steps detailed in the instructions, the front lift seemed like the more complex part of the job to accomplish and it was, but it turned out to be less difficult than what we ran into in the rear of the truck.
The issue we ran into was the instructions were written from the perspective of the work being done on a car lift, not on the ground using jack stands. As a result we had to come up with our own on the fly method to support the rear axle while getting space to install the lifting block. After we got the blocks in there we had a hell of a time getting the alignment pins on both sides where they needed to be. At one point Chuck and I were basically holding the rear axle up ourselves, one on each side, while getting the the blocks seated. It was a bit hairy for a short period of time but we got it in place and secured.
You can tell from the video of the rear that things were tough as I tried to describe exactly what we did and didn’t do a good job of doing it. There was a lot of seat of the pants actions.
So after everything was all back together we took my truck for about a 10 mile test ride to verify everything felt normal. It felt and drove just fine, the only difference was the higher driving position which was immediately noticeable. It’s hard to believe that raising the front of the truck roughly three and a half inches would feel and look so much different but it really does.
Shortly before Chuck pulled out the FedEx truck containing my Monster arrived which was funny timing. I opened the box while he was still there so he could see one of my non-Tacoma hobbies. He is an avid motorcycle guy but was impressed with the size of the Monster as I struggled to pull the 60 pound beast from the box.
So it was time for Chuck to roll out back to Sarasota to meet up with his family for the rest of their Florida vacation before they return to Maryland. I thanked him repeatedly for all the help. Although I may have been able to eventually complete the job by myself, it would have been MUCH more difficult. Having Chuck’s experience , tools, and great attitude made the job much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.
So Patrick and his girlfriend Nico were due to arrive later in the day although I wasn’t quite sure when. It gave me some time to edit the large amount of video footage I had from the day. They wound up pulling in around 7 which worked out pretty well since Cindy was teaching an evening class anyway. Once Cindy got home we piled in the Prius for a nice dinner at Pelican Larry’s. We got to hear a lot about the adventures they have had so far in Key West and Miami. Both Patrick and Nico are adventuresome explorers and seem to be a really good match which is awesome. Today and tomorrow we have no script although I do need to get my truck to a shop to have an alignment done after the lift sooner rather than later.
After work last night I stopped at Home Depot with the recommended tool list for the leveling kit install. I needed to pick up a couple impact sockets, wrenches, and even a crow bar. Chuck is going to be bringing down some of his tools as well so between the two of us we should have everything covered. I cut a short video last night revealing what the next mod was on YouTube, something I had not done as of yet. It seems like teasing projects is a popular formula for keeping your subscribers engaged.
So I am off Monday through Wednesday next week. Chuck and I are doing the lift on Monday during the day and Patrick and his girlfriend are supposed to show up late in the afternoon for a quick three day visit. I met his girlfriend Nico during my January trip up north and she seems like a great girl. I am sure we will have a fun visit with them as Patrick is always up for pretty much anything you throw at him.
This weekend I’d like to do a few clean up operations around the household in anticipation of housing visitors. I also am anticipating the arrival of my Monster which I have been tracking regularly. As of 9:30 last night it was damn close to entering the Florida panhandle. I am crossing my fingers that it might actually show up on Saturday instead of Monday.