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Countdown to the Total Solar Eclipse 2017

In a previous entry I described the total eclipse of the sun which is happening next month, August 21, 2017.  Total solar eclipses are rare.  How rare?  It has been 26 years (July 11, 1991) and that was only seen in only one state, Hawaii.  The next solar eclipse for the US will be April 8 2024.  This one enters from Mexico into Texas and slices northeastward through New England exiting the US in Maine, continuing on through New Brunswick, and Newfoundland.  There have been many partial eclipses, but the difference between a partial eclipse and a total eclipse of the Sun is night and day if you will pardon the obvious.  The eclipse next month can be seen from the entire US as a partial eclipse but only those who are in a ribbon that is 71 miles wide at it's widest, will be able to see the total eclipse.  That ribbon of totality enters the US near Portland, Oregon and exits on the east coast of South Carolina.  If you are exactly in the center of the ribbon of totality, you will get about 2 minutes of darkness before the Sun reappears.  Standing near the edge of the ribbon the length of the eclipse could be just a matter of a few seconds before the Sun reappears.  It is going to take some planning to see this eclipse.  Millions of Americans will flock to that ribbon.  They will be joined by many thousands of visitors from all over the world.  Now some details.  States with larger populations are already issuing travel alerts and making provisions to handle the millions of people who will see the eclipse.  States with smaller populations will have fewer locals to deal with but they also are states that have widely spaced roads which will concentrate crowds on the few roads in those states that cross through the ribbon of totality.  RV parks, motels and hotels along the ribbon of totality are already sold out in many locations.  Those of us with RV's are fortunate, we travel with our motel.  I would not plan to take your motor home into the ribbon of totality unless you have already secured a campground.  My personal planning is to watch the weather as the eclipse approaches.  I'll start watching the weather weeks before the eclipse.  I plan to get close to the area with the greatest probability of clear skies with the motor home and then use the toad to get to the clearest skies with the toad.  I'll try to be at my chosen observing site by sunrise and will watch the entire eclipse from that location.  We'll pack food for the day, liquids and perhaps a celebratory bottle of Champagne.  Once totality passes, many people will start for "home."  This can create tremendous traffic jams so plan to sit tight and watch the whole show before departing your observing site. Where do you find specific details?  I gave several references in my entry several months ago.  More are available now as the eclipse approaches.  There are good sites that show details of the ribbon of totality so you can position yourself precisely on its center line.  Many of the sites have eclipse glasses for sale.  These protective glasses, some with aluminized mylar are quite cheap but very effective, are necessary for the partial phases of the eclipse.  Once the sun is completely covered the glasses can be put aside and you will be looking at one of natures most spectacular displays.  The Moon is the dark spot, silhouetted against the light of the corona of the Sun.  You may discern a drop in temperature as totality approaches.  Birds will be singing as though it was sunset coming on.  Listen during totality, can you hear any birds chirping?  At totality, the sky becomes dark enough that planets and bright stars can be seen.  Using binoculars (during totality only) you can get a good look at solar prominence which look like small red "flames" rising from the Sun.  If we are lucky we may even be able to see other features.  Large solar ejections and flares can cause the corona to have strange shapes.  Whatever you see, it will be an event you will never forget.   Just a few links: The Great American Eclipse - Fantastic traffic and crowd information Eclipse 2017 - Great video of the shadow sweeping across the US NASA - As only NASA can do it.  Great images of the Sun.  What to look for.  A great set of nine regional, detailed maps of the path of totality.  How to photograph.  Weather prospects. Much more... Space.com - Great detail, how to photograph, what to look for. Each link has it's own special information, most have eclipse glasses for sale, as does Amazon.  Order soon, don't be disappointed.  Your eyes are way too important to take chances with someone's home-made eclipse viewer.  I ordered 50 glasses for less than $1.00 each.

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

Brake systems for a toad

I'm looking to buy a brake system for my toad and would like comments from users of different types. Any input or suggestion would be helpful. I'm considering an Air Force One but am leaning toward a brake buddy type. Thanks for your thoughts. Paul D

pdockins

pdockins

 

replacing carpet in coach

what have you found to be the best way to replace carpet?would you go back with carpet?change to vinyl or any other ideas? we have some tile in front of kitchen sink and stove.thank you,Joe

F460420

F460420

 

Not So Good Coach Moments

We have all had them, those moments when we are so overjoyed to be motorhome owners and those other moments, the ones where you take a deep breath and ask yourself: "Why did I ever buy this big blasted thing?"      Not So Good Coach Moments

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Remote work from Motorhome

I was wondering if anyone is working remotely from their Motorhome.  If so, how were you able to connect?  I would need to connect to the cloud for work and not all campsites have great internet connections.  Thanks.

kevin1960ward

kevin1960ward

 

My Aunt Hazel ( a Blue Ridge Mountain Story)

When I was young My Uncle Jonah taught me about raising apples, tobacco, peaches, grooming horses and the danger of electric fences. He tried, unsuccessfully, to teach me how to milk a cow. He gave Diane and I our very first Christmas Tree. My aunt Helen, Jonah’s wife, and Diane like each other very much. All the members of the Parker family are very special to me. Which brings me to my Aunt Hazel. My Aunt Hazel ( a memory and a tribute)

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Whose Idea Was This?

We returned to our winter residence in Edinburg, Texas, in Mid-April after a three-week trip to Tahiti that included a two-week cruise in French Polynesia.  Living the high life agrees with me but all that food seems to find a home somewhere around my waist.  Nine days after our return we were headed north in the motor home with friends accompanying us on the trip.  The motor home had been in the shop for about six weeks during the winter, some repair, some upgrades and some maintenance.  We also had the carpeting replaced.  The upshot of this was that for the first time in thirteen years we had emptied the motor home almost completely.  So we’re like newbees, having completely re-stocked the motor home we’re finding out what we forgot.  The list isn’t short.  We travel all summer long, visiting relatives, touring and attending conventions.  We didn’t have definite plans for this summer, mostly visiting our children and grandchildren.  In early March the bucket list came up and our friends suggested the Kentucky Derby.  We gave it about 5 minutes thought and decided we were going to sign up.  I had just seen an advertisement for Fantasy Tours Kentucky Derby Tour in the e-mail that morning.  I thought it was for 2018, but no, it was for this year.  Several spots were available and we signed up. From Edinburg to Louisville is about 1100 miles and we decided to make it a four-day trip.  Doing about 300 miles a day would get us there on time.  We planned to arrive on Sunday, a day before the tour started.  At our first fuel stop our friends said their dash air wasn’t working.  Consulting with the manufacturer, they checked the fuse and several other causes and then decided to run the generator and the roof air to try to combat the 90+ degree temperatures of south Texas. Our goal for the first day was to get through Houston before stopping for the night.  We pulled into the Houston East RV Park about an hour before sunset.  Problem two cropped up at this point, the single slide-out on our friend’s motor home wouldn’t slide out.  In the morning, they were on the phone with the manufacturer again.  After checking several items, it was decided that if they did get it to work, they may not get it back in so they are going to have to live with this until they could get to a repair shop.  Our schedule didn’t allow for a day or two in a repair shop so we continued our journey.  On the good side, departing Houston put us in lighter traffic on I-10 for the first hour or two.  We stopped in Lake Charles, LA to refuel and it became a lunch stop.  Departing I-10 to the north we headed for Hattiesburg, MS.  That became our overnight stop, now about 800 miles behind us.  In the morning, I followed the GPS and led us on an extended short cut on roads barely wide enough to allow two vehicles to pass.  We all laughed about it later and it did cut off quite a few miles.  Our trip continued through Nashville, TN and on to Louisville, KY.  The problems with the slide out were solved by a careful reading of an on-line version of the owner’s manual.  When we parked for the tour their slide operated perfectly.  The solution was to hold the activating switch for 10 seconds which re-synchronized the motors.  Later we learned that the dash air conditioner failure was due to a loose connection.  They are on their way to the east coast and we are with my daughter and her family in Missouri.  The Kentucky Derby Tour, that is another story…

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

Months 2,3,4, and Another Magical Day

For most of the month of February the three of us were parked on a live oak covered lot at Sunshine RV Resort, an Encore Park in Vero Beach. We choose to stay there because we wanted to see our daughter Jeri race in the Publix Florida Half-Marathon in Melbourne.  Months 2,3,4 and Another Magical Day

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January and Disney World

2017 has been a very busy year, at least for the first three months. The Fourth one has been wet, very wet, but more about that later.  The first one was good. Diane and I are finding out that retirement and being Snowbirds ain't bad, ain't bad at all. January and Disney World

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My Favorite Things (then)

A couple of days ago, I started to clean old document files off my laptop. For a computer geek like myself, this is a bit like cleaning out my closet. I may not need a certain shirt, it has a stain, or it doesn’t fit, it needs to go, but I still want to hang on to it. My Favorite Things (then)

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Tow - Motorcycle Trike Plus Small Car

We will start RVing full time this summer and are very excited to start this new life style!  We want to tow motorcycle trike and also have a car.  Suggestions on towing?  We have also considered towing the trike, selling the car and renting a car, as needed, as we travel across country.  Has anyone rented vehicles while RVing?  Thanks for your suggestions. 

edharbin

edharbin

 

Looking Up! (from my archive)

I am not sure if taking pictures of a Great Horned Owl nesting in a large live oak over our coach made me think of this old FMCA blog entry or not, but if it did then that is okay. I wrote it not long after we lost our grandson.  I re-read it myself this morning and I like it so maybe you will too.   Looking Up!

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Half a Half In pictures

June, July, August. I took a lot of pictures because our life in the mountains provided a lot of great opportunities to do so. The rest of the year was even better...you will see!  June, July, August Travel Blog Pictures

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I'm Not a Praying Man....

The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” starts with snow falling over Bedford Falls, and the sound of people engaged in fervent prayer. These prayers to God in Heaven are coming from many of George Bailey’s friends and almost all of his family. I'm Not a Praying Man....

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best price on Tires

I have a set of Good Year tires that was put on my 40 ft Monoco Camelot  in 2010 outward they look good but all I have read leads me to think now is the safe time to change all 6 tires . Am I correct in my  thinking ? What would be the best tire ? 295/80R/22.5 /H Thanks   
 

jeromepoole

jeromepoole

 

The Great American Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

August 11, 1999 Louise and I traveled to Paris to see a total solar eclipse.  The trip was our first adventure to Europe and was a wonderful adventure that helped convince us that there was much to see in the world.  Our trip was a success, we saw the total eclipse briefly as the clouds parted during totality.  The sight was spectacular, something that many people may live a lifetime and never experience.  I had traveled with my family to Hawaii July 11, 1991 to see the total solar eclipse there.  Spending the night alongside the highway in the desert on the western side of the big island, Hawaii, we were clouded out and sat through the eclipse in a light drizzle.  Then, June 21, 2001 Louise and I traveled to Zambia in southern Africa to see the solar eclipse once again.  It was another great adventure filled with African wildlife and many memorable experiences.  Once again, we were successful and were able to observe the total eclipse of the sun.  This time the sky was smoky as it was the season for burning off old crops in preparation for the coming planting season. I describe all this to emphasize the importance many people attach to chasing the shadow of the Moon.  The total eclipse is only visible when you are within the total shadow of the Moon.  You can see an eclipse in the partial shadow but it will only be a partial eclipse.  I would never pass up a chance to view a partial eclipse but the real prize is the total solar eclipse.  The thing about a total solar eclipse is that the full shadow of the Moon from which you can view the total solar eclipse is a very narrow band.  For the eclipse in Paris, it was about 70 miles wide at its widest point.  The eclipse in Hawaii had a shadow width of 160 miles at its widest point.  The African eclipse was almost 125 miles wide at its widest point.  To experience the longest possible time in the Moon’s shadow you must be near the centerline of the path of the shadow.  Given all that, Monday, August 21, 2017 you will have a chance to see the Great American Eclipse.  It has been many years since a total solar eclipse could be seen in mainland US.  This eclipse will cut a swath across 12 states starting in NW Oregon at about 10:18 a.m. PDT and will exit the US at 2:48 p.m. EDT in Eastern South Carolina.  Other states that will see the eclipse include Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, extreme northeastern Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, northeastern Georgia and the western North Carolina.  You won’t have to travel to a distant country, this eclipse is coming to a state near you!  All areas in those states won’t see totality, the shadow is only going to be 71 miles wide at its widest point.  You will need detailed information to get as close to the center of the shadow as possible.  In an article on the History of FMCA from May 2004 FMCA Magazine there is a reference to a meeting of motor homes at a total solar eclipse at Hinckley School in Hinckley, Maine on July 20, 1963.  Out of this gathering of 26 “coach owning families” grew the present organization.  That eclipse was one of a series of eclipses in a sequence that astronomers call a Saros.  From one eclipse to the next in a Saros is 18 years, 11 days and 8 hours.  It happens that this eclipse was number 19 of 77 eclipses in Saros 145.  Its path came onshore in North America in western Alaska, crossed Canada and exited the continent as it passed across Maine.  Alaska and Maine were the only states where the total eclipse could be seen. There have been several other eclipses in Saros, 145.  In July 31, 1981 number 20 in that Saros crossed Russia.  It was not visible in North America.  On August 11, 1999, number 21 of Saros 145 crossed Europe, the Middle East and exited into the Indian Ocean from the eastern coast of India.  Louise and I traveled to Paris, France to observe this eclipse.  There were clouds around and we drove frantically across northern France looking for an opening in the clouds as totality approached.  When I took a wrong turn at a roundabout and then attempted a U-turn on the road the wheels mired down in mud when I pulled onto the shoulder.  We slid into a ditch.  A passing couple from Belgium stopped and said (in perfect English) they would call a wrecker.  We watched as the clouds parted and the partially eclipsed sun became visible.  The wrecker arrived just as the shadow of the moon was within seconds of reaching us.  We shared our Mylar glasses with them and then put the glasses aside to watch the total phase of the eclipse.  We weren’t on the centerline but were well within the path of totality.  It was our first total solar eclipse and we were hooked.  During the total eclipse the corona or outer atmosphere of the Sun becomes visible and any prominences (loops of solar material) or flares will show up.  All these can be viewed without eye protection.  Looking at the rest of the sky, planets and bright stars will be visible.  Being aware of other circumstances, the temperature will drop as if the sun has set, birds may sing and then grow silent as they roost for the short night caused by the eclipse.  Right at the beginning of the eclipse and again at the end you may observe the diamond ring, the last glint of direct sunlight through a lunar valley as the rest of the Moon is surrounded by the faint light of the corona.  If you are hampered by thin clouds you may be able to watch the shadow of totality sweep across the clouds.  That brings us to the Great American Eclipse of 2017.  This eclipse occurs on August 21, 2017.  It is number 22 in Saros 145, 54 years and one month after the eclipse in Hinckley, Maine.  This total solar eclipse will cut a swath across 12 states starting in NW Oregon at about 10:18 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and will exit the US at 2:48 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time in eastern South Carolina.  Do the math, that is about one hour and 30 minutes, coast to coast across the United States.  At any given location, the eclipse will last for about two minutes to as much as 2 minutes and 40 seconds.  Other states that will see the eclipse include Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, southern Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee and the northeastern tip of Georgia.  All areas in those states won’t see totality, the shadow is only going to be 71 miles wide at its widest point.  You will need detailed information to get as close to the center of the shadow as possible.  You should make plans to see this eclipse in person.  You can watch it on TV, view it a hundred times on YouTube but there is nothing like standing in the Moon’s shadow.  Everyone in the US, part of Mexico and Canada will be able to see a partial eclipse but only those in the narrow total shadow of our Moon will see the total eclipse.  That path is widest and the eclipse will last longest in western Kentucky.  More important will be the weather across the country.  Watching weather patterns as the eclipse approaches may give you a general idea where to set up to see the eclipse.  Then plan to take the toad to the actual observing point.  Expect to be joined by throngs of people from around the globe who are also scrambling to see this spectacle of nature.  As the eclipse draws closer, I’ll fill in more suggestions for observing the eclipse.  In the meantime, consult some of these websites to find information on your own.  Some RV parks near the path of totality were already taking reservations for the time around August 21, 2017 last summer. References: NASA Accuweather Great American Eclipse Eclipse 2017      

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

 

GPS info

We are looking for a computer program that can be loaded  on  our computer for planning trips and tracking . We used Delorim for a number but they have sold out. I want something that will give bridge heights fuel stops . Thanks 

jeromepoole

jeromepoole

 

GPS info

We are looking for a computer program that can be loaded  on  our computer for planning trips and tracking . We used Delorim for a number but they have sold out. I want something that will give bridge heights fuel stops . Thanks 

jeromepoole

jeromepoole

 

GPS info

We are looking for a computer program that can be loaded  on  our computer for planning trips and tracking . We used Delorim for a number but they have sold out. I want something that will give bridge heights fuel stops . Thanks 

jeromepoole

jeromepoole

 

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity   Going back to our last RV trip, we stopped in Americus, GA. The world headquarters of Habitat for Humanity is located here.  Not far from the headquarters building is an information center where you can learn about the work of the organization around the world.  A volunteer will give a brief overview of the operation followed by a very impressive video of the sad living conditions of millions of people.         After you watch the video, you can walk thru a self guided tour.  First on the walking trail is examples of how the poor live in various countries.  After you complete this section, you enter an area where you will see the types of buildings that the organization builds for families in countries around the world and how their design matches the culture and climate of these places.  They make the point that this is a self help program.  Those selected to receive a house must work on the project themselves and must pay a no interest loan back.                                                           If you have never seen these living conditions, it is an eye opening experience.

guldenschuh

guldenschuh

 

Happy New Year to All!

Happy New Year! Another year, 2016, is coming to an end.  We are happily ensconced in our winter home here in Texas.  I’d say deep in the heart of Texas but it is more like the tippy-toes of Texas, way down south almost on the US-Mexico border.  We had a light shower this morning so my outside work is delayed until the ground and grass dry.  I’m enlarging the patio in our back yard and adding a walkway alongside the house to replace the path I’ve worn in the dirt.  The lawn needs mowing and I need to check the roof after a particularly windy night earlier this week.  None of this was necessary when we were full time!!! I just picked up my iPad to check the weather.  What an amazing device the iPad is.  It’s a second computer that I can grab and get information from almost instantly.  Handier for checking information than opening a document on my computer.  Pop it open and get an address or phone number, open a map and zoom to any area you want in just a minute.  The world at my fingertips.  I like to reference it while driving the motor home but of course I can’t so I turn that duty over to Louise.  She is less a fan.  I need to talk her through step by step to get the information that I want.  Occasionally, she will agree that it is helpful to be able to zoom in on a map and see road detail that isn’t in the trucker’s atlas.  We use it to search for cheap diesel, find rest stops, overnight parking, and campgrounds.  It saves us money and makes life on the road much easier. Several years ago, I took the training to get my certification as a Texas Master Naturalist.  It is similar to the Master Gardner program.  The focus is on all of nature, not just plants and gardening.  In fact, the Master Naturalist Program began here in Texas when some Master Gardeners became adventuresome and were introducing many fringe areas to the Master Gardner meetings.  They were bringing in bugs, birds, butterflies, soil science, water conservation, native plants, invasive species and a host of other topics that were related to gardening but not quite part of the Master Gardner area of focus.  So, they started something new.  It has grown from a single chapter in San Antonio to over 40 chapters state-wide and is now found in many other states.  I mention this because when we return to Texas I pick up the mantle of a Master Naturalist and dig into volunteer work at some of the local nature and wildlife parks here in the Rio Grande Valley.  January is the beginning of our annual class for certification and we have 24 people lined up for the training in our local chapter.  I will have the stage at the orientation session as I describe the program, it’s history, purpose and the training program which starts them on the path to certification.  I will mentor three of the new trainees, giving them encouragement and advice to help them reach their goal.  I also do the website for the chapter.  My favorite volunteer activity is to assist a local high school teacher, a trained wildlife biologist, with his bird banding.  It has expanded my experience with birds and pushed me to learn new skills.  There is nothing like having a bird in the hand.  What amazing creatures they are.  Of course, there is the occasional Cardinal that will get it’s beak on a bit of a finger and it won’t let loose until it draws blood.  Putting bands on birds is real research, helping us learn more about the birds, their migration patterns, their longevity, their patterns of movement and much more.  On our return to the RGV in late October, we stopped north of Houston so I could attend the Master Naturalist annual meeting in Montgomery.  I enjoy these meetings.  We stayed at the KOA in Montgomery, a nice very large park with strange KOA rules.  Louise is happy to have some time to read and relax outside in the sunshine while I’m spending the day in meetings.  There is always something new to learn and this meeting was no exception.  Meeting other TMN’s and learning about their activities is inspiring.  There were over 300 TMN’s from all over Texas in attendance.  One of my friends received an award for 4000 hours of volunteer time and the corresponding Presidential Volunteer Certificate of Recognition.  This is the program started by President George H. W. Bush, his “Thousand Points of Light.”  Her husband received an award for 5000 volunteer hours.  That is some real dedication to the community and its nature parks and centers. Our motor home has spent the last two months in the shop.  There were several things that needed work on the motor home and some body damage from an ill-advised backing maneuver so we decided to get all the work done at one time.  We didn’t anticipate it taking two months but ordering parts takes time and then I think of one more thing and that takes another part so here we go again.  I’ve already moved it from the RV shop to Freightliner for some chassis work, brakes, belts and more.  That was done while waiting for one of the last parts to be ordered.  Then I found that the step cover that slides out to keep the grandchildren from falling into the stairwell wasn’t working.  That means another part… When the RV shop releases it, I’ll take it to the flooring shop to get new carpet.  We debated going to tile or other flooring product but finally decided the simplest thing was to simply replace the carpet.  Once it returns home we will do a complete restocking.  We cleaned it out completely before turning it over to the RV shop.  That is something that hasn’t happened since we moved into it in November of 2003.  I’m guessing more than a few things that we removed won’t go back.  It needed a good housecleaning.  Here’s hoping that 2017 finds all well with you and that the coming year will bring you good fortune and happy travels.

TBUTLER

TBUTLER

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