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blue ridge mountains From FL to snow??
oscarpower posted a question in Destinations/AttractionsHello! We have travelled almost all over the continent in our RV (except DE, NJ, CT, RI) but never in winter. I'd love to see the leaves changing colors this fall and thought of visiting the Blue Ridge the week before Thanksgiving. Maybe around Spruce Pine, NC. My husband is concerned that if it gets too cold or snows, some pipes may freeze and damage. Floridians as we are, we have no experience in that area. Any preventive maintenance or suggestions or advice you can give us, will be greatly appreciated! Jocelynn Wirshing-Power; Gainesville, Fl 2004 Coachman/Concord w tow.
Heading to Indio Wednesday
acadnaif posted a topic in Area RalliesWhat can we expect for weather conditions once we arrive at the Riverside Fairgrounds and during the rally?
Harvey was a Rabbit when I was in High School
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaThe Junior Play when I was in high school was Harvey. My best friend played the lead role, Elwood P. Dowd. Elwood, a grown man, had an imaginary friend, Harvey. Harvey was a rabbit, a six foot tall rabbit, according to Elwood. I had a minor part, acting was never my thing. Anyway, these days there is another Harvey and it isn't a rabbit. Harvey is dumping a huge quantity of rain on the upper Gulf Coast of Texas and now Louisiana. A stalled storm can unload a huge amount of water on any given spot. Think of it as a conveyor belt, picking up water from the warm water in the Gulf of Mexico and carrying it to the coast of Texas where it deposits it, continuously, in huge quantities. Several years ago we had a single thunderstorm that sat right on top of our RV Park in Texas, Sandpipers Resort. I can say that the thunderstorm sat there for one hour because I looked at the radar record as and after the storm was over. In one hour this thunderstorm dropped 5+ inches of rain on our park. The low spot in the park became a lake, we dubbed it Lake Sandpiper. Our mobile home was on the northern edge of Lake Sandpiper. Fortunately for us, 5 inches wasn't enough to do any damage but a few other homes sustained some minor damage. Lake Sandpiper, having no drainage outlet other than a 2" pump, persisted for a week. That was but a single thunderstorm. I used to live in a rural area in Missouri. We had a thunderstorm that dropped 11 inches of rain in one hour. It was an amazing to watch the water come down in such a torrent. Immediately, the local river became a rolling current, filling it's banks and then spilling over into adjacent agricultural fields. Tiny creeks became impassible, low areas flooded and became stagnant for weeks. Crops died from excess water, people were delayed on their way home but no one died and the area recovered almost without any concern or help being necessary. Harvey is a different matter. Harvey is a succession of such storms. And the storms aren't falling on an agricultural area, not even a hilly area, Houston and many of the other towns along the Gulf Coast are on the coastal plain, a wide flat area along the coast of Texas that extends from Louisiana all the way to Mexico. Drainage is slow in flat areas particularly when they are only a few feet above sea level. Add to that the fact that much of the Houston area is covered with pavement which doesn't absorb water but sheds it into nearby ditches. Pavement isn't the only impermeable area, homes themselves have roofs which are by design impermeable. Who would buy a leaky roof? So lawns and parks are the primary areas that absorb water when it rains. Urban areas are particularly prone to flooding. I can recall a visit to Houston many years ago, on our way from Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio to Fort Bragg, NC. We were visiting some relatives that lived there. During our visit a short thunderstorm passed over the area. Upon leaving, we saw significant street flooding. Nothing that prevented our travel but we drove through six inches of water in places. So Houston and it's surroundings are prone to flooding and Harvey is the perfect storm for the area. I'm not ignoring other towns, many towns further south along the shore took the brunt of the winds of Harvey. There have been many clips on the news showing the destroyed buildings. Some towns are nearly completely leveled. Fortunately the death toll in those towns is amazing low. Within Houston, the disaster is multiplied by millions of lives. A city has problems that no other area has. The density of population multiplies the inconvenience, loss of life, financial loss by millions. Ability to move the population, evacuate the area, is highly limited by the sheer numbers that are involved. The after-effects of this storm are going to be sobering. Katrina and now Harvey have inflicted huge losses and pain on populations in large cities. Anyone involved in disaster planning for large population areas should be alarmed and should be working to re-evaluate their disaster plans. Metropolitan planning needs to account for population density and evacuation routes and plans need to be studied and improved. We can do better if we will learn from the past and present. Our home in Edinburg, Texas was spared. Harvey hit land far enough north that people staying in our park sent messages via Facebook and other communication letting us know through pictures of sunrises and sunsets and words advising us of no wind, no rain, that all was well in Sandpipers. In fact, announcements about RV Parks recently have focused on a very few that are taking storm refugees. I can't imagine a park that wouldn't take refugees from Harvey if space were available. In the RGV there are about 80 parks that will accommodate thousands of RV's during the winter. Those parks are largely empty right now and could provide a place for RV refugees to stay. If you are looking for a place to go with your RV to get out of the way of the clean-up, call any of the parks in the RGV. With luck you may even get a site that might last through the winter. There is no doubt that complete recovery will take years. Tonight I sit in a safe and secure place but I can imagine the intense concern and dread of those in the Houston area. It's called empathy, a normal human emotion. Don't fight it, consider your life and what you would feel if you lived in the Houston or central coastal area of Texas or Louisiana tonight. Our thoughts are with those in the grip of the storm tonight and into the future. "Lake Sandpiper" April 10, 2015
Eclipse Notes - Six Days to Go
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaYesterday Louise and I played golf. As we started the back nine, I noticed the last quarter Moon high in the western sky. You can see the Moon in the morning sky before sunrise. It will be visible in the morning sky and even in the afternoon for the next few days. As it creeps closer to the Sun, it will be more difficult to find, a smaller crescent in the brightest part of the sky, near the Sun. On Thursday morning the waning crescent Moon will be above and to the right of a bright object in the pre-dawn sky, the planet Venus. Look again on Friday morning and you will be able to gauge how far the Moon travels in it's orbit in one day. The Moon will still be above and right of Venus but much closer on Friday Morning. By Saturday morning, the Moon will be almost directly below Venus. You would have to look very closely on Sunday morning to find the thin waning crescent Moon. Not only will the Moon be just over 1 day's travel in it's orbit from the Sun, you would only be able to see it in the light of dawn if you had a near perfect eastern horizon. Any hills, buildings or trees will block your view. On Monday, eclipse day, if you are in that narrow ribbon where the total eclipse will be seen, you should be able to find Venus to the west of the Sun. Even those seeing a near total eclipse (partial eclipse) may be able to find Venus as the maximum eclipse occurs at their location. If you know where to look, the planet Venus is visible in full daylight if it is far enough from the Sun in the sky. If you can find the Moon during the day on Thursday you may be able to use it as a guide to viewing Venus during full daylight. There will be another planet easily visible during the total eclipse. That planet is the largest of the planets in our solar system, Jupiter. Jupiter is visible in the evening just above the horizon in the western sky. So Jupiter is east of the Sun. During the Eclipse you should see Jupiter east of the eclipsed Sun. Those with a deep partial eclipse may also notice Jupiter to the east of the Sun, not far away. If you are looking for the planets during a partial eclipse. Take off you eclipse glasses, block the sun with your hand, a piece of paper or another object. Be sure to keep the Sun covered as you search the sky near the Sun for Venus and Jupiter. Never look directly at the Sun without eclipse glasses. We are camped on the high plains in Eastern Colorado. Our weather has featured fairly frequent afternoon and evening storms. This has been pretty consistent since we arrived on August 1. Areas where we plan to go had thunderstorms early this morning. The forecast for now seems to be improving for those areas (Casper, WY or Scottsbluff, NE). As eclipse day approaches I'll be watching the weather, on my smart phone and tablet as well as on the weather channels (WEA - The Weather Channel and WN - Weather Now). For the moment, we are planning on a car trip from our current location but if we have to travel further for clear skies we may leave the campground on Saturday or Sunday. Given two days we could roam from western Oregon to eastern Missouri. That is what I want, maximum mobility and the clearest skies I can find. I wish clear skies and good viewing to all.
So Much News, So Little Time
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaI'll start by celebrating the return to life by the FMCA Computer System. Today is the first day I've been able to log on in the last two or three weeks! That doesn't explain my long absence from blogging. When we returned last fall I fell right into some intense volunteer work as Education Chair for the Rio Grande Valley Chapter Texas Master Naturalist. We had a class of 22 trainees who will become new members once they complete their volunteer commitment. With classes and field trips to plan and conduct, my winter was pretty busy. It is also hard to write the blog when I'm not in the motor home traveling. Now that we're back on the road I should be contributing regularly again. We left our winter home in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas two months ago, May 9. In the week before we left we had 5 inches of rain from a single storm. That was followed by several other storms. Portions of our park including the road in front of our mobile home were flooded. Since we left, there have been other storms resulting in at least two subsequent flood events. We keep watching the weather reports and are pleased that the last two weeks have brought a return to drier conditions. The drought conditions in Texas have been resolved but the fact that it occurred within two months was responsible for a great deal of damage and loss of life. Our flooding was very minor compared to what happened in other areas of Texas. From Texas we made our way to Golden, Colorado for a week stay with Louise's family. The trip was made more interesting as we traveled through flooded lands near Lubbock and into cold rainy weather in the Denver area. In fact the weather was a positive factor in our decision to leave a day early just to give us more time to travel to our next destination. A family wedding in Cincinnati was a fun event with many of my cousins attending. Our family is scattered over the country and keeping in touch has been difficult. Our motor home has facilitated many visits that would have been impractical under normal circumstances. As much as possible we try to get our visits in as we take planned trips to other destinations. While in Cincinnati we stayed at the FMCA Campground on Round Bottom Road. It is a nice place to stay, a well maintained campground. I was surprised to see that the building at that location is now empty. No doubt FMCA is facing a number of challenges. From Cincinnati we backtracked to Missouri to stay with my son, daughter and our amazing grandchildren. They span a wide spectrum, from a year and a half old to the fifteen year old who just got his learners permit to drive. We enjoyed attending softball games, graduation celebrations, Eagle Scout leadership training graduation, dinners, several birthday parties and a St. Louis Cardinals ballgame. While in Missouri we endured numerous rain events. We were parked in a high location so water levels never threatened us though flooding was occurring regularly throughout the area. Leaving Missouri we traveled to eastern Kentucky to visit my brother. While there we endured another series of rains that delivered over 5 inches of rain in 48 hours. At this point I figure we could travel to California and solve their drought conditions in short order! We will go to California in October so we'll get to test this theory. Our motor home is showing its age. When we got ready to depart this spring the electrical system in the coach shut down completely. After trying everything else, I went to check the batteries which were good and then checked the battery cut-off switch. Bingo! The switch wouldn't turn. It had melted down. It is a small plastic switch which connects the total load of the batteries to the coach itself. The cables were clamped to a plastic surface which held the post in place. After years of use, the heat had melted the plastic enough that the post came loose. I didn't have a replacement switch so simply bolted the two cables together. Viola! Problem solved. Without DC current, the systems that control the current in the coach also stop working so everything is dead. Now it isn't convenient to pull apart wires to cut off the electrical supply from the batteries so I've replaced the switch. I found a much better switch, rated for twice the current of the previous switch. I also replaced the old switch for the chassis battery at the same time. It was identical to the other switch except there was a nut between the plastic and the cable attachment. With metal on both sides of the cable lug, that switch was in fine condition. The house battery switch had been replaced before and I'm guessing that the tech who did that either discarded the extra nut or it wasn't there and they didn't think to install it. I have a spare now in case you are parked next to me and need a replacement for your melted switch! Today we're at Cummins in Harrisburg, PA. This is our second Cummins stop this spring. In Colorado we had the alternator checked but they could find no problems even though we traveled for 100 miles with the alternator alarm sounding before it mysteriously quit and the voltage came up. This has occurred again after parking a month at our daughters home but was resolved before we left their driveway. I guess we'll have to wait for complete failure before they can diagnose the problem. I may have it rebuilt next winter if it lasts that long. While in Colorado they did find a leaking fuel boost pump and replaced that. I now know what the spot on the driveway was when we pulled out this spring. They also noticed that the exhaust gasket on the number 3 cylinder was leaking. We had just had all the exhaust gaskets replaced last fall and had traveled less than 1500 miles so either it was a bad install or we have a more serious problem. That is the reason for our stop in Harrisburg. We didn't have time to deal with the problem in Colorado and it hasn't resolved itself so now we'll take a day or two to get it fixed. Meanwhile we've had intermittent generator problems with it failing to run smoothly and then dying when the load is connected. They have diagnosed that as a failing inverter in our 7.5 KW Onan Generator. This is a DC generator which has a built in inverter to provide AC current. We're not getting out of town without leaving a few bucks behind. Fortunately fuel costs are down this year.
Pictures Bring Questions About Weather and Climate
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaHere is another question. In a recently posted picture the ground looked rather dry, not the lush green paradise that many imagine for New Zealand. Let me assure you there are many places that are lush and green. The North Island and indeed much of New Zealand has experienced a rather dry summer. They are quite a bit behind their normal rainfall. So farming areas are dry. The moist rainforests, protected by shade from trees holds moisture better and tree roots help the forest absorb almost every drop of water that falls there. Right down the road from the picture of the farm on the shore is a forest preserve. The picture with this posting shows that green forest, it makes quite a contrast. There is a rainy season as well. It varies in different parts of the world but winter and spring here will be wetter than the summer or fall. I mentioned in a previous post that this is hurricane season in the southern hemisphere. Hurricanes and tropical storms will deliver large amounts of precipitation this time of year but they are hit and miss and everyone pretty much is rooting for a miss on that rain. Louise and I had compared some of the places we were seeing with what we are used to seeing in California during fall visits when the hills are a golden brown color. Some areas here look like that right now. There is some irrigation here but not too much. We have seen only a few of the large sprinkling systems that are common throughout the prairie in the US.
Cross Country Weather Conditions
rbgoudreau posted a topic in General DiscussionWe are planning a trip across country, from Boston to Colorado. We had planned on leaving 6/6 but are very concerned about the storms raging the country. We had planned to pick up Route 66 in Oklahoma but are having 2nd thoughts. We don't want our MH damaged by storms. Is there anyone out there who is dealing with this weather? How bad is it, really? Thanks Ron & Bonnie
Driving In High Wind
steve.anita posted a topic in General DiscussionWe are in Nevada and there are wind advisories. Some days they have red flag warnings and we know we cannot travel during a red flag warning. Other days there are wind advisories and we don't know when it is unsafe to drive our motorhome. We have a 40 foot allegro bus. Is there a rule of thumb, when the wind is above so many miles per hour, you should not go?
I Love My iPhone!
tbutler posted a blog entry in Tom and Louise on Tour in North AmericaOne night on my way home from calling Mexican bingo at Flip Flopz, the community building in our park, my cell phone fell out of my pocket. I got home, noticed it missing and retraced my route. Turning a corner I saw something in the middle of the street and it was my phone. Unfortunately, someone had run over it with a golf cart. It wasn't destroyed but was damaged. I tested it and it worked. Within a week it became apparent that it was not fully functioning. I was getting static during calls and missing a word here or there. So it was time to replace the phone. This was a dumb phone, just basic functions, call, talk, voice mail, With the standard numeric keypad you could text if you were really patient, I wasn't. I started searching for replacement phones and found few as simple as my old one. A trip to the phone store and I'm looking at one that has a slide cover that functions as a keyboard for texting for about $80. On the other hand there is an iPhone 4 that is offered for the grand sum of $0.99! Yes, the iPhone 4 was yesterdays nifty gadget but I like old stuff so I jumped in. Now I have a smart phone. For a whlie the phone was smarter than I was. I still don't use it like the kids do but it is growing on me. We left our winter retreat in extreme southern Texas in mid-March to head north to Missouri. We do a stint every spring taking care of grandchildren while their mother, our daughter, is working as a tax preparer. Who decided that tax season would be a good time for spring break anyway? As we traveled north I found the iPhone handy for checking on weather. I had installed the Weather Bug app soon after getting the phone. With the iPhone, I can open the Weather Bug and it knows where I am located and gives me the weather for my present location! Tap the radar icon and there is the radar for my location. You can do this with the computer but you have to tell the Weather Bug where you are located, name a city or put in a zip code. With the iPhone the phone tells the Weather Bug where it is and you get instant (under a minute) local weather information. Cool I said, I could learn to like this phone. Now it is late on the first day, we have been rolling nearly constantly and we are north of Dallas, heading into Oklahoma. It is getting dark and we should be finding a place to stop. The Next Exit does no good on US 75/69 so I tell Louise to pick up my phone and lets see if we can use it to find Wal-Mart! She knows zip about my iPhone so I'm driving and talking her through the App Store. She has searched and found something on Wal-Mart when we spot one! So the search stops there and so do we. Next morning we're heading for I-44 east of Tulsa when our son-in-law calls and says that snow is expected in Springfield, Missouri after noon. With constant driving we'll make Springfield by noon so it looks like a horse race between us and the weather. Check the iPhone to see where the storm is now. We're ahead of it but not by much. As we clear Springfield we see blowing snow but are quickly clear of that flurry. By nightfall we are at our daughters home near St. Louis. It's great to see the grandkids and we're on duty the next morning. During our stay we sit through a monster snow storm, about a foot of snow accumulates on our roof and all around us. It was Sunday so we just sat inside and enjoyed watching the storm. We went through 70% of our full propane tank in a 12 day trip. Boy were we glad to be headed back to Texas! We left Friday afternoon as soon as our son-in-law got home and made it to Joplin shortly after dark. By this time I had downloaded the iPhone app which allowed us to look for Wal-Mart stores near our current location. Louise Identified the exit and guided me into the Wal-Mart where we spent the night. The Weather Bug indicated a big storm complex coming in on us, likely in the early morning. I slept too long. By the time I got outside to check tires and the toad it was already raining lightly. I put the get-away in high gear and we were on the road in a steady rain. As we hit the Will Rogers Turnpike the rain started coming down in earnest. Pretty soon it became a regular frog strangler. Then the wind hit, fierce winds blowing across the road in a driving rain. That lasted for about five minutes before giving way to the standard thunderstorm. We departed the turnpike at Big Cabin and headed south on US 69, retracing our steps south. Louise was keeping me posted on the storm using the iPhone. We stopped at Wal-Mart to have breakfast and then continued on our way, trying to outrun the storm. We finally broke into clear weather about 50 miles north of the Texas border. My goal was to clear Dallas late on Saturday afternoon and be well south for the start of the final day of driving. We made that easily and then consulted the iPhone again. I had updated the Wal-Mart app to a full-featured app, Allstays Camp and RV. This is the greatest thing since the Swiss Army Knife, sliced bread and/or peanut butter! The Wal-Mart app is just the beginning. The full Camp and RV app has rest stops, it will display them on a map, not just any map, the map moves as you drive. Zoom in and you can watch yourself zipping down the road. Of course I never looked at it while driving! You can choose what you want to see on the map, rest stops, Wal-Mart, Cabellas, truck stops, gas stations, pick what you want. If you are headed south, indicate you want the southbound rest stops and that is what it shows. I knew there was a Cabellas south of Dallas so Louise looked for that, Louise took me to the correct exit and we were able to pull in to spend the night. Looking for a place to stop and eat? Name it and it will find the nearest one for you. I've got a GPS, new last year, can't find a fraction of what the iPhone does and the GPS is really old technology when you try to find something. It turns out it was my lucky day when someone ran over my old phone! I love my new iPhone. This is going to be great for traveling in the motor home.