Traveling with the Laughlins

 
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 6/1/10 Tuesday  The son of a friend of Sherry had mentioned to her that it might be a good idea to check the trailer wheel bearings since we had been having trouble going up hills. When we arrived in Strasburg last Wednesday I noticed that one of the trailer wheel hubs was warm and the rest were not. I contacted a local mobile RV mechanic who came over today and looked at it. The bearings had been packed just before leaving home but one of the brake retraction springs had broken and the brakes were riding on the drum causing heat and drag. He has ordered the repair parts.

I prepared some round steak and veggies and put them in the crock pot for Swiss steak for dinner. Meanwhile the ladies headed into Denver for grocery shopping and errands.

Back at the trailer I checked Denver Craig's List for a clothes dryer for Cathy as hers had died and wasn't worth fixing. I found a good one in Kiowa, CO (about 30 miles south of here) and went over to buy it. The man there helped me load it into the van. When I got here the neighbor's father helped me get the old one out of the basement and the new one down. I was able to get it hooked up before Cathy got home and boy was she surprised and thrilled at her 'new' dryer.

On the way to Kiowa I stopped at a Subway Sandwich to get a sandwich to eat on the way. They were busy and I got to visiting with the lady in front of me in the line. She works for Gargill, a huge company in the grain business at their "Sub terminal" in Byers, CO. This is just a relatively small grain elevator in a small town in eastern Colorado. She told me that they were "loading a train" and she had come to get sandwiches for her co-workers. I asked a few questions and was amazed at the answers. The train consists of 100 hopper cars. Each car carries 200,000 lbs of wheat. That is 20 million pounds of wheat in just in that one train, enough to make 14,000,000 loaves of bread!  They are going to send out two trains this week alone. I commented that would leave their silos pretty empty and she said "No, the new harvest starts in just three weeks and we'll wind up having to pile some of it on the ground for lack of elevator space". All of this from just one elevator in one small town (and almost every town out here has one or more elevator companies). There is an awful lot of wheat grown here!

The ladies also stopped by a home in Denver where they were giving away a Dish Network satellite dish. Ours is not working on one of the two satellites that they use and I suspect the LNB for 119 is dead. I plan to change out the LNB head and hope that will solve the problem.

We had dinner with Cathy, her son Chip, and her granddaughter Becka and then retired for the night.

 6/2/10 Wednesday  I went to the next town over today (Byers) to the library and grocery store. While I was there I took the photos above of the grain elevator since some of my readers might not be familiar with such things.

This afternoon I helped Cathy to navigate the Medicare website and I took a nap.

Tonight we are going to watch the new movie "Get Smart". Not much else to report today.

 6/3/10 Thursday  Quiet day around Strasburg. I helped the neighbor's father take the doors off of a used side-by-side refrigerator that they bought. When they got it home they discovered that it wouldn't fit through the house door without removing the refrigerator doors. Because the freezer door has water and electrical lines running into it he requested my expertise. It took about half an hour to get the doors off and I was tired out when I finished. This is the same gentleman that assisted me with moving the dryers in and out of Cathy's basement so I was glad that I was able to do something for him in return.

I then worked on my business and did lots of small chores that needed doing.

Sherry made pizza for dinner. She started with 2 pounds of onion bread dough that I made and turned that into 3 pizzas: Combo, Pepperoni, and Hawaiian. They were a real treat.

I also was able to get photos of two of Cathy's grandchildren holding their clown coloring pages that I had given them. I downloaded the coloring pages from our youngest daughter's clown website (she's a professional clown in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada).


Sammy - Age 3

Katie - Age 5
 6/4/10 Friday  Sherry and Cathy went to garage sales this morning and had fun. I think it is Cathy's favorite pass time.  The mobile RV mechanic out of Bennett CO came this afternoon and replaced the brake backing assembly on the front axle of the trailer, right side. I had him check the other three assemblies and all of them had badly cracked brake shoes so he is going to get the parts and replace them also. As he was letting the trailer back down off of the jack the sewer line started badly leaking (not a good development.) Closer inspection revealed that where the axle had been wearing on the pipe for some time and it finally gave way. Further inspection showed that the connection into the waste tank was cracked and could give way at any time. It also will need to be replaced. We'll be at Cathy's house a few more days than planned. Not exactly how I would have wanted the day to go!
 6/5/10 Saturday  Today we visited with close Christian friends in Denver. That took all day and we had a really nice time. I went to a See conditions for free shipping and reduced promotional shipping rates that apply on the Holiday Shipping Promotion.'s Chocolate store and bought candy according to my daughter Joy's wish list. I also surprised Sherry with a 1/2 lb. box of chocolate truffles. I told her to not eat all of them at once. Silly me! They were gone before bedtime.
 6/6/10 Sunday  Sherry and Cathy went to church while I prepared a pork loin roast with oven roasted potatoes according to this recipe. Wow, was it good! We had side dishes of creamed corn, Harvard beets, and applesauce. For dinner Sherry made Crab and Rice Casserole.
6/7/10 Monday  It was hot today here in Strasburg, CO with a high of 93 F. For lunch Sherry and I went to Chili's near the Denver airport and a dear friend of Sherry's that she had not See conditions for free shipping and reduced promotional shipping rates that apply on the Holiday Shipping Promotion.n for quite some time met us there for a nice visit. After lunch we went across the street to WalMart and picked up a Rx and some groceries. We came back and I dropped off Sherry at a clinic to See conditions for free shipping and reduced promotional shipping rates that apply on the Holiday Shipping Promotion. a doctor for a routine matter. Meanwhile I made tacos and black beans for dinner. I also did a couple of repairs at Cathy's.
6/8/10 Tuesday  It was a quiet, boring day. Nothing much to report other than a phone call from the RV mechanic who advised that he has an abscessed tooth and will be delayed in doing our needed repairs before we move on.
6/9/10 Wednesday  I leveled Cathy's refrigerator to fix a door closing problem and then we had sausage gravy on biscuits for breakfast. Later on we went out for Chinese food for lunch and then to the library in Bennett, CO where we borrowed a couple of movies. Three boys had decided to use the front steps of the library as a skate board park. The librarian asked them to find somewhere else to ride their boards and they told her they could ride anywhere they wanted to. They changed their minds when two deputy sheriffs showed up. When last we saw the boys they were still being talked to and they looked pretty dejected. After going grocery shopping we came back and took naps and then watched a DVD movie.
6/10/10 Thursday  Today Sherry, Cathy and I went shopping in Byers and to the library there where we checked out some books and movies. Sherry made crab cakes for lunch and I fixed a crock pot beef roast with veggies for dinner. We watched a DVD movie tonight. There were thunderstorms all around us with light rain and small hail here. I checked out and repaired a leak on a washer that Cathy has in a small building out behind her house that her son is remodeling into a one bedroom apartment. The RV technician called today and is still working on trying to find a waste water tank for our trailer. We are stuck here until he can repair that.
6/11/10 Friday  I worked a while this morning on my business taking care of some loose ends and then did a bit of maintenance on the trailer. I took Sherry over to a local medical clinic for her routine lab work. We ate lunch and then headed into Aurora, CO for errands.

Back at Cathy's we had dinner and just as we were finishing the tornado warning siren started sounding. We went into the basement and shortly thereafter a strong storm moved through with golf ball sized hail. After the all clear I went out to check for damage and found the top of the van moderately beat up. I then went in to the trailer and knew that things were not well when I found hail on my bed. All three skylights were broken out and the plastic covers over the air conditioner and the range hood were destroyed. As we were expecting more rain this weekend I and Cathy's son Chip quickly covered up the openings. It was just in time as some heavy rain came shortly thereafter. One side of the trailer also was beat up rather noticeably and the fiberglass awning over the front window is also broken. Just shortly before we left home I bought insurance on the trailer and I now have to find the policy. I'm glad that I had the foresight to get the insurance.

6/12/10 Saturday  I got about 3 hours of sleep last night. It was impossible for me to sleep when the storm was still raging. I found out today that a few blocks away from us they had baseball sized hail and a few miles away they had softball sized hail which was punching 4" holes in almost anything it hit. The local school here had holes punched in its roof and 12 class rooms were damaged.

This morning I contacted the insurance companies for both the trailer and for the van to start the claims process. Both units have moderate hail damage. I was pleased to find out that both policies have only a $250 deductible for comprehensive class damages. They said they will have someone contact me within a few days.

The trailer insurance claims department told me that I could not do any repairs until their inspection or it might void the entire claim so all we can do for now is to cover things up. Chip and I worked on that and got the skylights and other openings on top the trailer covered up better so that a wind gust would be less likely to blow off the coverings.

I then showed him how to repair the washer that he got for the apartment that Cathy is going to rent out behind her house and ordered the repair parts. We then put in an ad for the apartment on Craig's List.

6/13/10 Sunday  I got up before Sherry so I went over to a local cafe for breakfast where I had their combo omelet with green chili over it. The green chili was made with a bit of cumin which gave it a really good taste. I worked a little on our business and napped today. It rained most of today. Sherry made a Chicken Noodle Casserole for dinner. Tonight we watched a movie called Christmas in Connecticut, a romantic comedy from 1945.
6/14/10 Monday  We had breakfast in the trailer and then I went in to Cathy's where I started a crock pot pork loin roast that I studded with whole cloves and sprinkled with dried orange peal and ground nutmeg. I put peach slices around the roast and let it cook. I worked on my business for a while and then we went to the community church here in Strasburg for a 'meals on wheels' senior lunch. They had fried chicken today. I'm still waiting to hear from the insurance adjustors as we are stuck here until they do their thing and the holes in the top of the trailer get repaired.

I got calls from both insurance companies claims representatives today. The Progressive rep said it might be as late as the end of next week before they can get an adjustor out here to inspect the damage. Ouch! They are not in as much of a hurry as I am.

We went for an evening drive to Byers to the store there because Sherry "needed" to get ice cream for a root beer float. Then we went to Deer Trail, CO (proclaimed as the "Home of the World's First Rodeo") to look around and then back to Cathy's. We took the back roads and saw things that the folks on the Interstate would probably not notice: a wild turkey, two antelope, four mule deer, and two young foxes. The mule deer were right along side of the road and didn't See conditions for free shipping and reduced promotional shipping rates that apply on the Holiday Shipping Promotion.m at all concerned about our presence. They were perhaps 30 - 40 feet away from us. All in all it was a very pleasant drive.

6/15/10 Tuesday  The RV repairman came today to put on the new brakes for the trailer. While he was doing that the insurance adjustor for the van came and looked it over. He determined the van to be a total loss. They will pay me the market value less the salvage value less the deductible and I can fix whatever I want to on it. At a minimum I will need to replace the windshield sometime.

The RV repairman is going to look for the necessary parts to fix up the trailer to usable condition but we can not put them in until the adjustor gets to See conditions for free shipping and reduced promotional shipping rates that apply on the Holiday Shipping Promotion. the trailer. I strongly suspect that it also will be considered a total loss.

We had steak for dinner tonight and Sherry made one of her fabulous cheesecakes for dessert. It was Cathy's son Chip's birthday today so that is how we celebrated it.

6/16/10 Wednesday  The big news for today is that I finally heard from the Progressive Insurance adjustor. They are the company that has the trailer insurance. He said that they are swamped with work but are planning on being in this area Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. I was able to talk him into putting us first when they get here Tuesday. Not much else to report today.
6/17/10 Thursday  Today Sherry and I again went to the area of the Denver airport and had lunch at Wendy's with her friend Vivian. After we ate I went over to the WalMart store and bought a few things. I spoke a couple of time today with the RV mechanic and he is making progress on getting our repair parts. I'm anxious to get on the road again.
6/18/10 Friday  I have spent most of the day talking to the adjustor/settlement department of 21st Century / Farmers Insurance. I had to take photos of some of the things that their field adjustor did not get right, resize the photos, and e-mail them to the settlement department. The also need the title with the lien release which of course I do not have with me. I contacted the credit union and after investigation they advised me that they still have it, that they attempted to mail it out to me but that it came back to them as a bad address. Our mail is being forwarded to our son and we set that up before leaving. We had noticed that for a two week period after we left our son was not getting any mail addressed to us. Apparently the post office in a display of their usual efficiency managed to return as undeliverable all of our mail for that time period in spite of having the forwarding paperwork on file.
6/19/10 Saturday  Cathy, Sherry, and I drove to Colorado Springs and went on the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. It was a really pleasant time except that I was short of breath at the top (over 14,100 feet high). On the way back we stopped at a Red Lobster for dinner to celebrate Father's Day just a bit early.
6/20/10 Sunday  I celebrated Father's Day by cooking and napping. I made filling for chicken pot pies but instead of putting it into pie crusts Sherry made biscuits and we served it over them. It was an easy, cheap meal that used up some cooked chicken that was left over. I also made macaroni salad to go with the hamburger steaks that we are going to have for dinner.  I'm getting very anxious to get on the road again. Our next stop is to See conditions for free shipping and reduced promotional shipping rates that apply on the Holiday Shipping Promotion. Sherry's brother in Nebraska.
6/21/10 Monday  I helped Cathy customize a rental agreement (lease) for the apartment that her son is remodeling. Redoing that lease took most of the morning. We then went over to The Patio cafe here in Strasburg and had a nice lunch. We came back and the three of us rested. In the evening we went for a drive around sundown and saw three mule deer right beside the road in one of the creek bottoms.
6/22/10 Tuesday  The adjustor for Progressive Insurance came this morning to look at the trailer. I had a bit of a laugh when I saw that his car had a sign on the side that read "Immediate Response Vehicle" since it has been a week and a half since I called in to report the damage. After about an hour and a half of work he advised me that he is going to "cut me a check" on the spot for $4600. Since it will cost me less than a thousand to get the trailer usable again I will come out ahead (even though the trailer has lots of small dents in the side of it.)

The RV mechanic came at Noon and started to work. While he was doing that I ran in to town to the RV supply store as the air-conditioner cover was not due to arrive until the UPS driver showed up this afternoon and I wanted to speed up the repairs as much as possible. He got most of the essential stuff done today and will be back in the morning to finish up (I hope).

Tonight we watched the DVD of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway that I bought when we were on the train.

6/23/10 Wednesday  The RV mechanic came this morning. First he repaired the van's windshield water spray mechanism as it was not working due to damage from the hail. Then he replaced the screening cloth in a couple of the trailer windows. He then reinstalled the fiberglass cover that protects the front window while traveling (and also serves as an awning for that window.) It had several spots that were hail damaged and he was able to epoxy them back together. When he was done I asked him to verify that all of the lights and the brake controller were working properly. They weren't and it took another three hours for him to find and fix the problems. The ground for the trailer connection had become corroded and the electrical connector from the trailer that plugs into the van needed replacement.

While he was doing that we went to a local restaurant for lunch and got back just as he was finishing about 2 PM. I was too tired to start out today so hopefully we'll be able to get back on the road tomorrow. We are headed to See conditions for free shipping and reduced promotional shipping rates that apply on the Holiday Shipping Promotion. Sherry's brother David in Republican City, NE and I plan to take Hwy. 36 east from here in Strasburg. Interstate 70 has more services but I like to take the back roads to See conditions for free shipping and reduced promotional shipping rates that apply on the Holiday Shipping Promotion. the sights and meet people.

6/24/10 Thursday  We finally got back on the road this morning and stopped for lunch at the Bird City Diner in Bird City, KS. At the next table was a gentleman who had been a professor at the University of Denver which is the school from which I graduated. We had a nice visit.

We continued east on Hwy. 36 to Norton, KS where we headed northeast to Alma, NE. We met Sherry's brother David at a restaurant there and had dinner. Then we went to his home in Republican City, NE on the Harlan County Reservoir and hooked up. It was close to 90 degrees when we got here with high humidity. They have had a lot of rain here and the crops are sure green. The main crops grown here are corn, milo, wheat, and alfalfa. I'm really worn out from driving today and the effort of setting up and connecting up the trailer. We went about 300 miles today.

6/25/10 Friday  I woke up early today to do some things while it was still relatively cool. First I emptied the honey bucket. If you don't know what that is click on the words. It is NOT my favorite job but a necessary one when one does not have a full hook-up. Then I repaired a corroded splice on the incoming electrical cord. There is a lot of maintenance to be done when one travels in an RV!

Sherry prepared a nice breakfast for the three of us (she, I, and her brother David.) We had sausage, eggs, and bagels with a choice of butter, jelly, or cream cheese.

It continues hot and humid here and I am staying inside the air-conditioned areas most of the time. I never liked those conditions when I was young and I like them even less now.

I was worn out from yesterday so I took a nap this afternoon. Then I went to the grocery store in Alma, NE. The sign outside of the bank said it was 100 degrees out. I bought a few things, came back to the trailer, and worked a bit on my business.

The temporary electrical extension cord that Dave ran to our trailer is not handling the load of the air conditioner. I did not want to burn out the compressor so I started up our generator and am now getting much better voltage to the A/C. Dave and I are going to try to improve the electrical arrangement to the trailer but right now he is at a neighbor's house working on their air conditioner as he is in the refrigeration business. I taught him the trade when we both were much younger. The summertime is always very busy for refrigeration repairmen and he is no exception. He is not even answering his phone unless it is someone he knows as he is swamped with work and everyone wants him RIGHT NOW. I remember those days and am glad I'm no longer in that position.

6/26/10 Saturday  This morning Sherry fixed French toast and sausage for breakfast.

After breakfast Dave and I went to a close by house to work on their air conditioner. While we were putting Freon into it the neighbor from across the street came over and asked Dave if he would come afterwards to his house and look at his air conditioner which was not working. I went over there and diagnosed the problem while Dave finished up the first one. He then came over and we replaced the burnt out run capacitor which got it running again. Both people were quite pleased to have their air conditioners working again. The temperature got up to 100 degrees again today.

We then went to Kearney, NE which is about 60 miles north of here. Yesterday the insurance check for the van came and I wanted to get it deposited. The nearest Wells Fargo bank is in Kearney. We ate lunch at a Chinese buffet and then went to WalMart to do our shopping.

On the way back we stopped at Pizza Hut in Alma, NE and picked up a pizza for dinner. This one, unfortunately, is not part of the "Any pizza for $10" deal but it was still tasty.

Shortly before dark two boys, ages 13 and 14, crashed the 4 wheel ATV they were riding on a dirt road behind Dave's house. The fire department ambulances from both Republican City and Alma responded. Naturally neither one of the boys were wearing helmets. The 13 year old had a closed head injury and I am quite concerned about him as he was loosing consciousness. The 14 year old had about a 4" long laceration to the left foot that was very deep, almost to the middle of the foot, but he was doing okay.

6/27/10 Sunday  We had quite the storm here during the night between 12:30 and 1:30 AM. Lots of thunder and lightning, some rain, but no hail thankfully.

After breakfast Sherry, I, Dave, and his neighbor Carol went to the Evangelical Free Church in Alma, NE. We came back to Dave's place for a casserole of scalloped potatoes and polish sausage.

Shortly after lunch Sherry's sister Karen arrived with her husband Burt. They flew into Lincoln, NE on Thursday and went to her high school reunion in Aurora, NE. They then drove here today. We visited most of the afternoon and then went to the Old Mexico restaurant in Republican City for dinner.

Dave's friend George is a mechanic for the local Chevrolet dealership and he looked at my van which has been having long term issues with a check engine light. It See conditions for free shipping and reduced promotional shipping rates that apply on the Holiday Shipping Promotion.ms that there is a charcoal canister in the fuel vapor recovery line that has one of the connections broken off.

6/28/10 Monday  Today we took care of a lot of details related to the settlement of Sherry's father's estate.

Sherry and I made spaghetti with meat sauce and Italian sausages for lunch.

George called and has located the part that the van needs. He will order it and have it shipped here so that he can install it.

I spent a few hours today working on my business. There is an oil refinery that has bought flame resistant coveralls from us before and they want a quote on a good sized new order.

6/29/10 Tuesday  I spent most of the morning working on my business and taking care of the usual things around the trailer. Sherry fixed Belgium style waffles for us for breakfast using the waffle maker she had bought at a garage sale in Colorado.

After lunch I went to the hospital in Alma as it is the only place around here that can do medical laboratory testing. I needed to get a test done to determine if I'm getting the right amount of blood thinner medicine (coumadin). Within a couple of hours my cardiologist in San Diego had the results and had the office staff there call me with his recommendation. That sure was fast!

I then met up with my brother-in-law Dave in Alma and helped him put the panels back on a large home air-conditioner outside unit (condensing unit). He had to clean out the heat exchange coils as they were almost completely covered with cottonwood tree lint. We came back home to a nice roast beef dinner that Sherry had ready.

6/30/10 Wednesday A few years back our son Keith bought a residential lot here in Republican City from his grandfather. Ever since his grandfather's passing Keith's uncle Dave has been keeping the lot mowed for him. Dave is very, very busy so this morning I took Dave's riding lawn mower over to the lot and mowed. After a considerable amount of work and getting beat up by the mower as it bounced around I reached the conclusion that Keith owes Dave a very nice steak dinner (and I should get at least a hamburger out of the deal.)

Dave was working on an air conditioner in Franklin, NE (about 15 miles east of here) so Sherry and I met him there for lunch. I had read in one of the local newspapers about a new restaurant there (the Down Home Cafe) and wanted to try it. When we got there we found out that they were closed until July 2nd so we went to a different restaurant in Franklin.

I want to take back all of the bad things that I said about naps when I was young. It turns out they're not such a bad idea after all. I got one this afternoon.

Afterwards Dave's friend George (the mechanic) came over and installed the part he bought for my van. We are fairly confident that this will resolve the problem that was causing the check engine light to come on.

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