Thursday, September 22, 2011

Update on Repair Status

I’ve been having a running discussion with the service department at Crestview RV, Georgetown. Like many business that rely on customer service, they don’t seem to give their employees (maybe other than sales, but I haven’t dealt with their sales department much) any training in dealing with customers. I guess they think it’s a skill you’re born with. No! Like most skills, it’s something you develop through mistakes, training, or lucky experience. Invest in it, people.

Anyway, they finally had Ursula ready on Tuesday. How did I find out? I call yet again last Friday, and the service manager told me there was about a half-day’s worth of work let. Did I want him to bring the technician in on overtime? (I’m sure I’d have been billed for the OT rate, but by then we’d already missed the opportunity to do anything with her for the weekend.) I talked to the service manager only after repeated attempts to talk to the service writer, who seems to be allergic to returning telephone calls.

I didn’t pick her up on Tuesday because I got the word too late to make arrangements. Fine, the service writer wanted to go over the bill face-to-face because it was about twice what he had told me it would be when I authorized the work. I couldn’t get loose on Wednesday, and Thursday gave me just enough time to bring her home to get ready for the weekend.

Here’s a lucky shot. This guy dive bombed us on a walk and I yanked the camera up and shot! Just a blurry sample of what you’ll see when we post the trip photos.

So I went in this afternoon to pick her up and pay her out. The service writer told me he had “forgotten” to include 18 gallons of special coolant for Caterpillar engines at $22/gallon and a handling fee for taking Ursula to a cooling system specialist. The remaining couple of hundred was eaten up in some incidentals I had requested separately.

The bad news: the ice maker I had asked them to disconnect and remove was disconnected but not removed. And I forgot to ask them to inspect the beast while she was in their shop for the better part of a month.

The good news: the cooling system specialist seems to have lived up to the name. Where Ursula had been pushing hot on the trip home from her house, which is only a couple of miles from Crestview, her needle never got to the center of the normal range this evening. Tomorrow’s the real test.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ursula Hasn’t Lumbered Lately

Ursula hasn’t been feeling well, what with the overheating thing I’ve been mentioning. It’s as if she’s been running a high but intermittent fever. So she’s been hospitalized since the end of the last trip. They diagnosed the problem, and she’s been waiting for a donated organ (something in her cooling system), but she rejected the first two organs. One was too large, the other too small. We’re hoping the next one is just right—maybe I should have used a Goldilocks metaphor instead of medical one.

The bottom line is that she wasn’t available to make the trip to see Dad this weekend. So we took Maximus Decimus—my Nissan, not to be confused with Maximus Decimus Meridius—for a day-trip yesterday. It may have been the first time Maximus has ever seen rain in Central Texas. I know it was the first time he’s seen mud. (More on that later.)

Suna takes a picture of the cars bathing in the rain.
Maximus is the one on the right.

The trip down was uneventful. Chris, Beth, and Bailey were already there. Bailey spent most of the day trying to sleep wherever she was—on the mule, on a lawn chair, on a couch…

We enjoyed chatting and eating lunch at Dairy Queen and watching the rain come and go. The rain was gentle and varied. Still, the farm got 1.1 inches over the course of the day.

Dad wasn’t feeling good when we got there, and he spent most of the day napping. He was feeling better by the time we left.

Dad listens to the conversation going on around him.
He says you can’t learn anything if you’re talking.

On the way out, we stopped to look at some cute calves.

Granted these calves aren’t nearly as cute as the one we saw
splashing in a mud puddle on the ride back from Dairy Queen.

We let the GPS guide us on a road I hadn’t been down before because it said it was shorter than the normal route. It turns out to be caliche and slick as owl snot after the rain. Maximus’s traction control even kicked in a couple of times. It was a lot of fun, even though Maximus is still shedding caliche after three trips through the Wash Tub.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cameron Day Trip

Earlier this week, I wrote some friends who run an organic beef business near Cameron, Texas, to see if they knew of any land for sale near them. They did.

Since Ursula is in the shop, we decided to make a day trip of it. Of course, I forgot to bring the good camera, but Suna had her phone. So we were good to go in the photo department.

A River Runs Through It
OK, a currently-dry creek runs through it.

Cameron is a bit of a hike from Brushy Creek. It is Milam County. Wikipedia cites the 2000 Census in claiming there are fewer than 25,000 people living in Milam County. Most of the communities are either unincorporated or ghost towns. Even so, it’s not an entirely red county.

For some reason, the GPS thought it would be faster to go via the freeway than back roads. So the trip there took much longer than the trip home. But we got there. [But you already know that because you’ve already seen a picture. Sigh.]

I can’t imagine finding a more suitable piece of land. It is about 50 acres, which is a manageable and sustainable size. They originally were thinking we’d be most interested in a hayfield (because that’s what I indicated in the email) that was almost uniform in terrain, long and narrow. After talking they decided that a different parcel with a lot of road frontage would better fit what we were after. Boy, were they right!

The section they showed us is nearly perfect! A creek (dry because of the drought) runs through it. There is a nice wooded section where we could put a house, and there are two (dry, see above) stock tanks. But most important is that the land feels good. I could go into a bunch of new age-y stuff about power spots, but if you’re interested you already know that stuff. If you’re not interested, you don’t want to read about it here.

One part of the “less productive” field contains an old family cemetery. We uncovered the headstone for Heinrich Rentsch, who died almost a full decade before my great-grandfather emigrated from Germany.

If we buy this place, restoring Heinrich’s resting place will be one of our first priorities.

Well, there is a lot to think about.

The trip home reminded us just how bad the drought is. At one point, we could see the smoke from no fewer than five fires. Smoke from the Bastrop fire was visible in Cameron, roughly 70 miles away as the crow flies. We could see a small one up by Bartlett, another appeared to be closer to Jarrell, at least one (maybe two) in Leander, and of course the Steiner Ranch fire.

Those are not clouds!

Talk about a lesson in the frailty of the human condition!