2022-05-06 – Southwestward, Ho! (2022 edition)

Today’s Travel Route:


Leg 1: Bolingbrook, IL – St. Louis, MO

Leg 2: St. Louis, MO – Springfield, MO:
5:42 AM

Eight hour timer just sounded. Started the process of waking up. Took my morning blood sugar reading. Not good: 61

6:03 AM

Waiting for they Redberry serial to be absorbed. Started the day with the blood sugar reading of 61, which is pretty low. Felt pretty dizzy as I went to the bathroom for my morning P. Sat there for a long time rather than get up too quickly and pass out. Today will be a busy day with about eight hours of driving. Once I feel well enough to be up and around, I will grab my roll-on bag, jump in the van, and hit the road.

4:30 PM

Arrived at Texas Roadhouse  (TRH).  After confirming our reservation for 5pm (for 9 people), I set myself to the task of finding a hotel room for the night. I paused for a moment, fixated on the building across the parking lot. Someething familiar about it. Looked at the windows and decided to walk around to the front of the building, as I had a hour to kill. A hotel!! What luck, Booked my room for the night. Thanks for being so fortunately located, Sleep Inn.

Did a double-take at the sign along the front walkway. Remember that all-import SLASH (or somebody may give your dog a cigar):

5:09 PM: Birthday girl, Lisa McGeough, has arrived with others in tow.
It took a long time to get a table, as two peoplw in our party were unavoidably stuck in traffic. We almost lost our reservation, as a matter of fact.  FORTUNATELY, the manager stepped in to allow 7 of 9 of us to get seated.  Our server, Farrah, took excellent care of us (and I let the tip reflect that, as all grateful diners ought to do).


Most of us had not seen each other is a year or so.  Several of us had not crossed paths in 5 years, so this get-together was a big deal for all of us.

The [Outlaw Chaser] gang’s all here. Not pictured: Lanny Dean, who had prior obligations.
8:00 pm-ish?

Posing with Paden by the Tornado Pursuit Vehicle (TPV). #OutlawChaser ! #FunnelPatrol

After dinner, we hung out, compared chase vehicle notes, and took some photos.

 

11:28 PM

Difficult to fall asleep until my hotel room neighbors finally pass out after 30 minutes of impassioned moans and groans. I guess you cannot shout out “get a room!” when they already have one. Ha, ha, ha!

Daily Weather Trivia

Which forecast office is YOUR local area forecast office?

 

2022-05-02 – Awkward Compatibility

In order to keep up with the latest and greatest technology, I do a different equipment set update each year:

1st year: Computer upgrades
2nd year: communication upgrades
3rd year: photography/videography upgrades

This year, I ended up doing mostly communication upgrades, with a focus on cellular technology. The main driver in this process was the acquisition of sprint buy T-Mobile. A short while after that acquisition, T-Mobile started forcing customers to change equipment, whether they were fully ready to do so or not.

So my planned (computer) and unplanned technology updates for 2012 are as following:

  • New laptop (Dell 5515 touch with Windows 11)
  • Mobile hotspot (T-Mobile MiFi)
  • New phone (Apple iPhone 12 pro)
  • New tablet (Samsung 8 inch android tablet)
  • New vehicle tracker/Wi-Fi (T-Mobile Sync Drive, 2 units).

Upside: save the iPhone, none of the T-Mobile gear cost a nickel — effectively a free upgrade over the next 24 months

Downside: lots of reconfiguration and some compatibility issues between the MiFi and my Wyze cameras. The latter is been particularly annoying. I’ve spent hours and hours trying to solve the problems by downgrading the Wi-Fi security, clearing cache, doing factory reset, and a variety of other things to no avail. All the work I did last season getting a five camera mobile security system running has been totally destroyed by the upgrade process. I am miffed.

This evening I will go through the packing list and make sure I have everything packed and ready to go for the trip. I have had some equipment changes lately, so my 2019 daily checklist will have to be updated. I can pack using the marked up edit copy then print the 2022 version at my local Office Depot. This is all just part of a pre-trip ritual, but sometimes it gets old.

20210508 – Travel Day 2 (Springfield,MO – Oklahoma City,OK)

ROUTE: Springfield, MO – Oklahoma City, OK:

0700 – wake-up call

0825 – Arrive Cracker Barrel, for Lisa M’s (and granddaughter Angelina’s) birthday breakfast

1000 (approx) – Depart Springfield on I-44W
But goof around with a harmonica first!

(insert video later)

1100ish- Enter Oklahoma. Sing the state song (an old ritual of mine).
Pull out a $20 bill for tolls (about $10 between the MO-OK state line and OKC).

 

1430ish- Refuel at Tulsa

 

xxxx – Arrive at Avid Hotel, OKC. So glad they have an elevator, as this makes dragging bags much less work.

1730 – Grab dinner at Golden Palace, an excellent Chinese buffet on the Meridian strip.  Unlike Zio’s, the Italian restaurant several blocks south, the Palace had no waiting line (but lots of people dining, just the same). Given that COVID-19 has driven so many restaurants out of business, I’m delight to see that pretty much every restaurant on Meridian (between the airport and I-40) seems to be thriving.

1800 – Do  a little computer and battery maintenance. Charge up the AX53 camcorder batteries that arrived the day before I left of this trip.  Adding these batteries gives me nearly 8 hours camcorder running time between recharges!

2000 – Watched Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 on the room TV. Still a fun flick after a number of viewings. Our generation is very fortunate to enjoy the genius of Stan Lee, creator of the Marvel universe.

2200 – Charge the Fitbit, listen to my bible podcast, and drift off to sleep.

20210507 – Travel Day 1 (Bolingbrook,IL-Springfield,MO)

ROUTE: Bolingbrook, IL – Springfield, MO:

06:00 – wake-up, shower, etc.

07:00-11:00 – work from home, online, that is. (Don’t lots of folks do that now?)

11:00 – Lunch at Charlie’s (Bolingbrook Clow International Airport).
(They have scheduled flights to Canada, so ‘International” is quite real.)

12:12 – Depart Bolingbrook Airport, traveling southwest on I-55S.

14:09 – A brief pit stop in Atlanta, IL. Still good on fuel!

14:22 – Resume southwesterly course on I-55S

15:25 – Oh no. traffic jam!

17:28 – Refuel at St. Clair, MO, just west of Six Flags enough to avoid paying a premium price for gasoline.

2100 – Arrive at Red Roof Inn, Springfield. Check in then eat dinner at Jimm’s Steakhouse and Pub. Had the monstrously generous prime rib dip (like a classic French dip, but using prime rib). Too much food!

2315 – bed time.

 

 

20210502 – 2021 Shakedown Cruise #2

After building a fairly long list on shakedown cruise number one, it just makes good sense to do a second shake down and see what remains that list.

1145 – Lunch with Joe and Barb

1400 – Depart for Iowa 80 Truck Stop in Wolcott, Iowa. It was, at one time, the world’s largest truck stop. Supposedly a larger one was being built in Russia, but I’m not sure that ever happened. Needless to say, the place is huge, and technically qualifies as a national landmark.  It also happens to be reasonable distance from home. Depending on conditions such as weather, construction, traffic, the drive can be anything from 2 to 3 hours. (And on this occasion, it was just barely two.)

1559 – Cross the Mississippi river on the interstate 80, entering Iowa. (Upon inspecting my video after returning home, I find out that the crossing was captured on the starboard wyzecam. A nice surprise: the camera system delivered on its promise)

(insert link to crossing video later)

1615 – Arrive at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop. As it turns out, the shakedown cruise is also a test of the driver. I make a hasty run to the bathroom, and discover I am in real need of some Imodium AD. Given that I had a recent battle with “full on” diarrhea, I don’t mess around: I take a large adult dose of this medicine immediately (and do not have a problem with “digestive distress” for the rest of the trip, thankfully). I take a quick moment for some photos at the truckstop. To paraphrase Peewee Herman, “It’ll last longer if you’ll take a picture!”

1645 – Make a brief stop at the National Weather Service, located at Davenport airport. Grab a quick picture of myself in front of Weather radar

1655 – head back across the Mississippi and onward to home

1915 – Arrive at home. Goodness, I made good time driving back. The WyzeCams seem to be dropping out every once in a while, perhaps because the laptop is running low on space on the way back, but I do not stop to investigate. I just want to get home given the delicate state of my digestive tract.

2030 – Time to call it a day. And a good day it was. It seems the afjustments that I made in response to the to do list from the first shakedown cruise have been effective. I did not test the camera mounts but have a pretty good idea that I need to adjust the friction on the I pistol grip for the DSLR camera.

20210425 – Push for Progress

0730 – Wake up; laze about
0900 – Attended online church service
1000 – Now the whittled-down list is like this:

  • Inventory camera/video gear
  • Pack clothing for trip
  • Walk through ‘to do’ list from van shakedown cruise
  1. The camera mounts easily loosened up. Fortunately, the camera “droop” did no damage to the cameras. – tightened these up. Let’s see what a second shakedown cruise yields. Worst case : add bungie cords to hold the mounts in place.
  1. The dashcam needed to be tested beyond seeing it power up and display a video of the road ahead. – checks out OK — appears to have the correct settings
    1. Cabling clean-up has yet to begin – DONENote: The cable housing must be a dark color, to avoid unwanted reflections on the windshield. These are visiually distracting and could even lead to an accident. Color matters. We need them all for their best use.
    2. Luggage space needs to be reclaimed. – DONE
    3. The antenna cluster needs to be road tested. It was ‘indoors’ today. One antenna needs to be glued to its mag-mount. – TESTED! Port side broadband antenna need repair or replacement; it falls frequently, making it unusable. All other antennas are OK.

    4. The GPS puck is seen by Franson GPSgate, but it’s output is not seen by GRlevel3 or other applications – Reran Wizard: COM3 input, COM6-10 output (use as input for applications). GRLevel 3 and DeLorme Stree Atlas — yes, I still use it, as no suitable replacement is available — were tested with COM7 and COM8, respectively.
    5. The iPhone bracket need to have the stabilizer arm glued into place. It came off in my hand! What the heck?? – NON-CRITICAL
    6. The rear seat’s Android tablet needs to be re-installed. – OPTIONAL – it is not needed for this trip.
    • Get another weather reading on Kestrel 5500
    • Ask neighbor if I can borrow long ladder on Tuesday pm
    • Test video cam batteries (after charging)

      1831– At the evening meal break, the list is like this:

      X     Walk through ‘to do’ list from van shakedown cruise
      X     Get another weather reading on Kestrel 5500
      X     Test video cam batteries (after charging)
      X     Inventory camera/video gear
      *     Pack clothing for trip
      *    Ask neighbor if I can borrow long ladder on Tuesday pm

Wow! I made it through the entire TECHNICAL portion of the to-do list.

I’m tired, but I could leave on 30 minutes notice (and that’s for packing clothing and medicines).

I confess : I’m pleased

2141 – Time to call it a day and get some well-earned sleep.

20210424 – Whittling down the pre-launch list

0600 – wake up; laze about

I am not feeling too energetic after working through yesterday‘s post vaccine side effects.

I’m delighted to be fully vaccinated, but the side effects were not very thrilling.

I felt tired and my left arm felt like the neighborhood bully had thoroughly tenderized it. I tried to be productive at work, despite the discomfort my my arm. I at least managed to finish most of an important task and started the next one, so I suppose that is productive enough for any given workday.

0730- head to dentist. ROUGH cleaning! Next time I’ll make less work for the hygienist.

Lisa’s Big Mouth

0930 – fill out HOLD MAIL card (for vacation) at the local post office.

1000 – lie down and relax; plan out the rest of the day

See my to-do list, way below!

1115 – Took a peek at the back yard: Freaking #Dandelions! Time to commit an act of herbicide

1133 – Take a quick test video: walkaround of the van (not posted, see tomorrow’s instead)

1145 – Met friends at Red Lobster for lunch

1315 – Charge first DSLR and video cam batteries. Three sets altogether.
GoPro and external battery packs will get charged later.

1515  – While sorting through AC chargers and USB cables, I found the second charger for my Nikon batteries. DSLR camera battery number two is charging now. I do not believe I ever got a second charger for my 4K camcorder (Sony FDR-AX53). Perhaps it might be wise to purchase an additional battery for the camera; I only have about 200 minutes running time across my three batteries for that device. Another hundred minutes might be beneficial.

1559 – first Nikon battery is fully charged (2 hours! Can that be right?)

I’m going to head to the store and take away the reading while I am there. There is nothing I could do to make these batteries charge any faster, so I’m going to make use of the time.

Also took a quick Kestrel reading and calibrated its internal compass.

Kestrel 5500
Kestrel 5500

1730 – Returned from shopping. Just enough food to make it until a day or two
before vacation.

I can eat out those last few days, as I do not want to make trash that’s going to decay for 2 1/2 weeks in my house while I’m gone.

External batteries are charging, albeit slowly. (Two of them are missing in action, however; I’ll look for those around the house and replace them if necessary). Nikon batteries are fully charged.

2359 – At end-of-day, the list is like this:

X     Charge DSLR and video cam batteries

  • Inventory camera/video gear
  • Pack clothing for trip
  • Walk through ‘to do’ list from van shakedown cruise

X     Get weather reading on Kestrel 5500

  • Ask neighbor if I can borrow long ladder on Tuesday pm

X     Do last grocery run before vacation

X     Test camera batteries

  • Test video cam batteries (after charging)

X     Charge round 2 of batteries

X     Decide which camera/tech gear goes on vacation; pack it:

  • Nikon D7000 plus three batteries
  • Sony AX-53 plus 3 batteries (total 200 minutes runtime)
  • Lots or 32GB SDHC cards and one 4TB HDD

 

 

 

20210406 – Murphy’s Law of Central air-conditioning

There seems to be an old established rule about central air conditioning: if there is a three day heat spell in April, the air conditioning will break down on the next to the last day and then not be needed until the month of May.

There seems to be an old established rule about central air conditioning: if there is a three day heat spell in April, the air conditioning will break down on the next to the last day and then not be needed until the month of May.

2021 Test Drive 1

I took a 90-minute test drive of the chase vehicle and the technology onboard

Here’s a list of issues I’ve found:

      1. The camera mounts easily loosened up. Fortunately, the camera “droop” did no damage to the cameras.

  1. The GPS puck is seen by Franson GPSgate, but it’s output is not seen by GRlevel3 or other applications.
  2. The dashcam needed to be tested beyond seeing it power up and display a video of the road ahead.
  3. The cabling clean-up has yet to begin, but should be a fast task. Last year’s set up is unchanged, except for the mysterious disappearance of the original dashcam micro-USB cable. I replaced it today, but have some disconnected cables dangling.
  4. The rear seat’s Android tablet needs to be re-installed.
  5. Luggage space needs to be reclaimed. It’s full of bric-a-brack at the moment.
  6. The iPhone bracket need to have the stabilizer arm glued into place. It came off in my hand! WTF??
  7. The antenna cluster needs to be road tested. It was ‘indoors’ today. One antenna needs to be glued to its mag-mount.

All this amounts to another weekend afternoon spent with this new ‘to do’ list.

20190512 – T-1: Around OKC, 2019

After a busy day yesterday, we slept in late.

Our day really started with Chinese lunch at Golden Palace, a place with over 100 items of high-quality Mandarin and Cantonese appetizers, soups, entrees and (American-style) desserts.

After lunch and a quick fuel stop, we visited the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.  If you go, allow up to two hours to walk through the amazing exhibits, pictured below.

After the museum visit, we went to the Oklahoma National Memorial (“the bombing memorial”).  Although it is a somber place with moving tributes to those lost, it also holds a message of hope and recovery. Photos are below.

We met up with most of the tour group and walked up to Charleston’s for dinner.  Simon and I split a Kale-Quinoa salad, which was still an overwhelming amount of food, even split in half.

Then, we returned to the hotel, where I spent the balance of the evening charging devices, uploading photos, and (finally) sleeping.