Saturday, August 27, 2016

Killers, Views, Human Trafficking & Ch, Ch, Changes

Before we left Pennsylvania,  Nicole had been looking into some insect ID's when she stumbled on a cool looking creature called a Cicada Killer.  She thought it was pretty darn neat but figured her chances of seeing one were slim. 

Then, one afternoon, she and Darlene were standing outside talking when something slammed to the ground right beside Darlene's feet.  Stunned they both looked on and marveled at what they were seeing.  It was a Cicada Killer and...

                                           it had just killed a Cicada!

The cicada was so big that the killer could not take off.  It was furiously flapping and flapping and flapping to no avail.  Then it started walking...

Smart little booger that it was, it carried that cicada up the side
of the shed flapping its wings the whole way to the top to aid the ascent.

Freefall avoided, it reached the top, took a leap of faith and, with
wings at full throttle, flew off with its very large prey.

We left Pennsylvania a few weeks ago.  My, how time flies!

We pointed our noses due south.  On the way, we took a rest break to view the New River Gorge from above.

                    This bridge is quite iconic and stands 876 feet above the river.

  It was quiet warm and a beautiful Eastern Comma Butterfly was enjoying the day.

This is a Comma not a Question Mark.  Three dots not four.

      We also caught sight of a Spined Micrathena.  What a cool looking spider!

   Always nice to see the fun-gis popping up as we rested at yet another stop of rest!

              Sweat Bee getting tipsy at one of our super south resting places.

Speaking of getting drunk, there is a good chance that indulgence in the hard stuff had something to do with our latest encounter with the PoPo in a Walmart parking lot in Georgia.

In case we already have you confused, we were not the indulgers.

The story goes as follows...

We arrived at our Wally World destination having pre-called and received permission to overnight.  It was still quite early on what had turned out to be a very hot day so we parked under the only tree in the lot, opened all of the windows and spritzed ourselves with water until the sun went down. 

At that point, we moved our girl to a more "appropriate" spot for overnight visits.

All windows still wide open and curtains un-drawn, we sat on the bed and took advantage of a fairly decent internet signal.  Unbeknownst to us, a police officer had pulled up right behind.  Since we hadn't noticed him at all (probably clue one that we weren't doing anything wrong), he came up to the window behind us shinning his flashlight and asked if we could come to the side door. 

After some general chat where we assured him we were just passing through and had called ahead for permission to overnight, he asked to see our ID's.  Upon confirming that all seemed to "check out"  o.k. he then told us that he just had to let us know why he was at our door.

It appears that someone had called to report suspected...

Are you ready for this?

Human Trafficking going on in a van at the Walmart parking lot. 

Um.... o.k.

By that time his backup had arrived and asked if either of us was being "held against our will".  Good judgment got the better of us and we did not voice any of the witty retorts that were running rampant through our minds. 

After a hearty laugh, they bid us "goodnight" and said they would pop by to check on us during the evening.

It's not everyday you get pegged for human trafficking.  So, we bet you can guess our new catch phrase for just about anything at anytime that we want to make a joke out of something!


Well, that's all for now.  We've got big changes in the works.

   Exciting things are a-happening Where the Wind goes.

                            More to come...

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Exploratory Surgery...

Nicole was digging into one of our storage areas the other day when she discovered another old / non-working part that had been squirreled away a few years ago. 

It was our battery isolator solenoid that permits our rear battery to be charged by the alternator at the flip of a dashboard mounted switch. 

When it stopped working we went 'manual' and now on rainy days we walk outside, open the hood and connect the rear battery 'by hand'. 

Perhaps this next exploration will bring about the return of more convenient switch flipping.

                Here it is.  Looks like it has been around the block a few times.

2 (1)
A good while and a lot of sparks later, yet another part not intended to be opened up, has been demystified.

For those curious about such things,  our house (living area) battery connects to one of the large side posts and our starting battery connects to the other.  The small post on the front is connected to a dash mounted on/off switch that permits power to travel to it.  When that post receives power, it energizes the magnetic coil and pulls that center disc down to touch both of the larger posts; essentially connecting both batteries together.

Moving on..

2 (4)
          A rear view shows the age and the significant rusting that was going on.

2 (5)
A look inside, immediately revealed the reason the solenoid had stopped working.  The primary 'power' wire had be "de-soldered".

2 (3)
Not exactly the cleanest solder job but functional.  A quick test revealed a successful re-connection.

At this point, Nicole could have simply closed it up and moved on to the next project but there was a reason that the primary wire shorted.  If that reason isn't found, it will most likely happen again.  Time to dig in a bit deeper. 

2 (2)
The nuts and washers had some significant rusting.  So much so that the washers had even lost their original shape.  On top of that the nuts had to be cut off which required the bolts to be re-threaded.  In the above photo you will notice that the curved insulator is missing from the longer of the two bolts. 

Removing the bolt revealed that the insulator was broken in half.  A little JB Weld applied and then sanded down and it was good as new.

Now on to the most shocking reveal and the most likely cause of the short.

The parts in the front, which Nicole originally thought were metal washers were not metal at all. They were some sort of plastic or non-conducting composite material.  And they no longer did their job of creating a buffer between the electrical posts (a.k.a. the bolts) and the body of the solenoid (which acts as the ground).  The parts in the rear are the closest thing we could find to replace these. 

With all causes of dysfunction revealed it was time to give this old boy a much needed make-over.

You'd be surprised at how long it takes to grind off 25 years of rust but here it is all sanded and ready for primer.

                            Three layers of primer and he's looking good!

        Three additional layers of some beautiful blue and the excitement builds!

                            Almost done... time for the official rebuild.

First up, a little dremel action on the insulators and they fit right into place.

           Here's a shot of the white one (left) and black one (right) in place.


Since the unit was originally one solid piece and had to be cut apart a 'filler' for the missing metal needed to be found.

With yet again more dremel action and some clipping as well, these large plastic insulating washers should do the trick.


DSCN0873                                                    Yup... that will work!

Nicole is still deciding on her closing procedure for this project. 

While she pondered various ideas for the completion of the isolator project, she found herself involved in the completion of another project that's been on the wait-list for a good while now. 

Perhaps you recall the hail storm we had during our last visit to Wyoming and the extensive damage that it did to our girl, Annie.  One of the damaged parts was our AC Condenser which had many of its delicate fins crushed.

                            After the hail storm it looked like the photo above.

             Eight hours of delicate work later... and things were looking much better.

Since she had to take off the damaged grill to get to the condenser, Nicole got the brilliant idea that she might as well tape it up and paint the black parts that were no longer black.

The tape job for this activity was quite a chore.  Halfway through Nicole almost gave up.

     The grill looked pretty good in all black.  Something to consider for the future.

Can you judge the work involved by the size of the tape ball?  In this case, definitely, yes!

And now for the big reveal...

                                                       The Before

                                                         The After

Back on the van, the grill was looking pretty darn spiffy.  With that, it is now time that we make our exit from Pennsylvania.  We'll hit the road in a few days.  See ya, next time.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Flower. A Bee. The Birds. The Grass.

Things you find in the yard!

Can you tell we've been watching the 100,000 pyramid?

When we first arrived at Uncle Al's a little over a month ago we were also watching...

IMG_5808a (2)

IMG_5808a (4)
                                                       FEED ME!

IMG_5808b (3)
                                A little more interested in what's out there.

IMG_5808b (7)
                     Almost ready to leave the nest.

                                          Daddy is always watching.

                                              As is someone else.

                     When it comes to his flowers,

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                   Uncle Al considers these Japanese Beetles quite the pest.

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                Pest or no you cannot deny that they are quite unique looking

                            and colorful to boot.

                            When Nicole first spotted this Song Sparrow

       and this young Brown Headed Cow Bird she thought they were in a stare-off.

It didn't take long before the answer was clear.  This poor little sparrow was wearing itself out trying to keep up with the appetite of this very big-little-one.

                                             That is one BIG baby!

        He could probably swallow his adoptive mom all in one bite if he wanted to!

The metal thing in the above photo is the tip of a dremel bit (about the size of a pencil tip).
The 'shrimp-like' critter is something that Nicole saw in Darlene's hair one day after she had been out spray painting under a tree.

Research revealed that it was a flatidae nymph (a planthopper).  It actually did hop / jump quite far when disturbed.

What's really cool about these is that they develop into....

flatidae nymph 2
                        (Note: Not our photo.  We have not seen this phase yet.)

                                   We arrived just in time for the bloom.

                                   The pollinators have been very happy.

                                  Just look at what they have to work with.














                                                Until next time...