Monday, September 25, 2017

Playing Tourist in DC

We played tourist a few days ago and had a nice day downtown.  We went to the National Museum of the American Indian, had lunch on 7th Street at some food trucks, then went to the Ford Theater and Peterson House.

This post is about our experience at the National Museum of the American Indian and lunch at the food trucks.

After living in Fairfax VA for 17 years we saw a lot of new museums and monuments get built in the downtown DC area.  A few of the new ones we haven't seen.  Yesterday was a mix of that.

We started off at the National Museum of the American Indian.  We drove in from our campsite from Haymarket, VA which is about 37 miles and took an hour.

The traffic was typical morning rush hour and we were glad we were able to cruise along in the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle - 2 people) lane.  After finding our way to the Washington Mall and heading toward the U.S. Capitol (near the Indian Museum), we saw that there was plenty of parking.  What?  Yes!  They no longer have meters with coins but use one every 5 or 10 cars and they all take credit cards.  I like the fact that the parking spot was limited to 3 hours which makes it very convenient for tourists and visitors.

We arrived about 9:25 AM, got our parking spot near the museum (and there were plenty more on the street available).  Next, we asked around for the nearest rest room.  Since the museum didn't open until 10 AM, we had some extra.  And a McDonald's was about 2 blocks away.  Perfect.  We used the facility, got a couple of cups of coffee and split a sausage biscuit.  And then we people watched for a few minutes.  The McDonalds may have been the nicest one I have ever seen.  Large,  updated furniture and traffic flow, fast and friendly service. It was exceptional.
We were only a block away from the museum and walked around to the front and took two pictures.
The fountain was a very beautiful one.  I could imagine sitting near it for lunch our just spending time enjoying it.
This is a better picture of the fountain that I got off the internet.
This notice caught my attention.

Inside, we stopped at the front desk and talked with a couple of people in charge.  They explained this was not a museum of US American Indians but of the Western Hemisphere Indians.  That included North, South, and Central America.

During our 90 minute stay we saw 13 minute orientation film, and the galleries:  Nation to Nation; The Inka Road, Native American's in our Nations Armed Forces

We have been to a few really good museums that had galleries and artifacts of (US) American Indians and I expected a more complete group of galleries explaining the hundreds of different tribes and a lot of their history and such.

The museum was more about a sampling of a lot of Indians in the Americas/Western Hemisphere including the Native American Indian.

The museum was a large and beautiful four story structure with an open area in the middle.  Almost like a rotunda of a capital building without the murial or guilded ceiling.  Or like an Embassy Suites hotel with the walkways around the center of the building which is open.  It was an impressive looking building both inside and out.

The structure itself cost $199 million with an additional $20 million for exhibits, public programs, and opening events. The facility itself was quite large and sits on a 4.25 acre site near the U.S. Capitol.

We went to the top/4th floor and began our tour walking through the explanations and artifacts of the diplomacy, treaties and betrayals of the U.S. government with the Native Nations.
The gallery was very well done with enough information to explain the agreements while not getting too complicated.  It very informative.
 In each of the nine treaties on display, viewpoints of the Indian and the US government leadership were explained.  It did not seem to be too harsh on the injustices the Indians have endured time and again.

After time in that exhibit we viewed the 13-minute Orientation film:  "Who We Are".  It sets the tone of the museum with a documentary of Indians in the Artic, Northwest coast, and the plateaus of Bolivia while introducing themes of the cross cultural lives of Indians throughout the Western Hemisphere.  No photography or video recording was allowed in this exhibit.

The next gallery we walked through was The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire.  A bilingual series of displays explained one of the engineering marvels in history.  The road is a network of roads spanning rivers, deserts, mountains and tropical lowlands.  It traverses the countries of Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Boliva, Argentina and Chile.

I snapped a few photos of some of the many displays:
Our niece was Peace Corps volunteer for two years in Peru and we have since been interested in learning more about that country.  My brother and wife (her parents) visited her and have since volunteered for that last ten years and participated in a Disability effort of providing wheelchairs to those in Peru.  They are going to Peru again in November for their 11th trip.

The last gallery we visited was about American Indians who were veterans of the U.S. military:  Native Americans in our U.S. Military.  Though it was off to one corner and relatively small, it was one of my favorite.
 The last display discusses Ira Hayes who was part of the famous Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima.
He is pictured on the left side of the men raising the flag.

We also visited the bookstore and gift shop but didn't find anything we couldn't do without.  Next, we headed over to the other side of the mall and parked near the Ford Theater in an underground parking lot.

The costs were a little different, ($24 vs $6) but all in all it was nice to get a safe spot to leave the car and walk around downtown DC.  By now it was lunch time.  We asked around and were directed to 7th Street over by the National Portrait Gallery.

Wow - 7 or 8 trucks of delicious food.
I got the falafel and hummus plate and Pam had a burger.  A definite treat on both accounts.  It was fun to see the customers walk up and order.  The clientele were all quite different.  It was great for the taste buds and a time of some more interesting people watching.

That's a quick look at our time in the National Museum of the American Indian and lunch at the food trucks in DC.  Look for my next post on Ford's Theater and the Petersen House.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Short Stop and Off We Go

Our time in Tennessee is always too short.  While there we were able to see family and neighbors and friends.  And we completed a project with Roadrunner Builders.  Mike had been saving the back porch so we could work on it.  He wanted some insulation in the walls and ceiling and a couple of windows trimmed out.

He had the insulation done and we got to do some of the rest.  He insisted on leaving the painting for him and since we ran out of time, that was OK with us.

We worked in the middle of 'errands' we had to do at Wiegel's and Hammer's in  Halls.  We also drove over to Powell's and picked up some things at Lowe's.  Our basic workday M-W was about 9:00 ish to 4:00 or 5:00 in the evening.
The insulation is all in place along the wall and also up top in the ceiling.  Our job was to cover up the walls, finish work on the ceiling and hide the seams.
 The first order was to cut and precisely size the sheet rock for a good fit.
 Next, Pam mudded over the sheet rock screws and taped the seams.
 We added 3" PVC trim under the ceiling where the wall joined.
While that was being done, I added 2 1/2" strips over the seams on the ceiling to cover them and the screws.  Mike's brad nailer came in handy for that.
We also took our time trimming out the windows and adding window sills.  All in all, we had a lot of fun humming along working on the back room.

The next day we headed out of town and found a gem of a overnight stop in Buena Vista, VA.  We're on our way to the Fairfax area to see out son and wife.  We hate paying $40 plus for an overnight stop. And there were quite a few of those within 30 miles of where we wanted to stop for the night.

Even among those expensive places, there is no guarantee that we would get open access for our DirecTV.  That would be frustrating.  But we found a place in Buena Vista, VA.  We checked out reviews for the Glen Maury City Park campground and they were pretty good.  Nothing great.  But we were looking for one night.

I called and asked and was assured we would be able to get an open site with satellite access.  Sure enough, we arrived, paid our $19.48 (with Passport America) and parked in the open field.  We had 30 amp service (which was fine since we did not used the A/C) and water.  Perfect.
It was a tad cloudy for a while but it was a terrific evening.  We had windows and the front door open and enjoyed the fall-like day.  We slept with the windows open and thoroughly love this place.  The cell phone service was great and we had no issues at all with our DirecTV access.  And best on all the  free wifi was excellent!  What?  I can't remember when that was the case apart from the Navy bases where we've stayed.

We will definitely keep this campground on our favorites list for next time.

It was a great time seeing Mike and Joan and all in Tennessee and getting to work on their place.  Always too short, but fun to get some work done with the Roadrunner Builders.  And we look forward to a few days seeing Adam and Melissa.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Our Time in Red Bay

We arrived in Red Bay on Monday, Labor Day.  If we had been planning a little better we could have gone to the Coon Dog Cemetery Annual Celebration like we did last year.  That was a hoot.  But we we glad to arrive safely.

We left a nice overnight stop in Forrest City Arkansas.  While packing up, our Driver Side (DS) slide did not want to retract.  I got a couple of neighbors to help me push it in while Pam pressed the 'In' button.

We pulled out and I thought better about it and we stopped in the big parking lot nearby and we cut up a piece of 2" x 6" that I had and used it for blocking.  That prevented the slide from moving out as we drove down the road.  Not sure we needed it, but we felt better with the preventive safety steps.

Once in town, we found the spot we had reserved was occupied so we went over to Downtown RV Park and called Vickie.  She indicated or favorite site #3 was open for a couple of nights and we took it.  We had learned earlier friends Bob and Marty were at the park and we ended up right beside them as we had done last year about this time.  Turned out great.

Our satellite dish worked fine and we enjoyed some U.S. Open tennis.  The matches this year on prime time have been really good.
We enjoyed happy hour together and were missing some friends from last year who were here - Steve and Karen and Dave and Nancy.
 We got up early on Tuesday morning and had the Roadrunner over at Bruce Deaton's shortly after 6:00 AM to get our window replaced.  Next, we drove over to Mississippi and had breakfast at Sparks Restaurant.  It's a local hangout and has good food.

That done, we went by Deaton's and the Roadrunner was finished.  That was quick!  I am guessing it may have taken then less than 30 minutes to change out the window.
 The old one was discarded waiting for someone to carry it off to disposal.
 We are quite pleased to have that checked off the list.
Tiffin customers waiting for service can be at one of the five or six campgrounds in Red Bay.  Part of the check-in process is to have Jason or Norris come to your campsite, verify the work you are needing.  You are either scheduled to be seen by Tiffin RV maintenance folks in one of two vans who come to do the work at your site; or you will be called by the Express Bay where your work will be done by two technicians is a three hour window.

While we waited to be seen by Jason or Norris, we had time to replace the water heater anode rod.  That is a fairly simple process and needs to be done about every 12 months.
Once the old one is out, it is best to flush the area out with a pointed spray tool.  The residue washed out and I gently twisted the new anode rod into place.
It was good to get another one checked off the list.

We were up at 5:30 AM and rolled out shortly after 6:00 AM.  Early yesterday morning we drove from Red Bay to Simmons Tire near Tuscumbia AL.  It is about 35 miles away and we wanted to be there when they opened at 7:00 AM.

We bought our Michelin tires through the FMCA Advantage program and saved some money there which was nice.  Got our paperwork all squared away, left the keys and then found a Cracker Barrel for breakfast in Florence a few miles away.  Some nice friends gave us a gift card and this was the perfect time to use it.

After a leisurely breakfast, we made a stop at Aldi and then also one at Publix (home of that incredible Key Lime pie).
We went back to the tire store and they were finishing up.  We got out of there by 10:30 and made it back to Red Bay by noon.

We wanted to stay at Downtown RV Park but the only space available was #2.  Our Winegard Trav'ler was not locking on.  The large tree was in the way.  So we packed up and moved over to Deaton's RV park and set up and it all worked.

I ran out to Brannon's for a couple of parts and on the way back I got a red light on the dash indicating the Electrical System was not charging.  Uh oh.

We thought about what to do and talked with Deaton's and they suggested Red Bay Body Shop.  Really?  I did not know they had a garage.  Sure enough.  They jumped on it
and in 10 minutes I was told I needed a new alternator.  Yikes!  What are the chances I could get one for a 2009 Honda CRV any time soon?

Chances turned out to be good in fact!

They ordered a part and said it would be there at 9:00 AM on Thursday.  I went over this morning at 8:30 and it was already there.  I left the car and William worked on it for a couple of hours.  It was a beast to remove.  We were in no rush so we told him not to hurry and we'd pick it up before they closed.

Meanwhile, shortly before 11:30 we were notified to report to Bay #10 for our Express Bay Service call.  We were told by the mobile maintenance the slide gears were slipping and we'd probably need a new motor.
After the lunch hour was over (which currently is 11:20-12:00 for the workers) we pulled into the bay and met Charles and Mo.  They checked out the slide and determined a pin was missing causing the gears to turn and not engage.  We wandered off while they worked on it.
When we returned 20 minutes later the slide was fixed.  They checked the wipers as a recall item and replaced those.  Total bill:  $48.97!  I couldn't believe it.  What a surprise! That was a welcome result.

We drove the Roadrunner back over to our spot at Deaton's campground and then I walked over and picked up the car.  William did a fantastic job.  24 hours after being 'out of airspeed and ideas' -- we had a fixed car!  Not only that, William and used Purple Power degreaser on the whole engine and it looked like a new car under the hood.

And the total bill for a new alternator:  $246.98.  Another nice surprise!  I was expecting $400-$500 but didn't quibble over that bill either.

So that means we're done this time in Red Bay.  We got to see some friends who work in different places around town.

And we also had the good fortune to meet up with Linda/Bill, Bob/Marty and Carlene.
We walked over for happy hour at the Downtown RV Park and spent a little time with them before we said our goodbye's.

Its been a quick four days, but we got everything done and time to move on down the road.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Wrapping Up Another Great Time in NM

A week in Albuquerque flew by quickly.  We lifted our jacks and hit the road about 7:30 AM heading east on I-40.  We made great time and got over 1 mpg more than we usually do.
 We are at a very nice overnight stop at Sayre, OK at their self-serve city campground.  What a great stop!  Might be our favorite city campground ever!
Level sites, long pull through, on a golf course, 50 amp and water.  And - $12!  After all the Mexican food we've been eating, I thought it would be a nice change to have a steak.  I looked around for some options and Yelp! had good things to say about Rodriguez' Steaks and More...
We split a juicy 10oz Ribeye that was cooked to perfection.  It was just what we needed after a long day on the road.

Looking back over our week in NM, it seems like we ate a lot of Mexican (aka New Mexican) food.  We got to see some friends and family, and we also did some work with Reid (both at his office and house).

We hit the ground running with New Mexican food (which was known Mexican food when we grew up in the state) at:
If you are visiting Albuquerque or Santa Fe, there are some recommendations.
We never got a bad meal and somehow managed not over eat.  :) We could have, but exercised some restraint.  Yum.  We love the red and green chile and the enchiladas, beans, rice, sopapillas, huevos rancheros, burritos, the world's best green chile cheeseburger, tacos, tamales etc.
 You will not be disappointed!

There was just not enough time to see everyone we wanted to, so we did what we could. While in Santa Fe, we got to see Steve and Karen for our day trip there.  On Sunday, we saw some friends at church, then went out to cousin Linda's and saw husband Jim, their son and girlfriend (Seth and Amanda), and grand baby Carter.  (No pictures again??)
On Monday Reid and I were able to have lunch with junior high school friend Patty whom I hadn't seen in 20+ years.
 There are so many more people we would have loved to see but we ran out of time.

While in Albuquerque, we always try to work on a project or two at Reid and Amy's house.  This time we tackled repairs and painting to some fascia on his shed and house, stucco repairs and painting  on the soffit and put up a 28' gutter.
We like going over to his office and seeing the changes they have made since our last visit.  Their new signage on the outside looks great.  Inside, the new ceramic tile and carpeting through out the building really look great.
In one office, he wanted a cabinet shelf removed.
Then I got some OJT (on the job training) from Dan - their ace Operations Manager - on how to use the backpack vacuum cleaners the company uses.
The shelf removal turned out to be a smaller job than anticipated but I still needed to clean up the saw dust and wood chips.

That's a quick update on some memories of our NM visit this time and our overnight stay at a great little campground.

On to Oklahoma!  Thanks for checking in on the Roadrunner Chronicles!  BTW - love your comments!