Saturday, July 28, 2007

Garage sale finds

Today I spotted a garage sale at my former neighbor's house. I've been to two of her previous garage sales, and at each one I found pants and/or shorts that fit me perfectly. (It's fairly difficult for me to find pants and shorts that fit. The things I found at my neighbor's sale fit me like they were made for me.) This time, I purchased more -- in all, 4 tops and 11 bottoms. I got one striped T-shirt, two long-sleeved shirts, and one short-sleeved sweater (it'll be great for work). I also got a skirt, a pair of khaki shorts that are a little big, and nine (!) pairs of jeans shorts that all fit well.

I love jeans shorts because they go with just about everything. Plus I don't have to worry about what color underwear I'm wearing like I sometimes have to do with khaki shorts. This year I was worried that my current two pairs of jeans shorts would wear out eventually and I'd never be able to find another pair that fit me, because I found both of these used -- one at a thrift store and one at a previous sale of this former neighbor. Six or seven of the new pairs of shorts are pretty cool, and the others will be good for wearing around the house at the very least. The ones I'll wear around the house are still worth having, as I'm currently very low on that category of clothing. Plus now I can give a couple more pairs of shorts that don't fit right to Goodwill!

The best part: 15 items of clothing, three of which I can wear to work on a regular basis, for $7.50.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The problem with Twitter

The problem with Twitter is that I don't have anything to blog about anymore because I Twitter it all.

We have just moved to a new building at work. My space is less than half the size of my previous space. I barely have room to turn my chair around. I was extremely happy with my previous space, which I occupied for more than five years. Our new building is very nice, and it is in a convenient location.

This weekend we went to the Barnes and Noble in Noblesville for the Harry Potter release party. The trivia questions were fun. I finished the book on Sunday afternoon; I hadn't finished rereading Book 6 by the time we got Book 7. I liked the book. I won't say any more than that so I don't spoil anything for people who aren't finished yet.

As of yesterday, I've read more books so far this year than I did in all of last year.

I will finally get to skate on Wednesday after more than five weeks off the ice. I haven't been off the ice for this long since I hurt my back in 2002. Getting back on the ice then was difficult because I was so afraid I'd hurt myself again, but I don't think I'll have that kind of trouble now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Phoebe's map of visited states

Create your own visited states map.

Phoebe hasn't visited as many states as I have. In addition to my goal of visiting all 50 states, I have a goal of driving Phoebe to all 48 contiguous states. We're almost halfway there!

My map of visited states

Create your own visited states map.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And we're home.

We arrived home around 7 pm this evening. The drive was pretty uneventful today except for a severe rainstorm in Illinois. The rain was so heavy at times that I couldn't see the car in front of me (and it had its lights on). I seem to encounter that kind of rain on almost every return trip from Roswell on that particular stretch of road (although it's usually closer to Indiana). The animals were all happy to see us.

Today is Phoebe’s ninth birthday. She has 81147 miles, 21000 of which have been put on while driving to Roswell, NBeast, and other VW shows. This was her fifth Roswell and my sixth. (She doesn’t know that we missed two; she tends to break things when she finds out she didn’t go.)


17 days
5126 miles
9 states
3 check engine lights (read by Howie, John Steele, and Rich)
1 window regulator
1 mass air flow sensor (installed by John Steele)
1 vacuum hose (courtesy of John Steele)
1 new tire (changed by John Steele and Jerry)
1 dog and 4 cats who are very happy to see us!

Test photo

Test photo
Test photo

Monday, July 09, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

On the road back

After lots of exciting travel, we reached the end of Route 66 yesterday. We walked around Santa Monica Pier for an hour or so and then drove up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway towards Earl's house. There are parking spaces along the road at some points where people can pull off to visit the beach or surf. We stopped at one and climbed down the rocks to the beach. I had never seen surfers in real life before -- it was really neat to watch. We walked on the sand and waded in the water, and I called my dad to tell him that I was in the Pacific Ocean. (I think he's enjoying hearing about my trip because he took a similar trip with my mom in 1971 in their '67 VW Bus. He has a story from several of the places we've stopped.)

We continued on to the tiny town of Ballard and Earl and Syd's house, which is adorable -- Syd is so creative. After looking at Earl's VW collection and inspecting the travel trailer he insists is his next project, we drove into Solvang and ate at a Danish place. My dinner included cucumber salad and red cabbage, two of my favorite Czech foods from childhood.

This morning as we were leaving the hotel in Lompoc, John pulled up next to us and tried to clear Phoebe's check engine light. The cable between the car and the computer wasn't working, so we drove down to Auto Zone with John and with Rich and Kathie, who happen to live in Lompoc. The machine there read Phoebe's code as P0171, which is a somewhat generic code that may indicate a loose gas cap (which I'm sure is not the problem, as I always tighten it four clicks or more), a vacuum hose, or many other things. John pulled my engine cover off and spotted the worn vacuum hose right away. Auto Zone didn't have any 3.5 mm hoses, but John had some silicone hose in his tool box. It took him all of two minutes to replace it, and Phoebe ran better right away. (Mark G., you were right.) Her light hasn't come back on yet, so I hope everything is fixed now.

I should mention again how wonderful John has been. He not only changed my vacuum hose, changed my flat tire (in 107-degree heat), and replaced my mass air flow sensor, but also worked for an hour and a half in very hot weather to get Earl's car back on the road yesterday after a similar hose problem that ended up melting parts of the spark plugs. I believe he also helped change Rich and Kathie's fuel pump at the VW dealer in the Albuquerque heat. Without John, many of us would still be sitting by the side of the road waiting for AAA and trying to figure out how to find a competent mechanic in a strange town.

Tonight we're in Kingman, AZ. Our goal is to make it to Santa Rosa, NM, tomorrow evening in order to be home on Tuesday at a reasonable hour. We should be able to get on the road earlier tomorrow morning (the vacuum hose took a little time this morning), and the drive will all be on I-40, so we won't have to worry about California traffic. Off to the hot tub....

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon
Originally uploaded by stephsk8r

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon
Originally uploaded by stephsk8r

View from train to Grand Canyon

View from train to Grand Canyon
Originally uploaded by stephsk8r

Tues. night

After standing on a corner in Winslow, AZ, I ran into a curb (also in Winslow, AZ, although it wasn't featured in any songs, which is probably why I didn't know about it, but I digress), which caused a flat tire. I am planning to get a new tire in the morning before we go to the Grand Canyon.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Originally uploaded by stephsk8r

Monday, July 02, 2007

Monday afternoon

We're at Sue Isley and Aaron's house in Albuquerque this afternoon. They fed us really good food, and we're currently using their wireless connection to upload Flickr photos. My uploads are going significantly faster today, and I may be able to get all of my photos up.

When we got to Albuquerque, we stopped at the dealer and I picked up Phoebe's mass air flow sensor. John might put it in tonight. Her check engine light came back on about half a mile before we got to the dealer.

This morning before we left Roswell, I tried to lower my driver's side window and heard the all-too-familiar crunching sound. Yes, it was another window regulator. Fortunately, this time the window was only open about three inches, and I was able to raise it with the switch. I put tape over the switch so I won't forget and try to use it, and I'll take her to the dealer when I get home. I think they're still covered under some sort of warranty, as VW knows that the part is bad. The last time I had a window regulator go out, they replaced both sides, so I thought they had designed a new part, but maybe not.

Tomorrow we head for Williams, AZ, and the Grand Canyon, which I've never seen.
Phoebe's driver's side window regulator broke this morning AGAIN. Third one. At least the window wasn't open much and I could close it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Sunday night

Catching up, as we have had very little opportunity to blog. I haven't had a real Internet connection in a couple of days, and Steph has only been able to connect by cell phone/Bluetooth.

The Sky Watch party was a lot of fun. We got to see people I've known for a number of years and meet new people, too. Karen Talley showed us her beautiful new limited edition platinum gray and maroon convertible (complete with stuffed dancing dachshund).

I also ran into Joe, who used to own Firebug. After the first R2K, I drove to Tucson for a few days to visit friends before driving home. On the way home, I stopped on a whim at a Route 66 museum in Elk City, OK. As I drove into the parking lot, I noticed a red NB parked there, and as I parked next to it, I realized that I knew the NB -- it was Firebug, and I'd talked to Joe and his ex-wife for quite a while. I caught up with them on my way through the museum, and they told me that they'd been traveling through Colorado for a few days before returning home to Texas. Over the next year or so, Firebug developed engine problems, and VW ended up buying him back from Joe to investigate what was wrong. Joe no longer had a Bug, and we missed him in Roswell. At the Sky Watch party a few years later, Joe walked up to me and asked if I remembered him. I did, and he said that he missed having a Beetle so much that he came to Roswell. Joe went out and purchased a dark blue TDI upon his return from that trip, and it's a really pretty car. He's added subtle dark blue flames and a bunch of sirens and sound effects for his job as a firefighter. Joe grew up in the Indianapolis area, and we're going to have dinner the next time he comes back to visit family.

The food at the Sky Watch party was good this year (for anyone keeping track, potato salad, chips, baked beans, Polish sausage, hot dogs, and barbecued beef sandwiches were served). A mariachi band from the local mariachi school played as we ate, and we made our way outside to light up our cars for the Pod Glow cruise. Some of Phoebe's glow sticks were old and didn't work, but we had enough that I could wind them through both of her front wheels and put them around her mirrors and antenna. At the deglowing spot, John started tinkering with Phoebe's engine and deduced that her check engine light is indeed a mass air flow sensor, so I called the dealer in Albuquerque on Saturday morning and they set aside one for me to pick up when we stop there tomorrow. I also talked to Rich from Colorado, who has a raised off-road yellow TDI (and used to have the same wheels I do). His NB has extra bumpers; they're very cool, and I got some ideas from him about how to implement my dad's bumper idea for Phoebe, which will look quite a bit different from his but will probably be attached the same way.

Afterwards, we went back to the hotel and watched a couple of episodes of Futurama (including "Roswell That Ends Well") with Britt, Marie, Lisa, and Jason.

On Saturday morning, we drove over to the convention center and set Phoebe up for the car show. She looked pretty good despite being a little streaky from her wash the day before. We created an aliens versus dinosaurs war on the dashboard (no winner has been declared yet) and had an inflatable alien in the back seat. Jason counted 59 cars, which is fewer than in previous years, but the creativity of the owners and variety in the cars is still there. I'm having a lot of trouble with my Flickr uploads right now, but I'll get all my photos up eventually.

After the car show was the parade. I'm always surprised at how many people from Roswell come to see it. Our section of the parade engaged in a little precision Beetle driving (such as doing the wave with an entire line of cars), and we circled the route twice before going back to the motel to rest. We ate at Farley's, which we think might be a chain. The food was good, but it was very loud.

At night we attended a drive-in movie (Herbie the Love Bug) in the convention center parking lot. It was projected on an inflatable screen, which was really neat. We also saw the Car Crazy episode from last year about the Roswell2K show.

This morning we did a bunch of laundry before heading out for the rally. (I should mention that Jerry forgot that his clothes were in the washer -- it was obvious that they were his because his shirt with a patch of his car on it was on top -- and I was kind enough to dry them for him, so I know what kind of underwear he wears, and I can be bribed for the information.) A road rally, for those who haven't been on one, is a kind of scavenger hunt on wheels. You receive a sheet with questions interspersed with directions, and the idea is to answer the questions about various signs and attractions while following the directions correctly. Steph and I won first place in the quiz portion! This rally also compared the distance you drove with the distance the directions actually covered, and we didn't even come close in that portion -- we backtracked for almost 10 miles of the 14.6-mile route -- but we were happy that we'd answered so many of the questions correctly. They were tricky.

Tonight we joined the Head Alien for dinner at a Chinese buffet, and now we're at McDonald's because they have wireless. We leave for Albuquerque at 8 am tomorrow.


Relaxing at the motel after the rally. We won first place and got a cool trophy!

Sunday morning

Waiting for the laundry to finish drying so we can leave for the rally.