Friday, July 14, 2017

The Saga of:
The Rinnai Hot Water Heater Replacement

When we returned from our trip to Oregon on May 20th, we discovered one of the two Rinnai water heaters wasn't working properly and called our local energy company (WOC) to come and take a look. They, or their Towanda office, had installed the originals when we built the house so they were the ones to look it over, diagnose the problem and perform repairs as needed.

Guy shows up the next morning and says they (the Mansfield office) and he personally don't do Rinnai heaters but some other brand, but he'll look it over. Came to me and said the automatic diagnostic program says the ignition fan was not functioning and needs to be replaced. Okay. So they ordered the parts and came back a few days later.

Turns out it wasn't the fan that needed replacing but the entire unit as there was a leak/crack in the heat exchanger which caused water to get into the fan and, thus, caused it to malfunction. No charge for the replacement parts I didn't need. We'll just send them back. Okay, order me a replacement.

Next day I get a call: they don't make that model any more but the new model has the same footprint according to the Rinnai people and it should be easy-peasy to pop in. Oh, and the unit we are replacing? That's been out of warranty for almost a year. Sorry.  Good and bad news, right? Fine get a new unit out here and get it installed.

A week later, they bring the new unit out. Take the old unit off the wall and hang the new one. All the incoming pipes (gas and water) and the outgoing water pipe simply plug into the new unit just fine. The exhaust, however, is a whole 'nother ball of wax.

The exhaust has an exterior diameter that's fine, but the interior pipe (the one carrying the hot gases) is a different diameter. They need to get a new exhaust pipe.

They come back today with the "right" exhaust pipe. It's got the proper diameters and everything. But the coupling from heating unit to pipe is wrong. Whereas the old pipe was male-female the new one is female-make and it needs a different gasket--which Rinnai did not send. Aarrgghh!

We're now on to week four of this dog and pony show. And I can't blame the guys from WOC. They've been told only partial truths by the Rinnai supplier. And the Rinnai supplier has not thought far enough into the project to realize what is needed. It's like some idiot robot only answering the specific question being asked with no thought as to what comes next. How could they not understand that replacing the old unit would require a complete new exhaust?

It's a good thing we had TWO heaters on the wall when this started and that we were able to by-pass one so we still get hot water.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Playing Hide-and-Seek

For several years I've seen what I originally thought was a pure black cat wandering through the yard. I never got close enough to determine the sex of that cat until this spring when SHE gave birth to a litter of kittens under the deck. That's when I noticed she wasn't truely black but more like dark, rich coffee with tints of brown swirling through her coat. She looked thin as a rail after giving birth so I started giving her a can of food every now and then. She was much appreciative and slowly became our outdoor cat. She would brush against our legs and bump into our hands as we spooned the can of food out onto a plate. We could stroke her and get a purr instead of a growl.

Eventually the kittens became large enough that she felt the need to move them to an undisclosed location I've yet to discover on the other side of the travel trailer.

The kittens grew and they began to appear on the lawn where they would stalk one another, attack grass stalks and bugs and generally do kittenish things. There were three of them. One gray tiger who seems afraid of the slightest noise and bolts for the other side of the trailer. I named it Tigger. One short-haired gay and white who is wary but not super wary of my opening the basement door to put food out. I haven't settled on a name for this one yet but it's got a white fur collar so maybe Prissy. (Now up to two cans of food a day plus a can of dry food and a bowl of water as all four are eating.) And the third kitten is nearly a twin of Miss Kitteh: long gray and white fur and ear tufts that stick out a mile. I call that one Fuzzball and it's the friendliest of the bunch.

Fuzzball will come to the food as I'm putting it out but I've yet to actually touch it.

This morning, while putting the food out, Fuzzball darted past me and into the basement through the slightly open door. It made a bee line to the dry food we have there for the indoor cats. After I finished putting out the food, I tried to get Fuzzball back outside but it darted around the boxes in the center of the basement and we went round and round. I couldn't leave the door open for fear we would have Coffee and Prissy joining us indoors.

I eventually lost sight of Fuzzball and things went silent. I searched under furniture and behind boxes to no avail. I think Fuzzy is still downstairs but I can't be sure. None of the other cats are helping to located the kitten. Might be a Code of Silence thing going on. Coffee and her other two are still under the deck and Coffee is looking longingly at the door. Could be she thinks I abducted her favorite--and she's being quite vocal about it.

Believe me, I'd put Fuzzy back outside ASAP--if I could find the little bugger.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Home Again.

We left Moab, UT on Sunday morning heading north on I-70 toward Denver. The plan was to hitch up with I-76 and then I-80 east bound to home. No major touristy stops in our near future.

The ride was spectacular. The scenery changed from desert to Rocky Mountain forest with some snow actually below the road as we passed through Vail. Surprisingly heavy traffic east of Vail to Denver for an early Sunday afternoon (it was just 1 o'clock), I guess everyone who had been spending the weekend in the resorts decided to beat the traffic and only created more.

The only real problems encountered were a couple of accidents that closed one lane of the highway and created backups from rubber-neckers. Those bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-gos managed to add 30-45 minutes each to our travel time.

We stopped at Sidney, NE late Sunday afternoon and did some shopping at Cabela's.Then set out Monday morning heading east on I-80.

Except for a few construction zones where the speed limit was reduced due to one lane being closed and workers being present, things went smoothly until lunch.

Then there was the keys-locked-in-the-truck incident in York, NE. Luckily, it was in York, a fairly large town and AAA sent a locksmith who was prompt and knowledgeable enough so we lost only half an hour. (Terry will now carry a spare key at all times and I will lock the doors using the key fob instead of the on-the-door button.)

After that little bit of excitement, the rest of the ride was pretty dull. Stopped at Williamsburg, Iowa for the night and then drove all the way home on Tuesday (just about 900 miles and 16+ hours).

All in all a very enjoyable two weeks on the road.

The new Tundra behaved superbly. It averaged 18-19 mpg on the highway at speeds up to 80 mph. (Yeah, there are places out west where that is the speed limit.) And the large gas tank (38 gallons!) meant I didn't have to stop nearly as frequently as I would have with the 2007 Tundra with its 25 gallon tank and 16-17 mpgs. I LIKE that! Now I have to see how it handles the travel trailer.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Arches National Park

After a brief respite to refuel and refresh, Terry and I headed back out this afternoon to visit Arches National Park.

Again, we did as little walking as possible but still got suckered in to doing some as the view was "just a short distance around the bend." They didn't mention the very loose, dry sand that made walking very difficult. Or the three--very steep--flights of stone steps. *sigh* And it reached 100 degrees to top it off.

Still, it was worth it.

Like Canyonlands, there are massive rock formations in Arches. 

Three Gossips

Eroded butte

Delicate Arch.

Broken Arch

Skyline Arch

Skyline Arch from a little closer.

The Windows Arches (North and South)

South Window with small Turret Window just to the right.

Balancing Rock. Don't be fooled, that rock on the top on the left is 45+ feet from top to bottom.

A panorama I stitched together to show the Marching Elephants. (hope it works!)
We visited every overlook and read every explanation they had out there. Took lots of pictures and gathered some wonderful memories. Then we returned to the Hampton Inn, cleaned up and went out to dinner.

Tomorrow morning we start heading east again. First stop will be Sidney, NE and the Cabela's complex just off I-80.

Canyonlands National Park

Saturday morning was spent in the Island In the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park.

We traveled the short distance from Moab to the Route 313 entrance to the park and then spent the better part of the morning going from one view point to another. We did do a little walking early on, but both Terry and I agreed that as the day got hotter and our knees got sorer, we would do as little as possible.

Even so, we managed to get some great views of the immense canyon structure, stone buttes and mesas and just about everything we could from the comfort of a paved road and a Tundra's cushioned (and air conditioned) seat. (The temperature would reach over 100 degrees later in the afternoon while we were at Arches NP.)

If you're not going "Wow!" before you get to the entrance to the park, you are not paying attention.

At the turnoff for Route 313 from US 191.

Buttes just inside the park proper.

Upheaved dome of salt. Caused either by a salt dome swelling and popping the rocks above or a meteor impact. Their leaning toward the meteor. The color doesn't do it justice. The jagged rocks are actually a bright turquoise.


View of the Green River from the Green River Overlook.

Dosen't this belong in Yosemite? Actually, no. This is formed from sandstone. Half Dome in Yosemite is granite.

Terry at the Grandview Overlook.

View of some canyons from the Grandview Overlook.
 We spent the morning exploring and then returned to Moab to have lunch. In the afternoon, we headed to Arches National Park.

On the road: Lincoln City, OR to Moab, UT.

So Terry and I arrived in Lincoln City, OR mid-day on Monday and spent three and a half days with our son, Rick, his wife, Sandy, the two grandkids, Chelsea and Justin, and Sandy's parents, John and Cindy. We went crabbing (caught three in an hour but they were a shade too small to keep), ate some clams that Rick dug, cleaned and cooked, played with both grandkids a lot, and generally had a very good time.

That came to an end on Thursday and while everybody else headed to Portland, Terry and I headed southeast to go to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks in southeast Utah. In our many trips west, we had never stopped at either of these places and figured why not.

It took us two days of hard driving to get to Moab, Utah but the scenery through southeastern Oregon, along US-50 in Nevada, and finally along I-70 in Utah as we approached Moab was worth the trouble.

We had called ahead for a motel room (a good decision!) and pulled up to the Hampton Inn aroun 8:30 Friday evening.

Twas no time to take pictures along the way.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

On the Road West
with the Obligatory Stop At
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Terry and I left the Aerie on Wednesday morning heading west to the Pacific coast. We clocked over 700 miles a day and found ourselves in Brigham City, Utah Friday afternoon. Across the highway (I-84/I-15) from Brigham City is one of the premier birding sites in the lower 48: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. Every time we head west (or east depending on how we got to the coast in the first place) we stop here to do some birding.

This time we were in for a bit of a shock. All kinds of fancy races were planed for Saturday; walking, running, and bicycling were on the menu. Some of those races would be going down the 12-mile long paved road leading to the actual refuge auto tour loop. We didn't think any of the races would actually go along the gravel loop road but you never know! So we planned to get up and out as soon as possible and then stay on the auto loop for much of the day.

Turns out we beat the racers by a good bit. They didn't leave the city until after we had reached the auto loop and begun our first circuit. (That first took 4 hours by which time the racers had come in to the check point and gone on their way back toward the city.)

It was a beautiful day at the refuge with the water barely being riffled by a light breeze. (In contrast, the evening before had produced 40+ mph gusts and some severe blowing dust.) The birds were pretty cooperative too. Many of the waterfowl species had their youngsters on display. There were Avocets and Killdeer chicks on the road that tested ones patience. There were ducklings of a number of varieties swimming along with their mothers, Baby Western Grebes hitched rides on their parents' backs. Tiny little baby Coots got gobbled up by mean old Herring Gulls. (Yeah, Mother Nature can be harsh at times.)

And we played hide-and-seek with a Black-tailed Weasel along the side of the road. It would hop forward about four lengths of its body then dive into the grass. I would creep slowly forward and it would pop out of the grass and hop four lengths of its body then dive into the grass, over and over again. We played this game for about 50 yards before the weasel did not reappear and we drove on.

Here's some pictures I captured of our morning.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-headed Blackbird


White Pelicans fishing
White Pelicans posing
White-faced Ibis. It would not stop preening itself! This shot seems to capture it saying, "See the white face!"

Brown-headed Cowbirds


Great Blue Heron

American Avocet

Snowy Egret

Double-crested Cormorant drying out.

Double-crested Cormorant questioning my presence

Double-crested Cormorant in silhouette

Cinnamon Teal small, but colorful!

Black-necked Stilt
We left Brigham City Sunday morning and drove west through Ontario, Oregon and on to Bend, OR before stopping. Tomorrow we continue to the coast and the town of Lincoln City.