Saturday, May 28, 2011

LeTigre gets new leaf springs and other goodness...

Since we're planning to leave Austin sooner I'm suddenly feeling the pressure to get LeTigre in tip top shape. So, I've spent the last week or so tackling some things she's been needing, such as a tune-up, oil change, and even some new rear leaf springs.

I used to work on cars and motorcycles all the time, first as a hobby and sometimes out of necessity.  It got old after awhile and became a chore.  Well, after getting estimates on some of the work, LeTigre has brought me out of retirement.  The tune-up wasn't too big a deal, although working on a van is weird since a lot of the work is done from inside or underneath.  I took it in for the oil change since getting rid of the used oil is a hassle, however, I might go back to doing that myself too after the experience with the oil change place.  I DO NOT recommend "Groovy Lube" on Guadalupe, if you're an Austin resident.  Basically everything you touch to get in and operate a vehicle was oily when I left.  Door handle, steering wheel, shifter, even the keys and I discovered several days later that they lost the oil filler cap.  Try finding one of those for an '88 Astro van.
I tried to keep it local, oh well.

The biggest reason for coming out of wrenching wretirement was LeTigre's sagging rearend.  When we've loaded her up with stuff to go camping she really droops in the back.  Poor gal needed a lift.  So, I took her in for an estimate to get new leaf springs and was told it'd be almost $1000.  I trust the shop I went to and think this was probably reasonable but that's also a couple of weeks on the road.  So I got on the googlenet and found a new set for $350, including shipping, and installed them today.  My air compressor bit the dust halfway thru the job, rendering my air tools useless, and the heat nearly killed me but
LeTigre got the booty lift she needed.  And isn't that what really matters?

All the usual tune-up stuff, air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs, distibutor cap, and rotor.
LeTigre did not turn loose of some of this stuff easily, note the broken spark plugs, the rotor had to be pried out, and she belched gasoline in my hair replacing the fuel filter.  Fun!

Here we go.  Old spring about to be removed.  The original springs were fiberglass!
This is the first side while I still had the aid of airtools.  Second one was pure Greg muscle!
Ugh, I'm aching already.

Ouch!  LeTigre bit me!  I was relieved to got this out of the way early.  There's always a busted knuckle or two.  Glad we got that behind us.

Luckily I had first aid supplies at the ready, such as... masking tape...
The show must go on.

Old, weird, fiberglass composite spring on the left.  Didn't even know these existed until I started looking for replacements and they don't make these anymore.  Glad they're gone, supposedly they break sometimes.  Don't need that happening out in the nature.
New steal replacement on the right.  Those suckers are heavy!

Ain't she sweet?  I neglected to take a before shot but I did measure from the pavement to the top of the wheel opening and it was 28 inches before and 30 after.
Now we can take all kinds of junk with us and not be all saggy!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Woohoo! We get to leave early! Oh, and we're not going to Alaska...

Big news!  Angie figured out that she can leave earlier than we thought!  We were leaving July 1st but we can now leave as early as June 21st, at the least that's the new goal.

Wow, that's close...

The other big news is we're not going to Alaska, or at least not driving there.  Alaska will have to be it's own trip at another time.  We had conversations with people (thanks Grandpa Bill and Scott/Ivy too) who have done it and came to the conclusion that gasoline is just too expensive and the distance too great to drive it right now.  We're not too sad about it because it means more time in other places since we were going to have to rush to be in and out of Alaska by September to avoid snowy weather

 Whoa, that's a long way away.

The distance from Banff National Park in British Columbia (now our northernmost destination) to Anchorage, Alaska is over 2000 miles and then we would get to drive the same way back 2000 miles!  Over 4000 miles round trip!  The distance from Austin to Banff is 2000 miles one way.  Alaska will have to wait.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Roses and Ryders Birthday Boil 2011!

So, our hosts Scott and Amy Ryder are from Baton Rouge, the importance of which will become apparent in a moment.  By coincidence Amy and I (Greg) share the same birthdate, May 6th.  Ever since we figured that out, like 10 years ago, we've thrown a tandem birthday party but not just a party, a Crawfish Boil!  Scott, being from Louisiana, is an expert at the boil and owns his own rig with the propane burner, giant pot, and all the other paraphernalia.  This year, as usual, we did two sacks of crawfish, about 70 pounds (thanks, Stephen, for the wholesale hook-up!).  Meanwhile Amy, Angie, Stefon, and Erica made all sorts of delicious dishes including jambalaya, stuffed artichokes, mediteranean pasta salad, peanut butter/banana/bacon sandwiches, and even a cocktail dubbed the "Rosie Ryder".  I provided the souvenir tshirts.  As usual, we had a blast!  Good thing because we're taking next year off.
Wonder where we'll be next May?

The man of the hour, Scott aka "the Boil Master" and his trusty sidekick "Birthday Boy"

Yep, we ate those... all of them.

Dig in!

Amy and Angie's delicious jambalaya.  We ate this for days and never got enough.

Erica's stuffed artichoke in the steamer.  Yummy!

Go team!  Amy, the birthday girl, to my right.  Yep, we wear matching shirts every year.
We're just that cool.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

So Much for that Tax Return...

So about 2 weeks ago we noticed Kipper wasn't eating.  It's not unusual for him to skip meals but it turned into a few days so we took him to our Vet.  She did x-ray$, an ultra$ound, and several other te$t$ and came to the conclusion that there was a blockage in his stomach.  After a couple of days it hadn't changed so she had to remove it $urgically.  He got pretty weak and run down but he's finally getting back to normal and eating again.
What was in his stomach, you ask?  A huge wad of gra$$ that he apparently ate to make himself regurgitate whatever was bothering him.
Didn't work.

This is the day after the surgery, when we retrieved our little weed eater.  He no feel so good.
Special thanks to Dr Erin and her crew at Austin Urban Vet Center!