Hot Springs, Arkansas (Post #373) 8/5/2013

Mrs. Okierover picked Hot Springs, Arkansas for a short vacation this summer. As you may recall last year’s vacation was a 3900 mile jaunt to Glacier National Park. This year we decided to do something closer to home. Hot Springs is just a six hour drive if you pick the scenic route. Surprisingly Diet Mountain Drew made it almost an hour into the drive before he was asleep.

The drive in was not the one I planned. After a couple of wrong turns, the GPS was employed. The device had us driving all the way down to Broken Bow, Oklahoma and back up to Hot Springs. Not the prettiest drive.

As we turned northerly we watched the thunderheads rise and an impressive cloud to cloud lightning display. This only meant one thing, we would have some serious weather to drive through. It manifested itself in sheets of rain that double speed wipers were only just able to keep up with.

We followed what I figured was a local-yokel as he seemed to know the blind turns in the rain better than we. As we finally cleared the storm, we looked back to see he only had one headlight working. How he was able to see in that deluge was truly a mystery.

Our first day was a lazy day for the Mrs. and I. We took Diet Mt. Drew and his girlfriend to a water and theme park for the afternoon. We napped.

Day two we decided to rent a party barge and go tubing on Lake Hamilton.

El Capitan

Painful for my back, Mrs. Okierover found it therapeutic for hers.

Me and the Mrs.

That was a pretty good time.

We spent the rest of the day at Garvan Woodland Gardens. There was an art exposition of glass.

It was pretty. It was humid. Think Central American jungle humid with zero wind. We wandered around and enjoyed the quiet woods and gardens until the mosquitoes started in on us.

We ended the day with Pirate Cove Mini Golf. Your’s truly won by two strokes over Sadie, with Mrs. Okierover third and Diet Mt. Drew finishing last. A good time was had by all.

We spent our 24th wedding anniversary driving home. This time I had the route planned for some scenic driving. We skirted the lakes heading west out of Hot Springs and eventually made it to Highway 1 in Oklahoma. This is the Talimena Scenic Byway. This road is most popular in Autumn when the leaves are changing. It is truly a great drive. It is very popular with the motorcyclers.

When these vast stretches of timberland came up for auction only one bid was made. The National Park Service paid 1.42$(US) an acre. The land had been raped by forestry companies for years with absolutely no conservation effort made what-so-ever. Their operations consisted of showing up and running a rail line to the milling site. A boom town almost always followed. They would cut until it was no longer profitable and load everything back on the train and pull out. when they were through, it was a land of bare eroding hills, pock marked by fires and of little or no value.

On our way into the park, we came across this road side memorial to John F. Kennedy. It seems he was there to dedicate the opening of Highway 259 in October of 1961. There is a connection to the Knights of Columbus that I’m sure has more to it than the fact they asked him to come and they paid for the monument.

We stopped at Treats and Treasures in Talihena for lunch. Its an old fashioned soda fountain with a gift shop in the front. For the little town of Talihena it is a nice little place in downtown. I could retire to a town like this.

Ratty old gas station. I love it.

We got pulled over for speeding in Hartshorne, Oklahoma. It was a 45mph zone and I was probably going 60mph. I slowed down to 55mph when I saw the cop. He pulled us over and asked for my license. He said I was going “a little fast” back there. He then asked to see our insurance and asked if we were heading home. I was polite and answered all his questions with a “yes sir”. It took Janie quite a while to find the insurance form. I think he finally got frustrated with us and told me to slow down and let us go. He was respectful and very polite. I was impressed. He did have more tattoos than I’ve ever seen on a cop. If I were to guess, he saw the Marine Corps sticker, and hat and having served himself somewhere, he let us go. That’s my first pull over in over 10 years of speeding driving.

We continued on and turned north to Eufaula and then down Highway 9 to home.

It was a good weekend and we were glad to be home.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.

May 20th Tornado (Post #341) 5/21/2013

Red path was the F4 May 20th tornado. Green was the F5 from May 3rd, 1999.

Several of you have emailed to check on us. That really means a lot to us. Thank you.

Me and all mine are safe.
My oldest daughter (#1) went over to a friend of our’s home. They have a safe room under ground. They watched the storm form and touch down. They scurried for safety and said for quite some time they could hear the roar as it passed by.

RovErica (#2) was traipsing between her new job in Norman and her apartment. She was at her apartment when it hit. Mrs. OkieRover was at the Norman Regional Hospital Heathplex waiting for the wounded. They sent most of them to the trauma center at OU in OKC. NRH’s Moore hospital was destroyed. They moved those patients to the Porter Avenue campus in Norman.

My son was in north Norman and I was at my office near the capitol in OKC when it hit. I had to drive east of Lake Stanley Draper to get around the mess and home.

Thanks for checking on us and say a prayer for the victims and the first responders who are dealing with the aftermath.

Thanks for checking on us and Happy Rovering.

Happy Thanksgiving (Post #274) 11/24/2011

Happy Thanksgiving.
As we all take a break from our hectic lives and give thanks on this Thanksgiving I thought I’d share some things I’m thankful for….
…my loving wife MrsOkieRover.
…my three healthy children, DietMtDrew, RovErica, Leci-bug.
…my two healthy grand children.
…a good job and a comfortable living.
I am also thankful I am not
…a Lucas Electrical Engineer, its hot enough for me in Oklahoma.
…a Land Rover mechanic for a living, my life doesn’t make sense most of the time as it is.

I am most thankful for the men and women who have served in uniform and given everything so that I can live this life.

Thanks for reading, Happy Rovering and Happy Thanksgiving.

This is why I cook my turkey in the oven.

William Andrew Stephens (Post #260) 5/30/2011

The announcer read his name…William Andrew Stephens. And on cue our family and friends yelled as loud as we could for my son had graduated high school.

I remember the little boy Drew, as he is called, more than this six foot version standing over me now. I remember him wearing a path in the grass of the Quanah Parker home’s lawn with his battery powered Jeep. I remember begging him to play that first game of baseball after all the weeks of practice, telling him if he didn’t like it after the first game THEN he could quit. I remember dropping him off at Oklahoma Christian Cage Camp and pulling his luggage for him because it was bigger and heavier than him. That is the Drew I remember.

This new taller graduated version of Drew I barely know. Yet I created it, formed it, comforted it, coached it, counseled it, disciplined it, he is me. And I barely know him. I know I will have decades to “get to know” this emerging man before me. I am excited to see what he will become. Yet at the same time, we start over again, worrying about his future now more than ever. For everything he does now is harder and the consequences are greater.

These days I find myself no longer focusing on the lower portion of my hourglass but at the top portion. The end is inevitable and I can’t help but think, did I do enough? Did I do it right? I’m running out of time to course correct the ships of my children’s lives. Or perhaps it is the ships that no longer are so easy to correct. It is as if the ship’s wheel no longer responds to my efforts to turn it.

What ever the metaphor may be, that first lighthouse has been passed. I remember vaguely my graduation. I remember how it was time to work now. I had joined the United States Marine Corps Reserve and had a semester of college at OU ahead of me. Little did I know at that time that neither would be my course. I wasn’t scared of the future, I was standing on the deck of my life’s ship watching the waves come over the bow and never flinched.

Right next to me my father sailed his ship cringing and worrying as he watched what must have seemed to him to be a ship foundering in the sea. My ship. But as I sailed my ship away from him he grew to worry less and saw the course I had laid out and how inevitably it would be okay. I wish that great old man were here today so I could ask him how to do that very thing, as I watch Drew start to sail his course.

Congratulations Drew. I love you and I know you will do well.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.

A trip to Saturn (Post #244) 2/3/2011

Before the bad weather was about to embrace us, my neighbor Larry asked me to schedule some time to look at his daughter’s Saturn. It was running rough and dying when you came to a stop light. Her 16th birthday was coming and they were giving her the Saturn so the plan was to put a few bucks in the car to “dress it up”. Her sister drove it faithfully until her graduation from high school and it was now time for the old girl to carry another Fisher to and from high school. The mileage on the Saturn revealed that it had probably been driven to Saturn, the planet, and back at least once. 172,000 miles and some change.
[Editors note: I know as you do now, that Saturn “the planet” is 1.2 billion km from earth at its closest point. Not the paltry distance of 172,000 miles which isn’t even a one way trip to our own moon (238,857 miles on average)]

I offered to buy this car from him when his first daughter graduated on to a new car and college. He said he couldn’t, not wouldn’t, couldn’t sell it to me. It wasn’t worth anything and he couldn’t replace it for that. I know exactly what he means. You know these cars. 10 year old cars that have nothing seriously wrong with them that the bank and the people like Kelly Blue Book say are worth about a thousand dollars.

You couldn’t buy a thousand dollar car that is reliable if you wanted to. No matter what you bought you’d immediately be dumping a thousand dollars in it to get it back to running. Its simply economically not worth selling. I didn’t have any hard feelings about that. My buddy JagGuy wouldn’t sell me his Ford Contour beater either. Sadly the Contour was destroyed in the huge hail storm of 2009.

He came over on a Thursday evening to ask and I said we should look at it now. He described the symptoms:

  • Rough idle
  • Coughing and choking
  • Acceleration problems

He also said it tends to die when you corner hard if the level in the fuel tank dropped below 1/8th of a tank. He had a very elegant solution to this problem…He told his girls never to let the fuel drop below 1/8th of a tank. Genius, a man after my own heart. I had a similar request of my girls. I told them if I ever get in your car and it’s below an 1/8th of a tank on the fuel gauge, your driving privileges will be revoked for a week.

Well back to the car problems…Does this problem of rough idle sound familiar? If you drive a Range Rover Classic you know this to be a problem with the air idler valve. A dirty air idler valve will cause rough idle. So I told him this would be no problem. I told him we should check that out first and that my confidence level in this solution was pretty high. The trick was finding the silly thing. He had the Chilton’s book so we found the section with the throttle body and right there was a picture of the air idler valve. It is the same one we use on a Range Rover Classic. I told him it should be easy to find.

I told him if we can find it, it’s an easy thing to clean. We started looking for it and it was not to be found. Finally I told him we should take the throttle body off and the valve would reveal itself. We removed the throttle body. And there was the problem. An eighth of an inch of oily carbon deposits on everything on the engine side of the butterfly.

These photos were shot after a few beers with a cell phone and trouble lights, in the dark, on a moonless night. We took a picture of the inside of the intake and every surface was covered in the carbon oil goo. The detail is not there that would reveal how bad this really looked. I’ve never seen anything like that. I scraped it with a screwdriver. Wow.

I was amazed the thing ran at all. It became pretty obvious that the butterfly was not closing securely. So we proceeded to clean it up. A little brake fluid cleaner and a stiff toothbrush made short work of the majority of it.

The air idler valve was different from the picture. It wasn’t the same as the Range Rover’s. I wasn’t surprised. We removed it and cleaned up the seat. You can imagine it was pretty dirty as well. We got it cleaned up and reinstalled the assembly.

As you can see, it is shiny and clean. It made a pretty good difference in how the Saturn idled. Larry’s other complaint was the acceleration. So I got in the Saturn and drove her. The throttle response was great. Press the peddle and the revs went up. But in first gear of the automatic transmission, you could tell the acceleration didn’t match the revs on the tachometer. Second and third gears behaved as expected but first gear, in my humble opinion, was slipping.

I drove it home and asked when the last time the transmission fluid was changed. “Probably, never.” He hadn’t done it and was unsure if it had ever been done by a previous owner. I recommended he have a transmission service. A batch of fresh fluid might, and I told him might, bring several thousand more miles of Saturn-y goodness and if he was lucky the slipping would stop.

It was fun to find a problem and solve it. It was really, really fun to help a friend make one of his cars more reliable for one of his daughters. I have two daughters and I know the trepidation he feels each time one takes a car out of the driveway.

I could tell you a dozen stories about this daughter, like the one when she was five years old. She was feeling oppressed because she could not run around the neighborhood topless like all the other kids (all boys). But I’ll let her mom post them on her knitting blog. Happy Birthday Laurianne.

Thanks for reading and thanks Happy Rovering.

Its been a crazy week (Post #195) 8/20/2010

My half shaft arrived from Paul Grant yesterday. I also got a hit on my Discovery 2 rims from a chap in Colorado. I’m hoping he will pull the trigger on the rims. I’ve made him a good price and am willing to drive halfway to meet him to save on shipping. It’s insane what it costs to ship something that weighs 30 pounds. Basically it costs more than the rim is worth to ship the rim. At least doubling the rim’s cost. In any event if I can move the rims I can fund the first half of my Range Rover restoration and that would be nice.

Seamus came over yesterday for some help. Seamus is my son’s friend and I genuinely like the young man. He is funny and has a great view of the universe. He often comes over just to chat but yesterday he needed automotive assistance.

Not exactly Seamus's but it looks just like it...mostly

His 1991 BMW 325i is truly a sweet car. For a kids first car, it is a dream auto. Lately though according to his mom it has become a money pit. A money pit insomuch as it needs a few maintenance items and the clutch failed. Seamus has a great outlook on it all referring to the age, “Well, my car can vote.”

Seamus asked for help in sorting out a few non-functioning tail lights. So we popped the boot and I showed him the access panels and how the lamps were removed. We sorted out which ones were working and which were not. I went to check the reverse lamps, neither of which worked, when all of a sudden Seamus killed the engine. I told him to fire it back up but he politely told me the temp gauge was in the red. I said, “In the red? but it…” and then I saw the puddle under the front.

The BMW had spilled the magic cooling fluid all over the driveway. The air temperature was over 100F. And I thought it odd it would dump fluid. Seamus reported it had needed a bit of cooling juice just a few days ago and his dad had showed him how to add it. But this was probably not just a little over filling. I believe he has a bad radiator.

I pushed the car back down to his house and told him to leave it so it would cool and tomorrow we could work on it. The radiator is not a huge project and I couldn’t see them paying for labor when it was a couple of screws and its out kinda job. Getting a radiator is the hardest part of the project. To reinforce what his mom Kasey said, “That thing is a money pit.” they will be out around 200$(US) to pick up another.

I don’t believe you can fix a plastic tank radiator. So I suggested picking up a new one and if it wasn’t bad after we got it out, they could just take it back. Disappointing? yes. Devastating? no.

IF I can get the radiator done and Zacker’s football scrimmage (Go Lions) out of the way, the afternoon is set aside to remove the differential from the Range Rover and get it cleaned out and ready for the new(used) half shaft.

Thanks for reading, Go Lions, and Happy Rovering.