Saturday, September 30, 2006

South Llano River State Park

We are south of I-10 and the town of Junction, Texas, at the South Llano River State Park (map*).  It is a lovely location, with wooded and widely spaced sites with water and 30-amp electric service.  We did not really need the hookups (although it looked, for a while, like we might -- more on this in a moment), but it was a good stopping point, and only $7.50 with one of the handful of half-off-camping coupons that came with our Texas State Park pass.

* Before I go further, a word about the map links.  MapQuest has, once again, changed its site.  I'm guessing that it works OK in Internet Explorer (I'm not bothering to check), but all my map links are now completely broken in FireFox.  So I'm changing back to Google Maps, with whom I flirted briefly earlier this year.  Of course, the last time I changed to Google, it was also because MapQuest stopped working right, just as changes at Google sent me back to MapQuest.  I expect I will have to fiddle with the link format some more to get these new Google links to display as they should, so bear with me.  And, of course, as long as these mapping sites keep "improving," there will always be the risk that, one day, all the links will again stop working.  You can always pluck the coordinates from them and plug them into whatever map system floats your boat.

We had an uneventful and very safe night in Austin.  Apparently, the Austin police have discovered my secret spot, and patrol cars came and went all night, parking for half an hour or so at a stretch while, I assume, reports were being written, etc.  It was just one car for a long time, but, at one point, there were a half dozen of them, parked together.  Sometimes an officer or two would get out and start chatting.  None bothered us, or even came over for a closer look.

Not so with the private security guy, who knocked on the door at 11 this morning (while I was taking advantage of the proximity to Lowe's to get some projects done) to tell us to move along.  Both of these developments (police congregation and private security patrols) are new since my last visit, where I spent a full week in the same spot without seeing a uniform of any sort.  Possibly, the departure of the 24-hour Albertson's has prompted the landlord to step up security.

One of the projects I was working on this morning was the recent death (again) of the generator.  It appeared to be overheating, even when it was cool to the touch.  Of course, by the time I was done fiddling with it, it was too hot to make further diagnosis -- but the big jet of steam coming from the radiator relief was a big clue.  We decided to get on the road, and deal with it in a few hours, when it cooled down.

It turned out, thankfully, to just be low on coolant.  I've been planning on adding an overflow tank to it for over two years -- one of those projects we never seem to get around to finishing.  In any case, a stop at the Wal-Mart in Fredricksburg for coolant got the big diesel back in operation, and we were once again able to run the air conditioning while we drove.  In the meantime, we had already planned our stop for the state park, where we knew we could charge the batteries back up even if the generator problem was more serious.

The generator also needs an oil change, and we want to get that done before Mexico.  Calls yesterday to every Kubota dealer in West Texas came up empty -- no one could squeeze us in for same-day service, so I will be doing it myself.  Not hard, just messy (the drain plug is in a particularly inaccessible spot, and oil will invariably get all over the bottom pan of the hush box).  I picked up three gallons of Rotella oil at Wal-Mart, and we found a NAPA in Junction that had a compatible filter.  Sometime in the next few days I will have to bite the bullet, put some grubby clothes on, and get it done.

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