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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Going Loco

Ouch!  I have been sufficiently  chastised for leaving out a picture of Anabelle in yesterday’s post.  Sorry!  Hope this makes up for it.

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We were out and about yesterday.  I have certainly slowed down now that we’re retired, well, at least in my driving.  We’re trying to stop and smell the roses (or the coffee for Marti).  Not saying I was driving too slow, but we got passed by this car:

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It was a 1901 Locomobile, steam powered and everything.  The driver even tooted his steam whistle as he roared by us at an eye watering 15 mph.  Maybe I am driving a little too slow.

Having never seen a Locomobile even in a museum, let along on the road, we had to look at it up close and personal.

The driver pulled into a parking lot and prepared to load the car into his trailer to take it home.  15 mph was breakneck speed back in 1901, but driving down an interstate today with it would find him as a hood ornament on a Peterbilt in no time.

The driver restored the car over a number of years and enjoys taking it out for Sunday drives and car shows.

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It even had a real “trunk”.

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The driver squeezed it in to his trailer and tied it down. 

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Just another fun thing we saw while wandering around.  It is always neat to see a piece of living history.  We wondered how many things we must have missed over the years when we were running back and forth to work.  This retired life is really something, or as Judy would say: “Cool Beans”.

One more Anabelle picture.  Hopefully this puts me back in our reader's good graces.  ;c)

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Old Time Rescuers

Today’s modern Coast Guard has a proud heritage.  In the past, with wooden sailing ships, when they got into trouble,  mariners had little hope of rescue.  To combat these tragedies, the U.S. Life Saving Service was born.

On Sandy Hook, NJ, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, there remains one of the original lifesaving stations, built in the late 1800s.

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These stations were all along the coasts, about ten miles apart.  They were manned by men who dedicated their lives to saving mariners in distress.  They didn’t have fancy equipment, the biggest asset they had was strong muscles and and huge dose of bravery.

When a sailing ship wrecked off shore, there was no way the sailors and passengers could get to shore, the wind and the waves were deadly.  The Life Saving Service often rowed boats out to the wrecks and took off the survivors.

Sometimes the storms were so bad that the rescuers couldn’t use their lifeboats.  A new solution was developed, the Lyle Gun.

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This small cannon was carried down to the beach, either by hand or on a beach rescue cart, all man powered.

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The Lyle Gun shot a projectile that was attached to several hundred feet of line. 

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The technique was to shoot the projectile, with the line trailing along behind it into the wrecked ships mast.

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Then additional lines were pulled over and attached to the breeches buoy.  Survivors would hop into these breeches and be pulled, one at a time to safety.

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As terrifying as this must have been, it was slow and with the danger of hypothermia, an new device was developed to pull up to four people off the wreck at a time, the Rescue Car.

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They were brave men.  With nothing more than these man powered devices, they saved the lives of over 177,000 people from the 1870s up to 1915.

It almost makes me embarrassed to show pictures of equipment that was used during my Coast Guard service years.  Here is the LARC, an amphibious vehicle that was used in low lying areas devastated by the flooding ocean around Sandy Hook.

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Here is a 41 foot Utility Boat of the type that I ran on many rescues.

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Both of these have been retired after years of faithful service.  The LARC was built in the mid sixties and the 41’ UTB was a product of the early to mid seventies.  The nation got its monies worth out of these pieces of equipment.  They have been replaced by new more capable craft.

Some pieces of equipment are irreplaceable.  The Sandy Hook Lighthouse, built in 1764 still remains on duty, its light shining to guide mariners safely into New York Harbor.

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We had a nice day visiting Sandy Hook, where we lived for eleven years.  We have more to post about, but that’s for another day.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Little Visitors

We love to have visitors to our Journey, just like we enjoyed visitors to our stix-n-brix when we owned one.

Sometimes, though, there are little visitors that we don’t welcome into our motorhome.  We’ve had several types of these visitors.

The first one that we’ve been fighting for over a year now is the Stink Bug.

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We used to store our motorhome in a County Park in Northern Virginia, which was heavily wooded.  It was also infested with Stink Bugs.  They worked their way into tiny openings in the Journey and set up shop.  All the RVs that stored there got them.  We noticed that in the cold winter months, they were unseen, but as soon as warming began, out they came.  The only resource we’ve had to deal with them is TNT, a tissue-n-toilet.  We give them the “Royal Flush”.  We found it is not good to squish them because they leave behind their stinky odor.

We’re making headway on them, we went from seeing bunches everyday crawling on the windows to maybe one a day, we call it the “Stink Bug of the Day” (SBOTD).  Hopefully, we’ll get the very last one and be free of them.

Then there’s the other little visitors, the Sweet Ants.

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So far this year we haven’t seen any inside the Journey (knock on wood) but the warmer weather is just starting.  To fight them, I spray the ground around my tires and leveling jacks with ant spray, and then on my electrical cable and sewer hose I put a one inch band of petroleum jelly around them just before they enter the Journey.  So far that has worked pretty well, but I have to reapply the ant spray after rains.

We had a very unwanted little visitor and were shocked to see it.  Fortunately we were able to catch and kill it right away.

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It was a cockroach.  Marti found it in the bathroom sink one night.  We have no idea how it got in the Journey.  We have two theories, one is it came up inside the sewer hose via our gray tank, we leave the valve open when we have full hook ups.  The other idea is maybe it came in with a grocery bag.  Either way, we’ve been keeping a sharp eye and we haven’t seen anymore.  Hopefully we got this only one before it brought more friends.

We have some little visitors that we want to come our way, we’ve even put out invitations, but so far, none have showed up.  We’ve put a hummingbird feeder out on one of our windows, hoping to encourage visits from them.

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We did have a special little visitor last night.  A first for us and we were so happy to see this little visitor.

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Little Anabelle came to dinner and she brought her mommy and daddy.

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We had a nice meal outside under the Journey’s awning.  Anabelle sat on the table and watched all the goings on.

Of course, after dinner, she had to get some cuddling time on Mimi Marti’s shoulder.

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We’re looking forward to more visits from this little one. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Survived A Nor'Easter

It was quite a storm and for once, the weatherman got it right.  Where we are, just a couple of miles inland from the Jersey shore, we braced for it.

We're very used to Nor'easters, we lived right on the Jersey shore for 11 years and saw our fair share of high winds and flooding, breaking surf.  Sandy Hook, NJ was where our home was.  The Coast Guard base was located right at the tip of a seven mile long peninsula pointing to the entrance of New York Harbor.

We survived the "Perfect Storm" back in 1992, and made it through an even more severe storm in November 1992, know as the "Unnamed Storm" which left us stranded on the Hook for over a week with no heat, no water and no food.  The road in to the base was buried for more than five miles under seven feet of sand washed up off the beaches by the waves. 

All the families pooled our resources and we took shelter in a couple of homes where the electrician mates were able to hook some gas powered welding machines into the house's electric circuits to get the furnaces to run.  Meals we took at the Coast Guard station building because it had an emergency diesel generator.   Heavy equipment took most of the week to dig out the road, then the power company was able to follow in and replace all the downed telephone poles and restring the wires.

I spent a good part of the week after the storm manning a security checkpoint with some Park Rangers to prevent sightseers and looters out of the nearby communities that were devastated by the storm.  I was never so cold in all my life.

When we heard the weather forecast, we were ready.  My diesel tank is almost full so we'd have the generator for power (and heat).  I was ready to pull in the slides to protect the awnings.  We didn't worry about any flooding, if the water reached to where we were, it would be time to start looking for an Ark.

The rain came, it really pounded on the roof.  Maybe it washed some of the dirt off it?  I don't like to climb up there and scrub it down any more than I have to.

The winds picked up, but we didn't feel too much rocking and it never got so strong that I had to pull in the slides.  The biggest problem we had was needing to turn the volume up on the TV so we could hear it over the pounding rain.

The rain stopped later in the evening, the wind died down and we went to bed, dry, comfy and well.

This morning I got up and looked around outside the Journey to see if there was any damage.  Of course, Marti's patio rug was in a heap.  The only casualty was our BBQ grill was blown over off its table and broke off the fitting for the little propane bottle, irreparable.  The grill was old and probably was only going to last maybe another year, so it's not a great loss.

Not much of a storm for us, we're glad it's over and we're back to normal.  It is great peace of mind to be self contained in our wheeled home.  Just another "bennie" of the full time life.  :c)

Of course, the picture of the day of little Anabelle.  Her parents are turning her into a punk rocker!



Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reconnections

A special day for Marti.  She reconnected with her college roommate, Skipper, whom she had not seen for over 28 years.  They graduated from college 35 years ago, so it was a blast from the past as they poured over an old yearbook reliving the fun and enjoying the memories of their college years.

It’s just another moment in our new found fulltime RV life and a blessing to be able to finally have the time to meet old friends.


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Since we were on the road today, we didn’t see little Anabelle.  That didn’t stop mommy Amanda from sending us her picture of the day so we wouldn’t miss her too much.  :c)


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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Lifestyles Within The Lifestyle

Got some great comments on yesterday’s post (and one spam comment that I deleted, the first comment I’ve had to do this to).  Thanks to all of you for those interesting viewpoints.

The comments got me thinking, we so often talk about the RV “Lifestyle”, but I realized there are many lifestyles within the lifestyle.

There are hardcore boondockers like Tioga George and Kevin and Ruth, who rarely stay in established campgrounds.  Others enjoy COE parks, National and State parks, sometimes with hookups to commune with nature.  Then there are the resort campers who have to have FHUs and an entire list of activities that fill up the days. 

The beauty of it all is there is no right way or wrong way to RV, it’s up to each one to find their perfect lifestyle.  We’re counting our blessings to be able to do what we want to do.

At our site in the FamCamp today we got new visitors and they’ll be here a while.  I took their picture, you folks with the great wildlife pictures no longer have anything on me!  Here’s a cat and a deer that have taken up residence right down the street from us.


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They are starting construction of a new police station here on the base.  We’re going to enjoy watching the work going on over there.  Guess we don’t have to worry about noisy generators for a while.  ;c)

The New Jersey shore is lined with lighthouses that were constructed to provide safe sailing for mariners.  Some are still operational, others have been decommissioned and turned over to the state or local towns for a new life as tourist attractions.

New lighthouses haven’t been built in years, but we found a brand new lighthouse that was built for a completely different mission:


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It’s an ice cream store, and it has great ice cream.  A whole different kind of tourist attraction.

We’re looking forward to taking little Anabelle there in the not too distant future for some ice cream.  Yep, looks like she’s screaming for ice cream already.  ;c)


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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Solar, Or Not?

Boondocking, living off the grid, enjoying the vast open areas of nature found in BLM lands, National Parks and the great West.

Of course, it requires a way to power your RV.  Plugging the electrical cord into the ground doesn’t work very well, for some strange reason, there is no juice available there. ;c)

So, you can do without, run a generator or turn to the power of the sun…with solar panels.
All the research I’ve done showed me to generate the amount of electricity with solar for our fulltime needs would cost about $4000. 

The first thing needed would be to upgrade and add batteries to the Journey.  Currently, we have three 12 volt house batteries.  They do fine for limited time off the grid, but we have to recharge them daily with shore power or generator run time.

To properly have enough battery power to meet our needs, I’d have to change the three 12 volt batteries to six 6 volt batteries paired up to give the 12 volts, plus add another two to three pairs of 6 volt batteries.  To do so would require welding new mounts for the batteries, after some pretty serious engineering.  There is not enough space in any of my basement compartments to handle additional batteries.

On the roof would go four solar panels, each one at least 100-130 watts, plus the mounts and tilt mechanism.  Cable to run from the panels to the heavy duty charge controller mounted on the interior, with additional cable to run from the controller to the batteries.

The Journey already has a 3000 watt inverter, so that is one area I could save some money, as long as it worked well, if not, it would have to be upgraded, and it too is an expensive item.

So the basic question comes down to will the solar charging system save any money over the long run?  Maybe,  if I keep using the system after installation for the next 30 or so years (or if diesel hits $10/gallon).

The solar charging system is not economical in that sense.  It is a convenience, to allow you to boondock off the grid, with little to no generator run time.

So, are we going to install a complete solar system to enjoy “free” electricity?

No.

After analyzing our travels and our needs for electrical power, it would not be cost effective and necessary for us.  The past four months, in our 7000 mile dash around the country, we ran our 8KW quiet diesel generator six nights to generate heat in the Northern states.  Then in Quartzsite, AZ, where we stayed for a week, we ran the generator during the evening hours. 

All tolled, we used about 150 hours of generator run time. The generator uses 1/2 gallon of fuel under load per hour, for about 75 gallons total.  At $4.00/gallon, (not that we paid that much during the travels) it cost about $300.  The rest of the time, we were in full service campgrounds,  with no generator run time.

Looking ahead, we will be staying 99% of the time in full service campgrounds and our travels will consist for the most part east of the Mississippi River, where there are fewer boondocking areas and much more tree coverage.

Solar won’t be worthwhile for us, the generator will work just fine for the limited times we’ll need it.  Maybe someday things will change and it will be worth having it.  But for now, we’re going to pass.

However, our day would not be complete without a picture of our little sunshine.

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Taking A Walk On The Wild Side

Sitting here in New Jersey, we’re reading about our blogging friends escapades, communing with nature, getting out and about, seeing the greatest wildlife that America has to offer.
Where we are, it is pretty citified, not too much of any kind of nature to enjoy.  We got itchy to do something different, so we went to where there was some great wildlife to see.
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Where?  Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Right off the bat, we almost got trampled by some wildlife.
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Getting inside, we saw all kinds of sights and sounds of Atlantic City nature.
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Atlantic City has something neat that you won’t find in Vegas, like a boardwalk,
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and the ocean.
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Inside one of the shopping piers, we met a resident animal:
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An elephant made out of jelly beans.
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The elephant’s store had all kind of sweets and racks of supplements to combat life’s little inconveniences:
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Of course I find this stuff now that I’m retired.
Then Marti found a shop she just had to look in, baby clothes.
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Yep, more new stuff for Anabelle.  :c)
We went out on the boardwalk again  to walk off a great lunch we had.
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There were some real live birds hanging out on the planks.  This is a sea gull with a black head.  See, I can identify birds just as good as Judy can!  ;c)
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We left Atlantic City and all its casinos with all out money in our pockets.  Yep, we didn’t even try an one armed bandit.  We have a budget and we’re sticking to it.  At least until Marti finds baby clothes stores…  ;c)
Of course, our day wouldn’t be complete without the Anabelle picture of the day.
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Here she is being watched over by Cooper, Corey’s Golden Retriever.  Cooper keeps a close eye on “his” little girl.
Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.
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PS:  Sorry this post looks odd (like any of my posts don't).  I'm trying to learn Live Writer.   It has a learning curve and I'm a slow learner...