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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Herding Cattle

Since we had to abort our Florida “vacation”, we certainly haven’t been sitting back moaning and groaning.  We’ve jumped right back in to helping out the COE on the many jobs it takes to keep the area up and running and getting many items taken care of for the upcoming season.

We also have been heading up the Water Safety Program, along with getting many brochures about the program out to the schools surrounding Thurmond Lake with the help of some other volunteers, we’ve conducted a few of the classes for our target audience, primary and middle school kids.

Just the other day we had another group of young, enthusiastic kids in to the Visitor Center for our Water Safety Program and a tour of the J. Strom Thurmond Dam.  The kids were full of energy and we had a great time teaching them about water safety. 

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We get all the kids involved in various parts of the presentation, from trying on life jackets to a science experiment with oranges and a bowl of water, showing how an orange with its peel intact floats, while one without sinks.  An example of how a life jacket works. 

Jacquie, one of our fellow volunteers, does this demonstration with the kids, who get a real kick out of it.

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After the program, we took the kids down to the dam for a tour.  They were amazed at the size of it and got to see the inner workings of the control room and the seven giant turbines that produce clean electricity.  (Sorry, no inside pictures for security reasons).

After the inside tour, we took the kids outside for some pictures.  They were a lively bunch and with their never ending energy, we had to “herd” them along to take some pictures of their day to take back to their school.

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We even were able to get them to stand still long enough to get Ranger Dave (our boss) into some of the shots.

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A great time and lots of fun with kids.  We sure do enjoy this opportunity to help in these kid’s education.  This is one job we’d pay to do.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Okay, This Is Ridiculous!

No air pressure on one of the two dash gauges.  A ringing alarm and a red exclamation point on the instrument panel.  A called off mini “vacation” to Florida.  A return to the COE campground.  That about sums it up.

Except…

The next day I started the Journey up and everything worked properly.  No alarm, no red exclamation point on the instrument panel. Perfect reading on the gauge showing the correct air pressure.

Can’t be.  But it was.  So I decided to test it out several times during the day yesterday and again today, all with the same result.

Everything is working properly, the gauge reads the correct air pressure just like the one underneath it on the dash. 

What could have happened?  I theorize that maybe there was some moisture or ice in one of the air tanks that caused the sensor to malfunction and sound the alarm.  With a bit of warmer weather, the moisture may have dried up or the ice melted.  When I drained the tanks the other day when I was troubleshooting the problem, no moisture came out, but if there was some ice, that might have been the culprit.

Well, that’s what I think happened.  Or we could have had a visit from Murphy’s cousin:

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I’m going to keep starting the engine every couple of days and even take the Journey for a test drive or two.  When we leave the COE for our summer travels mid April, the first thing we’re doing is head up to the Freightliner RV Service Center in Gaffney, SC for our annual service.  If that pesky air pressure gauge acts up, at least we’ll be headed in the right direction to get it fixed.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Guess We Really Weren’t Supposed To Go

We’ve been looking forward to our mini “vacation” to Florida in the Journey.  We’ve been planning on chucking our South Dakota mail service and “moving” to the Sunshine State.  After all the extreme cold weather we’ve been having, this was going to be a welcome change, even if for only about 10 days.

I’ve been waiting for a break in the weather and this morning we got it.  60 degrees was perfect for me to take care of the outside tasks to get the Journey ready.  Number one job was to change the oil in the generator, we do tend to use it pretty heavily when we’re traveling so fresh oil and filter meant we’d be good for another 150 hours of run time.

I got it done, and even had time to take the old oil and filter to the nearby recycling center.  Scratch that off the list.

Since we’ve been sitting since last September at the COE, I knew it was very important to check the tire pressures.  Every tire was down about 10 psi from where I like it, so I dragged out my air hose and filler attachment.  The Journey has an air manifold I can hook the hose into and with running the engine I have a source of compressed air to fill the tires.

I topped off each tire to the proper pressure and wrestled the air hose back into its storage space.  It’s pretty stiff on the warmest days, with all the recent cold weather, it was quite a battle.

The Journey purred like a kitten, I had put the engine block heater on two days ago.  Diesels like to be warm.  We got everything stowed away, dumped tanks, pulled in the slides and raised the levelers.  I even remembered the correct procedure to hook up our Honda Element Toad!

Off we went, hitting the road felt absolutely great.  I headed to a nearby fuel stop where I topped off the fuel tank, $2.39 a gallon.  I don’t think I’ve ever put diesel fuel in at a cheaper price.  A great feeling.

Finished fueling and I started up the Journey ready to go.  And Murphy struck.  That no good *&$^#@*~^%!!!

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I got an alarm ringing and a red symbol on my dash.  Looking down I saw the top air pressure gauge was reading zero when it should have been reading the same as the bottom gauge.  Was is this so important?

Because the Journey has air brakes.

Ok, now into the trouble shooting mode.  I know the air compressor was working, and the air brake system filter (which I replaced every three years) was good, because I had air pressure to the bottom gauge.

I shut off the engine and pulled the drain cords on the three air tanks, all released air and no water drained out, so I knew air pressure was getting into the tanks to work the brakes.  Next I checked the wiring to the tank’s pressure sensors, and disconnected and reconnected the wires.  No luck, the gauge still read zero and the alarm still was ringing.  I have most likely a defective pressure sensor or gauge.  Neither are in my spare parts locker.

Marti and I debated what to do.  The reason we wanted to go to Florida now was to change our address and renew the Journey and Element’s registrations in Florida. 

Since there was the correct amount of air in all the tanks and the brakes worked properly, we could have just driven down and back with the alarm ringing.  Nope, not a good idea, I’d go nuts with the noise.

We could go to a local Freightliner shop and see if they could squeeze us in, or head to the Freightliner RV Service Center in Gaffney, SC and wait in their parking lot until they could take us in.  Neither choice sounded good.

We decided to put it off until next year.  We returned to the COE campground instead.  I’ll be making an appointment with the Freightliner Service Center in Gaffney, SC to get the air pressure problem fixed as well as the yearly maintenance done at the same time.  Mid April looks like a good time to get it done.

It could have been worse, the Journey could have traveled back on the end of a tow truck’s hook, so we’re thankful it wasn’t required. 

I guess we really weren’t supposed to go.  It’s wonderful to be Semper Gumby (Always Flexible).

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Sometimes Ya’ Have To Know When To Quit

As many of you know, I like to do as many of my own repairs to our Journey as possible.  Recently, we had a minor issue with our bedroom slide.  Extending it I heard a “Crack” and wondered what happened.  When bringing the slide in, the bed lifted up a bit before the slide started to move.

I checked under the bed to look at the slide mechanism and found on the slide rail, two bolts had broken on the guide rail.

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The broken part of the bolts were still in the slide guide.

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I got an Easy Out to drill and remove the broken portion of the bolts.

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Using a center punch, I hammered a dimple in the broken bolt so the drill bit would be centered.

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Once I drilled a hole and used the easy out to remove the broken bolts, I saw why the bolts broke.  There is a misalignment in the track and the slide stops are out of adjustment.

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Looking at the stop bolts, they have a yellow line painted on the bolt showing that the adjustment was in place right from the factory and never moved.

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Because the slide adjustments are crucial to where the slide stops going in and out, they need to be readjusted before the new bolts can be installed, or the new bolts will just break too.  Misadjusting the slide stops could cause catastrophic (expensive) damage with the hydraulic pressures on the mechanism.

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I can’t find any place in my owners manual that pertains to adjusting the slide, and I don’t want to monkey with it because I can really damage the slide, so I decided to quit and let the factory do it when we go up there next spring.  The slide is still operational, I just have to push down on the bed when bringing in the slide.

Sometimes certain things have to be left up to the experts.  I know I could adjust it if I just knew how.  I’ll gladly let the factory tech do it, but you can be sure I’ll pick his brain to learn how to do a slide adjustment if it ever happens again.  It will be money well spent.

Some people will point to this and say they’re glad they don’t have slides.  For the extra space they afford, we’re glad to have them and consider a slide repair no different than any other part of an RV that breaks, be it a fan belt or a water heater.  Just the cost of doing business.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

I didn’t know that Murphy was related to Jack Frost and Old Man Winter.  A combination of all three of them has put a stop to our travel plans.

I could use a little bit of that Global Warming we’re promised right about now.  16 degrees F last night, now at 3 pm, it’s just ticked over 30.  Not too cold you say?  Well, with the wind whipping at better than 30 knots, it’s positively frigid.  Or too cold for my old bones.

I have a few maintenance items and things I need to stow away on the Journey before we head out for a brief 10 days in sunny and warm (?) Florida.  Not going to happen today, maybe the wind will let up a bit (as promised by the weather guessers) so I can get everything taken care of tomorrow for a Saturday launch.

We’re running down to Crestview, FL to change our residency from South Dakota as well as our mailing service.  Seems out current mail service has been sold and renamed, as well as moving a couple of blocks down the street requiring us to put in a change of address.  Since they’ve messed up our mail several times over the last couple of years, we’re pulling the plug on them. 

Nothing better than opening up your mail packet and finding someone else’s mail.  Then having to wait for your mail to be returned to the mail center by the other person who received it in error and then be sent to you.  Late. 

Or sending in a mail request as to where you want your mail sent and it never gets there, because it was never sent in the first place.  Then mail that gets to the mail center like clockwork that gets remailed to you late, such as Christmas cards and other mail postmarked in early December and it shows up in your end of January mail shipment.  I could go on, but you get the drift.

While we’re in Florida, we need to get a window fixed on the Journey’s entry door.  It’s a dual pane window which has lost its seal and is fogging up.  There’s a place that will repair the window and guarantee it for 10 years saving us more than $500 over replacing it with new glass.

The best part is I’ll be seeing the road with 20-15 vision in both eyes.  My latest cataract surgery has been a big success, now all I need is some reading glasses, a real life change for me.  I’ve been wearing glasses fulltime for almost 40 years.  Now I can get some sexy, fancy sun glasses, something I’ve never been able to do before.  I’ll be stylin’…

I do have to have a follow up in 3 weeks, because when I had my right eye done and a subsequent retina detachment resulting in two emergency surgeries, they eye doc wants to make sure all is well in the newly fixed left eye.  I’m at a higher risk for retina troubles because of the past (not fun) episodes.  If all checks out and there is no expectation of troubles, I’m good for another 3 months. 

Now we have to drag out maps and actually be able to plan some travels and new destinations to visit.  There actually is another cruise on the horizon, too, this time with Royal Caribbean the end of April.

If the ocean has thawed out by then…  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Things I’ve Learned While Full Timing

Before we decided to to chuck it all and hit the road full time in our RV, I scoured dozens of RV forums and Fulltimer blogs to learn everything I could about the lifestyle.  I wanted to be fully prepared and knowledgeable about anything and everything that possibly could happen while traveling.  I thought I had all the bases covered. 

I was wrong.

Now that we’ve been on the road over three years fulltime, I’ve learned a few things that despite my research, I never expected.  I thought I’d share a few of them with ya’ll:

Murphy is a constant traveling companion.  No matter how fast you drive, or how sneaky you plan your route, he’ll always find you and make your life “challenging”.  He does his best work breaking things in your RV on a weekend, when all the parts places are closed.

You really can fit ten pounds of stuff in a five pound bag. You become an expert at using every square inch of space to stash your most important items and treasures away.

You really can’t remember where you’ve stashed your most important items and treasures when you need them.  You will, however, constantly discover their hiding places right after you purchased the replacement item.

No matter what item you need, it will always be in the basement compartment on the other side of the RV.

Folding chairs seem to multiply like bunnies.  And none of them are really comfortable.

  Socks, however, still seem to disappear, even when you have an onboard washer/dryer and laundry never leaves the inside of the RV.

Overnight stays at Walmart when traveling are much more costly than even the most plush RV Resort.

Diesel fuel will always be cheaper at the very next exit after you’ve filled the tank to the brim.  Plus, when staying in one place for an extended stay, you’ll see the price drop drastically, only to increase to a much higher level as soon as you pull out and hit the road again. 

You get tired of washing dishes by hand because you don’t have a dishwasher.  This leads to inventing new kinds of culinary delights you can cook using the least amounts of pots, pans and plates.

Wind is the bane of RV living.  When traveling, it will always be a headwind.  When parked, it will rock your RV back and forth and rattle the slide toppers to no end.

WD-40 really is a miracle product.  As is duct tape and Gorilla Glue.

A big bug will splat on the windshield right in your line of sight, especially just minutes after you hit the highway for a long driving day.

You will always encounter a pelting rainstorm the day after you’ve washed and waxed your RV, despite the weather guessers promising clear and sunny skies.

If 80 percent of all the items on board your RV work 80 percent of the time, you will be 100 percent happy.

If you are not mechanically handy before you hit the road in an RV, you soon will be after. 

The one part you need to fix something will always be on backorder.  After finally getting and installing it, the very next time you stop at Camping World, not only will they have an overflowing shelf filled with that exact part, they will be on sale.

The tool you really need is the one you sold when getting your house ready for sale.  On the other hand, one can never have enough screwdrivers, pliers and adjustable wrenches.

The best campsites are always the most unlevelled.  Or they may be the best campsite you’ve ever had, but the neighbor’s dog yaps all day while they are out.  That same yappy dog will leave you a “present” right outside your step.

Workamping and volunteering is not only a great way to save money, it can be addicting.  Don’t be surprised to find yourself doing some things for free that in the past you wouldn’t do for all the money in the world.  And you enjoy doing it.

A GPS is a wonderful tool.  Until it gets you more lost than you could do by yourself using a map.

When it comes to black tank disasters, there are two kinds of people, those that have had spills and those who haven’t.  Yet.

Finally, and most importantly, you will meet some of the nicest people ever as fellow RV travelers, and they will become life long friends.  You’ll go out of your way to cross paths with them and enjoy meeting up with them again and again.

What things have you discovered that you never knew?

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Can See Clearly Now

Just a quick update to say thanks for all the thoughts, comments and prayers for my eye surgery.  It went off without a hitch.  Nine minutes under the knife, a total of just sixteen total minutes it the operating room.

Unlike the last time where the surgery lasted over an hour and left me with a bunch of stiches in the eye and follow up surgeries for a detached retina, this experience was almost a pleasure.

A quick follow up check with the eye surgeon today shows all is well, I already have 20-25 vision in the eye and am told it will improve even more.  I no longer have to wear glasses for distance, just for reading, and I’m okay with that.

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Official orders from the eye doc are no heavy lifting, no bending down and to take it easy.  Sounds like I need to be a couch potato for the next couple of days, something I think I can handle.

One more follow up next week and we should be free to take a short break from our COE volunteering for about 10 days bopping around Florida.

Life is good!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Eyeball Deep

Sometimes workamping can keep you so busy with tedious details, you feel you are eyeball deep in work and can’t keep up.  Not every task is glamorous and sexy, but it still is very important.

We’ve been working on the COE’s Water Safety Program.  Last year over 6000 students in schools surrounding Thurmond Lake went through the program, it was very successful.  Marti and I, with a couple of other workampers have been updating the program, designing and putting together new flyers and delivering them to the local schools. 

Soon we’ll be training some new workampers on how to conduct the actual sessions with the kids and we’re looking forward to the return of a couple of seasoned hands, Mike and Terri, who were a major part of the success of last year’s program.  

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Speaking of eyeballs, tomorrow I have surgery scheduled for a cataract removal on my left eye.  Hopefully, it will go smoothly this time, unlike the “fun” I had on my right eye, with complications causing two further surgeries for a retina detachment.  I want to see clearly to enjoy the sunsets where we’re staying at the Volunteer Village.

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Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

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