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Friday, April 30, 2010

It's hard to take a bad picture in Oregon

One of our two sons, Ryan, lives with his wife Amber and two daughters, Taylor and Kierra, in Astoria, Oregon, where he is stationed in the U.S. Coast Guard.  We drove them there in our motorhome when he transferred from his previous duty station in New York City.

It was a great trip out and will be the subject of a future post.  So for now, we have to fly out there for subsequent visits, and they are too far between and go too fast.

On our last trip, we rented a van and traveled up and down the coast as well as a drive up to Mount St.Helens in Washington State.  Granddaughter Taylor wanted to see a volcano. :c)

Marti and I have a thing for trains and we look for steam train rides wherever we happen to travel.  We found a train that goes up and down the Oregon coast, so we took them all for a ride on the rails on a beautiful sunny day.

Here the train is taking on water for the steam engine.

We chose the open car to see the views better.

The breeze felt good in the warm sun.

The views were spectacular and the only way I could have messed up the pictures would have been to have left the lens cap on!

We left the train and drove further along the coastal highway and made several stops at scenic overlooks.

And we had to make the most important stop...

...testing out the water!

Another day we drove up to Mount St. Helens.

Sadly, it was so overcast, we couldn't see it.  It drizzled a bit while we were there.  Even though the weather didn't cooperate, there were still amazing things to see.

These stumps were all that was left of the deeply wooded mountains after Mount St. Helens blew on 18 May 1980.

Despite the terrible destruction, nature always finds a way to regenerate.

We look forward to retiring, heading out full timing in our motorhome and spending lots of time visiting the Oregon coast.  Until then, we'll have to settle for short visits and put up with Marti's office always tracking her down with the latest problem that only she can solve!  To quote Howard Payne of RV-Dreams: "Sheesh!"

Thanks for visiting.  Please feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Marti Drives a Duck.

We were able to juggle our schedules to actually find the same week free for both of us.  After wrestling (with ideas, not each other), we settled on a quick, week long visit to Branson, Missouri.

Branson is becoming the Show Capital of the country, with about 120 different shows playing most times of the year.  Family shows, shows you'd be happy to take your grandmother to, unlike Vegas, where you need to hide your eyes most of the time.

We hooked up the toad, made a quick food store stop and headed out.  Branson is a two day drive from our house, so once again, many photos were snapped through the windshield.

We made a few stops, mostly at the insistence of Zoe, she hasn't mastered using the bathroom in the motorhome, yet.  Something about not having  thumbs and being defeated by doorknobs.

We stayed at the America's Best Campground and booked a bunch of shows, many just $25 or $30 per person.  Irish Tenors, Broadway dancing, Peter Pan, Noah's Ark, with real animals and Marti's favorite guy (besides me)...

...the Russian comedian, Yakov Smirnoff. 

We needed a break from all the tapping, singing and spotlights, so we decided to do something that would enable us to see some of the area besides the inside of the theaters.  What better way to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air than on a Duck!

No!  Not that kind of Duck, THIS kind of Duck!

We wandered all around the Branson area, seeing the sights.

We finally ended up taking the plunge right into Table Rock Lake!

That's where the Captain gave up the wheel to Marti and she drove the Duck all around the lake.  She drove it like a pro, must come from being married to a Coastie!

We may not be full timers yet, but we pack alot of fun into short periods of time. :c)

As always, thanks for visiting.  Leave a comment!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Motorhome Upgrades III

Our Journey is equipped with two Fantastic Fans.  They really work good, move some serious air and keep the motorhome smelling good (especially the one in the bathroom). ;c)

They have a large round screen on the inside (the interior ceiling side) to keep bugs out.  The screen has a downside, though.  It gets dirty with dust in the air and periodically needs to be removed and cleaned.  The screens are held in place by about 9 small screws all around the screen's edge.  You can get a pretty good crick in your neck and really tired wrists removing and replacing the screws.

Again, because I'm lazy, I keep my eyes looking for the better mousetrap, and I found it.  The original, screwed in screen can be replaced with a snap in screen.

You remove the original screen, with all its screws and toss it.  The new, snap in screen replaces it all and is easy to install.  There is a little notch on the screen edge you can hook your fingernail in and pop the screen right off, clean it and snap it right back in.

You can find the screens at Camping World or other RV supply stores.  They come in a 2-pack for about 20 bucks.  My neck and wrists are happy.

Thanks for reading.  Please feel free to post a comment...they're free!

PS:  I now can post pictures on the blog again.  Evidently Blogger and Picasa have made up and are working fine together again.  I don't know what happened, maybe the threat of a hammer had something to do with it? ;c)

Anyway, I put a couple of pictures in the Battery Fill post if you want to take a look.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Motorhome Upgrades II

Sometimes upgrades are "Just Because" you want them.  Sometime they are important upgrades because they save you money.

Have you priced a 12 volt Deep Cycle Battery lately?  I'll let you in on a secret...they are expensive!

On our Journey, we have three 12 volt deep cycle batteries.  They are wet cell, meaning they need to have the battery water checked on a regular basis and if the water is low, distilled water should be added to bring the levels up to full.

The batteries are in a pull out drawer, one placed behind the other behind the other.  The first two batteries are easy to see into the cells, and to add water.  The back battery is the challenge.  Because of the location of the hinge on the compartment door the battery slide is contained in, it is really hard to see into the cells, let alone add water.

Being the genius that I am, I devised a technique using a mirror to see into the cells and a turkey baster to add distilled water.  It worked brilliantly...or so I thought.

One cell, one lousy cell didn't get topped off correctly.  I must have had a smudge on the mirror or something.  Because of the low water level on that one cell, and its close proximity to the hot engine block when the battery tray was pushed all the way in, that cell got cooked and was irreparably damaged.  Bummer.

When you have multiple batteries set up, they all need to be of the same age or a new battery hooked up with the old ones will basically be aged to the levels of the old batteries, leading to premature death down the road and maybe a cold  night when the furnace quits due to dead batteries.

So I had to replace not one battery but all three.  Bummer times three!  A serious "ouchy" on the wallet.

I had to prevent the battery issue from happening again, so another fun trip to Camping World where I purchased this:

                                                       Battery Fill

It has caps that replace the battery caps and are all linked together by clear plastic hoses.  You get a squeeze bulb that hooks up to the cap hoses and a with few simple squeezes on the bulb the cells are topped off to the correct level.  When the bulb becomes hard to squeeze, you're done. 

It's idiot proof and that is why it works so well for me!

As always, thanks for reading, all comments are appreciated.  Thanks to all our follwers who've signed on to
keep track of us!  :c)



Please bear with me, Blogger and Picasa are not talking.

I'm struggling to get Blogger and Picasa to talk.  They must have had a fight or something because when I try to upload a picture, Blogger won't let me go to my pictures on my computer, that I manage with Picasa.

Being a diesel mechanic in the past, I'm used to fixing things with a hammer...sometimes a BIG hammer.  Computers, however don't take kindly to hammers, so I'm having to use my brain to figure this out.  That is why it's taking so long... :c)

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Campground you DON'T want to go to!

You DON'T want to go to this campground and I'll tell you why.  It has become so popular, we often have a very hard time reserving a site!

It is located in Centreville, VA, about 35 miles west of Washington, DC just off Route 66. 

If you are a Civil War history buff, you'll find this very interesting National Park a couple of miles west of the campground.


Bull Run Regional Park Campground has large, pull through sites, both FHU,

      and electric only, most recently upgraded to 20/30/50 amp boxes.

Here are some of the electric only pull through sites.

Another view of the electric only pull through sites.

The FHU sites are here all along one row:

You can also pick a more secluded site:

Even if you had a big rig.

There are two Comfort Stations complete with toilets, sinks, showers, washers and dryers.

If you don't have an RV, they have six air conditioned cabins.

And tent sites, too.  Both individual and group sites like this one.

There is a "two-holer" dump site with tapered concrete towards the sewer holes.

Propane on site.

Fun stuff for the kids to do, too!

This is a great water park/pool area.

If you like hiking, there are great trails.

Zoe loves to camp with us and personally inspects each site's hookups.

However, if you want to watch satellite TV, you will need one of these.  The whole campground is nestled between tall trees.

So there you have it, our favorite campground.  If you MUST go, please don't reserve our favorite site, 129!  You'll be fightin' me for it!  :c)

Bull Run Regional Park
7700 Bull Run Drive
Centreville, VA 20121
(703) 631-0550

As always, thanks for reading.  Please feel free to post a comment!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marti's Musings: "Mimi? I just want you to know..."

Ok, there  are days that I am perfectly content with the way things are, RVing on weekends (such as this gorgeous one, as I sit under our awning typing this) and vacations.. then there are days that I get a(HUGE) tug from the precious grandtreasures, such as this:

Phone rings. Grandson, Andrew aged 6 years, is calling to talk to his Mimi and Pa.  I get on the phone and he says "Mimi? I just want you to know we are moving to South Carolina and I will never see you again." (said with matter-of-factness, with a slight quiver in his voice).

 My response: "Andrew?  Of course you will see us again.  We will come and visit you, just like we do where you live now (NJ)"  What I WANTED to say was: "'Of course you will see us again!  We are retiring and going to move there with you!  We have already researched the area, and there is a big, beautiful campground just a few minutes away!"

 The actual conversation continued for several minutes, me explaining how much we love him, and no matter WHERE he lives, we will come to visit him, because we love him and his brother so much. Of course, Andrew with his wise beyond years mind, asks about Africa, and how long would it take us to go there?  (thankfully, I KNOW his parents have no plans to move to Africa; typical for Andrew, he was processing and testing out my I-will-come-to-visit-you-where-ever-you-are-theory). Thankfully, the conversation ended happily - we talked about his new house, hopefully with a built in pool; new friends and he was fine when we said good-bye.  Yes, HE was fine, but his Mimi and Pa were more than a little choked up that he was afraid he would never see us again.

 That conversation has played in my mind endlessly since he called, a mere 4 days ago.  And it is at times like that, it makes me ready to throw in the towel and say: "ok, that's it... grandtreasures.. HERE WE COME!"  For now, I must be content with the phone calls, the video chats (you DO know about SKYPE and Window video chatting, right?), playing games with them online (UNO being the favorite) and counting down the days til the next visit. (13 as of today for the boys, and 3 months for the girls).  The plans are still being worked out, but kids?  That day will come..... 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Motorhome Upgrades

I can't control myself.  I have to tinker.  I have to improve on everything I touch...except Marti.  She's perfect for me! :c)

One thing I don't understand is why motorhomes that have 22.5 inch tires don't come with a spare tire.
My previous motorhome with 19.5 inch tires came with a mounted spare tucked nicely underneath.

I've heard the justifications for the lack of the tire, too heavy, need large tools to change the tire, let the road service do it, yada, yada, yada.

I've also read some of the horror stories.  Stuck on the side of the road while the road service drove 200 miles to pick up the tire.  Only had a used tire.  Only had a tire in the wrongs size, close but no cigar.
Held up with highway robbery by the road service who demanded an obscene price for the tire they brought out.

My Journey did not come with a spare.  My tire size is also not too common, it is somewhat smaller than the more common sizes of tires on highway trucks.

So I decided I'd order a spare tire.  Checked around for the same brand and size tire that came with my motorhome and had to order it, nobody had it in stock.  It came in SEVEN business days later!  A mere $411.00.  I was very glad to have done this in advance rather than having to sit on the side of the road that long.

I decided to carry just the tire, and would, if the need every arises,  let the road service change the tire on the rim.  Unfortunately, my basement storage compartments are not deep enough to carry the spare.  Plus I didn't want to give up precious space for my tire.  So I had to come up with a better solution.

I went to Lowe's and bought two pieces of steel flat stock, two 1/2 threaded rods, flat washers and lock nuts to fit on the threaded rod.  I also purchased some heavy plastic wrap and Gorilla tape.

I painted the flat stock and drilled holes in both ends.  I painted them on a handy fire ring in the campground, didn't want anyone to think that was my spare tire. ;c)

I wrapped the tire in heavy plastic to preserve it and to prevent dirt and water from getting inside the casing.  I wrapped the ends of the plastic with the tape and put some around both the outside and inside to be sure.

I then placed one piece of flat stock on, top of the frame, the other piece under the tire and used the lock nuts to pull the tire up and sandwich it tight against the frame in a nice spot just in front of the rear axle.

I had some second thoughts and decided to use some plastic coated chain to be a backup in case of a failure of the threaded rods or a loose nut or something.  I looped the chains around the tire and the frame, clipping the ends together with a link, one on each side of the tire.  You can see the yellow chains in the picture.  I know I don't need the chains, but it's just my German DNA, I have to overbuild things. ;c)

The tire is tucked up nicely and you cannot even see it unless you get down on your knees and look up.
I'm pretty happy the way it turned out, have driven several thousand miles without it moving and have the piece of mind that I won't be stranded on the side of the road.

As always, thanks for reading.  Comments welcome!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Gone Camping! :c)

Out for the weekend at our favorite campground.  Check back tomorrow for a picture tour.