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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wrestling With License Plates

We're pretty proud of our "R SANITY" license plate.  We've had that plate on all of our last three motorhomes and have received many a great comment about it.  It was a no brainer to get the custom plate when we lived in Virginia, going online we chose not only the plate, but we even had a choice of backgrounds, so we picked the Shenandoah Mountains, close by to where we lived.  Ten dollars with our credit card, the order was placed and in two weeks we had our custom license plate. :c)

During our crazy working years, hopping in the motorhome and sneaking away for the weekend gave us the respite we needed, we felt our "batteries" were recharged and we were ready to face another week.  Marti was the one that came up with the idea for the plate and we even named our blog for it.  If you look closely at our header picture you can see the plate on the Journey.

Enter South Dakota.  After selling our house and "moving" to Sioux Falls, we went to the DMV in person and asked about gettting the same plate in South Dakota colors.

We were informed in no uncertain terms that because we didn't actually "live" in South Dakota and had just a personal mail box, we were not authorized to have a custom plate.  Huh?  Isn't my money that I'm paying to register my motorhome just as green as a South Dakota resident that lives in a stix-n-brix?
I asked for a supervisor, who told me in no uncertain terms the same thing.  We are second class citizens because we live in a mailbox.
I figured that was the end of it.  But out of curiosity, I asked a question about it on the RV Dreams forum and received a reply from Cherie, aka Technomadia.  She has a custom South Dakota license plate on her bus conversion.  She told me how she got the plate.
I followed Cherie's instructions, found the South Dakota DMV website, download and filled in the form, then sent it in with my $30 check.  O boy! 
In my next mail delivery, I received my check and form back from the South Dakota DMV with a note saying I had to go through my county (Minnehaha) where I had originally registered the Journey.  I guess Cherie must have registered her bus conversion in a friendlier county than mine.
Great.  Back to dealing with the same DMV that told me in no uncertain terms we were not authorized to have a custom license plate.
Then, in one of my rare moments of brilliance, I remembered that our remailing service, Alternative Resources can register your vehicles for you by mail.  A quick phone call to their DMV guru, Karen, put me on the right track.
She said in no uncertain terms that I can get a personalized South Dakota license plate even though I reside in a mailbox.  She really knew her stuff.  She was even ready and willing to give the Minnehaha DMV office a heads up call to help me out.  Great!
Just one small catch.  Minnehaha County DMV requires you to turn in your current license plate first, then they will issue you a temporary plate while you wait the four to six weeks it takes to have the custom plate made.  With our twice a month mail service it would mean we'd certainly  have to remain in one place for over a month, or longer to first wait for delivery of the temp plate and then the real one.  One final tidbit, I'd have to enclose a money order because the DMV won't take a personal check.
We'd probably be better served to plan to go to South Dakota in person again and stay there for four to six weeks.  That's not going to happen any time soon.  For some reason, I can't see us sitting anywhere for that long...
So maybe someday we'll get that R SANITY plate from South Dakota.  Except we may change our minds, with all the grief and hoops we'll have to jump through, we might be better served changing our custom plate to:
Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Keeping Warm In The Cold

Today’s high temperature has already been reached, 44.8F.  By tonight, it’s going to drop about 25 degrees and remain the same nighttime temps for the next three days.


We’re sung as a bug in the proverbial rug in the Journey as long as we have enough propane.  Looking at the gauge on my propane tank, we should have enough to last for tonight, then I’m going to have to switch to the onboard tank, or borrow a tank from my son. 


Because we’re on a household electric 20 amp circuit, we can’t use our heat pump, it would draw far more than the 20 amps and trip the house’s circuit breaker.

Plus, the Journey has an enclosed basement, where all the water tanks, water pump and plumbing run. As long as the furnace is running, the spaces are heated by ducts that run down there. With just electric heat, no hot air would get down there and frozen plumbing could occur. Not good! :cO

I have not found a place locally to get my tank refilled, seems that everyone has switched to that swap-a-tank system.  Because my tank has the installed gauge connected to a float inside the tank, I’m not switching it out for a standard tank.

Corey came up with this for me, an early Christmas present.


It is a screw on gauge that fits any standard propane tank. 


If I had known these things were made, I wouldn’t have bought the tank with the installed gauge.  It would make things simpler.

We’re here in NJ until departure Thursday, then heading down to South Carolina.  An appointment for the broken awning motor at Camping World is set for 3 December, and the good news is I finally have been scheduled for an evaluation appointment with the Veterans Administration Hospital in Columbia, SC on 7 December.  I never thought I’s see the day.

Our plans are to be with Andrew and Owen (and Heather and Brian) for Christmas and in early January drive up to PA in our car to see Ryan’s promotion to Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer.  I’ll watch the anchors that I wore when I was a Chief passed on to him and pinned on his uniform’s collars.  It is a huge milestone in his Coast Guard career.


We miss Taylor, Kierra and little Rebekah too much already and can’t wait to see them again.



In the meantime, we’re enjoying our last few days with Anabelle (and Corey and Amanda, too).  Anabelle has finally approved of me.


She’s keeping us plenty busy!


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles

Wow, baby!  It’s getting cold here in New Jersey!  How’d that happen?  Do you suppose winter’s impending arrival has anything to do with it?

And the icing on the cake?  Forecasts call for a “Wintery Mix” on the horizon accompanied by cold temperatures.  Peachy, just peachy.

We’re planning on leaving NJ for warmer climes (hopefully) in South Carolina on Thursday, so we’ll have to endure this taste,( and hopefully only) of winter weather.

Of course, not being able to fill the onboard propane tank the other day has made for some worries about keeping warm.  We arrived with a half tank of propane.  It has now gone down a good bit and won’t last until our departure date.


To make matters even more fun, there is no good place around here to pull up chocks on the Journey and get the tank filled.  Fortunately I planned ahead.  I bought an Extend-a-Stay kit for circumstances just like this.  I also bought a small propane tank with a gauge so I’ll know when it is running out and then turn on the main tank.


The install is easy.  The big thing to remember is that the threads are Left Hand instead of the normal right hand.  It was just a matter of pulling off the plastic cover over the regulator, unbolting the fittings, then installing the Extend-a-Stay part and screwing the original fittings into the it.  The shiny brass part is the Extend-a-Stay.  The black hose runs to the external propane tank.


Before putting away the tools, I took a cupful of soapy water and a paper towel and dripped the soapy water over all the fittings.  I kept seeing bubbles where the hose attached.  I found that you have to ensure the hose is screwed in really tight.  Once the bubbles stopped, I reinstalled the plastic cover over the regulator that keeps it clean.


Now we can face the worst winter has to offer and be warm and cozy inside the Journey.  When we run low, it’s easy to get the portable tank refilled and we don’t have to move the motorhome.

And I’ll leave blowing bubbles to the expert. ;c)


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Friday, November 23, 2012

RV Maintenance Tip–A New Thing To Check

RVs are big (BIG) machines with all kinds of components to keep an eye on and maintain.  Sometimes little things turn up that can cause a catastrophe if they fail, and you know how that Murphy guys likes to exploit those little things.

I found something new and have added it to my maintenance list.  I found it quite by accident.

As you know we currently are GAFHing in Corey and Amanda’s driveway.  It is plenty big for the Journey to fit, but sometimes a little extra room for cars is a good thing.  I removed my Roadmaster tow bar to make about 3 1/2 more feet of room behind the Journey.


I put the tow bar under the Journey and went  to screw my locking pin back in so I wouldn’t lose it (we’re still looking for the new filter for our vacuum cleaner that has disappeared somewhere inside the Journey we bought weeks ago).


I noticed a little rust on the pin so I took a closer look and found this:


You can see wear marks on the pin.  Now the pin is a case hardened, very strong piece of metal, able to withstand enormous pressure and stresses.  What I don’t know is how deep into the pin’s metal the hardening is.  Potentially it could crack and break off, letting the tow bar slide out while attached to the Element toad.  It’s not a good thing to have your toad pass you on the highway…

Actually, we have an Air Force 1 toad braking system so if that happened, the car would come to a stop.  But who needs that hassle?

The pin doesn’t cost much, something like $10-12 at Walmart or $14 at Camping World.  I’ll be replacing that pin soon, depending which store has one in stock.  In fact, I’ll pick up a spare and hope I can find it when I need it. :cO

The wear pattern on the pin made me take a close look at the tow hitch.  The hole on the tow hitch doesn’t show any real wear, I inserted the pin the other way and there was minimal wear. 


While I was at it, I took a good look at all the hitch mounting bolts, too. 


They all checked out good.  One less thing for Mr. Murphy to exploit. :c)

I think I’ll inspect the pin twice a year and maybe even replace it annually.  Just because.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hanging With The Little Girls

We had a great Thanksgiving with over thirty family members and friends.  A wonderful day. 

One special highlight…Mimi Marti with her two youngest granddaughters, Anabelle and Rebekah.


Priceless!  :c)

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I Need Remedial Babysitting

Marti and I have been having a wonderful time getting reacquainted with Anabelle while her mommy Amanda and daddy Corey work during the day.

She feels very comfortable in Marti’s arms.


Once she had a full tummy, she wandered over to me, fascinated by my camera.


Until I picked her up…


I must have lost my touch with babies!  She cried hard and made me feel really bad.  So what did I do?  I took some blackmail photos to save for the future, when she introduces me to her boyfriend.  :c)


Marti and I wish all of our wonderful blog readers and friends a Happy Thanksgiving!


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Monday, November 19, 2012

Self Inflicted Ouch

Off we went this morning with a cool, sunny day for our “short” hop over to New Jersey (109 miles) to our son Corey’s house.  Knowing that we’d be sort of off the grid as far as hookups go, I wanted to ensure our propane tank was full.  Plugging into Corey’s electricity, we’d only have a maximum of 20 amps, so using our heat pump was out of the question.  We’ll have to utilize our propane furnace to make the Journey nice and toasty inside.

I had spotted a propane company on some of our trips from the Pennsylvania  campground to son Ryan’s house, so I decided to stop in and top off before we hooked up the Element for our drive over to NJ.

Marti followed behind me and as I turned a real sharp right hand corner into the propane company, I contacted the curb with the right rear tire.  Just a slight kiss, no I didn’t pop the tire.  What I did do made me sick.


I gouged my aluminum rim.  Bummer!!!  I guess I’ll get my Dremel tool out to grind the sharp edges flat and smooth, but it will always be there to remind me that I did that ouch. :c(

The icing on the cake?  The propane company does not fill motorhome tanks, they have no pump facility.  The ouch was for nothing.

Well, I have a half full onboard propane tank and will have to hook up my external tank with the Extend A Stay adaptor I bought.

Off we went, got a little lost trying to get on the PA turnpike, and had another case of dueling GPS units, we each have one, a larger 7 inch screen for me to watch the direction and a small one on Marti’s passenger window for her to navigate with.

After a short, 10 mile detour trying to find a U-turn, we headed in the right direction.  Upon arriving on Corey’s street, we had to thread the needle past piles of tree limbs awaiting pickup by his town’s public works department.  Fallout from Hurricane Sandy.  Residents were allowed to pile up downed tree limbs and branches into piles along the street.


We got set up in Corey and DIL Amanda’s driveway for a week of GAFH (Gratefully Accepting Family’s Hospitality).


Inside the house was the prize…Anabelle!


We haven’t seen her in several months and we’re falling behind on our spoiling her.  We’ll have to get busy to make up for lost time! ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to make a comment.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

I’m Getting A Complex

We took a trip to the Philadelphia Zoo with the granddaughters and DIL Amber.  I was looking forward to a great time with them and I was determined to get some great pictures of the wildlife on display.  I was determined to make Judy envious.


It was a cool day, the girls were dressed warmly.


Little Rebekah was snug as a bug in a rug in her stroller.


There were some peacocks walking around the zoo.  I tried to get a good picture, but the peacock
turned away from me as I snapped.


We went to see the lions, I thought I’d get some good shots.


The lioness started to get up, I was ready.


Then she presented me her best side.


At the tiger cage, the same thing happened.



The Hippo pen.


The Zebra pen.


The Rhino pen.


The Polar Bear enclosure.


Little Rebekah was starting to wonder why I was getting frustrated.


Then Bald Eagle, the same thing…


the Penguins, more of the same.


Even the Pink Flamingos gave me the cold “shoulder”.


Finally, at the Gorilla cage, I thought I’d have a chance to get some good pictures.  When the gorilla saw me, he put his head on his hands and was thinking as he eye-balled me.


Then, he climbed down, went outside and…you guessed it.


Taylor and Kierra decided to help me and held this animal steady so I could get a good shot.  They were afraid I was getting a complex…


There were many other animals, but all I got was more butt shots.  Fortunately, I was able to snap a facial picture of these three little cute animals.


Sadly, today was our last day with the girls.  Tomorrow we head over to New Jersey and see our other granddaughter, Anabelle!

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It’s been a while since we’ve seen her, we’re sure looking forward to it! :c)
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