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Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Vacation From Our "Vacation"

One misconception many people have about fulltime RV travelers is that they are always on "Vacation".  While we are able to set our own agenda and travel where and when we want, it is still life, with many of the same challenges and issues that we experienced during our working days.

We often find we're so busy that we wonder how we were able to fit "life" in while in our careers.  We've enjoyed our retired days traveling and workamping, but sometimes it's good to get away and take a break from it all.

So we're off on another 7 day cruise with our favorite pal, Mickey and the Disney Fantasy into the Caribbean once again.  New islands we've never been to and a chance to sit back and enjoy the ocean breeze.  We booked this trip last year while we were on the Disney Fantasy and got a very nice discount for this trip.  What's not to love?


We will be hitting the ground running when we get back to the COE, the springtime Water Safety Program is heating up, which we present to over 6000 elementary and middle school kids every year.  It keeps us really busy, so a little fun for ourselves now is just what the doctor ordered.

We'll be back shortly, with a little tan and a whole lot of stories.  Stay tuned!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Throwaway Society

Up in the morning, as I stepped into the Journey's bathroom, my feet squished on the rug.  Not good.  Plus we had no little grandsons visiting, so there was no bad aim to blame.

I got out a flashlight, picked up the rug and saw clear water (phew!) around the base of the toilet.  Looking all around, I couldn't see where the water was coming from, so I had to resort to exploratory surgery.

I keep lots of spare parts on hand and one of those is  a spare gasket for the toilet to floor connection.  I took the toilet off, looked it over and didn't see any source of the water leak.  I also took a picture of the toilet's model and serial number located on the back in case I needed to order parts (good luck with that, wishful thinking).

 Once that was done, I put the new gasket on and reinstalled the toilet.

After I bolted down the toilet, I reconnected the water line and had an "Ah Ha!" moment.  There was a drip coming from the connection where the water line screwed onto the toilet.  So I tightened the connection a little bit.  Still dripped.  Tightened it a little more.  Still dripped.  I was afraid to tighten it any more because the fittings are plastic.

On to plan "B".  Some thread tape.  Pulled off the line, taped up the male threads and reconnected the line.  Still dripped.  Tightened it a little more.  Still dripped.  Not good, so on to plan "C".

Off to Lowe's.  18 miles one way.  Yep, we're out in the boonies where we're camped at the COE Volunteer Village.  I picked up a small can of pipe dope.  18 miles back.

I coated the male threads with the pipe dope, reconnected the water line and no more drip.  I'm happy.

The next morning as I stepped into the Journey's bathroom, my feet squished on the rug.  WHAT!!!

Took my flashlight out, looked at the water line and it was dry as a bone, but there was clear water coming out around the base of the toilet.

Even though our toilet has a china bowl, the internal parts are all plastic.  In the past, I've had bad experiences trying to get parts for RV toilets, in fact, looking on line, a rebuild kit cost more than a new toilet.  So it was clear, the toilet had to be replaced. 

We headed out to the local RV dealer, well, local is a stretch, the "local" dealer is over 20 miles away.  Talking with the parts guy, they didn't have our toilet in stock, but had many other models that would work.  Yeah, they'd work but it would entail making up a new water line, cutting a hole in the bathroom wall and rerouting the line because all the toilets had the water connection on the other side of the toilet. 

A pretty big, time consuming project.  Not one I wanted to get involved in because with my track record, every time I work on things, it usually takes several trips to Lowe's.  Not going to happen because Lowe's, as you know, is 18 miles.  One way.

There is a Camping World 95 miles away.  With the toilet's model and serial number, I called them to see if they had one in stock.  The parts guy at Camping World said they didn't have one in stock.

Now what to do?  Drove back the 20 miles to the campground and I went on line again to see if I could locate a replacement toilet and see if I could get it shipped overnight, I'd bite the bullet on the shipping cost.  Just for grins and giggles, I looked at the Camping World website and there was the exact toilet we needed.  With a Camping World stock number.  Another "Ah Ha!" moment.  I called the store again, this time with their stock number and they had not one toilet, but four in stock. 

Here is where more fun started.  It was 3:15 pm.  They closed at 5.  Off we went to get a new toilet.

We arrived at 4:40 and bought the toilet.  The girl that I had talked to on the phone was impressed that we had gotten there so quickly.  She asked how fast I had driven.  I told her 75-80 mph.  (Disclaimer:  If  you are a police officer reading this, I drove 55mph.  Safely)   ;c)

The story ends happily.  New toilet installed, took the old toilet apart and found the cracked plastic valve inside that was the real source of the leak.  A simple part that could be replaced, if I could have found one.  As hard as it was to find a replacement toilet, I'd be waiting weeks to get the parts that have to be purchased as a kit, that costs more than the toilet.  I don't know about you, but my bladder isn't that strong.

It's sad that manufacturers make things disposable, instead of easily fixable.  For my toilet, it is amazing that the parts are more expensive than the unit itself.  Since the original toilet lasted over eight years, I guess I'll have a dry bathroom rug for at least for the next eight years.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Friday, January 8, 2016

I'd Rather Paint

The holidays are over, but that doesn't mean we're slacking off here with our workamping.  In fact, in January, there is one very big job that the Corps Of Engineers does every year.

The rangers set up a drop off point for area residents to drop off their Christmas Trees for recycling.  There are usually hundreds, sometime thousands of trees dropped off.

Rangers and COE volunteers, along with other local volunteers come, sort through the trees and drag them to the cub in an orderly fashion.
From the curb, the trees are loaded onto trucks and trailers.
Thank goodness that we have some young, strong rangers to do the actually lifting onto the trucks and trailers.  I can drag the trees to the curb carefully, but my days of lifting are over because of my back and shoulder injuries.  I do what I can, with the amount of trees, every little bit helps.  With lots of trucks and volunteers, we were able to load all the trees in one day.  Other years, it has taken several days to pickup and distribute all the trees.
The trees are then taken to the boat ramps all around Thurmond and Russell lakes.  Fishermen then take the trees, weight them down with old cinder blocks and place them in various locations around the lakes.  This gives the fish a safe place to breed and grow to adult size.  The fishermen love this opportunity to increase their chances to catch fish.  The trees naturally biodegrade putting nutrients into the waters.  It's a good program.  Just a lot (a lot) of work.
After the trees were all loaded up and sent on their way, I rode my motorcycle down to the Thurmond dam to see how things were progressing with the lake levels.
The dam still has the floodgates open and they will remain open for the next several days at least.  The flow of water going over the dam is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool every two seconds!
 From the looks of things, the water levels are going down, but there is going to be lots of cleaning and painting ahead in our future. 
 That's okay, though.  Given a choice between dragging trees and painting, I'd rather paint!  ;c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Well That Was Different

We had our little New Years Eve get together with fellow workampers here at the COE Volunteer Village community center.  Finger food, yummy snakes and a favorite card game before we called "midnight" at about 9 pm.  One of the workampers said that the rangers asked for some volunteers to help out over the weekend at the Visitor Center as they had to work expecting some extra visitors coming to see the Thurmond Dam with the gates open.  It is the first time the dam has been opened to vent high water levels in decades.

Normally the Visitor Center is closed on New Years Day, but Marti and I volunteered to man the place for the rangers.

The Visitor Center usually needs one person to run it, but we figured we'd both do it, with one of us being able to run out and pick up lunch, snacks, etc., while the other was there to maintain a radio and phone watch with the duty rangers out in the field.  Sort of a nice quite way to earn some more working hours.

What we didn't expect was seemingly as big a flood of people as there was water going over the dam.  By 10 am the trickle of people coming in turned into a full scale torrent.  There were so many people coming to see the dam that we had to call in additional off duty rangers to come in and handle the traffic jams and keep some people from walking onto rocks below the dam before they slipped and fell in to the river (can't fix stupid).

In no time we had six rangers out with the public and we were overwhelmed with literally hundreds of people entering the Visitor Center.  Why?

The Visitor Center is the only place with rest rooms for miles around.  Along with answering questions about Thurmond lake and dam, answering phone and radio calls, Marti and I had to restock the restrooms four times with toilet paper and paper towels and empty trash cans.

All tolled, we worked 11 hours before it got so dark that the public stopped coming to see the dam.  We finally locked up the Visitor Center with some very exhausted rangers and went home.  We estimated we had somewhere around six hundred people come in to the VC.  We never had time to stop for lunch or even to snap a picture.  A very different sort of a day.

Another couple is manning the VC today (Saturday), but we're going to stop by after lunch to see if they need anything.  We're going to be back in the VC on Sunday, but now we know what to expect. The way the dam opening had been publicized in the media, the floods of people is expected to continue.

We actually enjoyed the day, even if it was long and busy. Just glad to help the COE any way we can, and it was made more enjoyable to do a job for a change without a paint brush!   :c) 

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.