Thursday, August 28, 2014

What Are You Reading?

Kim's work on the fifth wheel continues, which means we are "camped" at home, living in the house. My yard is under control.  The house is as clean as it is going to get. ( I refuse to go overboard when the temperatures are in the 80s. ) Yesterday, I washed windows and gave the kitchen floor a good scrubbing.  Today I may dust, but otherwise it will be a day of relaxation.

Which brings me to the subject at hand....what are you reading?  Here is what I am currently reading or re-reading.

The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield.  This is a re-read.  It is part of my morning spiritual//prayer routine, along with 365 Saints by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker, and Around The Year With Emmet Fox by Emmet Fox.

As part of my "continuing education" I've been reading and enjoying How To Write A Novel Using The Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson.  I have started writing a mystery, and I'm just having trouble finishing it.  I've got plenty of excuses on why I'm not working on it regularly, but primarily I am just not feeling motivated right now.  I'm looking for inspiration and a swift kick in the behind-er.

For fun, I am now reading Judgement Call by J. A. Jance.  Somehow I missed this book, which is the 15th in the Joanna Brady series.  It takes place is Bisbee, AZ and surrounding areas.  I have enjoyed the character over the years, and we hope to travel to that area next year.  (It was actually planned for this November/December, but the RV repairs took precedence)  If you haven't read any of J A Jance's books, I highly recommend them.  I love her Detective Beaumont series which takes place in Seattle. I love being able to picture in my head exactly where things are happening.  I also love her Ali Reynolds series which takes place in the Sedona, AZ - another place I have spent enough time that it is very easy to imagine.  Book 16, Remains Of Innocence, is on deck.

Also on my Kindle is A Shot In The Bark by C.A. Newsome,  Cloudbusting by Slade Roberson,  The Hard Bounce by Todd Robinson, and The Racketer by John Grisham.

I recently finished Top Secret Twenty One by Janet Evanovich.  Not my favorite in the Stephanie Plum series, but the author continues to be a role model for me as far as my writing goes.

So, what are you reading?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mega RV Countdown

Last night, we watched Mega RV Countdown (Sturgis) on The Travel Channel.  Lots of cool rigs.  But who ARE these people?  Who gives their son a tricked out motor home for a high school graduation gift?  Such craziness.  And honestly, who wants their rig to look like a spoiled rich kid's bachelor pad from the 80's?  I guess I am just more simple folk.  To each his own.  And I suppose I will be watching more episodes just to see how the mega rich (or mega in debt) people spend their money.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Snowball in August (or How Trailer Repairs Can Get Out Of Hand)

I know this has nothing to do with snow, but this project has grown like a snowball rolling downhill.

It all started when I noticed one of the seams across the front of the 5th wheel trailer, under the overhang where it meets the vertical front panel, would gape open when resting on the front landing gear and close when hitched to the truck. You'd think it would be just the opposite, gape open when hitched, close when resting on the landing gear.

That started an internet search which led to Lippert Frame Flex problems. Apparently it is not all that uncommon. In Lippert's defense, they do supply 80% or more of the frames to the entire RV industry. On the other hand, if you look at some of the welds they are definitely questionable.

I looked on our trailer where others reported having issues and lo and behold, I found the frame was cracked at the welds for the pinbox. Not the welds failing, but the frame metal itself is cracking.

Now back to the snowball reference. While gutting the bedroom to give the welder access to the frame to repair the welds and beef up the frame I found wood rot in the walls and floor. The bedroom slide room front outer corner is rotted top to bottom as is the floor where it attaches to the wall. I had found that leak a couple years ago and fixed it with eternabond tape but it appears the damage was already done.

Now it appears I also have some water damage in the front right corner above the overhang. This is probably why the front seam was gaping. There are a number of lag screws, both vertically and horizontally securing the side wall to the frame, and between rotten wood and frame flexing, the lag screws are either sheared off or not holding.

So far, as mentioned, I have the bedroom and closet gutted and the floor and part of the wall in the slide removed. I just purchased some lumber today and will be starting to re-frame the walls. I found a source for the 1" OSB board for the slide room floor (Midway Plywood Co.) and found an RV dealer (Paulsbo RV in Everett, WA) who could order the black vapor barrier cloth that is on the bottom of the flooring. Not easy stuff to find. Mobile home suppliers have it but it is only about 2 mil thick as opposed to the stuff on the RV which is more like 12 to 14 mil thick. There is also a special tape called floor scrim repair tape. I saw one person's repair online and he used the tape to reinforce the vapor barrier cloth where it contacted the rollers when extending and retracting. I think I'll do that, too.

I also removed the under belly panels. The ones that look like corrugated plastic. It's called Coroflex. I wanted to see what was under the trailer and look for any signs of water incursion from below. I also have some water damage to the big slide and surrounding floor and don't know if it is related to the water damage I described above, but water leaks are hard to track and I need to be sure I fix the leak or I'll be doing this again. Actually, no, I won't. I'll trade it in on a new rig.

We've already cancelled leaving for warmer weather in October to make sure we have the frame flex problem fixed and all the rotten wood up front taken care of. On the plus side. I've justified buying a bunch of new tools with some of the money we've saved by my doing the work myself. It's a little scary because I'm learning as I go but I come from a long line of DIYers so I've had years of experience doing the odd job.

I've started a photo album on PhotoBucket to document the project as it progresses.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

I Am Reviewing The Situation......

and I think I better think it out again.

How many times do we spend hours planning a trip, investigating RV parks, estimating expenses, etc., only to change our minds.

I had planned our Fall Journey to include Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California.  I was really pleased with the places I had chosen to stay and getting excited about what we were going to do and what we were going to see.  And then shit happened.

My recently gallbladder surgery (combined with our high deductibles from our new insurance plan - what a headache!), and some unexpected repairs needed on the 5th wheel, seriously tapped in to our travel money.  We could make the trip, but it would be on a tighter budget....a much tighter budget.  And we have some family stuff going on that I would like to be home for.  We might actually find time to make annual check ups, eye exams and dental appointments if we stayed home until after the first of the year.

We haven't made our final decision yet.  I am open and receptive to buying the winning Power Ball ticket or having some financial windfall bless our bank accounts.  I will wait to see how the medical claims pay out, how big the RV project becomes, or how itchy our feet get after being home for months at a time, before we start canceling reservations.  In the meantime, I guess we will just go with the flow.

Happy Trails!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

DIY Or Hire An Expert

Good Lord, what have we gotten ourselves into?

If you are a regular reader, you know from the other day's entry that I was balking about moving all of our stuff back into the house, so that a certified welder can get into the rig to re-enforce some of the frame work that is showing signs of wear and tear and cracks.

Kim and I have ongoing discussions about whether projects are DIY or require a professional.  On this particular project, we compromised.  Kim said he could do the prep work, and we could then hire a professional welder to come in and do, well, the welding.

I went out to check on his progress, and this is what I found.

Where are my stairs?

What happened to the bedroom?  Do you know how to put it back together?

He assures me he does know how to put it back together.  But where are my closet doors and the mattress?  And the drawers?

In the living room area.

I hope Kim will post his version of doing the prep work.  I think it is best that I just stay out of the rig until it is completed.  Oy vey.......


Saturday, August 9, 2014

When People Respond To Your Posts....

or don't, do you take that personally?  One of my favorite books is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.  One of the "agreements" is to take nothing (anyone says or does) personally.  I do try to remember that when I write a blog post.  I try to remember that I don't always respond to someone else's blog, even though I enjoyed reading it.  I think if you feel compelled to write something that someone, somewhere, will get something out of it - a laugh, a memory, inspiration, information or something - otherwise, you wouldn't have been inspired to write.  What will you write today?

Having One Of "Those" Days

Yes, I'm one of "those" people who usually wakes up bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to get on with the day, whatever that may entail.  This morning, I'm having a case of the blahs. Could it be that it is because I know I have to empty the rig because we are having some welding done to the fix some cracks in the frame around the pin box, and the "living room" floor also has some water damage, and needs to be replaced.  We have discovered that the drooping floor has been a major issue in keeping the one slide from working smoothly.

My daughter and her sons have been, and will continue to, house sit for us.  We are home for a few weeks here and there during the year, and usually it is most easy for us just to continue to sleep in the rig, even though we are sitting in our own driveway.  We will be "moving" into the basement for the duration of the repairs.  The good news is that the basement is the coolest part of the house, which is especially nice because we have been having relatively warm (for us) temperatures here in the PNW.  The square footage of the basement is greater than the square footage of the fiver, so really it is not a problem.  I'm just griping about carrying all the clothes down the stairs, re-arranging my office space, moving all the toiletries (and miscellaneous bathroom stuff) down to the bathroom in the basement.  Yes, I'm whining.  It's 9:30am - too early for wine-ing?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Thousand Trails LaConner: Bad News, Good News, and Mediocre News

We've just returned from 6 days up at the Thousand Trails Preserve in LaConner, WA.

Bad News:  No cell service, no internet, no satellite reception.  Of course, this all came in the middle of a week of drama and urgent situations with family and friends.  To be totally out of communication was a big challenge for me.  Now it is not the park's fault that cell reception in the area sucks.  If we were lucky, we would get one bar of cell service, but the reception was horrible and calls were often dropped.  They do advertise wifi at the family clubhouse.  And we were easily able to connect to the wifi router, but the router rarely connected to the internet.  There was a sign in the clubhouse saying "The Internet Is Working" but it wasn't.  Only one morning was I able to get and stay connected.  The speed was equivalent to dial up.  To get a decent connection, we had the option of using free wifi at the LaConner Library, or driving to Starbucks in either Oak Harbor or Burlington.  It is about 5 miles into LaConner (and parking is not easy to find in my opinion) and 10 miles into Oak Harbor or Burlington.  You can pick up strong 3G or weak 4G once you hit Highway 20, and even better the closer you get to I-5.  We could not pick up any satellite signal from our site due to the trees.

Good News:  It is a beautiful park with lots of trees and shade.  Two playgrounds.  Mini Golf.  You will see squirrels, chipmunks, eagles, birds and bunny rabbits.  The grounds are well maintained.  There was a fair amount of privacy between the sites.  The sites were of varying size, but I think more than half of them would accommodate our 33' fiver.

Mediocre News:  There is no pool, but there is a hot tub/spa.  There is salt water beach access, but it is a rocky beach with many barnacle covered rocks.  One of our grandsons took a tumble and got cut. It is great for the kids who love to explore tide pools and look under rocks.  There is no place to really swim or play in the sand.

If you are familiar with Thousand Trails, you will know that although they advertise full hook ups, it really means that there are "some" full hook ups, but most of the sites are water and electric only.  In this park, I would say maybe one-third of the sites have full hook ups.  If you have FHU, you won't have a beach view or satellite reception.  If you want the beach view (they are limited as well) or satellite reception (also limited due to the trees), you will not have a FHU site.  If you know this ahead of time, you won't be disappointed.

I found the park staff to be limited, and not particularly friendly.  They were not rude by any means, but either they were just having a bad day when I asked questions, or they did not enjoy their jobs.

The bathrooms were clean, but could be updated.  Water pressure was low but that could have been due to the warmer than usual weather we are having in Western Washington, and water conservation in general.  I saw a notice about some septic back up issue they were having as well.

The Whidbey Island Naval Air Station is nearby, so there is noise from fighter jets, during the day and sometimes at night.  The Blue Angels were in town for Seattle's Seafair Celebration, so we heard lots of jets flying overhead.  For me, this was cool (although we rarely could see them due to the trees), but I could see how this may bother some people.

There were a few annually leased spots in this park.  Most were poorly maintained, and did not compare at all to the annual lease holders we have seen at Thousand Trails in Mt Vernon and Leavenworth.

Bottom Line:  If we decide to try this park again, we will wait until after the high season and the park is not so full.  We will try for a water view site, and hope for better cell reception.  Being totally off the grid did not work for me.  I can go without Facebook, Words with Friends, Candy Crush, and TV for a week, but I prefer not to.  What was really an issue for me was the lack of phone reception.  I had a few instances that week, where I needed to speak to family and friends, and I could get no signal.  That was a deal breaker for me.  However, I am willing to give it another try, during a less busy time at the park.

Some park photos:

I couldn't get a decent picture of our campsite, but this what I looked at from my chair outside each morning.  Lots of green (something I miss when we are camping in Arizona), big trees, and shade.

These two beach pictures were taken from nearby the family clubhouse, I think.

From of the decently maintained annually leased sites - obviously a train buff.

There were quite a few tent sites with great beach views!  I was a little jealous but I don't do tent camping anymore.

One of the salmon spawning streams on the property.

Our son's family came to visit one day.  This was taken as we walked back to the campsite, after a rousing game of mini-golf (more of a cross between bowling and golf), time at the playground, and some beach exploration.

Camping and Pinterest

On our recent camping trip to Thousand Trails in LaConner, Washington, I tried out two things I had found on Pinterest.

1)  Roasted marshmallows dipped in Baileys.  This was a definite keeper, and something I will try again.  We roasted the marshmallows over the barbecue and it really is not the same as doing it over a campfire, but the Baileys was quite tasty!

2)  A DIY bug spray to discourage mosquitoes.  Fill a 4 oz spray bottle with original Listerine, and spray around the campsite, on the chairs, rugs, tents, etc.  We sprayed our hats and our shoes as well.  This worked fairly well, in combination with a citronella candle.  I'm guessing that Deep Woods Off works better, but if you do not like the idea of spraying these chemicals on your skin, give the Listerine a try.