Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 December 31 - New Years Eve

            I don’t make New Year Resolutions.  Never have.  I’ve jokingly said that my resolution is to not make resolutions.  I therefore make and break it at the same time.
I do make PLANS though.  And my biggest plan for the coming year is to finally get our home-on-wheels rolling again.  As much as I love our seasonal site here at Cutty’s Des MoinesCampground, I bought a fifth wheel so that I could see new sights.  To change my front yard from time to time. 
            Part of the reason that we have remained anchored in one spot for the last four years was that we were both still employed with full time jobs … to start with.  We had our third oldest grandchild here locally and wanted to wait for him to graduate high school was another reason to stay put.  After we retired (and before we were eligible for Medicare) the only insurance we could afford was good only in Iowa, which meant no extended out-of-state travel.  Starting with January 2012, none of those are concerns anymore.
            So, I want to do some traveling this Spring, Summer and Fall.  Come Fall/Winter of 2012 we plan to go to Texas for the Winter.  I would like to find a good year-around campground/resort in the Austin area to be our basecamp while there.  However, I don’t want to be nailed to the ground there.  I want to do some exploring!  I’d like to see the gulf coast and the far west hill country.  I’d like to do some boondocking on BLM land.
·       What do you resolve / plan to do in the coming year?
·       What do you know about camping in and around the  / Cedar Park area of Texas
·       Do you know of any good public land camping areas in Texas?
·       What are “must see” and “must do” things we should investigate while in Texas?

   To my friends and family everywhere,
   Happy New Year! Bonne Annee, Prosit Neujahr, Akimashite Omedetto Gozaimasu, Saehae Bock Mani ba deu sei yo, Manigong Bagong Taon, S Novim Godom, Feliz Ano ~Nuevo, Chuc Mung Tan Nien, and Feliz Ano Novo.

This may turn into a very interesting New Years Eve.  We’re going to Lake Robbins tonight to take photographs.  That is always fun. 
Starting tonight we will have the added excitement of “an intense storm system” moving across our area tonight with “very strong winds … from 30 to 40 mph with gusts in excess of 55 mph.”  The highest winds are supposed to hit us during the day on Sunday.  These are the kind of things that make living in an RV really exciting.
Winds like these can take down limbs and power lines.  Battery backup is a wonderful thing.  Well, if we are still ‘wheels down’ tomorrow, I’ll post more.
Have a Wonderful New Years.

Friday, December 30, 2011

bye bye AC! Hello hole in the roof!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 December 28

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Excel that we just purchased this month.  It is in storage at the dealers until Spring.  When the weather permits next year, we will move it onto our seasonal site at Cutty’s Camping Resort in Des Moines.
Then comes the task of outfitting it as our “Summer Home”.  We still have a few items stored in the Road Ranger that will be moved into the Excel.  Then some of the things that are in the Hitch Hiker will be moved to the Excel also.
Some items will remain in the Hitch Hiker so that it will be ready to roll to Texas in the Fall of 2012, where it will become our “Winter Home”.
We already have duplicates and spares of some items that we will split between the two fifth wheels.  Some things we will just pack and move with us from one to the other.  Some items, however, will need to be purchased to outfit one or the other of the units.  I’m dreading that part.  And that is the part that Ella will enjoy the most.  I have a feeling the IKEA will become a very familiar part of our lives in Texas.
One of the things I really like about the Excel is the kitchen.  It is laid our nearly identical to the Hitch Hiker’s.  It has an additional overhead cupboard over the “L” shaped counter, which I like.  The big addition is the additional closet and pantry space near the table and chairs.  There is a pull-out pantry next to the refrigerator, which is very much like the one in the Hitch Hiker.  However, across the aisle from the refrigerator is another pantry space which is much like what was in the Road Ranger.  And behind that pantry is a large closet/storage space.  This space would be more than large enough for a stacking washer/dryer set.  Since I have no desire to have a washer/dryer in a trailer, it will be for coats, long dresses, brooms, vacuums etc.
         As you can see, the pictures that I have posted here are taken from the dealer's website as I have not taken any photos of the unit myself.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Special grandson giving a history lesson

Just have to share this video from Youtube.  It is of my grandson Tate explaining the pilgrims coming to America.  My son shot the video with his cellphone and it is turned at a ninety degree angle...sorry.  I should explain that he is a 'kenitic learner' and it will wear you out watching him. (grin)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Water Pump That Didn't

I just found this 'draft' of a post that I had done back in November but never posted.  It's not dementia, I have always had a bad memory ... I think!
The weather has been unusually mild for this time of year.  We have been hooked up to ‘city water’ nearly every day since we bought the Hitch Hiker.  I had filled the eighty gallon fresh water tank shortly after bringing the HH to our home site.  I couple weeks ago I disconnected the city water and turned the water pump on.  I wanted to make sure that it worked before we got to much further into winter and had to rely on it. 
            I’m glad I tried it because it was not working correctly.  We immediately called the campground office and got our name on the list for the maintenance guys to come check it out.  Since ours was a ‘non critical’ need it was placed at the bottom of their ‘to do’ list.  I can appreciate that.  At this time of year they are very busy winterizing RVs for people who will not be staying here but their RVs will.  That type of work is always going to come first because it HAS to be done before the first hard freeze.
            The only problem with the delay is that it gave me too much time to think about the ‘what ifs’ about the pump.  You know, what if they have to drop the enclosed holding tank and replace it?  What if it was pumping water under the trailer (which is all enclosed with insulation so that I can’t see what is going on under there?)  What if it can’t be fixed and we have to go through the winter with out ‘running’ water?
            Travis, our handy-dandy handy man was here the day before Thanksgiving to look at it.  Turns out that he had been dreading coming to check it in fear that it was going to be a long, labor intensive job in the cold.
The Hitch Hiker's Water Pump
            As it turns out it was a simple fix.  When the RV dealer’s mechanics had done their prep work, they had replaced the filter on the side of the pump.  What they had not done was tighten it properly.  What was happening was that as the pump ran, it was sucking air through that loose connection.
            The fix was so easy that Travis didn’t even charge us for a service call.
I know better than to worry.  I know that it is a waste of time and energy.  I know that worry is interest that the devil charges on a bill that you don’t owe.  Still, sometimes my worry is larger than my faith.  Foolish me!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.

        The weather outside made me think of this hymn.  What a strange way to start a Christmas hymn.  Don't you think?  Maybe it was done for the contrast of the worlds bleakness before the birth of Jesus the Christ.
        At any rate, so far we haven't had the snow on snow but the rest of the lyrics sure describe today.  A good day to be sitting in the recliner and working on my blogs.  
       We have no place that we need to be until six this evening, when we get our Mr. and Mrs. Claus clothes on and go visit some day care kids.  We already have a Santa bag full of gifts to hand out.
        In the mean time, Ella is mixing up a fruit and rice dish that we'll 'test drive' for lunch.  If it turns our well, she'll make a bigger batch for our Christmas potluck after church on Sunday.
      Kramer, the cat, is upset that there is no lap for her to sit on at the moment.  I think she is jealous of the laptop.
      I just realized that this post really hasn't anything to do with living in an RV.  It is just about us living.  I should have posted it in my other blog, The North Pole News at  But I've already posted my writing for today on that blog.  Feel free to visit all of my blogs.  I try to keep them  fresh and updated fairly regularly.

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 December 19

That minute or so just before dawn.
Then ... que the music ... Sunrise!!!

Good news!!!
Travis at work on the furnace
After several false starts (or maybe false finished) the furnace is working as it should.  Travis replaced an electronic board.  The old board was designed for one try to ignite.  If it did not light, the fan would continue to run blowing cold air.  The new board will try three times for ignition (which seems to be catching first time all the time).  If it were not to light, the fan would only run long enough to clear the LP fumes and then shut down the fan.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Geeks on Tour Blog: Don't pay for AOL

Geeks on Tour Blog: Don't pay for AOL

2011 December 18

to make up for not taking a sunrise photo on Saturday, 
I took a sunset photo Saturday.

This is Sunrise on Sunday, December 18, 2011

And these are photos of our lake with geese and ice.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Still a Bummer

       At eight a.m. I called and left a message for Travis that our furnace was back to blowing cold air  again.  He arrived shortly after and worked on the furnace until he decided that it must be the LP regulator.  He left and returned a short time later with a new regulator.  The furnace worked.  About an hour later it was back to blowing cold air again.  Again called Travis.  He came back and took the whole igniter assembly out and cleaned it.  Once everything was reassembled it worked.  I thanked him and told him that if it quit again, I would not bug him about it until Monday morning.  Well about six p.m. the furnace went back to just blowing cold air again.  I will not call him about it over the weekend.  He deserves a weekend off.  And we are plenty warm with our electric heaters.  
      I'm beginning to think that the furnace just likes all the extra attention.  You know like a mis-behaving child!  Maybe the same principle will work to correct the problem   I'll just ignore the furnace until it decides to quit acting out.

Thank you Chris Madden whoever you are for the cartoon that I found in so many sites that I guess it is public domain.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 December 15 additional

Our furnace is blowing cold air.  We had Travis, the park's maintenance man, over to check out.  He pulled some wires loose and stuck 'em back on.
Presto!  Furnace kicked on, warmed up and shut off just like it was designed to do. We upped the furnace setting and it kicked back on, reached temperature and shut off.  Again just like it was designed to do.
We thanked Travis.
He left.
We went shopping.
We came home and found the furnace blowing cold air.
Travis is off work until eight o'clock tomorrow.
We have an electric fireplace and an electric heater.
We are warm.
God is good.

This is our fireplace when it was in the Road Ranger.  Now it is in the Hitch Hiker.

When The RV Is A Rockin' ...

Even for midwest weather this has been an odd week.  We've had a low of six degrees and a high of fifty-four.  I was shaken awake around five this morning.  My first thought was that the cat was up to her tricks of shaking and twitching on the bed.  Then I heard the howling of the wind and as the rattle of something being blown around outside. Grabbing my Droid I pulled down the Weatherbug app and found that there were recorded gusts of thirty-six miles per hour.  
        I'm glad that I wasn't pulling this thing down the highway today!
        What do YOU do when the wind gets the RV to rockin'?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bought another fifth wheel

       We went to Plaza RV in Bondurant and wrote them a check for the 1995 Excel RLJM 5th wheel trailer that we looked at the other day.  This wasn’t a trade deal.  We still have the Hitch Hiker that we are living in.  Plaza RV will store the Excel until Spring.  At that point we will move the HH off of our seasonal site and set the Excel in place.  It will become our Northern/Summer home.  The HH will follow us to Texas in the Fall of 2012 and become our Southern/Winter home.  The plan is to leave the HH in storage in Texas when we return to Iowa in the Spring of 2013.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Not all sunrises are the same.  
Here is what I've been seeing 
over the last week or  so.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

2011 December 11

Not a very bright 'sunrise'

            This has been an interesting day.
            The day started with Sunday school and church.
            Then we rushed home so that we could get to Emeritus in Urbandale for their Christmas party.  Mrs. Clause and I had a lot of fun passing out presents to the residents at this home for Alzheimer and dementia patients.  There were a lot of their families present and four young children were among them.  The staff at Emeritus had prepared stockings with goodies for the children.  We did the normal picture taking with the kids and a few of the adults.  After that we stayed for lunch.  We sat at a table with the other great grandmother of our great granddaughters.

            After the party was over, we came home for a little while.  We took a short nap and then got ready for another Santa gig at the Tavern II.

            Some friends of ours own a sign company and they were having the company Christmas party at the Tavern II pizza restaurant.  This party had more kids so it was even more fun.  The organizers met us outside the restaurant with presents for the kids.  We put the presents into my Santa bag before going inside.
            Once inside we had the photo taking with the kids and then handed out the gifts.  We stayed for a couple slices of pizza and more time visiting with the kids and adults.  One little girl is going to grow up to be a talk show host or investigative reporter.  She had LOTS of questions about the elves, reindeer and more.  What a delight.

            Tomorrow we will be babysitting with the great granddaughters over at our grandson’s.  We will also be getting the funds released for the purchase of the Excel.

            With the purchase of the Excel we are back on track with our plans for the coming year.  The Excel will be set on our seasonal site here in Iowa.  It will become basically a park model.  The Hitch Hiker will be for traveling and will go to Texas next fall.  The plan is to find a place to store the HH in Texas when we come back to Iowa for the summer.  The Road Ranger will either be sold or used to store our “stuff”.  That is the plan for now.  However, we have learned that God sometimes “tweaks” our plans to get them more in line with His.

Friday, December 9, 2011

1995 Excel

Friday, December 9

I had written earlier about the unpleasant surprise we had when we went to move our Road Ranger fifth wheel and how that was causing us to rethink our plans.  Since that time we have been looking (mostly online) at fifth wheels and travel trailers.  A couple days ago, while online, Ella found an older Excel at Plaza RV in Bondurant.  There were lots of photos of the trailer and it looks like it is very similar to the Road Ranger in size and layout.  The biggest difference is the placement of the entrance door.  The Excel’s is near the rear of the trailer (like the Hitch Hiker’s) instead of in the middle like the Road Ranger’s.  Today, being a bright sunny day, we decided to drive over an take a look at it in real life.  The battery was down and the slide out was in and the baggage door locks were frozen shut, so we didn’t see it quite as completely as we’d hoped.
I told the salesman that we were not ready to buy and that we’d check back in the spring.  If it is still there, we’d be interested.  The salesman said that if we’d take it now, he’d knock $1,500 of the price.  I said I did not want to have to store it until spring.  He said he’d store it for us.  Darn!  Now we have to decide what to do.
Insert passage of time here.
Later that same day.  We decided that we needed to take another look at the trailer.  I called the dealership and told them that we would like another look with the slide out and with the baggage doors open.  Dave, the salesman, said to give him an hour to ninety minutes and he’d take the trailer inside to thaw out.
So for an additional hour, we did some praying, soul searching, some considering “what ifs” and then went back to take another look.
We looked it over very carefully, looking for bowed or warped walls, soft spots in the floor, rust, damage, excessive wear etc.  We opened every door and drawer, tried every light and inspected all appliances.  The only thing I could not check was the roof, because there is no roof ladder.
We really liked it, partially I think because it is so much like our Road Ranger, which we really have enjoyed.  The only part that I’m not thrilled about is the ceiling height in the living room area.  The ceiling is only about 6’6”.  I’m 6’1” and a lot of my family are taller than that.  Well, I guess we just won’t be doing any jumping around it it.  Dave gave us a lot of ‘alone time’ to discuss it and we decided to buy it.  We’ll go Monday to get the money out of Ella’s retirement account.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2011 December 06

Here is my agenda for the day.  Soon, I will fix breakfast (one egg, one crisp bacon slice, one slice of white bread toast, and as many cups of coffee as Ella and I can get out of the 10 cup carafe), we will make a trip to Home Depot to purchase Quake Hold museum putty (I’ll explain that later), we’ll go to the clubhouse to exercise/swim, and then around five p.m. we’ll be Mr. & Mrs. Claus for the “Voices to be Heard” Christmas Party.

Sunrise 7:27 a.m.   What?  You don’t see the sun?  But I have it on the authority of the National Weather Bureau that this is sunrise.  Who are we to argue with such and august organization as they?

Some of the Santas that live in our home
            Okay, about Quake Hold; I was reading a blog called RVing Info and found this information about museum putty.  It is used by museums to secure items from being shaken loose during earthquakes.  As an RVer whose home on wheels is in a constant state of shake, it makes sense to secure knick-knacks etc.  I’ve used florist’s putty with only limited success and found other forms of tacky putty ineffective.  Since we have an extensive collection of Santa figurines that I normally take down and pack in newspaper when we move, the idea of holding them securely in place with putty is very appealing.  We will not be moving our home until at least next spring and maybe not until next fall; I will not be able to give you much follow up on my product testing.
            My stomach is growling and telling me that it is time for breakfast.  Ella will probably be awakened by the smell of the maple bacon cooking – although the smell of coffee brewing did rouse her.  I’ll write more later.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Geese On Cutty's Lake

2011 December 05s

            Another cold and gray morning.  It is now eleven a.m. and the temp has climbed all the way to twenty!  This is Monday and the forecast is to stay below freezing until Saturday’s predicted high of thirty-three.  The good news is, it is supposed to be bright and sunny all week.  That means lots of passive solar heat streaming through the windows.  Not today though which is to remain cloudy.
            I’ve had breakfast, done dishes and written a story titled “How To Name A Cat” which you can read at  
(insert passage of time here)
           I’ve now called Pastor Lee about sermon prep for this coming Saturday’s service, we’ve picked up Ella’s paycheck and taken it to the credit union for deposit.
            On the way home, we stopped in Johnston at the Senior Center.  We had not seen it since it was remodeled earlier this year.  We arrived just in time to get signed up for lunch.  You are actually supposed to call ahead and make reservations if you are going to eat.  They did, however, let us eat.  It was Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and cooked carrots.  There was also lemon bars and stewed plums of which I ate neither and Ella ate both.
            After lunch we visited with the site director and filled out all the paper work to be registered at the site.  After all the paperwork was taken care of, she asked me if I could be Santa on the fifteenth for a day care group.  Unfortunately that is a Thursday and I’ve just agreed to conduct a Bible study at Emeritus in Urbandale every Thursday at 1:30.  Here is a video about Emeritus.  
            We did sign up to come on Wednesday the fourteenth for liver and onions.  Ella really likes live and onions.  I can’t eat onions.  I have an allergic reaction (throat swells shut and I get a ‘nearly’ migraine headache) when I eat onions.  That is a real shame because I love onions.  Now, about the liver.  I don’t know.  It’s been a long time since I had beef liver.  At one time I really liked liver.  However, when I was in my teens, I was anemic and mom fixed a LOT of liver for me to eat.  When you’ve been ‘force feed’ most anything, it tends to lose its appeal.
            We had a little flurry of snow (that was not in the forecast) around lunch time but has quit now.  The wind however is howling around the trailer and making me shiver even though it is plenty warm inside.
            I’ve spent enough time on this post and I’ve got to work on Bible study material as well as prepare a sermon for Saturday.  So, gotta go.  I’ll write at ya later. 

Winter Prep (Part Two) Water Out - Waste Water

I’m not an expert – just experienced
Here is a sewer hose that will drain completely
photo from 
Here is a sewer hose that will
not drain completely and will freeze
in the winter.* photo from
Okay, so I hope that in Part One I convinced you that you want a site with a sewer hook up.  Now, about that hook up, you want to keep the dump valve closed until you have at least three-quarters of a tank so that you get a clean dump.  You need the force of moving liquid to move the solids.  That's as nice a way of saying as I could think of.  .  It is critical that the sewer hose has a constant decline to the sewer.  If it does not have enough of a drop, waste will collect and freeze in the hose.  Many people (myself included) run the hose into or through a PVC pipe to make sure that there is no ‘sag’ in the line.  Other folks use a section of rain gutter as a bridge that holds the hose.  Either of these systems will work.
You may wish to put insulation around the waste hose to give the fluid more time to drain before the freezing temps cause a problem.  I have seen people add heat tape to the drain hose also.  I do NOT recommend that.  Heat tape works fine on water lines that have water in them.  Full lines are less likely to over heat.  An empty sewer line may melt or scorch from the heat of a tape.  There MAY be tapes made for this purpose, however I’ve never seen them. 
Frankly, if the sewer line has the proper decline it should run fine except in the very, very, very, coldest weather – when you are not going to go out to empty your tanks anyway.
One last thought on sewer lines.  If you are really concerned that they may freeze, add some RV/Marine Antifreeze down the stool.  Make sure it is RV/Marine Antifreeze and not engine antifreeze.  You can find it a almost any auto parts or home store like Home DepotMenardsLowes or even your local hardware or grocery store may carry it if you are in an area where it is demand.
*About the hose that will not drain properly.  To be fair, that is what the person was trying to accomplish.  By forming this "P-Trap" in the line they could leave their dump valve open all the time without sewer gas entering their RV.  You could certainly do this where you need not worry about freezing temperatures.  However, if it freezes, it will block the flow and possible rupture the hose.
(Next topic;  Water In – Fresh Water)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

2011 December 04

            Ella worked Saturday evening at the clubhouse and I did laundry.  We seem to have developed this routine.  That way we can still spend time together (sort of) while she works.
Sunday, the Lord’s day, I went to Sunday school and church this morning while Ella worked at the clubhouse. 
Yesterday evening, Cathy, the Pastor’s wife, left a message on Facebook that Lee wanted to talk to me about a preaching opportunity.  I replied that I would talk to him on Sunday unless it was urgent, in which case he could call me.  He didn’t call so I was curious as to what he wanted.
Between Sunday school and church, Pastor and I had a chance to talk.  He has an opportunity to be with family on Saturday the tenth.  He wanted me to fill in for him for that Saturday Praise service.  I said that I was sorry but I had an appointment to be Santa at Lake Robbins Ballroom that evening.
On the way home, it troubled me that I had turned him down. The  I knew that I wasn’t choosing Santa over Jesus.  It is not an either or situation.  The Santa gig was a paying job and we are in need of the money.  Before I had driven very far, I called my friend Lynn and asked her how important Santa was to the party.  There are not going to be any children at the party, just adults.  I explained why I was asking and she said I should preach.  I quickly called Lee and told him that I will be able to preach on Saturday.
After church, there was a fellowship meal.  We have these fellowship meals nearly every month of the year.  Because Ella was working, I got two to-go boxes and took them to the clubhouse. 
Ella and I were able to have lunch together.  Then we had a meeting with Cutty’s Activity Committee.  This was the second meeting to plan events for the 2012 camping season.  We will have another in February to finalize the plans.  Cutty’s has  weekly activities throughout the camping season.  This year we will have several activities planned both before and after the ‘official’ camping season.
By the time the meeting was over, it was only an hour and half until Ella was off duty.  So, I just waited at the clubhouse.  While I was waiting, I watched a PPS special about Victor Borgia. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

At Blogs End

I have been checking out blogs about RVing.  There are lots and lots of them.  It is very interesting to read these little bits of other peoples adventures. 
However, I’ve also noticed so many beautifully crafted blogs with lots of posts that have just STOPED.  No new posts three – maybe five – years.  Some of them have a ‘final post’ that explains why their blog and/or RVing days are ending.  Others just stop. 
·       I found a site about a couple that posted regularly from August 2004 until January 2010.  They were posting about their trip to Cuba.  Then nothing.
·       Then I found this site with the opening line, “Yes I still miss RVing — But that was then and life still goes on :)   I do wish to keep this web site going cause I really do enjoy it also.”  Obviously the blogger had given up RVing but had the intent to continue the blog.  The last post was in August 2010.
·       I followed one link for an RVers website and found a message that it “may be for sale”
·       On one site was the post titled, “We are on the way!” it was dated May 21, 2007 and it was the last post.
·       Last update on a blog ironically titled “The Travel Continues” dated December 27, 2008 says in part, “We get "hitch-itch" occasionally but we settle down really fast realizing just how blessed we are to have a Job in California in these days and times.”
It is a sad realization that, just as so many of us changed our lives and become full timers, there may come a time when we will have to change our life style again.  I want to fill my life and my blogs with as much LIFE as I can.