"if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room"

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

catching up

Wow, almost a week since my last post :-o. Not a whole lot going on here except work. Our work week goes by pretty fast and we are still enjoying being near family and friends this summer. We have 9 more weeks to fulfill our commitment with the KOA and are looking forward to being able to hitch up and see some different scenery again.
The staff here is shrinking again. The couple who cooks the breakfast shift Monday through Friday told the boss they will be leaving in a couple of weeks. They have workcamped here several years but decided they were done and put their 5th wheel up for sale. They have a winter home in Arizona and sounds like that will be their permanent residence for awhile.
I'm not sure what their leaving will mean for the rest of us. May see a schedule change and our duties change some. Guess we'll just wait and see. There is a new couple set to arrive in a week or so. They are currently having their 5th wheel repaired at the factory in Northern Indiana and will start work once that is completed.

Sunday we drove to our daughters house and helped them put the sweet corn crop into their freezer. They had most of the work done when we arrived so I spent most of time watching the Nascar race on tv :-).
Olivia, our youngest grand daughter, made the trip home with us. She is spending a couple of nights here for some one on one time before she heads back to school.

Yesterday we got busy and shampooed the carpet in the 5th wheel. We moved all the furniture out of the way and was able to give the carpets a good cleaning! I'm thinking we'll get better fuel mileage now that all that Texas caliche' dust has been removed :-).

Rudee will be driving to Plainfield today to take her Mom to a doctors appointment, take the shampooer back and deliver Olivia back to her parents. I'm going to be lazy and just hang around the 5er and have a "do nothing" day! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

time with friends and a crappy job.

We were off work Sunday because the normal breakfast cooks wanted last Monday off and traded with us. We stopped in for breakfast and man oh man were they ever busy! I guess they got a good dose of what we go through each week end :-).
After breakfast we returned to the 5er and found Rob waiting for us to take a bike ride. Jany was not feeling well and didn't want to fight the heat that was predicted. I already had the Harley out and ready to go so we hopped on and headed out.
I lead the way and took Rob through Terre Haute, crossed the Wabash river and into West Terre Haute. We headed out into the countryside taking a nice winding road that eventually led us into Paris, Illinois. Angling back towards Indiana we found our way to the tiny town of Eugene and stopped at the Covered Bridge Restaurant for lunch.
The weather was really heating up after lunch so we headed back to the KOA. We ended up riding almost 100 miles on small county roads and loved every mile of it! Once back at the campground Jany joined us for a quick dip in the pool to cool off and we ended up swimming for most of the afternoon.
For our anniversary dinner we decided on Kleptz's Restaurant in Seelyville, Indiana. We have passed by this restaurant many times over the years and always wanted to stop but never got the chance. They advertise steak and seafood and their building is a large older house converted years ago for their restaurant.
We each ordered a steak dinner to share, Rob and Jany had the "Australian steak" and we had a rib eye. Both meals were superb! The steaks were the best we had eaten a long, long time and the prices were not out of line at all.
We made it back home stuffed but happy and spent some time visiting in Rob and Jany's 5er before finally heading home and hitting the sack after a long day.

Monday Rob and Jany joined us and Rudee cooked all of us a buffet breakfast! She made bacon, scrambled eggs, fried green tomatoes and cinnamon rolls. Wow, what a spread. I'm gonna get fat again eating like this! :-)
After breakfast Rob and Jany headed back to their site to begin packing up since they had to leave to get back to work. :-(
While they were doing that I tackled a quick project in our little house on wheels. The toilet is supposed to hold a small amount of water between flushes and ours quit doing that several months ago. There are two rubber seals between the bowl and the pedestal stand that needed relaced and I figured I might as well replace the flushing valve and spring while I was at it in case this was also causing the problem. I had ordered the parts last week and they arrived by UPS on Friday.

I had replaced the seals a couple of years ago when, due to a design flaw, the company sent out new ones so I had a little bit of experience on taking the toilet apart. This would prove to be more of a hindrance rather than a help :-).
Everything came apart pretty easily but then I had to put the new parts back in! Getting the new valve and the little shaft that moves it back into place was a bear! Keep in mind that this valve sits on the bottom of the bowl inside where all the "stuff" goes! EWWWW!
Let me stop right here and say that I think plumbers earn very dime they make and I will probably never shake hands with one again! :-)
I eventually got the valve installed and was ready to put the bowl back on the pedestal. I first had to lay the seals down on the top of pedestal and then sit the bowl in its place sandwiching the seals between the two. Rudee helped me center the bowl and I tightened everything back up. Last test was to turn the water back on. No leaks and the toilet flushes like normal except the water in the bowl now runs past the closed valve even faster than before! Rats!
By this time Rob and Jany were packed up and hooked on. We met them in the driveway by the office and said our goodbyes. For some reason they skipped the "hugs and handshakes" when they said goodbye to me. :-)
Rethinking my repairs to the toilet I decided to take it apart (again!) and make sure the new rubber seals were not pinched or moved somehow. Off came the bowl again and  the new seals were laying there nice and flat right where they were supposed to be ..... hmmmm. One of the seals is thinner but bigger around than the other one and has "this side up" printed on it and I had put that side up. What could be wrong? I decided to dig the directions out of the trash where I had tossed them. Remember, I had done this before so I knew what I was doing? Well after fishing through the trash and reading the directions, the thinner seal goes on the bottom with the words this side up "up" and then the thicker seal goes on top of it. I decided to try it "their way" and guess what. It worked! The toilet now holds water and flushes like a new one! Guess that reading directions thing you women are always yacking to us men about may not be a bad thing after all! Sorry guys, but I guess I have surrendered to the other side on this one :-)

Nothing special going on this week, just back to work for another "hot" week at the KOA. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Long week end

We had to say goodbye to another set of workcampers. Mary and James had to return to their home base so James could have some medical tests performed. They pulled out Tuesday morning and we met them as they were hooking up their toad and wished them well. We are hoping to see them at Amazon in Campbellsville, Kentucky where we are both scheduled to work later this year. We are even staying at the same campground just a few sites from each other. Good luck guys, hope all the tests turn out well.

Rob and Jany arrived yesterday morning and got their 5er set up before coming into the cafe for breakfast. They timed it so they were our last customers and we were able to sit with them and have our breakfast as well. I hope they enjoyed my cooking, they cleaned their plates so that was a good sign! :-).
Once we got off work we hung out at their site sitting in the shade under their awning. We made a run to Harbor Freight Tools for some browsing and, luckily, there is a Big Lots store in the same strip mall so the girls had a place to browse too!
On the way back to the 5er we stopped at a small restauarant called Benjimen's and had a nice meal. Rudee, Rob and I had breaded tenderloin sandwiches while Jany had the homemade lasagna. The servings were "super size" and we all had left overs that we brought home.

We have plans today to do some motorcycle riding and are looking forward to being on two wheels again. The weather has just been too hot to do a lot of riding and of course we have worked 10 of the last 11 days so we have not had a lot of time anyway. We are now off until 4pm next Wednesday so no more excuses, it's time to ride!
Today is also a very special day, 34 years ago Rudee and I were married. Our wedding day was just the start of a great adventure together and here we are 34 years later still "taking chances" and exploring what this life has to offer! Thanks Rudee for being a great partner, love ya Babe!  I'm sure looking forward to the next 34 years worth of fun! I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hot and Dry

We are in the same boat here that a lot of the country is in. No rain and hot, hot hot temperatures have dried the landscape into oblivion. everyday there have been reports of grass fires along the interstate causing traffic problems due to the smoke they cause. Luckily the fires get extinguished fairly quickly and we have not had the problems they have experienced in Colorado and Utah with the fires consuming thousands of acres and peoples homes.

Saturday we attended a birthday party at our daughters house for our youngest grand daughter Olivia. When we returned home we had an extra passenger! Our grand daughter Avalynn came back to the KOA with us to spend some one on one time with her Grandma and Papaw.
We had to work the cafe both Sunday and Monday mornings and she hung out with us there until we finished for the day. Monday is our scheduled day off but we agreed to trade with another work camping couple who had a doctors appointment. They will work for us next Sunday giving us a long weekend next week :-).
We spent most of our time with Avalynn in the pool. That girl loves the water and is becoming a pretty good swimmer. We really enjoyed spending time with her but all good things come to an end and Tuesday evening we took her back to her parents, brother and sister.

Friends Rob and Jany will be camping with us this week end in their Raptor toy hauler 5th wheel. They have been wanting to add a 2nd air conditioner to help keep the 5er cool in the summer heat and ended up purchasing a unit Monday at one of the RV surplus places in Northern Indiana. Instead of waiting until this week end to install it I offered to help him Tuesday after he got off work. Rudee dropped me off at their house on the way to take Avalynn home and Jany jumped into the truck with her while Rob and I headed to the storage lot where they park their 5er.
The hardest part of the job is lifting the heavy a/c unit onto the roof of the 5th wheel. Rob backed the truck under the front overhang and we put an extension ladder from the bed of the truck up onto the roof of their RV and then tied a rope to the box containing the a/c unit. I climbed onto the roof and Rob lifted the box while I pulled (using the rope) from above. Once we had the box up there I unpacked it and centered it over the hole where the bedroom vent had been (Rob already had this removed the night before).
With Rob in the bedroom and me on the roof we worked together to get the unit in the right position and once that was done I joined him inside the 5er to help with bolting it down and wiring the power up. His 5th wheel already had the necessary wires and breaker done at the factory so wiring was pretty simple and I did that while Rob tightened the long screws that bolt the a/c to the roof.
Once the shroud was in place it was time to test it out. Rob fired up the generator and the moment of truth arrived and he turned the a/c knob to "on". Whoo Hoo, cold air and no smoke! :-)
The girls arrived back just in time to admire our handy work. I think they were a little impressed. Now, as long as the a/c is still on the roof when they arrive at the KOA this week end ....... :-)

Once we were done patting ourselves on the back and strutting around like Banty Roosters it was time for dinner. :-) We headed for Buffalo Wild Wings and took advantage of their 50 cent wings special. Rob and Jany even bought our dinner as a thank you for helping with the a/c. Thanks guys that wasn't necessary but sure was appreciated. :-)

We start our work week at 4pm and the weather man says the temps will be triple digits again with a little relief coming this week end. We are looking forward to that as well as spending some quality time with our good friends! I'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Good days

I was thinking the other day about what we were doing a year ago. Rudee had just been laid off from her company and I was working as a Field Appraiser for a major insurance company. Like most people I was "working for the week end" and really only had two "good days" per week. I was pretty miserable and needed a change.
Fast forward to this year and just about every day is a good day! Sure we still have to work but the stress is a whole lot less. Rudee mentioned the other day that she is finally able to grow some fingernails instead of biting them off as a stress relief in our old life.
We will never get rich in this lifestyle (unless we happen to win the lottery) but we were not getting rich in our old lifestyle either and life seems much "simpler" these days.

The campground has been a little slower this week and the temperatures have finally started dropping a little bit, still no rain but at least it's cooler :-).
A new set of work campers arrived Monday. Blaine and Lori are doing their first work camping gig and are from Northern Indiana. They have been retired for a couple of years and were looking for a change. They are even considering staying and working this winter and next summer as well.
We, on the other hand, have only another 11 weeks to go to fulfill our obligation here. Many fulltimers talk about getting "hitch itch" when they have stayed in an area for awhile. Some only last a few days until the road begins to call their names again. We have been pretty content to sit for awhile, get some work camping experience as well as some projects completed. Lately though I have been checking the atlas and doing some research on RV parks that we may visit when we leave here. Yep, the dreaded "hitch itch" is starting! :-).

Last evening while working a very large King of the Road 3 axle 5th wheel pulled into the driveway and stopped at the office. The gentleman went inside and shortly afterwards Rudee called me on the radio and asked me to come in and help him find an electrical cord.
I went in and he said he had just purchased the camper used from a dealer and needed a cord to plug into electricity. The trailer was 50amp and had a twist on receptacle on the side. He said the dealer told him there was no cord that came with the 5th wheel even though they had it plugged in and showed him everything worked. I had him double check all of his compartments since he said he had not looked in any of them yet. Some were locked and the dealer had not even given him one of the common 751 keys that unlock all the outside compartments on almost every pre-2008 5th wheel! Most dealers have a box full of these keys!
I unlocked the compartments for him with my key and of course no cord. We did not have anything in the store to help him and since it was late the closest RV dealerships were closed. I felt bad we couldn't help them and their kids were disappointed when they turned around to leave :-(.
Sounds like the dealer he bought it from really took him for a ride. He did mention the dealer sold mostly used and repo units which is no excuse, but it sure looks like he took advantage of this young, inexperienced couple. What a putz this dealer must be to not even give the guy the cord to plug his camper into power! Unfortunately I forgot to ask what the dealerships name was. The couple was from Illinois so I assume so was the dealer ...... sad.

We will be attending our youngest grand daughters birthday party Saturday afternoon and will be bringing home our oldest grand daughter to stay a few days. She is too young to work in the cafe like Nicholas did but I'm sure we will have some fun after Grandma and Papaw get off work. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

another project

Our work week passed pretty quickly and before we knew it we were back in the cafe doing our weekend breakfast shifts. Saturday morning the campers arrived early and never let up. We are only open for 1 1/2 hours and during that time Rudee and I served 48 meals. That's one meal every 1 1/2 minutes! The owner said the record for breakfast was 55 meals making this the second busiest day they ever had. We were both hot and tired by the time the dining room emptied out but also a little proud that we had accomplished a very busy morning with very few problems. :-)

Sunday was a lot more laid back shift and we were able to visit with some of the customers after they finished their breakfast. The tips were certainly not as good as Saturday but we needed the rest!
Right after work Rudee headed to Indy to attend a former co-workers baby shower leaving me to fend for myself so I decided to take advantage of the time and tackle a project.
When Mike and Les were here last week we went to Sam's club since they had a membership there. I bought two 6 volt batteries to replace the single 12 volt one on our 5th wheel as well as a 2 ga battery cable and new battery box.
Our existing battery was over 5 years old and I noticed the other day when the power went out the 12v lights got dim really fast so I figured it was time to change.
I went with the 6v batteries because they are designed to be discharged and recharged multiple times with less damage then their 12v deep cycle counterparts. There is also the belief that the 6v batteries will not deplete as quickly and my hope is to be able to get through the night boondocking while using the furnace if needed. Last time we boondocked the temps were in the 30's and the battery pooped out about 4am and Rudee woke up cold. Not good! You know the old saying, "when Mama aint happy, nobody is happy" :-)
I turned the battery off to the coach using the battery disconnect switch installed by the manufacturer and removed the existing battery. I then lifted both batteries into the front compartment. Since the coach is a 12 volt system you have to wire the two 6v batteries in series to achieve the needed 12 volts (6v +6v = 12 volts). I hooked the ground wire from the coach to the negative terminal of battery #1. Then, using the purchased battery cable I wired the positive post from battery #1 to the negative post of battery #2. The last thing to hook up was the power wire to the coach which hooks to the positive terminal of battery #2.

Before buttoning everything back up I changed the 50 amp relay for the slide motor. The relay is the small metal box with the 3 wires attached to it mounted on the back wall of the front compartment in the photo above. There is one for the slides and one for the landing legs. The slide relay had been tripping when closing the slides. Once it trips it resets in about 20-30 seconds and then works fine. I did some research and found this to be a common problem in our model of 5th wheel and the relay tends to "weaken" with a lot of use and needs replaced occasionally.
Once I got everything done I remembered to turn the battery switch back on and decided to flush the black tank. I emptied the tank and hooked a hose to the flush inlet. Our 5er has a built in "flusher" inside the black tank and I usually do a good flush about every 3rd dump or so. In our prior toy hauler I installed a flush system that I purchased at Camping World and it worked much the same way as the factory installed system. I leave the black tank valve open and let the flusher run for quite awhile to make sure the tank is cleaned. One helpful item I have is a clear elbow on the 3" sewer "slinky" that allows me to see when the water is running clear through the discharge pipe so I know when the tank is clean :-).

With those projects done I am already planning for the next one and will be checking out what supplies I need to accomplish it so stay tuned. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Friends come to visit

Mike and Les Kennedy were due to arrive late Monday afternoon but we couldn't be here to greet them, we had a wedding to attend about 2 hours away and didn't get back to the KOA until after 9pm. We left a note for them at the desk letting them know if they still wanted company at that hour to leave their porch light on. Sure enough when we got back we spied their Montana 5th wheel and the porch light was on so we hurried to our 5er and changed into "comfy" clothes and walked over. I knocked on the door and there was no answer. Their truck was there but there were no other lights on except the porch light. We were just starting to walk away when Rudee spotted Mike walking across the campground loaded down with laundry :-). Les was just leaving the laundry room when we caught up with Mike to help him with his "load". :-)
We sat in their 5th wheel until late in the night catching up on each others travels and finally called it a night long after the rest of the campers were sound asleep.

Tuesday morning we all met for breakfast at the cafe and got a chance to show them some of "our" campground. Once breakfast was over we all piled into the Dakota and headed south. We took a nice drive through the Indiana countryside and passed through several small farming communities. We arrived in the town of French Lick and spent a little time (and some $$) in the casino here. Back in the "roaring 20's" this area was a well known tourist destination with it's claim to fame being the mineral springs located here. Two large Hotels catered to the tourists who arrived mostly by train. Both of those Hotels have been refurbished to their grandeur from that time period and we enjoyed doing our own walking tour of the properties.
Here is the inside of the huge domed atrium of the West Baden Hotel.

the top of the dome

Rudee and Les "taking a break"

None of us needed any extra help carrying any bucket loads of money out of the casino, in fact were all losers to one degree or another :-).
We made the trip back to Terre Haute where Rudee prepared a Mexican Casserole for the four of us. We carried it over to Mike and Les' where after dinner we introduced them to the game of Spinners.

Wednesday morning we were off and running again. This time the four of us headed to a couple of museums here in Terre Haute but found they were both closed due to the holiday. Hmmm what to do now?
We decided to head to Rockville and visit some of the sights around the "Covered Bridge Capitol". Mike and Les had been here before and visited a lot of the bridges so we headed for an Amish flea market where we each purchased some fresh vegetables. We also stopped at an Amish bakery but nothing tempted us there (hard to believe, I know!!). Benjamin's was our stop for lunch where we introduced Mike and Les to a genuine Hoosier favorite, breaded tenderloin sandwiches. They seemed to enjoy this first time experience but we warned them not to get hooked on them since you have trouble finding them outside of Indiana.
Rudee and I had to be at work at 4pm so we had to cut our day short and get to our J.O.B. :-(
Our shift was a busy one too, we checked in one camper after another and our 5 hours flew by. The worst part for me was the temperatures were still in triple digits and there were few times I could duck into the a/c to cool down .... it was pretty brutal for this old dog!
Les came into the office to visit with Rudee and while she was there an older class A motorhome pulled up and a man came into the office. Rudee greeted the man and asked if he needed a site for tonight. The man started to answer her and then passed out falling to floor! :-o Rudee called me right away on the radio but by the time I made it to the office (I was on the other side of the campground) they had him into a chair and were giving him some water. He said his a/c was out and he had left Oklahoma this morning and had been driving all day in the heat. I guess it was just more than he could handle. Luckily he was safely here before the heat caught up to him! He didn't want to go to the hospital and kept saying he was fine so she got him checked in and I helped him get his rig set up and checked on him several times while doing my rounds. Wow, a little too much excitement for us :-).
Mike and Les took pity on us and invited us to a late supper at their place. Mike grilled brats while Les made red beans & rice and a Cesar salad! What great people these two are! We sure appreciated a great meal after our long hot day, thanks guys!

This morning we met with Les and Mike again and were able to visit some before they pulled out. They are traveling to Elkhart Indiana for a few days and then on to Michigan to meet some more friends. Have safe travels guys, and thanks for stopping by and brightening our days!

I have a little project for the 5er in the works and have gathered some of the necessary "stuff" to get it accomplished. I should start working on it soon and ..... I'll keep you posted!

Monday, July 2, 2012

trying to keep our cool!

So far we are surviving the long 4th of July Holiday. The campground was about 3/4 full this past week end and we were busy both mornings in the cafe.

Last year before heading out on the road we installed a second roof air conditioner. We have not had a real need to use it until this week when the temperatures climbed into triple digits.

This was taken from my I-phone and it has even gotten hotter!
We have had both a/c's running during the day to try and keep the 5er cooled down. They have sure been getting a work out but have kept up pretty well. We can keep the inside fairly comfortable in the lower 70's while the outside is smokin hot in the low 100's. That's not too bad considering the insulation value that most RV's have.
One thing new I tried was a suggestion from the Montana Owners Group forum. Our 5th wheel has a hole that goes from the living area into the "basement" at the stairs into the bedroom. The hole is covered with a decorative board with slots cut into it and works as a cold air return to the furnace. Others have covered this vent and report a dramatic change in keeping the living area cool. Rudee and I removed the board and cut a piece of cardboard to fit the hole. We covered the cardboard with a plastic garbage bag and then re-mounted the board. This made a big difference and the air conditioner does not have to work as hard as before. I do have to remember to remove the cardboard before we run the furnance though and Rudee's job is to remember to remind me not to forget! :-)

We have some guests arriving this week. Mike and Les Kennedy are fellow fulltimers that we met a couple of years ago in South Dakota and have stayed in touch with. We visited them in Kerrville Texas last February and since they are heading through the midwest decided to swing by the KOA for a few days. They are terrific folks and we are looking forward to seeing them again.
Saturday motorcycle (and RVing) friends Rob and Jany Runion are arriving to stay a few days as well and we always have a great time when the four of us get together.

Yesterday (Sunday) we attending a little get together for some of Rudee's pals from high school. Patti, Susan, Keith, Laura and Rudee were all best friends while growing up and we all got together at Patti's house about  30 miles from here. We ate a great meal and swapped stories for most of the afternoon. Thanks Patti and Carson for the meal and letting us all invade your home!

We still have our "day jobs" and will be working in between spending time with friends so it looks like we will have a busy week ahead. I'll keep you posted.