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

Sunday, September 29, 2013

packing up

Our time here at Crazy Horse is all but done. We have one more shift to work and then we will be pulling out. Our summer has simply flown by and we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. :-)
What a great experience this work camping job turned out to be!
I have been busy getting things "road worthy". The Harley is loaded into our cargo trailer and has been strapped down and I have the trailer hooked up to the motorhome ready to roll.
Yesterday I fired up the big Caterpillar diesel and let things warm up and ran into a small issue. The pressure was not building up in the air system and without air pressure you cannot release the brakes so this was an issue that needed attended to right away. I had a similar problem last year in Texas and "fiddling" with the manual release valves under the motor home solved the problem. I crawled underneath and tried this again and it worked. The air pressure came up to normal and all is well. :-)
Before going to work today I plan on disconnecting all the utilities and get the hoses and cell booster antenna put away. We are hoping to get on the road early tomorrow morning to start our trip to Indiana. The weatherman says we should have a stiff tail wind tomorrow afternoon, maybe it will help push us along. :-)

We got a call early last week that our Dodge Dakota was deemed a total loss due to the hail damage earlier this month. :-(
After going over all the numbers with the adjuster we have decided to keep the the truck and just live with the dents. The truck looks really ugly but we know it's history and we have it set up like we want it, plus we just bought brand new tires (the day before the hail storm!) and had the M & G brake system installed last spring. We are planning to replace the windshield once we get back to Indiana and will use the remaining insurance settlement to shore up our savings account a little.
We are waiting for the check to arrive for the damage to our RV. We will be replacing the slide out awning canvas and the shower skylight ourselves so stay tuned for another "adventure in RV repairs"! Next post will be either from Indiana or somewhere in between. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

that's using my noodle.

Rudee and our next door neighbor Liz had the bright idea of us getting together with some of the other work campers for what I have always called a "pitch in" dinner. Talking with some of our co-workers revealed that I am one of the few people who use this description and when inviting them was usually met with a very confused look. I would explain that it was a meal where everyone brought something to "pitch in". "Oh, a pot luck meal". Well, OK, "pot luck or pitch in" .... just show up with something good to eat. :-)
The girls decided Monday evening would be a good time so the plan was set in motion and before we knew it we had at least 10 couples confirmed. I decided that my/our "pitch in" would be a big crock pot full of chicken and noodles. Rudee made sure we had the necessary ingredients and then stayed out of the kitchen because I'm the noodle maker in this house! So Sunday after work I got busy and started making the dough, rolling it out and cutting the noodles. Flour was flying and most of it ended up all over me! :-) Here is the results of over an hours work.

Monday morning was cold and wet! The rain looked like it would never stop and the temperatures hung around the low 50's and there was a stiff breeze blowing too! Not a good day to have an outside gathering. The forecast promised that the rain would clear later in the day so we held out hope we could still "pitch in".
Late in the afternoon the skies did start clearing and I started boiling noodles. 

Wow! That's a lot of noodles! I was afraid the weather would keep some of the people inside and we would be eating these noodles for the next week. :-o
We pulled several picnic tables into the empty site between us and Tom (Liz's hubby) even hung some party lights. :-)
Shortly after 5pm everyone started showing up. One couple, Dick and Cheryl, brought a big load of firewood and Dick maintained the campfire the whole night. 
We ended up having 20 people eating, talking, laughing and sharing. We all had a great time and it was really nice getting everyone together before we all start to scatter in the next few days. 

Tuesday was our last day off before heading home to Indiana. We spent a little time putting our little area of the campground back like it was before the party and I also got most of our "outside stuff" put away in anticipation of our departure as soon as our work week is over. Once we got our chores done I unloaded the Harley and we headed into the hills for one last ride. 
We said our goodbyes to the winding curves on Needles Highway, the tunnels and pig tail bridges on Iron Mountain Road and to this big guy in Custer State Park.

What a great time we have had riding our bike in this area and making a lifetime of memories. So long Black Hills, hope to be back and see ya again real soon.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

short timers

Today we are starting our last 2 weeks of work here at Crazy Horse. We have had a really good time here, most of the time. There have been some "wish this day would end" times but, thankfully, those have been few. Our campground is starting to empty as our co-workers begin to leave. We have had 7 rigs pull out in the last few weeks. The owners are not leaving early, their commitments were only until September  while our's isn't completed until October 1st.

The weather has turned to more "autumn" like with overnight temperatures dropping into the 40's. We have been using our electric heaters and have even turned the furnace on a couple of times. :-o
With the low temps we have also had some fog. Last Friday the fog hung around all day and made my little ticket booth a lonely, spooky place. :-)
The fog was "thicker then pea soup" and the monument was totally covered. When this happens we charge 1/2 price for admission to all the museums which makes it a really good deal since you can then get a pass to come back for free when the weather clears. I greeted every car with "Welcome to Crazy Horse. The Monument is fogged in and not visible but entrance today to all our museums is 1/2 price due to the fog". All day long though, car after car, the questions were the same. "What time is the fog going to lift ?", "can we see Crazy Horse ?" and "what's the weather going to be like tomorrow". :-)

Yesterday was a warm and sunny day. We took advantage and hopped on the bike for a nice ride. We started out riding over to Keystone for a breaded tenderloin sandwich and then headed to Deadwood. We took our time since traffic was light and really enjoyed the ride. We toured the Adams Museum in Deadwood (another "freebie" with our VIP card) that told the history of the town. This was one wild and dangerous place back in the day. Lot's of bars, prostitution and colorful characters.
We made a stop at the grocery store on our way home for a couple of items and even bought a bundle of wood for a campfire. Once back at the RV our neighbors, Tom and Liz, came over and we had an impromptu pitch in dinner followed by an evening around our fire ring sharing stories. :-)

Our start times at work are getting earlier since they keep moving back the closing time now that it is getting darker earlier. They do their best to make sure we get a full 40 hours since that is what we committed to. I tend to get a couple hours of overtime each week as well. Ten more work days and we'll be headed back to Indiana for some grand kid (and "kid" time. :-) Once we leave here we will probably not let any grass grow under the motor home wheels as we make a beeline East. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

and I thought tires were expensive!

Wednesday we headed back to work. One of the disadvantages of working here is our schedules rarely coincide. We always have the same days off and "usually" work the same general hours but our start times, break times and end times rarely match. This is one advantage to having two vehicles available. Wednesday I started work at noon and Rudee didn't start until 2pm so I rode the bike in leaving her the truck to drive.
We have been having some really warm weather with the temperatures reaching into the 90's and the threat of afternoon thunderstorms pretty much everyday. Late Wednesday afternoon the dark clouds started building and moving towards us. I carry a 1/2 cover in the bike and decided I better cover it up to keep the seat dry, what I didn't expect was this:

The hail stones were about the size of a tennis ball but a lot harder!
My co-workers truck helped block some of the hail from hitting our bike but we still ended up with 5 large dents in the front fender. The cover protected the tank and the rest of the bike so all in all the damage wasn't too bad on the Harley. The Dakota, which was also parked in the parking lot, was another matter.

Every panel on the truck has large dents, the windshield is broken and the tonneau cover is stretched where the hail hit it. I have no idea how the sunroof was spared, I think ours was the only sunroof in the whole complex that was not broken!
The RV fared fairly well. The slide out awnings and window awnings all have damage to their canvas and the skylight over the shower was cracked. We also have some hail dents in the basement doors and our porch light lens and one clearance light lens were broken. Our RV has the air conditioner in the basement so we were spared damage to the covers that almost every other RV in our park experienced. No one here was spared from the damage and we have all been helping each other with ladders, plastic and duct tape trying to make everything livable again.
We have filed claims with our insurance and are waiting for them to do their inspections. I'm not sure if the truck is even repairable or not, we'll just have to see what kind of repairs are needed and how much they will cost. The cracks in the windshield do not interfere with driving so we are safe to drive it right now but they will spread so we will be needing a windshield pretty soon, the rest can wait since we will be back on the road in a few weeks. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ouch ... right in the wallet!

Yesterday morning I went outside to do my weekly black water dump and noticed that the right rear tire on our pick up truck was flat. I had mentioned to Rudee earlier this month that I thought the time was fast approaching where we would be needing to replace the truck tires. My plan was to watch for a sale or maybe find a deal and had been keeping an eye on the advertisements. This all changed this morning when I found the truck leaning to one side and decided we better get them now. :-(
I started up the motor home so I could use it's on board air system. I connected my air hose to the air chuck on the motor home and inflated the tire back up. I could not hear any air hissing out and the tire was staying up so I decided I would let it sit for awhile and see if it was holding air enough to drive to a tire store.
Once I was back inside I started calling local tire shops and getting prices and availability of tires. Our truck has 18" wheels which, I found out, were an option on our model (17" were standard). The 18's would be a little harder to find in stock and were quite a bit more expensive then the 17's ..... geez! I finally found two tire stores in Rapid City that had them on hand and could mount them today. Both places offered the same brand (Cooper) and model of tire but the place that had "bargain" in their name were over $100 higher, this was sure no "bargain" to me. :-)
We ended up getting an appointment with Dale's Tire for early in the afternoon. I figured this gave me enough time to put on the spare if the tire was flat again. I told Rudee to "get ready, I'm taking you into the big city today". :-)
Back outside I checked the tire and it was still holding air according to my trusty tire gauge so we headed to town. We had several errands we could take care of before and after our tire appointment so we made the most of our "trip to the city" :-)  We stopped by Rudee's Cardiologist's office to pick up a new prescription for her since the medicine they prescribed was only for 30 days. The pills are working pretty good so we needed to get at least another 90 day supply to get her back to Indiana for another check up. We got the new script and had a couple of others to refill so the next stop was the pharmacy to drop them off and then we had time for a quick lunch before our tire appointment.
We arrived at Dale's about 15 minutes early and I expected we would have to wait for a while since they were obviously a very busy place. Todd, our salesman, was very nice and said they were expecting us and he had already gotten the tires from their off site warehouse and could get us right in. We sat in their very comfortable waiting room and Rudee even got to watch her favorite soap opera while we waited. It only took them about 30 minutes to mount and balance all four tires and we were on our way. The tires were a big hit to our budget but I feel a lot more comfortable knowing that Rudee shouldn't have any trouble with them on our trip home. Plus finding new tires out in the middle of nowhere while you are sitting on the side of the road is not a fun (or inexpensive!) experience.
We stopped at Wal Mart because you can't go to town without stopping at the Wal Mart. I think it is a law that, as a full time RVer, you have to stop at Wal Mart in every town you stay in or face heavy fines. :-)
We stocked up on groceries and then drove to Walgreens and got our medicine before heading back home. All in all, a pretty expensive day. I'll keep you posted.