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

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Big news alert! early Christmas present

We we have been working for the last month on an early Christmas present for ourselves. and yesterday it all came together. This is our "early" Christmas gift

We started looking at a few houses to kind of "test the waters" early last month. Our demands were fairly specific. We wanted to be near Custer, have room for the motor home to park, a two car garage for the bike and truck plus a view of the Black Hills, all within our limited budget. You can see we were asking for quite a bit. We scanned some of the local internet real estate listings for several weeks but found our choices pretty limited. We drove by a few and finally decided to take a closer look at one so we called the listing Realtor. She met us there the next morning and once we were inside it was disappointing. The house was fairly small with only 2 bedrooms, no garage, no view but it did have a nice big yard with access to park the motor home. We thanked her for showing it to us but it just wasn't what we were looking for. She told us she would keep an eye out and let us know if something popped up that met our needs then she mentioned, in passing, that there was a house that might be available but was above the price range we gave. She gave us the address for a drive by and her card if we were interested in looking at it.
We drove by and talked about it some and decided to take a closer look. We both felt like it was over our budget but thought we could at least use it to compare other houses to so we gave her a call and she came right over. She told us the house had been on the market for several months and the owner had already moved into a condo and was anxious to sell. One deal, early on, had fallen through and she felt he "may" be willing to lower the price below market value to sell it.
We liked the house and it met all of our criteria so, after discussing it for several days we made an offer on it. Most of you know how these things go, low offer, high counter offer. We certainly had a maximum price in mind for the house as I'm sure he had a "lowest I will go" price as well. We got his counter offer which was, as expected, fairly high and we figured this was out of our league. We made a final offer a little higher then our original and he accepted! We have spent the last month "riding the roller coaster" of mortgage applications, credit checks, home inspections, appraisals etc. That's probably the reason the blog has been a little sparse lately. We are both a little above our optimum stress levels! :-)
Last week all the stars lined up and the closing was set for 12/23/14. We did a final walk through with our Realtor and mentioned it would be nice to be able to put some things in the garage early. She called the seller and he said "sure thing" in fact he told them give us a key to the house so we could do whatever we needed. I love small towns, lots of nice people! :-)
We ended up emptying our cargo trailer into one of the garages and even prepped and painted the master bedroom and closet.
We, as of yesterday, are now homeowners once again. The house is 3 bedroom 1900 sq ft with 2 car attached garage that has a gravel pad next to it that is large enough to park both the motor home and cargo trailer. We are within the city limits of Custer so we have city water, sewer and, in an hour or so, cable TV :-)
Oh yea, we also have a view of the Black Hills.

Life is good, Merry Christmas everyone. I'll keep you posted. :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

workin' away.

Sorry my blog posts have been a little sparse lately but for 5 out of the 7 days per week we just work, sleep and repeat. Our days off have mostly consisted of driving into Rapid City to get our Christmas shopping done and those gifts wrapped and shipped to our loved ones. I forgot how quickly those two days off pass before it's time to head back to work. Last summer we worked the same 40 hours per week but they allowed us to work four ten hour shifts and we sure miss those three days off. I am hoping next summers schedule may be similar but who knows.

One day we did take a nice long drive through the Hill's. We were on the look out for wildlife and were not disappointed. We drove through Wind Cave National Park and into Custer State Park and I remembered my camera this time!

I keep thinking back to last year  at this time and we were almost done with our Amazon jobs. We met a lot of good friends there and most of them returned to work there again this season. They are almost done! Congrats guys, it's hard work but I remember that sense of accomplishment we felt when we left SDF1 that last night. Enjoy some Waffles and Bacon at the Huddle House for Rudee and I! I'll keep you posted.

Friday, November 21, 2014

busy, busy, busy

Wow, where did the last month go? We have been settling into our new roles at work and finding our "groove". There are always adjustments whenever a new boss(es) takes over but things are running fairly smoothly. We have only had one long time employee decide to make a change but he has been looking for quite some time so it wasn't a total shock when he walked out. He will be missed though as he was very knowledgeable and an all around great guy.
Rudee and I are continuing to work a Thursday through Monday shift and like it for the most part. We will be working all the Holidays this year but don't mind too much since we can take a day off in the future to make up for it. This will give us some vacation days to use while we build up "official" vacation time.
Late in October we made the move to a new campground for the winter. Heritage Village Campground which is owned by Crazy Horse closes on November 1st and they shut down all the water to the sites. We found a nice small park in the town of Custer, 5th Street RV Park, and are settled into site #1. Sorry but no pictures yet. :-(
We were lucky, or so I thought, and got everything set up before the weather changed in mid-November. The change started with snow and we had about 5" of the white stuff but the worst was yet to come as the temperatures dipped well below zero! This continued for over a week with lows in the negative teens and highs in the single digits. The rig was doing good and we were staying fairly comfortable. That all changed last Friday evening. We got off work, came home, changed clothes and went out for dinner. When we got back home an hour later I heard water running as soon as I got out of the truck. Oh, no! I found it pouring out of our wet bay on the Journey and quickly shut it off and started looking for the problem. I found it pretty quickly, there is a small plastic pressure tank hooked into the fresh water lines. The tank keeps the on board water pump from running too much by keeping the lines pressurized. The plastic tank had a big crack in it and water was spraying everywhere. Keep in mind I do have a small space heater in the compartment as well as a remote thermostat that I can monitor from inside the coach (it said 55 degrees when we were home changing). We also had a stream of water running so I'm still not sure if it froze somehow or busted from age and water pressure. Regardless of the cause, here I am, in the dark, kneeling in a puddle of water working on the plumbing and it's -10 degrees outside! BRRRRRRR! I was able to remove the tank but needed additional parts to make the repair, it would have to wait. Rudee made a quick run to the store to buy some gallons of water for us to use and I went inside to warm up.
Saturday I spent my lunch hour shopping at the local hardware store where I bought some Pex tubing and connectors and once I got off work I hooked up the new tubing and we had water again. The repair wasn't perfect though and one of the push on connectors was leaking. Rather then chance it by connecting the hose back up we just ran from the on board tank and turned the pump on and off whenever we needed water. This got us through until I could buy a better connector at Lowes on Tuesday and I took it all apart again and got it fixed with no leaks!
Thursday morning I got up and no water!! What the heck?? I went outside and our hose was frozen. I have used this hose for several years in below freezing weather and it has never failed me. I made it up myself by attaching a heat tape to it with electrical tape and then insulating it with foam pipe wrap. The heat tape was plugged in, the power was on but the tape itself was ice cold. :-(

I was lucky that I didn't have to go to work until noon because of a special event at work so I made a run to the hardware store, got a new heat tape, new insulation and pulled out my spare white hose to
make myself another heated supply line. Rudee and I got everything in place and voila! We could shower again! This winter living in an RV is not for the faint of heart but we just roll with the punches. :-)

We still have snow on the ground but have had a few days above freezing so it has been starting to melt some. I promise to get a few pictures of our new neighborhood for the next entry. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Whirlwind trip to Indiana

Before starting our new jobs at Crazy Horse we took a couple of weeks to return to Indiana. We wanted to visit family and friends because it may be awhile before we can take some vacation time. We were able to have one last breakfast with Steve and Joan (FOSJ blog). We had such a great summer with these two great friends and we'll be lonely without them. They even brought me a present

that should tide me over until I get my first paycheck. Thanks guys, have safe travels and hope to see you again real soon. :-)

Monday morning (9/29) we locked up the RV, loaded our suit cases into the Dakota and headed East stopping in Iowa for the night. We arrived in Indiana Tuesday afternoon and got settled into Rudee's Mom's spare bedroom. We were able to spend some time with old friends, meet some new friends and got to spoil our Grand Kids a bunch! I was able to cook them up a big "low country boil" for dinner one day ...... YUMMY!

We went camping our last weekend with some of our old motorcycle buddies and were able to take our grand kids trick or treating around the campground.

Thank you Rob and Jany for letting us bunk with you guys in your camper. :-)

All too soon it was time to head back. We left Sunday afternoon (10/12) and pointed the truck to the West to start our new adventure.
Since we got a late start we ended up spending two nights in motels on the way back and even made a stop

We are both fans of the American Pickers show and enjoyed the stop. Their shop sure looks bigger on TV and unfortunately none of the "stars" were there just these two guys

We arrived back at the RV on Tuesday afternoon. My first order of business was to check out our combo washer/dryer unit. Before leaving for the trip Rudee did one last load of laundry and it came out sopping wet. I did some quick Detective work and determined it was not agitating or spinning. I figured the belt had popped off or had broken and would just fix it when we got back. Well I pulled the machine out of the cabinet and popped off the back of the case. Oh Oh, the belt is still in position which means it is most likely the motor or the circuit board :-(. I called an RV technician who summers here in the Black Hills but he had already left the area. He confirmed my suspicions but had more bad news, the machine is so old they do not make the motors any longer and the circuit boards are all but impossible to find. He said we may find someone to rebuild the motor but suggested we consider just replacing the whole unit. We gave it some thought and since we are likely to spend at least the next year in the RV we decided to bite the bullet and order a new one. Since the replacement will not arrive until next week we loaded up all our dirty clothes and headed for the parks laundry. $12.00 later we had clean clothes again, Wowzer, that's a lot of quarters!
Rudee had Wednesday off but I started my first of six days straight. My duties have not changed significantly but my areas of responsibility have increased a lot. My first day consisted of morning meetings, HR paperwork and then working in the guest services area. I have a couple of projects to work on and once I have a work area and computer I can get started on them. Hopefully that will all be finalized next week. I do have a mail box though!

Maybe I'm somebody after all :-)

Our next days off will be Tuesday and Wednesday, I'm not sure if this will continue to be our normal schedule but we are looking forward to maybe taking a short motorcycle ride between replacing the washer/dryer and doing the laundry which is piling up again :-) I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

looking ahead

All I can say is "WOW" and "Thank You" for all the support we have in the RV community it truly is humbling.
Looks like I will keep on writing our little blog here and let you all know how cold it gets this winter. :-)

This Sunday will be our last shift as work campers at Crazy Horse and we will leave Monday morning for Indiana. Our new positions start on the 15th of October and it will probably be awhile before we can take some time off again. One of my duties will be to help train incoming work campers next season. They hire quite a few and it is a fun place to work and spend the summer. The pay is above average and you are paid for every hour you work plus time and half for OT. The campground is about 1/2 mile away and has full hook up pull through sites. They do not have Wifi or cable but do have a nice laundry room. The cell service is spotty here as well. AT&T put up a new tower nearby late last year so their signal is super strong with 4g internet but Verizon is weak and requires a booster to receive a decent reliable signal. There are no over-the-air TV stations so satellite is a must if you are a TV watcher like me. There is a minimal charge for your campsite (this year and last was $6.50 per day) and a bonus is available of up to .25 for every hour you worked based on your performance.
Work campers work in almost all the areas of Crazy Horse including the restaurant, kitchen, gift shop, ticketing & welcome/orientation center, bus tours and maintenance/facilities. They do like for people to work a minimum of 32 hours but preferably 40 hour weeks are the norm.
The jobs, of course, are not for everyone and can sometimes be demanding. Count on being on your feet for your entire 8 hour shift (you will get a 1 hour unpaid lunch break usually 1/2 way through your day) unless of course you are a tour bus driver and then you use your voice more then your feet. :-).
The memorial is open from 7:30 pm until around 10 pm during the summer and you can expect to work a variety of shifts. They are very good at scheduling spouses the same days off but your shifts can vary during working days. We are an example of that because Rudee works until close Thursday and Friday and then 9-8 (includes her 1 hour meal time) on Saturday and Sunday. My normal shift is 8 am - 7 pm Thu-Sun, we do work 10 hour shifts (our request) so we get our 40 hours but still have 3 days off.
Without a doubt Crazy Horse has been our best work camping experience. The hours are long at times but the work is fun and we have made lifelong friends with some of our fellow work campers. The area is a fantastic place to explore and one of the perks is a "VIP" pass given to the work campers that get you in free at a lot of the tourist areas as well as other perks. One of the golf courses nearby lets you play 18 holes for the price of nine with your VIP card plus there are many other businesses that participate in the program. So if you are looking for a spot for next summer (May through mid-October) give Crazy Horse a look and maybe you'll be our neighbor next year. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 22, 2014

more changes coming

The last several blogs I have written about changes, mostly about weather changes. This blog will be a bit different. Most of you that have been following us for awhile know we have had some challenges in the past couple of years. Some of those challenges were expensive and stretched our budget to it's maximum and we have struggled trying to recover. We are certainly not destitute but with our savings account all but gone we had to make some decisions. Since I am not yet 59 1/2 dipping into our IRA's is not a good option with the penalties imposed for early withdrawal. Right now our seasonal jobs (Crazy Horse, Amazon and gate guarding) supports our lifestyle but just barely. Our biggest fear is another costly repair while on the road will put us into spiraling debt that is all but impossible to climb out of while only working lower wage, part time jobs. Trust me, I have lost a ton of sleep the last year worrying about the "what if's". Another thing is we are tired of "pinching pennies". We both love being full timers and the experiences it gives you but frankly I would love to splurge and buy a can of Folgers coffee one time instead of the cheapest generic I can find on the shelf. :-)  Another reality is we are going to need to new vehicle soon because the Dakota is wearing out and will likely be needing more and more repairs. We, quite frankly, were not sure what direction our lives should take and were discussing several options when, this Spring, my boss here at Crazy Horse announced his retirement. We both enjoy working here and being involved with the process of carving the memorial. We also love the area, it is so beautiful here in the Black Hills. So with the support of several of the full time employees who approached me encouraging me to apply we made the decision that I would put my hat in the ring for his position, Director of Visitor Services. The selection process was long and involved but as things progressed over the summer my chances looked better and better. My final interview was just after labor day and I was told they would make their selection by the 19th of September. Needless to say the last two weeks have been the most stressful. The day finally arrived and I met with one of the CEO's (there are two) and the COO. The first thing they told me was that the position had been given to another candidate :-(
Then they threw me a curve ball, they offered me a different position, a brand new position created just for me! Needless to say I was humbled, flattered and confused at the same time. The salary that came with the job was within the range that Rudee and I had discussed and the job would be very similar to what I have already been doing with some added responsibilities.  I accepted the position and am the newly created Senior Assistant Director of Visitor Services at Crazy Horse Memorial. The CEO then excused herself from the meeting and went to Rudee in the gift shop. She let her know that I had accepted a position and asked if she would "help me manage the gift shop". There was not much time for her and Rudee to talk but she said they would sit down next week and discuss the details.
So what do we do now? Well first of all we are taking 2 weeks to go back to Indiana and visit family and friends. We will also take care of some medical appointments and get our medical records to give to our South Dakota doctor once we select one. We have also made arrangements with a campground that is open year round in Custer but are also keeping our eyes open for a house to rent. We have experience living in our rig in very cold climates so that isn't something new to us but we wont pass up a good deal on a house to rent either. :-)
So there is the big news, Rudee and I are putting our full time travels on hiatus and settling down in the Black Hills. We are looking at staying in or near the Custer area and, as long as our jobs work out for both us and them, we will likely be purchasing a home nearby at some time in the future. As far as the blog is concerned I'm really not sure. Do you readers want to hear from us since we are not work camping but just working? Leave a comment and let me know and I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Oh no, I said a four letter word!

I mentioned in the last blog that things were starting to change some around here. I guess that was an understatement because look what we woke up to last Thursday morning.

The snow continued all day Thursday finally quitting just before dark. We ended up with a total of 10 inches of heavy wet snow. Thursday is our first day of our work week so it was dark by the time I got home and of course our roof mounted satellite dome receiver was covered in snow and would not receive a signal. We were able to watch some movies we had on the DVR and rather then listen to the motor run on the antenna (it was constantly adjusting trying to tune in a signal) I shut it off. This turned out to be a bad thing because now it is not working correctly. I called Dish Network and everything checks out OK on their equipment so they are saying it is a Wineguard issue. I can tune in one satellite but it will not switch to the other satellite that carries some of the channels we receive. This used to be totally automatic but now has become a giant pain in the you know what! I climbed up on the roof and took the lid off the dome, no loose connections but one of the two bundles of wires going into the dish is dry rotted and splitting. I could not see any bare wires exposed but feel like this may be my issue. I plan on calling Wineguard tomorrow and see if there is any trouble shooting I can do from here to make sure the wire harness is the issue.

Work is slowing down to a more predictable pace and several of our fellow work campers have left or are packing things up to leave. We are contracted through the 30th of September so only 2 more weeks of work for us. :-) I'll keep you posted

Sunday, August 31, 2014

change is in the wind

Fall weather seems to have arrived early here in the Black Hills. The night time temps have been consistently in the mid 40's to low 50's the last couple of weeks. We don't mind though as it makes for some nice sleeping weather. :-)

Last week we hooked up with Dan and Jonell (Liv2RV) and took a trip into Rapid City to visit the Chapel in the Hills which is an exact replica of a chapel in Norway built right here in the Black Hills.

Besides the Chapel they have a small museum and gift shop.
After visiting the chapel we grabbed lunch at the Firehouse Brewery downtown and then visited the local fair. We ended our day by using our VIP passes to get half price at the Fort Hays Chuckwagon Show where we enjoyed a "Cowboy" meal of beef, potato, beans and cake all served on tin plates followed by live music. We were sure bushed by the time we made it back home but we had such a fun time. Thanks guys!

Last winter, while working at Amazon, Rudee smelled something hot inside the motorhome saying it smelled like wires burning. I traced it to the water heater which we quickly turned off and the smell went away. We have since only used it on LP gas and it has been "on my list" to repair. I finally decided to tackle it a few days ago.

The electrical components of our water heater are on the back side of the unit and I was not looking forward to removing the whole heater to make the repair. There is a small access panel under the motor home and once I removed the panel I could see inside but had very little room to work. I did locate the problem, there is another switch that controls the electric heating element and it was burned and melted (cheap plastic switch!). There is really no need for this switch as there is another one inside the coach so I was able to bypass it by unplugging the wires to it and just splicing them together. I turned on the circuit (Whew, no smoke!) and tested all the connections. Yipee, it works! Now we can go back to heating the water with the campground electric instead of our expensive propane! :-)

We are starting to look towards the end of our contract here at Crazy Horse. We are set to work through September with our commitment fulfilled on September 30th. This summer sure has flown by! We are looking forward to visiting family and friends again before heading to Amazon in October. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, August 11, 2014

We survived Sturgis

Once again the Black Hills were filled with the sounds of thousands and thousands of motorcycles. Yep, it was time once again for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. This is the "Mother" of all motorcycle rallies and draws an estimated 1/2 a million bikers from all over the world. Work is, of course, a zoo with two of our larger parking lots blocked off for nothing but motorcycle parking. Rudee and I look forward to this week and is one of the reasons we enjoy this area. We like to make the trip to Sturgis and ride "into the center of the beast". We find a parking spot and spend most of the day just walking through the crowds people watching and looking through the endless vendor tents. Monday was our first day off during the rally and we made the hour long ride with Steve and Joan (and several thousand others) :-)

We passed on the bikini bike wash and oil change. I'm still trying to figure out why you would want to try and change the oil in a bike while wearing a bikini but this "is" Sturgis after all. :-)

We made it to Main Street and even at 11:00 am it was difficult finding any parking spaces and we had to park several blocks away.

Vendors of all types line the streets selling just about everything. We saw motorcycle parts, t-shirts, hats, sunglasses, helmets, and even one booth selling ..... ahem...."marriage assist devices". Yep, Sturgis has just about everything! :-)
We found a spot for lunch where we could watch the parade of people and bikes driving by.

We all enjoyed our day but Sturgis "after dark" is something we have agreed to avoid so we left in the early afternoon to make our way home.

Tuesday Rudee and I made another ride passing through Sturgis once again. We arrived early and I had the mufflers replaced on our bike to give it a little more "rumble". Once that was completed we headed West and ended up doing a drive by of Devils Tower. We have visited the park in years past so this was just another scenic ride for us.

We made it back home just before a thunderstorm opened up on us, another great day motorcycling in the Black Hills. :-)

Work will start slowing down some now that the kids are starting back to school and the vacation season will be coming to a close. All of us work campers are starting to realize our time together is coming to an end. Some are considering coming back for another year here while others are researching their next summer destinations. Most are wintering someplace warm after visits with family or maybe a side trip on the way South. In our case we have only 7 more weeks and our contract will be up. Let's see what we can get into next. I'll keep you posted.

ps: this is the end...... "Sturgis Style"! :-)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

the "hidden" Black Hills

One thing we are doing this year that we did not do a lot of last year is exploring the back roads of the Black Hills. This area has a large amount of National Forest Service lands that are accessed by gravel roads that twist and turn for miles and miles. Most of these roads are accessible by almost any type of vehicle although you do need to be careful and 4 wheel drive comes in handy at times. We rarely, if ever, meet another vehicle driving these roads and now that the summer tourist season is in full swing the main roads and tourist areas are really busy. We have been treated to some great sights on these drives and enjoy the peace and solitude they provide, it's good for the soul!

We are keeping very busy at work and each day seems busier then the one before. The large motorcycle rally kicks off in less then 2 weeks and our visitors change from families on vacation to thousands of motorcyclists enjoying their "adult" time away from home. We rarely, if ever, have any issues with the bikers and I have found them to be respectful and happy for the most part. The truth is that most of them are hard working folks who love to travel on two wheels similar to our passion to travel in an RV albeit with a slightly different "dress code" :-)

Speaking of Sturgis, we took a ride over to check out their preparations yesterday. Joan's (friends of Steve and Joan)  cousin Kevin and friends Mike and Julie arrived earlier this week. They were riding their Harley's from Ohio on their way to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We showed them around the Hill's a little and they rode to Sturgis with us to check things out. We had a great time with them and look forward to running into them again some day. Joan snapped a photo of Kevin and I trying on hats, we both wished we had more time to fix our hair! :-)

My hours have been shifted some for at least a couple of weeks. I am staying late on at least 2 nights per week because one of our summer employees left. They have hired his replacement who is starting today but then one of our work camping couples are taking a short "vacation" so they can explore Yellowstone and I will be covering for them for several days. The bright side of it all is I will be putting in some OT hours and we can always use the extra money. :-) I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

workin' away

Things have seemed a little slower paced here in the Black Hills this year compared to the same time frame last year. That all changed during the week ending with the 4th of July weekend. We had visitors in droves (a good thing!) here at Crazy Horse. I have been very busy at work and am loving my new assignment(s). I am working in the admissions area here and am called upon to do several different duties including doing van tours to the top of the monument, filling in as a bus driver doing tours to the bottom of the mountain, working the information desk as well as playing "banker" to the fine folks working the entrance stations. I have also responded to a couple of medical emergencies putting my knowledge as a former Paramedic back to use. I really don't know what to expect when I clock in and that is the way I like it, I guess that is how I have always worked starting back in my days as a Firefighter/Paramedic and later as a Deputy Sheriff.
A few days ago, as I was manning the information desk, a gentleman came up wanting to purchase a raffle ticket for the 2014 Harley Davidson they are giving away. I noticed he was wearing an "RV Dreams" logo hat. I asked him if he was a fan of Howard and Linda and learned he and his wife were new full time RVers. They had attended an RV Dreams rally and were really enjoying their new lifestyle. He asked me "are you Workin' Rvers?" Yep, that's us! :-) I wish we had gotten more time to talk with him and I would have loved for Rudee to have met them but they were heading back out on the road. Save travels Gene and Eileen, we'll meet up again another day I'm sure.

Our days off consist of doing as much motorcycle riding as we can. The weather has still been a little wet but we have gotten in some nice rides through the "Hills". We are only 4 weeks away from the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally and are looking forward to spending our days off checking out the crowds there. We usually just do a lot of "people watching" and always see some sights that you just don't see anywhere else. What an adventure! :-) I'll keep you all posted.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

just hangin' around

We are quickly moving into summer here in the Black Hills, at least the calender says so. The weather has not caught on that it is almost July and we have had some really cool nights and it seems that most everyday it clouds up and we have storms move through. Rudee's schedule for last week shifted inexplicably to evenings each day. In the weeks prior she would work a couple of "closing" shifts and then her hours would be closer to my 8am - 7pm. We think it is just an oversight as her manager just took over the scheduling duties and was receptive to a change to get closer to my shifts. She doesn't mind closing but would not get home until around 11 pm and I just couldn't stay up that long, just look at any picture of me ..... I need my beauty sleep! LOL

A couple of weeks ago I repaired a leaky pump in our Splendide washer/dryer. The repair worked and we have no more leaks however it started acting up and would stop in mid cycle, right when it needed to pump the water out. We would have to manually advance the dial to get it to start working again, sometimes it we would have to advance it several times before it would start. I figured I would wait until my first day off, yesterday, to take it back out of it's cubby hole and see if I could figure out the problem. Lo and behold, it started working again just like it was supposed to. We have now done 5 or 6 loads and it worked perfect. Guess I'll wait and see what happens next week but we are keeping our fingers crossed.

A couple of weeks ago we made a stop in Sturgis to see the town before all the rally in August. We parked on main street and checked out a couple of shops, one of which was a thrift shop ran by a local womens club where I found a Black and Decker space saver coffee pot. Our motorhome had one at one time but had been removed by the previous owner. I looked it over at the store and quickly paid the $2.00 they were asking for it. I installed it when we got home and the brackets lined up with the existing holes in the shelve, Sweet!

I ran a few pots of vinegar water through it and it works good as new.

One of my jobs at Crazy Horse includes taking people up to the top of the mountain for a "private" tour. I love going up and seeing the monument close up and have met some really nice people on my trips. We sometimes see the mountain goats walking around and the view is always fantastic! One day last week we got to see some of the crew preparing the mountain for our summer night blast.

Look closely and you will see there are two of the workers that have rappelled off the top. They were attaching mount brackets in order to string the explosives for the blast.
I keep having to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming about the cool stuff I get to do, and I get paid for it too! :-)

Last Wednesday we got together with Dan and Jonell, liv2RV, and they all thought I needed to add a little culture to my rough and tumble life. We started with dinner at a nice restaurant in Keystone, The Powderhouse, where we had a nice meal. Then they took me to the "theater", pronounced with a British accent. :-)

The playhouse is located in Custer State Park and is free to us on certain evenings with our VIP passes. We saw a 22 act musical based on a childrens fairy tail and it was quite enjoyable. The cast were all very talented and we are looking forward to the next one. I still have to work on getting my pinky extended when I am hoisting my beer bottle but these things take time. :-)

We are looking forward to the night blast this Thursday at work. Should any of you readers find yourself in the Black Hills be sure and look us up! We are the ones that can't wipe the grins off our faces, we are having such a good time here. Of course our blog is not complete without a Buffalo picture.

He was a cutey! I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Horsin' around

One if the benefits of work camping at Crazy Horse is the VIP pass your provided. The pass is good for discounted, or often free, entrances to a lot of the tourist attraction nearby. Last year we enjoyed visiting some of the attractions but there were many more we wanted to go to but ran out of time. We are planning to revisit some of them this year as well as visit the ones we missed last year. We decided that the one we really wanted to see was the Wild Horse Sanctuary near Hot Springs, SD. This is a large (over 10,000 acres) ranch where they are dedicated to saving the wild Mustangs. The ranch was established in 1988 by Dayton Hyde who wanted to give the wild Mustangs a safe home where they can live as free and wild animals. They give tours as a way to support the ranch and reservations are a must. The tours are given on small school buses and are limited to around 20-30 people. We were able to take the two hour tour, normally $50 per person, for free with our card. The bus driver/tour guide was a very nice young lady who was very knowledgeable about the ranch and the different breeds of horses they have there. She took us up on the very high plateau that overlooks the ranch and the Cheyenne River which winds it's way through the valley.

I can certainly see why this would have been a prime place to live in earlier times. The Cheyenne Indians used this valley as a camp and in later years ranches were established by homesteaders who settled in the area after the Indians were removed to reservations. The first white family to settle on this land used this cave as their winter home when they arrived to late in the year to build a proper structure. That must have been one hard winter :-o.

Oh ya, they had some wild horses there too. :-)

We enjoyed the tour but both agreed that we would have been somewhat disappointed if we had to pay $50 per person for the tour.

Our work week has been moving along and we are settling in nicely to the routine. Our schedules rarely coincide but we do get the same days off and occasionally have the same lunch hour. My hours are pretty stable at 8am - 7pm but Rudee works a couple of nights closing so her shifts are variable throughout the week. We both agree though that this is a great place to work and live for the summer! I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

work, work and more work?

Yes folks, we are still in South Dakota working away and doing fine. I guess I have neglected the blog a little and I apologize for that. I'll try and do better. :-)
We are slowly getting back into the groove of our four 10 hour shifts per week and for some reason I am having a little more difficulty getting my "body clock" to adjust to Mountain time.
The weather here in the Black Hills has been warming up some but that has also meant afternoon thunderstorms most days. We have avoided most of the severe weather but it sure interferes with our motorcycle rides.
We have taken in some pretty scenery though, even on the stormy days.

One day last week I decided to make some homemade noodles. My Mother In Law is the champion noodle maker and she taught me all her secrets.

I doubt if I will ever be able to make them as good as she does but I get pretty durn close.

We have also been experience a problem with our Splendide "all in one" washer/dryer. The thing has never really dried the clothes very well. We would set the dryer selection for maximum time (2 hours) and the clothes would still be damp even after all that time. Our neighbors and friends Steve and Joan (FOSJ) were also having problems with their unit and had tried several things before calling for a technician to come and look at it. Talking to Steve I was hoping to correct mine with just a simple cleaning of the dryer vent and he suggested I take it apart and try that on the same day the tech was coming to fix theirs in case it was more complicated.
Yesterday morning was the day and I removed the unit from it's cabinet. The dryer vent was totally clogged with a big ball of lint and looked like it probably had never been cleaned. That was an easy fix but, as usual, nothing is that easy. When I pulled the unit out we found water under the unit and it had been leaking for quite awhile. Not a big leak but any water leak is a bad thing in an RV. I was able to get the service tech to stop in and he found the pump was leaking. He said we could rebuild it using a kit for under $40 (which he had on his truck) or he could order us a new pump for $120. He told me how easy they were to rebuild and gave me some pointers so I decided to give it a try and save a few $'s. The kit is just a new rubber gasket that seals the interior impeller shaft of the pump.
I removed the pump which was held on by two bolts and I had to disconnect two hoses and a couple of wires.

Once I had the pump in hand I removed the screws holding the two halves of the housing together. Inside the housing is the impeller that is screwed onto a drive shaft and after unscrewing the impeller you can remove the rubber seal which keeps the pump from leaking.

I cleaned everything up and installed the new gasket using the grease they provided with the kit. I put it all back together and hoped for the best as we gave it a test run. Whoo Hoo, no leaks and it is blowing hot air from the dryer vent!
I put the back in the cabinet and reattached the anchors that keeps it secure. We have done a few loads since then and the clothes come out warm and dry in 1/4 of the drying time as before and Rudee is happy to have a fully functioning dryer again.

The weatherman says the next several days will be cool and rainy so we are just planning on running some errands and "chillin" in the rig. I'll keep you posted.