Wednesday, August 31, 2011
After the "getaway blues" of previous posts about the tribulations that all happened as we were trying to leave our Stix and Brix, we stopped at the Pilot/Flying J at Dunn, NC to fill up. 170 gallons and $632 later, we pulled out headed south down I-95. We stopped the first night at Bass Lake RV park in Dillon, SC about 120 miles from Raleigh. Yesterday, we drove on down to Walterboro, SC, and spent the night in the New Green Acres RV park. Quite nice other than being right next to I95 but this is the same as is true of Bass Lake. In both cases, it's OK for a night and though these parks are appealing for longer stays, the highway noise really ruins the rest of the experience. SC seems to have booming highways. Big trucks going down them seem to keep booming and it sounds a lot like nearby thunder.
This morning, we left Green Acres. I was disappointed that I could never get the cable TV hookup to work but I cannot say it was not my fault after the events of the past week.
We pulled into the Stagecoach RV park in St Augustine, FL a few blocks off of I95. Some road noise if you are outside but not really bad. I still prefer quiet.
Given our reasons for being near Jacksonville, Stagecoach RV park is the closest of the ones we have seen even close to our price range so we thought we would plan at least a month here. However, the desk person did not know anything much about the monthly rates and available sites so we have to check back in the morning with the owner to get that worked out.
To be honest, I love the setting, hate the traffic noise and the lack of Cable-TV so we are backpedaling on our plans just a bit. First thing in the morning we will check the monthly rates and availability at St John's RV park about 5 miles farther south on I95 on hi-way 207. We will also check the same at the Indian Forest CG a couple of miles east of that same intersection. We drove through both parks this afternoon after setting up in Stagecoach and though both have cable and Wi-Fi, Indian Forest has a much better ambiance for us, is closer to the beach, St Augustine old town and a Super Wal-Mart.
If they have reasonable monthly rates available I think we will likely move to Indian Forest, tomorrow. ST. John's RV park is a second choice to Indian Forest, though. $375/month + Elec is hard to beat around here so Stagecoach may end up being our residence for lack of monthly availability at the other two places.
I will admit that I had my first surprise this evening when we went out for a walk after dark and no mosquitoes flying around! They are show stoppers for me as I react badly to their bites. Bob, my BIL, had told me that he could not remember being bitten around here in the past several years of living in the area. I can handle the humidity and even the gnats. Just not the mosquitoes and chiggers.
Well, Mer has retired and I am on her heels a lot earlier than usual, tonight. Not a hard day but tomorrow will be a long one. We finally get to see Merrily's brother Bob and his Chemo-embattled wife after 2 years absence and we can never stop having fun when we get together so bedtime may come really late tomorrow night.
We have all been deep friends since Bob and I were in Middle school in central Florida. No matter what the gaps in time between visits have been, there has never seemed to be any discontinuity in our relationship because of them. I count Bob as one of the very best people I have ever known and always a stellar benchmark for me to grow towards in my life. I admire his courage and convictions and the incredible stamina that he has shown in carrying some unusually massive and long lived life burdens. This latest goblin which has been thrust upon his shoulders, is certainly the worst I have ever known of..
God Speed, Bob and Bette. We are here for whatever benefit of comfort to you guys that we are able to provide during this sketchy period of your lives and just know that it will be survived.
ttfn, my friends
Monday, August 29, 2011
Left the house this afternoon and are now resting nicely in Dillon SC for the evening. Some slight irks and traumas tried to forestall our departure yet again but thanks to Emery, III stepping in and taking up the slack by removing and replacing the windshield wiper motor that just decided to strip its gears, hauling stuff to Goodwill, cutting the tree up that fell on the van and Smart car during Irene and generally being front and center whenever anything cropped up to stall our departure this time.
He has certainly been the STP (oil treatment) that has kept us from getting bound up by a few dozen more glitches and goblins that have popped up these past few days.
Thank you, Emery. You make me cry for Happy.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Yes, we watched out for hurricane Irene and knew when the winds in our area would start placing us at risk. What I forgot (happens too often, now) was that I always park all the vehicles in a parking deck or out on the open street where big stuff can't fall on them. I did not consider that my neighbor had a defective tree that would break off at the spot. It could have fallen in any of the other 358 degrees of direction and would not have bothered anything but these 3 degrees.. crap!
I guess this is what you call a sacrificial Van. The '93 Aerostar took all of the hit from the tree and the Smart was just trapped by the branches until I cut them off. No damage to it.
The dent in the van's windshield frame and the bullseye pattern in the driver's side of the glass is surprising little damage given the size of the tree. The bad news is.. no comprehensive insurance due to the age.
This, plus the windshield wiper motor stripping its gears on the Truck as I started to move the RV, has delayed our departure yet another day or so.
But no one was injured by Irene and no serious damage so.. there is the lemonade.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
The rain we are finally getting has been wonderful. It has been desperately needed around here. But Mer and I have gotten some sort of stomach bug. Hers has now taken her voice and we are pretty drained at the moment but still kicking.
Other than this news of dubious importance, not much else has been going on. I am still waiting to hear back from the insurance guy about the rest of the claims for damages from the tornado. So far, I have fronted about $2k towards repairs with another few hundred to go.
We are still aiming to leave here around the 17th of August and heading down to visit with Mer’s brother, Bob, his wife and family. After that, the plans are pretty open until Dec 1.
Here’s hoping that all this rain means more civilized temperatures.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Ok I said it! That should be enough! It can stop anytime, now.
This oppressive heat here in central North Carolina is just reminding me of too many summer days as a kid in Central Alabama and Central Florida, BC (Before Conditioning (air, that is)). The phrase that I remember the most was, “It’s a nice day, go out and play.”….. NOW!
Bacd then, I thought it was mean. Now, I am sure it was just the adults resenting the huge amount of heat generated by 3 kids bodies indoors. We were dulling their cool space.
This is not Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana or Mississippi. After all, it “IS” NORTH Carolina and that should count for something at least a little less tropical.
My Dad used to say that it was all just in my mind and that it really wasn’t all that hot. These are not my numbers but I will play along and pretend I am in, oh, let’s say, Port Orford, Oregon.
There! Now I feel so much better…… not!
Maybe I just need some visual aids to help me chill out….
Ahhhh… Now That’s what I’m talking about!
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Being here is accomplishing some important things, though. The 15k A/C - Heat pump on the roof has been replaced by insurance. It was damaged in that tornado we were in on 4/16/2011 in the Smithfield KOA along with the thermostat.
Still a few little things, like the rear ladder, needed to be dealt with but I have managed to get a few coats of Red Max Pro on the front fiberglass end cap of DaKotR and 1 coat on the rear. This certainly makes it look better, is easier to clean and that should help us with the 10 year age limit on an RV that some parks capriciously enforce. I if an RV looks "spent" it might not be allowed to stay there. I, also, still need to fill some cracks that are developing in the caulked seams on the roof but they are not close to leaking and that can be done whenever weather permits. This time, I am going to redo them from scratch and then cover the seams with EternaBond seam tape. From what others have said, this should stop the bi-annual reworking of these seams on the end caps.
The other really big issue has been the generator exhaust coupling leak that has refused, for 7 years, to stay fixed. Now that we are planning to spend more time off the grid and have a residential refrigerator that will need shore power to cool, we need a dependable generator that will not kill us.
To this end, I pulled the generator out, one more time, and took the offending piece of the exhaust pipe to a welder... and he fixed it, permanently! Fixed in this way will make getting the generator in and out of the RV a bit more difficult but not impossible and now, we should be able to trust the generator when it is running. I am now waiting on some better weather to install it, again.
Along with this, I want to add one of those Generator exhaust extensions that take the exhaust up above the RV. I played with this for a little bit with a make shift arrangement and it was very nice. It made the generator even a lot quieter when outside and we never smelled any exhaust while it was running this way. That was always an irritating thing to keep getting whiffs of exhaust, especially when outside the RV.
We have always been concerned about leaving our dog, Katie, in the RV for hours and having the A/C go out. The replacement thermostat I got for the A/C unit has a Wifi remote access capability. As long as we have access to the RV's Wifi system we can monitor the temperature (and control it) in the RV from our Android Phones wherever we might be. Eventually, I plan to add a webcam link to watch over her, too. That would be nice and then, maybe we can figure out why she has to go around when we are away and tip over all the trash cans in the place. She rarely bothers anything in them but just goes over and tips them over and then walks away.
The garbage can is another matter, though, and is usually raided if we don't remember to put it up where she cannot get to it. A different fix is needed for that problem.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Hawley’s Camping Center in Garner, NC has been extremely helpful in getting my A/C replaced that was killed in the tornado of 4/16/2011. The A/C came in on tuesday evening and I got a call Wednesday morning about it. Although their service dept is scheduling about 3 weeks out, they were very accommodating given it’s July and we live in the RV.
The service Manager, Wayne, really bent over backwards to work us in and Robert, a great RV tech, did the same to get it swapped out and running.
In two hours, exactly, from when I pulled on Thursday Morning, I was driving out of their driveway, once again, a cool and happy camper.
I still have to get settled with the insurance folks but that is just paper work, now. I still have to fix the rear ladder but that ,also, can be worked out…. now that we can get up and move about the RV without slipping in our own sweat.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Tuesday, I went to Hawley’s Camping in Garner, NC to see about a few things including scheduling the AC replacement.
When we were hit by the tornado on 4/16, it is likely that some electrical surge that was not completely handled by my surge equipment managed to get through to my AC, my UPS on the computer, my cordless phone and the thermostat on the AC. Unfortunately, proving this was the cause is limited to the simultaneous timing of the failures of these separate items.
It took 3 days for us to get power back but a small generator kept our refrigerator cold. The rest of the electrical stuff was off until full power returned. Even then, I only noticed the UPS was bad when the power dropped a day later for a few minutes.
The cordless phones, while powered on are only used when I have a good enough broadband connection to run my Magic Jack and the Wi-Fi service in the Smithfield KOA was just not solid enough to make that usable. I did not try to use it until we were in the Zooland Family Campground in Asheboro, NC some weeks later. It turns out that the base unit is now dead.
As for the thermostat and AC, those were not discovered until a few weeks later than the tornado and we needed the heat pump up in West Virginia and all it would do is hum for a couple of seconds and then shut off. I figured that the compressor is frozen, maybe due to the hole in the condensing coils on the roof from some flying debris during the tornado.
So, I need a new AC, Thermostat, UPS and Cordless phone. I have contacted Progressive Insurance and though it has already gotten complicated, I am still trying to arrange a meet with the appraiser and the Hawley’s service tech later this week (I hope).
I am certain that the AC is not repairable and in a leap of faith, I already ordered a replacement 15k heat pump ($1000 – prepay) so it will hopefully be here be installed before the weekend. I hope the Progressive guy comes through so we can get back on the road next week.
Meanwhile, I need to focus on fixing the exhaust connection on the generator and cleaning and glossing the rear fiberglass end cap of DaKotR.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
I have tweaked and twiddled with the prototype pages I previously showed and have found more things that I would like to be able to do with it.
Though something of a programmer in my previous life, I am no HTML whiz so I look for higher technologies than the original hammer and chisels to create web pages. I still like Windows Live Writer and still want to use it to maintain most of this new format. So far, I have been unable to find a way to use it on the Google Sites platform that the previous prototype is built on.
I feel it is vital that readers can leave anonymous comments if they want. I will deal with the spam that comes through that window just so it is easier to use for most of you. Google Sites still does not have a reasonable way to let readers post anonymous comments so that is strike two for Google Sites… for now.
So, back to Blogger.com to see what I can weld together to get something close to what I am aiming for. Some of the private comments I got about my original Hub page were about how uncomfortable it was to look over the main page and I agree. Even after a lot of tweaking, it is still not as easy on the eyes as I would like so I have worked up another version of a hub page where all of my blogs are anchored.
What I have come up with is this: RVBudds.blogspot.com/
It is less complex to the eye and flows better. It lacks a lot of the borders, framing and fine tuning flexibility of the previous design, however, it does support commenting and I can use Live Writer to maintain it. That will save me a whole lot of time.
It also allows me to continue to use this blog as my DAILY blog so I don’t lose the continuity and my archives of posts and comments will continue to be available and grow with the site.
As before, one can get to any of my other blog sites from this one page but each of the other blogs it references can be individually “followed” if desired.
I will be adding a few features, like a SEARCH box for all my blogs, An archive list, Followers and much more but I really don’t want this hub page to get out of control with bells and whistles. I tend to over build when I get enthusiastic about a project and some of my wonderful wants turn into “why-in-the-worlds?” really quickly.
Please check it out and please leave comments (now that you can).
Saturday, June 4, 2011
For a number of months I have been working towards a different blogging setup that should make it a little easier for folks with specific interests to just follow those parts that they like.
I know that not everyone is interested in everything I write. Heck, I am not always interested in all of it at one time, either. Plus, I wanted the more technical material to be a little easier to find for reference purposes. Right now, a post for a single day may have some stuff about travel, a little work I did on a PC, a new problem that has cropped up on the RV, etc. This does give a sense of how my day went but it is almost useless for reference when I want to link back to a technical item that is buried in a journaling blog of the day.
I had the idea that on a main blog entry page, I could have the latest 1 or 2 posts from each of several other topically selected sub-blogs of mine. Anyone could just view that page to see what has been updated and go directly to a specific topic or blog. This is a little like blog readers do across a set of blogs but I like the idea of having a focus point that provides a jumping off place to start.
You can click the picture or just go to: https://sites.google.com/a/webdoms.com/rvbudds/ to access the new site.
I wanted the individual sub blogs to maintain their own RSS feeds and comments because I know that some people are only interested in one topic, like what travel related content I may post. This way, any given topical area can be separately subscribed to by anyone and they don’t even have to see the headings on any of my other blog areas if they don’t want to.
Still, there is nothing earthshakingly different for daily readers but I am hoping that this new format will make the content more aligned with your interests.
I will maintain some blogging on this site, too, until I am sure the new format is going to work like I want. Please comment here or there and let me know what you think, how you like (or don’t like) the new site and make suggestions. I really want to kick this up a notch and I don’t have Emeril in my back pocket to give a good BAM!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sure seems like the tropics are here, today, checking us out for some later hurricane activity…. Like RVers checking out campgrounds for future visits.
No an outside day, for sure so I turned to inside tasks like, finding the power brick for my printer. As usual, I stumbled across it up in cool, breezy West Virginia (See, I can change my mind) and put it in a “special” place so I would have it readily available. I think my special place was pitched out because I can’t find it anywhere!
Also, I have still not heard from Progressive about my A/C that was damaged in the Tornado in Smithfield, NC on 4/16 so I guess I am going to have to get pushy with them.
Dr. visit #1 went fine, today, Dr. visit #2 is tomorrow but I don’t expect any surprises other than some med changes. We will see.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
At the beginning of the year, we replaced our defunct Norcold LM1200 12cu ft. RV refrigerator with a standard 22 cu foot Household refrigerator. It was pretty much a test to see if we could work with it instead of a gas/elec RV refrigerator so we just used an older extra refrigerator we kept in the basement for summer water melons and beer.
In the past 6 months of use, it has never been a problem for us and even when we have been traveling unplugged for 9 hours at a time the freezer still stayed below 15 degrees. We are very happy with the household refer and especially with the much larger capacity and far better internal layout and flexibility it has over any RV refer we have seen.
Since this was a test, we left some of the labor to finish off the installation until we were sure we were going to like it and that it would be a completely satisfactory solution, which it is. One of the things left to do was to seal off the outside venting that was there for the RV refrigerator. Although I wrapped each vent door in a trash bag and pinned it shut, it looked odd and the winds on the highway shredded them pretty quickly. With them unsealed it has been like living with a window open all the time so before summer gets really hot I needed to finish this off.
The main thing I was concerned about was air infiltration. A secondary concern was just plain insulation which is problematic on the bottom vent because there is only 1” behind the refer and the air being exhausted when the refer is running needs to be able to circulate back into the interior of the RV or the compressor will overheat and it won’t cool very well.
The upper vent door was no problem and I fully insulated it with part of a bat of pink fiberglass insulation glued over the 4 mil plastic film I first glued to the backside of the door to seal out all airflow through it.
I think that this will work fine for the summer. I may revisit this later, to see just how well it is actually sealed but short of pulling the refrigerator and sealing the hole from inside the RV I don’t see much chance of doing it any better.