Thursday, December 31, 2009

Road Warriers

Yesterday Denny and I were settled fairly early into our campsite in the middle of Nowhere, Texas as I had the short drive of 170 miles of all highway driving. By late afternoon new fulltimers (on the road for 2 months) had pulled up near us, bustling about sweeping up all around the exterior entrance side of their rig. We thought that they were being anal about their parking area; it turns out when they stepped outside to register at the office for their campsite, their Plexiglas screen door exploded sending plastic shards all over. Never heard of that happening!

Denny and I were sharing a dessert of tiramisu (we highly recommend the tiramisu and bread pudding at the Pizza Shack in Willis, TX) when other folks started arriving-- at 8 o'clock at night! Understand that these folks pulling up aren't young, working couples; no, these are retired folks who should theoretically be relaxed and enjoying life and instead are apparently driving 12 and 13 hours a day. Why do I figure that? Because these same folks who arrived at 7:30 and 8:00PM last night were leaving at 6:30 and 7:00AM this morning! That's insane. Granted, Texas is a BIG state. It's almost 1,000 miles across Interstate 10 from border to border (we'll have put on 1,200 miles by the time we reach St. David, Arizona from Willis, TX). But to try to do it in one or two days? Crazy. Plus, it's never fun to try to navigate a strange campground in the dark--there's too many things you can't see, like overhanging limbs or stray decorative boulders that jump in your way.

I like our way much better.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Old Dogs

Our plans to head west today were canceled by predictions of gloom and doom, better known as rain/sleet/ice/snow. Up to 4 inches of snow were predicted in the area we were supposed to travel through today, and having lived through the great ice skating adventure of 2007 we decided to stay put in our current campground for another day. Temperatures tomorrow are supposed to zoom up to 57 degrees, so that should give any accumulations on the roads a chance to melt. So you CAN teach old dogs new tricks.

Denny and I are still acclimating ourselves to the new trailer. Most of the changes are good, but one caused us a great deal of frustration yesterday. Our new rig has hydraulic front leveling jacks as opposed to the electric jacks on our previous two trailers. I'm used to having about two feet of jack extension to work with in raising our trailer up high enough to hitch up to Black Beauty, so yesterday when I raised the jacks and they stopped about 3 inches short of being high enough to slide the truck into position I freaked. The jacks would go down, but stopped after extending about 14 inches. Not good. I immediately put in a call to the RV dealer service department, speaking to the manager who did some trouble shooting with fuses until we got it through his head that the jacks would go down and then back up, but only to a certain point. That's when he explained that we only had about 14 inches of extension available on the hydraulic part of the jacks. Crap! Do we haul out the hydraulic jack we use to change tires, meaning we'd also have to unload the air compressor to make it work? Denny decided to try to back the truck up and see if the angle of the downhill slope would allow the hitch to slide up the receiver and lock in. As he backed up I could see the receiver turning so far downward that I was sure the whole thing would jackknife and bind up so that we'd never get either hitched or unhitched, but thanks to the new Trailair hitch and some guardian angels, the receiver angled back up and the kingpin settled into place and we were hitched up. Lesson learned; no steeply sloped campsites for us, since the jacks don't extend anywhere near as far as what we're used to. It seems as though we are doomed to be stressed out for the month of December so I'm really looking forward to January and a new year.

Thus today we are snug in our new home while it sleets outside. Patches is curled up in the recliner, smart enough to know that today isn't a good day for walks. I've managed to make a few campground reservations today for the coming weeks and now it's time to go through a couple of cupboards in an effort to clear the clutter and arrange things in a more logical manner. Or maybe I'll just make a couple of mugs of hot chocolate for Denny and I and then sit and read a book. That would work too.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Our Christmas Present to Ourselves

This is the interior of The Beast. It's wet, cold and muddy outside so pictures of the exterior will have to wait.

Patches waiting to be taken out for a walk. The mirrored doors hide the controls for the lights and slides as well as a couple of coat hooks.
The dining/living room area.

Our TV watching spot.

A too dark photo of the desk area. I still have to work at connecting AV cables for the TV satellite sound and hook up the Wii.

The kitchen with the appliance garage/cabinet that went through five different proposed configurations before I finally caved in and met the manufacturer half way. But still not happy.

Water in the door refrigerator--if they could have made it with an ice dispenser Denny and I would have been in seventh heaven as we're ice water fiends.

The hallway houses a huge closet/cupboard area. I'm getting my exercise going up and down the steps to get food items for meal preparations.

The bathroom, obviously.

The hoity-toity glass vanity bowl.

The fixtures in the shower match the sink; brushed nickle, very modern.

Yep, it's a bedroom. I've already removed the original stiff-as-cardboard and poorly fitted bedspread and bought a new comforter. More warmth, more eye appeal. This is another area I fought over; our decor package is called Indigo. Do you see any Indigo in this room? Yeah, me either. Seems the manufacturer now makes every bedroom chocolate no matter what color package of the four offered that you choose. WTF?

Behind the louvered doors is hidden the stacking washer and dryer.

Glass paneled door to the hallway. The other door leads into the bathroom.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ups and Downs

Denny and I arrived in Elkhart, Indiana on Tuesday to look over our new fifth wheel. I'll just say that when I walked around inside it after arriving Tuesday afternoon I cried. Unfortunately, they weren't happy tears. There had been many unannounced changes made between the 2010 model Denny and I looked at and the 2011 model that we ordered sight unseen. And they weren't changes for the better. It's a long and ugly story and I'm not up to telling it right now. I was so upset that I didn't even get pictures of what was wrong with the trailer to show you, all I'll have eventually is the rig finished more the way I wanted it. But right now, we're in transit to Texas and what with all the fixes the service techs had to do Denny and I were still transferring our stuff out of the old trailer and putting it in the new one at 11 o'clock at night on Friday night so we could get out of Elkhart early Saturday morning. That meant that we just piled and crammed stuff in any cabinet and nook and cranny we could find and I'll have to rearrange once we settle in Texas for a few days. So no pictures while this place looks like a hurricane just hit it.

There was an inch of snow on the ground and more coming when we pulled out of the service building Saturday morning and the truck slipped and slid pulling out onto the street. Fortunately all the main roads were just wet and none of the bridges were icy so we made it to Terre Haute for the first night where we hooked up to the campground's wi-fi to make contact with the world for the first time in 4 days. We had been so busy dealing with service guys, our RV dealer, insurance people, bank people, et al that for once we didn't miss not having access to TV or wi-fi (we were parked inside the RV dealer's service building while the guys took care of all the changes that I insisted upon) The service techs had to finish getting the rig ready for us (prepped) since the trailer had come off the assembly line two days later than planned and we almost beat the trailer to the RV dealer. We were all working on top of each other as the workers fixed and installed things while Denny and I were trying to carry our belongings in, so the guys never even had the opportunity to clean up the rig as is standard procedure; that's something I'll be doing once we're settled for a couple of days. I didn't ask them to finish their prep work because that would have meant hanging around in the cold and snow for three more days and we just weren't prepared to do that and us making the service techs make the unexpected changes threw off their scheduled work on other people's RVs. Everyone involved was pretty short-tempered at any given time over the four days we were there.

Emotionally, it's not been a good week. I have had to tell Denny (and myself) to take a deep breath several times to keep from blowing. In the season of brotherly love, I've wanted to tear the heads off several people and smile as I'm doing it. But tonight I'm sitting here with a cup of hot tea while the tiny table top Christmas tree twinkles merrily beside me and I'm finally beginning to relax and appreciate the features of the new trailer. I know it will be a while before the trailer becomes "ours" as Denny and I have several small modifications and additions to make/install to make the rig more livable and user friendly. It's what we've done with the four other RVs we've owned and so we'll do it with this, our final RV. In a few days, I'll post pictures, starting with one of Black Beauty and the Beast.

And we'll be fine.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We're Off

Today we start our trek to Indiana to pick up the new fifth wheel. It will take us four days of driving to get there and we're hoping for dry weather with temperatures above freezing while we're en route. I have little hope of decent temperatures in Elkhart; it's just too far north for that.

Poor Patches will hate all of this; being tossed into the truck daily for the long drives and then once we arrive we'll be set up inside the RV dealer's service building where she won't be able to wander around. It will take us a couple-three days to haul our belongings from one trailer to the other and then we'll once again be on the road for four days returning to Willis to title and register the new trailer. Everything will be a mess until Denny can get some shelves built and installed in the cabinets and closets and we get everything put away to our liking. There will be frustration, because for weeks we'll not be able to find anything--we've been through this three times already so we know. It doesn't make for the best of holiday seasons and I've been struggling to find my "ho,ho,ho" this year.

I'll try to remember to take pictures of the new trailer before we toss all of our "stuff" in and maybe a few pictures of the mess in the process of being stored away. This is what it looked like when we moved from our 38 foot motorhome to our 36 foot fifth wheel.We ended up hauling a convertible full of stuff to my mom's house to be sold in a garage sale, plus donated bags of unneeded items that had been sitting unused in the cupboards. This time around I've been sorting through cupboards over the past couple of weeks and dropping things of at local charities before we make the switch. It took me a while, but I do learn!

Check back in a week to find if I still have any hair or if I've pulled it all out.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Lord love a duck! That's an ugly one, isn't it? It's a Muscovy duck at a campground in Louisiana. In case you wanted to know.

Yesterday Denny and I officially became Texans. Well, not really, because we have yet to own cowboy boots and hats. That will come I suppose, since the new fifth wheel will have a larger closet. We celebrated at a small restaurant in Coldspring, TX; a tiny town with a huge courthouse. It was the kind of place where the locals got their own table settings and autographed pictures of George *. Bush lined the walls.

Gremlins are still affecting our lives; yesterday we stopped at the post office to pick up our mail and when we returned to the truck it wouldn't turn over--it acted totally dead. I'm searching through the owner's manual trying to look up a symbol that appeared on the electronic instrument panel while Denny sat there cussing (always helpful). Eventually the truck started and we had no further problems for the remainder of our day. I've become a little frustrated with the weirdness, though.

One thing that did go well was the upgrading of Denny's new laptop to Windows 7. When we purchased the computer it came with a coupon for a free upgrade so when the DVD arrived yesterday I girded my loins and installed it. Perhaps it's because we haven't put a lot of our own programs in the laptop yet, but the installation went flawlessly and all the programs still work. Big sigh of relief!

Since the weather forecast is for more rain, I'll get back to rooting through drawers and cupboards to see what else we're hauling around that we don't really use. Now if I could just get Denny to go through his stuff....

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Rain Isn't Helping

Nice sunset, huh? Haven't seen one of those for a couple of days. It's been raining like crazy here in Louisiana and we've been experiencing a lot of frustration with our trailer gremlins.

When we arrived here our landing jacks wouldn't lower, which meant the batteries weren't working on their own. Trying to replace special batteries in a small town isn't easy but I found a business that said they had what we needed. And here's where the fun began. The owner of the business and Denny didn't hit it off for some reason; they were like two junkyard dogs confronting each other. Then the man tells us that his credit card machine isn't working and so we have to pay in cash. Great. These are expensive batteries and there's a limit to our ATM withdrawals to prevent fraud. We manage to come up with enough cash to pay for the batteries, go back and pick them up (now the guy is trying to be nice to us) and we get theme home. The rain is pouring down the entire time as we're going in and out, mind you. Denny gets the batteries in, I make lunch but notice the refrigerator light is glaring bright, as are the overhead fluorescent fixtures. All of a sudden one fixture goes out. Okay, the bulbs went bad. Then the other light fixture goes out. Uh-oh, this isn't good. Denny goes outside to look at the batteries, I call the store where we bought them to confirm he sold us 6 volt batteries. Nope, he sold us 12 volt batteries, so instead of 12 volts going through the system we have 24 volts going through. So we zapped the light fixtures. Okay, re-cabled to hook up only one battery, the owner is special ordering two 6 volt batteries and now I have to find new light fixtures, otherwise it's going to be pretty darn dark in here at night. Call the Camping World that's 35 miles away, ask if they have the lights in stock. No, not the same model number but some that would work. And so we drive over there (still pouring rain) only to find that no, these will not work AT ALL! Drive all the way back home and call the manufacturer. There are two distributors; one in Indiana and one in California. Of course. I call the one in Indiana and reached a very nice man and we did some reminiscing about a local celebrity that had the last name of Braun. The man did have our lights and will be shipping them to Texas for us. It will just be a bit dark in here for a while, we can swap out the fixture in the bedroom for one of the living room fixtures so it won't be quite as dark as it is now.

Therefore, the lesson is; don't make assumptions that store owners know what they are doing. Check and double-check. And ask if they can take credit cards. *sigh*

And please let this be the end of the weirdness going on now that we've found a buyer for the trailer??!!!
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