Category Archives: Uncategorized

Way too long since last post

Every time I thought about posting, something else seemed to come up. So, now that I’m back at the keyboard we’ll see if I can catch up.

I managed to survive the summer somehow. At one point I discovered that the corner of my large slide floor had rotted out. That was not a pleasant day. I had to tear out almost 2 sq ft of flooring. Then I had to buy a sheet of 1″ thick marine plywood and cut a piece as close to fitting as I could. Since the rotted area didn’t follow straight lines, it was a very poor fit. On the brighter side, it was in a corner so I was able to screw those edges into the frame, then use wood scraps and epoxy filler to complete the ragged edges. I can highly recommend the sealer and filler products from http://www.rotdoctor.com/index.html To finish the project I used that spray on waterproofing material (the stuff in the commercials that they spray on a screen door in the bottom of a boat) on the underside of the repaired area to prevent further water damage. As of now, it all seems to be holding well.

The next project involved moving the RV for the first time in a year. As you may recall, I arrived with a broken ankle and very tired after 3 days of non-stop towing. When I set up, it wasn’t quite as good as it should have been. There were 2 concrete strips to back on to but I didn’t get the tires centered well on those strips. As a result, the RV was slightly off level. In October I decided to remedy that situation. It’s just amazing how much has to be done inside and outside the RV even though it wouldn’t be moved more than 20 ft forward or back. It would also be great if someone invented a device that would move a heavy RV sideways just a few inches. The actual movement took less than 30 minutes but it was a 4 or 5 hour total effort. I’m very glad that all the landing gear and slides worked as advertised even though they’d been immobile so long.

Since the weather was cooling off and I didn’t need the AC anymore, I decided to put the water heater back on electric to see if that would be cheaper than propane. Well, it turned out to be very cheap because the electric was no longer heating. After checking a few things on my Suburban water heater, I narrowed it down to an on/off rocker switch at the water heater. This is an additional safety feature to make sure you don’t accidentally burn out a heating element with an empty tank. I found a replacement switch at a local RV repair shop for under $12 and got it swapped out without trouble.

On the job front, I decided to take a tax preparation course with Liberty Tax Service which I just finished. I’ll start working for them in January. Boy will it feel good to have a paycheck again. I’m not expecting anything more than seasonal this year but as long as it works out well for both sides, it should be reliable future work regardless of my location.

 

May 2014

Even though things were looking good at the end of last month, they certainly did a 360 this month.

That job I applied for? And had such high hopes for? Well, weeks went by and I heard absolutely nothing. I finally emailed them requesting an update and that was ignored. So I composed another email, detailing all the actions/effort I’d put in to get this job and how their silence was just plain rude. I did get an answer to that one. Apparently I struck a nerve. One of the things they mentioned in that email was that 2 of my most recent employers refrained from answering the question about whether they would rehire me. I have to blame lawyers and litigious job applicants on that one. When you only do seasonal work you’re really not there long enough to make a major impression. Anyway, as far as jobs are concerned, I’m starting to feel like a couple of guys in the movie “Mr. Mom”. It was shortly after Michael Keaton got laid off and there were 3 of them in the waiting area, ready to interview but the 2 other guys were busily exchanging recipes. One of their names was called and they graciously allowed Michael Keaton to go in first, knowing that their chances of getting the job were virtually nil. The tough part about all this is that I don’t even qualify for unemployment here in FL.

Next, the 3G Stepper. I was blazing around the park for a few weeks when I noticed a strange noise. I flipped the bike upside down and found one of the roller pedals was completely worn through. So, I ordered 2 new roller pedals and while I was waiting for them to arrive, studied the design of the bike. The roller pedals are 1.5 inches wide but they make contact with a square metal tube that’s only 1″ wide. I headed to the local department store for some 1/8″ thick, 2″ wide metal stock and cut sections to fit. I originally used JB Weld to hold them in place but that failed. Fortunately, one of the guys in the park is a welder and he tack welded the pieces in place at no charge. While I was waiting for the roller pedals to arrive, I noticed that cord was showing on the rear tire. I found a source on eBay that was about $10 cheaper than the manufacturer and replaced that easily. After all this, I feel like they had a great concept for this product but under-engineered the final product. It’s great if you’re just showing off a little at the beach but really needs to be stronger for serious workouts. I’m currently riding mine 13 miles/day, 3 times a week.

On the health front, I diagnosed myself with ‘wallet sciatica’. You can look that up for yourself but the end result was less jogging. Just starting to jog slowly again during my morning walks and seems to be getting better. The worse incident was another trip to the ER. As I expected, another kidney stone. Fortunately, this one seemed to be smaller than my last one. The pain subsided while I was in the ER, without benefit of puking :-) I’m fairly certain that I passed it completely a few days later.

Hoping for a better June!!

 

Amazed and Astounded!

I happen to be a perfectionist in an imperfect world. I just can’t seem to help it. When the judge on People’s Court made an incorrect statement about rules of the road for bicyclists, I emailed the show’s website to set them straight. I may have gotten an automated reply but that was about it. When I saw a misspelled word on a vocational college’s TV commercial (neurodiagostic instead of neurodiagnostic), I did the same thing. As near as I can remember, they tried to sign me up for courses (but eventually corrected the commercial).

Recently, I visited a website for a manufacturer of RV repair diagnostic equipment (said company to remain anonymous). The home page had a narrative that looked like it was written by a brain-damaged chimpanzee. Just to be clear, this wasn’t a business run out of someone’s garage. It’s a company selling equipment throughout the US and Canada. Well, you know what I had to do. They had a contact form on the website and I used it. The owner and I exchanged a couple of emails. I didn’t make any specific change recommendations but told him that it certainly didn’t make a very good first impression. Here comes the amazed and astounded part. A few hours after I sent the last email (about 2 days after this saga started), I checked the website again, thinking I might count the actual errors. To my surprise, it had been cleaned up already. Most of the previous narrative was simply deleted and the remainder didn’t have any glaring grammar or spelling errors (although I would still take exception to their use of the ellipsis). It’s really nice when a complete stranger takes your advice :-)

April 2014

Time to play ‘catch up’ again. First, the ankle. I’m now able to jog, roller blade and swim without any problems. There still seems to be a problem with 2 of the toes on that foot though. I can’t move them independently. Now, I never really paid a whole lot of attention to that before but I don’t have that problem on the other foot. The only thing I can think of is that when the bone shifted slightly, it got in the way of a ligament or tendon or whatever the hell controls toe movements. Or maybe it just needs more time. I’ll worry about it again next year.

One of the other physical activities I’ve been able to resume is riding my 3G Stepper. It’s a hybrid bicycle/stepper/elliptical that’s designed from the ground up for a maximum workout. I’ve had mine for several years and on one of my recent rides through the park I felt something slipping, then failing. It’s a good thing I was still close to the RV. I walked it back (after picking up a broken part) and started examining it. The crank failed from metal fatigue. So I called the company, sent them a pic of the broken part and they referred me to a bicycle shop in Cocoa Beach. 2 weeks and $47 later I was riding again. I’m once again the talk of the park as I ride around in the early morning. My neighbor from Alaska who just pulled out used to refer to it as my ‘torture machine’.

There’s even news on the work front. My original plan when I got down here was to get a stocking job at the local Walmart on the night shift. This would allow me to make some extra money, yet still be available for my granddaughter during the day. Well, things have changed quite a bit. I filled out the online application and heard absolutely nothing. I filled out several other online applications without any feedback at all. And then a miracle happened. I was browsing the county employment website and found a description that sounded amazingly like my previous workamper jobs. It’s a 55+ mobile home park which has most of the same activities as an RV park and it’s only about 1.5 miles away. I could have registered with yet another agency and followed their procedures but since they also posted the name of the employer, I took a shortcut and sent my resume and cover letter directly to the employer. They called me the very next day and 2 days later I was taking a drug test. They also have to do a background check so I still have maybe a week or 2 of freedom remaining. Even when all that is finished, this job will only occupy 2 days of the week so it should work out well.

Welcome to New Readers

I’d like to welcome all the fine folks who are visiting my blog due to the link published by The Camping Dad. While we have different viewpoints, you should still be able to find useful information on both sites. As we were exchanging emails to set up the link exchange, spappy mentioned how envious he was that I was already fulltiming and he was still a ‘weekend warrior’ with young children.

Well, I thought about that for a few minutes and decided that I’m the one that should be envious. If I could turn back the calendar quite a few years, I would spend a lot more time in the woods with my (now grown) kids. And I would probably start that tradition at a much younger age, preferably before they got hooked on all the consumer electronics that are so prevalent today. I’ve seen teenagers and young adults at campgrounds lighting their way at night by using smart phones instead of flashlights. It worked for them but it certainly wasn’t traditional!

Maybe if more of us started that tradition early we could instill the respect for nature and other campers that is sorely lacking in so many campers today.

ON EDIT: There are some families out there who are fulltiming with school age children. The children are home-schooled wherever they happen to be. I think it’s great that the kids can actually see a civil war battlefield while they’re learning history but I would worry that they can’t make the lifelong friends that many children do while staying in one place. Please, no hate mail about this. It’s just my opinion.

Cool FL Weather – Jan 2014

For the most part, central Florida winter weather is great. Unfortunately, there will be a few times during the season when the temperatures drop below freezing, or even a little above that for several days. I was going to refer to this as ‘cold’ weather but I was raised in Chicago and I watch the national weather to see sub-zero weather with feet of snow piling up.

So, it’s not a major threat to survival when the temps drop below 70 but I did discover something recently. Normally, I’m very frugal when it comes to running the furnace or electric heaters (when I’m paying for my own utilities). If the temps drop into the 30s or even high 20s overnight, I usually deal with it by wearing extra layers inside the RV and throwing an extra blanket on the bed at night. In the morning, I’ll run the furnace for 15-20 minutes just to take the chill off, then wait for the temps to rise to a comfortable level. This has worked fine in the past but in the last few weeks we were getting the low temps at night and not going above 50 during the day.

In my eBook, Home Is Where The Wheels Stop, I mention that fatigue is cumulative. Well, it looks like cold is also. Going into the second night of cold temps, I actually set the thermostat so the furnace would kick in periodically during the night and, perhaps more amazingly, left the furnace on during the day. I had the thermostat set low so I wasn’t burning a lot of propane. But as the cool weather continued I found myself adjusting the thermostat up each day even though the outside temps were still in the same range. Maybe the cold is cumulative, or maybe I’m just getting older and not able to handle it as well. One of my neighbors is significantly older and I can still hear their furnace running, even on nights when I leave my windows open.

Itchy Feet

Normally, itchy feet for an RVer refers to being ready to roll on down the road to the next campground. For me (this year), the phrase means that plus healing from my broken ankle.

Since I’m committed in this area for an undetermined amount of time, I can’t really look forward to hitching up and pulling out. So, I took the next best option and drove across the state to visit the Tampa RV Super Show. I guess that’s a vicarious pleasure for a stationary RVer. I’d been thinking about getting a different type of RV for awhile so the show was a good place to do some research. The type I was interested in is a Super C. No problem. I spotted a great looking Super C within a few minutes and headed straight for it. It certainly looked big enough to fulltime in and tow a decent vehicle behind it. Then I noticed the price tag. Wow!! It was marked down for the show to $465k. List price was over $500k. Hmmm, I probably need to start buying lottery tickets again.

After that I stuck more to my price range and looked at the towables. In the last few years, they’ve definitely made some changes in standard features and options. I still may need to buy those lottery tickets though to get all the options I want, then maybe a bigger truck to tow it.

Now for the other meaning of itchy feet. In December, I had my last ortho appointment and the doctor announced that I was at maximum medical improvement. I guess in English that means ‘you’re as good as you’re going to get’. Over the last 3 months, it seemed like I could feel the bone mending. It wasn’t painful, just a sensation in the spot where the break occurred. Well, I’m still feeling that sensation and there’s still some swelling in the ankle. Maybe there’s still some improvement going on. I sure hope so. In the meantime, I’ll keep exercising without going overboard and trying to lose more weight to take it a little easier on those joints.

Chinese Buffets in Grand Forks ND

Since I added the tagline “Seeing the country 1 Chinese buffet at a time” to this blog, I should probably mention the buffets I’ve visited periodically. For my stints at the sugar beet harvest in Stephen MN, the nearest decent buffets are in Grand Forks ND. For the first 2 years, our ‘go to’ spot was Great Wall Buffet on Gateway Dr. Yes, I said ‘our’. There are several of us who really enjoy buffets and almost always combine a lunch with a regular shopping trip. Anyway, Great Wall is a decent buffet. Rather limited selection of dishes but we weren’t really expecting much here. At one point, I checked YELP and found another buffet in town but it had even worse reviews.

Well, this year we decided to check out the other place, Panda Buffet on south Columbia Rd. What a welcome surprise. Much greater selection of standard buffet items, Mongolian grill, and dessert. (There’s a reason I didn’t mention salad bar – what a waste when you’re paying for a buffet!) They had chocolate cream pie in a dessert case. This place was actually crowded! We even noted numerous Asians paying to eat there. Is it the perfect Chinese buffet? No. Here are a few things I noticed. This is the first Chinese buffet I’ve visited that does NOT have chicken on a stick. If you want to eat something off a stick they have decent shishkebab with beef, onion and green bell pepper. There is one waitress who isn’t very attentive. If you need a drink refill or plates cleared, don’t be bashful. Flag her down. The hard floor areas can get very slick after a few spills. I saw one lady go from carpet to hard floor and land flat on her ass.

So, what was the deal with YELP? Well, I looked at the reviews again and spotted a link to view ‘filtered’ reviews. Apparently they employ some type of algorithm to keep pumpers and bashers off the main page. I couldn’t see any indication in the filtered reviews that they were bogus. So, I’ll know to look a little harder the next time.

Beet Harvest Over, Bring on Amazon

Well, it’s over for me and a lot of other seasonal workers anyway. I left MN a week ago so I could get to Campbellsville KY on time to start my next job.

It was a strange season for the harvest, at least for me. First, the start of the harvest was delayed due to warm temps. Then we got to work for a day and went into another hold for snow. The rest of the season was very slow due to wet and cold conditions. As of today, they’re still trying to finish the harvest but the farmers may have to resort to collecting crop insurance. Even if enough people stay to work, Mother Nature may have the last say.

So, I had an uneventful drive to IN to visit family. It was a little dicey driving around the twin cities in MN since it was the tail end of rush hour, rainy, dark, construction zones and several Interstate merges. I stayed at Caboose Lake Campground in Remington IN again, always a nice place to stay. The owner was testing her customers by putting a special line in the campground rules. I caught it and was only the 6th person this year to claim a 10% discount in the store for reading the rules.

Finished the drive to KY and got into my campsite. I was catching up on some computer stuff when I noticed another 5th wheel backing into the site next to me. A little while later I went outside and discovered damage to my kayak racks. After surveying the situation I decided that the neighbors must have hit it. I knocked on the door and explained the situation to the wife. She assured me that they couldn’t possibly have hit my kayak or racks and invited me to inspect the rear of their RV. We both walked back there and discovered a 1 ft gash in the endcap, at the exact same height as my kayak rack. What a surprise!! We’re dealing with insurance now for repairs.

Just started training with Amazon this week but it doesn’t look terribly difficult. Can’t wait to get back to warm weather in FL.

 

Adventures in dry camping

Well, for the second time here at Patrick AFB famcamp I’m back in the field dry camping. That’s not quite as bad as it sounds since the bathhouse and laundry are just a short walk away. But it can get interesting. I needed to print out a shipping label today. Hmmm, printer works off 110v but I only have 12v in the rig. I could cart the printer and laptop down to the laundry and plug in there, or I could take both out to the truck and use the 400w inverter in the cigarette lighter. Wait! I have a 12v outlet at the computer desk. Voila! Reposition the truck in front of the 5er, hook up umbilical and leave truck running to recharge RV battery. Bring inverter inside, plug into 12v outlet, then plug printer into inverter. Hold breath, turn on printer. Works like a champ. Print shipping label, go to post office. Another satisfied customer of Symptom Tracker Software.

Other than that, I’ve pretty much been acting like I’m tent camping. Lights and heat are provided by candles and headlamps. I do have the frig running on propane and enough water in the fresh water tank for late night toilet flushes and a little dish washing. But at least I stay dry and have an actual bed to sleep in at night. Life is good. Hopefully only 8 more days, then I move to a partial hookup site.

For those who haven’t gotten the change of plans for this summer, I’ll be working just north of Bryson City NC at Deep Creek Campground. With any luck I’ll find time to wander down to NOC and see what they have to offer, maybe 1 trip to Helen GA for a fudge run. :-)