Category Archives: RV Travel

Blue Boy Etiquette

Right now I’m on a partial hook-up site. In this case it means I have water and electric but no sewer. Fortunately, the dump station and the bath house are very close. I can take all my showers in the bath house so 1 of my 2 gray tanks only gets water from brushing my teeth or washing my hands. The other gray tank is for the galley so that gets more use from washing dishes. And I only use my toilet for middle of the night requirements. At that rate, the black tank should easily last until it’s time for me to move off this site. At that point, I’ll either dump the black tank at the dump station or a full hook-up site.

But what about the gray tanks? Well, the clever folks in the RV industry manufacture a nifty little product commonly known as a Blue Boy tote. They come in various sizes but they all have wheels, handles and openings to let you fill and empty them without making too much of a mess. Besides the weight when they’re full, the other bad part is not being able to visually tell when they’re almost full. That’s important because you have to stop the gray water flowing into the tote before it’s full, otherwise you get a lot of overflow. That’s also the reason that you shouldn’t try using a tote for your black tank. Nobody likes cleaning up a poopy spill.

Blue Boy Totes

Blue Boy Totes

Today I decided to empty my gray tanks. The process was uneventful. I filled up the first tote and wheeled it over to the dump station. As dump stations go, this one is fairly nice. The actual sewer opening is at the bottom of a concrete, concave surface. There’s no lip on the sewer pipe so any liquid that makes it onto the concave part of the station will flow into the sewer. After positioning the tote near the sewer opening I gradually opened the dump valve on the tote. Gray water began pouring out, down the slope and into the sewer opening. As the tote emptied, I opened the valve further.

About that time I got some company. One fellow RVer walked up beside me and the camp host pulled up in his golf cart. After exchanging pleasantries with the camp host, he took off. The other RVer then went on to tell me that he got reprimanded for dumping a tote exactly the same way I was. In other words, without hooking up a sewer hose first to drain directly into the sewer opening. That was kind of surprising until the next words out of his mouth. He said “You know everybody mixes gray and black water when they’re using the totes”. Really? Not me! All the totes are clearly marked for gray water only. My guess is that he was using the tote for his black tank, the camp host saw that dirty water/mixed solids coming out of the tote and had a little conversation with the gentleman.

For those of you new to using totes, please check with the local host/manager before your first use. It may save some embarrassment later.

Back to warm weather, kind of…

Well, I finished work at Amazon at 10:30 on a Friday evening. Weather in KY was still cold so I didn’t get as much accomplished before the shift as I hoped. On the brighter side, I won productivity contests on my last 2 shifts so I was able to stock up on goodies from Kroger and eat at Subway courtesy of Amazon.

I was unable to get my sleep schedule adjusted properly so I didn’t leave Campbellsville until noon on Saturday. Traffic through TN was absolutely terrible – one slowdown after another. I was able to pick up an all news radio station north of Atlanta so I didn’t drive into any traffic jams there. Spent the night in a truckstop just south of Atlanta. Temps got down to 28 that night. Fortunately I had all the blankets on the bed, plus my long johns. I actually slept past sunrise despite all the diesels idling around me.

My second driving day was totally uneventful – no construction zones, no accidents, just the way I like it. Arrived at Patrick AFB before dark and got set up in the overflow area. Big surprise there since my last visit. They’ve added electricity in overflow so I didn’t have to light candles or walk around with a headlight on. Unfortunately, the cold front followed me down and I’ve actually had to continue using a space heater and the fireplace at night. Rested for one day, then drove into Orlando to visit with my newest granddaughter (and her parents). Moved into a partial hookup site the next day, visited my favorite local Chinese buffet with an old friend, more relaxing.

And as a bonus, one of the other RVers here at Patrick noticed the sign on the side of my truck advertising computer services. He had some malware on his Win 7 laptop and I was able to earn a little extra money correcting that problem.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get the kayak wet in the next week. Surprisingly, I’ve gotten back to jogging since my arrival back in Florida despite the abuse my feet got at Amazon.

Another sugar beet harvest

I arrived in Stephen MN for (hopefully) another profitable sugar beet harvest. This year I elected to arrive early for the pre-pile. I guess pre-pile is sort of like training camp for athletes. Everyone from the farmers to truckers to piling station workers to yard processing folks get to make sure everything is working properly. The company also gets early looks at the beets for size and sugar content.

We don’t work as many hours as during the main harvest and there’s no weekend premium pay but it’s still money coming in and a free camp site. It was definitely strange working my first shift in a T-shirt. Last year I was layered everyday I went to work.

Speaking of weather, I definitely need to find someplace warmer to spend the summer of 2013.  The Tacoma WA area was just plain chilly and overcast most of the time I was there. The local newscasters referred to June as Junuary since it was so cold. And now here in the northern plains, the temps are getting into the 40s at night and I’ve already broken out and plugged in 1 space heater to take the chill off.

RV Repairs in Pacific NW

Just thought I’d make a quick entry about some excellent repairs on my 5th wheel before I roll on down the road and lose the info. First, Wescraft RV and Truck in Fife WA (between Seattle and Tacoma), 253.926.3443. They did major repairs to the back end of the RV that I damaged in Nebraska while pulling away from a fuel pump. They took the endcap completely off to repair and repaint the whole thing. Looks just like new. They also had to replace inside wallboard that was cracked during the incident. Great job and good communication throughout the process.

The second repair was more of an emergency repair. About a week before scheduled departure my landing gear quit working. I couldn’t find any mobile RV techs advertised in the local area. Called Wescraft and got one phone number to try but he was booked solid for the next week. I talked to the camphost and he told me about Alan at RV Service Pro, 253.229.6209. He’s a certified master RV technician and was able to respond the next morning. He was very knowledgeable and fixed the problem in about 2 hrs. Unlike most mobile techs, he didn’t have a travel fee, just a 1 hr minimum of a reasonable hourly rate.

I would certainly recommend either of these folks for any repairs if you’re in the Seattle/Tacoma area.

Greetings from the Pacific northwest

I left Texas on Memorial Day weekend with the intention of stopping over for a day or 2 in Ogden UT before finishing the drive to Tacoma WA. You know what they say about the best laid plans. The first day and a half of driving were very uneventful. Traffic cooperated and I had a good tailwind. No problems with truck or 5th wheel. Then I stopped to refuel in Grand Island NE. While pulling away from the pumps, the tail end of the RV swung out a little too wide and caught one of those yellow barriers. I didn’t even feel it, just noticed after parking in the back with the trucks. It looked pretty nasty and I really felt like crap for not being more careful. So, I searched for a nearby campground and found a small county park that was very nice and inexpensive. Called the insurance company and got authorization for a temporary repair on Tuesday morning so I could finish the trip. Temporary repairs were completed on Wednesday and I left Thursday morning. Boondocked in Wyoming, again no problems except for decreasing fuel mileage due to increasing elevation and headwinds. The next day I made it through Utah and into Idaho when I started smelling diesel fuel in the cab. I could also see the fuel guage moving to the left. The next exit was about 9 miles away so I was trying for that but had to pull over and turn off the engine when I noticed smoke coming through the dashboard. Made a call to my emergency road service and got towed to a truck repair in Jerome ID. They quickly replaced a broken fuel line the next morning and I was on my way again. This time I made it as far as Oregon before developing another problem. This time the clutch linkage came apart. Fortunately, it waited to break until I was in a rest area instead of happening on Deadman Pass with the truck runaway lanes. Another night boondocking in a rest area, another call to emergency road service the next morning (naturally a Sunday). This time I got a mobile mechanic to come out and fix the problem, or so I thought. I was able to shift into all gears in the rest area parking lot and entering the Interstate. But when I decided to exit the Interstate for another break, I couldn’t shift out of 6th gear. I pumped the clutch a few times and was finally able to shift again. Since I could continue driving with this workaround, I decided to press on to my final destination instead of looking for a mechanic in the wilderness. I made it to Tacoma without further incident and the clutch seems to have worked through its problems. I have an RV repair shop lined up to finish repairs to the 5th wheel. And most important of all, I got to see my daughter and grandkids. I hope the rest of the summer is nowhere near as exciting. Here’s a couple of pics of the worst of the damage from the truck stop incident:

More winter in Texas

It’s now the end of January and I’m back at Ft Sam Houston, right next to the spot I occupied last month. As I look around the RV park I see a lot of the same RVs as when I left. I knew they had a rule that you could stay indefinitely if you were being seen at the army hospital. I’m just not sure how so many retirees are eligible for treatment there.

Anyway, I just left Cottonwood Creek RV park, just west of Dripping Springs TX (west of Austin). The park itself was very nice, not crowded, level sites. Rates were good for sites and electric. Unfortunately, there were also 2 large aggressive german shepherd dogs there. The dog owners didn’t seem real concerned with breaking them of that behavior. As a result, during one of my walks on the trails at the back of the park, the dogs lunged at me as I was walking by. Even though they were leashed, they still managed to get a claw into the back of my leg. After notifying the campground owners of the incident, the couple was NOT asked to leave. They’ve been wintering there for 4 years and were very friendly with the owners. So, if you go to this park in the winter beware of these dogs. The dog owners are from Ohio and drive a pickup truck with Ohio tag number W8FQ. Those appear to be ham radio call letters if you want to google them for the owners name.

The job I thought I was going to get was a disaster. It was advertised as a 3 month contract job by a national staffing agency. When I got to the interview, one of the interviewers mentioned right at the start that the client was very concerned about attendance during the first 4 months. Naturally, I stopped the interview and pointed out the error in the ad. When I got home I emailed the recruiter to be reimbursed for my travel expenses. She apologized but said that was impossible. Her boss also said that there were not procedures for that. After an email by me to the CEO, I got a call from the marketing president for this section of Texas. (I think that’s the same as the old regional manager, just fancier title.) Anyway, we talked, he admitted they were 100% wrong and wrote me a check for $50. Way to go Kforce.

One more job possibility down here but if that doesn’t pan out next week, I’ll quit looking and just start heading west at the end of February.

The rest of 2011

Wow, I didn’t realize it had been so long since my last post. Part of that was expected since I went from North Carolina to a nudist campground in south Georgia. That experience was much less than I’d hoped for. The campground itself was nice although it had no amenities other than the pool. The hot tub was broken the entire time I was there. At the time I left, the owner was considering just setting it on the curb cuz she was tired of repairing it. The campground was never full in the time I was there and sometimes went days without any visitors at all. Oh well, at least I got to work on my tan.

From there I went to northern Minnesota (after a brief visit with family in Indiana) to work the sugar beet harvest. This was a new experience for me but since the foreman was a friend of mine, I got several promotions while I was still driving there. It turns out I have a certain aptitude for operating a beet piler. The weather was so nice during the first week of October that they had to stop the harvest due to high temps. During that small hiatus I got my first ever kidney stone attack, thought I was going to die in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, everyone in that part of the country is extremely nice and I made it through the ordeal in one piece.  Made some good money and will probably return for at least one more season.

The day I left I only made it about 20 miles down the road before the truck started overheating. I spent a cold Sunday night in a gravel parking lot on the outskirts of Oslo MN, pop 350 but the local Chevy dealer had me back on the road by early Monday afternoon.

Made it to San Antonio with only 2 rest stops and checked in at Lackland AFB famcamp. This famcamp doesn’t seem as friendly as the one at Patrick AFB and it’s certainly not as big. My 30 days is almost up and I have reservations at Ft Sam Houston, on the NE side of San Antonio. Still not sure where I’m going after that but I have a little time to check civilian RV parks in the area for availability.

Quick update to that last paragraph. I’m heading to an RV campground just west of Austin. I also have an interview lined up for a 3 month contract IT job in Austin. Hoping I do well and get the job to pay for my winter camping here in TX and probably expenses up to Washington.

Hiking at Deep Creek

This hike was just inside the southern boundary of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Can’t remember the mileage but it was a fairly short hike.  A workamping friend from Waynesville NC joined me for the hike. Beautiful scenery, but no wildlife spotted. With all the elevation changes, I’ll try to get here more often just to burn extra calories. At least until I leave here in mid June.

Arrived in Bryson City

I’ve arrived at my summer job, Deep Creek Tube Center and Campground. The drive was uneventful but interesting. Lots of hills and curves kept the torque converter and exhaust brake earning their keep. Then in town none of the street signs were where I was looking so I ended up going down some very narrow streets with tight turns. Fortunately I didn’t hit anyone or anything on the way to the campground. Got set up on my site, plenty of room (except for parking  the truck naturally). I even get cable, including ESPN and CNBC – good deal. The campground is fairly small and the other workampers say I won’t get worked to death. There’s even a small Chinese buffet in town. Another good point, no leash requirement for cats, so Dakota is roaming outside as I type this. The owners keep some goats on the property for kids to pet and I saw either a woodchuck or beaver scooting across the road last night. Should be an interesting summer.

Click on the Deep Creek link below, then the attachment link to see the creek in action. It’s in QuickTime Movie format.

Deep Creek

Nasty Weather at Patrick AFB

We just had a strong line of thunderstorms move through. They were forecast for high wind speeds of 55mph. I’m not sure what the actual speeds were but 2 tractor trailers were knocked over on nearby I-95. Don’t know if they were loaded or not. As the front was moving through, my RV was shaking and rocking like the Swedish bikini volleyball team was inside. A large tree limb was blown down and missed my truck by inches. The covered ‘socializing’ area is no longer covered.