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Archive for the category “RV adventures”

Rule Breaker

Miss Sugar and I stayed at a campground the past three nights.  This was our first RV adventure since last fall.  It started out sort of like our first RV adventure as re-posted yesterday, the one about the stinky slinky.

We hooked up the trailer and discovered a flat tire.  I thought that was no big deal.  After all, we have four wheels on the trailer and four more on the truck.  One out of eight ain’t bad.  Miss Sugar, a cautious traveler, wanted the tire changed.  That delayed our departure.

When we got to the campground, I broke the jack, again.  Maybe I don’t know my own strength.  Or, maybe I don’t know which way is up (and which way down).  No big deal.  We got the trailer hitch raised off the pickup with a hydraulic jack some experienced camper had with him.  I appreciated the help, even though I think only wimps rely on hydraulic jacks.  I prefer using the muscles that God bestowed upon me.

The campground had a building with showers and toilets, which I prefer to using the facilities in the camper trailer for reasons explained in the stinky slinky story referred to hereinabove.  So I entered the building.

Above the toilet provided by the campground was a sign that almost threw me off my plan.  It said:

“Please put TOILET PAPER ONLY in the toilet!  Do not put in ANYTHING ELSE.    Thank you, THE MANAGEMENT, Manor RV Park”

How did they know that I was planning to put more than toilet paper in Manor RV Park’s toilet?  Well, I was planning to do that, like I always do when nature calls.  In fact, that was my very reason for entering the building and the stall housing the sensitive toilet.  Some of you gentle readers might know the feeling that I was feeling.

Can you keep a secret?  I broke that particular rule.  Please don’t tattle on me.  It was such a nice place, we’d like to camp there again, if allowed.

Initiation Into RV Camping

2009 Jayco Jay Flight G2 29BHS Travel Trailer in Winnipeg, Manitoba ...

In our younger years, Sugar and I camped with a tent and sleeping bags, plus maybe a camp stove as a luxury item.  Last fall, at the urging of friends who own a motorhome, we rented a travel trailer to take up to The Black Hills.  The link below is about our adventure camping there.

Check out what happened on our our first time using a recreational vehicle (RV).  It ain’t pretty but it is pretty funny (if you enjoy The Three Stooges or Laurel & Hardy).

I am re-posting it because we are preparing to go RV camping again.  It is that time of year.  Heaven help us!

P.S.  The friends with the motorhome mentioned above have a brand new Mercedes Pleasure Van.  It is like something that a rock band would travel in.  Our little trailer is pulled by the same pickup truck that we use to haul hay.  It is not a Mercedes.  It is a 2000 Ford F-250.   They “camp” in luxury!  For us — not so much.   Still, it is fun and sure beats sleeping in a tent.

Pioneer Spirit

There are folks in these United States who are unwilling or unable to camp when the weather temperature is below freezing.  They are commonly referred to as wimps.

There are other folks, who courageously brave the elements to camp, even when the temperature is below freezing, yea, even when in the teens.  They are commonly referred to as Americans Who Epitomize the Pioneer Spirit Which Made This Country Great.

Miss Sugar falls into the latter category.  And I went along with her, though not necessarily courageously.  Call me compliant.

RV campers are the successors to the old Conestoga Wagons of the pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail and such.  Both modes of transport provide a sleeping compartment on wheels, pulled by horses, oxen, or Ford F250 pickup trucks. 

Some might point out the advancements in technology, such as insulation, electric and propane heat, to compare modern campers like Miss Sugar to the pioneers of the 1800s and conclude that Miss Sugar is not as tough as the original pioneers of the covered wagons.  I assure you, they would be wrong. 

In light of recent tragic events, including Hurricane Sandy, I hasten to clarify that I am writing about those of us who voluntarily camp for recreation, not about people who have lost their homes and are  camping in the cold not by choice, nor about people who are without homes on a permanent basis and have to contend with finding shelter from the cold.  We call these unfortunate people our brothers and sisters in need.

Jesus said that whatsoever we do “for the least of these” to provide for people in need, we are doing for Him.

That too is the American Way.  Wimps are welcome to participate.

Be Prepared

A woman should not hitchhike alone.  It can be dangerous.

I knew that.  I hated the thought of Miss Sugar out on the highway in Wyoming’s strong November wind.

It was that wind which diminished the fuel efficiency of our Ford F250 pickup.  That and pulling the RV trailer.  I should have calculated those factors when deciding to try to make it to Laramie.

There is a 45 mile stretch with no service stations between our northern Colorado ranch and Laramie, Wyoming.  In hindsight, I regretted not filling up the truck before we left.  Sure they sell diesel less than a mile from our place, but it is cheaper to buy it in Wyoming.  Less tax.  Plus, it would be inefficient to backtrack nearly 8/10th of a mile out of our way just to fill up for peace of mind.  One must have confidence, living without fear. 

I thought we could make it, so imagine my alarm when the fuel gauge showed empty while we were still 20 miles from Laramie.

Twenty miles is too far to travel on an empty tank.  It is also too far to walk.  Fifteen, even ten miles are too far to walk.  Going there and back doubles the distance.  I doubted she could make it back before nightfall.  Not with her bum knee.

I was worried about Sugar’s bum knee.  Walking that far wouldn’t help it none.  In a bad accident last year, one of her injuries was a torn posterior cruciate ligament.  Since then, she has been unable to run.  She even walks much slower.  Nevertheless, the choice was clear as to which of us should go for fuel.  Obviously, I was needed to protect the RV.  I have a gun and she does not.

Sugar’s mother, Italian father, and two brothers might not agree with that choice, but we’d all have a good laugh about this at Thanksgiving as long as Sugar was safe.  No harm, no foul.  Right?  As long as she could get back safely….

I would hate it if anything happened to my beloved wife.  I imagined that someone would give her a ride.  Hopefully, it would be a kind soul and not some badman or badmen.   It was a risk, sure, but that diesel engine can’t run without fuel.  Surely, someone would give her a ride back too.   Even a couple gallons gets heavy after a few miles of carrying it.

Sugar would hate it if anything happened to our new used RV.  She has worked so hard to get it ready for the trip.  Some of you have read about our prior disappointments when we had to cancel our maiden voyage.  She had so looked forward to this weekend.

So, knowing she would hate it if anything happened to the RV, I vowed to protect it.  I was thankful that the RV itself has heat and a warm bed because it could take a long time for my wife to return with the fuel.  Maybe time enough for a movie since it is equipped with the DVD and TV.  It is important to be comfortable while worrying about a loved one.

I am a lucky man to be married to such a trooper.  She is quite a gal.  I made a mental note to get Sugar some Mace for the future.  Like I always say, “Be prepared.”

I love her so much that it hurts me to disappoint her.  That is why I was wise to not let her know when I noticed the fuel gauge showed empty while we still had those twenty miles to go.  I did not tell her of my worried thoughts above.  And that is why I was relieved when, miraculously, we made it to a service station in Laramie.  No harm, no foul.

What she don’t know won’t hurt her, or me.

I guess God did not like the idea of Sugar walking along the highway.  After all, she is one of his favorites.

Fountain of Youth

It is not often that I am the youngest person present at a gathering of the general public, but at the Saratoga Springs, Wyoming hot springs known as Hobo Pool, I was. 

As I entered the hot pool area, there were two older men with Santa-like beards, both in length and whiteness.  Maybe that is why it is called Hobo Pool.  They looked the part. 

Shortly after I lowered my lithe, youthful body into the supposedly healing waters, three more men, one bald and two white-haired ones, joined us at the pool.  They all knew each other.  I was the odd man out.  Eventually, however, I made friends with them.

One got out of the pocket of his robe a thermometer and pronounced that the temperature of the pool was 107.9 degrees, which is a good conversation starter.  I learned that that they all come almost every day.  I learned about the underground hot springs piped into the pool.  I learned about the history of the Indians discovering it near the North Platte River.  I learned about the source of the name, Hobo Pool, due to the railroad tracks going by, and hobos being aware of the free spa experience in that bend of the river.  I learned that these hot natural springs full of minerals and smelling of sulfur seemed to offer health benefits.   My bald friend said that he moved to Saratoga eleven years ago and used the pool every day.  He said he had not been ill since, whereas previously he had often been sick.  It sounded like the biblical Pool of Bethesda. or the pool at Lourdes. 

I then witnessed proof of the healing power of the pool.  None of the men were wearing glasses, yet when Miss Sugar appeared,  they all gave every indication that their vision was clear. 

You see, Miss Sugar had forgotten to pack her swimsuit, unlike me.  After I paid the admission fee for myself, Miss Sugar explained her predicament to the gatekeeper.  He actually waived the admission fee for her and allowed her in for free, which offended my sense of fairness.  “Hey, Sugar,” I said, “can’t you read?”  “The sign says no nude bathing.” 

My new friends turned on me.  To a man, they vehemently declared that they did not mind and voted to waive the rule.  Rules are made to be broken, according to them. 

I, an attorney, disagreed.  I strongly felt that she should have paid the fee like the rest of us, so I paid the guy.

What was Miss Sugar trying to pull?  A fee is a fee. 

P.S.  Most of what I write about is totally true.  Miss Sugar has asked me to confess that the part I wrote about her, above, is not exactly accurate.  The part about her forgetting her suit is true.  The part about her coming to the pool anyway is not true.  I was just funnin’ about.  But, seriously, did you just want to read about me and five old guys sitting in a hot springs pool?

P.P.S.  There is no admission fee.  It is open every hour of every day for free.  Check it out.

P.P.P.S.  There IS a sign that says, “No alcohol.  No profanity.  No nude swimming.”  That about covers it.  So, don’t forget your swimsuit, forget the booze though, and watch your mouth.

Launch Cancelled Again

Yesterday I wrote about why we have twice cancelled our maiden voyage in our newly acquired used RV camper. 

So today we were scheduled to finally take the camper out for a drive to a destination just 140 miles from where it is currently parked at our ranch.  That destination is Saratoga, Wyoming, which boasts of natural hot springs by the North Platte River.  Sounds like fun.  We went there a few years ago for a Cowboy Poetry Gathering in a nearby community, Encampment. 

But here is the thing — we watched the news this morning and learned that temperatures there are much colder than temperatures here.  Ergo, we are reluctant to travel 140 miles so we can sleep in a tin can in below-freezing weather. 

We can’t spend the entire weekend in the hot springs.

There is no place like home, especially if home has a cozy fireplace.

Failure to Launch Our RV

There might still be a few people throughout the world who are not fully aware of exactly what a cool dude I am and why.  Of course, there are too many reasons to list in this forum as to why I am cool, but one clear reason is my truck.

My pickup truck is a Ford F250 XLT Superduty Supercab 4 wheel drive with a 7.2 Diesel engine.  Enough said.  I am jealous of no one with the possible exceptions of those with the King Ranch or even Lariat package.

My truck is so cool that one of my Texan brothers-in-law, after seeing mine, bought one just like it to pull his RV and boat.  More recently, my father-in-law, who art in Texas, traded in his silly Dodge pickup for a Ford F150 (note: 150 vs. 250) which is almost as cool.  He did one-up me by getting the Lariat package, which includes leather seats.  I covet those leather seats.

Anyway, back to my truck, I had a little disappointment last Thursday.  In my previous post, RVing Further, I described how we fixed up our newly purchased used RV trailer.  We are itching to actually use it.

We have suffered three disappointments.

The first weekend we planned to go, Miss Sugar, my trophy wife, suffered an allergic reaction to a medication and made a trip to urgent care rather than a camping trip.  So we rescheduled for the next weekend, which was last weekend.

Well, above I said that last Thursday I had a little disappointment.  Since I have such a cool truck, I was not concerned about pulling the RV.  Turns out, I was wrong.  Turns out that my very cool truck shut itself off as if out of fuel, despite having plenty of fuel.  When I failed to restart it, I called good old AAA for a tow.  Then I called Miss Sugar to come get me.  Then I tried to start it again and was successful so, optimist that I am, I called AAA and cancelled the tow truck.  After two miles, I called AAA again and informed them of my new location in a truck that died.  Oh, I told Miss Sugar too.

I had drifted into a safe haven in the middle of Mountain Avenue in Old Town Fort Collins.  When the tow truck arrived, the driver said he could not hook up my truck from its position and asked me to help him push it into a preferable angle.  So I started it up again and backed into an appropriate position for towing.  Thus the truck  made me look as if I did not need a tow.  However, I had learned my lesson and insisted on the tow nevertheless.

When we got to the repair garage, I informed them that I needed the truck to be ready to take on a trip the very next day, Friday.  I was very clear as to my needs and schedule.

So the truck was ready on Monday, which some of you readers who learned the days of the week will recognize came at a time after the weekend.  That means we did not go on our weekend trip with the RV.  It needed a new sensor and some other stuff that only cost $420.  We look on the bright side.  Now it does not take as long to count all our money.  Oh well.

Miss Sugar, a kind soul, comforted me.  “We can always go this weekend.”

We could, except it snowed last night and more snow is expected tonight.  But who knows, we might give it a whirl.  Stay tuned.

RVing further

Back in September, I posted Stinky Slinky and Miss Sugar, which described our adventure renting a camper trailer (RV).  We, and by we I mean Miss Sugar, decided to shop for RVs.  She is the chief executive and I am in a role of giving advice and consent to the decisions.  So we went together to shop for RVs. 

We found a real good deal.  By purchasing our used RV trailer “as is,” we not only lowered the purchase price but slyly avoided the complication of bringing it back pursuant to a warranty.  We prefer to pay for repairs ourselves and leave out the middleman. 

I have previously described my vast experience of hooking up horse trailers, so you will not be surprised that I waived any assistance from the dealer when we paid for the RV trailer.  What kind of a cowboy would accept advice from an RV salesman concerning the proper manner to hook up ANYTHING to MY PICKUP?  “Just point me the way,” I says, “and I will hook up and head for home.”  Which, by the way, I did, pretty much successfully.  I say pretty much successfully,  because Miss Sugar pointed out one petty little failure on my part, which was that I left the little wheel below the hitch where it was.  Well, not where it was when it was on the ground in the dealership lot.  I raised it a few inches above the roads so we drove home  on the Interstate Highway without it scraping the highway at a high rate of speed.  However, I did not properly calculate the height necessary to drive over a speed bump in the McDonalds parking lot, nor the portions of our very own lane where a wheel placed where I had placed our trailer hitch wheel scraped bottom.  But in case you are wondering, I did not even bend it and, anyway, after we got home, Miss Sugar figured out how to remove it during times of travel. 

That was not the only thing Miss Sugar figured out.  She studied the the owners’ manual and joined an RV forum on the internet.  She cleaned the trailer and contacted a man to come show us how to work all the RV devices.  In case you are worried that I did not pull my weight, let me recount that it was ME who carried a mattress to exchange with the mattress in the trailer and it was ME who hooked up the water hose and plugged in the electric cord.  It was the handy man, who, in demonstrating how everything worked, uncomfortably pointed out that not everything did work.  Who needs the water pump to actually operate?  We decided that we did, so we paid our new friend to replace it.  And we also elected to replace the corroded battery cable and fuse socket.  As I said above, we preferred to pay $500 for those repairs rather than, as fools do, use a warranty. 

And another thing, had we not bought the RV “as is,” the dealer would have cleaned out the “black tank.”  For the uninitiated, the black tank is the self-contained sewer of the RV, if you will.   What this means is that rather than allow the dealer to deal with the waste of those who traded in the trailer, we got to empty it.  Now in an RV park, there is a place to hook up the stinky slinky hose.  On our ranch we neglected to install RV hook up facilities.  Consequently, Miss Sugar gladly emptied the fecal matter of strangers into buckets so that we were able to fertilize a portion of our property.  Most RV buyers don’t think of that bonus.  They are not professional negotiators such as me.  I am a lawyer.  I have been around you know.  I can sling the sh-t, figuratively and literally.

I am available, for a reasonable fee, to serve as a consultant for those of you contemplating the purchase of an RV camper trailer.  I will help you get a real good deal.

Stinky Slinky and Miss Sugar (and me)

For all of ya’all who have been awaiting my next blog with bated breath, you may unbate your respective breaths because I am back.  I am back from where I have been, which is The Black Hills of South Dakota, USA.

Miss Sugar and I made reservations at a private campground which shall, as they say, remain nameless.  Now when I say “remain nameless” I am not exactly accurate because it is not nameless at all.  I am not going to tell you the name in order to protect the innocent.  It has a name and Miss Sugar and I know the name and we went there and camped.  We ran into some difficulties there, however, some of which I am fixin’ to relate to you, gentle reader(s).

First off, understand that we do not own a camper aka RV trailer or any other kind of RV.  What we done was rent one, which was costly.  Let us say one can stay at a pretty nice motel for $130 per night, which for three nights is approximately $390.  On the other hand, one can pay $300 to rent a trailer, plus a $45 set up fee, plus a $500 deposit, which is approximately $845.  Which is a better deal?

I know what you are thinking — it is about the same if you get the security deposit back.  That would be true, provided the security deposit is returned, which it was not in our case.  Not yet, anyways.

Another difference is that the campground charges too.  In our case, the charge was $35 per night.  If you are keeping up on the math, that is $115 added to the $845, which is approximately $960.  I say approximately because due to circumstances on our trip, I paid the RV park manager another $20 for helping us get in our trailer after one of us, a very attractive person, broke off the key.  The resulting circumstances were that we could not get inside of our $960 trailer.  Of course we could have just looked at it and enjoyed the view, but we actually desired to sleep, so our choices were to break in or stay at one of those $130 motels.  We chose to enlist the assistance of the manager of the RV park, who helped us break in by removing the lock from the door with his power drill, hence the extra $20 expense in the form of a tip.  Consequently, we could get in but we could not lock the door ever again.  Nor can anyone else unless the folks who rented us the trailer fix the lock and replace the key, which they will do and take it out of our security deposit.  We don’t know yet how much that will be, but our $500 is no longer intact.

That might not be so bad, you are thinking.  However, you do not know the rest of the story.  Part of the rest of the story is that one of us, a pretty big guy with little finesse in things mechanical, despite having hitched up trailers hundreds of times, this time broke off the handle for the jack which raises and lowers the trailer so it can be attached to or unattached from the hitch on the back of the truck hauling the trailer.  Our predicament was that I could not unattach our truck from their trailer without the jack operating correctly and it was not operating at all.

Since we needed to either leave our truck with the rental company or self-tattle, the rental company is fully aware of the broken jack handle and has the power to deduct  from the deposit the cost of repair of the jack and replacement of the handle.

Now, those of you who have stayed at motels likely have never been required to perform any plumbing tasks at the motel.  When one rents a travel trailer with a bathroom, one must not only return it clean without benefit of maid service, but also empty what we shall call sewage.  That task is performed by hooking up a sewer hose running from the trailer into a sewage dump or drain, which I done did without pleasure.  The seven children who occupied the Class A motorhome parked next to us informed us that they call the sewer hose a “stinky slinky.”

Our rental company expected us to return our sewer hose/stinky slinky with the trailer.  We fully intended to do so.  But alas, we did not.  The stinky slinky is cleverly stored in a hollow bumper and each end is supposed to be capped off.  We put our stinky slinky in the bumper and capped each end.  Then we drove 300 miles.  When we returned the trailer and confessed to breaking the key, breaking the jack and handle, and damaging the lock, we did not confess to losing the stinky slinky because we were unaware that it was no longer in the hollow bumper.  The rental person checked out our returned trailer and discovered the loss.  No big deal for her.  She has a $500 deposit, you will recall.  We left without the deposit but still hoping some of it will be returned.

Guess what!  We were driving back on Highway 287 when Miss Sugar saw a big hose on the side of the road and claimed it was ours.  So I got out, risked my life crossing the highway, and picked up the large hose.  Sure enough, it was our stinky slinky.  So we drove back and returned it, quite proud of ourselves.  Our pride was diminished by the lady’s unenthusiastic reaction.  She said, “I still have to charge you for it because someone ran over the hose.”  Apparently, dented hoses are unacceptable.  Therefore, the deposit will take another hit.

So what have we learned from this camping experience?  We had so much fun that we are talking about purchasing our own trailer.

P.S.  The manager of the RV park who helped with the lock was wearing a holster on his hip which contained a handgun.  He explained that he did not need a concealed carry permit because his pistol was not concealed.  Indeed it was not, hence the tip.

P.P.S.  He also introduced me to his wife, a lovely woman.  He shared with me that this is his 8th wife.  It has been done before.  You have heard about Henry the 8th.

P.P.P.S.  While sitting in his workshop as he worked on the lock by removing parts in order to ensure it would never lock again, he generously brought out a bottle of actual moonshine.  He showed me his copper tubing and still.  I had never had moonshine before.  I learned that it is to be drunk from the bottle and passed back and forth.  He seemed pleased to have me as his new friend.  He said, “You and me could get into some trouble.”  I reckon so.  I can get into trouble with or without him.

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