Journey DL, Old Diary

One Month On The Job

It doesn't seem like a month….

It doesn’t seem like a month….

Can it be that we’ve been on the job for a month?   We started work October 21.

Or that we’ve been on site for 6 weeks?  We arrived in Siuslaw October 11 — in the middle of The Shutdown

It surely doesn’t seem that way.  But that doesn’t mean what you might think.  Because in some ways it feels like we’ve been here forever; and in other ways it feels like we just arrived.

We’re  comfortable here.  That’s good.  The people are great. The job is doable — and enjoyably so. The scenery is terrific.  And at least so far the weather has been not-too-bad.  In other ways it seems we just got here — because there are still a lot of question marks in our head.  The remaining question marks aren’t surprising — it’s a new life for us.  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t real causes for a volunteer’s uncertainty.

I realized this evening  ( it was one of those senior-long-time-awake nights )  that one reasons for demonstrated confusion here (our own, and among other volunteers),  is that there is a serious language gap.  The Forest Service have their own lingo and I really don’t think they realize when they’ve fallen out of English and into ‘Forest-Speak’.  You can’t blame them.  They are professionals dealing with a very unique set of circumstances, it’s only natural that their language has adapted to meet their special needs.  But I notice that I am frequently stopping my boss to explain her terms.  I wonder how many of the other volunteers are as bold as I am to interrupt the boss?  I’m sure it’s not as many as I would hope.  I guess as I move forward I’ll work on that.  Peg and I have been told repeatedly that we are the Forest Service’s ‘eyes and ears’ as we move around our 1/2 of the Dunes Recreation Area.  We know that part of our ‘job’ — an easy one — is taking time to talk with the camp hosts, and the campground caretakers — to see what’s on their minds, what their problems might be — and I think also to make a point of interpreting Forest-speak into English.

When we had our Thanksgiving pot-luck a couple weeks ago the boss mentioned that she was attending a Forest wide “Volunteer Meeting”:

  • what she meant was a meeting held among Forest Service managers to discuss  how they were going to change or alter their volunteer work force.
  • what fully 1/2 of the volunteers heard was there was another volunteer meeting they had to attend.  And some went further, becoming upset because the date of the meeting was on a Monday (not a Wednesday which is their usual volunteer meeting day) and meant that they would lose a day off.

chalktalk_LMIt’s easy to see how that would happen.  Who doesn’t hear first what applies to them, and hear later what they are slightly less interested in?  I can understand if you hear the word ‘volunteer’ and you are a volunteer that you might think this is a meeting you have to attend.  And I can understand how a staffer who is going to a meeting about volunteers might never even dream that the volunteers in your audience might think that the meeting you were soliciting suggestions about was not something the volunteers would have to attend.

But clearly… both sides of this little meeting were not “hearing the other side.”

They didn’t include “translator” on our job description — but maybe they should have.

These are NOT OUR WATER Lines -- But we don't want this to happen!!!!!

These are NOT OUR WATER Lines — But we don’t want this to happen!!!!!

This is also the coldest night on the reservation as it were…. As I write the temp outside is 27 degrees and our water line is frozen.  We have not been staying in areas below freezing and I should have disconnected the water line last night — I will today — because tonight will be a second below freezing night.

We are also noticing some issue with Journey‘s  propane heating system.  I’ll see what happens during the day and we’ll go from there.  Can a propane line freeze?  I have no idea.  I don’t think so because our propane water heater is working.  But at the moment the furnace is blowing cold air until it reaches the no-pilot-shut-off and then it shuts down.  It seemed to work just fine over night before the temp dropped below freezing — so we’ll just have to see what happens during the day when it warms to 50 degrees.  Maybe we’ll need to insulate something….  Depending on what happens today we might end up having the Mobile RV service guy come out to look at the system.  But, we’re still comfy.  We have two electric heaters and that gives us enough heat to keep the inside of the RV comfortable.   We did that last October / November in Wisconsin and we know it’s workable.

So, there you have it.  A month on the job, lots of interesting things going on — at least to US they are interesting, and lots of things still to be learned.  We haven’t gotten too far in terms of exploring our new region.  That is on our hit list but we are enjoying just being here;  we don’t really need to be going in order to enjoy where we are.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow.

Journey DL, Old Diary

Redbuds At Last

The days count down slowly, but count down they do.  As tension builds to closing we’re keepin’ busy and keeping our minds on other things, so much as that is possible for someone who’s father always told him he had a one-track mind. Sigh.  Why did dad have to be so right about this of all things!

Some of those keepin’ busy things are less fun than others.  A little financial re-jiggering filled the morning.  And I have yet to finish figuring out what to do about Verizon.  I really hate making systemic changes — stuff like that ought to just WORK and be INVISIBLE.  I have better things to think about.

Walking my Sweetheart was a lot more fun.  Back out to Wehr Nature Center.  The groundhogs and deer were all over the place this morning at Wehr. There’s a groundhog (or maybe a marmot) living under the observation platform. He likes to come out from his lair and sit on the ground with his chin resting on the observation platform floor…. Kinda cute!  And, Peggy’s always delighted when we see deer. We saw them, and then saw them again, and again! Not sure what it is, but the same two were cavorting back and forth near the visitors’ center and we saw them three or four times over a few minutes — chasing back and forth after each other. 😀

By the time we got back home this afternoon I was happy to see that the redbud is finally out in full bloom.  For some reason that little redbud means something special to me.

We were here about 4 years before we had any idea what we really wanted to do in the yard.  The building is so symmetrical and so large that conceiving a landscaping plan that fit the building and the lot took us a long time.  Some of the plants have now been in the ground for three years and you know the old adage about planting I assume:

  • The first year they sleep
  • The second year they creep
  • The third year they leap

It would be a good year to be here and watch the garden take off but that will not be.  I’m sure our buyer will have a great time this year.  All our hard work is going to pay off for HIM;  but hey — we had a great time putting it all together.  This is the second home we’ve had European Variegated Dogwoods… We love the red twigs during the winter and the variegated leaves during the growing season.  The Diablo and Golden Glow Ninebarks are doing nicely and we have a couple Buddleia that may turn into trees instead of shrubs.  But for all the variety it’s that little redbud that just makes me proud.  I’m not sure what it is about that tree, but I love those little pink buds.

I’m not sure if I’ll call about a pickup time/date for Journey.  We are eager to avoid the weekend traffic, but more important is that the job get done right the first time — so I’m hestitant to call and pressure them about delivery.

SIXTEEN more days till closing?

SIXTEEN more days till closing?

Our forecast for Wednesday is back into the 60’s with only 50’s and 60’s for the next 7 days.  And at the moment I can’t see much more than 100 yards — FOG.  Sort of reminds me of grade school when we were still in session until about the middle of June and I can remember going to school on the last day of term wearing a light jacket.  Wisconsin is NOT one of the quick-to-see-summer states!

We’ll cool our jets over the holiday weekend but next week we’ll be busy starting the process of loading Journey, cleaning out the school, and making last minute leaving-the-state arrangements.  Each day without a snag makes it easier to believe that the sale will go through.  Last year this time our previous deal fell apart because of a home sale contingency — there is none on this deal — so we’re optimistic.  But it’s like that feeling you get in your thumb after you’ve smacked it with a hammer — all you want to do is protect that aching digit.

But, God is good.  All the time! And even though closing is 16 days away, we’ll be on our way out of town in13 days! After all this waiting is is SO GOOD to be on the edge of the pool of life and just about to jump back in way over our heads!

Images, Journey DL, Minimalism, RV Living

Before Light Weight Camping

I have been camping since I was a wee tyke. My parents took me weekend camping and vacation camping from the time I was about 4 or 5 years old.  In those days there was no such thing as light weight anything.  I came across this image and it brought back so many fond memories I wanted to share it.

Before most people every dreamt of RV’ing a lot of us were out in the woods camping the hard way:  with pounds and pounds and pounds of gear. This old Ford has been modified more than my dad ever modified any of our family cars (notice the custom boat mount on the roof). My dad was one of those guys who had bought into newer is better; and he traded station wagons every two years like clockwork.  (a lot of people got some really good used cars)

Coleman White Gas Stove

Coleman White Gas Stove

Dad did make custom storage boxes that sat at the end station wagon so that we could cook on the tailgate.  We had our white gas stove, our aluminum nested pots, and all those little goodies that you have when you go camping.  I still remember how heavy those things were to move off the station wagon and onto the picnic table.  It was racoon proof, and to the best of our knowledge it was bear proof too — which only means that we never put anything into the boxes that a bear might want. But I guess that’s not bear-proof at all. 🙂


At any rate, camping back then was a lot more hard work.  And sometimes it’s fun to look back and remember how sore my young muscles got lugging all that stuff around.

I’m glad that today our gear can now be weighed in ounces instead of tens of pounds.  But that doesn’t mean it’s any more fun.  And there’s no way to change the way the parks and forests have filled up with people.  There’s no going back.  But…. life is good and camping is fun whether it’s in a tent, on foot backpacking, or in Journey.

Journey DL, Old Diary

Keep Calm and Carry On

The other evening I was reading one of my favorite authors, Peter Mayle, a quirky collection of essays called Acquired Tastes. As I read along I came upon this passage in the introduction:

I am not sure at all that [people of extraordinary means] enjoy themselves as much as we think they do.  And Why?  Because, damn it, something is always not quite right

Expectations tend to increase in direct proportion to the amount of money being spent, and if you’re spending a fortune you expect perfection.  Alas, life being the badly organized shambles that it so often is, and with so much of it dependent on the behavior of erratic equipment (servants), perfection is rare.  After a while, the rich realize this, and then they start looking for trouble.  I’ve seen them do it.  Details that we would consider trivial assume enormous significance: the breakfast egg is inedible because it is marginally underboiled, the silk shirt is unwearable because of a barely visible wrinkle, the chauffeur is insupportable because he’s been eating garlic again, the doorman is either insufficiently attentive or overfamiliar –– the list of maddening blots on the landscape of life just goes on and on.  How can you have a nice day if some fool hasn’t warmed your socks or ironed your newspaper properly?

I remember a fact-finding mission to a luxury hotel in Venice, a magnificent establishment with an equally magnificent chef. Impossible, I thought, to fail to enjoy dinner in such a place.  But I was wrong. Sitting at the next table were four resplendent examples of old money from Milan.  They were not happy.  The white wine was not chilled exactly to their taste.  A finger was lifted, but the waiter took longer than thirty seconds to arrive.  Good grief, what is the world coming to? Throughout the dinner, I could hear totally unjustified mutterings of discontent. NO matter how delicious the food, how splendid the surroundings, things were not quite right.  And this atmosphere –– almost suspicious, poised for disappointment –– pervaded the entire room.  There wasn’t a jolly millionaire in sight.  It was the first and only time I have ever eaten in a subdued Italian restaurant.

After a few experiences like this the thought of living permanently among the rich doesn’t appeal to me at all. But I have to say that some of their minor investments … are extremely pleasant and potentially habit forming…

It’s entirely possible that this is the best illustration of why I no longer care for the trappings of wealth.

There was a time when I was crazy mad about a career.  I wanted to advance at work (before I turned to my photography), to get money — lots of it — and to make a name for myself. Things did not go according to my plans and my first few jobs put me in positions right near the owners of several businesses. Having the chance to hobnob  (on a small scale) with business owners it didn’t take long before I realized that these guys (and in those days they WERE all guys) weren’t very happy at all.  What’s more, they worked so hard they hardly saw their family, or their spouse, and they surely weren’t happy about money:  they worried about it, the horded it, the wanted ever more no matter how much they had.  All this while I was poor as a church mouse but I had a wife I loved, and eventually Kathryn came along and I was delighted to have a family.

In short order what I wanted out of life changed;  it changed dramatically. I still worked hard — usually harder than other employees in whatever department I might have been — I was never afraid of hard work.  But advancement wasn’t exactly what I wanted.  Peg and I learned to live below our means — finding it much easier to be happy when we weren’t up to our eyeballs in debt.  We got to the point that I’d balance the checkbook every few months, I knew there was money there because we simply didn’t spend every penny we made.  I probably shouldn’t have been quite so cavalier about money — but that’s me.  We scrimped and saved to do things others on our sort of income didn’t seem to do, or couldn’t afford to do — but it was possible because what other people though of as necessities we valued as luxuries; and we didn’t have all those toys that we might have easily been convinced were essential.

I have no regrets at all.  Our retirement may not be as plush as some of our friends.  Our RV is 10 yrs old, our car is 8 yrs.  We go out to dinner a few times a month but no longer at the posh places we might have chosen 40 years ago.  We are comfortable because our expectations are lower and we can afford to be delighted with almost anything that happens.  We can enjoy our life.  And our retirement.

It’s possible to live with so much less than we U.S. citizens think.  I love this old image from the London Blitz — not for all the rubble and damage but for the simple smile on the Milkman’s face.  All we need to is keep calm and carry on.

I’d like to think that we’ll get a buyer for our house in a few hours or a few days at most…. but I don’t know what will happen.  All I do know is that if you want challenges, then this photo is a challenge….. and all you need do is

Keep Calm, and Carry On…

This is what "Keep Calm and Carry On" really looked like

This is what “Keep Calm and Carry On” really looked like

  • Calm (
Journey DL, Minimalism

Camping-World-logo-300x263Camping World still has our Journey. We spoke on the phone this morning. The satellite antenna is on the roof.  The problem with the Heart Panel has been diagnosed and it’s a simple, though not quick (in labor terms) fix.  Disconnect all the wires (batteries, inverter, charging system), allow the capacitors to completely discharge so that the panel, in effect, gets a re-boot, and put it all back together again. There are still a few small items on our hit list, plus, they are waiting for some parts from Winnebago. We might not get her back until late this week. For our convenience we might wait till next week.  At that rate we’ll have her back for about 3 weeks before we take the trip to Elkhart for the flooring and sofa install.  Small steps forward… but we are moving.


We’re hopefully waiting to hear about Friday’s showing.  Hopeful is a nice state of mind to be in, but we’ve been down this road before.  Being guardedly optimistic is good, but no showing is a sale until you have an offer to purchase.  So, tick, tick, tick…. we watch the second hand go ’round the clock face.  It seems a week is often the “buyer deliberation time” — so we could expect at least another 4 days of waiting.

prescription pad

Waiting not being our strong suite, we had to get out of the house; less to buy anything than to relieve tension.  We hopped in the CR-V and ran out to Johnson Creek.  We found some sunshine, the temps hit 60 out there (maybe here too for all I know) and we got back home before rush hour.

And I had my first experience with the new insurance company.  My pharmacist had to jump through some hoops (while I stood there feeling silly) but once she got done with the insurance people everything seems copiscetic and my net cost will be about the same as it had been with my COBRA. I swear:  Insurance is magic.  I don’t understand it; I don’t need to understand it; I’m just glad I have it.

It’s all good…….

Impatient Monday

Journey DL, RV Living

Quick! Someone Take Away My Credit Card…

Entertainment Panel Back in Place

Rapid progress slowly…  at the expense of our credit card.  Some things bought and in transit. Some things to be bought at the dealership and installed there.

That’s what we’re making alright!  And I’m darned proud of it. (You grasp at straws when you feel you haven’t been as productive as you might like!)  Journey came to live with us for a few days at the end of the week and while she was easily accessible I got a lot done.  It felt so wonderful to back inside her and getting the nest ready for a new season or for … well… forever. Continue reading

Journey DL, Old Diary

Ahh, the Sweet Sound of Tires on Pavement


First I thought I’d share the image my daughter sent me.   She does know how much I love Bullies, and who wouldn’t love such a lovely English Bulldog face?

And to that sweet dear and her hubby — I say, a happy anniversary to you both.  22 yrs of marriage!  You guys are terrific — you’re 22 years behind us. 🙂  Keep up the good work!

The weather’s been nice so Journey got some exercise today.  We didn’t go quite as far as we usually do on a winter’s day exercise.  No particular reason for the shorter trip other than simply our state of mind, but it was a great day for a drive. Continue reading

Journey DL, RV Living

I’m Having a Heart Attack

Well, not ME exactly.  My Heart Interface.  Which is brand-name speak for the power inverter control panel in Journey.  I’m wondering if any readers might have an idea the cause.  We’re planning on getting her in for service but some advance troubleshooting might be helpful.

2:38PM  — UPDATE
Our good friend Delbert suggested that the problem might be condensation caused by cold storage all winter and puttering around in it with out the heat on.  She’s plugged into shore power and I turned on a heater aimed at the control panel area.  Also turned on two of the ceiling fans to exhaust some of the stale air.  After a couple hours the quantity of blinking lights seems to have reduced by 1/3 so Del might have hit the nail on the head.  As we weren’t having any issues with the Heart Interface before storage in October this sounds like a reasonable “failure.”  I’m keeping it heated and we’ll see what happens by tomorrow afternoon.  

What’s happening?

The Heart Interface panel shows the current status of batteries, DC charge, DC amperage draw and incoming power levels.  Normally those lights glow steadily.

When we cranked her up a few days ago we noticed something quite different.  With the engine running,  or the generator running, or when plugged into shore power (at the moment that means the 110 V extension cord from the house) those little green and yellow light go winky-blinky, winky-blinky, winky-blinky, winky-blinky, winky-blinky,  all over the place.  Different lights, different columns, a fairly consistent rate of blink — but not what they are supposed to do.

It’s been suggested by 2 RV service advisors that it might be low voltage in the house batteries.  We ran the Genset for a couple hours and now we have her plugged into shore power.  And the digital charge meter (a separate panel) shows 14 volts, which would indicate the house batteries are charged.

We haven’t disconnected any of the batteries over winter — so it isn’t a case where we RE-CONNECTED anything to the wrong terminal. The batteries are 18 months old.

Any suggestions will be appreciated.  Not sure if we can get her in for service this coming week (we have other jobs to be done while she’s in the shop — so that will happen whether or not we figure out what’s up.