Old Diary

How Much Snow, He Asked…

Comparison ClimateWhat to look forward to?  We have no idea?

I was talking with the Park Maintenance Volunteer last evening and we were sharing volunteering stories.  Well, he was sharing volunteering stories… I only had one to share. They’re from Colorado, they RV for about 10 months a year and return to AZ every year for Spring Training where they have a house.  And they have a boat in Asia.  (There are times I listen a little skeptically to some of the stories I hear.)

After sharing some of the places they have volunteered and upon hearing our crazy plans to head for Oregon in the Winter he asked me:  “How much snow do they get.”  I knew it wasn’t much. I’ve been out there in the winter.  Bu I had no quantitative idea of the answer.  It turns out it really isn’t  much…. less than 1″.   I can put up with less than 1″ of snow.  I’ll see if I can put up with 30″ of rain in three months — that’s the big question.  

Statistics don’t translate into experience very easily.  It’s easy to look at a chart and think — I can do that.  But when you are outside in the rain –  looking and feeling rather like a drowned rat the chart may look very different to you.

It seems our family has similar feelings about snow however.  We are looking for a place to plant ourselves without it.  The new property that Kathryn and Michael are going to turn into a home has… ZERO yard and about 30′ of sidewalk to shovel, with no more driveway than the apron between the curb and the sidewalk.  It would seem that Michael is tired of shoveling too.

Can you tell I’m eager to get moving and get out there?  Duh….

Current Conditions:

Our Location: De Soto, WI / Blackhawk Park
High Temp: 82
No Rain
No Fog

Old Diary

No its not foggy!

when I look out the hallway window from the bed, all I see is the side of the dinette slider

when I look out the hallway window from the bed, all I see is the side of the dinette slider

When I lay in bed and try to look out the window to see what the weather’s like I usually get weirded out.  No, it’s not foggy out there — even if it looks like it.  Because when look out that tiny window (with the shades drawn it’s tiny) all I can see is the white side of the dinette slider.  So, all I see is a white blob.

I guess you could say it’s reassuring to get out of bed and realize that once more you’ve been faked out by white paint!

There are a couple other little glitches about RV living that I’ve noticed.  One of them presents a question.  Why do you put a rear view mirror on the dashboard of a vehicle that has no rear window?  Is it a federal rule that you have to   have a rear view mirror in the middle of your windshield?

I end up turning the rearview mirror on end so the curtains fit behind it.

I end up turning the rearview mirror on end so the curtains fit behind it.

When we’re on the road all I can see in my rearview mirror is some portion of the interior of Journey. It’s slightly convex — the mirror that is, not Journey, so it’s kind of a panoramic view, but it’s still more of a distraction than an aid to navigation.

And if we hear something ‘clatter’ or ‘thunk’ I would be lying if I said I didn’t do a quick turnaround peek rather than look in the mirror.  This has meant that we have sworn in a new ‘Sheriff’ in town.  Or maybe just a new Lieutenant.  So now Peg has become our Lieutenant of Unexplained Noises .

Peg is our Lieutenant Columbo... You remember him, don't you?

Peg is our Lieutenant Columbo… You remember him, don’t you?

At any rate most of the time the driver’s side window curtain is drawn across the window.  We get enough light to suit us and yet people don’t look directly into the whole interior of Journey.

I guess that’s a hold over from out days in a brick & stick home.  Most of our life we spent most of our inside-the-house living time on the second floor.  It seems that almost every place we lived there was one or more rooms on the second floor where we spent much of our time.  Consequently, we aren’t all that accustomed to sidewalk people being at eye level.  Yet, we like to look OUT.  A curtain across the driver’s side and an open passenger’s side window does the job.

I’m about ready to take the mirror down and store it away until the day comes that we sell Journey.  NO, that does NOT mean we have any plans to replace Journey. That mirror may stay stored away for a good long time.

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

Old Diary

When the heat gets to you


Yesterday I mentioned our neighbor who decided that they needed more cooling… this is how they decided to get it.

Today was sort of an adrenalin let down day for us.  We are both emotionally exhausted — I guess being ‘on call’ is more strenuous than we thought it might be.  While we were poking around the campground we found one of our Highland Ridge campers who seem to have followed us down here.  Small world.

I snapped a few shots around the campground to give some sense of how much the water levels have receded.  It’s amazing to me not only the power and fluctuations of nature but also the degree to which man has learned to control them.  It’s truly amazing to me.


Great River Roadhouse Interior

We made it back to Great River Roadhouse tonight — IN july we had seen their marvelous pizzas and we had to come back to try one.  it was worth waiting 2 months for.  The joint gets a lot of local traffic, a lot of biker traffic, and tonight it was host to the Driftless Paddlers, a Kayaking group.  They had clearly had a fun day and they all seemed to still be dry — a miracle I rarely seem to be able to achieve when I get into a Kayak.

They also have some 40 different bees.  Not all craft or IPAs but a nice selection nonetheless.

I finally got around to our DISH TV again.  It’s the dumbest thing.  I had it hooked up in the driveway at Cudahy and then switched over to antenna TV.  When we left Cudahy it was a while before we could get a satellite signal (based on where our campsite was located) — and by then I couldn’t remember what software switches to set — and then we didn’t have a signal again.  It’s nice to see what I’ve been paying for.  🙂

And, it will be nice to have a little more control over what we watch!  Relying strictly on the Air stations is good enough most of the time but it will be nice to have some variety.  Not sure what we’ll have in Florence.

I’ve been doing a little research on Florence — one of the topics lead me to find a reference to Oregon Farmers Markets.  I’ll post that in a day or so.


a medium pepperoni, black olive, mushroom ‘Za

We have a huge number of sparrows here.  I’m not sure why but we didn’t see a single sparrow up at Highland Ridge.  Yesterday afternoon on the prairie terrain alongside our site there were 30 at one time.

Immature Easter Brown Headed Cowbird

Immature Easter Brown Headed Cowbird

On that same subject, the last few days in Highland Ridge we had a little friend hanging out near our campsite.  This little guy was so friendly he would come within 1 foot of our feet with no sense of fear at all.  He’s a happy little bug eater so we weren’t in any hurry to send him on his way.  We were only happy that he didn’t get in the way as we pulled out from our site yesterday.

It’s funny how some critters have so much fear of humans, and others seem quite content to have people near and show no evidence of human-phobia.

Old Diary

Recognizing the feeling of home

We relocated by 139 miles, and we’re settled in for the next 5 nights.  Blackhawk Park is once again home for a short time.


This site is far more open than many we have taken but when reserving I wanted time to play with our Dish Receiver and sites on our preferred side of the park don’t have a sight line to satellites.  So, there we are — right out in front of God and Everyone.  🙂

The most important part, however, is the sensation of being home as soon as we pulled in.  Have you ever thought about what ‘feeling at home’ feels like? 

This is something Peg and I have noticed a couple times now.  For some odd reason whenever we get to Blackhawk this sensation that we are ‘home again’ just floods over us.  This is not the normal heavy forest cover we seem to think we like, it’s flatter than some of the sites we have raved about, there is more activity here too.  And it sure isn’t someplace that we’d want to over-winter — or to be here during the annual spring floods.  …And yet when we arrive it just feels right.  We’re out in the sun — if the temps hit 90 as they are supposed to we might put our window insulation back in the cockpit windows.  And, I notice that the volunteers two spots over from us have put a small home a/c unit in their cockpit window.  It does get hot down here in the sun.

‘Home’ is a nebulous thing.  I suppose it means something different to everyone.  And yet we all seek it.  It’s easy to tell when you don’t  feel at home: knowing when we’re uncomfortable is kind of a gut reaction thing.

11949896971812381266light_bulb_karl_bartel_01svgmed1But is knowing when you are comfortable quite so easy?  I think not.  Have you ever gone to the furniture store to find an ‘easy chair’ — only to discover that finding ‘easy’ isn’t so easy?  I have.  I’ve sat in dozens of chairs and ended up walking out the door without buying a single one because none of them fit quite right.  Peg and I looked at nearly 100 different RV’s of varying size and manufacture before we bought Journey.  It was only when we realized that all three of the coaches we had liked out of that mad assortment of possible homes were the same floor plan and the same length.  Then we had our lightbulb moment when we realized we had already decided what we liked.

We aren’t making any kind of commitment to this place that seems like home… but we are put on notice.  The cosmic karma keepers are letting us know that settling into a place may not be what we are ‘looking’ for — it’s just going to happen — so it’s good to stay in the moment and not to prejudge.

Back to the subject at hand.

There’s a lot of difference from the last visit here 8 weeks ago.  I’ll put up some comparison pictures in a day or two:  the water level has to be down a good 4-5 feet than July.

Current Conditions Consecutive Days
Our Location De Soto, WI Blackhawk Campground
MAX Temp 73
Sunny Yes
Rain No
Fog No


Old Diary

Our Last Day on the River for a While

River At A GlanceWe are winding up our stay along the river for a while.  We’ll be back along the Great River Road soon, but before we head inland for a couple weeks I thought I’d share this resource.

If you are interested in rivers and river traffic — commercial barges and the like — you’ll want to check out the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers information site about the river system.  They recently re-did their site and I now find it much easier to use with more useful information.  Pick your river, (all the navigable rivers in the COE system) and the beginning and endpoints of interest and you’ll be amazed at the information you can find — including a real time map with the location of river tows!  It’s a great way to learn about the ins and outs of the barge world.

This map is from yesterday and it shows approximately 185 river miles on the Mississippi.  In that distance there were 8 barges on the move, six moving upstream, two moving downstream.  I found the site very helpful during our stay.  When we return to the river in a little over two weeks we’ll be further inland beyond the point of commercial traffic on the river — so I won’t be checking the website very much until we return — whenever that might be.

De Soto to OnalaskaWe leave Blackhawk today, and travel all of 30 miles to La Crosse.  I’ll be putting Journey in the shop for what we hope are three days (or parts thereof) to have a couple maintenance jobs taken care of. While we’re there we’ll stay at the local Microtel for two nights and hope we’re al finished up by Friday to make our next reservation at Spring Valley, WI

Stay tuned to our continuing adventures!

Old Diary

Gotta Make Me a Maintenance List!

Don't Forget to Maintain Your Furnace Filter!

Don’t Forget to Maintain Your Furnace Filter!

Chalk this entry up as a mea culpa.  Don’t forget to service the air filter on your RV!

No — we didn’t have a major equipment malfunction but I am seriously embarrassed by my own neglect.  I have maintained the furnaces in our houses and also maintained furnaces for the 11 tenants in our old apartment building so I’m not a novice to routine furnace maintenance.  But I AM a novice when it comes to RV’ing and I’m embarrassed to admit that I have been forgetting all about the 14″ x 20″ x 1″ filter for the HEAT PUMP in Journey.

We haven’t seemed to get much cooling out of the heat pump lately.  Seeing as we were putting the coach in the shop later this week I got to wondering whether or not a check on the freon level might be warranted so I pulled out my Winnebago Owners warranty / manual bag and dug around looking for the information for the heat pump.  Winnebago does a great job of providing owners with the information they need to keep their coach operating in peak condition but that information is only good if you use it.

Reading about my Onan generator alerted me to one of the routine jobs we are having done this week — replacement of the primary V-Belt at 1000 hours or 5 years.  I have no idea if the belt has EVER been replaced and with the coach’s age I decided I should have it done NOW instead of after a failure.

knew that the coach heating system had an air filter but somehow the fact never processed in my brain beyond that point.  I checked it last year — but whether I checked it 2 months into our 4 month full-time adventure, or did it just before we put Journey into storage for the winter I have no idea.  But today when I took the filter out I was gob-smacked at how dirty it was.  The fact that I had read (just a few minutes earlier) that the manufacturer recommends checking it every WEEK only added to my embarrassment.

Needless to say I cleaned it out with a vacuum tonight and tomorrow I’ll get a replacement tomorrow — and check it regularly thereafter.

After Kathryn left today it was a quiet day.  I have just about finished the McNaught book I started just a couple days ago — I may finish it tonight or tomorrow.  We got the screen room packaged up for the move, and the outdoor carpet — before we get more rain tomorrow!

I’ve been feeling better now that the house is sold and we’re out here full time.  I won’t dream that I’ve gotten back to normal — that’s foolish.  But our exercise regime — even in the heat — has my stamina improving and tomorrow I’ll find out where the weight loss stands — we were having a good time with Kathryn — no sense in ruining it by weighing in!

Neither of us has really picked up our creative outlets yet.  Peg’s not really felt creative and poems haven’t been falling from her fingertips.  I haven’t felt like getting cameras and lenses out so my iPhone has been doing double duty to record the ‘happenings’ here, there, and everywhere.  I did find my watercolor pad the other day when I was reorganizing the basement, and my sketchbooks.  Peg’s crafty stuff is down there too — waiting the the spirit to rekindle and move us to activity.  All that will come as the novelty of our new life wears off and we get back to living.

But, at the end of the day I realize I need to make  myself a maintenance list.  Just to be more organized.  We have a pre-trip checklist for the coach and our toad.  We are religious about checking that to make sure that Journey is ready to journey.  And we have a checklist for auto maintenance and Cummins diesel maintenance.  What I need, and what I’m going to work on is a list of other sorts of maintenance items.  Little by little I’ll get this sussed out and maybe some day I’ll be expert at this RV’ing stuff.

I hope….

Old Diary


UFO Hunter – Unidentified Floating Object hunter

UFO Hunter – Unidentified Floating Object hunter – Kathryn trying to figure out what she saw floating downstream!

Monday after a holiday week; calm descends on the campground and campers leave behind a hill of trash!  I am amazed at how much trash campers can leave behind.  But one thing seems sure:  if the campground recycles and people put out bags of empty beer cans there will be some camper who will pull up to the recycling bin and grab all the aluminum cans they can find and TAKE them.

Sunday was a really sweet day for Peg and I.  Having Kathryn come to visit is always a treat.  We laugh a lot, well smile a lot, tell a lot of stories and can enjoy just being together without having to be “doing” things.  That was Sunday.

The only thing we managed to “accomplish” was having a meal at the local river front resto. The Great River Roadhouse seems to be a really popular stopping point for bikers and it’s about the only roadside resto with a view of the river for quite a few miles.  The food was great – the pizza looked amazing (and we might have to come back here some time just to try the pizza).  We had a nice meal and enjoyed the view of the river from an air conditioned vantage point.   We must have been in an italian mood — all three of us — because it was pasta all around.  Real tasty!

Kathryn heads back home on Monday — today.  So life life will return to being a little quieter and (just kidding) a little roomier!  Our 32′ coach is big enough for a couple guests occasionally but as a strictly an observation that third or potentially fourth person make a significant difference in the amount of personal space you have to call your own!!!!!!  None of which is a complaint — we intentionally wanted a small coach to LIVE in, knowing that there will be times when we’re a little chummier than others.

When we first got married we often had lots of visitors.  We were active at church and conferences and weekend visitors were frequent.  At the time we were living in a 700 sq ft apartment and we had as many as 15 people staying over 2 nights with us — all using only one bathroom.  So, three people in 230 sq ft is still a luxury!!!

As we get closer to moving day (this Wednesday) we begin our routine of pre-moving stowage.  It rained a nice rain last night — but our poly-something outdoor rug is now thoroughly wet.  We’ll make sure it gets dried out today because we have more storms in the forecast today and tomorrow and we don’t want a wet outdoor rug stored int he basement while the coach is in the shop.  If our outdoor chairs got wet we’ll make sure they see the sun and get thoroughly dried as well.

There is NO “right way” to RV,  we just do those things that make sense to US for the plans (or lack of plans) that we have at any moment.  We watch neighbors arrive and depart and everyone has their own way of doing things — which is great – it’s a big world and there’s room for all sorts of people.

Ok – my ladies are hungry so I better get on the stick and make some breakfast — talk to you later.


Old Diary

Finishing Up 5 Weeks As Full-Timers

quaint old bathroom

quaint old bathroom

Time she do fly!  We’re on the last day of our 5th weeks as honest-to-goodness fulltime RV’ers.  After 18 months of waiting time is flying by slowing — which is good!

The Safe House

The Safe House

A couple days ago we got over to The Safe House — in Lansing IA for lunch.  It’s a cute little place, with accoutrements making you think of the roaring twenties — or at least it made ME think of the roaring 20’s.  At the time I wrote about our ANGY CHICKEN PIZZA, but I didn’t have images to share.  These will give you an idea of the mood of the place.

Mississippi from the bluff @ Effigy Mounds National Monument

Mississippi from the bluff @ Effigy Mounds National Monument

Kathryn, Peg and I drove back to Effigy Mounds National Monument yesterday.  We all wanted to do a little walking — although in temps forecast for 90° we also wanted to do our walking early in the day!

Safety Signs

Safety Signs

We did manage to get an early start on the day for which we were thankful.  The first 1/2 mile on the North side trail lead straight up hill!  It took our breath away.  In a fun sort of way!  I was surprised at how relatively few people make it to the trail when the parking lot is quite full!  I hope we will not be those people as often now as we have been in the past.  This was a wonderful walk with delightful views of the Mississippi River and of the Effigy Mounds at the site.

If you are unfamiliar with the reason for the national monument it’s an attempt to save some of our nation’s pre-historic remains.  This site is an ancient burial grounds for peoples residing in this area as much as 1800 years ago.  That in and of itself is hard for me to fathom.  Also there are relics at the site that indicate that the First Peoples of this area were trading with other First Nations as far away as West Virginia and the Coastal regions along the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s so easy to look down our modern-day noses at so called Primitive People as if we were better than them.

We occupy the same piece of earth as those who went before us. TIME is what separates us – that and vastly different worlds.

Mississippi from the bluff @ Effigy Mounds National Monument

Mississippi from the bluff @ Effigy Mounds National Monument

If you are passing through the Prairie du Chien area, in S.W. Wisconsin, take part of a day (at least) to stop and let your spirit commune with those who have gone before.  Take a moment or an hour or maybe even a week to consider how differently we of the 21st Century may view this sacred place.  We tromp all over the hills in our high tech shoes with earbuds in our ears and nylon rucksacks on our backs.  They lived in rocky crags where a nighttime’s fire would warm the rocks enough to keep a small family warm through a January’s night dressed only in the skins and clothes they could make with their own two hands.

The Monument contains some 97 burial mounds out of 200 in the region.  These are the only easily accessible to tourist mounds and are well worth the visit.  While you are in the area you should realize that you are in what is called the Driftless Region — meaning that the glaciers never quite made it here and that the topography today has never been shaved and chiseled by the glacier’s massive ice!  It’s a hilly, verdant, amazing area.

My Ladies!

My Ladies!

After our trudging around we took time to check out the little town of Marquette IA, and grabbed an ice cream at Culver’s in Prairie du Chien before heading back for a delicious Rockfish dinner.

Peg and Kathryn went to the rangers talk in the evening — all about TURTLES!  Last week’s talk was a bust — no one showed up — but then there were only 5 families in the park with all the water.  There were nearly a dozen adults and as many kids in the audience for this talk and it sounds like a good time was had by all.  In addition to learning about 11 species of turtles they also learned about eating them!  One of the families there are avid turtle hunters (Turtle season opens sometime around the end of July).  It seems that the turtle bisque I loved so much in the English Room of the Pfister hotel is within my grasp right where we are — if only I had the heart to butcher a poor little turtle.  I was interested to note that the rangers have no love for snapping turtles and rather encouraged their hunting!

Anyway…. Katy’s with us for another day, she heads home sometime tomorrow, so we’ll enjoy her companionship another day.

Talk to you later.