Old Diary

Back with the Corps

Granada Lake

“The Basin” at North Abutment Campground / Grenada MS

I have to make a point in the next few days of snapping some pictures to illustrate how much the water levels have receded in 12 months.  The reservoir is quite a bit lower than it was last year.

There is nothing as soothing as a still night and the sounds of nature (unless of course it’s a pelting-hard-downpour) which is what we had last evening for a few hours.  It was only the second time in 4 years that the sky was obscured enough that DISH had a hard time finding a signal (for a scant few minutes).  After the pelting downpour the winds finally went away and peace and calm returned over the kingdom of Grenada Lake and the North Abutment campground. 😀

Fridge Update

I’m trying to consciously monitor the life of our new fridge.  What do I mean by that?  Well, it’s all about power consumption, temperature and lifestyle.

For one thing I have noticed that some RV’ers who have household refrigerators consciously shut them down when they travel rather than pulling power from their batteries.  I suppose if you routinely plug in every night at a RV campground that’s a workable solution but I would be concerned about temperature rise in transport and how long the fridge would keep things safely cool.  So it was that when we installed the fridge I purposely plugged the unit into the SHORE POWER outlet knowing that when we moved from Milwaukee the fridge would be disconnected from power until we pulled in here.  And, during approximately 30 hours of disconnection the temps in both the fridge and the freezer appear to have risen about 10º F.  In a pinch — and especially if we were only going to be on the road for 4 or 5 hours that’s not an unbearable situation.  In 4 or 5 hours we’d gain a few degrees and everything would still be well within safety levels.

Now that we are camped and plugged in for a week I removed the plug from the SHORE POWER outlet and plugged it into what used to be the ice maker outlet — one that is powered from the house batteries.  Over the next few days I’m going to monitor how much power we are using.  This is a process in process as it were.   We routinely travel with the inverter turned on for AC power.  I use the AC power to run the laptop that our Silverleaf engine monitor system runs on. So we always have some draw on the batteries, and on the trip down here the skies were so overcast that we didn’t get a lot of solar regeneration.  Still and all we arrived with 93% charged batteries.

Slide Topper Update

A little bit of bad news though.  After arriving we took a walk; needed a little exercise.  From a slightly higher point looking towards the coach I could see that we appear to have torn the slide topper over the curb-side lounge slide.  That’s the biggest of the four slides (wouldn’t you know it)!  We had a LOT of wind in Milwaukee over the last few weeks and I have been a little concerned about those flimsy pieces of awning material.  When it dries up and warms up I’ll get out the ladder to see if I can tape anything to extend the life a few weeks until we can get the awning material replaced — I’m sure that all four of them are original to the coach — so after 11 years I should not be surprised that the material is aging.  C’est la vie.  There’s always something when you’re RV’ing.

Coach lock

I think I mentioned this a few days ago, that we are having problems with the primary door lock on the coach.  It has been getting worse over time. While I might have dealt with it in Milwaukee I have never been thrilled by the expertise of the Milwaukee RV shops. So I made a conscious decision to wait until we got to Florida to have it worked on.  If we are in Ocala for 3 months surely there will be enough time to ship in parts to get the job done. I hope we don’t get locked out of the coach before then, but it was a conscious choice to delay. If we find ourselves locked out I’ll bear the repercussions.  I had enough stressors to deal with while we were in Milwaukee.


The topic of stressors brings up another topic which is my health.  I’m feeling fine.  Of course I was saying that before I visited the doctor too!  I have gradually come to realize that I was much sicker than I realized or even thought about once the situation was explained to me.  So, I’m consciously taking new looks at what I do and how I do it.  As well as what causes me stress and what am I doing about it.  I have always been a serious guy — sometimes to the point of being socially backwards.  I have also been an intense guy who actually worries about things like being on time and doing things the right way — and yes, I’m still one of those guys who believes that there are right and wrong ways of doing/being/living.

Blood Pressure CuffSo, long story short, as long as I’m on a doctor’s regimen to monitor my BP I think I’m going to start checking things that I have always thought were not particularly stressful to me — so see whether my perceptions match with reality.  For example I have driven so much in my life that I have always felt relaxed while I was driving.  Maybe not so much in the middle of an ice storm — and I’ve done many of those trips — but overall, pretty relaxed.  Saturday night I made a point of checking my BP after pulling into Wally World knowing that I had been stressing about whether we’d have difficulty finding a place for the night.  Happily I was slightly higher but not overly so.  Last night after arriving here in Grenada I was actually right about my new normal  — 117/74 — which is right in there where the doctor wants me.  We all worked hard to drop that number in the last couple months — the less pressure I generate the less stress on my dilated aorta.  Makes sense to me!

All in all I’m just being more deliberate about a lot of things.  Which, I guess, is a good thing for someone my age.  At least it’s good if I want to live a lot more years!  Which I do.

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

Old Diary, RV Living

Winding Down

The fridge is installed. Our only remaining pre-departure event before we leave Milwaukee is delivery of my meds.  So, we used Thursday to catch up with yet another longtime friend. She lived in our own neighborhood so we not only caught up on each other’s lives but we also dished about the neighborhood’s reaction to our departure.

Before going mobile we had worked to get a zoning change for our school building and did not succeed in our attempt.  The neighborhood objections to our plans were increased vehicle traffic and commotion in what is otherwise a quiet residential neighborhood.  It turns out that the new owners are doing a lot of work on the property.  I’m ‘afraid’ that the neighborhood is getting a lot more traffic with him there than ever would have been the case had they granted us the deviation.  He has a LOT of motorcycle friends who park there at all hours of the day and night, I know we heard stories from him about wanting to work on motorcycles and vehicles.  There are also rumors about who he is and what he does. (Of course no one is going to go up and ask him — we know he has a decent job working for the Milwaukee Metro Sewerage District as a testing technician)  But that’s the funny / sad thing about rumors.  They are rarely true.  But at present his actions are only fueling the neighbors worst fears.  It it wasn’t for the hard time the neighbors gave us when we wanted to do something good for the neighborhood I might feel badly — as it is it’s a bit humorous that their worst fears are becoming reality.

laughterWe laughed our heads off while reminiscing.  It’s always good to laugh.

The finish for the new storage unit is dry now.  Last night the outside temps held about about 40º, so we opened the ceiling vent, turned on the fan and exhausted the fumes while we slept.  Mike had finished the storage unit during the day and it was dry to the touch but not ‘dry dry’.  Those new water based finishes are wonderful in how quickly they dry and they are way less stinky than the old high V.O.C. stuff.  We’re able to use the storage now and it’s a nice addition2015121017525901.jpg.

PLUS… we used to have a problem remembering to take the coats off the hangers at the end of the lounge slides when we retracted them to move — so the new storage bay will give us a place to hang coats where they won’t be in the way when we retrace the slides.  I find that the more we can do to mistake-proof the RV the better off we are!

2015121107412803While I’m getting ready to head South, Peg is happily wrapping Christmas presents to be left behind on our departure.  We each have our ‘things’ to do.  And keeping busy hands makes these last couple days of waiting pass more quickly.

Deluxe Fridge CoolThen there was the issue of air circulation in the Norcold.  With no circulating fan it’s common for RV’ers to put battery operated fans in the fridge to keep the cold air moving.  Those little buggers won’t run more than 1 month on 2 “D” cells, and remembering to change them was always a nuisance.

2015121107413604The new storage unit lets me get all of our cutting boards and the sink toppers out of the way.  I am SO happy about such a simple little benefit.  There’s such limited counter space in any RV, and being able to free up a couple sq ft of what there is makes a big difference.

All of which leaves us with one section of the storage unit we haven’t yet put to use — we’re still thinking about that section.

All in all, though, such simple changes and Serendipity has suddenly gotten much easier to live with/in.  It’s amazing how little changes can seem to make a big difference.

Plans confirmed

When we talked with Brad LaBadie @ Highland Ridge Campground last August about hosting at the campground this coming summer (’16) we had agreed that I’d touch base with him in December to confirm that we were still interested in the summer gig — and to make sure that there were no changes on his end.  I took time to do that Thursday and we are all confirmed for the summer.  We’ll touch base in April to find out their firm opening date.  The campground normally opens May 1, but last year there was a freak April snow storm and they ended up opening a week or two into the month.  By the middle of April they’ll know their opening date and we can head North from Milwaukee at the right time to arrive when needed.

Simple Things

It’s funny how simple things can mean so much; and how easy it is to forget what those simple things mean. We have only had our new refrigerator for 24 hours and yet it has already made it’s presence known in my life (he says as the chief cook). Being able to look in the fridge and see that the freezer is BELOW ZERO and to be able to actually control the refrigerator temps and keep them in a zone we really want them in seems so simple now.  With the NeverCold fridge it was always a bit of guess-and-by-golly. You have to adjust the settings up and down depending on the ambient temps.  They aren’t something you can set and forget.

Also there’s the issue of spoilage.  The old fridge capacity was 12 cu ft unit. We mostly cook fresh ingredients plus protein that we often butcher and freeze.  Normally, there’s a good turnover in the fridge section so spoilage didn’t happen often, but there was no real humidity control so we lost the odd partial head of lettuce and cucumber.  As long as the freezer stayed cold enough to keep the proteins frozen I didn’t worry too much. But there is something infinitely comforting about opening the new fridge door.  When I pick up things,  I feel the right temperature. A lifetime of experience is affirmed on the tips of my fingers every time I touch something. My fingers know that it’s ‘situation normal.’  Our problems with refrigerators were mostly in this coach.  The NeverCold in Journey (our last coach) was never able to keep refrigerables quite the way I preferred.  Overall, I’m much happier now.  (I guess I need more going on in my life if I’m waxing poetic about refrigerators — but that’s the life of an RV’er stuck in one place for too long.)

I mentioned before that we opted not to get the optional (+$99.00) ice maker.  There were reasons for that.

For one thing I was never happy that the water supply in this coach did not run ice maker water through the secondary Everpure water filter.  It’s a Winnebago vs Holiday Rambler difference.  The Journey filtered the ice maker water, Serendipity doesn’t. I don’t like funny tasting ice cubes.

Also, the water lines for the ice maker are an added place for water leaks.  When we installed the new fridge I removed an extra 6’ of vinyl tubing and capped the water line off at the supply.  This way there’s no tubing to leak — as we experienced a few months ago.  When doing the installation we found ample evidence of water leaks earlier in the life of the coach — now there’s no water source.

We still have plastic ice cube trays — we bought them when we had the old coach — I’ll go back to making my own cubes with water from the drinking faucet.  And we don’t use that many cubes.  So, the manual method will give us as many cubes as we need for our lifestyle.  2015121018494001Besides… doing a few things for ourselves isn’t the worst thing in the world.

If you notice there’s an extra full width shelf in the freezer above the 1/2 width shelf that comes with the fridge.  That’s the Closet Concepts shelf that we bought at Home Depot the other day.  It’s 12” deep, just the right depth for the unit.  The shelving came in a 36” width — so all we had to do was to cut the shelving to size; a job made easier because the spacing on the shelving was 1” and the shelf needed to be 18 1/8”.  It works out perfectly.  There’s enough friction so the shelf doesn’t move around, and it’s not so deep that the freezer door won’t close.

Ok — that’s enough for today.  Thanks for stopping by, and let’s talk again tomorrow. With luck we’ll get our meds and be taking about leaving on Saturday.

Old Diary

the OTHER dread red light

Yesterday was Fridge changeover day. Aside from waiting around for spare hands to show up the changeover went smoothly and it was also a good father-in-law / son-in-law bonding time. I like Mike a lot, and I’m pretty sure he likes me too rather than tolerating me.

During the day I had the genset running — it had been a little longer than my usual 30 days for it’s ‘exercise’ so I was running the heat pump and a couple space heaters just to put some load on the generator.  It was warm enough outside that we didn’t really need heat, but the generator needs a load for the exercise period to do what it’s supposed to do — which is get all the bits and bobs lubricated and seals resealed, and fluids moved around.

Thus, when we pulled up jacks and retracted slides I didn’t think much about moving — just went through our normal checklist and go…


A typical GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit detector). Note the little red LED in the upper corner, and the TEST and RESET buttons at the center.

When we arrived back at the State Fair RV Park I went through my usual arrival routine and when I went to deploy the satellite dish nothing happened. I checked the usual culprits when there’s a power problem and nothing helped.  We had no power in any of the outlets in the coach.  Yet, we had power to the heating system, to the refrigerator — basically to all the areas that had their own circuit breakers.

What gives?

Our usual checklist for power problems goes like this:

  1. Check circuit breakers
  2. Check battery disconnect at the front door.
  3. Check power at the power post
  4. Check power at the inverter

In the past that’s as far as we have gone.

There are also disconnect switches in the battery and inverter bays but I would never turn them off except for servicing the batteries or the inverter so they exist but aren’t something I’d normally think about.

What we never think about is the single Ground Fault Circuit Detector installed in the bathroom!   And low and behold, when we looked at that we saw it:  the other dreaded red light!  For whatever reason in all the messing about in the coach yesterday we had done something to trip the detector (or perhaps we inadvertently pushed the test button)  — at any rate the detector did it’s job — if shorted out the circuit so that none of the outlets had power to them.

All we had to do was push in on the reset button and all our outlets came live again and the problem was no more.

So, now we have a new checklist for power problems:

  1. Check circuit breakers
  2. Check battery disconnect at the front door.
  3. Check power at the power post
  4. Check power at the inverter
  5. Check power at the GCFI

It is recommended that you test your GCFI monthly.  To be honest I don’t know anyone who does that.  That kind of negligence may not be good, but I dare say it’s not uncommon.  If I had been doing the monthly checks I might have thought about the possibility sooner.  As it was the sun had gone down, it was dark outside and I had decided to ignore the problem until the morning when I could see what I was doing outside.  We went to one of our favorite pizza joints and it was after we returned home satiated and relaxed that the CGFI came to mind.

Tanino's PIzza

Tannin’s Restaurant and Bar — a nice selection of Italian specialties and pizza in a neighborhood bar atmosphere. There is a separate dining room — so you don’t have to eat in the bar.

I supposed the lesson behind that is, when in doubt or in trouble, the best thing to do is to go get a pizza. Our new ‘favorite’ pizza in town is Tanino’s on 76th Street in West Allis.  I hate to admit that they have edged out Balestrieri’s on 68th which was our staple for 30 years.  The reason for the change is — primarily — changes at Balestrieri’s.  The crust isn’t quite the same, and the deep fried eggplant strips often arrive too soggy — having been fried at temps too low for the item.
rules of customer satisfaction

Having said that, I have to comment that change and consistency are two of the things we have noticed most during this longer than usual return to Milwaukee.  In our lifetime we have never been the sort to go to the same restos all that frequently.  When we were living in town we might revisit the same place only 2 or 3 times in a year if it was one that we liked.  bad customer serviceThis visit we returned so some places that many times or more because we have come to appreciate that they have stuck with their formula and still offer what we had come to expect from them over the years.  And what we have (sadly) discovered is that it’s hard to find places that do maintain what made them popular or famous in the first place.  I don’t say this with sadness or disappointment — it’s merely a fact of life.  A fact that will alter our plans on successive returns.  I say that because once a place disappoints us more than once we tend not to return — end of story.

There you have it, the tale of the Other Dread Red Light…

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


Old Diary, RV Living

It’s Beautiful and it’s all ours


Last look at the old 4 door Norcold.

Tuesday was a veritable Red Letter Day!

Mike was ready to do the Norcold changeover so we hot-footed over to their house where I parked Serendipity sort of in the middle of the road — but when you live on a 1 block long street that dead ends at your property there’s not a lot of traffic (even if you have an ambulance company right next door).  We arrived about 9 a.m. and by 5 p.m. (-ish) we had the old fridge out and the new fridge in.  As I start writing this we have yet to put the trim in place but Michael will bring that over here tomorrow and we should be finished with the project by the time I finish this post.

2015120809583201Here’s Michael hard at work taking the old 2015120814523314Norcold out.  Once we had the old one out,  and the cavity we were agreed that the sub floor needed replacement, so that was the next job.


2015120816032518Michael is going to make us a narrow storage area to the left of the fridge.  One shelf for cutting boards and sink covers. One small shelf for panty items and an area for hanging coats so we don’t have them hanging by the front door all the time.

2015120816175520 2015120820104721 2015120820111723 2015120820111723-2 We discussed how to secure the fridge in the cavity.  Whirlpool does something a bit strange with it’s leveling pegs.  One of them screws into the base of the fridge as you might expect.  But the second peg screws into the bottom of the door hinge — so it sits proud of the cabinet by an inch and about 2 1/2 inches forward from the location of the peg on the other side.  We really didn’t like that idea so Michael re-machined the hinge plate so that the leveling pegs now both fit in the front corner of the fridge.  After some thought he came up with a good way of securing the fridge to the coach fore and aft.  Then just to provide a little added stability for those times when the coach is way out of level — or going around a banked corner we wanted some down-force on the top of the fridge.  Sill GasketAfter seeing the amount of space between the top of the fridge and the top of the cavity I took a walk through the local Home Depot and found some Sill Plate Gasket material in rolls.   So, here’s the deal — this is high density foam — I originally thought I’d rewind the roll tighter and be able to smoosh the roll between the top of the fridge and the roof.  (and yes…. ‘smoosh’ is a technical term for this action)  Once I returned to the coach I realized that the width of the roll was just the right size to smoosh and achieve some compression on the fridge — so that’s how we used it.

Tomorrow Mike will deliver the trim.2015120820111723

A few hours later

Mike stopped by with the completed storage unit.  We now have another 6+ cu ft of storage.  There’s an upper section with hooks for hanging coats/sweatshirts.  Then a narrow shelf about 10” high for miscellaneous pantry items that don’t need a door.  Finally there’s a 20” storage area large enough for the sink covers, and all of our cutting boards that we’ve never been able to find places to store other than leaning against a wall.

Mike did a nice clean job and we’re really happy.

Thanks for stopping by, and let’s talk again tomorrow.

Old Diary, RV Living

Cold & Refrigeration — dissimilar topics

I’m sure it’s all psychological.  Now that we have plans for the winter the actual temps aren’t nearly as annoying!  I still have problems functioning in these temps but hey — knowing that I’m not going to be here all winter makes all the difference.

So, in celebration, here’s a shot from 2011 — the year of our great blizzard!
201212301455FAMILY10709It has been interesting that since the Norcold started acting up a few weeks ago ( when we went out and purchased the household refrigerator ) that the freezer section has been limping along sufficiently to keep food frozen even if the refrigerator section has not been working. Doesn’t make sense to me, but that’s what was happening. We are three days away from a functional refrigerator.  If we had to take frozen items over to Kathryn’s at least we would not have to throw anything away this time.

12322422_960037737390474_1432779770565187416_oToday Mike and Kathyrn are hosting a Pop-Up Shop!  Some of their artist and craftsman friends are trying a new marketing idea in the neighborhood — with hand made arts and gifts being sold at the shop.  Mike has officially been calling their shop The Magnet Factory — in honor of their building’s original use.

We may do some Christmas cookie baking on Sunday but as the stressors disappear from our life here we’re mostly back to enjoying our time while we wait for two remaining events to take place.  You can tell by now that I don’t handle uncertainty very well.  Baking cookies together has been a thing for us since Katy was young and with us in town this year … why not repeat a wonderful tradition?  We’ll see how much energy she has after the pop-up shop today.  (You know it would never be the OLD FOLKS who wanted to cancel).

There ya go. A quiet day, so a short post.  Thanks for stopping by and let’s talk again tomorrow.

Old Diary, RV Living


Dr Tajik

My specialist

Thursday was a huge day for us!

Planned to be our final specialist appointment for this stay in Milwaukee, the appointment could not help but arrive with tension and nervous energy.  The good news?  Doc turned me loose and even he was excited about the results of the latest round of tests.  I was pretty amazed at the results achieved just using meds and we are now able to turn our noses South feeling confident that we’re on the right course and that I’ve got a second lease on a productive and happy life.

We will run back this way in the Spring for what they are anticipating to be a simple and short visit — stick a heart monitor on me for a day and make sure that everything’s going to plan.Aurora St Lukes 2Our lives are once again back in our own hands!

First thing following the appointment was to get on the phone with our pharmacy and make sure our mail-order meds were all sorted out and to verify a mailing date.  Once again I was glad to have checked.  A couple meds of my meds would not have shipped with the rest. I’m hoping that having taken time to check on them, that we’ll get what we need when we need it.  Under normal conditions with no changes they do a good job, but in this instance there were numerous prescriptions written before final dosage was determined and we have seen in the past that multiple scrips challenge the pharmacy.  If we were normal in-place residents I wouldn’t worry about it at all.  But you other RV’ers know what it’s like to await mailed meds.  Med mailings are a fact of life for many RV’ers and a potential source of stress.

Helpful Readers

Following my recent post about the Norcold going down yet again I had a very helpful note from Rich in Mountain Home Missouri. He mentioned that they installed the same model number Whirlpool refrigerator which we finally selected, and he gave me a couple clues about installation details unique to our model.  I’m really happy about that.  This is yet another example of how great the RV community is.  It’s great to be part of a group that helps each other just because we are all in the same kind of boat! (or RV).  I’m really thankful for my readers — you make the blog so much more fun when you drop me a line about this, that, or the other thing!

So… We have a few days before Mike can get around to installing the refrigerator. Ideally that job will get finished up about the time my meds arrive in the mail.  It’s time to start thinking seriously about where we’re going to spend the winter!

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

Old Diary, RV Living

The Appliance Deliveryman Cometh!



The Great Norcold Refrigerator Saga draweth to a conclusion… soon. That’s because the GE delivery service delivered our Whirlpool refrigerator safely, without dings or visible damage on Tuesday — right on schedule.

It’s still humorous to me that a General Electric truck delivers appliances for the Whirlpool Corporation but hey, logistics is not my worry and all I care about is that this time the fridge shows up, instead of being backordered as it had been last time.

I talked with Michael while we were waiting for the truck. As my installer-guy, he’s going to shoot to remove the old and install the new fridge next Monday (December 7 — a good day — that’s the day my dad proposed to my mom in 1941).  The stars are starting to align in our favor methinks!

The fridge does not come with a full width shelf in the freezer compartment — I measured the space and I need to look for a wire rack that is 11″ X 18” — in time I’m sure I’ll find one — perhaps even without too much delay — Home Depot might have something I can use — and I’ll try to get over there in the next day (seeing as I forgot to look today when I was out and about).

Now, even if the wonky Norcold fridge conks out altogether we can at least put the contents into the new fridge sitting at the kids’ house.  At least I don’t have to worry about spoilage now.

Old Diary, RV Living

Once more into the brink…wait… no…. make that into the refrigerator

I can hardly express my irritation.

Our Pile-of-Junk Norcold is malfunctioning again. For 24 hours the temp has hung at 47º — not what you want from a refrigerator.  I switched it over to propane mode in the hope that we’ll get some cooling.

This time I’ve had it.  This is the 5th time we’ve had problems with this unit. It may be 5:30 a.m. as I write this but I’m already moving forward.  I’ll talk with our S-I-L Michael today to see if he has time to do a swap out; if not I will going hunting for an RV–modifications–shop to replace our RV fridge with a residential unit — ideally on the way South. Good to have a backup plan just in case.  I know there’s no place here in Milwaukee that I’d trust to do the job. Somehow I just had a feeling this could happen.

Of course — after almost 2 months of working just fine, we finally decide to trust it (meaning that we buy protein and stocked up the freezer) and now it starts acting up.  On October 3 we decided to cancel the order we had, because there was no stock in the warehouse — now I’m back out shopping for a replacement refrigerator.





According to the Home Depot website I can get the same refrigerator (I cancelled because of no stock) on 12/1.  I’ll head over there this morning after I speak with Micheal to see if that’s a real date or fictitious.  The alternative is that I their website says I can get it from HH Gregg the day after Turkey Day. If either of those are realities we’ll get something on order today.

It would have been easier to do this a couple months ago but stress isn’t good for me and I’ve had it with this refrigerator! There is, however,  a good side.  By being forced to deal with this after getting my health issues resolved the changeout won’t be as dangerous. The doc was particularly concerned about my physical activity level prior to dosing me on the new medicine.  I know I will have to rely on Michael to do the work, but 2 months ago I might have tried doing more of it myself and that would have been far more dangerous.  So, all in all, I’m not complaining.  There are cosmic reasons things work out the way they do;  there’s no sense in kicking against Providence.

…Later the same day (Wednesday)

The order is placed.
I’ve been assured that there is stock on hand.
Delivery is scheduled for 12/1.
Mike thinks we can get the install done the week of 12/8.
And the Norcold propane mode is keeping our groceries cold for now.

Looking good for now….

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