Old Diary

Light through the side of the wall…


What does it mean when you’re sitting in the lounge and you see daylight underneath the sofa?  Clearly, it’s not something good. That was what I noticed the other day.  A quick walk outside and a maintenance problem appeared that was easy enough and inexpensive enough to fix.  I like that kind of problem!

After a quick trip to Home Depot for the proper size screws I refastened the piece of weatherstripping that wipes the bottom side of the lounge slide-out. Over the last 11 years that in and out motion of the slide (extended, retracted, extended, retracted) had stressed the few attachment points of the rubber gasket and pulled a few of the screws loose — allowing the gasket to move away from the wall and allow a little light to come in — and a little cold as well — and potentially little critters also — but we have not had that problem.  There really should have been more attachment points.  I could see that easily. And now there are.


a couple of the added fasteners – the old fasteners simply weren’t adequate to hold the weatherstripping with longterm use.

The Price of RV freedom is eternal vigilance!  If you own an RV you just have to keep checking and checking to make sure that all is well with your ride, your house, your little bit of heaven.

In over 5 years we really haven’t had a lot of things to fix with our RV.  Some of them were shear wear and tear worn out — the toppers over the slides were like that.  And 11 years use from a piece of fabric out in the wind all the time is — I think — a pretty reasonable expectation.  And of course there was the Norcold replacement.  I’m sure we could have had the old one repaired but I was tired of the inadequacies of the Norcold system so that was a personal choice on my part.

But my point is that you find little things that need attention.  Caught early they are small repairs; left to worsen they can steal your bank account.  It’s all up to you.

After fixing the weatherstripping at the bottom of one slide I did an inspection of all four slides and there were no more problems.  Little things like that happen on a vehicle that might not happen on a house.  RV’s are subject to a lot of shaking and vibration. A few months ago I found a lower body panel shaking in the wind — it was right by the wheel well and when I got down on my knees and looked up at it I saw that a machine screw had fallen out.  Replacing the old screw with another of the same size (and a little Lock-Tite) and all was well again.


Oriented Stand Board (or OSB) may be a wonderful product, but when subjected to water it puffs up and loses it’s strength

Most RV’ers I’ve known have discovered problems with the gaskets around their slides when leaks occurred.  But it’s not that hard to inspect the gaskets every few months and insure that they are sealing correctly.  After all, sometimes it’s just a matter that the gasket material has curled under and running your awning hook up and down the length of the gasket will un-curl the gasket — returning your RV to the “land of all is well.”  The problem can be bigger — weatherstripping does get old and brittle — sometimes it needs replacing (not often, but some of these RV’s are still on the road 20 years after manufacture). No one wants to wake up and find a puddle of water in the RV!  Worse… no one wants to deal with the damage that water can do to OSB — the material so many RV manufacturers seem enamored of!


The layout of our coach roof was not simple BEFORE we put 900 watts of solar panels up there. Now it’s even more congested. It pays to check on that stuff from time to time.

Among the many checks that are worthwhile to do are a regular inspection of your roof.  You know, most people can’t see what’s going on up there on top of the RV.  I know I’m not tall enough to do so!  And a lot of RV shops will do a free roof inspection when you have the RV in the shop for routine maintenance.  If you have a motorcoach like we do you are going to want to change the oil (at least) annually — what better time to have someone get up on the roof and look for leaks, cracks that aren’t yet leaks (in caulking), etc., before little maintenance issues become much bigger repair bills!

I like maintenance.  Maintenance is cheaper than repairs.  Maintenance is good.  Us RV’ers should repeat that like a mantra, “maintenance is good, maintenance is good, maintenance is good…”

Thanks for stopping, and I’ll be here to chat tomorrow.  Why not stop and see what’s up!

Old Diary

A check on our solar powered fridge

The first day’s results are in.

Yesterday morning I turned off the battery charging system from the power post here at the Corps of Engineers campsite.  That is an automatic function within the coach.  I have to consciously disable it because most people want their batteries to be charged when they plug into shore power.  In yesterday’s blog I mentioned that I wanted to monitor what happens when we rely solely upon the solar panels to power our new refrigerator.  Seeing as the fridge is powered off the same bank of batteries that power our house lights and some small appliances we’re really testing our over all battery capacity against our typical usage.

Yesterday was a nice sunny day.  By the end of the day, and after several days of severely overcast skies the batteries needed to be brought up to 100% charge.   At the end of the charging day we had a full 600 amp hours in the batteries.  And this morning — as the sun was coming up and the solar panels were about to start working again we still had 94% of our charge. I’m pretty happy with that result.  I will continue monitoring — specially on days with overcast skies — and on strings of days with overcast skies to thoroughly understand the ins-and-outs of the system now that we have a larger continuous load on the system, but I’m happy with the way things are working.

Chill Time

Monday, after two long days of driving, I didn’t accomplish much at all.  We mostly try not to drive two days in a a row but it’s not like we have a “policy” that we won’t do it.  It’s just a preference that we often abide by but don’t get too upset about when we don’t.

It’s interesting though that for various reasons being in Milwaukee seems to have been more ‘stressful’ than one might think.  We’re out of the city, back with nature and after several checks of my BP throughout the day yesterday my numbers are a good 10-15 numbers lower than they were holding steadily in Milwaukee.  We’re back in our kind of environment with the geese and deer and not nearly as many people and no truck backup alarms, and no tow trucks zooming through the parking lot and life is good once again.

The Sunrise Tuesday Morning.

The Sunrise Tuesday Morning.

For the first time in (probably) 3 1/2 months we didn’t get in the car and drive anywhere yesterday.  Even though I had a couple errands I want to run I decided to chill and do nothing.  I started (about 2 p.m.) and finished a James Patterson book,  caught up on computer backups, edited quite a few blog categories and tags — all stuff that I consider ‘doing nothing.’  Peaceful time at the computer, or sitting in the lounge chatting with my sweetheart.

Speaking of sweethearts…

The 21st (of December) is our 47th wedding anniversary.  We’ll be moving from Grenada to the Service Campground on the 20th — so that on the 21st we are stationary and we can just enjoy the day as ‘newlyweds.’ 🙂

Silas AL is not much of a metropolis — I need to get to the grocery before we leave Grenada to find something interesting for our anniversary dinner.  The last couple years we have tended to do restaurants for our anniversary evening but there appear to be only three restos of any sort in Silas AL so I’m going to arrive prepared!

Mrs P — one of my faithful readers — commented the other day about differences in cuisine between East and West (coasts).  And I have been thinking about that comment for a couple days.

One of the things we have noticed as we travel about is how much the grocery stores change from place to place.  I have commented a few times about various things:  corned beef hash, sausages and preserved meats, jelly/preserves, quality of veg/produce, etc. I’m sure I could make comments that would be taken as ‘profiling’ or racially biased but the fact of the matter is that one finds a different variety of product in local stores based upon what the local clientele will purchase.

And sometimes it’s not about different states or cities — sometimes it’s just about neighborhoods.  For example if you go to a grocery that says it’s an Asian grocery or the name of which is obviously Latino one is not surprised to find that the store carries ingredients unique to Asian or Latino cuisine.  But if you go to a Safeway, or Lion, or Sentry, of Jewel it’s easy to think that such differences don’t exist — or don’t exist within departments — but in fact they do.

While in S. Texas we had to learn to buy completely different cuts of beef and pork, and we found it very difficult to find lamb at all.  The cuts of beef were often much larger — intended for the outdoor grill as prime cuts of meat.  The same steaks that we might expect in Milwaukee simply were not to be found — A Porterhouse was extremely hard to find, but what I know as thin-sliced breakfast steaks were in abundance — whereas in Milwaukee not so much.  We have noted that in some areas of the country jams and jellies are found in abundance while in other areas you get the sort of standard grape/strawberry/apricot mix and not a lot more.  Ethnic foods are another telltale.  In some generic groceries there are multiple aisles filled with ethnic food — in others generic groceries you might be lucky to find 1/2 of 1 aisle devoted to ethnic foods.

If you go to a restaurant you’ll find far more standardized dining than if you visit a grocery — or at least so it seems to us.  Especially if you are one of those unimaginative eaters who love chain restaurants — for the thing about chain food is that they work very hard at giving you the exact same thing no matter where you are.  McDonalds has become the ‘taste’ leader — being the first chain to manage giving you the same cup of (admittedly mediocre) coffee no matter where you are.  Their reliance upon reverse osmosis filters (and subsequently their impact on other chains) has done a lot to remove the differences in restaurant coffee based on the local water supply.  Some of you may be young enough never to have tasted coffee made from highly sulphur water, or highly iron coffee but let me tell you, if you missed it, count yourselves lucky.  As terrible as McDonalds coffee might be, it’s infinitely better than coffees I’ve been served in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in independent restaurants and truck stops.

Lemon Curd dundee orang marmaladeMy dad used to love visiting grocery stores while on roadtrips.  When I was young I never appreciated what he found there;  after we married and started traveling on our own I found myself doing the same thing and discovering the same delights as he.  I remember my first container of Dundee Orang Marmalade or Wilkins Lemon Curd.  The original containers — at least of the Dundee product didn’t even have a screw top lid or safety lid — they were covered with a piece of parchment tied in place with a little bit of string.  And they were outrageously intensely flavored — and we could not find them in Milwaukee.

In college I worked for Uncle August Sausage company and developed a taste for smoked meats.  When I first tasted the difference between fresh liver sausage and smoked Braunschweiger (same contents, but smoked) I was over the moon — my tastebuds woke up for the first time ever (or so it felt).  All of these differences to be found in an average grocery store — forget the idea of traveling the world for taste sensations — and we have done that as well.  One of the best meals I ever ate was in Carcassonne France, when I had a classic Cassoulet which is really nothing more than amped up baked beans — and yet the combination of circumstances and flavors hit a high note I have rarely repeated.  It doesn’t have to be fancy to be extraordinary.  Sometimes the simplest ingredients, honored and respected, produce the best flavors.

And at that, I’m going to get in the car and drive into Grenada to see what we can find for dinner.

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

RV Living

Pull Strap Improv

Do you cringe when you hear the word “Engineer”?  I do!

Awning strap-hook

The ubiquitous Awning Pull Strap

Awning End View

End view of the roller bar with three insert channels. In and of itself this is a clever idea. If only they hadn’t botched the design by making it harder to replace parts that deteriorate with age.

Sometimes it seems that engineers try to make things much harder than they really need to be. Take the pull strap on our Carefree of Colorado over-the-window and over-the-door awnings as an example.

I’m sure you’ve noticed them — even you non-RV’ers out there.  The pull strap hangs down below the bottom of the awning and you… guess what… you pull on it to open the awning.

Well, all the awnings I’ve seen are built with rollers, or “Roll Bars” that the awning fabric wraps around and those rollers have three slotted keyways.  The awning fabric slides into one of them. The pull strap slides into another.  And accessories like lights can be slid into the third.

open awning channel

Life would be easier if they designed the channel so that it was open on the end.

closed awning channel

Instead they put a cap on the end of the tube and made it impossible to remove the strap without taking the end cap off (or at least removing the old pop rivets, rotating the cap, inserting the strap, rotating the cap back and re-riveting the cap.

Eventually those nylon pull straps deteriorate with weather and moisture — as did our strap for the over the door awning.  Imagine my surprise when I looked at the replacement parts kit and found Pop-Rivets!

It turns out that the engineer who designed the awning thought that the best thing they could design was a slot that you had to disassemble the entire end cap of the awning (up some 12 feet in the air) in order to slide the pull strap into the slot.

Well, RV’ers are a clever bunch, we are (well, someone else was, I just learned this trick).  It turns out that you can take a 1/4” drill bit and a drill motor and drill into the channel about 1/4” — effectively making a 1/4” opening into the channel.  The old torn pull strap can then be coaxed out of the channel and the new pull strap can be inserted into the channel and you are all done.  No cursing, no sweat, no precarious maneuvering at the top of a ladder.  Done!  Finished.  Complete.

The thing is,  we rarely even USE that awning….

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


Ambassador PLQ, RV Living

Progress: it feels good

2014040213241327-40PLQAfter a year and a half I think we can safely say that we’re finally getting Serendipity (our current coach) to the point that we have most of it the way we want it, instead of the other way around, with most of it needing tweaking in some way or another.  The flip-flop has been a long time coming but it’s the way we do things:  live with something for a while before jumping to conclusions about what needs changing.  Then handle upgrades or changes as needed — when you really know how you live with that thing.

In the last month and a half I’ve added new hardware, new storage, rearranged a lot of things and gradually been turning Serendipity into a coach that was easier to live with.  None of the changes mean we bought the wrong coach — they are pretty much all trying to find the right place for things that we had grown accustomed to being in different places in our previous coach.

The office is done — as you can see from the feature photo.  This week I added a couple lightweight storage bins — I’m tired of having cords hanging from all the cabinets.  The hard drives are mounted and accessible. The graphics tablet is usable.  I’m happy.20151013115622022015101210271611

While I was happily working in the office Peggy has been staring at the corner of the lounge wondering how to make THAT area more usable.  During one of our shopping forays she found a set of drawers and a nice matching basket and now the corner table deftly hides a few pillows and throws while the drawers will do a nice job of hiding a few papers and cords and what-nots.  Hoorah for Progress!

RV Living

How many ways to RE-Set

helpdeskAsk any IT Helpdesk person and they’ll tell you that 50% of their job involves resetting & rebooting devices.  When any modern, computerized device hangs up the first thing we ought to try before calling for help is to reboot the machine, or reset it.

My Verizon 6620L MiFi quit suddenly a day or so ago.  With RV park WiFi I haven’t had a critical need to get it fixed but it’s not something I like to go without for very long.

Knowing that the number 1 solution for computer problems has long been a simple reset — to allow the computerized device to reset itself back to known conditions — I tried resetting before going to the local Verizon store.

Typically you turn your machine off and then on again.  That forces a fresh re-boot.

In this case I could not turn it on, so turning it off wasn’t the solution.

I KNOW that the battery was still at 1/2 power — I checked it before turning the MiFi off the last time.   No luck.

6620L ResetSo, I tried hitting the reset button — inside the back plate, hidden in a small recess on the back of the box.  NO luck.

I tried holding the OFF button on for a 10 seconds.  Sometimes an extended holding of the button will work as a ‘reset’ switch. NO luck.

backplate and batteryI tried removing the battery, leaving it out for 1/2 a minute and then replacing it.  No Luck.

Those were all the variations I could think of so I took the box along with me to the Verizon store.

Guess What?

There’s another way to reset this particular electronic device….

Remove the battery, and hold down the on/off switch for 10 seconds.

And guess what…

That fixed the problem.

Seems no matter how I try I still can’t help but looking the idiot at the Electronics store.

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

Old Diary, RV Living


We’re still in Oregon — or at least it FEELS like an Orgon winter:  damp, wet, and 40-ish.  Anyone who wants to know how it feels to live in Oregon — but who lives in S. Texas — no longer need wonder.  You’re livin’ it!

But in all seriousness, while the weather is a bit on the gunky side we’re doing our best to do something other than watching endless TV.

Our friends Bob & Janice Flanigan — with a matching coach to ours — made a very simple change in their coach which we have been admiring our our minds ever since they stopped off in Grenada to visit.

I have talked about the fact that in our 32′ Journey one of the features we most liked was the side aisle.  Our bed lay lengthwise and from the roadside edge of the bed you could see all the way to the windshield without obstruction — right along the side of the coach.

2002 Winnebago 32 TD

This is our old Journey 32TD

One of the features we did NOT like — and we thought about it more and more the longer we had the coach was the fact that the refrigerator was mounted in the roadside slide — adding a lot of extra weight to be extended and retracted each time the slides were activated.

The newer ’05 Ambassador does not have a side corridor.  Which we have adjusted to.  We like the fact that the refrigerator stays in one place.  And although the kitchen moves, the heaviest part of the kitchen is the microwave.


This is the original floorplan of our coach


This is the new configuration — not much change but better for us.

Since acquiring our new home these are the positional changes we have made.  The table for the printer is on the curbside wall,  The recliner is up front and now we are ready to make changes to those curtains on the door and the wall between the bedroom and the bathroom.

On the bathroom side of the door and wall are mini-blinds.  Soon the mini-blinds will be history.   and we will replace with with voile curtains — to add a little more light, while still providing some privacy.  Privacy isn’t a huge thing for the two of us but for visitors it might be. 🙂2015010213541403

We bought 84″ curtains with pre-sewn curtain rod pockets on the top.  Now that we don’t have a sewing machine we’re going to have to fashion curtain rod pockets on the bottom (after cutting to size).  Some weeks ago Peg tried a test using fabric glue.  That seemed to hold up just fine so we’re going to try gluing the bottom rod pocket and see how well that works.

We’re not talking about a huge investment here.  New curtain rods totaled up to about $8.00 and we found pre-made curtains on sale at Kohl’s on sale for $13.00 for one and the second one for $1.00.  So for $22.00 plus Texas state sales tax we have what we think will be a workable improvement.2015010213543804


They won’t rattle as we drive down the road.  It’s not a huge issue — the sound of mini-blinds hitting the door/wall as we bounce along the road but it IS noticeable.

Pictures to come when we finish the project.

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


Old Diary, RV Living

I Fixed It! (Continuously Learning)

First I have to share another grocery shelf item. Slap Ya Mama I saw this today and I stopped dead in my tracks! What a name for a product!  As you can see it’s a Cajun Seasoning product and we are definitely within range of cajun cooks. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A few days I actually purchased a bottle of Gumbo Roux, with which I have been very happy thus far.  It’s so fun taking time as you wander through a grocery.

Just an update on that toaster oven that we bought a few  months ago.  We have in fact been using it much more often than had we used the old toaster which got left behind in Milwaukee. AND, it lives on our next-to-the-dining-table counter so that it’s much more convenient to use.  toast r oven

Time till our departure for New Orleans is dwindling. I’m enjoying being retired.  Puttering around, getting more exercise, cooking, talking with my wife.  I had been asked a couple weeks ago how long it takes to get over the guilt about being retired and enjoying life so much.  I don’t think I had even thought about post-retirement ‘guilt’ until the question was put to me.  And the more time passes since the question was put, the more I realize how much I like being retired.  We both worked long hard hours to get to this point and a good number of our contemporaries have passed from the scene, or will never have the freedom we are enjoying right now.  No one knows how long this period of life will last but it’s sweet.  When Peggy worked for Aurora Healthcare she worked 50+ hours every week for years, their offices were moved into places that I never could believe the O.S.H.A. people hadn’t shut them down.  Their organization grew so rapidly that they were moved from one industrial setting — being remodeled  to offices — to another one.

I worked long hard hours during the years I drove commercially, I worked long hard hours when I was self employed.  I’m finally getting to the point that I don’t wake up every day at 4:00 a.m. ;  occasionally I actually sleep in until 7:30 — I can’t remember how long it’s been before the last few weeks that I could do that.  Guilt?  No.  No guilt at all.

Can you fix it if it’s not broken (and you just don’t know how to work it?)

When we bought Serendipity we knew she had surround-sound installed — the dealer had it all cranked up while we were touring it the very first time.

When we took delivery of Serendipity the last thing on my mind was worrying about the surround sound when there were so many other completely different and new things to be learned.  To be honest we were several months and on our way East from Oregon before I even thought about it again.

In the meantime I had disassembled the old tube-type television installation and replaced it with our new LED TV.  There were an excess of speaker wires that I lost track of from whence they had been disconnected — not a good practice (not to label as you disassemble) but there you have it, I’m not much of a mechanic.


Now when our son in law Micheal comes to visit (hopefully this winter) he can listen to GOOD sound!

Well, yesterday I got to thinking about our lack of Surround sound — I mean we have a 12 x 12 x 10 woofer box taking up most of one of our few precious lower cabinets and doggone it all I wanted the use of that cabinet or that woofer was going bye-bye.  I spend a good part of the morning thinking about it when my central processing unit was sharing cycles (I was multi-tasking).  Then it dawned on me.  We have not been using the BluRay player that lives in the same upper cabinet as the satellite box. Could it be that some setting on the BluRay box might be the switch to activate the surround sound?

It took a while, playing with the machine setup menu until I found a combination of settings that turned on the Surround Sound.  So, to make a long story short, I got it to work but it wasn’t ever really broken — just “operator error.”

But — we now have better sound.  As you know, as you get older your hearing goes. 🙂

And there you have it — that list of projects keeps getting worked on one item at a time.  It’s not going down quickly; but it’s going down!

By the way…. we moved some of the kitchen storage around yesterday.  A plan of attack is beginning to formulate for one of the upper kitchen cabinets using that same closet shelving that our friend Bob Flanigan used in the basement storage — except I’m thinking of dividing the cabinet above the sink for better storage of dishes, cups, glasses, and wrapping materials (waxed paper, plastic wrap, and aluminium, & parchment paper).  We would not tackle that project until we arrive in New Orleans, or perhaps until we arrive in S. Texas.

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


Old Diary, RV Living

Bed Suspenders and Splatter Shields

What are Bed Suspenders?  -- I mean I know what they do but why?

What are Bed Suspenders? — I mean I know what they do but why?

I’m just a guy…  I like sheets to cover my mattress, I guess I kind of take it for granted that the sheets WILL cover my mattress.  Dear Peggy changes the sheets weekly as she always has, but if they didn’t I would — I happen to like the feeling of clean sheets and I look forward to it.  But I’m at a bit of a loss about why … suddenly in the 21st Century we need to manufacture suspenders to keep the sheets on our beds.

with a 14" profile it might be tough to get your sheets to cover your mattress.

with a 14″ profile it might be tough to get your sheets to cover your mattress.

I suppose there are some reasons for the arrival of bed suspenders.  The rising bulk of pillow top beds! (not that an RV’er will ever see the likes of a double sided, reversible  pillow top mattress).  With a 14.5″ profile I guess you might need some help.

Well, I’ve manufactured my own version of Bed Suspenders;  an RV’ers example of finding a solution to a new situation!  Now, please excuse me in that what I manufactured has nothing to do with my bed…. that is merely a metaphor for discussion.

2014110410453107 2014110410455308Witness the anti-grease, sofa and sofa-throw splatter shield.   It only took me 7 months and a couple kitchen “oops’es”  to decide that I had to do something to protect my wife from spatters and protect our furniture from the dangers of boiling tomato sauce!tomato sauce  No matter how low you turn your tomato sauce, if it’s simmering there is danger of simmer spatter.

Let me be clear now.  Our Journey already had one of these. For whatever reason the Ambassador did not.  But now it does.

The project wasn’t tough.  $10.00 for a piece of acrylic sheeting.  Not Plexiglass.  I didn’t need anything that armor plated — this was something I could get at the hardware store in a little Southern town.  I thought about perhaps waiting to purchase a thicker piece of material but what I bought will be adequate for our needs.

The sheet of acrylic was 18″ x 24″; not the right size for my need.  But the acrylic is snap-able.  Score the material with a sharp box cutter or one of those ‘special acrylic cutters’ — which really is a box cutter with a funny looking blade — support the material on both sides and then SNAP.  it’s important to prevent the material from flexing as you are trying to snap it.  Being flexible, any deflection from flat can easily result in a break that does not follow your score mark.  That happened to me in one place where I hadn’t been pressing down hard enough,  a small triangle of material remained on the sheet I was cutting down to size — which came off with another careful snap and more support.  No Problem, Mon!  A little once-over with a fingernail file to ease the edges (why get out the sandpaper when the fingernail file was right there on the counter!)  Then a little bead of silicone sealer to hold the new shield in place (and also to prevent food from getting into the crevices) and we were done!

So, there you have it.  Life changes.  All of a sudden I realized that I needed a splatter screen and now I have one!  It’s not quite as tricky as bed suspenders.  I’m sure there are people who NEED those new-fangled bed suspenders.  I don’t.  Our sheets are fully large enough for our 4″ thick Sleep Number mattress.  It’s our kitchen counter that leaves a little to be desired,  but now we have a solution for that too.

ExaggerationWhat shall we invent next (well, cutting a piece of acrylic isn’t exactly ‘invention’ — but I love exaggeration for effect — otherwise known as hyperbole)!  I’m still working on better storage solutions!  The bane of my existence.  Of course you realize that storage isn’t really the bane of my existence.  Sometimes my mind goes off on a tangent in search of something to talk about and a little exaggeration softens the task.  And that’s who I am. hyperbole  Don’t take anything too seriously, life’s too short not to laugh at ourselves a little.  Or maybe a LOT!

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