Old Diary

Just when you think…

You may remember that 2 years ago, right after buying our current RV that I pulled out the old analog TV and replaced it with a nice new VIZIO 32” LED TV.  Well, we’ve been quite happy with the TV until a week ago.  Then it stopped responding to our remote.

Having had this happen in the past we replaced the batteries and nothing happened.  We replaced the remote and the TV worked just fine.  For 1 day.  Then it quite responding all over again.

I did all the normal trouble shooting things that I would have done for any electronic product in the past:

  • Check the power.
  • Check the connections.
  • Disconnect all the external connections.
  • Disconnect from power for 10 seconds

Nothing helped.  tech-support-coupleI called the Warranty Hotline thinking we might have to replace the TV and we had bought an extended warranty — something we rarely do.   After a long while going over all the routine details, you know (who, what, why, when, and where) they connected us with a tech support person and they now have come up with a new Hard Reset procedure than any I had heard before.


Instead of disconnecting for 10 seconds I was instructed to disconnect for 2 minutes.  I did and that seemed to solve the problem.

Troubleshooting-Tech-SupportAll of which makes me wonder if these hard reset disconnects are going to get longer and longer depending on how smart our electronic products get? The tech guy gave me a long explanation about why longer was needed — I have no idea if it was a legit explanation or just that gobbledygook that tech people tell non-techies when they are feeling superior.  At any rate I now have another step to take before I call into tech support — and I think I’ll try it for any piece of equipment.  Just in case it helps.

better-safe-than-sorryOn another electric issue — we noticed that the outlet we use for our lounge space heater showed some heat discoloration.  In that Tuesday is one of our days off, we went looking for a few parts to do an outlet replacement.  That’s taken care of and all is well.

That’s all for a quiet Tuesday.  Thanks for stopping by, and why not stop tomorrow and chat a while.


Old Diary

Something From Everyone

Life is too short to learn everything.  I have long hoped to learn something new every day but the older I get — and the more limited our activities become — the harder it is to accomplish that goal.  Still, I go into every day hoping with a little of that expectation the explorers much have felt:  eager to learn something new. something to be learned

I’m not sure I’m particularly wise, but if I listen carefully, it really is easy to learn something from (almost) everyone.  Life takes us on such divergent paths, and we all have unique ways of reacting to events such that if nothing else I can learn how not to react or accomplish something;  but usually I can learn something positive.


The two of us 48 years ago

This desire to keep growing, keep learning, has a lot to do with my own motivation in RV’ing.  Peggy has her own reasons.  But for myself, I know that I have not tired of living, and I have not tired of meeting new and interesting people and I can think of few ways to meet the variety of new and interesting folks we have met whilst RV’ing.

August '70

Mom & dad on a camping trip with me

I know I’m a lucky guy.  I actually had a happy youth.  I had parents who cared for me.  We didn’t have a lot — I know there were times when the cupboards were quite literally bare and there was nothing in the house to eat — but I have no recollection of being hungry (even though I heard that old admonition to eat everything on my plate because there were starving children in China) and I have no recollection of being abused.  I got a few good swats on the butt while growing up — but I also learned that what I’d done to deserve those swats was not tolerated either by my parents or by society — and I rarely needed a repetition to master the lesson.

Me with Dad 49Dad was a blue collar worker.  Mom had a short (couple year) career outside the household but most of the time she was a homemaker and I was glad for her presence in my life.  She was big on education and I always had a cheering section when I tried something new, or wanted to learn something new.

I still remember this lashing project!

I still remember this lashing project!

I can’t say I remember a lot of my dad playing with me; but I have proof that he did.  By the time I got old enough for Boy Scouts he joined the troop as an adult leader and we had plenty of good times.  There was a time when we didn’t get along as well, and then near the end of his life — well, for the last 10 years of his life we were exceptionally close.  He helped me in my home businesses and thought nothing of taking orders from “the Kid.”


It’s hard to see Katy up there in the driver’s seat or my third truck. I loved flatbed-ing and even today I look with envy at some of the loads I see — wishing I’d had a chance to try chaining THAT load down!

One of the reasons I started driving commercially (other than the money) was the diversity it gave me. I loved going in and out of factories; seeing how other people made a living; seeing how things were made and came to be; seeing lots of the country — and too much of the cities.  Whether I had a white collar job or a blue collar job — continuing to learn was always a priority for me — and often by the time I mastered the job I was ready to move on to another one.  I didn’t just have wanderlust — I was a restless soul.  Still am, I guess.


With my wife’s family, near Solvang CA


Peggy and Katy in the Rockies

It’s been a good life.  We’re still close to our only daughter.  It would have been nice to have more kids but we never could have been as lucky with #2 as we were with #1 — she is the joy of our lives; has always been.  We’re still close to each other.  In a different way perhaps than when we met 48 years ago.  A better way.

One of the lessons learned (fortunately for us it wasn’t the hard way) was just how important trust is — and we both have worked hard all the way through our marriage to make sure that we never lost that trust that we started out with.  Without trust everything else is fake.  Without trust everything else is hollow.

These little volunteer gigs give us a great chance to continue meeting new people.    To continue learning new things.  I don’t know how long we’ll continue volunteering after this gig.  We probably won’t do it ALL the time.  By the end of 5 months we may be happy for a time when we don’t have to process our Daily Arrival Report and we don’t have to clean up after other people.  Or not.  We’ll see.BE THE TYPE OF PERSON

But I am happy and thankful for this summer.  It’s turning out better than I hoped — though to be truthful it would be nice to have a little more warmth.  Still and all, in another month I’ll probably be complaining that it’s too hot.

Thanks for stopping, and I’ll be here again tomorrow to chat.

Old Diary

The Angst of Being a New Hire


sometimes seeing the same information from a different point of view helps. I use this screen a lot.

I may be 5 years retired but I still have moments when I can recall what it was like to be new hire at a company.  My heart goes out to the interns here because they get put into some interesting situations — and some of them they are not prepared for — which is pretty much the situation for ANY person hiring into a new company.  No matter how good your training is, you’re going to run into a few brick walls — and no one in their right mind is going to want to mess up their brand new job.

Site List

you don’t have to be satisfied with the site list

The change here to a 24 hour reservation window, instead of a 48 hour reservation window is causing a few problems — which really means that customers don’t understand the change and neither do some of the staff.  One advantage of having our CORPS provided DSL line is that we can always go online and at least have some knowledge about reservations out beyond the 24 hour window.  As can anyone looking to make reservations.

There is a feature on the recreation.gov website that not everyone uses.  Instead of searching for availability by date and site, there is a page that gives all of the sites for a two week period and shows you the Walk-up, Reserved, Available status for all of them.  It’s a tool I often use when I’m trying to line up several stops, at different campgrounds.  Being a visual guy — seeing the entire list is easier for me than going at one site at a time when both the site number and the date are subject to variation.

Our two new interns got this evening’s problem sorted.  My heart went out to them though because after a couple weeks of rudimentary training they get turned loose to wander among the wolves (campers).  It can be scary to represent something as big as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; I can see why they might not want to act too decisively.  Or too arbitrarily.   But these young folks have got some chutzpah and I think they’re doing a great job.

Thanks for stopping. Let’s chat again tomorrow.

Old Diary

Staffed and Unstaffed

Our delight at being fully staffed is proving to be short lived.  It turns out that one of our seasonal rangers will be leaving in a couple weeks to take a permanent job with the CORPS — leaving us a little on the short side, as another of the rangers will be also be gone — for 2 weeks of Guard training.  So, we might as well get used to not seeing much of the rangers.  sigh.


There are quite a few CORPS campgrounds in KS!

Yup.  Matt will be heading to a CORPS project in Eastern Kansas to start his career.  Personally, going to Kansas has always struck me as the middle of nowhere, or the middle of everywhere (seeing as it’s right smack dab in the middle of the U.S.) — but we certainly do wish him well.  He’s a smart young lad and with his personality he’ll do well in the CORPS.

Creative thinking

A couple weeks ago the staff here realized they were a little short of fee envelopes.  So they have been keeping the self-pay kiosks supplied with envelopes, but not very many at a time.  I guess there’s some issue about ordering them from the Government Printing Office and time delays.  20160605070954134Anyway, after a month of being stingy with envelopes someone had a brilliant idea.  It IS actually.

The rangers also have another supply of envelopes — they are the ones that get handed out when they write a ticket to visitors for doing something wrong or for not having a Day Use Pass.  Those envelopes are identical to the standard fee envelopes except they have an extra piece of paper stapled to the envelope with instructions for the ticket recipient:  place your fine in the envelope and deposit the envelope in the self-serve kiosk.  Why not just pull off that added sheet of paper and use the fine envelopes as fee envelopes.  Voila!  Danger of running out of envelopes averted.  And nicely done too.  All thanks to the youngest and only female intern who thought about the problem and came up with a simple solution.  I love answers like that!

In the meantime…

Keep-Looking-UpWe’re still going on about our usual routines.  We’ve been asked to make a point of looking for hazards in the campground.  The rangers want to go through with tree trimming equipment (and/or a contractor for trees they may not be able to handle) and trim out all the dead trees, hanging limbs, widow-makers, etc..  I’m glad to see attention being given to this project.  We haven’t a lot of dead trees, but there’s one big old tree that is cracked down the length of it — near a campsite.  There are a number of other ‘leaners’ and hanging bits — so rather than see anyone injured I’m glad to keep looking up for the cause!


It’s Sunday today, so it’s our busy day.  Lots of campsites to clean and people to see on their way.  Our role isn’t very big here.  But we greet a lot of people with worry lines on their faces and most of them leave with a smile — so to me it’s all worth it.  Yesterday we had three separate walk-ins (1 pickup truck camper and 2 class C’s) that were inaugural trip campers.  All three of them were a little nervous about what they’d gotten themselves into.  And a little uncertain about the campground.  We had extra time to spend with them just helping them get over their jitters.  Fortunately we had a few open sites to accommodate them.

With Father’s Day and the 4th of July coming up separated by a week we’re looking at a busy month ahead. Better a little busy than too idle. It might be close to time to make a trip into the Twin Cities in search of a good French Bakery.  And I’m sure we’ll have to make at least one trip to IKEA and one to the Apple Store while we are here.

One of these 16 oz bottles of powder will last a good long time.

One of these 16 oz bottles of powder will last a good long time.  It’s an inert compound and doesn’t get ‘old.’

I did buy some boric acid — I want to put some roach traps in a couple places. Prevention is the name of the game here. After seeing one roach come up through the sink drain we have treated the drains but I want to be sure we don’t have any others;  we haven’t seen any — but when it comes to critters I’d rather be safe than infested.  So, a little preventive medicine is good — and it’s not something that is toxic to us as long as used according to directions.

The leaf cover continues to thicken.  Last time we were here we arrived mid season and we didn’t get to appreciate just how thick the forest is.  But when you arrive with nothing more than sticks visible and can watch the forest leaf out it’s really wonderful seeing the full cycle of growth.

Well, there you have our Sunday morning.  It’s stopped raining, there’s nice weather in the forecast and a little bit of heat to boot — so we’re hoping for a nice week.  Thanks for stopping by and I’ll be here again tomorrow to chat.



Lightning over Atlanta
Old Diary

Exposed and Vulnerable

You’re right there.  No matter what.  Whatever’s going on, you’re right there!  A good size storm flew over last night — lasting most of the night and I kept waking up to the sound of rain on the leaves outside.  Hard.  Soft. Solo drips.  Harmonious patter. It was too dark out there to see anything but life in an RV always puts you front and center with whatever’s going on outside.

If there is one phenomenon that I haven’t gotten tired of, one phenomenon that never ceases to amaze me it’s the impact of living continuously so close to the outdoors.  When it’s hot outside, the RV heats up.  When it’s cold outside the RV cools off.  Humidity makes it’s way inside in a trice.  Rain fallingSounds are ever present.  RV life is always just barely removed from the outdoors… And for some of us that is wonderful.

On Friday it rained all afternoon — about the time most of our campers would normally be arriving.  That meant that we were either sitting in the cool underneath our awning, or hopping in and out of the coach to greet campers in the rain/drizzle/downpour.  Which is fine.  I love the sound of the rain, and I don’t mind getting a little wet from time to time.  And you still meet the most interesting people.  The couple from Alaska who had only ever stayed at one CORPS park before last night were a highlight; such a spry and interesting couple of pickup-truck campers!  That’s a long trip with just a pickup-truck camper!  We had two campers who were making their inaugural trip in a new-to-them camper.  A bunch of campers were regular returnees.  It was a soggy but interesting evening.

But I stray from my purpose….

Rain FallA few hours later as I lay abed listening to the rain I was reflecting on just how exposed to the elements life becomes in an RV.  I know I have mentioned this before.  If I’m boring any of you I’m sorry.  But that immediacy may be my single biggest joy attending this lifestyle.  It’s like since we’ve been full timing I feel everything a little more strongly,  I react a little more enthusiastically, I find greater joy in almost everything — even the health mishaps and the equipment malfunctions.

I’m not sure if everyone would react the same way.  In fact I’m sure that everyone would NOT react the same way.  But thus far I still get a charge out of it.

One of our ‘favorite’ british comedies on public television is the long running show about a group of old geezers in the Yorkshire Dales known as The Last of the Summer Wine. Last-of-the-Summer-WinePart of the fun of that program is that one threesome of gents are nothing more than little kids dressed up in wrinkly skin.   To be honest — I think RV’ing has made me more like them than I was before we started this adventure.  Being so close to the elements and whatever is happening nearby has done a lot to keep my spirits young and maybe even let me regress a few years in maturity. 🤔😏

We don’t have a gatehouse here.  When folks arrive we notice them through the windscreen and depending on their approach we decide whether to greet them or not.  A goodly number of campers know the routine, know to got to their campsite — and how it’s marked.  Some don’t and they make more of a point of STOPPING at the stop sign and looking lost — which gives me a few moments to make it outside and help out.  Such a small campground really doesn’t need a fancy gatehouse.  The system that we have works well enough unless you’re a newby to the campground and have no idea where you’re going — which is our reason for being here. It’s an informal campground and a friendly campground.

Peg was commenting on how often visitors exchange names at the outset of any conversation.  Being lifelong Milwaukeeans that’s a real change for us. A nice change, but a real change nevertheless. We’re friendly, but in the ebb and flow of life we aren’t accustomed to first naming everyone. It’s nice.  It’s wonderful, actually.

It’s been a busy time for the CORPS staff here lately.  Until this week they had responsibility for hosting Lock & Dam tours at the St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River — some 60 or 70 miles from Spring Valley.  Recently the National Park Service decided that they would like to host the tours and there has been a lot of transitional responsibility as well as legal paperwork involved with who owns what, and who will be responsible for what — so the lads here have been chasing back and forth for the better part of the month getting all the details sorted.  That job now being done they are hoping to give more attention to their own duties — for which I’ll be glad.  We’ve been on our own a lot this past month.

They still do tours.  Lots of groups come for dam tours, and Thursday they had some 200 school kids in the recreation area — it DOES get a lot of use.  And there’s a big 150th Anniversary Celebration for the Corps of Engineers coming in June — a big public picnic I’m lead to understand.  So, there’s a lot of prep work going on for that.  We may not see the rangers much until July…. who knows.

Thanks for stopping.  Step outside and enjoy the fresh air.  Peg & I are big on the hours of daylight and as we approach the longest days of the year we’re doing out best to enjoy each and every minute of light!  Why not stop by tomorrow though, and chat.  I’ll be here.

Old Diary

Dog bite

This was not a humorous “Man Bites Dog” story! Fortunately it ended reasonably well.

dogbite It was well into the evening on Thursday when our friends Chuck & Judy came to our door.  We met them a few weeks ago, they are regular mid-week campers here, and they are a hoot. Normally, anyway…

Chuck had been taking trash to the dumpster — was facing the dumpster — when two dogs rushed up behind him; one of them bit him on the upper calf.

Surprised?  You bet he was surprised.  And I can understand why.  A few years ago Peg & I were just walking down the street in Milwaukee and a passing German Shepherd decided to nip through my denims and bite me.  It all happened in an instant and neither one of us any idea why that should have happened.  Chuck felt the same way.  He wasn’t making eye contact with the dog, wasn’t doing anything provocative that he could tell, all he knew is that the dog came up behind him and bit him.

The dog owner had been cleaning their window screens and the dogs were off lead.  That’s no excuse.  The rules here are clear that dogs are to be ON LEAD a 6′ at all times.  I’m sure that through the summer we’ll be making more precautionary comments to arriving campers about pets — just to make sure the rules are clearly understood. After all — we are not to be enforcers, just informers.

We spent the next while on the radio dealing with CORPS personnel and the local police.  In the end everything resolved itself easily enough, and we all went to bed when it was done glad for no further complications.

Most campers know that they are obliged to keep their dogs on lead when camping.  I’m not sure whether every dog owner travels with their dog’s immunization records — it’s a good idea to have your proof of vaccinations with you just in case something like this happens.

A few campers get testy about keeping their dogs on a lead — we do hear all sorts of stories about people’s dogs; about how well they are trained, and all the good things they can do.  But fact of the matter is that if you make exceptions for one camper the rest will expect the same exceptions and there are a lot of dogs that aren’t anywhere as well trained as their owners would like to think.


There you go.  Another happy day in paradise. 😀😀 The weekend is upon us and more campers are arriving today. We aren’t full this weekend, but close to it.  Thanks for stopping by and why not stop by tomorrow to chat.

Old Diary

Midweek Meander

Wednesday — It’s not hump-day for us, it’s the end of our weekend. With the sun in the sky it’s also a beautiful day for a drive — and we haven’t been going anywhere or doing very much recently, so why not.  (is that sentence long enough for you?)  😀

I’m not always careful enough to make the distinction Hilaire Belloc makes.

“I have wandered all my life, and I have also traveled;
the difference between the two being this,
that we wander for distraction,
but we travel for fulfillment.”

– Hilaire Belloc

That doesn’t mean I don’t agree with the idea that all travel doesn’t accomplish the same result.


Wednesday’s short jaunt

I don’t think I talk a lot about our motivation for RV’ing. Maybe I do and don’t realize it — perception isn’t always reality.  But I do think that travel — going from place to place — can be a choice made for multiple reasons.  Perhaps more than just distraction or fulfillment.

I have known folks who traveled as a means to escape.  Personally, I don’t think that’s an effective strategy.  What we seek to escape may just up and follow us — and by that I really mean that we never succeed in leaving the whatever-we-seek-to-escape behind.

I have known folks who traveled to do so as a way of proving a  point.  It’s sort of “YES, I CAN do this, no matter what you say.”  We can be proving something to others, or to ourselves.  Perhaps we’ve been afraid of travel, or our liberties have been restricted and travel is simply (to the traveler) a sign of achieving ultimate independence.

Yeah — there can be a lot of reasons why one hops in the car, or on the train, or tolerate the security lines at the airport to fly.  And Hilaire’s two reasons do still make sense.

Distraction and Fulfillment

People who write about travel obviously do it from their own perspective.  They see the world through personally colored glasses.  They — we — I — write from our own biases and prejudices.  They — we — I tend to think that everyone is as they, and I really think that’s the only way most of us can think.  So, when we read quotations about travel we are — obviously — seeing one person’s take on travel.  The result, it would seem to me, is that travel writers inevitably over simplify.

This idea that there are two diametrically opposed aspects of travel is something I think has widespread application.  We might not all call the results or the intentions by the same terms but there is a difference between activities one does  in an effort to grow, and activities one does when all they want is relaxation.  If we’re of a mind to learn, explore, check off bucket-list items, etc., then we go into our travels or other activities with a questioning mind, with a hunger for novelty — as we rarely grow as a result of seeing the same old thing over and over again. Then again, there are times that we simply want to coast-through life for a while. We aren’t interested in challenging our fears, we aren’t interested in learning new skills — all we want is a distraction from the ebb and flow of normal life; a break from the tensions and pressures of life.

I think it would be foolish to suggest that any RV’er has one or the other as their reason for full time RV’ing.  Full timing is not just travel — travel is a part of normal living as a full timer, so the common ways of thinking about travel don’t exactly apply to RV’ers.

Thinking about the ways travel impacts us on varying levels though is something I use when we are making future plans.  It’s important to insert time for growth, and to insert time for relaxation.  RV’ing, or full timing, isn’t just about criss-crossing the country endlessly; if you spent all your time doing every touristy activity you’d spend a bundle and end up exhausted.  Nor is RV’ing just about sitting back in a lawn chair doing nothing.  That would get boring in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.  Life is about balance.  RV’ing is about balance too — as full time RV’ing is just another way of living.

Treasure Island RV Park

treasure island rv parkFor anyone who cares, we had heard about the Treasure Island (MN) RV park, it’s adjacent to the Treasure Island Casino and several of our campers have arrived here at Highland Ridge from prior nights staying there.

It’s OK if what you want is to park on an asphalt parking lot.  There are picnic tables at each site but really, you have no privacy, and you are parked cheek by jowl next to the next unit if you have a neighbor next to you.  It’s not a place Peg and I would be quick to try.  But I can see how, in a pinch — or if you liked gambling — it might be a worthwhile stop.

Redwing MN

Red_Wing_MN_-_downtown Uniquely Minnesota

Along the way we drove through Redwing MN.  On another day — after they finish a major downtown repaving project — this would be a lovely town to explore.  The city has preserved much of it’s historic downtown architecture; finding new ways to utilize lovely old buildings.  It’s laid out for easy pedestrian exploration.  I think we’ll check it out later in the summer and if the downtown is still embroiled in compactors and pavers we may put off exploration until our next visit to the area — but it’s definitely a community that I found appealing and would like to explore.

Thanks for stopping, and I’ll be here again tomorrow to chat.