Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Sleepy Summer Setting

The RV campground at the Fall River Dam here in rural southeast Kansas is a little gem.  It is quiet, there is lots of green grass and large trees of various specimens, oaks, maples, locust, cottonwoods, pines, ash and more.  The grounds are  well-maintained and the restrooms are clean.  We don't have to use the restrooms, but I always look at them as an indicator of how well a campground is maintained.  In addition, the camp hosts are friendly and very helpful.  Perfect.

 As I walked around taking some photos I kept thinking that this would be the kind of place where Tom Sawyer would feel at home.

On the downstream side of the dam is the lovely and meandering Fall River.  Here catchers of fish –. men and herons alike – stalk its banks. And surprisingly comfortable concrete benches under a 100 plus year-old cottonwood invite one to read to contemplate or to take photos.

Now I will relate what I call the $127 error.  When we drove here Saturday, we spent a lot of time on very dusty country roads trying to find the campground.  I became concerned about all the dust that probably became lodged in the expensive engine air filter that Motorhomes of Texas had just replaced.  I had good reason to be concerned because Moose was coated in thick dust everywhere.  

Two rolls of paper towels are stacked  next 
to the filter to give you an idea of it size.

So, in an attempt to take good care of the engine I decided to blow out the dust from this big filter. Fortunately, I happened to describe my filter cleaning action on the Foretravel Forum. I was surprised when several members responded immediately and told me I had just created a situation that would surely damage the engine if I continued to use the filter.  What?  I was only trying to make the filter cleaner.  But what I did was bring fine limestone dust to the interior of the filter where it would be drawn into the engine the next time I turned it on and the grit would circulate in the oil and help wear down the piston rings,  resulting in an engine that would burn oil and become a candidate for rebuilding. Fortunately, the only damage done was to my ego.  I located a replacement filter here in nearby Fredonia at the local NAPA store, where it only cost $127.06 to fix my error. Ouch. Expensive lesson.

Thursday we head to Hays, Kansas where Foretravel friend Gary Omel has promised to treat us to a real old-fashioned 4th of July celebration.

Stay tuned

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The 335 Mile Journey from southeast Oklahoma to southeast Kansas

It was a long day.  We departed from the Corp campground in Oklahoma at 7:15 this morning and arrived  within a quarter mile of our new Army Corp of engineers Campground on Fall River Lake -- 70 miles east of Wichita, KS at about 2:15 pm.  It only took us about 90 minutes to go the last quarter mile.  There is a story here.

I've commented before about how notorious the Corp of Engineers if about giving bad directions to their campgrounds.  This time they did it with a new twist.
The camp is divided in East and West segments joined by a rather old bridge with a weight limit of 9 tons.  We weigh 17 tons.  We've been over bridges that were rated for 15 tons, but we had no desire to bring the bridge down and spend the rest of our lives working to pay off the damages. Their directions took us to the  camp at Dam Site East.  We found the camp host there, but he did not give us very clear directions to reach Dam Site West on the other side of the bridge where we had a site reserved.  So off we went with me driving Moose and Sandy leading the way with the Honda.  The gravel road was sooo dry and dusty that I let her get at least 3 blocks ahead of me.  After several "blind alleys" we decided the safest thing for me to do was pull off the main highway and wait while she went and found the way to the West Dam Site.  Ninety minutes after we left the East campground we finally pulled into our new home for the next five days. By this time we had been on the road close to 9 hours.  Our new camp site is exactly 1/4 miles from where this picture was taken.

In the next day or two I'll do a show and tell about the location.  It is very green and lush.

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Out of Texas

We left Nacogdoches around 1:30 today after our seats were installed.   Two hundred and twenty miles later we are now at  the Army Corp of Engineers Park at Burns Run West, Texoma Lake, Oklahoma.  Lots of big trees and lots of water and lots of cooler air.

All repairs, service and improvements have been made to Moose.  We are slightly disappointed with our chairs, but as RVers we really did not have the option of sending them back.  The seats are an improvement and we will learn to work around their shortcomings.

To end on a high note here is a sunset photo taken over Texoma Lake taken from our campsite.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A quick update

Plans set in Jello is what the RV lifestyle is all about.  We had hoped to be on our way to Hays, Kansas by now, but it looks like we won't get away from here until Wednesday at the earliest.

We have all of the maintenance issues completed on Moose and now we are only waiting for the new seats to get here from the manufacturer in California.  We do have tracking information available, and the promised delivery date of Friday, June 18 has turned into Tuesday, June 22.  The chair company must be staffed by leftovers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Our next destination is Hays, Kansas for their famous 4th of July celebration where we will be guests of good friend Gary Omel.  Then we head northwest to Thompson Falls, Montana for 10 days to two weeks of fun with family.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Computer Woes, New Mirrors and New Places

When I wake up in the morning I like to flop into my chair and check e-mail  and read favorite blogs.  This morning with bleary eyes I clicked on a bogus window that mimicked an information box that always alerts me to the fact that a piece of software for an old camera was not available.  Previously, I would click on it and make it go away.

But since I was not quite awake, this nasty bug said "Gotcha" and shut me down.   My Lenovo screen said I only had one option for booting up and it wiped out my D drive (software), all of my bookmarks,  and some critical files on the desk top that had not been backed up in several months (shame on me) and a custom screen to display those elements of the transmission and engine we wanted to keep an eye on while driving.  Shortly thereafter I downloaded a malware program for protection.   But wait, there is more.  All of my documents were composed in Microsoft Word  and I used up my last of three installls of this software about six months ago when my computer was repaired by Lenovo.  My choice was to buy new MSW software. 

I remembered reading about a free software and did some research.  A Foretravel friend told me about Open Office from Oracle.  It is free and will allow me to access all of my old Word docs.

But we had business to take care of, so we went back at Xtreme Graphics early this morning to have them put on our new left side mirror.  While the old mirrors were beginning to shed  chrome like a snake shedding its skin, the best reason for replacing mirrorr is greatly increased visibility over a wider area. The top section of glass provide a panorama and gives us more information about what is going on to the sides and rear of the coach.

It is nice to look at something other than dealer/repair shop driveways

Then we drove south and a bit east to Jasper, TX to stay in the Twin Dikes Army Corp of Engineers camp on Sam Rayburn Reservoir.  It is a small wooded and beautiful location in the East Texas Piney Woods.  We will be here until Sunday at which time we return once more to Nac to have our new seats installed.

Tonight I walked a couple of hundred feet to
the lake for some sunset photos.

A happy little Northern Mockingbird let me get close enough to take his photo. (Originally, when I posted this blog, I did not know what kind of bird, but two readers have properly identified this little songbird.)  I'd take a picture and then take another step closer until I was within six feet of this little song machine.
Stay tuned

Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Friends and New Shades

We slept in this morning.  It was the first day in the past couple of weeks that we didn't have to get up early to be somewhere or be ready for service technicians.

Friday were able to get into Motorhomes of Texas a couple of days early.  We had a lot of service items taken care of.  One of the things we wanted to have checked were the brake pads.  We have 105,000 miles on the odometer.  It turns out that the rear brakes are barely used and the front brakes are not quite half way through their anticipated life.  Amazing.  We chalk that up to having the transmission retarder which reduces substantially the need to use the service brakes.

Monday we will have our other new mirror installed and then we head to an Army Corp of Engineers park about 50 miles away.  We plan to come back to Nac on June 21 for installation of our new chairs.  Then we head to Hays, KS for the 4th of July and then northwest to the beautiful state of Montana to visit cousins Theresa and Larry O'Neil and Diane and Jerry McDonald.  We will be seeing Big Sky Country for the first time, picking wild huckelberries, playing games, and having a good time.

Today we met a couple who just bought their first Foretravel and are parked at the Foretravel factory having a few service items taken care of.   Jim and Virginia Cunningham scored a beautifully maintained 1999 U320.  Sandy loved the separate refrigerator/freezer they have in one of the storage bays.  We were able to provide Jim and Virginia with a few suggestions about various features of the motorhomes that we learned in the past nine months of living on the road.  

Whenever Foretravel owners get together they talk about what they like and don't like about their motorhomes.  We have never liked the wall sconces -- so when Virginaia told us that Lowes has a nice selection of replacement shades we headed there after our visit.

Old shade

New shade

At $9.99 we found great looking shades that just might be the lowest priced anything ever to go into a Foretravel and they look terrific.

Note to Judy & Emma:  I can't find where I can leave comments on your blog.  I kind of remember meeting your relative at Camping World.  I was there browsing the store and looking at RVs.  And, funny thing, I was going to compliment you on your great photos and then I learned you camera quit working. That is a real bummer.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Night in the Paint Booth

A couple of years ago there was a kid’s movie with Ben Stiller called A Night at the Museum. Well, today’s blog is entitled A Night in the Paint Booth – for obvious reasons that will be made clear a little further down this page. 
Cleve primes the repaired sides

Much was accomplished on Wednesday. Both short sides of the slide out room were painted and sprayed with clear coat. Tomorrow they will be buffed. All of this work was done in the paint booth.

The paint booth is huge. They can get a 45 foot motorhome
in there.  Moose is only 40 feet long. 
Painting was finished late Wednesday afternoon but they needed to wait as long as possible before moving us outside. We asked if they had any problem with our camping overnight inside the paint booth. After thinking it over for about a minute, the shop foreman thought that was a great idea. If it were to rain overnight then when they brought us back in the morning, they would have to blow the rainwater off the roof and possibly turn on the propane heaters to dry any remaining moisture before painting the roof. At 161˚F that wouldn’t take too long.

So Wednesday night we were in quite possibly the quietest location of the past nine months – the paint booth at Xtreme Paint & Graphics. Good thing neither of us is claustrophobic.

With masking in place,
Moose was ready to be painted.

Today (Thursday) the roof was painted. It takes a lot of preparation. Previously, the entire roof was sanded. Today all sides of the coach has to be masked with a thin film of plastic (just like those thin drop cloths we all have struggled with when painting at home). Anything on the roof that should not be painted was also masked. Then they sprayed two coats of a white urethane with a crushed glass additive mixed within the paint. The crushed glass creates a non-slip surface, making the roof a lot safer to walk on. As soon as the first coat was applied they went back and sprayed a second coat. Then the roof was baked for about 90 minutes in the paint booth. When Moose was backed out of the paint booth three guys washed the entire coach.

Our new white roof will reflect a lot of heat and keep water out.

We spent a lot of time the last few days hanging out in the office at Xtreme.  They have a one year old Cairn Terrier puppy named Dezul, and he is the cutest little guy.  I've been taking him for walks -- much to Trixie's annoyance.  They "exchanged words" a couple of times over ownership of a chew toy and Milk Bone biscuits, but by and large Trixie put up with the young whipper snapper.

Dezul has an endearing trait of falling asleep with a toy in his mouth. 
Sort of like havinga pacifier for canines.

Here the "combatants" sleep almost side by side.

Tomorrow we head drive a few miles south and over to the "Mother Ship": Motorhomes of Texas for some service issues.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 7, 2010

New Faucet -- Part 2

After we got the new faucet in we were unhappy with it. Not enough clearance to rinse dishes and not easy to fill pots. So Sunday we went back to Lowe's and selected a new one. We had to open the boxes until we found one we knew we could install. Foretravel glued a support block of Corian under the sink that interfered with the proper seating of the first faucet. We had to compromise on the installation of the first faucet and while we could have lived with a slight tilt, the low clearance was a deal breaker.

So we went back to Lowes and  found one that looked like it would be easier to install and was a high-rise model.  It only took us 30 minutes to install. It is perfectly seated.  And it was a close-out model so we got it for half price.

Once again, Sandy was a really big help on this project. She is good at thinking through problems. Lucky me.

Progress was made on the repair of our slide out room.
R ance (too shy to let me take his picture) used a high speed small rotary saw to make three shallow cuts in the exterior of the slide.  The edge closest to the coach was not cut.  The loose piece  -- sort of like a flap -- was then "peeled back" to expose the aluminum framing members and the styrofoam insulation.  The white horizontal lines are glue.  No other glue is visible because it chemically interacted with the styrofoam and disolved into the blue insulation, and in the process lost its holding power.  Rance spread Gorilla Glue (yes, the same product you can buy at Home Depot) all over the exposed insulation and framing members.

Then he rigged a huge clamp to keep pressure on the "flap" while the glue set up.  In this heat and humidity it cured in about five hours. Gorilla Glue actually needs a small amount of moisture to help it cure -- so the high humidity was actually beneficial.

Here is Rance's hi-tech clamping system.  But it worked.  The other end of the slide out room was not as badly delaminated so Rance was able to use a different glue and process.

And we did get one mirror installed, but Ramco Mirrors in Elkhart, IN got the order wrong -- but shipped the correct mounting block today.  We will have it by Thursday; Friday at latest.  

So we are seeing some progress.

Stay tuned.

George & Sandy & Trixie

Lost in America in a

40' Foretravel aka "Moose"

Follow our adventures at



Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Report from Nacogdoches

Progress is slow.  We arrived here Wednesday morning, but had to get in line for service.  On Thursday they took off the old mirrors, but rain and the threat of continued rain kept Xtreme Paint and Graphics from putting on the new mirrors. No big deal.  We aren't going  anywhere.

Friday they drove Moose into the shop and got some work done on the side, but didn't put the mirrors back on becauce they thought they had lost the screws that hold the mirrors in place.  They didn't lose the screws, the office secretary gave them to me when I took the old mirrors out of thier way. But no one asked me for them until late Friday.

I decided to call the company making our new seats to see if they are still on target to ship on June 14.  Bad news.  They are still waiting for the seat belts.  They hope to ship on June 21.  We will probably go camp some where in Texas and then come back after the seats are delivered.  Note: on older coaches like ours the shoulder and lap belts are integrated in the seat design and manufacture.  New models have belts tethered to the side frame and/or floors.  With our seats,  the belts are not attached anywhere else, just to the seats.

This morning we decided to update our 10-year-old white kitchen faucet.   There is a big Lowe's about five minutes from here.  I know that any (make that ALL) projects require more than one trip to the hardware or big box store, so I thought we'll never be closer -- so let's do it now.

Five hours later then new faucet is in place. Gone is the white Delta faucet that leaked around the base and was past its prime. It was a real bear to take out the old and install the new. I ended up using my Dremel to cut some parts off. I chose not to dismantle the shelf  under the sink or even undo the drain pipe. Neither of those extra steps were worth the work. I am very fortunate to have a wife who is willing to get her hands dirty, and the fact that she is ambidextrous helps a great deal. She worked as hard as I did.

The factory made a funky under-the-sink bracket to hold the faucet in place, and for a while I thought we were going to try to have someone make something similar, but then we found a way to install the Moen using the bracket they supplied.

Moose is on the right

We are parked next to a 1997 Foretravel with similar colors of paint.  When our coach was painted in 2007, the owners upgraded to European style headlights.  We like that look.  The folks in this coach are now staying in the apartment on the grounds.  Their work should be done Monday or Tuesday and then we will move into the apartment  for two or three days.  Once our coach goes into the paint booth we can't stay inside.  

I hope to have more progress to report next week.  Stay tuned.

Stay tuned