I’m back to blogging and looking forward to an exiting 2019. Read on to see why I’ve been away!Read More
I was up today at 5:30 and got hitched and ready for the 250 mile trip from North Texas Jellystone Park to Kerrville-Shriner Park. Along the way I stopped in Waco to see my old friend Vonessa. We haven’t seen each other in 20+ years but it was incredible how those years just melted away when we began to talk. Our friendship remains strong and I hope we can find more time to spend together in the coming years. The more things change, the more they stay the same!
I took the back roads and state highways from Waco to the Texas Hill Country. The drive was longer but much less stressful. Along the way I saw Blackbuck deer, Buffalo, and Axis deer grazing in the pastures. There was not an opportunity to stop but I’m hoping to catch a few of these beautiful creatures in my camera lens over the next few days. I arrived at the campsite an hour before dark. Dexter was in a mood and did not want to be left alone. He’s getting just a bit spoiled with all the one-on-one time he’s receiving from me!
This site is a pull through shaped like a half circle. It wasn’t very level and I futzed a bit pulling forward and backing up in an attempt to find a sweet spot, but finally resigned myself to using the Anderson Leverers. It was then that I noticed that the connections were pretty spread out. The sewer connection was quite a distance from the water and electric. I laid out my water hose and power cord to be certain they would reach once I got set up and proceeded to back the camper up on the Anderson Levelers. I chocked the wheels, unhitched and began to make the connections. It was then that I found the power cord was about 2” too short. I could connect it if I stretched it so it was suspended off the ground! ARGH…soooo close!! Well, there was nothing to do but hitch back up and move the camper so the power cord could reach comfortably. That was a hard lesson to learn! I need to give myself a larger margin of error when eyeballing distance. When I laid out the power cord, it would have worked if I hadn’t moved the camper that 6” to level it! I’m getting pretty good at hitching and unhitching with all the practice I’ve been getting so it didn’t take me too long to make the correction and I was fully set up by dark. I’m glad to be settled in for the next few days here in the Kerrville-Shriner State Park. My campsite is close to a busy road but traffic noise is just background for me and I’ll put on the white noise machine to muffle it.
I’ve just returned from dinner with my High School friend Janice. We had a wonderful time catching up. I think it’s only been about 15 years since I’ve seen her! What a gift it is to have the means to visit my friends and what a blessing it is to spend time together.
I’m also going to reconnect with some new friends while I’m here as well! Tomorrow some of my new Escape Trailer friends are coming for a visit from San Antonio. On Monday, Sandy and Don, the friends I made in Bothell, WA in the first campground I stayed, will meet up with me for a hike. I am enjoying such a community of friends on the road!
It has been very chilly the past few days. It was in the 20's overnight and is forecast to be in the teens tonight. I checked on the camper today and found that there was some residual water in the lines around the water pump that had frozen solid. This was not what I had expected after performing the winterizing routine two days ago using the blow-out procedure. Clearly, the blowout did not remove all the water. I needed to thaw the ice in the lines and then use the winterizing T valve to draw RV antifreeze through the lines to correct the problem. My DH brought over a blow dryer from the house and we used it to melt the ice. It was fortunate that I had the inverter option installed in Wild Thing which allowed me to use the onboard 120v outlets to power the blow dryer today since I don't have access to external power while the trailer is in the storage facility. The inverter converts battery power to 120V, and my solar panel uses sunlight to charge the battery, what a great set up! I'd been running the furnace for a few hours before I discovered the ice in the lines so between the warmth in the trailer and the heat from the blow dryer the ice was melted in no time. With the ice gone, I pumped RV antifreeze through the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, inside and outside shower and the toilet using the winterizing T-Valve and the water pump. Problem solved. Now there is no danger of ice in the lines, no matter how cold it gets. Brrr...I can't wait to get to a warmer climate!
Before found the ice in the water lines, I had been doing a bit of packing and found a new use for the FoodSaver Ziploc Bags and handheld vacuum pump...I'm using them to store my yarn and knitting projects in neat little packages. Thanks Lucy for introducing me to this device!
7 more days until I'm back on the road!
I guess I was more tired yesterday than I realized. After posting, catching up with DH, and having some supper, I dozed through most of the evening, then I slept straight through the night until 7:15 AM. It was a warm 55F last night and raining, which made for good sleeping weather, even in a WalMart parking lot. Once in my camper, I’m in a world of my own so I can be comfortable anywhere. I was on the road by 8 AM and drove 270 miles today to Millpoint RV Park in East Peoria, Il. It rained most of the day so I drove a bit slower (60-65) than I had yesterday (65-70) and found that my mileage increased from 12 mpg yesterday to 13 mpg today. I may be on to something!
I drove from Iowa into Illinois and crossed the mighty Mississippi river on my route today.
At the Spoon River Rest Stop, I met a lovely RV couple, John and Shirley, and their sweet dog Belle. They have a place near Seattle, WA and winter near Quartzite, AZ so it's likely our paths will cross again in the near future! They were interested in seeing Wild Thing so I gave them the grand tour. John said he saw me yesterday driving on the highway and the camper caught his eye so he was glad to run into me and Wild Thing a day later at this rest stop. Trailer folks are so friendly! Belle was so sweet and graciously let me take her picture for the blog!
It was tiring to drive in the constant rain today so I was glad that I was well rested and had planned a short day. Millpoint RV Park sits on Upper Peoria Lake on the Illinois River and I have a shaded pull-through site. I made my first big mistake unhitching today but thankfully, Wild Thing and I are OK.
I haven’t unhitched in a few days so I was trying to be methodical going through the unhitching routine. I put the X chocks on the wheels and lowered the front landing gear down onto the plastic “lego block” type blocks before opening the hitch lock arm and pulling the truck forward. When I did so, the landing gear slipped off the lego blocks and the landing gear of Wild Thing dropped down 4” to the ground. Yikes, It was pretty startling, to say the least! The camper did not hit the truck nor was there any damage, but the landing gear feet were now sitting on the soft wet ground and I knew I couldn’t leave them there! I reviewed the routine and realized that I had not locked the hitch arm open with the cotter pin so there must have still been some tension on the locking mechanism of the hitch that caused the issue. Arrrgggghhhh.
After taking a break to think it through, and still my racing heart, I hitched her back up to the truck, lifted the landing gear (which thankfully were ok), and placed wooden blocks under the landing gear feet (probably a better option in the rain) then lowered the landing gear back down, locked the hitch arm open, and disconnected the truck again. All went without a “hitch” this time! I apparently need a checklist for unhitching as well as hitching although I’m pretty sure I won’t (ever) make that particular mistake again!
I’m so thankful that there was no damage and after talking to my DH, I’m feeling OK. I have tried to be so careful with everything but we are fallible beings, aren’t we? I hate making such a big mistake but I’m hoping by sharing my mishap I’ll help keep someone else from doing the same. I’m sure it won’t be my last error but I’m going to do all I can to keep them to a minimum and hope for small ones in the future. I feel like a new Mom who just dropped her baby on its head! Thankfully, my new baby Wild Thing is strong and resilient and very well built!
I’m now happily “glamping” in my warm and dry Wild Thing as the rain continues outside. I set up the back bed area to see what that would be like. My dining room table is mounted on a Springfield 3 Stage Pedestal that allows me to leave the table attached to the pedestal and just lower it into position to make the bed. The lowered table-top is then covered with cushions from the benches and Voila, a second bed. Adding some extra pillows along the back makes this a comfy “lounge” area. Side tables that flip up on either side give me space for a drink, a book, or my laptop. I’m using the King Jack Antenna to get local digital TV channels (16 here) for free. This is definitely not your Mama’s camping….this is glamorous camping aka Glamping!
I do hope the rain lets up tomorrow enough for me to get out and explore a bit. My travel time is dwindling and I'll be back home in less than a week.
It was a chilly 36F and raining most of last night but my camper stayed warm and dry! After a big breakfast this morning, I set out for Devil's Tower. The clouds were slung low over the hills and the rain continued to fall. As I approached Devil's Tower, it was mostly obscured by low clouds and I feared I would not get a full look at this massive rock. I stopped frequently along the road leading up to the tower to take photos. At one point a flock of Sand Hill Cranes in a V formation flew right in front of the shrouded hill. Spectacular! Their distinctive cries filled the air. They must be heading for warmer weather! The closer I got to the tower, the more the clouds lifted but the rain continued. I struggled to keep my Nikon D5200 dry today and finally draped it with a plastic bag I had in the car. I need to get a rain cover for it when I get home. When I arrived at the foot of the tower, the clouds had lifted enough for me to get some photos. I stepped out of the truck in the visitors center parking lot with my cell phone in a chest pocket of my vest and my Nikon in hand, took two steps and hit a patch of slick mud. My feet went out from under me and I pitched forward smacking my elbows and the camera on the pavement, and rattling my teeth! I thought the Nikon was a goner for sure but thankfully it's a tough piece of equipment and suffered no damage. My cell phone received a small crack in the screen, my elbows were scraped, and I was covered in mud but otherwise OK! The front of my jeans from hip to ankle were caked in mud as was my jacket. Yikes! Well, my pride was hurt more than anything, so after washing up a bit I got back to enjoying the day. Despite the poor weather I managed to get some interesting shots of Devil's Tower and the surrounding landscape. A nice young man, Andrew, took my photo in front of the monument. Thank you, Andrew! As I walked up the path to the Tower, a man was playing his Native American Flute and I got a few seconds of video. It was so beautiful to hear that flute while gazing at the sacred hill that I didn't think to turn on the camera until he was almost done.... What a gift! I also captured a few shots of deer today. They are as plentiful here as crows are back home. They graze openly in the fields and stroll across the road unfazed by traffic, but will startle and duck for cover if they hear a vehicle stop (to take a photo!). I did catch one beautiful doe standing right by the road and a couple of bucks in a field using my 300 mm lens. Enjoy the photos!
My mud adventure encouraged me to take care of my laundry this afternoon so that chore is all caught up. 2.00/washer and 1.50/dryer here at Mountain View. This is a nice clean facility with new appliances.
Tonight it's predicted to freeze (27F) and possibly snow but it should warm up to the mid 40's during the day tomorrow. I have unhooked the external water hose and will use water from my freshwater tank instead. I also turned on the heat pads to help keep the water system in the trailer from freezing tonight.
Tomorrow I plan to drive to Mt Rushmore which is about 1.5 hours away. I'm hoping for sun!
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