Walks on the Lake, Breakfast at the Lodge, Cookout with the Jones Family, and Colored Flames

What a spectacular day here in Hulbert OK! Dexter and I slept in a little, then took a nice walk along the shores of Fort Gibson Lake. I find the cypress trees so beautiful. They put their roots down in the shallows and look so stately and strong. The sun quickly burned off  the morning chill from the air and the sky was a brilliant blue.

After our walk, Dexter was ready to nap in the camper, so I I decided to eat breakfast at the Lodge Restaurant here in the Sequoyah State Park. I enjoyed an omelet with toast and hash browns for $8 and a pot of coffee for $2. What a bargain compared to the prices we see around Boston and Jimmy was an excellent waiter!

I have received terrific service her at the Sequoyah. Tabby helped me out when I first arrived, calling ahead to be sure my campsite would be ready and offering directions and helpful suggestions. Service with a smile!

After breakfast, I walked along the lake shore and down to the point. The rocky coast was quite beautiful and I saw fossils in the rocks along the path. The fish were jumping, there were hawks out feeding, and seagulls diving for fish. I've seen a heard of deer crossing the road twice while I've been here but haven't had an opportunity for a photo of them.

After my walk, I drove into town to fill my propane tank. I've been burning through propane at a fast pace since I've been running the furnace most nights. I also stopped at the Auto Zone where Jason helped me with the taillight of my truck. I had received a message on the trucks display that the passenger side taillight was burned out. Jason checked it for me and found it was working fine. He pulled the light assembly out for me to double check but everything seemed to be in order. Jason told me that the entire taillight assembly will need to be replaced if it does go out so I'm going to wait.  I'll have to figure out how to reset the error message but I'm happy the light is working. Thank you, Jason, for taking the time to help me today! What terrific service!

Back at the campsite, I got things ready for the cookout. I set up the Clam House, brought out the Weber Grill for the first time, set the table, hung my wind chime and Camper Sign (from my DH!!), and opened the awning! My next door neighbor here at the campground had some wood left over and offered it to me for a fire. I gratefully accepted!

 

Jane and the kids, Roman, Vinny, Laurel, Nicholas, and Colin, and their Newfoundland, Chewy (short for Chewbacca!) arrived full of fun and laughter. Dexter was a little unsure of Chewy at first, but calmed down quickly and they did well together. Dexter is fast becoming used to all the new stimuli of campsite living!

We had a great time touring the camper and getting the bar-be-que going. The new Weber grill connected to the camper propane with the quick connect adaptor I had installed and performed like a champ! Richard arrived just in time to eat... hamburgers and hotdogs for everyone!

 

With our bellies happy, we headed to the lake so Chewy could take a swim. Being a water dog by nature, she enjoys any opportunity for a dip! The light was just amazing as the sun started to go down on this beautiful day.

We ended the evening with a campfire, augmented with a colored flame stick! What a fantastic day!

 

Candy Hill, Herding Cattle, and Knoxville TN

I left you yesterday morning in snowy PA and join you now from just west of Knoxville, TN where it's 6:30 pm and 61F! What a difference a day makes. Yesterday I drove a short 220 miles through a corner of Deleware, and a bit of West Virginia, then into Virginia where I stopped at the Candy Hill Campground in Winchester, VA.

I arrived about 2:30 pm and had time to take care of some maintenance. I had planned this stop to de-winterize the camper by flushing the antifreeze from the water lines and refilling my fresh water tank. The campground is open all year but I learned when I arrived that they limit water access during the winter months. Water hook-ups are only available from 8 AM to 8 PM provided the temps stay above 36F. It was forecast to dip well below that temp overnight so I chose not to hook up the water just yet. I'm managing just fine on bottled water.

The campground had a bathhouse and a well-stocked camp store where I was able to fill my empty propane tank. The furnace has been running quite a bit in these freezing temperatures and I found one tank empty when I did my checks.   I have two 20# (4-gallon) tanks and the system automatically switches to the other tank when one runs out. It cost me all of $10.00 to fill the tank here!

Candy Hill Campground has a large fenced off-leash dog park so Dexter and I spent quite some time running around in the grass. He has been doing very well riding in the truck but he was ready for some playtime after two days of travel!

I checked the pressure in the truck and camper tires, unplugged from the truck and hooked up the camper electric connection, chocked the wheels, and dropped the rear stabilizers. I did not unhitch since I would be there just one night. I did have to use my Anderson Levelers to get the camper level but otherwise, it was a pretty simple set up. With my chores done,  I enjoyed a nice long hot shower at the bathhouse and brought some hot water back to the camper to wash my dishes.

I wasn't very hungry so I had a bowl of cereal for supper then Dexter and I went for a long walk. It was peaceful and quiet and there was just a small sliver of moon out to light our path.

Dexter went to sleep early and I stayed up until 11 reading. I was awakened at 4:30 AM by Dexter who was complaining that it was just too lonely in his crate, so I brought him in bed with me where he curled up and we both slept until 7.

I was on the road at 7:45 and found traffic today to be much heavier than usual. There was the expected number of commercial trucks on the interstate, but many more cars than normal. It was a clear day and I was on I81 South until it ended and I picked up I40 just outside of Knoxville, TN.

Dexter rounded up some cattle at a rest stop in Tennesee.

I was making good time and decided to push a bit further than my original plan today, thinking that traffic is only going to be worse tomorrow. It was smooth sailing until 10 miles from my destination where I ran into a messy traffic snarl. Once I made it past this Knoxville rush hour traffic jam, it was easy to find the WalMart SuperCenter just off the highway. There are several other campers here tonight and it seems quiet. I made a simple supper on the gas stove of grilled cheese and Panera Cream of Tomato Soup. I found several prepared soups at my local Shaw's grocery store near the rotisserie chickens the day before I left. I chose Panera Bread Cream of Tomato and Panera Bread Black Bean soup as well as Legal Seafood Clam Chowder. They are the perfect easy stovetop meal and very tasty! They need to be stored in the refrigerator but have about a 6-week expiration date.

It's been a long day, but now tomorrow will be a much shorter drive. I have only 216 miles to the Tanbark Campground in Dickinson, TN (west of Nashville) where I have a reservation for two nights.

Winterizing the Trailer 2.0 and Yarn Storage in the Camper

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!

 

Clam House and Winterizing... Winter is Coming!

The ability to switch gears and adapt to changing conditions is a helpful trait to have in general but I'd venture to say it's an essential one for the RV owner. I originally had a rather easy day planned for today and then I heard the weather report! The day began as planned, Glen and I set up my new Clam Screen Shelter to be sure it worked as advertised. I ordered the Clam Quick Set Screen Shelter with the intention of using it as a mobile art studio where I can set up a sewing machine or an easel and spend the day creating while I'm on the road. A screen room could also be a good way to keep Dexter safe and contained while I'm creating and allow him room to roam. The Clam is a generous 140" x 140" and is lightweight (34 lbs). It folds and stores quite compactly and was easy to set up. Once out of the bag, the 5 sides of the shelter pop out with the tug of a strap on the center hub. Once the sides are out, a simple push up of the center hub pops the top into position. It was very fast to assemble and although Glen was helping me, I could have managed on my own. The only downside to this screen house is that even when disassembled, it is too long to fit in the cab of the truck and will need to be stored in the bed of the truck. When the camper is hitched to the truck bed, the Tonneau cover must be rolled up leaving the truck bed open.  During those times, I'll need to store it in the center aisle of the camper until I reach my destination and unhitch. I think it's going to be worth the hassle to store. I'm very pleased with this screen house and I think it will work well as a mobile art studio!

I then spent a few hours at the camper sorting the clothes I took on my maiden voyage and culling out those I found I didn't need. On my way to meet a friend for lunch, I heard the weather forecast indicating a hard freeze prediction for tonight. Yikes! I had hoped that I would be on the road before the temps got that low. I'd need to switch gears and spend the afternoon winterizing Wild Thing to protect the water lines from damage caused by freezing.

After lunch and a chat with my friend Cheryl,  I drove to Harbor Freight Tools to get the 1-1/16" socket wrench I needed to remove the Hot Water Heater Anode Plug and drain the water from the hot water heater. While there I found the Pittsburg Portable Inflation Device. I hoped this might work to blow out the water lines. This is a 12v device, so I also purchased a 12v extension cord to help me access the 12v outlet on the exterior of the camper which is located on the opposite side of the camper from the hot water heater. I purchased several gallons of RV/Marine Antifreeze (non-toxic) at Walmart and with these supplies in hand I was ready to winterize.

Winterizing involves draining all water from the camper including the holding tanks (black and gray), the fresh water tank, and the hot water heater. Any residual water must also be removed from the water lines and antifreeze added to the drains to protect the water in the P-traps from freezing.

I had emptied the black and gray tanks before arriving home and had drained the fresh water tank before taking the camper in for service.  To drain the hot water heater, I first bypassed the water heater using the bypass valves located under the dinette bench seat. I was then ready to drain water from the hot water tank by removing the anode plug. When you do this be sure to open the pressure relief valve before removing the anode plug. I failed to do this and it resulted in a rather abrupt spray of water when the anode came loose.  I got quite a bath and likely won't forget that step again! Once the water has drained from the hot water tank, I applied Teflon tape to the threads on the anode, replace it, and closed the pressure relief valve.

There are two ways to remove water from the lines  One is by blowing the water from the lines then adding RV antifreeze to the drains which will protect the P-traps from freezing.  The second way is to aspirate antifreeze into the water lines to force residual water out and then again adding antifreeze to the drains.

I was hoping that the inflation device I purchased would work to blow the lines clear since this seemed to be a cleaner process and used less antifreeze. Before attempting the blow out procedure, I fitted the freshwater port with my water hose pressure regulator to be sure that the pressure stayed within acceptable limits and an RV blowout plug. The 12v extension cord did not work so I had to find an alternate 12v plug to operate the inflation device. The truck has a 12v outlet but I could not park it close enough to the camper to use it. I was finally able to access a 12v plug inside the camper near the rear dinette by opening the window and removing the screen! With Glen's help, we were able to use the inflation device to blow out all the water lines.

Each water line must be cleared of both the hot and cold water by turning on first one tap until all the water is out and air flows through the line, then closing that tap and turning on the other to repeat the process. This cycle is repeated for the kitchen sink (hot and cold), bathroom sink (hot and cold), shower head (hot and cold), toilet, and outside shower (hot and cold). Once this was done, I poured RV/Marine Antifreeze (non-toxic) into the kitchen sink drain, the bathroom sink drain, the shower drain, and the toilet to fill the P-traps.  I used one gallon of antifreeze shared between these 4 drains.

Wild Thing is equipped with a winterizing T-Valve that will allow me to use the camper water pump to aspirate RV Antifreeze into the water lines to force the water out. This method would leave the lines full of antifreeze ensuring that they would not freeze, but then to reverse the process, the antifreeze in the lines would need to be flushed out with water. This is not a problem, but I prefer to have the lines blown clear. It just seems a bit simpler. When I'm out of freezing temperatures, I'll reverse the winterizing process by filling the fresh water tank, taking the hot water heater off bypass, and using the pump to fill the hot water tank and the lines with water again. this process should be simplified since the lines are not full of antifreeze. The small amount of antifreeze in the P-traps will be pushed into the holding tanks as freshwater flows through the system and dumped when I empty the holding tanks.

In light of the change in the weather, I'm adjusting my travel dates by reverting to my original plan to leave on Sunday, November 19th. I'll enjoy an early Thanksgiving celebration with the boys then get going south so I can settle in before the snows come! Although I hadn't planned to winterize Wild Thing today, I'm glad it happened so I now have the equipment, knowledge, and experience I need to take care of my camper in cold weather.

Hose Handling, Reset Buttons, Retrofit Weber Q

I'm beginning to reorganize Wild Thing for the next trip, removing items I don't need and adding some new gadgets. One thing that didn't make the cut were the cute plastic tableware that I purchased without realizing they were not microwave-safe. I just need one set of dishes in the camper and don't want to worry about what I can and can't put in the microwave so they're going to have to stay home.

My biggest storage struggle in the trailer was with the water hoses. I have a 10-foot hose that worked most of the time and a 25-foot hose I used when the shorter one did not reach the water supply. Both were unwieldy, especially when they were cold, and were difficult to store. I tried wrapping them in velcro strips and storing them in tote bags but I wasn't satisfied with that arrangement.

After doing a bit of online research I found the StorAHose bag from Stone Wolves and it looked like a good solution. The bags I ordered arrived while Wild Thing was in for service, so today was the first opportunity I've had to test them. I found them very easy to use and extremely effective.  I used one for my 25-foot water hose and it worked like a charm. I tried the other on my Rhino Sewer Extension Hose. The bag was a little too large for the sewer extension hose so I'll wash it with bleach to be sure it's disinfected then use it for my 10' water hose.  The StorAHose bag is shaped like a donut with a hole on only one side. To use, you simply feed the hose it through the hole and it curls around itself nicely, pressing up against the outside edges of the bag and making a neat coil. I will try sewing a bag more appropriately sized for my sewer extension hose using a waterproof oilcloth fabric.

My Rand McNally RVND7730 RV Navigation GPS stopped working on my way home from picking up Wild Thing from the repair shop. I love this little device and found it a valuable tool for navigating in my camper, so I was less than pleased with the prospect of being without it. The unit simply went dead and the screen would not turn on. I called Rand McNally customer service and the walked me through resetting it by pressing the small button located on the back of the unit with a paperclip. The unit rebooted and is now fully operational again! I love easy fixes. Like many electronic devices, the circuits in this device can get confused and a reset often resolves the issue.

Next on today's list was to assemble my Weber Q1200 Grill and retrofit it to use the propane quick connect built into Wild Thing. I have two 20# propane tanks in the camper and a built-in quick-connect port that allows external devices, like my new Weber Q1200 Grill, to connect directly and use this propane. The propane is regulated at the tank on the camper so the regulator that was built into the grill needed to be removed and replaced with a quick connect hose.

I purchased the Torjik ConvertaQ Kit that contained all the items I needed for the retrofit and followed this YouTube Video to accomplish the task. YouTube has been a wonderful resource for me. I feel like I have a team of tutors helping me learn how to become handy. Another successful project completed!