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!

 

Truck Repair, Baking Bread, and Thanksgiving Celebration

This was definitely a diamond day and a busy one! I arrived at the auto shop when they opened at 8 AM to complete the State Inspection now that I had the new tires installed and as anticipated, the truck passed with no further issues. I discussed the problem with the tire pressure sensors and the good mechanics at Exxel Auto Service (a local repair shop and gas station) had the problem resolved within a half hour and charge me only $10.00! What a contrast to my experience yesterday! I was thrilled to have the truck back in full working order and to feel confident with the repair. Thank you Eddie and Bob at Exxcel!

My next stop was my art studio where I picked up the last few supplies, cleaned out the refrigerator, and generally tidied up. Since I will be away for an extended time, I wanted to leave things in order.

I was home by 11 and started working on food for our Thanksgiving Feast. My mother was a bread maker and nothing speaks to my heart of home, holidays, and family like homemade bread. It never fails to amaze me how 7 simple ingredients: water, yeast, salt, sugar, oil, flour and eggs, can be so easily transformed into such a delight.

With the meal well underway, I had time for another task on my list, cleaning the beast! It has been raining, cold, and windy off and on for weeks, but today was sunny and the wind died down enough in the afternoon for me to get the truck washed. Another local business, Fitzy's Car Wash, was just what I needed to get my big red truck ready for her next journey. With the Wild Thing looking so sparkling clean, I couldn't leave the road grime on the truck!

I dropped a few more goodies off at the camper today. I found a small stick-on whiteboard that is designed to be used in lockers or other small spaces made by Post It. It's just perfect for me to augment my checklists while traveling and will serve as a way to keep a shopping list. It sticks to a flat surface and I mounted it inside the passenger side closet door. There is a drawer just under this closet which is a handy place to keep the whiteboard marker! I'm using it right now to remind me what I need to do to de-winterize the camper.

I also packed a white noise maker in the camper today. I discovered how well this little device helps me sleep several years ago and wanted to keep enjoying the benefits while traveling in the camper. The white noise serves to block outside noise and the sound really does help me stay asleep. Dexter is also used to sleeping with this device and I think it will help him adjust to life on the road.

I've also added the Bed Lounger to my sleeping area. I will most likely use this backrest in the dining area when I have it set up as the bed as a support while reading, knitting, or working on the laptop, but may also find it useful for reading in bed. It is very supportive and holds it's shape. It has good lumbar support which is necessary for me and the headrest and arms offer added support and comfort. I'm also bringing an electric blanket for those chilly nights. It's not too thick so it won't take up a lot of space when I need to store it but will keep me cozy during the trip south.

I was back home after my errands in plenty of time to finish up our Thanksgiving Dinner. We enjoyed the works: Harrington Ham and Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, corn, brussel sprouts,  cranberry sauce, rolls, & gravy. Liz brought green bean casserole, wine, and dessert: a delicious apple crisp! It was such a wonderful evening. I am so thankful for my family and that we were able to share this time together.

I'm also thankful for my friends both old and new. I have been incredibly fortunate to meet the most fabulous people! I am very humbled and thankful for this amazing opportunity to travel. I am grateful for all of you who are following along with me. This crazy adventure and this blog are having an impact in the world far beyond what I imagined. I heard from a woman in India today, who has been a vendor for our business EmbroiderThis.com for several years, and she shared how reading about my adventures on the blog has inspired her to take her young children on a cross-country trip! It is my sincere hope that my blog will inspire you to follow your heart's desire. Traveling the country isn't everyone's cup of tea, but we all have something in our hearts that we dream of doing. I encourage you to take just one small step in the direction of your dreams, and watch what opens up before you. I promise that you will be amazed at what you find!

 

 

 

 

 

Camper TV Case, Go Baby Circles, Repair Complete!

I headed for the studio this morning to sew a storage bag for my camper TV. One of the luxury items in my beautiful new camper is a 24 inch Samsung Smart TV that attaches to the wall between the upper bedroom area and the entryway on a swivel arm, allowing me to view it from either the bed or the main cabin of the camper. When traveling, the TV is removed from the swivel bracket and stowed to prevent damage from bumpy roads. On the maiden voyage with Wild Thing, I didn't have a good storage solution so I simply tucked it under the covers of the bed when traveling. I wanted a padded case but was unable to find what I wanted in the marketplace, so I decided to make one of my own. I used a drapery weight fabric for the exterior and lined the bag with a heavyweight muslin. I placed 1" foam padding between the two layers to keep the TV well protected when storing it for travel. It's not too fancy but is quite functional and I think it's stylish!

Once the bag was completed I started cutting out circles to be used in my camper quilt. Using my AccuQuilt Go Baby and a 5-inch circle die I was able to cut out a stack of 100 circles in well under an hour, including fabric pressing time!

The AccuQuilt Go Baby is easy to use. I rough cut 5 1/2 inch squares of fabric and laid these, four layers thick, on top of the circle die, then covered it with the cutting mat. This sandwich was then fed into the machine as I turned the handle. The die cuts the fabric shape as it passes through the rollers in the center of the unit.

This handy little gadget saves so much time cutting out multiple fabric patches of the same size and shape and is especially useful for tricky shapes like circles.

I'll base the raw edges of these patches under and use a template to starch them into the proper size and shape making them easy to hand applique on the quilt later.

Good news came late this afternoon when I received a phone call from Hazard Marine informing me that the repair on Wild Thing is complete! I'm thrilled they were able to accomplish the repair so quickly. Tomorrow morning I'll get up early and drive to Webster, Ma to bring Wild Thing home before heading to Boston Logan Airport to pick up my son Glen in the afternoon.

I'm thrilled he's going to be able to visit us for a few weeks before heading out for his winter job in Baja, Mexico. It's such a gift that we will all have a chance to be together for Thanksgiving this year. Those occasions are becoming rarer now that the boys are adults and life is taking them in different directions. I'm happy to delay my winter departure in Wild Thing in favor of family time!

Estimate Approved, Repairs Scheduled, Ready to Retreat

I received word today from my insurance company, Amica, that they have approved the estimate for repairs on Wild Thing submitted by Hazard Marine. The insurance company for the driver of the truck that hit Wild Thing has accepted full responsibility so all the charges will be covered. That was all very good news! I called the folks at Hazard Marine and scheduled to bring Wild Thing to them on Monday. The Escape Trailer Industries factory will be sending parts so this repair should be accomplished in time for me to keep to my schedule for winter departure.  I am glad to have this settled before I go away for my retreat so I can relax and recharge without worry. Today I shut down the refrigerator in the camper. I did not want to keep the propane active while she is in for repairs. I removed all the food, propped the doors open with the clips provided with the fridge, and turned it off. I closed the valves on both propane tanks at the source. The battery is still connected and today when I checked it was charged to 100%.  The solar panel and the brilliant sun we have been enjoying this week are keeping the batteries well. I plan to leave the batteries connected since I will be on the road again in 3-4 more weeks. There is little draw on the batteries while the camper is parked, just a few displays and the propane detector. The gray and black water tanks are empty but I did leave some water in the fresh tank. I added bleach to that water to help keep the lines sanitized. I will flush that out when I get rolling again. I shouldn't need to winterize if I'm able to leave for warmer climes by the end of November but I will keep an eye on the weather and watch for any drastic dips in temperature.

This weekend is forecast to be glorious with 70's during the day and 50's at night. Perfect! I hope to have some nice foliage pictures to share from Biddeford, ME tomorrow!

Retreat Preparations, Repair Research, Winter Plans, and Free Camping

This morning I spent a few hours at the art studio gathering supplies for my annual Watercolor Spiritual Retreat at Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford, ME this weekend. This will be my 5th year participating, and I'm so grateful to be able to attend.  It's a wonderfully creative and restorative weekend in the company of some exceptional women and a calming touchstone in the midst of a busy modern life. The insurance adjuster, Bob D. from TEC Associates, Inc in Spencer, MA met me and Steve at Wild Thing late morning. He was knowledgeable and supportive, and I'm confident he will help smooth this process. From his list of shop recommendations, I contacted RV's R Us in Oxford, MA about the repair. They were my first choice because, in addition to getting the body repaired, I also want to build a relationship with an RV repair shop for ongoing service to Wild Thing. The owner, Mike, was great and the shop seemed perfect,  but unfortunately, his bodywork shop is booked until mid-November.  I'm hoping to be back on the road heading for Arizona by then so the timing just wouldn't work. I did schedule to have his shop adjust the brakes on the trailer in early November but will need to find an alternative for the fiberglass body repair.

My next call was to Hazard Marine in Webster, MA and they are a possibility for the bodywork. Since my camper is made from molded fiberglass with gel coat, it is very similar to the body of a boat, and this shop has experience with this type of repair. They requested photos of the damage to evaluate before I bring the camper in for service, so I drove back to the storage facility and snapped some pics. I'm waiting to hear back from them and hoping they will be able to make the repair in the next few weeks. There is a whole lot of "hurry up and wait" at this stage of the process and patience has never been one of my strengths, but I'm trying....This little mishap in Montana is costing me quite a bit of time and energy. I'm glad that it was a minor scrape and that Wild Thing has a great insurance company, Amica,  behind her, but the whole process is quite time-consuming.

On a positive note, I was able to fix the light over the stove today! I replaced the standard bulb with an LED array and it lights the area much better than the original single bulb. The LED should also last much longer.

I have been doing a bit of planning for winter travel and I learned recently about another resource for free camping called FreeCampsites.net .  Having the solar panels to provide power to my batteries will allow me to take advantage of dry camping or boondocking on public lands and BLM sites where no services are offered. I plan to try several of these sites in late November and early December when I get to the Tucson area. Steve has booked a flight in late December to Tucson and will join me for Christmas week. I've made a reservation for us at Catalina State Park so we'll be close to the action and have full hook-ups during his stay. We visited this area in February and had a wonderful time exploring the Saguaro National Park, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and the surrounding areas. We're looking forward to spending much more time in this beautiful part of the country. Now I've just got to get the Wild Thing repaired, packed, and back on the road!