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Friday, July 8, 2022

Chewy - Chewy - Chewy - Chipmunks!!!

This happened a couple weeks ago, but I'm finally getting around to writing it now. 

We all like taking off into the woods and getting back to nature. And nature should be just like that, NATURAL. And we humans are guests in their natural habitat.

We hit the road in our big huge obnoxious machines...

And we drive down picturesque country roads...

And we set up our big RVs in their natural habitat...


Look how CUTE they are???


These little buggers have learned to adapt when we come into their habitat. They watch us carefully, and slowly they begin to realize that we could be a source of easy FOOD! 

And that is just what happened. 

We were camped up at the National Forest at a beautiful campground. The volunteer host at the campground has been there for 6 or 7 years now at the same site. He hauls up 40 lb bags of peanuts and feeds these little rascals. Both chipmunks and squirrels. Some of them are the same ones that come back year after year. He can tell one female with the scar on her leg. He has fed them so much and made them so de-sensitized to their natural cautious instincts. As soon as he opens the compartment door on his camper, they come scrambling from the woods in every direction to come and get their free food.

He also puts out hummingbird nectar and get swarms of hummingbirds that come flying in overhead as you sit at his picnic table. It's pretty amazing.  You sit at his campsite to visit, and it's virtual plethora of wildlife coming in for the free food! 

Oh yes,

we thought it was funny. 

We thought it was cute. 

See the video below:

These little buggers have the run of the entire campground. We thought being down on the far end, we would be safe from them. But no, even 10 campsites away they descended upon us in droves, begging for more food. They came right up onto our shoes and crawled on our pants legs and begged for more food! Even right with our dog there by us, they knew that the dog would not ever be quick enough to catch them. They descended on us for 4 days.  We were shooing them away.

We are not talking about one or two. We are talking about 3-4-5 at any given time in our campsite by our camper, begging us for food!

In conversation with the guy next to the host, he's not too happy about it. He paid over $5,000 to have his vehicle towed away and repaired. He now sets out a bucket of mothballs underneath his RV and hangs mesh bags of mothballs underneath his expensive newly rewired truck. 

It seems these little critters, as well as pack rats and mice, have a proclivity for chewing on wiring underneath vehicles and rvs. There is something in the chemical makeup of the wire coating that is said to have a soy product in it. Whatever it is, these little stinkers aren't satisfied being full enough of peanuts, they need to eat the wiring on vehicles!

And we found out the hard way... when we hooked up to leave after 4 days, the tail, brake and signal lights on one side of our Saturn were not operational!  We tow the Saturn behind the motorhome, and double check all of the brake, tail and signal lights before leaving.

They even chewed right through the protective wrapped loom coating of our wire harness!

The Darling Little Critters chewed right through the wiring 
and destroyed all of the connections
 from front to rear along that side of our vehicle.

Just look at them little stinkers and what they did.
 We could have easily had a fire.

We had no idea these little creatures
 were so busy underneath our Saturn.

Some wires were chewed entirely through. 
Why would they chew on the copper?

We patched it up as best we could to get home. Steve also did a cursory check underneath the motorhome to check through the wiring there. Everything looked good and we were able to make it home unscathed. 

Once we got home, he completely replaced the wiring on that side of the Saturn. And then from there he did a detailed inspection underneath the motorhome. We avoided any further catastrophe, thank goodness. 

I know, I know, I know. We were in their territory. But these weren't just normal little chipmunks. Cute little Chip and Dale, my ass!

We did not confront the host as to the problem, he has been feeding them for 7 years, we aren't going to change him. He is aware of it via the next door camper.  

When we were traveling out west, we ran into folks who had wiring eaten by desert pack rats. They swear by laying ropes of blue lights underneath their RV and vehicles, it deters them. I am not sure we want to use precious battery power when boondocking to put on lights all night.  Besides, these critters were out in the DAYTIME.  We need to find other ways....

But... we now bought mothballs and will regularly set them underneath our vehicle and our RV when we camp and see if that deters any of the little stinkers.  I am going to look into some repellant sprays to mist around our rig and vehicle. 

If you have any other suggestions, please post in the comments below??

But we are NOT going to go back to that particular campground again!

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Onan Generator RRR - Remove Repair Replace

The last time we used our nice and quiet built in Onan Emerald Plus 6300 KW propane generator, it suddenly got very very loud!!

Rut roh! 

We feared the worst. We feared that we blew the manifold. That can be a very expensive manifold replacement... in the $500 range plus another hundred or so for adapters and other parts. 

But the only way to know for sure, is to actually remove the entire generator from where it is mounted inside of a motorhome bay near the rear of our Safari.  And the only way to remove it is to uhook the wires and propane line, remove 4 bolts, lower it down, take it out the bottom and pull it away, all 290 pounds of it! 

So what are we to do? 

Like any good "husband and wife fix it repair it and maintain it team", we gathered our tools. We work on everything together. I'm not often in the pictures because I'm the person taking the pictures. But it's funny, sometimes when I read the comments on Facebook or in our Safari group, they all assume that it's only Steve doing the work. I'm all for equal rights and woman equality, and sometimes I don't have the strength Steve does. I am right in there working alongside Steve too. Plus I help as much as I can to gather tools and document the process as well as help research and order parts and deal with shipping and tracking. When it gets to the actual work, we both think it through step by step, and gather all the tools needed and do it TOGETHER. So here we go...

We backed the motor home as far back on our parking pad so the rear end area was over a more sloped area of the lawn. We knew we needed a certain amount of clearance to drop the generator down onto an automobile floor jack to pull it free from underneath the motorhome. We did this 10 years ago for another repair, so we knew what we were doing, this far.

We were working so hard to pull the generator out that I didn't stop to take any photos. But once it was out we were very, very pleased to see that it was just the manifold gasket that had blown and part of the flange was slightly warped. That's where all the noise was coming from! What a relief that it wasn't going to be a huge expensive repair!

Half of the job was already done, by getting the dang thing out and hauled into our garage. From there we would be able to take care of the exhaust piping and reassemble things.

It was a little bit dusty after the last few camping trips so it needed a good clean up anyhow. Lol!

Once we got everything figured out and cleaned up and repaired, we also decided at the same time to order a new muffler. The last one was 10 years old and slightly worse for the wear. Since we had everything apart it would be a good idea to complete the job with a new muffler.

We were hoping for a cooler day to work on putting the generator back up into the compartment. The temperature was in the low 70s, but the humidity was in the 80% range. Whew! We laid the plywood boards back down so we could wheel the generator right underneath into place with the floor jack. We worked on it a little bit at a time, took breaks and went back in the house, drank water, and then came back out again to do some more. 

Each time we would raise it up a little bit we would add extra blocks on the sides to help support it. We most certainly didn't want 290 pounds worth of generator to go crashing on the ground or tipping on it's side!

We guided it up into place and Steve maneuvered it while reaching from the side of the compartment, as I slowly raised the generator up one pump at a time with the floor jack.

It was slow going and once we reached the maximum amount that the jack could lift, then we had to switch over and add a big block to give us a little more leeway. Crank crank crank one little pump at a time as I raised it up into place. Steve was on his knees at the side compartment helping to guide it into place. Eventually all of the holes lined up where the generator frame could bolt to the chassis of the motorhome.

Once we got it all perfectly lined up and in to place, Steve used the pneumatic impact driver to secure the bolts onto the frame. He got the two inside ones into place easily.  He left them loose a bit to get all four into place and then tighten them up once it was done... but ....

When he switched to the outside ones and, of course one went in easily. Then there's always that very last one! It just would not line up!

So it was time to get out Steve's secret weapon! I am so proud of him that he knows all these little tricks of the trade from 38 plus years of working on heavy machinery and maintenance for his career. Out came his secret weapon, a great big huge C-clamp and a drift pin.

While I shuffled around and guided tweaked the end lever of the floor jack, he was able to adjust and line up the hole with the drift pin. Once he got it perfectly lined up he clamped it tight to the frame. Now he could finally get the bolt into place!

And there is the final bolt into place, 
along with the grounding strap for the generator. 

Now he went back and snugged up all 4 bolts tightly.

Wheeewwwww what a job. 
We were both dripping wet and needed a shower!

But we proudly achieved our goal of getting the generator back into place.

The next step will be to wire up the power leads and re-attach the propane line. The last step will be to put on the new muffler when it comes on Friday.

We are sure that we saved many hundreds of dollars of labor costs by doing this ourselves. Who knows? Some unscrupulous shop might have dropped that generator and said what the heck, we thought we were doing a manifold job. And then they'd go ahead and charge us for a new manifold when we didn't even need one? The parts in question are hidden underneath a shroud and you really can't see them unless the generator is out and setting on the ground.  We hear a lot of horror stories from other motor home owners at the mercy of repair places. That is why we much rather prefer to do the work ourselves if we can.

While we are waiting for our elusive muffler to arrive in the mail, we worked on a couple other little projects that needed to be done on the motorhome. Maintenance is essentially important to keep things up, especially with the rig this old. It's a 1996, manufactured in 1995. That means this old beast is 25 plus years old!

The original open door latch on this motorhome was made out of a rubbery plastic and was getting tired. UV rays and just being used so much was not allowing it to latch securely in the open position. A good wind would come by and slam our door shut. We decided to put on this nice stainless steel latch, which is similar to the latches we have on the propane compartment and the engine bay control compartment. We found it at Camping World last week when we were camping up in the area and decided to pick it up. Steve got out the rivet gun and made sure that it was being riveted right into a secure solid area and not just into the aluminum skin of our motorhome. It works very well and latches securely so the door won't blow shut anymore.

My little task was something that I do every couple years. I tape off the silver aluminum stair treads. Then we get out the grinder and remove any of the loose flaking paint of the two steps that automatically extend and retract with our door. Once all of the old loose paint is removed, then I put on two fresh coats of Rustoleum flat black. It's best to use flat paint for this rather than gloss so they are not slippery, especially when it's raining. That is why we also added the silver aluminum stair treads.

All it takes is one good slip from wet or iced up metal stairs and you will see why we added the stair treads ourselves.

My little supervisor Binney was making sure I did a good job today... it is one of the rare times that I have a photo of myself working on a project. Steve grabbed the phone and happened to snap a picture of me! Proof positive that I do the maintenance on our motorhome as well.

I know I am behind in a couple Campground Review blog posts. Stay tuned. I will catch up.

One of them has to do with these absolutely horrible photos posted below:

Just wait until I tell that story.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Aldi Meal on Blackstone Griddle and Two Grads

I'm usually not one for doing recipe type blogs and I really don't even like reading recipe type blogs. But this is more about using a new cooking tool for taking camping or around the house.

In my last blog, I mentioned about picking up a new propane Blackstone Griddle. We bought the 17 inch size because we want it small enough to take camping. It's good enough for the two of us to create a meal or we could sneak on enough for four people or more if we needed to.

We decided after just frying up a couple burgers, now to try to make one of our absolutely favorite meals. This meal is made completely with items that are purchased at Aldi. We love that store!

We gathered up:

  • can of Aldi's sliced potatoes, 
  • half of an Aldi's Parkview kielbasa sausage, sliced on an angle, 
  • half a bag of Prince Edward Medley frozen veggies which are comprised of carrots, green beans and yellow beans 
  • a clump of fresh asparagus 
  • a valdelia onion 
  • and some chopped garlic for flavor 
We also use Aldi's extra virgin olive oil and a variety of spices in this recipe.

I grabbed a couple pats of butter that are on the tray in the pic below,  but I decided to not use them. We really didn't need a lot of oil to cook on the griddle and the butter wasn't necessary at all.

I gathered everything up on the tray skillfully made by our dear friends Rodger and Lila Thode of Washington.  It's such a nice big sturdy tray and can carry everything from the kitchen out to the back patio where Steve set up the griddle. 

Blackstone Griddles are available for under $100 at Walmart and many other places too. Our friends Bill and Janet Edwards had one when we went camping a couple weeks ago, and we just had to get one for ourselves. It runs on propane and can be used either with the little propane disposable cylinders or with an adapter hose from a larger LP tank.

We had watched a few YouTube on different techniques and recipes. One of the things that was sold separately was called a steaming dome. You can set vegetables on the grill, give it a squirt of water, and set this dome over the top so they can steam inside. You can also use it to bake items inside like biscuits. We weren't about to shell out an additional thirty or forty dollars for the fancy domes from Blackstone website, instead I came up with this idea of sacrificing this blue enamel bowl. Steve then riveted on a nice little screen door handle and we have a perfect steaming dome!

Steve started out with the griddle on high to get it evenly heated up. He spread on some extra virgin olive oil. We might have started with a little too much oil, but this is the first few times using it... so the oil can help season the cast iron of the griddle.

Once things were up to temperature we backed down the heat just a little bit. We piled on a stack of the Prince Edward's Medley frozen vegetables and also some fresh cut up asparagus to start out on the grill. We figured those take longer to cook than the sausage or potatoes.

After he tossed the vegetables around a couple times, he gave them a dollop of water to create steam and put the lid over the top of the frozen vegetables. The asparagus he was going to keep rolling around on the grill to fry at a bit.

Then he put the sliced onions and bits of minced garlic in the other corner of the grill to get that started. The can of sliced potatoes is drained of water before they are dumped onto the griddle. Now the heat is backed off down to about mid to low range. We weren't sure how fast it was going to cook?

We let things go for a while and flipped the vegetables around a couple times. Then we realized we could kick the heat back up to about mid-range to finish things up. The more we use it, the more we will get comfortable with what levels to set it on while we are cooking different items. 

The final item was the fully cooked kielbasa sausage. We sliced it thin and laid it on the griddle to kind of brown it up and warm it through. We didn't want to fry it too long because then it would lose its flavor and become tough in texture.

We carefully watched and flipped each item around until we were sure everything was done. By timing the order in which we put things on the grill, everything got done at exactly the same time! 

And here are the results!

This is one of our favorite meals, but we usually make it in the oven, baked in a casserole dish under a tinfoil layer. Now we know we can do it out on The Blackstone Griddle and it comes out even more flavorful and tasty. Doesn't everything taste better when you cook it outside?


Yesterday we had TWO graduations to attend! 

The first one was for our grandson Clayton. He was graduating from the Elementary School 4th grade and will be moving on up to the Middle School next year. They had been given a tour of the middle school so they would know where they are going next year and ease a little of the apprehension that comes with starting something different. They will be changing classes instead of being in one set classroom like when they were in the elementary school. So it's a time of change for him. 

They had a special celebration for the 4th graders held out at a beautiful little city park just south of town. All of the students were given a special surprise of a t-shirt from the school and they were all given permanent markers to sign each other's shirts. Can you imagine this many 4th graders running around with permanent markers? ACK!

Then the parents were asked to come attend, as well as Grandparents, for the rest of the event. Clayton was very happy that he collected 30 signatures from friends on the back of his shirt. Of course, Grandma and Grandpa got to sign it too! 

During the awards ceremony, Clayton proved that he may be a big boy going on to 5th grade, but he's still small enough to sit on his mom's lap. AWWWWW

Each child received a diploma sending them on their way to Middle School.

Proud of you, CLAYTON!

When the event was over, his mom had to go back to work. The children were allowed to leave with their parents or else they had to return back to school with the teachers. Instead, we went for the third option, we stole the kid and took him with us. We had a couple errands to run and he was very happy to go for a ride in the Mustang convertible! Cool dude.

Every kid loves to ride in the back seat and raise their arms to feel the wind. Just like a roller coaster ride!

When we got back to our house, one of the first things that little guy noticed was that our backyard had very very tall patches of grass. It had been "No Mow May" and we left the grass growing with little violets and dandelions. This is to help the bumblebees get their early nutrients before there were enough other flowering blossoms out to gather nectar. 

We know just why Clayton noticed, because he was antsy to hop on the zero-turn rider and get to do the lawn.

He did a great job, always under our supervision, and when he was done he even helped to clean off the mower before it was safely stowed away in the garage. A little bit of green folding money went in his pocket for a job well done. Thank you Clayton! 

Now we had to drop him off at his house when his parents got home, and head on over to a dinner out with our oldest grandson for his eighth-grade graduation! 

Our daughter Heather and son-in-law Jesse invited us out to River City Steakhouse for a nice dinner. That was so sweet of them. 

Then from there we went over to the middle school to see our oldest grandson graduate from eighth grade. He will be moving on to the high school next year. Oh my, where has this time gone? This young man is now taller than me and he is growing up so fast. Where was that first little grandson baby I held in my arms 13 years ago? 

I found his name here on the program, so I guess that means he's really moving on up to high school. He had all A's and one B so he was on the honor roll! We are so proud of him!

The gymnasium at the middle school was packed to the rafters on the backside with everybody attending the special awards night. We got there early, because I was worried we would end up sitting on the other side where you really couldn't see anything because there were so many people attending.

All of the young men and women were trying to be as poised and confident as they could. This was a big change for them now to move on up to Middle School. Many of their opportunities ahead of them include choices of curriculum and even some of their classes in high school can already earn them college credits. 

As I looked at all of their faces, I could see all the different stages of confidence or insecurity, I could see the ones trying to find where they fit in, and ones who were trying to be different. I could see ones who were scared and apprehensive, and other ones who were confident and eager to get this over with. It was very interesting looking at all of their faces. 

Two of the valedictorians from the high school came to talk to them and urge them to make the most of their upcoming four years in high school. 

It was a long program but it was wonderful to see him take this next step in his young life.

Here is our youngest daughter Heather, husband Jesse, little Whitney, and Jameson--- the newest student entering Oconto High School in the fall.

Our butts were sore from all the sitting all day long and it was good to get home and pop into our jammies for the evening. 

Boy oh boy, do we feel old. I thought these grandchildren were still babies?


Date Night! 

Tonight we had root beer floats in these very same promotional mugs that we saved from our first date, 27 years ago!

Happy First Date Anniversary to us, here is to many many more!

Monday, May 30, 2022

Tick Bite and Blackstone Griddle

Ahhhhh the risks of living in tick infested Wisconsin. Yep, so far this spring, Steve has had three woodticks crawling on him. One of them happened to dig in it's nasty little head take a good bite. He didn't even feel it until later on that evening and pulled it out. He was pretty sure he got the head out, but that nasty little tick left a pretty big hole!!!

Sure enough, by the next evening, it started to swell and he started to get the big red patch around the bite. It was on his upper thigh but was not causing him any discomfort.

By Sunday morning we felt it was definitely infected and he needed to get into the Urgent Care. Look at that big nasty hole when I zoom in close with the camera. LOL (skip this picture if you don't like looking at that kind of stuff)

Off to Urgent Care we went, and he was able to see a doctor within just a few minutes. He is being treated with 10 days of Doxycycline. Topical triple antibiotic cream was applied for the first day. But because the bite has healed over, there's really not much sense in putting any more of that on.

If he experiences any type of fever, chills, or pain he is supposed to contact them back and we will go further from there. As for now, it will be treated just as an infected tick bite. We will test for Lyme's if he experiences any other symptoms

So we will keep an eye on him, but it doesn't bother him in the least.

On our way to pick up his prescription, we stopped to take a look at a Blackstone Propane Griddle. Our friends Janet and Bill Edwards had one when we camped with them last weekend. We had watched a few YouTubes to learn some of the versatility that these griddles can offer when we are camping. Also we can use it to cook outdoors while at home and not heat up the kitchen during the summer. So we looked them over and we turned our backs to walk away. Before you knew it, one jumped right into our shopping cart!

It was a beautiful day for a ride in the convertible, and Steve said there's just no way---- it won't fit in the trunk. We knew when we loaded our groceries in the trunk, it wouldn't fit.

But..... you know what happened next?

That big box with that new griddle hopped right in to the backseat! I guess it was going home with us???

Since the box hitchhiked a ride home, Steve figured we might as well open it up and take it out and check it out. He had assembled in no time flat.

We seasoned the cast iron portion with oil, this is an important first step. If anyone has ever used cast iron, you know that's important to take care of the griddle surface by seasoning, plus it also prevents rust. 

We seasoned the inside cooking surface and also around all of the sides and back and bottom as well. We might give it a second seasoning by putting it in the oven and baking it for a while. We saw a YouTube on how to do that method. Today is too hot and humid to attempt that. 

In the meantime, we decided to just griddle fry up a couple burgers. It sure was a nice little unit to set out on the picnic table. Then it can also be easily stowed away in the lower compartment of our motorhome when we take it camping. We only bought the 17-inch one burner unit. There's also a two burner and three burner version available as well.

It can run off the little one pound propane cylinders, or with an adapter hose off a larger 20 lb barbecue tank. Also on many RVs and motorhomes there's an external propane outlet to hook up extra propane devices such as this griddle too.

This kind of looks like a
 happy griddling man.

Takes his mind off his tick bite!

Oh yes, did I happen to mention that a few accessories also jumped right into the shopping cart, along with the griddle? Now we have some new toys to use as we explore new recipes for the Blackstone griddle.

The temperature control is really nice and the surface heats up pretty evenly. Our burgers were delicious and tasty and done to perfection.


I want to try some of the stir fry recipes, and Steve wants to do multi part breakfasts,  and skillfully make all of the items finish at the same time.  

If anyone has any favorite griddle recipes to share, please put them in the comments below. We have been watching a bunch of YouTube's with some creative ideas that we are going to try as well.

Remember on yesterday's blog post about draining our excess rain water from our backyard low spots? Well, Mister Steveio (who is always watching the Facebook Marketplace ads very closely) found some materials to help him in his upcoming project. We are on our way to get some used PVC irrigation piping that is worth about $700 if it were new. We are picking it up for 50 bucks and it will be a great help once he starts trenching out some of the low-lying areas. So that is what we are up to this morning.

I will finish this blog up with a heartfelt thank you on Memorial Day to all of our veterans who gave their lives for us.


It is a sad day, but also a day of honor to remember them for giving their greatest sacrifice.