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Friday, February 23, 2024

Days 22-29 Moving on to Pendleton Bend Corps of Engineers Campground

It was time to leave Craighead Forest Campground. Our 14 days were up. The host did say if we wanted to stay longer, we could move up to the beginning group of sites where they have longer term deals for the winter. Once April 1st starts, then all of the sites are subjected to the 14-day rule. 

But no, we decided that we were going to move on. As much as we enjoyed our stay, it was time to look for something else. 

We are both so funny, we had to go take one more ride on the bikes on the last day before leaving. It was our last chance to go for a ride on the park trails. We went the opposite way this time which was facing the challenge of a big, big hill to climb. On our previous bike rides before, we've always gone around counter clockwise so we were always going down the hill. But this time I said let's try it cuz Steve kept asking to go clockwise. So we decided that I could face my fears tackling a big hill climb. 

I did it! With the pedal assist that helps me pedal uphill and being in a low gear, I was able to get my way all the way to the top of the tallest hill!

We explored every little peninsula of the park going down the trails and getting in our fill on our last ride around the park. 


In the morning, we pulled up stakes and headed out. Our first stop was to head over to the Love's truck stop to fill our propane tank. We were down to about a third of a tank and figured we better get it topped off before our next campground. Well, we got there about 8:00 a.m. they said sorry, nobody around to fill propane tanks until 10:00 a.m. Arrgghhh!!

So we headed on south down our intended path. We stopped for a grocery replenishment, fresh things like vegetables, milk, and eggs. 

We needed to stop at a post office, and found a little town to mail out a couple things. This was their only gas station:


I wonder if they have fresh diesel fuel? 
They certainly didn't have propane!! 

Each town we went through, we scanned ahead on the GPS looking for propane. Honestly, we even stopped at bulk home delivery companies and they all said "no, we don't fill motorhomes". We stopped at another Love's truck stop and they did not even have propane filling facilities. We stopped at two TSC Tractor Supply stores which normally have bulk propane, and neither one had it. This was getting frustrating! Finally after our fifth try, we found a little town called DeWitt. And there we found a place called Blue Seal Petroleum that was more than happy to fill our propane tanks. Even their sign said RVs and Campers! Steve filled our main motorhome tank as well as our 5 lb extra barbecue tank. It was probably the cheapest price we have ever paid for propane. $2.40 a liquid gallon. So for $15 we were all topped off and on our way. 


As we were cruising along, I also reminded Steve that he was out of beer. Many of the grocery stores in these areas do not carry any type of liquor at all. They are dry counties. But we did see a drive-thru liquor store coming up and took a quick turn in. Honestly, it was a little metal shack in the back of this lot with a drive around gravel path. It had a drive-up window similar to a bank!


But surprisingly, Steve found his favorite Modelo brand from Mexico. So he was all set for another week of camping.

We drove on down to the Arkansas River. There were two Army Corps of Engineer parks that we wanted to check out. The first one was Pendleton Bend. We read some really good reviews about it. We decided to drive on a little bit further on the same road to the Wilbur D Mills Campground. This one was completely closed! It didn't say that on the website. So we turned around and went back up to the Pendleton Bend one. 

There are three beautiful campsites along the river, as well as another 28 sites across the road scattered in the woods. We chose site C2 along the river, and spoke to a passing worker who said just pick a site and wait for the ranger to pay. There are no pay posts or envelopes. There is a telephone on the gatehouse with a direct line to recreation.gov. But we decided to just wait for a ranger to come around to collect. 



So that is what we did, these beautiful sights have level cement parking pads, concrete tables and benches covered by a pergola, and a very nice fire ring.

The edges were leveled out with a retaining wall and landscape stone. It was like we had our own private patio within the fence. All for the bargain price of $12 a night! The regular fee is $24, but the Army Corps of Engineers accepts our America the Beautiful Senior Access Pass to give us half price camping. This includes electric and water at the site, as well as a dump station at the entrance. There is a shower building with free showers and flush toilets, and all of the campsites are spaced far apart. 


The motorhome fit on the pad as well as our cargo trailer backed right in behind it. The view of the river right across from us was absolutely amazing. From time to time large barges float on past. More on that later...



We kicked back in our lawn chairs to enjoy an amazing sunset. Steve had his beer, and I had my wine and my camera. The dogs were relaxed at our feet on their tie out cables with nobody else around. There were two other campers back in the campground and one small stealth cargo trailer. That was it. Total peace and quiet for us!!


Just before the sun went down we walked down to the parking lot nearby for the boat ramp. There's a large dumpster there to dump our garbage. It was a nice walk back and we settled in for a quiet evening.


The reviews on this site said there was little to no cell phone service and no TV broadcast stations. Well, we went on with both our cell phones and got two to three bars. I am on a roaming plan from a Wisconsin-based company. Steve is on a Verizon plan through Visible. Both of us got adequate signals, and we were even able to stream some shows off Roku during the night. Scanning with the antenna, brought in nine broadcast TV stations. Yes, they were all kind of substations of retro TV or police drama shows. But they were still TV stations nevertheless.

The next morning we decided that we would stay here for a week. It is good to try a place out for one night before committing to a full week or more. The ranger still hadn't come around but we did go online to reserve our site C2 for 7 days. Rut roh, the site we chose was going to be reserved for the weekend by someone else. But site C1 right next door is going to be open so we clicked on and reserved that for 7 days. It would be very easy to just move over because we really weren't set up much from our first night. 

Just as Steve started to get things ready to move, a campground host pulled into the site up by the gatehouse. She was getting all set up herself on her own site, but came over to talk with us. There would be no ranger coming to collect money, she said they don't do that. She had been gone for 3 days and came back to collect the fees for the weekend. She helped us get online in the gatehouse and pay for the previous night on C2.  Then she double checked for us that our 7 day reservation went through for C1. We were good to go and she was extremely helpful. Very nice lady. We moved on over to site C1 which is exactly the same view and same amenities as C2 was. Now we were set for the week!


It was a little cloudy in the afternoon, but all in all it was a great day. We had windows open and fresh air, and enjoyed ourselves in the quiet peaceful campground.

We tossed some burgers on the griddle and enjoyed an absolutely wonderful evening. The sun was setting as the clouds were rolling in. We knew we were going to be due for a big thunderstorm during the night. So we better enjoy what we can while we can!


The temperatures here are up in the '70s during the day and in the '60s or high '50s at night. Exactly what we were looking for...

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Winnebago View Motorhome Repairs and Modifications While On The Road

The other day, we pulled up stakes and went into the town of Jonesboro to run a few errands. We had broken a tiny spring in our latch on the screen door. 



We found out we could order the spring off Amazon, actually a pack of 10 of them. But that's kind of hard to do when you're traveling on the road and you don't know where you're going next. 


We swung by the local RV dealer to see if we could replace either the spring, or the whole latch. They had three different latches but none of them were the exact same design. I think we can function or bend a spring on our own. The latch is fine. It's just the spring that broke. We will see. But we left there empty-handed.

In the meantime, we fashioned a rubber band to help hold the latch up into place. It works good enough for now...


Steve is not one to leave things just half-arsed MacGyver'd, so he will fix it as soon as he has a chance to get another spring. 

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Also, while in town the other day, we swung into Home Depot to grab a few narrower profile pipe threaded nuts. We bought this wonderful thermostatic mixing valve for the shower in the motorhome. But the nuts that came with it were a little too thick to give us the proper clearance and the ability to correctly attach the water lines to the back of the faucets.

This thermostatic mixing valve will allow us to take showers without the cold water intruding into the length of the hose during the pause mode. Any of you RV people know that to conserve water, the pause mode is necessary. Basically, you get yourself wet and then pause the shower. Either by little button or a lever on the shower head. While you're busy soaping up your body, the pressure of the cold water is stronger than the pressure of the hot water. That means the entire hose fills up with cold water. When you go to release the pause lever, you get EEEEK ice cold water! Well then you have to waste more cold water until the hot water comes up through the hose again.  Wastes water when you are boondocking. 

Of course then when you hit pause to do conditioner in your hair or soap up the rest of your body or shave, again you are paused. And again you get a blast of ice cold water!!!

Not only that, while the shower head is hanging up in the holder you're getting a drip drip drip of ice cold water on you. The drip drip drip is necessary so the pressure does not build in the lines and it's some kind of safety feature.

Well, to avoid this, many people on our Winnebago View list are installing these European thermostatic mixing valves. It correctly sets your desired temperature at each of the valves on each side and prevents any other water from backing up the hose each time you use the pause lever at the end by the shower head.  It doesn't allow the cold to feed into the hot, or the hot to feed into the cold.

We ordered this one before we left and took it along with us to work on while we are on the road...

Steve brought along all the tools needed to do the swap out while we are on the road.

It's important that this one has the offset pieces of pipe so it can narrow down or widen up to the right diameter spacing between the faucets of the existing fixture. Well, Steve still had to drill out another hole to make it fit. Later we will cover the existing hole with a small cap. In the meantime we have a piece of elastomeric roof patch tape that we put over it. That will keep the water out of it until we get a proper sealed cap.

In this photo below, you will see that Steve tied the water lines that are down in the wall up to the grab bar in the shower. That is so the lines do not drop down behind in the wall and need to be fished up again. Also, he was careful to take out the tiny washers in each of the fittings so they didn't fall down into the wall. Those washers are necessary when screwing the lines onto the back of the new fixture. 


Steve got it all into place and it's functioning perfectly!



The diverter portion with the tub spout will be handy if we ever want to fill up a big scrub bucket of soapy water, fill a 5 gallon blue water jug for drinking or just filling the bigger dog dish that doesn't fit in the tiny bathroom sink. 

Later on we will put a little vinyl hole cover attachment next to the device. It will cover the old hole from the previous set of faucets. 

~~~~~~~~~~~

While we were at Home Depot we also picked up some larger fender washers. The brackets on the cargo trailer holding up our lawn chairs had pulled through because the heads of the bolts were just a little bit too small for the spaces of the holes on the steel bars. 


By putting a fender washer behind each bolt head, they will now hold firmly and not pop up all the way through.



He reassembled all of the hooks back onto the steel bar. Using the picnic table as his workbench was very handy.



In no time he was fastening them back up inside of the cargo trailer where they belong. These are so convenient to hang our lawn chairs on each of the side walls, and the chairs are strapped securely at the bottom edges so they don't fall down on our bikes. 



A couple of the neighboring guys wandered on by to chit chat with Steve when he had his cargo trailer open. We have now dubbed it as "Steve's Garage"!!! 


The last thing we picked up at Home Depot were some extra little nuts for our lawn chairs. A couple have already fallen off so Steve bought some of the nylon locking nuts, or what are called aircraft nuts. These are just some cheap lawn chairs from Dunham's sports, but we like them because they fold up very flat and take up less space in our cargo areas. So by adding these new nuts, we will give the chairs a longer life. 

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This little device is handy!!!  Sometimes when an RV is parked a little bit off level, the bathroom door will swing one way or swing the other. By Murphy's law, it probably always swings the way you don't want it to!

I know we could always just leave the door shut tight and clicked with the latch into the frame. 

With this extreme cold weather, we like to leave the bathroom door open so it doesn't get too cold in there. But if the door is swinging out into the walkway, it's always in the way as we are trying to pass back and forth.

We saw this hint from someone else, it is a locking doorstop that can be set in any position to keep the door in one spot. It's spring loaded that you can push the top plunger down with the tip of your toe, and then a little side lever you can touch with the toe to release it. No bending over.


Steve had to reinforce it a little bit with a piece of stock metal to extend it down just far enough. These hollow core doors really don't have a lot of strength. So if you buy one, be careful where you mount it. 

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Now, just in case you think Steve gets to have all the fun doing ALL of the repairs and modifications, you may be wrong. I get to do them too!

A month ago, before leaving, I had decided that we needed a better shower curtain in our motorhome. I ordered this nice waterproof fabric pleated one. It was about 5 inches too long, so before we left home I carefully cut it off and zigzagged the edge. It frays very easily, so it needs to be zigzagged almost immediately after cutting.

Once we got the new shower curtain hung into place, I decided I wanted to get some clips or little tab catches down each side to keep the shower curtain snug to the shower stall. This would prevent any extra water from spraying over into the rest of the bathroom or damaging the wood or the flooring or the wallpaper.

The only problem was, inside of each clip are two little molded on plastic bumps. I'm sure these are to help snugly fit a thin plastic shower curtain. But the one I ordered was a thicker waterproof fabric one. Hmmmmmm what to do?

I took a serrated steak knife and very carefully sawed away at each little set of bumps in each of the 10 clips. 

It worked! And I didn't cut myself either. Now there was enough space in the clip to hold the fabric shower curtain. 


And there it is!
(The streak of color is a reflection 
from off the mirror)


It got rather chilly here overnight in Jonesboro Arkansas. It was down to 29° this morning. We have heaters on our holding tanks, and we never leave our water hose out. We fill the freshwater tank with the hose, and put the hose away. We have a supplemental electric space heater besides the propane furnace. We also pull in the living room slide for less area to heat, and less drafts or air leakage. It was really windy last night!!

And to top it off, we have an electric mattress pad on our bed. Comfy cozy!

We are staying here until the middle of the week, and from there we will meander maybe a little further south. The temperatures are supposed to be up in the '70s again, which is just the way we like it.

I told Steve that all that I'm asking for out of this entire vacation is to find nice quiet places in the woods, with tall trees, a beautiful view over water, and grass on the ground for the dogs. I think we are staying away from gravel or cactus or goat head spurs and the desert this time. I just want to relax and enjoy the nice weather without snow.

That's not a lot to ask for, is it?


Our Dogs Got Wheels!!!


If you read my blog back in January, you would remember this post about getting an InStep Sync bicycle trailer for behind our E-bikes:

https://kareninthewoods-kareninthewoods.blogspot.com/2024/01/gearing-up-to-head-south.html?m=1


We happened to snatch it up on clearance for only $25! Normally $150.00

It's made for children up to 40 lb. If we add together a little Binney at 21 lb and a little Nicholas at 17 lb, I think we have a pretty good total! 

We had a beautiful day on Thursday, with sunshine up in the mid '70s! It was time to give this thing a workout.... 

First, we need two sassy little dogs who want to go for a ride. 


The bottom of the trailer has just a piece of fabric, kind of like the floor of a tent. So we set a doggy bed in there, on a bottom tray from a collapsible dog crate. Now they have a solid floor to lay on. We had also removed the child sling seat and child harness.

Both of the dogs are harnessed up, and the handle ends of their short leashes are fed right through one of the top support bars of the trailer. Eliminating any possible accidental escape, and for keeping them close by in case of a problem or a wreck. 

We had let them sit in the trailer when we first assembled it last month in our home. But of course our ground was covered with snow and we weren't about to take them for a test ride back then. So this is the actual first time they are going to go for a ride. 


We got them all strapped into place, and then from there Steve carefully wheeled them around the end of the loop in the campground before we decided to actually go for a ride. I made a video of the process:



They did very well! We wanted them to learn that going for the ride wasn't just the process of the ride and coming right back to the camper. No. We wanted to stop somewhere and take them out so they would get the idea that this was a destination and the trailer was necessary to get there. So we stopped at another part of the park to let them out and do some sniffing. We also brought along their longer leashes, a water bowl and a bottle of water to give them some refreshment. 



We have the trailer hooked to Steve's E-bike. He said it's really not that hard to pedal with the dogs back there. Having the pedal assist electric feature on the bike is an added plus. 

There is just a little hitch bracket that needed to be screwed on the same bolt as the rear axle. The trailer then can disengage with a little hitch pin and safety strap. We are going to order a second hitch bracket to put on my bike. That way either of us could tow them. The entire trailer folds up and the wheels come off and it can be stored, taking up very little space.



I think they are going to enjoy going for adventures in this new vehicle. It will be a great way for us to get out and see things, and not just leave the dogs behind in the motorhome.



It was really cute as they were riding along, Nick was keeping a careful eye on me out of the back window. Binney was curled up in the front section and she just was watching out the side windows with a smile on her face. Can't you see it?



So far, we have been on the road for 16 days. The dogs are doing very well adjusting to RV life for a couple months. Nicholas spent the first week recovering from his neutering appointment. And now he is back to his normal energetic self this week. Watch this YouTube that I shot yesterday on the big lawn area next to our motorhome:


I watch that over and over, 
and just laugh out loud!!! 

My next blog post I have been working on a little bit here and there during the last 2 weeks. It will be chock full of different things that we have been modifying, repairing, or adding to our motorhome. 

Yes, even when we are traveling, Steve has all of his tools along. 





Thursday, February 15, 2024

Days 15-22 Whewww Freezing Rain Sleet And Snow in Arkansas Overnight and Valentine's Day

On Monday, we experienced a pretty yucky day. It started out with rain and later as the temperatures dropped, it became an icy freezing rain and sleet and even snowflakes falling!!! 



Even here in Northern Arkansas, at Craighead Forest in Jonesboro, we can get some snow!  Got down to 29°. Our holding tanks are also heated. We have an extra space heater as well as the propane furnace. Above 40° or so the electric heat strips up in the air conditioner also work. 



We snuggled up inside, cozy and warm. We played some cribbage, and the loser had to bundle up to go let the dogs out! (It was Steve)



As the end of our 7-day stay here neared an end, it happened to land on Wednesday (which was Valentine's Day).

Steve asked what I would like for a Valentine's Day present? Well, I suggested to stay here one more week!

The people next to us on site 41 were leaving Wednesday morning. Their site is just wonderful and located at the end of the peninsula. It has about 180° view of all water. If we would park nose-in first, we would have water views out the front windshield, all the way down the whole side of the rig with our best windows, and also out the back window! So we went up and registered with the host for another 7 days for that site. 

For Steve's Valentine's Day present, I got up early and baked him his absolute most favorite coffee cake.


He did share some with me and the dogs. How nice of him. Sure made the camper smell great early in the morning with perking coffee and cinnamon coffee cake. We brought two pieces up to the campground host as a little gift. 



These two little cuddle bugs are becoming quite the pair. It's hard to believe that only a month and a half ago he was caught up in the woods on a snagged leash, and scared to death. He was skin and bones with barely any energy. The vet said he was dangerously close to death from dehydration and starved down to skin and bones. 


Back to our campsite:

Since we knew we had to pull in the slides and move the motorhome to the next site, it was a good time to run into town and replenish a few perishable grocery supplies. We were low on milk and bread, and we could use another dozen eggs. We are pretty well stocked up on everything else. I brought a freezer full of our own meat. We are keeping one extra tote down below in a compartment with extra canned goods and dry grocery goods to supplement our menus. 

We made a stop, in the pouring rain, at Walmart. We stocked up on a few more supplies and bought a couple cuddly fleece blankets for the dogs when they sleep down on their beds on the floor on each side of our bed. We found some cute little fleece blankets with doggy paw prints on them. How cute is that? Each dog has a little bed placed on each side of our bed. It's so funny, they share the one side bed together at the beginning of the night, and in the morning we will find them both curled up together on the other side on the other bed! 


Their doggy beds are actually two mattress pads from baby diaper changing tables! They are vinyl and washable, and fit just perfectly between our bed and the wall. 

I bought one more blanket and a big hank of elastic. I'm going to cut it in half and make two nice matching bed covers that are removable and washable. 


Speaking of sleeping, this Nicholas has a built-in alarm clock in his little head. His brain tells him when it is 6:50 a.m. on the dot. He stands up shakes his fur and jingles his collar tags. Then he launches himself and lands in a heap right in the middle of our bed between us! "GET UP GET UP! START THE DAY! WHAT IS EXCITING TODAY! BARK BARK BARK!!!" 


Okay, back to our errands in the town of Jonesboro. It was really really busy and we wanted to get the heck out of town and back to the campground. 

While we were there, we stopped at the local Ace hardware store. We had looked up online and saw that they had a nice little portable dehumidifier. Since the rainy icky snowy sleedy slushy day earlier in the week, we did have a lot of moisture building up on the single pane windows on the inside. We had used up a few towels mopping the windows and the wallpaper below of wetness and run off.  Our last motorhome had dual pane windows and we really weren't used to this during humid damp cold weather. 

So this little portable dehumidifier was our Valentine's Day present to each other. Lol! 



We got back to the campground around 10:00 a.m. The neighbors had just left and pulled out. We waved to them as they were heading to the dump station. Then we were able to slide right into the spot that they had vacated. Which of course, we had already paid for with the host earlier that morning. 

Once that weather had passed, by Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we were in a beautiful stretch of weather with sunny skies and temperature in the mid '60s!

The skies turned bright blue. The temps were climbing and we were going to have an absolutely gorgeous day. 



Just look at this view all around the end most site of this peninsula. I really think it's the best campsite in the entire park!


This morning we woke up to an even better weather forecast. This time up into the '70s! This is the view out of the kitchen window because we had pulled in nose first to the site. Yes, I know it means our power cord crosses over underneath the rig to reach the post. But it's worth it. 



Here's the view out the front windshield. There's a little cove in the woods where the water comes into a little inlet. The Canadian geese seem to sneak up in there to sleep at night. 


Here's the view out the bedroom window and around the back. I just can't believe we get a water view about 180° in this campsite. There is a narrow walking path along the edge that people walk past. But mostly it is just like a big huge yard, just for us. 


We decided to take out the e-bikes and try out some of these trails. We want to try the new little bike trailer for the dogs, but first we wanted to go on the trails ourselves. 

Here is our little cargo trailer with the bikes and all of our extra gear arranged inside. 



The easiest trail is about 3 miles around the lake. The entire trail is paved and smooth and only one major hill up and down. 



With the e-bikes and the pedal assist, it's pretty easy to tackle those hills and not even break a sweat. 


We made it around the entire lake in about 20 minutes. Even with a little stop on the bridge for a Valentine's Day kiss. It's just over 3 miles. 


Since we bought these bikes back in November, we haven't put that many miles on them because of the snow and the cold. It feels so good to get out and use them now. 


One of our neighbors came over to ask about the bikes, and he is considering ordering one himself. He is thinking his wife might like the trike version. These are the Lectric brand bikes and we are really happy with them. 


Today we decided to pop the dogs in to the little trailer that we bought. I will put that adventure in my next blog.