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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Our RV’s over the years….

I love reading about the transitions RVers go through to get to the RV they presently have.   Some folks work their way up, like we did, others jump in with both feet, never owning an RV before.

Between Steve and I,  we have had a lot of rv’s over the years.   I don’t have pics of his, but it included a few travel trailers and a popup when he was a kid.  To this day, his folks have both a motorhome and a fiver, and his brother has a large travel trailer too.  So he comes from an RV family for sure. camperbus

As for myself, when a kid, we had a converted school bus fondly called The Camper Bus.  My dad bought two old school buses and changed both of them into campers.   By selling one, he was able to cover the costs of both conversions.  I remember we had to change the appearance quickly of the bus, so we children got to dip sponges into black paint and dab them all over The Leopard Bus!  hahaha 

Later Dad painted it like a Winnebago paint job with a big W on the back… (actually a V, so he wouldn’t be infringing on copyright!) … the last paint job was like in this photo, as a log cabin, and he later added log stripes to the walls and a green roof.  How cute is that?

We chugged up and back from Cedarburg, Wi to the U.P. of Michigan and all points in between.  It made it up the Porcupine Mountains, and over to the Wildcat Mountains, with 6 kids and a dog.  What fun!  Wunderlust was born in my heart!

We also had a few travel trailers over the years when I was a child… the old Mayfair is being used by the grandchilold mayfairdren of the people we sold it to wayyy back in the 70’s.

** I snapped this pic 2 years ago when we ran across it parked at a local campground.  WE don't  camp that "messy" at our site**

Even then it was an old trailer when we had it.   We would camp in it during the summers at Pentoga park at Chicagon Lake all summer long, and then in the winter my folks would park it up in the woods on some leased land for the winters.It was used for deer hunting season, and then we would snowmobile into it during the winters for vacations!  LOL

Once I was grown up, when my own kids were small, we had tents… until 1987 we finally got this old Apache pop-up,  my my my were we ever *happening* now!  apache popup It had two big side beds, a large fold-down table that seated 6 so it made a big bed, and a couch that folded down into a twin bed.  The little heater in there would just about cook ya out of the place.  It only had a cooler/ice box so we had to haul blocks of ice for it.  There was a single sink with a pump for cold water from a 5 gallon jug stored under in the cabinet.  The four burner stove got a workout for both cooking and heating water for washing up dirty kids~!   apache popup (2) We  had a portapotty for late night emergencies for the kids, but they preferred the nighttime walk to the outhouse, using their own flashlights bobbing all over the place.  It was a sojourn to walk the kids there, singing songs in the dark to ward off the bears and beasts of the night.  LOL   That camper went on camping for many years after we sold it off … and finally the canvas gave out.

But the newest owners ripped off the canvas, removed the side beds and boxed it in with plywood. It lives on now as a hunting shack and it still used to this day!

In 1990 I bought my first motorhome, a 1972 Chieftain gasser,  27 ft.  Boy did we live it up in there! winnebago chieftain I drove it all over, many times just me and my girls and the dogs.  My soon-to-be ex husband hated camping, and he hated my motorhome, and would rather stay home alone than enjoy the woods with us.  (we got rid of the guy and kept the motorhome!)  At one point, the winter salt ate through the paint on the aluminum exterior.  It was looking kinda bedraggled.  So I brought it up to my brother’s rural yard, and taped it all off.  First I used etching compound and then sprayed on 2 coats of automotive paint, then 2 coats of clearcoat, all with a big old compressor.  What a job!   Then I added some marine striping decals in 3 tones of blue.  My goodness, this rig was looking mighty fine indeed!   Now for an awning.. hmmmm?  I bought a nice blue tarp, ran one end in the channel, attached the other end to a long large 4” PVC pipe with end caps.  No recoiling spring, so I had just a little crank on the end of the tube and I could stand on a stepladder and crank it up into place.  A few rubber snubbers locked it into place against the roof.   I made telescoping conduit side poles, with little hitchpins for locking into place at the desired height.  I needed a drill press to drill the holes, the only thing I didn’t do myself.  The brackets to bolt to the side of the rig weren’t quite what I envisioned, and could not find enough support in the wall to anchor them to.  So I went through the wall, with big bolts and used big fender washers from the inside to mount the awning arms to.  It worked out fine, one set was hidden under a couch.. the other set near the passenger seat.  It worked, and we were happy!

Gosh how I loved that motorhome!   But as it turns out, I loved Steveio more. I met him in 1995.  He convinced me (when we were dating yet) to sell the aging troublesome motorhome as he would buy me a brand new travel traileempty chairsr … and put it in my own name!  So in 1996, along came this lovely 33ft new 1997 Sierra travel trailer. 
Never had anything so nice in my life!  I married him a year later, but we laughed that it was so he could get back on the title to the camper!   We spent our honeymoon in our trailer, 2 weeks of all alone camping!  No kids, no dogs.  We looped around Lake Superior through the Soo and arohoneymoonersund into Thunder Bay and Minnesota to home.

Oh, on the way we had to pick up our kids, which we had farmed off on relatives in the U.P. of Michigan.

What a fine way to start a marriage, by camping!

I put the old Winnebago motorhome up for sale on a consignment lot.. where it got stolen by a customer on the last night of the consignment contract.  The dirtball kept the keys from a test drive and came back to steal it.  It took a lot of detective work to track it down months later.  The guy was living in it, avoiding his wife, his ex fatherinlaw, his old boss and many bill collectors!   His elderly mother finally came through, by turning him in, and we made agreement for him to pay me cash in front of a police officer and I would turn over title and he would not be charged with grand theft.  I was sooo happy to NOT get the motorhome back after months of abusive treatment.

We used the Sierra travel trailer for 6 years, hauling it all over the U.P. oour 97 sierraf Michigan, into Canada, and around Wisconsin for many, many weekends. 

Our blended family of four teens meant bringing along friends, food and fun for sometimes 6, 7, or 8 teens at a time!

Many of  those kids had never gone camping in their lives, so it was a real treat for them to come along with us on weekends.  We camp a lot with my now grown siblings and their campers and the folks and friends up in the U.P. of Michigan. our camping group It took a lot of organizing and planning and work to have such fun, but it was worth it in the long run.  Our kids appreciated it, and the visiting kids still talk about the times they came with us *Up North*.

That is what our camping experiences are made of.

Pudgy pies in the fire, Some-more’s for dessert, the kids catching fireflies and the grownups throwing another log on the fire.  It don’t get much better than that, I tell ya.

Ahhh then along comes 2002.. the kids all are graduated and gone almost, and I got very very ill after a work industrial accident.  Steveio got it in his head that we needed a motorhome to travel and be more comfortable for me, rather than towing a travel trailer.  We looked around and made a great deal on a trade-in at a dealership in Fond Du Lac, where they had a motorhome on the lot on consignment.  parked at paint river forks So they literally bought our trailer from us so we could buy the motorhome from the folks on consignment.  Neato! 

It was a 1994 Coachmen Santara.   It was in immaculate condition and had low miles.

We moved our gear right in and made ourselves at home!   Later we realized too late that the tires were original to the rig… though they lookpfundtners and the santaraed good with tread, they were really dated 1993 and we had two huge blowouts on our first big trip! We added 6 new tires, we headed out for Florida, more confidant in our tires and learned a good lesson about replacing RV tires every 6 years or so.

We drove that motorhome into the back woods and all around, and I was pleased as punch with it.  It fit us well for weekends and vacations, and doubled as a hugemotorhome prop truck, hauling our gear, costumes, stock, tables, and machines for doing fiber festivals.

I was totally happy with it and though it was suffering from some delamination, we kept it up nicely and used it most every weekend spring, summer and fall.  Toss in a few winter trips too, and I was happy.  We added a scooter rack to the back, and did a few renovations inside.  We spend four years enjoying that motorhome…..

Now it’s 2006…    In May, I was at a weaving seminar down near Beloit, WI and Steveio was zooming around on our Honda Helix just to explore the area while I was in classes.  We needed a new filter for the Onan generator, so he looked various places close by to get one.  Of course, he managed to drive to an RV dealership in Rockford, Ill just over the border.  There he saw *The Rig* !!!  He came back all bubbly and excited about this rig.  It made a big impression on him.  He kept asking me to look at it… NO NO NO I would say.. we owe more on our Coachmen than it’s worth and we are not going further in debt!  He kept looking at this rig on the website, and about every week he would mention how light, bright, well-laid out, well-made etc. this rig was.  And each week my reply was the same: NO NO NO!

In July of 2006 it was a life-changing time for us.. our younger son, Mike, died,  and we started to question our own mortality, our goals, our lives.  It felt like life was closing in on us, and we were choking.  We wanted to run away.  We were hurting.

Although we always planned to full-time in an RV when Steve can retire in 2013, we felt like it was a long time off and life doesn’t last forever.  So we called the bank, and took off to go look at this diesel motorhome.   The dealership was able to fanagle the figures to pay front driver sideoff our loan, and we got a bunch of stuff written into the deal like all new tires (we learned that lesson!) all new belts and hoses, all new fluid changes and filters, all new batteries – 2 chassis and 4 coach, and a full tank of propane and a full tank of diesel….. ready to roll.   So we went home, thought about it, faxed back our best offer and the deal was made! 
Three days later we picked up the rig and left behind the Coachmen.  The delamination was a bit worse than our photos could show, so we ponied up an extra $300 to help the deal go through.  All was done and we had the big rig… now time to ESCAPE! parked at show

My parents came along in their motorhome and our good friends in their fiver also accompanied us to make sure we didn’t go alone..

they knew we needed to get away.

So out we went to Custer, Mt. Rushmore, Black Hils etc.

We cried, we laughed, we celebrated our son’s life aKarenInTheBadlandsnd wished him well in the beyond.  It was a very tough time, but healing in it’s own way.

The solitude and peace sitting on a rock in the Badlands was very healing and soothing for us.

It was important for us to let go.  But we also had to come back to deal with job, family, and home and hearth.

Now its 2009, and we are getting closer and close to that 2013 retirement date!  Steveio can retire with a full pension from the State of Wisconsin, where he has worked since age 19 at the University of Green Bay.  He will be 55  and I will be 52.  My health is dragging on and we are able to go on most weekends and a few multi-week vacations each year.  The new rig has all we need, and room for the toys and the stuff we would want to take along full-timing.  We will sell our home, and nest-egg the profit for an *exit plan* in the future if need be. 
Niobrara 4 danged tourists

So that brings us up to today…..   wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

PING PING PING … it’s music to a canner’s ears

Ahhhh my darling preggo daughter Erin came over today, and we went to *work*….  we cleaned, scalded and peeled skins on 16 quarts of tomatoes.  My neighbor, Charlotte, gave me a some cool new hybrid green striped tomatoes.  They are fully ripe, but greenish/yellow in color.  We mixed them in with some regular red tomatoes and I think it will make some interesting chili and sauces.  

Once the tomatoes were done, then it was time to start on the pickled beets.  Steve and I had picked up 40 pounds of beets obusy afternoon in september 2009_2n our way home from camping on Sunday.  So those were simmered for a while to let the skins slide off.  Standing at the sink for about two hours, we cut up the beets, filled them into canning jars, and added a brine of vinegar, suger and water.  My Mom’s recipe is:  2 cups vinegar, 2 cups sugar, and 1 cup water.  Now multiply that by 8 to get enough brine to make 40 pounds of Pickled Beets.  We got 20 quarts done and sealed. PING PING PING sounds from each jar as they seal up.

While we did the canning all afternoon, we had also tossed into the oven a big ole pot roast, little red potatoes, and shrooms and carrots.  By the time our guys came home from work, the roast was just about ready.   They were going to tackle replacing son-in-law Mark’s brakes on his SUV, so we had to delay supper a busy afternoon in september 2009_1bit till they were done. 

So it was a very productive  day, finished off with a great meal, and full tummies.  Speaking of tummies, I talked to our granddaughter-to-be, due in January, and I know she can hear me already in her mommy’s tummy… so I told her a whole bunch of cool things in uetero.  Never too soon to be learning stuff, right?

I think this evening we will watch part three of the National Parks series on PBS, and I am zonking out on the couch for a bit beforehand… but I might check out and see who is in the RV Dreams Chat Room tonight.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

(continued) Best Site in the Whole Park! Peshtigo State Forest camping

Our camping here in the woods will be soon coming to an end... so we will have to remember this scene in our minds... and by the pics of this lovely campsite.  Too soon it will be snowing, blowing, and blustery winter, covering everything in a thick blanket of white.  So let's enjoy THIS while we can! The fall colors are just about at their peak in this area, the hardwoods are a blaze of glory!
The calm and peaceful day was perfect for Mr. Steveio Fisherman to take out his rod and bait, and go see what he can find in the little lake.   He has to fish from shore, as boats (or noisy jet-skis) are not allowed on this lake.  Preserves the peacefulness and wildlife to be enjoyed by folks like us.

He was VERY successful!

Just LOOK at that wonderful whopper of a fish!  I bet we will cook it up, and have a hearty dinner!  
(he really tossed it back)

I got in some serious sock-cranking....  working on an order of FIVE pairs of purple and green socks for a gal's shop down in New Glarus, WI.  Seems the purple and green combos are her BEST sellers???   Last week I did a bunch more purple and green ones, so I am frankly getting sick of working with the colors!   Then I started a few other pairs too to build up my stash in my online store.  This is an antique machine that I make real wool socks on.  It takes about an hour a pair. I love taking along my machine, as it's so portable. It sure is a fun way to make the things I enjoy making, while combined with my other favorite, camping!
The sunshine was warm, the smell of the rustly leaves was pungent, and the birds were singing .. .what a great place! Give me my mug of coffee, and some soft celtic music playing on the MP3 player with little external speakers.    Steveio was busy fishing and the dogs were busy dozing, at least till lunch time.
After lunch, we decided to take a little walk around the lake.  It was a well-marked path that doubles as a snowmobile trail in the winter months.  (another reminder that soon this will be covered in a thick blanket of snow!)  We keep the dogs on leashes when walking in the deep woods, because, although they mind well, there could be a bear wandering around.  We carry a large canister of Bear Spray, hopefully enough to deter one if approaching the dogs...  never had to use it yet... most bears hear you coming and get outta your way.  So we are sure to make enough noise to know we are there.

Taking a little break on the far side of the pond.  The DNR just put this bench here, it wasn't here a few weeks ago when we checked out this campground?   It was a nice spot to rest and snap a few photos. The weather was in the low 70's, no bugs, and nobody was breaking a sweat to walk around the lake.  I had my lovely walking stick (from a clearance table in a Flying J truckstop, no less)   It was an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.
Of course our doggers, /Duke a.k.a. Dukie Palookie the Sheltie, and Duchess a.k.a. Dumb Ducky the Collie have to pose for a photo opportunity!
                                                         Plus a little sip of lake water.....

Back to the campsite... and time to start up some supper. Seeing as my wonderful fishing husband failed to provide us with supper, it was open the freezer and take out some ready-caught salmon to throw on the grill.  A cheesecake for dessert was the highlight, before we wandered down to the lake to watch the sunset.
Without any clouds in the sky, the sunset was a little dull...but of course with no clouds, that meant plenty of stars in the sky once it got dark!   We lit a campfire and sat out watching the stars and enjoying the calm quiet evening.

The moon was coming up through the trees, so I tried the Night Mode on my camera... it kinda worked out.  We wandered into the motorhome after the fire died down... took nice hot showers and crawled into fresh clean sheets.... thinking about the guy in the tent down the road who was washing his hair today at the hand pumping well of ice cold water...brrrrrrrr    I don't condone anyone using soap at a place of water source, but the ranger had already gone through for the day.  I wasn't about to go criticize him for his actions, because I think ice cold water on the scalp is punishment enough!
Woke up now Sunday morning at 4 am to coyotes howling!  They were pretty close by, to be able to hear them through the insulated walls and dual paned windows of the motorhome.  Usually most outside sounds are drowned out when we are inside. 
Now the coffee's perking and smells oooohh soooo gooood!   Going to bake some biscuits in a little while, add some Eggbeaters scrambled eggs and a slice of turkey ham (Steveio is watching his cholestrol)    our own Egg McPfundtner's!  LOL

Watching the weather this morning, and Wisconsin is due for some gale force winds along the lakeshore later this afternoon and evening!   Big thunder storms, heavy rains and the winds are going to make it a challenge to drive home if we leave too late in the day like we planned.
Perhaps it's a good idea to pack up about noon and head home before it begins. 

Saturday, September 26, 2009

(continued) Best Site in the Whole Park! Peshtigo State Forest camping

Ok.. now time to add a few pics, so you can all see what a lovely site we found.

We are set up on site number 13, with a great view over the lilypad filled pond (a.k.a. Old Veteran's Lake) ..the amount of birds and wildlife is abundant and we are enjoying the peaceful surroundings.  These quiet parks without any hookups are our favorite.  You don't have to deal with blaring radios, big parties, or lots of kids (folks with kids seem to like parks with electricity, to run their video games and dvd's LOL)

Grilled out some dinner ...chicken breasts and mashed taters and corn.  I was not feeling up to my *best* yet,but it sure tasted good eating outdoors.  Why is that?  Any food cooked and eaten outdoors tastes SO much better???

 This is such a quiet place....

Took a nice walk through the park, there is a path we might take tomorrow around the whole pond if I feel up to it.  The doggers are enjoying the sniffing at things, and exploring and dozing in the sunshine.

The whole purpose of owning the motorhome is that THEY own it, we are just allowed to drive to take them places so they can sniff things.  Sigh.

 Poor Dukie has his skin allergy back (comes each autumn)  so he needed a soaking bath on his belly with a special shampoo..The motorhome tub works out great!  He don't think so though...  The Oxygenics shower head works WONDERFULLY for spraying down the doggers, and rinses out their fur fast, thus wasting less water.  Here he is in the enclosed tub and shower inside the motorhome.  We also have an outside shower in a compartment that I use regularly for the doggers...


Clouds started rolling in last night about sunset, made for some pretty pics, and the forcasted rain overnight came and went. 
We sat up and played cribbage for a few games, with me soundly trouncing Steveio on the last game (won't talk about who won the first two) ...   we watched a bit of TV for the news and weather, and it was time for bed.  Only one station up here, and fades out during the day, but is reasonable at night.  Enough to see what is going on in the world for 1/2 an hour.. and then off to save the batteries.

It was very pleasant listening to the rain on the roof overnight.  Things smell so fresh this morning.

 I woke up about 6am, just in time to fill Dukie's doggie dish.. He is SO worried about what is going INTO his dish each day...   if it's regular dog food, he sniffs and walks away.  But if there was a dab of leftovers or a treat, then it's OH JOY OH HAPPY DAY for him...

Perked up some fresh ground coffee that got the smells to Steveio snoring in bed... and then also baked up some blueberry muffins (from a mix) in my little "Easy Bake Oven"....   really called a Coleman Instastart Propane oven.  A great compromise to the lack of an LP oven in our motorhome.  We only have the convection/micro which I do not like anyhow.


But add to that the need for power to bake anything in the convection, there ain't no way no how I am gonna fire up a generator at 6 am in this lovely quiet woods to bake muffins!   so the *Easy Bake Oven* is a great compromise.  It bakes 11x9 pan, evenly, and works quite well.

Looking out the windows this morning at squirrels in the tree, saw a fish jump in the pond, and might take the table loom out under the awning for weaving up a few dishtowels???

Friday, September 25, 2009

Best Site in the Whole Park! Peshtigo State Forest camping

Ahhh darling hubby swept me away into the woods for the weekend... we are up in the Peshtigo State Forest, in a tiny campground on a small pond.  It's toally peace and quiet here....   out of 16 rustic (no hookups) sites, we got the BEST one....  and only one other tent here, with nobody around. 

We spent an hour watching a funny red squirrel go up and down a nearby tree, trying out each of it's perches on the dead stump branches to peer out at us.  Seems pretty brave, as we were sitting within 10 feet away in our lounge chairs, with two sleeping dogs between us.

Working on cooking supper now, Steveio is grilling out chicken breasts and I am working on potatoes and sweet corn in the rig... so thought I would check for an air-card signal...YAAA  3 bars!  (that is better than I do at home!) .... so later after I take some pics, I will add some to this post.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A peek into my world... my Loom Room Studio

Some folks on the RV chat last night were asking about my fiber tools ...
so I said I would make a little virtural tour of my studio in my home,
and the fiber toys I take along in the motorhome.
Yes, I am a confessed Fiberholic, I cannot avoid the urge to touch, create and collect fibers!    I am a helpless case, and there is no 12 step program that can help me. 

Looms find me, and call to me to take them home and make them work again.  Right now I have five big looms set up in the lower level walk-out of our home, overlooking the river.  I have a a few table looms here and there, that can go along traveling!  -- they like that --
(I will not show you the extra closets and storage rooms packed full of fibers, fabric, and unspun wool!) 

I work on rugs, blankets, throws, towels and tote bags on my looms.

I keep a constant supply of incoming fabrics, and then out going products are sold on my Etsy site:

I like to position my looms facing out over the river, so I can look through both double wide patio doors over the woods...

Daydreaming adds to the Creative Process, dontcha know?

The non-camping winters are made bearable by this kind of view out the patio doors!

(although the caption says *this morning*
the photo was taken last year
amid winter doldrums)

I keep my laptop handy nearby when weaving, so when I take a break, I can check on emails or see what is up in my RVing world of buddies!

My aircard gets a weaker signal down there, so sometimes I am unhooked and don't even know it.  ARGGGHHHH

The fiber products roll off my looms into lovely rugs, mats, runners, totes etc.  and I am lost in the creative process.

My health does not always let me work at my looms as much as I want to, but I get done what I can, when I can.

When I am not down in the loom room working on stuff, you can usually find me upstairs, sitting by the fireplace in my chair.

I am either knitting on the antique sockknitting machine, spinning wool on one of my spinning wheels. beading a few bracelets, or knitting up something on regular knitting needles. 

Now.. of course I mentioned that I take along my fiber toys when we go traveling in the motorhome! 

The spinning wheel sets neatly into the closet, surrounded by my clothing to keep it from tipping over or getting bumped.  I take it right out by the campfire and relax to its mind-mesmerizing whirls.... 

I spin up sheep and lamb wool, llama, and alpaca .. sometimes dog fur, into luscious yarns to knit with later.

Some of my yarns are soooo pretty that I have entered them in spinning contests and won some ribbons....

I enjoy the soothing spinning process and it's something I can do without straining myself or my health.

This is my 8 harness table loom that I take along . It detaches from the little coffee table Steveio made, and store either in the basement compartment, or I fold in the front and rear beams and it sets right in aisle. Often I take it outside under the awning and weave in the lovely morning with green trees, blue skies, soft breezes and the steady whump whump whump of the shuttle and the beater....  ahhh Heaven!

Now, for the sockknitting machine!  (saved the best for last!)  This unique device is called a Circular Sockknitting Machine.  It is clamped to a table or a bench, turn the crank and out come socks!

Well, it's not THAT easy, these machines are finicky, futzy, putzy and frustrating!  You need a lot of patience, a good eye, and various kindis and types of wool.

Some days these machines work, and other days they jam up --- there is no end to the frustrations!

Mine was made in 1904 in Clearfield, PA by a guy named Gearhart.  It has served me well, and I have a few others too.  1894 being my oldest, and 1925 being my newest.
The process of making a sock can be complicated, but usually takes me about an hour to make a pair of socks.  It will also make mittens and scarves too. 
I cannot just sit and watch tv, my hands need to be BUSY... so this helps my creative juices flow, plus creates something that you rarely find anymore, real wool socks!!

I pack my sock machine along in a tool box, and clamp it to a folding stool when going camping.  It's portable enough to take along, and garners a LOT of attention when cranking in a campground.
Folks wander into our campsite to see whatever fiber tool I am working on, and many times they purchase items from me that I keep on hand nearby.  If I make $20 or $40 from a private sale, it helps towards our camping budget!   Otherwise they take my card or brochure and get to see the bulkier items like rugs and blankets on my Etsy site store.
Who doesn't need some cozy warm wool socks for camping or a new rug to toss in the kitchen of their camper???

Soooo that is a tour of my fiberholic toys and what I do with them.....
I hope you enjoyed this look into my studio and the stuff I like to create. 
Yes, I am a Loom-atic....
(a label coined by my sister many years ago when I started collecting looms)

Now she has 2 looms too, as do a few of my friends.

Be careful, verrryyy careful! 
This disease might spread....
to YOU!