Our Wonderful Followers who come back again and again to read about us...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Prepping the house for sale - carpeting project

Like I said in yesterday's blog, we are going gangbusters to get the house ready to put on the market.  We spent the last week decluttering and getting the kids to come and get pieces of furniture we no longer need in the house.  We got the whole kitchen painted, all the sections around the cabinets, up above and between, and then the ceiling too.  That came out nice on Sunday and we were pleased with the results.

We had little Chelsea here overnight last night, so we took a bit of a break.  I snapped this pic of a certain little imp, when my computer kept mysteriously rebooting......   No wonder why!!!  That is where my POWER button is!

This morning she woke up all smiles and giggles, and we had a great snuggly morning before I took her off to the day care center.  We called her in late to her daycare group and said she was playing HOOKY!   She loved the word and kept chanting it over and over.  Rhymes with COOKIE!   After a fun breakfast with her, I took her into the daycare center.  With wails of tears and dramatics, she didn't want her Granmuddah to leave!  I hung around for a while, and when she was thoroughly spoiled rotten, then it was time for ME to leave and get to work on the house.

I hauled down the rest of the clothes from our walk-in closet/changing room, and the shoe rack unit and hampers... stuffing them all down in the guest bedroom for now.  Then it was time to paint!  I cut in and rolled out the paint on the walls, and it got darker as it dried.  Oh my!  It was not quite the color I wanted, but oh well, I am not going to live here, right???

Those pine tree swinging doors are from wood we had sawn from big pines that blew down the first year we moved here.  We had a portable sawmill come and cut out planks that we used for the shutters on the outside, the doors on this changing room off the master bath, and then all the 2x4's to build the garage! From ONE giant white pine tree!  Oh, and the log mantle over the fireplace was from the top of the tree.

The pine tree cutout motif we *borrowed* one Sunday afternoon from a logging implement company in the UP of Michigan. I made Heather (then about 12 or 13 years old)  hold up a paper bag while I traced the pine tree pattern from the cutouts along their railing on their office!   LOL  She was mortified, and I was happy to embarrass her for once.

I was done painting the walk-in closet room in no time, and the paint dried nicely. When Steve got home, we put the brackets and rods back up.  Then it was time to start tearing out carpeting!!!   We ripped out the carpet in the changing room in the pics above...

We also removed the carpeting on the landing and steps leading into the bathroom...  there are two steps up, then across the landing, and two steps down into the bathroom.  Up to the left in the photo are the log steps that lead into the loft where our master bedroom is.

Now comes the BIG JOB!  We moved all of the furniture into the dining area, shoving it all up close and tight to get it all off the livingroom carpet.  We shoved the couch along the railing to the lower level, and piled the coffee table and end table on top of the couch. 

Some certain dogs were NOT much help, as you can see!!!

We pulled the carpeting all loose from the fireplace hearth, and then started rolling it up across the floor... the livingroom is 23 feet long by 12 feet wide so it was quite heavy for the two of us.   We decided to leave it all in one hunk, in case someone can use it for a cottage or someplace.  There are some stains here and there, and a few worn areas.   The new stuff coming will be darker!

Again, those dogs are NOT much help!   
The more we tried to move them around, the more they laid in the way.  
We almost rolled them up into the rug! 

We pulled up the pad too, and got it all out.  Steve had to crawl around on hands and knees to pull out the staples left behind from the pad.  Once that was done, the room seemed HUGE! 

The house feels funny without the carpeting.  It echoes!  It reminded me of when we were first building it 15 years ago.  At that time we considered doing hardwood floors throughout, but the loud clattering echoes with 18 foot high ceilings made up our mind to do carpeting instead. Good choice!

On Saturday, we also removed half of the carpeting in the loft master bedroom.  We did half already because my brother's friend needed it.  So for now we have the king sized bed shoved to one side, and we will removed the other half tomorrow evening and put the king sized bed down into the hopefully finished livingroom.  That way the loft can be cleared open wide to do the new carpet up there on Thursday.  That piece leftover in the cream we are going to install down in the guest bedroom because it's still in pretty good shape.  

I also got the wall behind the bed painted yesterday too.  Almost the same color, but freshened it up and made it look good....

Tomorrow morning the carpet installer is coming at 8 am.  We ordered all of the same color carpeting, enough to do the loft, livingroom, stairs landing and changing room.  He will install all four areas for us, as it will save on Steve's knees.  We had always done our own work in the past, including all the work on building this house ourselves after buying just the log shell.  We did all of our own plumbing, electrical, insulation, laying tile, hanging cabinets, etc. beside laying all the original carpeting. 

So this is strange to have someone come in and do the work for us!  He is only charging us $500 for the installation work in all four areas after purchasing all the carpeting and pad from him.  Plus, he gave us a good deal on the carpeting because he was ordering a full roll of this particular kind, and we liked it enough to say "Sure"!  Besides, being the installer, he is a the owner of this little carpet shop in town, and we are trying to keep our purchases local.  Rather than the big box stores like Home Depot or Menards.  He was priced right and we are glad to give our hard-earned dollars to a local hardworking businessman. 

Well, Steveio is snoring here, so I should post this and get to sleep too.  

P.S. Steve has a huge gooseegg knob on his shin, because he forgot that he put the coffee table down off the couch so the dog could hop up to sleep on it yet tonight.  He walked by and slammed his shin right into the table.. ouch!   Hope it goes down tomorrow!


Monday, January 30, 2012

Oh Boy .. busy busy busy!

Larry just reminded me that it's been a while since I did a blog... I know.. sorry!!!!

I have pics of Steveio changing out the bathroom fan on the motorhome to his new Vortex fan, will post them on the next blog.

It's been a crazy 2 weeks... I had some sock orders to get done, plus I have been spending days scanning in thousands of photos.. .and I do mean thousands!

Plus-----we are going GANGBUSTERS on the house fixups to get it ready to put on the market in April....

We painted the kitchen and dining area, and the back wall of the loft, next up tomorrow is the master closet/changing room   Freshening it up makes a huge difference. Decluttering too!

We have hauled four loads of the car packed to the max over to St. Vinnies and Rainbow House Shelter, and then just as many bags of things to the trash as we are sorting and making ten thousand decisions in a moment for each one....

Each load going out makes us feel lighter and lighter!!  It's like the albatross is lifting off the neck, and we will soon be free of a lot of things we never really needed in the first place.

We picked out all new carpeting for installation on Wednesday, so we are busy busy busy moving things out and sorting and getting the kids to come and get whatever is not needed to *stage* the house for the market.

Plus on top of it all, we sold our Tracker to my little brother and bought a different Tracker, a bit newer with air conditioning (which Steve said we needed)  ...the new one does not have a rag top convertible which I am gonna miss!  

(our old 1995 one we sold) 

Part of the deal with my little brother is that we filled up the back seat (although small)  I jammed it full to the brim with things for my sister... he brought them back up to Michigan after Steve also loaded up the back of his pickup truck that he drove down in.  His friends drove the Tracker back, and I was quite sad to see it go.

The new one is kinda ummmm average...  not "fun" like the Jeepish Tracker was ....  I guess this is a sign that we are getting older?
(the 1997 one we bought) 

It needs a little body work on the some of the rust that we will take care of in the spring.  Otherwise it's a good little toad.  It's 16 inches longer than the last one, and rides a little different.  More like a car, and less like a fun toy!   We took the towing baseplate off the old 1995 Tracker.  One call to Blue Ox we were told we could use it on the 1997, a second call we were told no, we could not, it's different.  So will see.  Come spring we will take care of getting it ready to toad behind the motorhome.

I have a little Chelsea beetle bug girl here today too.. she is "helping" me in the kitchen and we baked up two apple pies.  She will stay overnight tonight, and we can have some good quality snuggle time.  Gotta take a break once in a while! 

Here she was after a nap, asking to watch ELMO!  


Ahhhh she is done in her highchair and time to pop her in the bathtub to clean her up~!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Motorhome Modifications- COOKING WHILE CAMPING part 1 --- and Frozen Nostrils Weather

BRRRRRRRR   We are soooo cold here!  The air temps were below zero this morning, plus it's windy, so the Wind Chills are about 20 to 30 below.  Yes, BELOW.... Frosty, Frigid and Frozen!

Poor Duke, our Shetland Sheepdog, was outside trying to do his business.  He tries to hold all four of his paws in the air at the same time, rather than setting them down on the frosty cold snow.  When it's this cold, his paws (an your moist skin) can actually stick to the frozen packed snow, and sting when you pull it off!  Poor Duke can never figure out how to keep all four paws off the ground.  He keeps looking at one paw to raise it, and doesn't realize that somewhere he is putting another paw down on the ground.  Then he tries to raise another, and looks around-- dangnabbit!  Then another paw has gone down... he gets so perplexed!   You can just see it on his face!

We let our dogs out right from the open side door on our house, clicking on a rope to their collars.  Easy Peasy to shut the door again, and we stay warm INSIDE and watch them through the window till they are done.  They are pampered inside house pets, so do not have toughened up pads for the winter weather.

Even as I write this at noon, we are still 3 below, and our wind chills are still at 21 below!

But my neighbor's dogs still need to be let out twice a day too while he is at work.  They are very short haired Vizsla hunting dogs.  I bundled up from head to toe and headed over to let them out.  They played frisbee for about 4 or 5 tosses in the snow, and right back into the house they went.  I was not going to dawdle, so I was back home in five minutes too.  Whew this is weather where your nostrils freeze shut, I kid you not!

With facing a long boring winter of no camping, I have been posting various Motorhome Modifications from my photo files that we have done over the years.  Going from A to Z....  and I am still on C.  It's "Cooking" !!! Although it is not really Motorhome Modifications, but it does use things we keep IN the motorhome all of the time for cooking.

From my past blogs where we are actually camping, you know from my posts that we do all of our cooking at the campsite.  It's very rare that we go out to eat at restaurants, (not even when we are not camping)  so preparing food is a highlight of our camping getaways.   We do most of it in groups when camping with family and friends---  everyone contributes and we always have more than enough to eat!

Some of the tools we found to making our cooking easier, are:

Coleman Instastart Oven-  Our motorhome only came with a micro/convection combo oven.  There is no lower LP oven under our stove.  I really really miss having a propane oven.  Because we mostly camp rustic without hookups, I can not use the convection oven unless we fire up the generator.  Who wants to do that for hours on end for a roast, or in the early morning for a tray of muffins or sweet rolls?

We found this to be the perfect answer to our problem!

It can run from a small 1 pound cylinder of propane,  or attach the hose from a 20 pounder (BBQ grill size)  that we sometimes bring along  or now we can even hook a hose up from our big onboard built-in propane tank with the use of the Extend A Stay device which also has a port to use other LP appliances with a long hose.

I can cook roasts, bake cakes, warm up food or do half a pizza at a time.  It sure is versatile, and even making breakfast toast is nice instead of starting up a generator just to run a toaster.  Plus all the toast is done at one time, for everyone instead of the normal 2 slice - wait - 2 slice - wait - 2 slice - wait when you have more than one person for breakfast.

It takes a little smaller pan than the 13x11 size, more like the 11x9, so I had to buy a few more pans.  It bakes evenly and has 5 rack heights.  I do find the control knob to be touchy, and we usually fire it up and then turn the knob back down to almost OFF to get an even 375 or so on the dial on top.  When not in use, we remove the propane source, because I feel the knob can be bumped ON too easily.  That would allow gas to pour into the unlit oven and cause a dangerous situation.  Especially around curious grandtots!

On hot days, using this oven keeps the cooking heat outside of the rig when set on the picnic table.  On really cold or wet rainy days, I will even bring it inside the rig and set it on the counter or on the table.  The legs are tall enough and it has a double layer insulated outside surface.  It's not too hot to touch and does not heat up the underside surface where it comes near the table.

Popcorn Popper-  Remember these?  Steve loves popcorn and again, why fire up the generator to run a microwave popped package or a hot air popcorn popper?   This works very well on the stove top burner and makes great tasting popcorn.  Since I knew Steve, he has always owned one,  wearing them out after a few years.  I think this is the fourth or fifth one we have owned.     When the popcorn is done, you can pull up the little lever and the top lifts off, and the bottom becomes a serving bowl!  

 (We have tried some of those long handled popcorn poppers for over the fire, 
but usually end up with burnt puffs or scorched kernels) 

Collapsible Tupperware Bowls-   Steve found me these at a rummage sale, and wow are they ever nice!  They are a bit harder to wash because of the ridges, but if we rinse them out right away after use, it makes it easier.  They collapse down flat for more storage room in the cabinets.

Cast Iron Frypan-  I know they are heavy for RVing, but nothing can beat a corn bread mix baked in an 8" cast iron frypan!   I have a cast iron griddle too, and find nothing can replace wonderful way they bake or fry items. I do have a full set of Tfal kettles, and always do eggs in the Tfal, because I don't care for cleaning the cast iron after doing eggs.

Crock Pot-    Ahh every RVer knows at the parks and social events, there is usually a potluck.  I found this nice smaller oval crock pot from Proctor Silex.  I think technically it's called a Slow Cooker,  link: Proctor Silex 3 Qt Slow Cooker    I think I got it on sale for $15.   What I like about this one is that the inner crock is removable, for not only washing, but also for storing in the RV fridge with leftovers.  Larger ones with removable round crocks won't fit in our RV fridge. so this is the perfect size.   Plus there are clips to keep the lid on, for transport to the potluck!

Some motorhome owners will keep a crock pot going in the kitchen sink and run it from the inverter while traveling down the road.  I have done this a few times and it sure makes a nice journey, smelling something cooking as you head on down the road. Like roasts or chicken n dumplings, or casseroles.... Especially on a rainy icky day when we get to a campground, and don't have to start a fire to cook supper! 

Turkey Fryer-   Yes, sometimes when getting together with family, we will bring along our propane stand and big turkey fryer!   What a wonderful treat!!!!   Exercise caution when using this appliance, because you have to be sure of the right level of oil when dunking in the bird to make up for displacement.  Preheating the oil to the right temp is necessary but ALWAYS turn the burner OFF during the dunking process so there are no flames to ignite the oil if it does spill over.   Re-light the burner once you are sure all is good to go.  

We also use the turkey fryer base and a large deepfrying basket for crab legs!  Not using oil, of course, but salted water and dipping them in for 14 minutes .. voila, perfectly steamed Alaskan Snow Crab Legs!  We use this for making up 5-10 pounds at a time for family gatherings at the holidays too.  Setting it up out on the deck keeps the strong odors of cooking seafood outdoors.  Even in mid-winter! Here is a pic from when we took it along for a birthday dinner for me while camping in October:

 And... one more use for this device, (my sister has one too)   we sometimes can pickles or tomatoes while camping!  Keep in mind, my sister lives about 120 miles away from me, so we don't get together other than on the weekends if we go camping.  If we want to enjoy canning together like we do, we bring along all the supplies, jars, and bushels of vegetables right to the campground!  We have done tomatoes, salsa, pickles, peppers, jam and other wonderful home-canned goodies.  My sister and brother also do saurkraut, pickled fish and potted meats!  My mother loves canning too, and while we were in Florida we set up my LP burner and kettle after mom found a deal on SIX bushels of tomatoes!  Wowzer!

The caption on this first pic is kinda a misnomer.  It's not a 9 quart canning kettle meaning 9 quarts of water,  It means it will hold 9 quart jars!  It's HUGE...   and this stand works so well that even at home I use it for canning outside and keeping the kitchen cooler in the house.

My oldest daughter Erin is going to inherit my big canning kettle and our LP turkey fryer stand and kettle.. plus the crab leg bucket once we hit the road.  We can still use it when we are back in the area, camping with family.  And to steam crab legs when we come home at Christmas each winter for a few weeks!

Well, that is enough of camping cooking ideas for this blog post, stay tuned for the next few posts where I will cover some various grills, pudgy pie irons, pressure cooker, tri-pods over the fire and a really cool waffle maker!

I am going to pop a roast in the oven this afternoon and it will smell sooooo good in the house.  Add some taters and carrots and onions and shrooms.   By the time Steve gets home from work, it will be done, and helps to warm up the house too!  

Brrrr stay warm out there, folks!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Busy Birthday Weekend and Packer Loss... sigh

Yes, it was a devastating loss to the Packer community around here.  Not only didn't the team preform as expected, but the anticipated business of having some more play-off games in the area didn't unfold either.

Oh well, we love our Packers anyhow, no matter what.  We just can't expect Aaron Rodgers to throw, catch and run for all of the touchdowns or to carry the team either.  Some of the team needed to show up to play, which it seems they didn't even try.  Sigh.

The rest of our weekend was delightful, because we had a grandtot birthday to celebrate!  Our littlest granddaughter, Chelsea, turned TWO!    And we all gathered at Erin and Mark's house to have her party.


The guest list included all of her little cousins and one friend... the girls hung out in the playroom, doing their "Girl Things" at the little picnic table that Chelsea's daddy, Mark, built for her.  How cute is this?  I felt I was intruding on a "Girl Thing" moment when I snapped this picture.  "Granmuddah, get out!" 

All of her grandparents, great grandparents and aunts and uncles came too!  It was a houseful with 18 adults, and five kids!  We had a soup n' sandwich buffet,  Erin put out a variety of sandwich makings and salads, and Steve made up a big pot of homemade chicken vegetable soup.  Yummmmm

The little Birthday Girl had a good grasp on the present-opening-process, after just being through Christmas, she had good practice.  Such concentration!   Here is a shot of me with our daughter-in-law Heather, expecting our new grandson in early April, and my dear mother-in-law, Mary Ann on the far right. 
Erin is also expecting another grandson for us, a week after Heather!  Adding 2 more the crew!!

Our son Dan, to the left of Steveio, is sprouting a fuzzy beard, to be shaven off after the new baby comes. Why, I have NO idea!  Steve did the same thing for each of his children, growing a beard during the pregnancy and then shaving it off after the babies were born.  No idea why???!!!

At one point, the stinkers took out the toboggan and pretended to be going down a steep hill.  How funny!

Our other two grandchildren - 
Jameson busy with his party favor set of monster trucks, 
and Allegra in her ballerina tutu and playing with balloons.  

As Chelsea opened each present, she went around to each gifting relative and gave them huge hugs and thanks.  Learning the art of "Thank You" is a good thing to have young ones understand, even at age 2.

Here she is hugging Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Pfundtner, who came all the way from Waupaca for her party. The roads were clear, and no snow in the forecast, we were glad they could make it.

(My camera has been making pink striped glares across the screen sometimes, ever since I dropped it in the Grand Canyon. ACK!   Sunday I treated myself to a new Nikon digital camera, which should help the picture taking from now on.)

Yes, our Little Diva turned 2... going on 20 I am sure.  
Happy Birthday, Beedle Bug Baby! 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Motorhome Modifications - back to the letter C again

Yup, we got some snow, but not nearly as much as they predicted.  It was supposed to snow all day today too, but it looks like the storm moved on.  I think we got about 5-6 inches, but with all the blowing around, it's hard to tell.

Now back to the letter C....  

First on deck is a Collapsible Bucket.  We picked this up last year on a sale, and it sure is handy!  I think I paid $5 for it.  

The extending windshield squeegee fits inside it for washing the windows on the outside of the rig.  When dried out, it collapses down and slides into the little nylon sack for storage.  Takes up a lot less room than a five gallon bucket we used to use.  The only reason a five gallon bucket is nice to have along (if you have room)  is that it can do double duty as a step stool or a seat when turned upside down.

Good for Steve's s rig-washing brush, or even just a bucket to hand wash something with a rag. 
We have used it to soak sweet corn in before grilling. 
We have used it to haul water for filling my canning kettle. 
We have used it to haul apples picked off a tree on an abandoned farmstead. 
We have used it to scoop up dog food from a broken bag in the storage compartment. 
We have used to carry toddler toys to the beach, juice boxes and sunscreen too.

So that was a little handy hint for an easy RV accessory that has multiple uses.

Coleman lanterns, of course, are a staple among the camping crowd!  Especially when you camp in rustic campgrounds without hookups or boondocking out in the boonies. No streetlights for miles.   It is one of our favorite camping toys!

A small lantern from Coleman, SOOO much better than hauling around those bigger camping lanterns, breaking their glass lens, or their fragile mantles.  For many many years, since I was a child, we had those big white gas lanterns with the thin glass circular lens.  Can't tell you how many we broke, usually while in transit.  We even had the big maroon cases to help with breakage on the large propane versions.  But  we saw this one being used by our camping buddy, Bob Senior.  We had to go out and get one right away for ourselves. This one has kept the same mantle going all summer. 

I LOVE clearance Sales at our local Shopko store.  They had these neato containers that are rectangular in shape instead of circular.  Think... on a shelf... flat sides of containers stack next to each other better than cylindrical.  So we get more storage and less wasted space.    I bought a set of 8 of these great containers from Gourmet Living.

MY CABINET BEFORE                             MY NEW CONTAINERS 

They have vacuum seal lids by flipping down the little ring type levers on the lids, which create a suction.  We use the larger ones for flour, sugar, brown & powdered sugar etc.  The smaller ones for coffee, rice, pancake mix etc.  Less cardboard boxes and bags in the cabinets is good to avoid bugs when travelling in the southern states.   Here they are, all filled up and lined in a neat row. 

These are normally $15-20 a container ---  WHEW!  But they had a set of 8 pieces, all in the sizes I wanted for the mere price of $89.99  ... so that is down to $10 a container....  still a WHEW! --- You know me, a cheapie shopper.   Well, the set was on sale for only $39.99.  Plus I had a $10 gift card.  So $29.99 final price.  That comes out to less than $4 a container.  More in my budget range, teeeheeee  I just googled now and they are on sale again!   Here is a link to them:   Gourmet Living Containers at Shopko

Well, that is my three C's of Motorhome stuff for the blog post today.  

For a fourth C... Chelsea!   She is feeling better today, and has her 2 year old checkup this afternoon with the pediatrician.  Erin will get more reassurance from the doc that it will be okay to have the birthday party tomorrow.  She will be so happy to see all her cousins and little friends, and all the loving grandparents, aunts and uncles too.  

After her party, we are going to take the grandson, Jameson, back to our house for an overnight!   His mommy and daddy are having a romantic date night, so we are keeping him here.  Our Christmas gifts to all our kids/spouses were gift cards to a nice dinner out at a locally owned steak house called Mackinaws  http://www.mackinaws.com/   and then we included gift cards to a movie.  Of course, the gift also stipulated that they get free overnight babysitting too as part of their date. 

I am looking out at the snow, and yes, it looks nice to cover up all the yucky brown ground.  A few flakes are floating down here and there, but basically I think it's done for the day.  The river is starting to ice over again.  

Yes, Winter is here.    


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter has come to Wisconsin

Arrrggghhhh I suppose we should count ourselves lucky.  We folks up here in Wisconsin have dodged the proverbial *S*N*O*W* bullet long enough.  It's been amazingly warm and snow-less.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a Winter Weenie.  I grew up in Wisconsin and spent my teen years in Michigan's UP, I know winter.  I have snowmobiled, ice fished, iceskated, skied and sledded with the best of them.  But I think once I have reached that ripe old age of 50, my fear of slipping and breaking bones has overtaken the daring need to conquer winter conditions.  I will still drive in the snow, but if I can stay home and avoid going out, I will.

Soooooo today it started.  I should not complain, because we are usually snow covered from early November on through till late April.  It looks like our getting by with 2 and half months being almost snow-free has been a freak of Wisconsin Winter habits.

I think part of it is because of last winter going for 7 weeks out west and in the desert (check my archives from mid Feb till mid April 2011)   It sealed the deal on our preference for spending time THERE instead of HERE once we are retired.   We will be back from May-Oct in Wisconsin visiting family and camping with everyone.  And the delicious thought of being able to stay on at a campground while everyone else is packing up to go home on Sunday is enticing.  We look forward to being able to stay as long as we want and move on to the next location at our own pace as purely delightful!

As I have said, winter is here.  Today I watched about 15 fat old turkeys waddle along the river bank by our house.  I grabbed the camera but the battery was dead.  So then I grabbed the video camera (which also does digital pics) and snapped a few shots as they were wandering into the woods.

When I took these photos, the snow had just been starting.  Now we have a couple of inches on the ground, and it's supposed to snow all the rest of today, tonight and all day tomorrow.  ICK!   

Funny how smart they are during hunting season and elusive and sneaky.... but once the season is over, they waddle around in plain sight and don't even care if you are driving into them on the road.  They make the cars slow down!!!

Once we hit a turkey with the motorhome and it scared the beejesus outta us!   Luckily we only bent a little bit of a trim ring around a light and had a scuff of feathers.   I had envisioned shattered fiberglass and destroyed grill work.

My planned little baking session with Chelsea screeched to a halt yesterday.  I went to pick her up from the daycare about 3pm and they said she was sick!  She was running a fever, had urped up some food, and even her eyes were glazed and dull and her cheeks were pinkypink.  Awwwwww  Her little congested breathing and coughing just tore at my heart.   Instead of coming to our house,  I brought her to her house for her mommy to take over the care, and we put the apple pie baking plans on hold.  I didn't want to catch it either!   Today her Daddy stayed home from work with her, so she got a full day of being a Daddy's Girl, and tomorrow Erin has her 2 year checkup already scheduled with the pediatrician, so she will be checked out and hopefully doing good by Saturday. It's her big girl 2 year old birthday party on Saturday, with all her cousins, and grandpas and grandmas and even Great Grandma and Grandpa Pfundtner if the roads aren't too bad!

Watching the news right now, the roads are slippery, lots of accidents of people who forget how to drive on the roads in winter. It's always like that for the first storm or two.  The gusting winds are making it even more slippery and difficult.

It's a big Packer Weekend this Sunday with the playoff game in Green Bay.  Did you know that when it snows before a game, that Lambeau Field puts a notice on the local news to come to the stadium and hopefully get chosen to be a SNOW SHOVELER???  It's an honor!   And you have to be 15 years or older.  You are paid $10 an hour and they furnish the shovels.  You work in rows shoveling the snow off the bleacher seats and walkways, onto long slides that loads it down into trucks at the bottom where the snow is hauled away before the game starts.  Some teens even BEG their parents to call them in sick to school so they can go to the stadium and shovel snow!!!  People come from miles around to be honored to be picked as snow shovelers and line up hours in advance.  They are disappointed to be turned away once the 400 or 500 people are chosen.   I am sure many of them would do it for FREE!   Only in Green Bay, hey?

Here is video link of how it is done:

This afternoon, I went out to get the mail and trudge over to the neighbor's house to let out his dogs.  Bundled up like an eskimo with boots, hat, heavy mitts and jacket.  I threw their frisbees for a while and then let out our own dogs.  Our dogs just do their business and run right back into the house.  The whipping winds chilled me right to the bone, so once I got back in the house, I hopped in a hot steamy shower.

Steve just got in the door here from driving home from work, going 38 miles in this mess, and he said the roads were quite slippery and cars in the ditch too. Glad he is home and I don't think we are going anywhere tonight.

Ahhhh  Yes, I guess I could be turning into a Winter Weenie?


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Motorhome Modification - COMPARTMENTS

To get through this long boring winter, I am going through our motorhome modifications from A-Z....  This is still a blog in the C's ... COMPARTMENTS

(this is a long one, so I will only do one *C* today instead of 3)

Actually that is a mis-nomer because our rig doesn't really have compartments like most motorhomes or trailers, it's one huge storage basement wide open from axle to axle and side to side. 

Some folks have asked me about how much storage we have or how we organize our basement compartment.  It seems their rigs never having enough room, or they are worrying about cargo carrying capacity weight issues.   When I tell them that is not an issue with us, they have a hard time believing it.  

While newer rigs have multiple slides, which are very weighty by themselves, they also have storage issues with the slide mechanisms taking up valuable space.  We don’t have the slides, so we have more than enough storage area in the basement of our rig, and weight is not a problem.  

Even with all our tanks full, (propane, fuel, fresh water and waste water) we have almost 6,000 pounds of cargo carrying capacity.   Being  aluminum exterior construction instead of fiberglass makes a big difference, plus wall and roof supports are all aluminum too.   We weigh in with full tanks at 22,000 pounds without our gear when we first bought the rig.   Our rating is  GVWR- 28,000    GCWR-32,000

I thought I would show you what we haul along in our rig. I had taken these pics for insurance purposes because most RV policies only carry $500 coverage on the personal contents, I kid you not!  So please check your policy and ask your agent.  We carry an additional rider for the rest of the possessions we carry above $500. 

There is a huge basement storage area with stainless steel doors all around the rig, which look impressive.  The basement is a wide open space, not separate little compartments.  It is a huge pass through space with doors that open up high on each side.  It is completely open side to side and front to rear between the front and rear axles.  We can load in quite a bit because our GCWR is 32,000 and we are well below that. 
Although we don’t have any slides, the floorplan we have allows for plenty of movement, 
storage and our rig is a “wide body” model which adds extra width.

DRIVER SIDE:  there are many compartment doors all along the entire length of the coach. It's open all of the way through to the other side!

Let’s start on the driver’s side.  All of our stainless steel compartment doors rise upwards on struts and when shut, they lock securely on both ends instead of one latch in the middle. 

I will go down the side from front to back, door by door. 
Here is door number 1. 

Whoda thunk of that space above the tank as a good spot to put a long tube for stowing the stinky slinky!   For those of you who do not know what a "Stinky Slinky"  is, it’s the flexible 3” hose used to dump the grey and black tanks…ewwwwwww   We don’t want to keep THAT hose in our carpeted storage basement area. 

On to the next door…..

We bought an assortment of these gray totes with heavy snap on lids.  They are made by HOMZ 

 http://www.homzproducts.com  and I see that Ace Hardware carries them.  

The large totes measure 30 inches long by 18 inches wide.
The smaller totes measure 18 inches long by 14 inches wide.  

We like them because they have a full handle on each side, not just a lip edge that you carry by the fingertips.   Also, the lid fits firmly over the top and comes way down on the sides, which does not allow anything to get into the tote.   We have more than enough totes, and keep swapping out sizes back and forth as we determine our needs in the future.  The extra totes we keep in our garage or my fiber storage room for now.  

In these matching big silver totes that fit perfectly, each one labeled for it’s contents:  dog stuff, lanterns/propane stuff, picnic table and patio lights, diesel filters oil and supplies, raingear and boots, freshwater supplies, wastewater supplies, etc. and of course my fiber toys!  At the far right is the plumbing compartment with all the manifold fittings for water areas in the rig and an outdoor shower.

In this next photo below, if you look close to the center of the rig, you will see a white poly 2x4 Cosco table and a larger 3x6 heavy black folding table.  Both tables slide in nicely under the space under the suspended fresh water tank.  We use them for eating and serving food when boondocking at places without picnic tables.  Also good for extra table space when working on crafts or doing some crazy things like canning pickles (see Runkle Lake campground review or Paint River Forks in my archives)   I can use these tables for an impromptu craft sale if we want while on the road at a campground too. 

Here it is loaded up,  each one labeled for it’s contents:  dog stuff, lanterns/propane stuff, picnic table and patio lights, diesel filters oil and supplies, raingear and boots, freshwater supplies, wastewater supplies, etc. and of course all of my fiber supplies and toys! When we travel for a longer length of time, I have to have storage for my fiber supplies and inventory.  This is "My Space" for storage.

At the far right is the plumbing compartment with all the manifold fittings for water areas in the rig and an outdoor shower.

This door is kinda a half access on the front, but behind the water manifold section is the water pump, expansion tank and some extra plumbing.  It used to be walled off, but Steveio removed the wall piece for better access.  Nice to have access to that mechanical stuff instead of it being buried behind a wall.   You can see the daylight from right through to the open compartment on the other side of the rig. Steve usually lays his fishing rods in this area, plus the awning rod, which is reachable from the other side. 

The next door behind the axle area is our power compartment... behind this stuff, we have a wired-in Progressive Industries electric management protection system to cover us for dangerous power surges or brown-outs.

We recently replaced the inverter from the old Freedom 2000W Heart (which burned out) over to this Tripplite 1500W. We also have a wired in Progressive Industries unit for surge and brownout protection. 

In front of the things in the photo above, we store the power cords and adaptors for 50 amp to 30 or 20 amp if need be. Sometimes the cords get dirty from being on the ground, and it's nice to have this compartment separate from the clean carpeted center basement of the rig. 

In the last compartment on the driver's side is our generator.  We don't use it often enough because of now having 500 watts of solar panels on the roof. We have to remember to exercise it monthly with a load on it to keep it in tip top shape.  We didn't always do that and had a very costly repair.  Now it's a priority to take care of it.

 It looks a little crooked in this photo because it was snapped when we were putting the generator back into place after having the rotor rebuilt.  Rest assured, it is firmly bolted back into place now and works just fine.  LOL  

We don’t use the generator too often, but we have to run it from time to time under a full load to exercise it.  Great to have in an emergency, or to run one of the roof AC units as we are driving down the road if need be during hot summer temps.  But we really appreciate the peace and quiet when camping and don’t like to run it at all.  So if you are a genny-fanatic, please park far far away from us? 


Now on to the passenger side compartments:

These are the two most used doors near the passenger front between the side entry door and the front of the rig.   We kinda packed them full, huh?

Someone asked on the blog about how does Steve fix stuff while we are on the road?  Rest assured, he has ALL his tools along, even a vice that can clamp into the back hitch to work on items like an outdoor workshop. 

This one is Steve’s favorite compartment:
Steveio filled one door space with his tool box area… where he carries all of his tools in a handy dandy toolbox he made from an old shop desk.

Stacked on top of the totes are our camping signs, picnic table cloth, kneeling foam pad  and whatever else don’t get stowed away properly as we break camp the time before. 

We carry along our two zero gravity recliners, and four folding chairs for company and our two macreme lawn chairs, a few little wooden tv trays for coffee clutching too.  It all fits along with some room for the patio mat behind the chairs. And Steve's big air compressor alongside the chairs.

Yes, Steve puts the large air compressor right into this compartment too. It's used for his air tools, and also in case of a low tire, it's capable of going to the 110 pounds needed for our tires.   It slides in and kind of curves back underneath the stairs in an open space usually not accessible.  By just reaching in to flip the lever on, and grabbing the long air hose, he is in business!    (of course when boondocking, we have to fire up the generator first to get the power to make this run) 

Now we can move to the rear half of the passenger side.

The two interior entry steps into the rig to reach the main floor are the only things taking up any square footage in the basement storage area. 

We also carry a folding table, extra leveling blocks, fishing gear and an air compressor.  Our Safari does not have air bags, instead it has a special suspension on its Magnum chassis, made by BF Goodrich called Torsiliastic (sp?) which is comprised of rubber wedges and rubber fittings that give it a *Velvetride* …. yes, veryyyy smooth.   So we need an on-board air compressor for Steve’s air tools and emergency tire filling.

This door number 3 is located at the left of the entry door.  In here, we have the big solar controller for the solar panels on the roof. There is also a big pull out fuse to disconnect the whole system for repairs.  I like that we have an outdoor tv antenna jack here. Sometimes we carry out the inside tv to watch packer games under the awning.  There are both DC and AC electrical outlets and a little light to see what we are looking for in the dark too. We also stow the 6 large planks for under the tires for leveling the rig.  (not in the pic) 

In this next compartment, we stow the planks we use as pads under the hydraulic levelers, and also sometimes driving up the wheels on to get more level.  Our solar controller unit and breaker box are also in this compartment, along with Steve's fishing poles, pudgy pie makers and the ever-coveted awning pull down rod!

Further down on the passenger side is the battery compartment.  Since we installed the 500 watts of solar on the roof, these four 6v batteries store all the power created by the panels.  link to our Solar Installation blog post   We can comfortably use lights, tv's, computers, coffee maker and other various electrical things and quietly solar recharge again the next day.

 I talked about them more in depth a few blogs back. They are located behind the rear wheels. It is open around the sides and bottom for ventilation.   There are 6 batteries in there now, but we can later move the 2 chassis (driving) batteries into a new rack in the engine compartment that Steveio made.  Then we could increase the bank of coach (camping) batteries to a total of six 6volt golf cart batteries if we wish.  Although with our five 100 watt solar panels that we installed, we may never need six batteries… four might be enough.

Now this last door is the cool stuff that you do not see on gas engine motorhomes.  This is Steve's Control Central! He finds out all kinds of  diagnostic stuff in this compartment. He can even start the engine from in here if the key is in the ignition. Pretty cool! 

For those Techy Kinda Guys, here is the new head piece he re-vamped to fit the newer Fleetgard FS 1212 fuel filters that are available for our engine, now that the Racor Win 200/200 ones were discontinued. 

Now let's move across the front of the rig. 
Inside the front compartment are all the electronic fuse boxes and grounds etc.  
I had to cut and paste a few pics of it, as it won’t all fit in one picture.

In here we also have a large fire extinguisher with access in emergency because this compartment does not lock.  Hope we never have to use it, but it's a great location.  If we are ever needing to help on an emergency on the road, it's easy to grab. 

Yes we carry FIVE fire extinguishers in our motorhome: 

Just stop and think for a minute.  If you are asleep in your bedroom of your camper, and wake up to a fire in the middle of the rig, you probably have to bail out a window or emergency exit.  The extinguisher is usually located up near the door which is locked from the inside.  So even if you bailed out, you can’t even get back into your camper to get to it.  Of course, they do burn up fast and sometimes there is nothing you can do to save it.  But having a few around, plus an external one in an unlocked compartment is a real smart thing to do.  Locating one at the far end of your rig, like your bedroom, where you might be trapped is a good idea too.    Having one in an outside compartment means you can access it and quick blast at say a fire on the brakes or tire, or at a campfire that is spreading  etc. 
(keeping a hidden door key outside somewhere is a very smart idea, not just for a fire but for any time you might get locked out or lose your keys)

So.. that completes the tour of our storage compartments and how we organize them.  In the future we see ourselves adding a few more totes of clothes (in vacuum sealed space bags)  some supplies of my craft stuff, and perhaps my table loom when not in use. The loom folds up somewhat and fits in drivers side number 3 quite well.  

Otherwise we are pretty well set for full timing, and more than adequate space inside the rig for the personal items we take along regularly and keep our kitchen fully stocked as well as the clothing and bathroom gear.   So our weight load will not change much, right now fully loaded we are about 3,000 pounds under our CCC limit, so that is a good thing.  We still have 4,000 towing capacity on top of that too.  We currently tow a Geo Tracker that only weighs 2,200 pounds

Well, enough of all that , time to get a few things done around the house.  Later today I am picking up the Chelsea Beetle Bug Girl from daycare and taking her back to our house.   Her granfaddah needs an apple pie baked, so she better come over and peel/core/slice up some apples!    Putting her to WORK!   Later she can have a spa evening in the big whirlpool tub with bubbles, and get in her jammies before her Mommy and Daddy come to pick her up.  All ready for beddy-bye.