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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Baby's Got New Shoes---- and Undercover Boss!

Yup, our baby needed new "shoes" ...  after 6-7 years the tires on a motorhome need replacing, no matter how few miles are on them or how much tread is left.  We are told because they are not run daily like a car, the rubber is not flexed enough to allow the natural oils to move throughout the rubber substance.   They "age out" long before they wear out on most RV's.

(we learned the hard way, on our last motorhome, an older Coachman, those great looking tires were really 13, yes, THIRTEEN years old and we had two of them blow out all over the interstate 50 miles apart... we then learned about reading the date codes on tires.  Never again will we run with old tires, I tell ya!)

Steve had called around and compared prices at various places, but decided to do business with Ray's General Tire in Appleton.  Not only did he have the best price after he was able to locate the ones we wanted, but he also allowed us to be "present" while the tires were being swapped over under our supervision.

Horror stories abound of un-educated tire workers twisting frames, or jacking up into a holding tank, or like our friend Mel, leaving his rig standing on three spindly little mounted leveling jacks while all six tires were taken somewhere else off site to be spin balanced!   It was hours before they returned to his rig to put them back on.  Just imagine if one of those little hydraulic leveling jacks gave way and his motorhome crashed to the ground????  Those jacks are for leveling purposes or a quick tire change, and not made to wholly support an entire 25,000 pound motorhome.  ACK!  That is about twelve and a half TONS on three tiny hydraulic jacks?

That is why it was important for us to be present and watch the process.  We don't want to risk the damage or litigation for a repair.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Also, I wanted to take PICS for you guys ... so I told them I write an RVing blog and would be spreading word about their wonderful service across the whole USA.

We are at:

Ray's Tire

1121 N. Bluemound Dr.
Appleton, WI 54914
 (920) 739-8124

We arrived 10 minutes early for our appointment, and verified the date codes on the tires.  We wanted them to be made within the year of 2013.  Date codes are read like this:  0613 means made the 6th week of 2013.   another example would be 1799 means the 17th week of 1999, which means 14 years old!   You get the idea.  The first two digits are the week, and the last two digits are the year.

The workmen were happy and agreeable to us for letting us use our leveling jacks and helping to raise each of the tires just so they cleared the ground, working on each section at a time as they worked their way around the rig.  We blocked the front tires because the parking/emergency brake unit on our motorhome only locks up the drive shaft and rear tires, not the fronts.

They do not have a bay large enough for the motorhome to fit into, so we were situated across their parking area in front of the bay doors.  That was fine with us, the weather was in the 40's and no rain, so we were happy.

We ordered six Toyo tires, the same brand we have had on there for the last seven years.  The M120 are no longer made, so we changed to the M122 model.  Same specs, just their newer model.  The size of our tires are Toyo 255-70-22.5        

We started with the rear passenger dual wheels.  They took off both the tires on that side and two guys worked as a team to get the old tires off the rims and the new ones on, spin balanced and new metal valve stems (NOT braided)  for each tire.

The tire guys spun each tire and added balancing weights where needed; all digitally balanced with a machine they have on site.  We do not use the internal balancing beads or the powder equalizer stuff because we have individual tire pressure monitor sensors that go on each valve stem.  Sometimes those beads or powders will jam up instead the stems and goof up the readings or even damage the sensors.  So spin-balanced tires were the way to go for us.

We watched each tire get inflated to our requested pressures (110 psi back tires and 100 psi front tires) due to our calibrated rig and axle weights from a truck scale when fully loaded.  Then they put the tires back on, torquing the lug nuts to the requested foot pounds for our rig.  (400)

Steveio even got to "assist" with rolling around the tires after the guy inside was done balancing and ready to get on the next tire.   I just took pics and made myself stay outta the way.

The very observant service tech guy noticed a leak on our back driver's side axle!  It's not too bad to keep us from driving on it to get home, but we have an appt. now made on Friday afternoon to get it repaired at our favorite heavy duty commercial truck place, L&S Truck Center in Appleton.  http://www.lstruck.com   They have done a few other repairs for us in the past, and we trust them.  Thank you for the heads-up from the tire guy------  probably saved us a HUGE repair bill down the road.  Or even worse, broken down on the side of the road?

Soon we were down to the last tire!   It only took 1 hour and 20 minutes from start to finish.

We had them save one tire of our original 6 to keep as a spare.  The existing spare was not a very good tire, bought used, but was on there just to use in a pinch if needed.  This way we have a more reliable one in case of a problem on the road. I hope not!    The spare rides up on the front rack, and we have a vinyl grey cover that goes over it.

Now... it was time to go inside and pay... ouch! 

$450 a tire, mounted, balanced, new stem and taxes.... 

but then they kindly bought five of our original tires for $50 each to resell to 
possible haulers, agricultural folks or whatever as the tread was only 1/4 of the way worn.

So our bill to get out the door was

Like I said.... OUCH! 

Now for the other part of my topic title you might be wondering about?  What does the CBS show Undercover Boss have to do with me?  Well....  

Our oldest daughter is a district manager of about 20 Family Dollar stores in NE Wisconsin.  She has worked for the corporation since she was 17 years old, working her way up from a clerk to running a store by age 20, and is now running a whole batch of stores at the age of 30.  Seems that Undercover Boss decided to do a segment in one of HER STORES that she manages!    It happened last summer and she had to sign a confidentiality agreement and tell no one. 

I kinda knew something was up because she was with a film crew at 2 of her stores for about a week and a half and couldn't tell me why.  I figured it was one of three things:   

1. a commercial she would appear in for Family Dollar, 
2. a documentary on small town stores in the northwoods and U.P. of Michigan ... 
3. a segment of Undercover Boss!   (I guessed right but I kept it to myself) 

But now that it has been made public 
with the previews from CBS,
 she is allowed to tell us.

This is their preview info: 
“Family Dollar” – Mike Bloom, President and COO of Family Dollar Stores, one of the largest discount retail companies in the country, faces his fear of heights when learning to operate a forklift that takes him 35 feet into the air. Also, the boss nearly blows his rock ‘n’ roll disguise when one employee invites him to a jam session, on UNDERCOVER BOSS, Friday, Nov. 8 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

She doesn't know much about what parts have made it to the show or what parts are left on the editing room floor.  But of course what the workers do in her stores reflects on her training and on her shoulders.  The big boss COO Mr. Mike Bloom came from the N. Carolina headquarters in disguise and did spend some time operating a forklift in a distribution center, and some other sections of the show should revolve around some of Erin's employees in 2 of her stores.  We will know more on Nov 8 when it airs on CBS.   Oh boy! 

Well, it is my birthday today, I got a whole bunch of wonderful wishes online, a pile of greeting cards in the mail, gifts and more stuff to come.  Grandpa P is taking me to a concert in Dec. as my present with him.  Steveio gave me a gift certificate to my favorite yarn store.  He knows what makes my heart go pitter-pat!  YARN! 

And... my darling Steveio just made me the most luscious dinner of steamed snow crab legs, baked potatoes, green salad and a glass of wine.  We indulged over a long luxurious meal and now I am full to the brim.  While he is cleaning up a bit, I am sending out this blog.   

I still have green tomatoes ripening every day or two, and I have about 4 quarts worth of stewed tomatoes to can up yet this evening.   Once he is done cleaning up my kitchen, I will go mess it up again.  

Tomorrow I will write about the GREAT thing that came in my mail today..... 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween at High Cliff State Park

Oh boy, it's Wednesday already and I am finally able to get around to posting a blog about the weekend at High Cliff State Park (in Wisconsin).

We had our reservations made early but could only get a non-electric site.  Later some friends of the hosts were able to move into the host site and "sold" us their electric site.  From there, we "sold" our site to our friends Mel and Paula!   Now everyone got to come and enjoy the weekend!  Although we do have five solar panels on the roof, the winter sun is not as bright for recharging, and being parked in the woodsy trees is even more difficult for six days.  Now we could run a small electric heater in the basement water compartment bay to keep our pump, lines and tanks from freezing up. Temps dropped to the 20's overnight. brrrrrrrr

On Saturday was the huge Halloween Celebration in the park.  Besides trick or treating in the completely filled 112 site campground, there were also costume contests, pumpkin carving and a spooky trail walk put on by The Friends of High Cliff.

Our kids came, along with the grandtots... costumes and energy and lots and lots of sugar sure made for a fun day!   The only one missing was our son-in-law Mark who was out deer hunting.  

Here is our "TRIBE"

Grandtot Jameson came a day early and had helped me decorate up the campsite....  ours was very minor compared to some of the sites that were done up.  Wow... these people come a week early and set up all week long for this special day event!   Here is our site:

Jameson also helped mix up all the candy and start filling the bowls.  Paula brought her candy over too as they were hanging out at our campsite during the day.  (we went through EIGHT large bowls of candy!)

I cooked up a big crock pot of chili and had a crock pot of hot dogs kept warm too... along with a bunch of other goodies to munch on throughout the day.  But best of all was my daughter brought along a bunch of Birthday Cupcakes for MEEEEEEE   Yes, Halloween is my birthday and all of the grandtots look forward to celebrating with me.  And, I suppose, looking forward to the cupcakes?

Here is a little Utube video the kids made of my birthday singing:

JAMESON                                    ALLEGRA                                    CHELSEA

MASON                                     CLAYTON                              and .... ME! 

The kids and our friends gave me piles of wonderful gifts to unwrap
and I was the Halloween Queen of the Day! 

Even our newest little grandpuppy, Radar, was dressed up in a costume!  He is a Welsh Pembroke Corgi and belongs to Jameson, Heather and Jesse.   What an adorable little stinker...

Our wee ones donned their costumes.   We had a couple Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a Super girl, a Puppy and a Fireman!  ...  They all gripped their candy bags and were anxious to go out and get some Sweet Loot!

The grandgirls, both now three years old, really got into the day.  Our oldest daughter, Erin, was a vampiress from New Orleans I guess and went all out on her costume.  Later she and her husband went out for the evening and left their kids with us overnight.

 Little puppy Clayton was barking at all of us, and we had to break up a few sword fights between our Ninja Turtle Tots.  LOL   The silliness and fun of watching them play was such a joy for my heart.

Soon they blocked off the roads to auto traffic into the campground
 (comprised of six different streets of campsites) 
and the trick-or-treaters filled the roads up.  
Going from site to site, we enjoyed watching all the costumed folks stream on by. 

We set our bowls of candy out near the roadway, and most of the folks politely took one piece.  Chelsea and Allegra monitored the candy levels for a while until everyone in our group was ready to head out for some Sweet Loot.  We loved seeing the creative costumes that people came up with.
(that umbrella is a jelly fish!) 

What fun we had and kept refilling our bowls of candy for the 3 hours of visitors. We sat around the campfire with our friends and it was like watching a parade.  We even had out doggie treats for all the canine visitors.

Last year, this large family group came all dressed up as "Toy Story".... 
this year they all came as the theme from the movie "Despicable Me" !!!
How wonderfully creative and such elaborate costumes----
 I told them I would put them on the blog again, same as last year....

After the long day was over, and the food all cleaned up, it was time to sit around the campfire with some friends.  Then it was time to toss these two leftover grandtots in the bathtub and cuddle them up into bed.  Clayton was out like a light, before we were even halfway through his bedtime story.  Chelsea took a little longer, but I think it was due to the high sugar levels in her bloodstream?

The next morning was started early at 6:30 a.m. with two tots bounding into our bed to cuddle and snuggle.  This is the BEST part of our camping experience when having grandtots sleep over.   I love the time we spend in the bed, giggling, telling stories, and enjoying each other's company.

Hanging out in jammies all morning was fun, as they ate a little breakfast.  Granfaddah was outside taking down all the decorations and stowing things away in the motorhome.  I got to hang out with the grandtots instead.  What a deal, eh?

Steve was helping our friends Paula and Mel with some RV repair things, and we were watching from the window after naptime.  Paula snapped this shot of us as we were checking out the weather for the day. It was lovely, less wind, and crisp sunshine on a fall day.  Look at the reflections of the trees on the side of the motorhome... how cool is that?

When it came time to get out of our campsite, I took the grandtots in the car back to our house in Chilton. Steve stayed in the campground a bit longer and dumped and rinsed the holding tanks on the motorhome.  We were going to winterize the rig later today so he got all the messy stuff done there at the park before driving it home. 

We had to stop and buy MORE candy for the trick-or-treaters coming to our house in Chilton!   Sunday was the appointed event day for our town, from 3-5 p.m. so the grandtots helped me get more candy ready for the visitors to our home.   Clayton was mixing up the candy (and hoping to eat more)  while Chelsea entertained us with some live music.   

 After living the last 16 years in the country, we rarely got any trick-or-treaters at our rural home.    Now that we are living back in town, we get the joy and delight of seeing the little tots come up our sidewalk to get treats.  We sat in our enclosed front porch where it was cozy warm and watched the kids come and go. This is a fun way to wind up a very very busy weekend!  Here they come!

This week is going to be busy, I just finished putting away all the gear and freezable stuff we took out of the motorhome.  We will reload things if we head south or west this winter for vacation, but in the meantime it needed to get all unloaded.   

This week will also be my actual birthday on Thursday, so I am not sure what Steveio has planned.  Also the king sized quilt I sent off to Janna in Montana (hey... that rhymes!)  to be machine quilted is coming in the mail to me.  So I will get to sew on the binding to finish it up.  

Then I am working on some sock orders, later today we are going to get new tires put on the motorhome, and this weekend the three gals who grew up in this house are coming by for a visit! 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Okay Okay Okay ... Here I am again!

Since we moved back to our house from being hosts in the campground for the month of August, I just haven't been posting blogs.  I am so sorry!   It just seems that the mundane day to day stuff at home isn't much for me to write about?  Here is a quick recap of the last month:

Let's see.....  
we babysat Mason and Allegra for a weekend and took them to a pumpkin patch

 Had lots of fun playing in the backyard, 
and Allegra helped me bake an apple pie! 

Another thing I did last month:
I scraped, sanded, primed and painted the inside of the front porch.
that took a whole week but now it's all fresh and clean and white .... 

I went up and stole Chelsea and Clayton from the daycare center one afternoon

here are two videos of them using some baby quilts I made for their mommy, 
30 years ago and the quilts are still being loved and used today

And I made my first REAL quilt.... and made four little pillows out of the "oops squares"

And now we moved the motorhome  back out to High Cliff State Park yesterday for six days .. it's the last blast of camping for the year!  Plus it's the big holiday celebration for Halloween here at the park. Pumpkin carving, costume contests, spooky trail walk and trick or treating among the 112 campsites!

Steve had to work late Tuesday, so I loaded up the rig, stopped for a propane fill, and drove it to the park.  Got all backed in and set up and cozy warm long before he even got done with work.

Every site in the campground is reserved and soon many hundreds of ghosts and goblins will be making their way from campsite to campsite---- all decorated in festive lights, inflatable stuff and big bowls of candy to give to the little stinkers.   Last year we ran out at 650 pieces... so this year we stocked up even more!

We might be due for some snow flakes here, but nothing to accumulate I hope.  As it is we are only in the highs of 40's during the days and lows of 20's at night.  Brrrrrrr  Got the furnace running and we are cozy and warm inside.  But we haven't sat outside at a fire yet.

Last night, we wandered on down to Luke and Rosie's site for a bit of musical jam session... these folks are smart, they were IN a tent with heaters going.  It was down to 27 degrees.  Even playing around a campfire would have frozen stiff fingers.   Here is a great video clip I shot of one song:

And to top it all off, my birthday is on Halloween, so I get a double whammy of love from ALL FIVE grandtots who are going to be coming here! I get to see them in their costumes, and then have a birthday party with all of them here for me!  How lucky is that?

Some of the folks are already decorating their campsites, and I started a few things today.  On Friday the oldest grandson Jameson is off of school for the day, so I am going to swipe him to help me finish the final touches on our site. I will take pics then.

Look at the nifty idea that our neighboring campsite came up with! 
 Dukie sniffed the dog and decided it was not a real one.  LOL 

More pics to come, I promise....

But for now, I am feel queasy and nauseous and I took the longest hot shower I could in the motorhome before the water ran out.  Now I am in my flannel jammies and off to bed!

Good Night---- Sleep Tight!