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

Friday, February 14, 2014

VACATION- Indiana Wants Me ....

We checked the weather and decided to sneak out of Wisconsin about 9-10 a.m. this morning.  We had a few things to load up, and Steveio fired up the big diesel engine to warm up the rig. The dogs were the first things to load, and they were so excited to get in and get settled.

We brought along Finnegan's dog crate, toys, dishes and of course his and Duke's doggie bed mats. They curled up inside in the sunshine and waited for the trip to begin.  Duke's presence reassured little Finney that all would be okay.

Steve moved the motorhome ahead from it's parking spot, and we hooked up the Tracker--- with both of us double checking the tow bar connections and cables and making sure the steering wheel was left unlocked and gear and transfer case set in the proper configuration.  We double check each other so we never have the chance of ruining our toad by a stupid oversight.  A few times we have caught a mistake .... (I won't say who caught who's mistake, but let's just say that I am pretty vigilant)

On thing we noticed on the Tracker was that our blinkers were working, but not the tail lights.  Steve fiddled with the plug a bit, but we think it's gunked up and needs to have the contacts cleaned.  The rear taillights of the motorhome are easily viewable around each side of the narrow Tracker, so we decided to drive till it's warm enough to stop and clean the plug ends again for better contact.

One last check with the neighbors, then a good final trip through the house... and we pulled out of the yard! We were on our way!!!!

This is a VERY happy Motorhoming Man

As we headed south, the roads were still a bit slick. Last night they were glazed and icy... but the sun was out and by 10 a.m. they were pretty much melted.  Once we got past Milwaukee, the roads were dry pavement and we were just fine as we drove along in the sunny winter wonderland.
Let's hope there isn't any of this to greet us when we return in mid-March?

We made it around Chicago in record time, with no slow downs or traffic problems. Five toll booth stops, the first was $4.25 and the other four were $2.25 each for a total of $13.25.  

Steve was quite happy to be free and cruising down the highways... he was even WHISTLING!!  I have rarely if ever heard him whistle before.  A number of times today he would just break out in a bit of a whistle of some little ditty.  I think this guy is happy to be on vacation?

At 2:30 we crossed in to Indiana... and the sun was disappearing.  We were now driving into cloudy skies and saw there was snow ahead about 2 hours down the road to the south.  We figured we would drive until we couldn't, and then pull over somewhere for the night. We had hoped to get on the other side of Indianapolis around Columbus area to stop at Chris Gustin's weaving shop http://homesteadweaver.com/ 

Driving along on I-65 the traffic started slowing down about 3 or 4 miles north of Lafayette.  The roads were getting slick and we saw three vehicles in the ditch.  Of course all the gawkers had to slow down to see, and soon the interstate is backed up to a 10 mph crawl--- it was like this for miles!  

We looked ahead on the GPS and saw a Cracker Barrel coming up on the next exit... so we took off that ramp and got ourselves safe.  They had just gotten 3-4 inches of fresh snowfall before we arrived, even the parking lot had not been plowed.

We parked in the far back corner of the lot,
 away from the regular parking area.  

The place was filling up with Valentines Day Diners, but we got a table and had a nice evening meal.

We asked the manager for permission to spend the night in the lot... (of course they said yes, because that is a bonus that Cracker Barrel extends to it's RVing patrons)  I slip these little reusable signs I had made into the front windshield and side window between the closed shade and the glass surface.  I put one by the window next to the door too.   This can notify anyone who thinks they need to knock and tell us to move on our way.  I keep them in plastic page protectors with cardboard inside to keep them firm to stand up.  

We took Finney out for his first "on the road sniff"  ... he checked up and down and all around... but didn't find any grass or fun stuff to sniff.  Just snow.  What kind of deal is this?  Duke promised him cool things to sniff when we go in the motorhome.  Bummer!

 While I was waiting for the dogs to do their "thing"  I snapped a few pics of the Tracker and the motorhome.  They will both need a bath when we reach some warmer weather. Ya think?

When we stay overnight in a parking lot, (called "boondocking") we are without any hookups for electric or water.  At this time of year, it's pretty hard to find a campground anyhow, and why should we bother paying $20-30 to plug in?   Here are three reasons why we don't need to plug in:

1. We have five 100-watt solar panels on the roof that charge up our bank of four deep cycle 6 volt batteries. There is plenty of power to run lights, tvs, computers, charge cell phones etc. from those batteries all night long. We have an onboard "inverter" that changes the 12 volt DC power to 110 AC power.  Tonight we have the tv on, I ran the coffee bean grinder to get the coffee pot ready for the morning, we have our cell phone charging and I am working on my blog on the laptop.  Comforts of home while on the road.

2. When we drive, the four 6V batteries are charged up by the engine's alternator.  By the time we pull off for the evening, the batteries are back up to 100% charge.

3. And a third source of power is our generator, which we could run to provide more electrical usage. It provides a larger amount enough to run the microwave, vacuum cleaner, air conditioner or our air compressor if need be.

One of the biggest drains of power from the batteries is the onboard propane furnace that comes in most RV's of any size or type.  The propane furnace heats up by propane, but is pretty inefficient. It wastes a lot of BTU's right out the vent to the outside.  Also this type of furnace distributes the interior heat by the use of a 12volt blower fan that runs the heat through a series of ductwork in the floors.   By the time the air reaches the back bedroom in our rig, it's pretty cool and not too forceful in the circulation.  This fan wears down the batteries awfully quick and draws a lot of DC power.

Soooooo instead of using that furnace, we have an Olympian Wave 8 catalytic heater.  It runs on propane but does not have a blower motor, so uses no electricity.  It's very efficient and uses little propane compared to that onboard furnace that came with the rig.  We installed this unit and it's well worth the cost.  This size runs about $300-350.

Here is a link for when we installed it:
Here is the link for when we had to have it repaired:
In the fall and spring months, we usually set it on "LOW" and it does the job quite well.  Tonight with the temps dipping below zero, we will keep it on "HI" for a while, and see how that works, and we can turn it to "MED" before going to bed.  We are cozy about 68 in here now as I type this, and it's 16 outside.

We did not fill the water tank before leaving home, so our water pump or water lines are not being used yet either.  Otherwise we would have to keep the big furnace going to heat the basement compartments where the lines and tanks are located.  Sometimes, if the temps are dipping below freezing and if we do have water in the lines, Steve will put a small box ceramic heater in the basement.  But that is only if we are running the generator or have electrical hookups.

I just took little Finney and Duke out for their nightly duties, and the little stinker pup hopped up with Steveio on the loveseat and got under the covers!   Duke is laying on the floor over to the right by the dog crate on his bed mat.  These two dogs own the motorhome, and we are here to drive them to new places to sniff.   Ahhhhh what a dog's life, eh?

I robbed this from the Facebook page of the Sheltie Support Group-Wisconsin



  1. That is one happy motorhome driver! Safe travels Steve and Karen!

  2. Hope tomorrow is as good as today. I have also made that type sign and putting it in the window after checking in with management helps me sleep better when we boondock in a business parking lot. We only have done that when we are traveling, i like the comforts of having hook ups. I really am looking forward to having unlimited water again some day. I know we won't be boondocking very often because we both like to shower.

    1. Lol... Yup us too. We took showers Fri morning before we left, and will have water on board tonight Saturday--- to take them.... hopefully in Tennessee tonight!!!

  3. Such a cute Valentine - and I do mean Steveio. And a very happy one. Safe travels. Be really careful.

  4. Safe travels and we hope the temperatures warm up before you arrive in Florida. Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  5. Ithought about what my comment might have sounded like. I'm sure you and Steveo also shower. What I meant to say is if we boondocked for more than a few days, wewould have to go dump our tanks. As it is, we have to dump every seven or eight days and I dump all dish water outside and we shower and do the wash down at the house. We have large tanks, I don't know how to use any less water than I do unless we used nothing but paper and plastic dishware.

    I know you cook some very yummy meals!

  6. I think driving around Chicago is my least favorite part of a trip! Glad you made it with no trouble. Good traveling!

  7. Be careful out there and have a great trip. Becki


  8. Soooooo glad you are on your way !!!! Hope tomorrow is a great traveling day ..... Everybody looks happy to be " on the road again " ..... Be safe.

  9. I am so impressed with your cold weather boondocking skills and information. Fascinating!! You guys are great. Travel safe

  10. I'm glad to hear you got on your way and got hunkered down safely for the night.

    I think I heard Finney say he wants to go to the Keys, so I think you should come all the way down.

    He's so cute snuggled up on his Dad's lap.

    Safe travels today.

    (glad to hear you like to shower...Merikays comment made me chuckle)

  11. I sure know why Steve was bursting out with a few happy whistles. Always such a great feeling to finally once again be on the road going somewhere. And going somewhere warm to escape all the cold, ice, & snow just makes it all the greater. Sunny days ahead:))

  12. Just FYI, if you come back the same route, the Camping World @ Exit 99 (the second Greenwood exit) has an entire lot with 30 amp service. Drive in, plug in for the night. They also sell propane and it is half price Tuesday and Wednesday's.
    Oh./... the most level spots are at the far end of the lot.

    The roads to Chris' place will be really slick. Be careful. Remember, they live way in the boonies and up a steep hill. Might be better to just take the tracker.

  13. So glad you are able to get on the road at last and head to some warmer weather. Hope your trip is great.

  14. It is always a happy time when we get to hit the road in our RVs.


Thanks for taking the time to comment on my blog! I moderate all comments so it may take a little while for your comment to appear.