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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Update on Hazel's Pets and Our Motorhome Repair

I am thinking that Hazel would be pleased at all of the kind words and thoughts expressed on the blog.  Of course, with Hazel being a avid blogger, she really made many, many friends in the "blog world" of both RVing and Greyhound Dogs.

Do you know I had
 over TWO THOUSAND hits
yesterday on the blog????   
Yes, over 2,000 of you wonderful folks tuned in to find out about Hazel.  

She would probably be embarrassed a little bit, not wanting too much attention.  But on the other hand, I think she would be smiling about how many lives she has touched over the years with her blog and friendliness in volunteering at various RV campgrounds. 

As for the pets.... I have good news to update with.  Chica the cat is now settling into a new home with two sisters, and two kitties as playmates.  Hera and Power are happy and getting great attention with the rescue group.  Applications are being processed.  If you care to make a donation to help with their care, the rescue group is:
Monica  Davis
Adoption Coordinator
Greyhounds Verde Valley
(928) 634-7250

Knowing what I know with the Wisconsin Sheltie Rescue that I help with.... It takes a while for a rescue group to match up the right dog with the right home.  For example, they don't place an active young dog with an older sedentary person.  They don't place a nervous anxious dog in a household busy with kids and visitors coming and going.  They don't place a dog with a lot of health issues with a family who is gone most of the day, instead of finding a home with someone who can observe, administer meds and be available for vet visits.  

I know a gentleman in our sheltie rescue who ONLY takes the older geriatric dogs. It's amazing how many people give up a beloved dog when it get old and has age-related health problems.  The excuses are usually lame, and in many cases it's just that they don't want to deal with the problems of an aging dog!  Sometimes it's breeders who don't want to have an old "unproductive" dog on their hands anymore taking up their kennel space and vet costs.  ARGGHHH!!!   Well, John Stiever opens his heart and home to those elegant old geriatric dogs and gives them a comfortable loving home for whatever time they have left.  People like John are a treasure in the rescue world! 

So matching up the right person for the right dog is an important step.  I wrote to Monica at the Greyhound Rescue with some of the "likes" and "dislikes" that I know of both Hera and Power, hoping to help the foster folks figure them out and make them comfortable.  A friend is helping to find the rest of Hera's vet records so they get a good picture and history of the dogs. 

I think Hazel would be pleased that this many people are helping her wonderful pets to adjust to her untimely passing.  Maybe she can really rest in peace now.  

Yesterday I kept myself busy.  

We had a slow leaking hub seal on the motorhome rear axle on the driver's side.  Steve had contacted a big truck repair place about 20 miles away to see if they could do the job.  We ran the motorhome over there last week for a quick "look see" and make sure they had the parts in stock.  (better than bringing it in, having it torn down and setting there in the way for days on end)  Our motorhome is built on a custom diesel chassis from the Safari company, from it's own division called Magnum Chassis.  So it is not common, nor found in most, if any, parts books to just look up a part number and be good to go.

They said they could do the work and get the parts, and made an appointment for us to come in on Thursday at 7 a.m. Since Steve doesn't have to be to work until 8 a.m., he drove it over there and I followed in the Tracker.  

B & C Repair
3339 Brodtke Rd. 
Reedsville, WI 54230

We arrived to a neat clean shop, with multiple bays plenty large enough to take our motorhome.  It is located out in a country setting next to the owners home, about a mile off a main highway. We were escorted into our spot in a service bay at 7:05 a.m.  

Steve went over the work order with the guys, then he chocked the front tires, and raised our back axle up on our own hydraulic levelling jacks.  (rather than risk someone putting a floor jack through a part of our underbelly)  Chocking the tires is necessary because our emergency brake is the type that clamps around the driveshaft, so the front wheels are free to wheel if the back wheels are off the ground.  Some RVers are not aware of that and can run into troubles with a rolling vehicle or collapsed hydraulic jacks if they don't chock the front wheels securely.

Then Steve had to leave and head out for work at the park.  I stayed behind with the dogs, my coffee cup, my laptop...  inside the rig and comfy cozy while they went to work on our rig! I could even pull in tv stations while inside of the building.  So I could watch my quilting shows on PBS at 9 a.m.  It was comforting to be able to glance out at any time and see what they were doing.  (the dogs slept) 

I watched some of the progress from time to time.  The tech working on our rig was friendly, informative, and didn't treat me like a "dumb woman" if you know what I mean?  He was working diligently on our rig, and other techs were buzzing all around us with other jobs.  I think about 6 big semi and diesel trucks were being serviced at the same time as our motorhome.  

The two wheels were removed and the parts torn down to change out the seal on the driver's side.  He was working and I noticed all the tools were clean, organized and neat as he worked.  That is a good sign.  A tech who respects his tools is going to hopefully respect your rig and do a good job too. 

I noticed the drips on the very clean floor... oh my! 
Not to worry, he soon took out a steam cleaning device and not only cleaned off the hub and brakes and wheel rims, but also the floor was cleaned up right away too.  The entire shop was clean and as each big diesel truck was backed out, the floor underneath was cleaned with a big scrubbing machine!

Once the seal was replaced and the tires put back on.. now it was job number two that we asked for.  We had the tech drain out the old fluid in our differential and replace it with new synthetic fluid.  Yes, it's costly, but it is worth doing the changout at the same time as the other work being done.  It took 13 quarts at $10.75 a quart.... almost $140.00 for that fluid.  Since our rig is almost 20 years old, it's a safe bet that with only 67,000 miles it's never been replaced by the previous owners.  Now was a good time. 

The repairs were complete before 11 a.m.  The tech even pointed out some other things to me to watch underneath along the drivetrain and engine.  Yup, I crawled right underneath there with him and saw what he was talking about.  The floors were clean so it was not a problem at all.  We set the rig down on the floor and the job was done! 

I removed the chocks, locked up the compartment with the controls of the levellers, and cautiously backed the rig out of the bay.  

Then it was time to go pay the bill.....  ack!   That is never a good time.   It wasn't as bad as I thought, and with 3.5 hours of labor, all the fluid and parts, it came to just over $500.00 with tax.  As I was going out the door, they double checked that I had locked the latches on the compartment door for the leveller controls.  How thoughtful was that?  

I drove it on home, with two snoozing doggers at my side.  It was a sunny morning to wind along the country roads.  Through farm land and fresh tilled soil.  I noticed some of the fields have tiny rows of shiny leafed-out plants poking up already.  Corn!   There are even some places cutting their first crop of hay!  I couldn't take any pics of course, because I was driving 40 ft of big diesel power down a crowned country road.  Have to pay attention, ya know!    Wandered my way through the tiny towns of Clarks Mills, Valders and Hayton... and home to Chilton.  

Normally it takes two people to back our rig into our driveway.  We live in town, but it's right on hwy 57 and four lanes of traffic.  It's only 25 mph, so I usually block the traffic as Steve backs the rig in.  Since I was by myself, I just drove it nose first into the drive.  Next time that we go out, we will have to back it out into the street instead.  

Soooo all in all, B & C Repair gets five stars from us! 

Why am I giving it such a glowing report?  Well, you would think nowadays that kind of service would be the norm in a professional industry.  Sadly, that good service and reliable work is usually the exception.  

With a motorhome that cost us more than our current home, we ARE cautious whenever subjecting it to someone else's care and workmanship.

Here is a previous experience we had with our Coachmen gas motorhome: 

One time (with our last gasser Coachman motorhome) we brought it over on a Thursday to a local guy in Oconto for manifold gasket replacement and grinding.  Well, they broke studs on the manifold, and it took longer, and then it turned into maybe Friday.... then maybe after the weekend ....    our rig was not being done in a timely manner at all.

Well, we drove past on Friday night after their place was closed, but our rig was left in the parking lot with parts strewn all over the ground, wide open compartment doors, and then we drove up closer to look, and sure enough, on the other side our entry door was WIDE open!  For the whole weekend our contents could have been subject to theft, vandalism, or wild animals getting inside. WHEW!  

We locked it up ourselves with our extra key, and secured what parts we could.  Our calls to the owner went on his answering machine.  It turns out he left out of state and our rig was going to be finished up by "the boys"!!!!   It was left in the lot because when it was up on jacks it would have been too tall for his repair bay!  

When it was finally done, there was grease tracked in by shoes on the light green carpeting and my handwoven woolen rugs, big greasy hand prints on the white wall board by the door, and the icing in the cake?? Fifty miles down the road all the oil pressure dropped and we were dead on the side of the road!!!!!   

It seems they didn't seat a rocker arm or something flat before putting on the manifold and we lost all our oil pressure!   That necessitated a costly $500 big rig tow back to the shop... and the owner had to now take responsibility to pay for it, and fix it RIGHT.  We had to cancel our weekend plans of setting up at a craft show 200 miles away and make other arrangements. We were NOT happy! 

In his defense, he did have a funeral in Kentucky to go to, and he did end up paying for the tow truck, the new repair, and also did the other manifold gasket and reground for us on the other side too, making sure we didn't have any more damage. He at first asked for additional fees.  But after our determined refusal---  Free of charge. 

Soooo THAT is why we don't trust repair places, and we sit and wait with our rig and get a one day repair promise.  LOL

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

RIP Hazel Bluhm of Class A Greyhounds - RVing with The Big Dogs

I was going to write about my great weekend with grandtots, or the wonderful Bark in the Park game, or our grandson's swimming graduation, or my new blinds on my porch.  But no, I won't.  Not today.

Instead I will write about a fellow RVing Buddy and Blogger pal.... 
Hazel Bluhm.  
She passed away today.  

She was volunteering up at Bluewater Lake State Park in New Mexico, a place she dearly loved with wild horses, tons of birds and just the perfect place to work for the summer months.

Hazel appears to have had a massive stroke while in her motorhome, with her two beloved greyhounds Power and Hera by her side, and her cat Chica.  The park staff figured that nobody had seen her for two days, so someone finally checked on her.  She was still alive and was airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque, NM. Sadly, she was in a coma until she passed away this morning.

I hope I can reach many of her blog followers, park workers and camphosts through word of mouth in the blog world through my post here on my blog.  Hazel's blog is:

Hazel doesn't seem to have left anyone her password to her blog, so nobody can post on it about what happened or that she is now at peace.  Please, fellow bloggers, leave your password with a trusted friend who could go on your blog and post your circumstances. People care and want to know what has happened to you!

Her two lovely greyhounds Power and Hera are being taken care of by the Greyhound Rescue Group.  They are both adopted rescue dogs. For those of you who are not familiar with breed rescue programs (like where I got Finney and Binney from) a contract is signed that says if anything happens to you, the rescue takes responsibility and gets the dogs back and finds them new homes.  Of course, if your family wants them, that takes first consideration.    I believe the cat is being fostered somewhere too. 

Power, the male greyhound, had just been to the vet for some injuries last week, and the rescue takes on the costs of health issues and medication administration too.  These poor gentle sweet dogs must be soooo confused and scared and unsure of what is going on.  My heart goes out to them.  

While Hazel was in her coma, she was having a rough time, according to the nurses. She was totally paralyzed and did not have a good prognosis of recovery.  Hazel's friend Patti advised the nurses to assure Hazel through verbal communication that the pets were being cared for.  She then had a "good night" before passing away this morning.  I am sure she could hear through her comatose state that her beloved animals were safe, they are her main concern.  She could then be at peace.  

Hazel has no family other than a niece from Germany.  Her niece has been contacted and happens to be here in the United States this month and is most likely taking care of the other details.  I feel bad for the niece's family because they rented an RV to tour the United States and were planning on meeting up with Hazel later this month for a nice visit in New Mexico.  Sigh.  

Setting aside the tears, I am going to remember the good stuff!  Hazel and I have been writing back and forth for years, and writing blogs and visiting and discussing all of the world's problems.  Solved a few too! 

I am so thankful that I got to spend time with Hazel while we were out west a few months ago.  Originally our plans were to meet up near Quartzite, AZ and spend time travelling together with her.  But since we had engine trouble with the Tracker, our plans changed and we were stuck for three weeks at Pancho Villa State Park instead.  Well, that didn't stop Hazel!  She loaded up her rig, and hit the road to come and see us instead!  500 miles to visit us! What a gal!!!

We so enjoyed our visits, and sitting around the campfire... petting her lovely greyhounds and chatting into the night. 
These gentle calm dogs are wonderful but need a LOT of exercise.  Imagine my surprise when we were riding back from town and we got into the campground.  Hazel stopped and let the dogs out of the vehicle, and got back in.  She held their leashes outside of the window of her SUV and slowly drove with the dogs running alongside!  The smiles on their doggy faces said it all!  They were retired racing dogs and this made them so happy to run run run..... 

I hope both of them get a fun-loving gentle and understanding home now.  The rescue group will be sure to place them carefully into homes to help transition them to life without Hazel. 

When Hazel was visiting us, she took out a huge project to work on.  It was her grandmother's handmade quilt.  Hazel was painstakingly replacing all of the bad fabric sections, piece by piece, totally by hand.  A few of us at the campground pitched in to work on it.  Then we helped her stretch it out flat on new backing fabric and baste it together.  

It was like an old fashioned quilting bee, with us "prairie women" coming together in our prairie schooners to meet up for a get together!

Rest in Peace
my dear happy
Dog Loving 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Back at Home and Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

Our two week gig as camphosts has come to an end.  The regularly scheduled hosts were able to return to the park on Tuesday to finish out the month of May.  We are scheduled for August and will do a whole month then.

I got the rig "road worthy" to head on home on Monday... while Steve was working his normal hours.  It rained almost all day, so I couldn't go out and shovel any firepits or clean any grills in the park.  I had wanted to leave a clean slate for Mike and Judy, but was not able to get out and about.

It didn't take long to get things ready to roll, and I even packed up the things to be carried into the house into big Aldi's shopping bags for hauling into the house again.  Also the dirty laundry was bagged up and ready to come in to get washed.  When it's done, we put it right back out in the rig again so it's ready for the next outing.

Steve was done at 4pm and he helped me with the last few things. Our awning was rolled up wet and needed to be unrolled later while parked in the yard to dry.  The mat was all muddy too, so we put that in a big trash bag and into the trunk of the car to take it home that way.  Why get mud in the carpeted compartments on the motorhome?

At 4:30, Steve drove over to the dump station to get rid of 2 weeks of "stuff" and give our holding tank a good rinse and drain.  I drove ahead with the car and had two silly doggers sitting with me.  Once we rolled into the yard, they were delirious with excitement about being back "HOME" ....  and got to pee in their little potty yard, and play with all of their toys again.

Steve got into Chilton at about 5pm  and lo and behold, the sun came out!   I sat on the front steps waiting for him so I could go out and block traffic on all four lanes in front of our house. He needs to back the rig into our yard.  We have a gravel parking area in the back section of our yard, and it's much nicer to back in rather than pull in nose first.

While I block the traffic, Steveio gets the rig into place, and I smile and wave nicely to the disgruntled drivers who have to wait a few seconds, less than a minute, to get the rig into the drive.  Geeesh!   Everyone is in such a hurry!  It's only 25 mph in front of our home, but you would think I was blocking a major expressway the way some of them act.  LOL

Everything was fine with the house,
and we had gone home during the week to cut the grass.

Our week was full of "catch up" with laundry, getting groceries, paying bills and putting away all my sewing and weaving things I had along for the 2 weeks at the park.  I was finally able to get to my looms and finish up three rugs for my etsy store that I had woven but didn't get hemmed up until tuesday.  http://kareninthewoods.etsy.com/  

We decided to get some yard work done today... around Our Old House.   The last two years, this lovely hedge of variegated shrubs had been going downhill. This is how it looked before ..... in 2013

The bitter cold of 2014 really did a number on it, and last year it was only about 1/4 full.  And this is how it looks now.....   

 We got out the shovel and rake and set to work
 There was a tiny bit of growth on four of the stumps, 
so we dug them out to put them elsewhere in the back yard. 

And THIS is my Mother's Day Present from Steveio!!!!
A trunk full of new plants!!!!
(5 dwarf barberry shrubs, 3 ferns and some spikes and vinca vines for my geranium pots) 

I missed a finished shot of the barberry shrubs all in a row now where the old ones were.  Oh well, I will take one tomorrow after we spread some mulch around the plants.

In the meantime, we put these three fern clumps over on the north side of the porch in a shady area where we had to remove a dead arborvitae from last year.   Now that we removed that big dead bush, we can see more of the detailed lattice work under the porch. I have some clematis starting up the trellis and a hosta down below.

I added the spikes and vines to my white pots out on the front stoop.  The geraniums were part of my mother's day present too.  I love putting them out on the front steps each year. It's becoming a tradition.

The geraniums had originally started out in this pot, 
but I move them to the outside pots instead. 
I put my indoor ivy into the special Mother's Day pot. 
It has Chelsea and Clayton's feet on it so far, and room for 
Jameson, Allegra and Mason's feet next time they come. 
Yup, that's painted kids feet 
pressed against the sides of the pot 
and made into butterflies! 
I want to keep this pot inside where it will be protected and cherished! 

Together, we went around the house, pulling weeds, 
watering plants,  and picking up sticks.   
It felt good to do some yard stuff, when we work together like a team.
I still need some white and red impatiens 
to put along the white scalloped borders across the front flowerbed. 

Our Old House

ps... it was Bath Day today at our house...
The doggers need to get spruced up for the big "Bark in the Park" gathering 
with over 60 shelties at the 
Timberattlers Ball Game in Appleton on Sunday. 

Wet Binney                                     Saturated Finnegan 

 Two doggers wrapped up like burritos, commiserating together....

and here is a little video clip of them after their baths.... 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Campin' and Kidz

We decided to swipe a couple grandtots who needed us over the weekend.  It goes together naturally, hand in hand, to have kids out in the woods.  You don't need fancy video games, expensive toys or elaborate plans to have fun.   Just grab the kids, a couple changes of clothes (necessary!)  and head on out to the campground!

I have camped since I was a little kid, my children camped all the time with me as they grew up, and now it's only natural to have the grandkids camping too.  I hope we are creating memories for them to take along in their lives, and hopefully go camping with their own children someday.

First stop was Grandfaddah's workshop at High Cliff State Park!  The big equipment was getting ready for use in the park, so we managed to safely look around and check out the Big Boy Sandbox Toys....  Clayton was in his glory on this big red tractor!

This mule is more up to Chelsea's idea of fun.... 
(it's the one that I broke last week!) 

Now THIS is something they both got a kick out of..... 

Of course, we didn't actually run any of it while the kids were scrambling around on the machines.  They use their imagination and enjoy the pretend play. Probably more fun than the big roaring of scary engines anyhow.  Having the time to explore and pretend is great for their imagination.

Now we had a stop in Grandfaddah's office.  
Chelsea had to decorate his writeon/wipeoff board with her own version of maps of the park,
and of course personalized with a picture of herself!
A spin in his desk chair is on the list of required activities....

Steve shares his office space with the rangers of the park. 
There was an old set of handcuffs hanging on a hook 
that they decided was a fun toy to fiddle around with. 

Okay.. enough of that. let's get on to the campsite! 

We gave the kids a "job" to do... armed with trash pickup grabbing sticks, and safety vests, we went around the park and looked for "GARBECH"!   Basically, High Cliff is a pretty clean park, so we didn't find a lot to pick up.  They spent a lot of time posing in their vests for the camera.....

 "Whew!  Garbech Pickin is tuff work"

The dogs are very happy to have the little people around.  Binney is cuddled and coddled and snuggled and squeezed by Chelsea, who makes sure she is pampered and spoiled. Clayton chooses to snuggle up with Grandfaddah in his chair after a long day of work.  Finney just runs around getting pets and licking up any dropped treats from the grandtots.  Ya know, it was fun just spending time chatting and giggling and figuring out what to do next.  

Walking around the park and on the trails is a big highlight of the weekend.
Both dogs are learning to walk well with the grandtots.
The park is still pretty quiet on a Friday morning, so the roads are clear
and we can walk safely over to the trail head to walk in the woods.

The trails around the campground are nice and level, which the kids can run ahead and explore a bit too.  Finding flowers, seeing birds, scaring a chipmunk or squirrel... all that fun stuff they can find in the woods.  Clayton was collecting old acorn caps and filling his pockets with them.  Wonder if they will get dumped out before his shorts hit the washing machine?   Chelsea is learning to read maps and figure out where we are, where we are going, and where the playground is!!!

 (she later took her parents on the same walking path 
and showed them the shortcut to the playground too!) 

Birdwatching with a pair of kids' binoculars 
or searching for where that chipmunk went under the wood pile????

Bug hunting can be a blast too....  scouring the ground under layers of dead leaves, or flipping over rocks can expose some interesting things to examine.  This little plastic bug-catching container comes with a flip lid, a pair of tweezers to pick up bugs (for the squeamish) and even a magnified circle on the top lid to look at bugs up close.  Cost?  $1.00 at Dollartree!  Scientific fun? Priceless!

The Kids Camping Experience is never complete until you have "Some-mores" over the campfire.  Ooey gooey sticky fun, making memories as they sit in the same little folding red chairs that their mommy and auntie sat in 30 years ago when we went camping.   The tradition continues.... 

For bedtime, we popped both filthy dirty kids in the bathtub.... It is much nicer to put clean kids into clean jammies and into clean bedding.  As the layers of dirt swirled down the drain, we brushed teeth and hopped into their big blowup air mattress that Granfaddah set up in the livingroom of the motorhome.  They were so exhausted, they were zonked out before I even reached the end of their favorite bedtime story "Brown Bear Brown Bear" .... ahhhh

Peace and quiet. 

Until the sun came up...  6 a.m.
then it was time for two bundles of energy to hop up on our bed
and of course the dogs joined in....  

This is one of the best parts of camping with grandtots! 

Glad to have these monkeys along for a day or two,
and hope to keep bringing each one of our grandtots camping 
through all their years as they grow up! 

They went home on Saturday,
so Sunday was MY day to relax.... 
(we are getting together with ALL our kids and grandkids next weekend)

Steve cooked a wonderful breakfast,
and then a delicious dinner too...BBQ chicken, taters and salads.
I didn't have to lift a finger. 

I would like to extend a very Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there....

This beauty is MY mom....

Yup, I guess I am my Mother's Daughter! 

And Happy Mother's Day to our own darling daughters 
Erin, Heather and daughterinlaw Heather too!