Thursday, July 1, 2010

Great News

If no news is good news, I have great news. Nothing’s broke, nothing’s wrecked, other than topping off the air in the tires there’s been nothing to maintain over the last month. Camping 4 days out and 4 days home is routine now, all the park rangers at the lake know me by now. My odd hours confuse them, I pull in at 8:30 am and leave for work at 6pm, I can come and go and some days I never see one.

Our week long trip to Oklahoma, Arkansas and back through Branson, MO is now just 3 weeks away. Going to swing in for a fluids change tomorrow at the local dealership, hope that goes well. I’m pretty sure they can fit me in with the camper on, I’m going to try it.

I plan to take lots of photos and blog our trip, it will be fun, can’t wait.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

No Leaks Again – Future Planning

I’m so excited, we had a really hard rain for 20 minutes the other day and NO ROOF LEAKS. I got the the marker light fixed, it was a bad bulb. Did run through the U Wash It and sprayed off the truck, it was getting some mud around the edges. Still get a little dribble in around the window, but not bad.

I got myself added to: Truck Camper Enthusiast Map this is a map of TC owners around the country who may be able to help a passer through with a place to park for a night or just some local directions. We are all on RV.Net in the Truck Camper Forum.

Spent the day cleaning out the garage, cleaning the gutters and clearing off the back porch. We are currently making mortgage payments on two places so the decisions been made to sell the 3 bedroom single family and move into the townhouse. It will allow me to start saving a substantial amount toward our planned early retirement. I have lots to do to get the house ready for market. Next week its trips to the hazmat drop off, recycler, Goodwill and more items for eBay. I have a bit of foundation work, paint inside and out, carpet and some minor plumbing to do this summer. I think I’m going to look for a 10-12 foot enclosed trailer, everything I intend on keeping will fit in one.  I’ll be leaving a lot of the furniture with the house. It feels good to have a plan and a direction to get where I want to be.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Google Earth

If you have never experienced Google Earth and maps I’d like to bring it to you attention. Look up almost anyplace on the earth that’s got paved roads and zoom all the way in. You will find yourself in a virtual picture of where in the world you are at.

It’s raining, I have a bulb out on a marker light on the camper. By the way my new lights and window seal came in. So I’m killing time surfing Google Earth.

It’s like taking a mini-vacation to some far off place you’ve only heard of. I was reading a post on RV net and this person was talking about their 6 months traveling around Mexico in a truck camper. They had posted 2 photos but no more. I quick mapped where they had been and spent the last hour lost in space, following the roads through the Mexican countryside. Now it has me wanting to learn Spanish and get a passport. This little adventure started out at “Hotel Play De Cortes” a great little spot on a bay. I can’t help wonder if the cost of living is actually that much cheaper, this area in particular has some nice homes.

We would love to spend some serious time in Florida in the future. I have spent hours cruising the mapped roads up and down the Keys scoping out the RV parks and sites.

If you have some time to kill and want to take a mini-trip without leaving your easy chair, check it out.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ottawa Kansas

Thirteen hours into a 12 hours day, 9am rolled by as the parking lot came into view. Walmart night shift management works 4 on, 4 off, 12 hour shifts. I was in the middle of a 4 day stretch. I was finally done for the night. Today I had to make a little trip about 20 odd miles south to a little town called Ottawa, Kansas to take a 2 hour Food Safety Management exam at a company distribution center. It started at 1pm, I had to be back at my store at 8pm to start my next shift.

I couldn’t have invented a more disruptive schedule had I tried. I more or less grew up around Ottawa so I’m familiar with it. The plan was to find a city park I used to frequent as a toddler and try and catch some winks before I needed to drive the last few miles to the testing site. Didn’t quite happen.

As I’m making my way south I find myself in unfamiliar surroundings. The road I knew is no longer in use and the new one sends me veering off to the east. To my surprise, it dumps me out at I-35 on the north east corner of town. The first exit, less than a mile into I-35 puts me 1/2 a mile from the distribution center and right in front of a large parking lot filled with RV’s.

Ottawa Trip 055

Ottawa Trip 056

Turns out to be Crist’s Auto and RV. Years ago, when I was a kid, this was Underwood's John Deere, one of, and might have been the largest John Deere dealer in eastern Kansas.

Ottawa Trip 052

I had a fleeting thought as I rounded the corner, I took a quick right and pulled in, heading for the sales floor. I thought to myself, this would be perfect, I am 1/2 mile from my test site, never hurts to ask. They were more than obliging, I could stay as long as I liked (although I only needed a few hours). So off to the back of the back of the back line behind the building I went.

Ottawa Trip 048

The view I had was great. There was a Killdeer upset with my presence, but he settled down after a while.

I fired up the generator, flipped on the air conditioning and got a good solid 4 hours sleep before I left. The guys were great for letting me catch a few winks.

Ottawa Trip 059


I arrived, somewhat refreshed, tired, but awake and ready to give it my best. I feel the test was a success, results are not in yet.

Afterwards I decided to take the old road back north and do some “Drive by Shootings” on the way. Folks from all over the country read this, so thought I’d take a few snaps of a typical small town Kansas and the surrounding areas. I shot mostly older homes, because that was what I drove by, those were what were build along the main roads 100 years ago.

First thing that caught my eye was this extra large bottle of Corona. How cool is that.

Ottawa Trip 061

This house is just one of a few nondescript 100 year old homes available for not much at all.

Ottawa Trip 064

This one had actually been restored and was in really nice shape.

Ottawa Trip 065

This is a typical grain elevator. Kansas grows a lot of grain, these tall white silo’s are a market for farmers to sell the grain at. The grains are stored in here until it is sold to buyers and shipped out by trucks and trains to mills around the country for processing. Most of them have been around since the 1950’s and before.

Ottawa Trip 066

Here’s another typical small home, I’m guessing WWII timeframe.

Ottawa Trip 067

This one might be a bit older.

Ottawa Trip 068

Heading out of town, I cross a bridge over an industrial area. Sure looks flat doesn’t it. But a beautiful Kansas day.

Ottawa Trip 072

There are rolling hills in Kansas, but you need a ladder to see them in this part of the country.

Ottawa Trip 073

After a while, the old road I was on ran out and I found myself on a little gravel one linking me to the new 4 lane.

Ottawa Trip 075

This old house caught my eye. I do a little relic hunting and coin shooting with my metal detector from time to time. An old place like this can yield neat finds. I may try and find the owner and get permission next fall when the grass is down before the snows fly.

Ottawa Trip 076

A little house on the prairie.

Ottawa Trip 078

I ended up following this half a house for 15 miles into Lawrence, KS. It would not be worth mentioning except for his poor driving. As we went through a construction zone, the driver hit cones with both sides of the house and I got to play dodge the cones behind him.

Ottawa Trip 079

I got back to Lawrence about 4pm, made my way out to my site at the lake and grabbed another 2 hours sleep before heading back to work.

Ottawa Trip 080

Was a long day, but the adventure part of seeing old places and taking some photos made it all worth while. Guess I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away

I haven’t blogged in a few days. Mainly because I have nothing exciting to report. Its rained every day for so long I had to go hunt down my sunglasses when the sun finally came back out.

I ordered a new 12v fan to replace one that squeals like a stuck pig. The bearings are shot. I guess I don’t know what I expected, but what I got is a fan with a cigarette lighter plug in on the end. Well the fan I have is hardwired in. I hope I can just cut the plug off and wire the new fan into the camper electrical system. I’m electrically challenged.

I got a new leak with all the rain, its around the fan above the kitchenette. I got some new sealant, weatherman says I have 2 days to fix it all, then another round of rain will be here.

Actually got to 80 degrees yesterday, I ran the air conditioning on shore power all day and it got right chilly inside. I’m very pleased with the a/c unit now.

Need to make a trip to the post office, sold a few eBay items this week. Wow my week has been boring, lol. I guess boring is good once in a while.


Quick update: I got the new fan installed and it is functioning. I did cut off the plug and then hardwired it in. I also got the roof resealed around the vent fan so the new leak should be fixed.

Started planning our July vacation trip last night. Tentatively: 3 days at Beaver Lake, AR near Eureka Springs, then a night at Fort Smith, AR where Cheri spent time as a child, then back up to Branson and Table Rock Lake for 4 days, then a night at a winery in MO before making our way home. After many many years of no vacations, its hard to believe it’s only 8 weeks away.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ebay Store

Karen asked about my Ebay store and how that was working out. It has it’s pro’s and con’s. I have sold probably 300 items over the last 5 years since Ebay came to be. Just recently I made the jump to having a Store. What do I sell? The answer to that is as varied as the stuff in my life. I’ve sold books, used clothes, crafted items, model rail road parts, car parts, motorcycle parts, antiques, collectable coins, electronic items, old magazine collections, lumber, tools and much more I’ve long forgotten about. At one time I was hitting small town auctions and garage sales specifically to find things to sell on EBay. Have I gotten rich, no, but I have had a few exciting finds and sales. I bought a silver serving tray for $20 once and sold it for $200 to a buyer in Singapore. I found a set of 4 8x10 prints from the 1960’s of Mexican dancers at a garage sale, gave $2 for them, an individual opening a Mexican restaurant bought them for $40 for wall decorations. You just never know.  I always offer to do business overseas. I do use Turbo Lister, the free store management software. It may take several hours to photograph, type copy and upload a batch of items, but with 4 day weekends, I have time on my hands. Having the store has been a good thing, I do not have to monitor and relist every 7 days so once an item is listed, its hands off until it sells by setting the time to “Good Til Cancelled”. I use Photobucket to host my ad photos, which works good. I always use large photos, photos sell items. And I’ll be honest, I charge about $1-3 packaging and handling fee to cover costs like bubble envelopes, boxes, tape, paper, batteries for the camera, store fee, eBay's cut and gas to drive to the post office. Depends on the item and packing requirements. I charge a few dollars for overseas shipping because I must do the special customs paperwork and beef up the packaging. I print my shipping labels online through EBay. Am I getting rich, no… am I cleaning out my house, yes, and I am building a nice little savings account at PayPal that I don’t touch.

How can I make this work on the road, don’t know yet. It will have to be something small, some ideas we have are, quilting patterns, coins, small collectables, fishing lures, pens, watches, fabric, pet rocks… people will buy anything. Used children's clothes is a big market. Space is really the defining issue, hence we may tow a 10-12 foot trailer to haul the stuff in. There is always the drop ship scenario which is widely used, just have to figure out how all that works and decide what to specialize in. If anyone does eBay with drop ship let me know.

If anyone else eBay's give me a shout we can compare notes.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stormy Weather

Wow what a few days of storms. Its been raining non-stop for days now. Dealership finally called my window seal came in.. great timing huh. Oh the leaks aren’t too bad. Turned the bad window away from the direction of the rain and put a towel under it. I’ll be glad to get that new seal in. I hope it fixes ALL the leaks in the front of the cabover.

Been running the furnace for 3 nights, the batteries are down to 90%, so that is encouraging.

Found a secret spot to hang out. Now don’t try this in your 30ft 5th wheel of pulling your Airstream… I can pull into one of the parking spots fairly close to the Dillon's Grocery store and pull in their WiFi in the camper. Yey Kroger & Co. I run in, grab something to eat from the deli and eat in the camper and catch up on my email.

I always get a grin when I get an email from ebay that someone bought some little thing I have in my store there. I have photographed over 50 items I need to write copy for and get listed. I’d like to figure out a way to make a few dollars with ebay when I retire and hit the road full time. Should be small things, things I can pick up on the road and auctions/sales. I may tow a small 2 wheel trailer. I have time to figure that all out, right now its giving me a way to declutter my house and life in preparation. And a few bucks to fix up the camper here and there.

Anywho.. its my Friday, headed home after work tonight. Stay dry all.

Friday, May 7, 2010

No Utilities

With electrics working, I decided to get a camp spot with no utilities for 4 days and see how it goes. Found a spot way away from the crowd, back away from the main roads private and under some shade trees. Well it was until I got neighbors.

Monitoring the battery usage, I started with 13.7 volts, brand new batteries . The first day used the furnace for 2 hours in the morning, then the small fan for 3 hours in the afternoon, at  the end of the day I was at 12.9 volts (still above full). Second day I didn’t need the furnace, but only ran the fan for 3 hours, at the end of the day I measured the batteries at 12.8 volts. Not going down very fast.

I purposely haven’t used the radio, water pump, or refrigerator. I do have a generator with me now so I could recharge if I needed to. Its amazing what you don’t need when you put your mind to it.

All is well, that nice man came by and mowed my lawn again, rode his tractor clean around my truck camper in the middle of my night. I went right back to sleep when he was done.

Tonight's the last night here, I’ll head back to civilization when I get off work tomorrow.


Back home, final usage check tells me the batteries are down to 12.65 volts. I had used the fan for 4 hours again in the afternoon. From what I’ve gathered, 12.6 volts is considered full, so I don’t know what to think.

I must say the absolute best part of this trip was the time NOT spent loading and unloading the camper. Even though I had to haul it the 6 miles to work everyday, it gave me a place to get away for a few minutes, change clothes after work before going to breakfast and just not having to deal with all that's involved with the unloading/loading. The boondocking (camping without services) worked well, I never once needed anything I didn’t have with me. And I saved $27 by getting a “no utility” camp site. That alone paid for the fuel for the commute from Kansas City to Lawrence.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Generator X

Another day off, another project complete. I picked up a $60 Hitch Haul from Walmart and a locking hitch pin yesterday and got to assembling. All went well. I have a very very very old Craftsman generator I picked up from my dad. I think he said it went through the Missouri floods back in 1991, so it was under 20 feet of water along with the rest of his farm. He dried it out, cleaned it up and what do you know it runs again. Its 2000 watt and runs my roof air conditioning unit just fine. It will also charge my batteries. I bolted it to the Hitch Haul and bungeed a trash bag over it for the time being. I’ll get some sort of waterproof cover soon. I’m thinking maybe an upside down plastic tub just sat over it would work fine.

HitchHaul 002

The folding steps even fit right down over the platform with the generator sitting to one side.. Its about half way to the door so even makes a very usable step for quick trips in and out on the road. Need to get a small gas can now to carry a bit with me.

I think I’m going to get a non-utility site tonight when I go back to the lake and boondock the next 4 days and see how it goes. Its not hot enough yet to need A/C.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

Yep, that time of year again. I just have to share this… plastic pink flamingos have been around since the 1950’s and are typically associated with Floridians and Rednecks as tacky yard ornaments. Well, we don’t live in Florida. Cheri got me a pair of plastic pink flamingos to decorate my camper with while camping.

Flamingos 001

Too funny. She also decided we needed a coffee table book for the camper, so suitably she got me a copy of this for the camper.


It was suggested that we photograph the birds in the various venues our camper takes us to in the coming years. Should be lots of fun.

She also got me a bunch of Jeff Foxworthy books and Larry the Cable Guy book. Last year she got me tickets to see Larry the Cable Guy live at the downtown theater, it was a hoot. She knows what I like.

Wet and Wild Milestone

Ok, maybe not so wild, and only a little wet, but a Milestone none the less. This week I bought a specialty hose and put water in the campers tanks for the first time ever. What works: The water pump YEY (even shuts off when water pressure is built up, double YEY), kitchen sink (no leaks either side), toilet 2 stage fill and swirl, and the flush part both work, fresh, grey and black water level indicators on the control panel work YEY, pump switch on the control panel, both grey and black dump valves slide relatively easily and work as they should and the shower drain works as advertised.

The wet and wild (tribulation) part, there is a hose that attaches to the back of the Thetford toilet that is leaking where it attaches to the top back of the unit. This is where the fresh water actually enters the toilet. The line actually goes thru a hole in the floor of the bath/shower, which is not caulked shut so it dribbles on the ground. I need to somehow get this hose off, hopefully it is just a gasket. This looks like it could be a simple fix, we’ll see.

I have found no leaks internally to the plumbing system, Super YEY!!!

*********** Update ***************

I replaced the leaking line on the back of the toilet, only to discover that what appears to be a flapper valve type seal inside the toilet is not seating fully allowing the water to continue to run. I will seal the hole in the bottom of the floor/tray this will force the overflow to the drain and grey water tank. I don’t know if replacement parts are available for this old unit. Thetford is made in England but is the best RV toilet available. To change the seals I would have to remove the entire unit. There is no way to get any tools behind it to disassemble it.  I’ve priced a brand new one, $120 at, that may just be the way to go. Grrr I hate spending money, but it will fix it and I’ll be done with it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

First LP Gas Fill

One day into this past 4 day stay at the lake I ran out of propane. Temps were in the low 40’s every night so it was COLD in the camper when I came home to go to bed every morning.

Flamingos 008

Good news and bad news here. I have 2 20 gallon Propane tanks, not sure how much I started with but finally drained them both after 4 weeks at the campground. I went to a local shop to get them filled and they would only fill 1 of them. Apparently one of the tanks has an old style valve on it that the state of Kansas via some government funded study has dubiously determined is hazardous to everybody's health and outlawed refilling any tanks with this valve. Where in the Constitution does it say the government has the right to tell me what is good and safe for me and what is not. This tank is perfectly fine. I’m so sick of this stupid government wanting to control everything in everyone's lives. There has yet to be a system of government last forever… and this one is going down the tubes fast. With the way they want to tax, control and direct our day to day lives, the end won’t be pretty. Even the very powerful and mighty Roman empire went down in flames because of over controlling of the peoples. Mark my words, it will happen if things don’t change.

Sorry, where was I… anyways guess I’ll have to find a place that can change the valve on the left tank tank. At least I have heat again, geesh.

The MOST Amazing Thing

Anyone following this blog knows I’m really liking my new home away from home. Yesterday the most AMAZING thing happened. I woke up in the afternoon (I work nights) and a good Samaritan had MOWED MY YARD!  How cool it that! Not only mowed, but trimmed as well. I am absolutely loving this.

 Free Lawn Mowing 002 Free Lawn Mowing 004

 Free Lawn Mowing 006Free Lawn Mowing 009

Nobody has ever mowed my yard for free before, without me asking even. It must be my birthday :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

A little dab of water

Came back to the camper from a couple days at the stick and brick to find a little dab of water standing in a drip tray at the bottom of the large window in the cabover.

It had overflowed a bit, the wood underneath was damp but not enough to get on the bed, pillows or sheets. I positioned the truck tailgate so I could climb up and inspect the window. I had spent some time sealing this specific window a couple weeks ago. The only thing I can figure is the water came in at the lower corners where the large rubber seal has dried out and does not press tight against the glass any longer.

I have ordered 12 feet of new seal for this window over a week ago from Lance, it has not arrived. They must have sent it by stagecoach. I’m confident a new seal will solve this problem. In the mean while, I slathered a bunch of sealant around the bottom corners gapping the glass and rubber. Hope fully this will hold it for few days until I can get the new seal installed.

Almost 2 weeks and the seal is still not here :(

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Trip to the Marina

Decided to spend an extra day off at the lake instead of hurrying back to Kansas City when I got off work. I drove down to the marina and walked around, I shot a few photos. The crappie are biting, I saw some nice ones on stringers, lots of folks fishing right now.

Marina 023

Marina 033 Marina 034

Marina 032


The water was calm, a storm was brewing, perfect for fishing.

Marina 028

There are furry friends all over the place. I’ve seen as many as 8 deer grazing together in the park area.

Marina 006

Marina 017

Marina 012

The elusive wild turkeys, I’ve seen them several times but have yet to get close enough to get any good photos.

Its been raining for two days now, I hope all is dry inside when I get back. After my next 4 days on, it’ll be time to load up again already. I don’t want my 14 day stay to run out in the middle of a 4 day shift, 12hrs on/12hrs off does not leave much time for fun like loading and unloading the camper and moving between shifts. I am ready to fill the fresh water tank and check out the plumbing system, if all goes well next week when I fill it up, I may try boondocking for a couple nights.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Little Tea Party

My camper made its way to a little tea party this past week. Here in Kansas City, it was held at the home of the local T-Bones Minor League Baseball Team, Community America Ballpark. The weather was fabulous.

Tea Party 001

With the camper, I had a comfortable escape should I need it. I loaded up the bicycle and went up a few hours before it started and did some exploring around the Legends area. A few of the attractions there to check out are the Kansas Speedway (NASCAR runs a couple weekends a year), there’s a Cabela’s, a Nebraska Furniture Mart (went in and checked out the new 3D TV’s… gave me a headache, think I’ll pass for now), and tons of places to eat and shop.

Tea Party 027

If you look close, you’ll see the Kansas Speedway across the street and the camper right near all the action.


Tea Party 022 Tea Party 024
We had a few folks show up.  


The event went off without incident. There were a dozen or so people running for various local offices there that answered question and talked about what they wanted to do if elected. We had a few songs, a couple preachers talked. Obama’s cousin gave an interesting account of what the health care bill is doing to the health industry. Interesting point he made was how it created 16,000 new IRS jobs and not one single doctor job to take care of all these extra people.

Tea Party 037

Local radio personality Darla Jaye was the Master of Ceremonies.


Tea Party 052 Tea Party 053

One of the big events of the day was a salute and tribute to veterans. It was unbelievable, over 500 veterans filed out of the stands and onto the field for a tribute video and the National Anthem. When it was over, we all filed by a camera for a video of us. It lasted over and hour. Lots of tear all around by the time it was over. Some people get emotional over patriotic things, go figure.

Tea Party 016

Electoral candidates speaking to the crowd.

Tea Party 060

This was a cool truck that was hanging out by the entrance.

Tea Party 043

Just a little flag waving going on.

Tea Party 021

A few vendors selling buttons, stickers and t-shirts.

Tea Party 017

This guy pretty much summed it up.

Tea Party 007

All in all, a fun, feel good day of activities with a group of like minded people.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Battery Power is Operational

Yesterday I spent the day wiring up a battery system for the camper so we can have lights, fans, stereo, furnace fan and running water pump when off the grid. This will also give us the flushing toilet and working shower with power for the water pump now.

After hours of research and discovery I ended up going with 2 Trojan T-105 6volt batteries wired in a configuration to output 12volts, which the inverter then converts to power usable by all the stuff. The battery box on the camper is so small there is only room for 1 battery, and that one would have to be about a 100amp/hour 12volt unit which would not be anywhere near enough to run the furnace and pumps for more than part of a day. So, I elected to go with a truck bed mounted battery set up (photos below) which allowed me to go with bigger batteries, with more juice for longer stays.

I read and reread this website a dozen times, it is a one stop education on RV electrics. The 12 Volt Side of Life its a must see. Thanks to Mark Nemeth for the time and effort put into it.

I am now ready to move on to the next step of this adventure.

Actually putting water in the fresh water tank, leak checking the piping and holding tanks and figuring out how that whole system works. Without the battery power, there was no way to pump the water from the fresh water tank, to the holding tanks to see if everything would be ok before I actually put “wasteful” like things in the system.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

They Kick Me Out

Rule is, no more than 14 days in the park unless you are on a month to month contract and parked in one of the dedicated long term residents spots. I’m not. Ironically, none of the long term resident spots have any shade to speak of. All are almost bared of foliage of any kind except grass. Here’s the long term area.

Clinton Lake 29Mar10 013
The on-load went very well, with the manual crank legs it takes about 1 1/2 hours to remove the truck bed cover and tonneau rails, crank up the unit, back in and align, drop legs and install tie downs and chain up. Tip for Super Cab owners.. the tailgate will fit nicely behind the seat in the truck! You can can take it along.

I have 5 days/4 nights off, I can return Saturday morning when I get off work. That will work out ok, if I’m too tired to unload, I can just leave it on the truck. Just plug in the city electric, turn on the A/C and go to bed. How easy it that?