Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Snowy Day in the Little RV and Updates

I love snow and today has been a beautiful, snowy day in New England.  Early on the flakes were very small but as the day went on they became much larger.  The type that swirls as it falls.

I knew it was going to be a busy day so after the septic truck came and pumped our black tank, I headed to the grocery store.  I wanted to make a hearty, spicy chicken taco soup.  Just the ticket on a cold, snowy day.  While I was at the store, our RV repairman (Eric) called and said he'd be earlier than we expected him.  Who can complain about a repairman arriving early?  Not me!!  

Just over a week ago Eric ordered parts to repair the Little RV.  Since we are still under warranty, the parts were shipped from the factory to the repairman.  The parts arrived yesterday.  

The black tank has continued to leak despite previous attempts to repair it.  New valve in hand the repairs commenced.  We are now leak free and have a new water pump.  Unfortunately some of the other parts they sent were incorrect and not even meant for this model.  Eric will have to reorder those parts and I imagine we'll wait at least a week before they arrive.  Luckily these are nuisance items and nothing that makes life too difficult.  

Now we're just gearing up for the holidays.  I have gifts to ship, cards to prepare, a bit of shopping to do and some decorating.  This will be our first Christmas in the Little RV so it's my first experience decorating it for Christmas.  I think it will be a case of less is more.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Taking Down the Quarantine Sign from the Little RV

I think today we are well enough to take the quarantine sign off the door of the little RV.  We certainly won't be doing any hard labor but if someone were to come by, I think I'd actually let them come inside. 

Yesterday, Rob felt improved enough to go out and get me some chicken soup and flowers.  What a guy! We also watched the Apple Cup from 3000 miles away and the WSU Cougs won.  Go Cougs!

After much discussion we have decided to stay here in New England through Christmas.  We are still in the midst of our repairs.  Who am I kidding, the parts are still "in the mail".   We have been wholeheartedly welcomed to continue moochdocking in the driveway.  An offer we cannot refuse.  My only concern is that we'll end up snowed in for the duration and never get to warm and sunny Florida.  I suppose that wouldn't be the end of the world.  At this point I just needed to know where we'd be spending our first Christmas in the Little RV. 

Should be interesting!



Thursday, November 22, 2012

It Smells Like Thanksgiving in The Little RV

It's 3:30 in the afternoon and Rob and I are in our jammies.  We're both under the weather and potentially contagious enough to sicken up to 40 people at the dinner we were supposed to attend.  We decided to keep our germs to ourselves and have stayed home.  Grant seems quite please by the whole situation.  I'm under a blanket in my chair and my 50 pound lap dog is sound asleep on my lap.  

The other day when Rob started coming down with whatever this is, I suspected we would be staying home today so I picked up some ingredients for a simple Thanksgiving dinner.  I was looking for a small, boneless turkey like I generally find at home but was unsuccessful.  I did however, find a fresh turducken!   In case you don't know, a turducken is turkey that has been removed from the bones in one piece then stuffed with a boneless duck followed by a boneless chicken the all tied up into what looks like a large turkey breast.  I've never tried one but have always wanted to.  The size is perfect for my little oven at only 4 lbs.  

I  made a small batch of dressing this morning and it's baking away in the oven.  After some thought I decided to cook the turducken in my pressure cooker.  It will take about 35 - 40 minutes and be done around the same time as the dressing.  It smells heavenly in the little RV!  How lucky we are that even though we are not feeling so hot, we can still be here in comfort and warmth and enjoy the aroma of a holiday meal.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Counting My Blessings in The Little RV

It's been a busy few days.  We had a great visit with Rob's cousin Joanne.  We call her Jo.  It's been a few years since we've seen her and it was good to catch up.  Shortly before Jo arrived, Rob started having some cold symptoms but nothing major.  By the time Jo left the following day, it had developed into a full blown case of something.  I think it's the flu.  We do have an RN and a paramedic / fire fighter just steps from our door and several more medical personnel right here in the neighborhood so a quick medical opinion is pretty easy to obtainNeedless to say Thanksgiving plans have changed.  Joanne's brother, Joe is a professional chef and had invited us to spend the holiday with them and about 30 other hungry guests at thier home in Rhode Island. 

Yesterday, when it started to look like we'd be staying home for Thanksgiving, I went to the grocery store and picked up a few things so we could have out own little celebration in the Little RV.  Rob may not feel like eating it but maybe he'll be interested in some leftovers in a day or two.  Looks like I'll be doing a little cooking today.  I do love to cook. 

Even though things haven't worked out the way we planned I am thankfulWhat am I thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I'm thankful for my dear husband, our families including parents, siblings, children and grandchildren, our opportunity to live this new lifestyle, and countless other blessings in our lives.  

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Will the Little RV be Delayed Again?

I'm feeling less and less like we are going to make out planned exit from New England date.   If you've been keeping up you know that we have some work in progress in the Little RV.  We have plumbing, black tank, tank level indicator, water pump and numerous problems and are waiting for parts to arrive from DRV (the manufacturer) in Elkhart, Indiana.   

We had planned to leave New England the day after Thanksgiving and head south for warmer weather.  The  day after Thanksgiving is now 5 days away.  I'm thinkin' it's not gonna happen!

We thought our black tank leak was repaired and while it is better, we think there is still an issue that will need to be figured out and repaired along with all the rest.   

On an up note, we have finished our Christmas shopping for the grandkids AND I have it wrapped and ready to be dispersed to their parents.  Only limited shipping this year.  Yay!!  We also have a birthday gift wrapped and ready to leave behind for a first birthday in January.  

This is Oliver, another of our grandchildren.  We enjoyed his company at dinner this evening.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Little RV gets a Diagnosis

Yesterday our RV Repairman, Eric came to really dig in and figure out what was keeping our black tank valve from closing properly and causing it to leak.  After some searching and digging around in what looks like a bowl of multicolored spaghetti, Eric comes up with an answer. The cable that runs from the handle you pull to open the valve is very long and is wrapped in a protective cover.  The cable should move freely inside the cover which allows the valve to open and close.  He said the cable was wrapped and twisted in and around all of the other tubes and hoses in the mess that is our utility area under the RV in the "basement".  This area is accessible only by removing the access panels that are behind all of the stuff stored in the basement.  This area also holds the black, gray and fresh water tanks and the water pump.  Eric disconnected the cable and sent it on a smoother path so it could open and close more easily and it works!  YAY!! 

Secondly, he took a look at our tank level panel to see why our levels always show incorrectly.  Even when we are completely out of fresh water, we show full and when the black tank has just been pumped, we show full there too.  The repairman tested the panel and it is working properly so the problem is in the tank level indicators themselves or the wiring harnesses that connect them.  That cannot be diagnosed easily so the wiring harness will be replaces when it arrives and if that does not solve the problem, the tanks have to be removed and inspected and the indicator probes may have to be replaced.  That means removing the underbelly of the RV and taking the tanks out which is a huge undertaking.  At this point we are waiting for parts from the manufacturerWhen they arrive he will replace them and hopefully we'll be back in business before we get snowed in.  

Eric was also able to get that pesky light bulb out of the pendant light and put the other one in.  I was glad to see that he too had a lot of trouble getting it out and it wasn't just us.  Let there be light!  The propane situation is still in question.  We haven't run out again but the switching device that selects which tank to draw from is a bit wonky and needs to be replaced.  The switch goes around and around rather than to the left or right so you never know where it's truly set.  Eric will be replacing that with a different type which is of better quality and more user friendly.  We like user friendly!

We have our fingers crossed that the parts will be coming quickly and we can move on toward warmer weather.    

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Feeling Kinda Dumb (But Well Fed) in the Little RV

I'm not complaining but, why is everything so difficult (or difficult to figure out) in an RV?  For example, when I want to use the stove have to clear off the counter and remove the covers on the stove.  Then I have to move 15 things in the cabinet in order to find the pan I need and don't forget to put the 15 things back or the counter is completely covered and unusable.  Things that were one or two steps in our house are 5 or 10 steps here.  This is generally fine but when you experience this multiple times in one day it can get frustrating.  Perhaps I need to get rid of more stuff?

Yesterday we greeted the morning with no heat again.  The Little RV consumed 40 lbs. of propane in 72 hours.  It's been cold here but wow... that's a lot of propane.  We switched over to the other tank and got warm. Time to get the tank refilled.  I was also in need of some bulbs for one of the pendent lights over the kitchen island.  Rob and I spend nearly a half hour trying to get the dead bulb out of the fixture to no avail.  We even consulted the RV manual only to find nothing of assistance.(This is a common occurrence.)  I finally got one out of another light to take along so I could find a replacement or four.  There was also another type of replacement bulb we needed.  After getting all fluffed up and ready to go out we headed to the hardware store.  

At the hardware store I located the bulbs and found one of the types I needed.  I have mentioned before that I am somewhat undertall.  The bulb I needed was at the very top of the display.  I was able to get the one in front but the rest were just out of reach so I went in search of help.  I found two employees working together to assist another customer and asked one of them for help.  Apparently this hardware store uses the buddy system because when they finished helping the other customer they both came to help me. 

After they got the rest of the bulbs down, I asked them where I might find the bulb from above the kitchen sink.  As it turned out, it was an automotive bulb so I needed a parts store.  

We ran a couple of other errands and then stopped at the parts store and got our other bulbs and then headed home.  Unfortunately, the bulb is still out because we can't get the old one out of the fixture.  The glass cover is so small Rob can't get his hand inside and I can only get one hand in there.  I'll make another attempt today.  

Later in the afternoon I was thumbing through the RV manual and found a section on the tank heaters.  We knew there were tank heaters for the holding tanks under the RV but we didn't know that they weren't a part of the overall heating system.  They have to be turned on separately when you expect freezing temperatures.  We've been very lucky because we have has a lot of freezing temperatures in the last few weeks.   

We are so unfamiliar with RVing that even though we have read the manual on more than one occasion, we haven't understood enough about this beast to know what we should and shouldn't do in specific situations.  There is clearly so much we don't know.  The trouble is we don't know that we don't know.  How do you fix that?  
On a brighter note, we had a wonderful dinner last night with new family we are getting to know while we are here.  Meghan, Alex (our son-in-law), Amelia, Rob and I had dinner with Alex's Mom, Judy and the love of her life, David.  The opened their lovely home to us and even catered to our crazy dietary needs.  We look forward to spending more time getting to know then.  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Waiting for Locusts in the Little RV

Now that we have successfully survived a hurricane turned "super storm" and my first Nor'easter, and the election cycle, we are preparing for what we naturally assume will be next; the proverbial plague of locusts.  We have two weeks left until we plan to leave New England and head for warmer pastures.  The way the weather has been, it has crossed our minds that we may get snowed in until spring and while this is definitely not what I had in mind it does offer plenty of fodder for the blog. 

The Nor'easter brought some cold wind gusts and about 6 inches of snow.  

Our area was lucky.  The areas around the coast where the Hurricane Sandy did the most damage got much worse.  Many of them lost their power again after just having it back for a few hours. 

Today it's a beautiful day, about 40 degrees and sunny with blue skies.  Grant and Lucy are playing in the snow together (I'm still amazed by that). 

I'll be giving crochet lessons this weekend.  Rob and I want to do our Christmas shopping for our three grandchildren who live here and have it all wrapped and ready to leave behind when we go.  No shipping costs that way!

We are also expecting some of the diagnostic and repair work to begin on the Little RV tomorrow.  That is very exciting.  Hopefully it'll be complete when we plan to leave.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Little RV is WARM and an Update on our Plumbing Issues and an Update on Grant

Because we are brand new to RVing, we are on a steep uphill bit of a learning curve. It doesn't help that we have a 5th wheel with many, many bells and whistles to figure out.  One of the things we have been trying to figure out is how to make the furnace work correctly and without blowing cold air from the AC unit overhead.  Yesterday Rob figured it out and we're warm.  In fact we actually had to adjust the thermostat down during the night because we were too warm.  Way to go Rob!

Friday evening the RV repair man came to look at our pluming problems.  It seems we need a new water pump, our black tank valve is not functioning correctly and our holding tank level indicators are not functioning properly.  There are several other little things to be addressed as well.  He was very knowledgeable and even checked our roof out to see if the replacement was up to snuff.  It passed with flying colors.  He said the guy really knew what he was doing.  What a relief it is to know that the roof was done properly. These days you just don't know if things will be done properly.  Thank you Donny at I-90 Superstore in Rapid City, South Dakota!

Last but not least, an update on GrantYou may remember reading about our neurotic dog, Grant.
I'm happy to report that Grant is starting to loosen up a bit.  He has met so many new people and been to so many new places and each new experience seems to help him get past his fear a tiny, little bit at a time.  As you probably know, we are moochdocking in Rob's oldest daughter's driveway.  Lucy lives here too.  Lucy is a lab, pit bull mix and a wonderful dog.  Over the past two weeks Grant and Lucy have developed a rerelationship.  It started with lots of barking on Grant's part (and a bit on Lucy's too) but when they discovered their mutual love of playing ball, all bets were off.  To show you how far Grant has come I'll add a photo I took yesterday.   Lucy came to the door of the Little RV yesterday morning and asked to come in and play.  This was the result. 
This is Grant on the left and Lucy on the right.  Both of them are chewing on Grant's bones. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Little RV Experiences SEVERE Plumbing Issues

We are having multiple plumbing problems.  Our tank level indicators are not functioning properly, our black tank valve appears to be broken or blocked as it won't close completelyOur water pump is losing pressure and running continuously during the night until someone gets up and runs the water for a bit and builds up the pressure again.

When we were in Elkhart Indiana having some warranty work done one of the problems we were having was with our tank level panel.  This panel tells you with the push of a button what the level is in each tank. It's important to know how much fresh water, gray water and black water are in the holding tanks because an overflowing tank is not a happy situation. The repair people actually switched the entire panel out.  

So yesterday shaped up to be one of "those" days.  Rob had plans to take the girls to lunch and I had plans to get some things done in the cleaning and laundry for example.  I asked Rob to dump the gray tanks and fill the fresh tank before he left and he did but when he opened the cap on the dump line he was greeted by a gush of liquid sewer.  EWWWWWW!  He got out the bleach and the hose and set to work cleaning things up.  Mission accomplished, gray tanks dumped and fresh filled.  

Meanwhile I was in and out of Meg and Alex's house doing the laundry and on the phone with the mobile RV Repair person we located who had agree to come and take a look Saturday (today) around 5pm. 

Meg and Rob left to go and meet Kelly for lunch.  About an hour later I headed outside to the house to switch laundry loads and was greeted with the worst smell ever!  OH NO, THE BLACK TANK IS LEAKING!  Panic!  What to do?  I grabbed a bucket out of our basement storage and put it under the leak, hosed the driveway down as much as possible and went inside to call the repair man again.  This guy has been awesome.  He's full of great information and very helpful.  He gave me a crash course in composting 101.  He said to get some peat-moss and some sawdust and put them in the container that will catch what is dripping.  This will kill the smell and make it safe to dispose of later.  

I called Rob and asked them to stop on the way home and pick up the peat-moss and sawdust.   As I head over to switch the laundry again, I notice the bucket is about 1/2 full.  We're leaking at the rate of about 1/2 gallon per hour.  Clearly, we need a bigger bucket. 

Rob and Meg get home and survey the carnage.   Rob decides we are going to the dump station.  My heart sinks because getting this 5th wheel backed into this 220' driveway is a nightmare of epic proportions.  After taking precautions to keep our waste to ourselves on the trip, we're off.  The dump station is at a rest area just one exit away.  

We make it to the rest area and begin the process of dumping and flushing the black tank.  I'd guess we were there for about 2 hours.   The flush water is running clear and nothing seems to be dripping and best of all, the black tank level indicator shows empty.  We decide it's safe to go back to Meg's and button up.  We decide we won't use the potty until the RV Repairman checks it out.  Hopefully whatever was causing the problem is now corrected.  We think it may have been clogged or had something obstructing the valve. 

After going through the ordeal of getting parked at the house again, we began the clean-up of the driveway which was a long process.  Once back in the Little RV I checked the black tank level just out of curiosity, it read 2/3 full.  The gray tanks showed 1/3 full and they were dumped too.  

We are currently awaiting the arrival of the repairman late this afternoon.  Hopefully he can shed some light on this situation.  I'll update you all when I know more.  

I'll just leave you with two more parting thoughts.  
First - We had a casualty yesterday... the DISH Tailgater.  It somehow got under the wheels of the truck when we were backing the RV up the driveway.
Second - Did it do us any good to send significantly more on a high quality brand RV?