Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Chicken Wing Obsession (temporarily) Satisfied in the Little RV

I love Buffalo chicken wings to the point of having chicken wing cravings at times.  I have tried several times to make good Buffalo wings here in the Little RV but they just don't turn out right.  Remember, they have to be very low in sodium and taste good too.  That's a tall order.  

I've nailed the Buffalo sauce but the wings are always kinda flabby.  I want them crispy.  I have tried baking them, grilling them and have even considered a deep fryer.  We all know that is probably not the best idea.  Besides, who has room another appliance?  Not me!

This afternoon I was trying to figure out what to fix for dinner.  I just happened to pick up some wings yesterday.  I decided to grill them and brush them with this sauce to caramelize them. The sauce is The Ginger People, Sweet Ginger chili sauce.  It's sweet and spicy and very low in sodium. 

I heated up my trusty Coleman Roadtrip grill. I always line it with foil to keep it cleaner and try to avoid attracting rodents. The grill folds flat and the side tables slide under the grill.  It really is pretty small but it takes up a lot of floor space in the basement and is fairly heavy.  We may be replacing it before very much longer but that's a whole different story.  

I just grilled the wings plain with no seasoning at all.  When they were nearly done I brushed them with the sauce and turned them over.  The grill caramelizes the sauce so it's sticky and oh so good.  After I sauced and grilled the other side for a bit it was dinner time. 

They weren't Buffalo wings but they were really good.  We'll call that a do-over!

The Little RV is Lined up on the Tarmac, Expenses, and Some Random Stuff

...and we wait, and wait, and wait. 
Last time I ordered Rob's medication refills we ended up waiting in North Carolina for two weeks until they arrived.  Knowing it was time to order refills again, we planned out our stay, payed the weekly rate here in Paris, TX and the wait began.  That was last Tuesday.  Remember that phone call from Rob's doctor's office last Friday?  That delayed the processing of his prescriptions and it seems they were just shipped out yesterday which was Monday. 

Given the experience we had in North Carolina where the pharmacy shipped his meds via UPS Ground, I have been watching the website to get the tracking number and get an expected delivery date.  Finally this morning the tracking number showed up on the website.  According to the tracking information the meds should arrive on Thursday.  Keep your fingers crossed because we have to be in Arkansas for our appointment at the RV service center on Tuesday morning at 9am.  I thought this was supposed to be a lower stress lifestyle. 

I spent some time yesterday calculating our fuel and campground expenses over the past 8 months.  One of the things we wondered about when we were planning was the costs of both of these things.  Everyone will have different expenses because everyone will have different habits and preferences.

Mileage notes:  We have a 2012 Ford F350 Super Duty Diesel Dually.  Our MPG generally runs about 10 mpg when we are towing the Little RV.  When we are not towing we generally get about 16 MPG.  

                              Campground $   Fuel $      September 2012       735                     935
October 2012           350                    1455
November 2012        100                     320 
December 2012        100                     365
January 2013           495                     480
February 2013        1035                     475
March 2013              945                     280
April 2013                940                     825 
Rounded the figures to the nearest five $

We are really looking forward to a slower pace and more boondocking as we move west.  That should lower our costs significantly.  Now if I can just convince Rob that we are not in a race.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Happy Anniversary in The Little RV

Yesterday was our 15th wedding anniversary.  A couple of months ago I posted our story here.  If you're interested or missed it, you can read about how this whole thing got started. 

Rob had this beautiful bouquet made for me while I was grocery shopping.  He was chatting with the florist and she told him that I am lucky and that her generation just doesn't do these things anymore.  She's right, I am very lucky to have Rob and our interesting life together.  I guess that's what anniversaries are all about.  

Our day had its ups and downs.  Grant was very nearly out of caviar dog food and I had been making calls to try and find some.  If you missed reading about Grant's eh hm, issues, you can see then here, here and here.  I finally discovered the closest PetSmart with a vet was about 90 miles away from our campground.  Needless to say, we made a 180 mile round trip drive to buy dog food.  

While we were driving to get the dog food we got a call from Rob's doctor's office.   We belong to an HMO and apparently his primary care doctor left the organization.  They reassigned him to another doctor who has no knowledge of Rob or his situation.  

On Wednesday I ordered refills on all of his medications.  Apparently this is what alerted his doctor's office to take a look at Rob and his records.  The call was from the nurse telling Rob he has to go in to the clinic and get some labs done and make an appointment to see his new doctor before any more meds are refilled.  This is a PROBLEM!  After some confusing moments and getting disconnected I was able to get on the line with the nurse and explain the situation.  She looked back at his records and found the last visit we had with his former doctor.  The records clearly explain our situation so we are hopeful things will go smoothly until he can get back and see his new doctor.  

Let's hope the medications arrive without incident.  They are not optional.  

Two 17 lb. bags of dog food, a package of doggie potty pick up bags, a package of chicken jerky, a heart stopping phone call and $182 later we returned to the Little RV.  

On the way back home we got a call from the service department where we purchased the Little RV.  I had called them to ask that they ship our replacement window to the repair shop in Arkansas where we will be having our work done.  The window was ordered back in August when we were having some work don on the Little RV but it arrived too late to be installed before we left the area 

The guy we were working with told us to call and they would ship it to a place where we could have it installed.  Apparently that guy doesn't work in service any longer.  When asked about the arrangement he made with us he told the new service guy that he never said any such thing and that he had called us repeatedly to arrange to get the window installed.  Not true!  

We were told that we would have to pay for the window, shipping from the manufacturer to the original shop and shipping from the original shop to the new shop in Arkansas and then get reimbursed by the manufacturer.  

AREYOUKIDDINGME?  Rob was furious, I was furious, even Grant seemed to be rather unsettled as he snoozed in his doggie hammock in the back seat.  

I asked to speak to the manager and my request was denied. After we hung up I called the main number and asked to speak to the service manager.  He called me about 10 minutes later and assured me that he would take care of it.  

Later in the day I got a call from the new service guy saying they would ship the window and asking for the shipping address.  

The rest of the day went without incident.  Enough already!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Little RV is Scheduled for Surgery Again

Yesterday I made some phone calls to attempt to arrange some warranty work for the Little RV.  We had heard about a place in Elk City, OK and wanted to go there but when I talked to the owner on the phone he told me he thought the repairs were over his head.  That's kind of scary to hear coming from someone so highly recommended but I appreciate his honesty.  

Plan B was to call DRV, the manufacturer of our RV.  I want to take the Little RV to a place where they are well versed in the DRV Tradition line.  DRV is a good brand with a great reputation but for some reason our RV seems to be riddled with problems.  We are finding that others who purchased from the Tradition line are having problems as well.  

I was able to speak to someone at DRV who I have spoken to with our previous problems so he was familiar with our situation.  He recommended that I call Wheels RV in Springdale, Arkansas and gave me the name of the person I should ask for.  

We have arranged to have the Little RV at the shop in two weeks for service.  I emailed a the list of problems we are having so he could have parts on handWe are optimistic that Wheels can resolve most of our problems but we've been down that road before, so to speak.  I'll include the list at the end of this post so you can see the extent of the work that needs to be done.

In the mean time we have two weeks to kill in this area.  We decided to stay at the little campground outside Paris, TX for another week so we can order some medications and our mail.  It may be a very quiet two weeks.
In the grand scheme of things, it could certainly be much worse.  

Repair Issues

The black tank is not sealed at the top where the toilet pipe is attached to the tank.  We have had constant black tank problems including sensors not working from the beginning, valve failure, overflow and leaking from the seam at the top of the tank.  We have had three attempts at repair which have been unsuccessful.  We stayed in a hotel in Connecticut for several days while the tank was being sealed.  We have had two subsequent overflows.  We cannot move unless the tank has been flushed completely and we cannot boondock because of this tank problem.   

The black tank sensors have never worked and we have had repeated attempts to correct that problem.  Because the sensors don't work we cannot tell when the tank is full so it gets to the top and leaks out into the top of the tank.  

The gray and fresh tank sensors do not work properly.  We attempted to have this fixed three times. These attempts have been unsuccessful.  The last attempt was to change the wiring harnesses but the repair shop did not want to take the tanks out to fix the problems so only two of the four were changed. 

All slides are leaking when closed and moving.  I have seen no  evidence of leaking when open and stationary.  The worst leaks seem to be the bedroom slide and the kitchen slide. 

There is water damage on the bedroom door frame and door.  We believe this is from the slide leaks.

The window across from the bathroom is fogged.  We attempted to get it replaced in August in Oregon where we purchased the RV but it did not arrive in time.  They have the window and will ship it for installation.  The replacement window is at Guaranty RV in Junction City, Oregon.

Several cabinet hinges have failed.  The plastic parts in the door pull out and the door just comes off in your hand.  We have been unable to locate replacement hinges that fit properly so we have used what we can find that will work until we can find the proper hinges. 

The large upper cabinet door needs to be replaced.  The lower hinge failed during travel and caused the upper hinge to bend.  It appears the door must have swung open hard and cracked the lower frame.

The cabinet catches are starting to break.  Two need to be replaced and I would like a supply for future breaks.

The drawer in the island sticks when opening and closing.

The refrigerator makes a squealing noise.  This is intermittent.

When the bulbs in the kitchen island fixtures burn out we cannot remove them.  The first one had to be done by a repair person and the second one had to be broken to remove.  One fixture is now broken.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Little RV Visits Paris

On Sunday we drove from Louisiana into Texas.  We are camped near the town of Paris, Texas.  We stumbled on a great little RV park just outside Paris.  The owners are among the nicest I have ever met.  
After spending one night we decided to stay another so I went into the office to pay for our site and ended up chatting with the owner for a bit.  

She told me where we can get groceries and suggested we stop to see the Eiffel Tower.  Who knew?  Paris, Texas has an Eiffel Tower!   She also mentioned that you can just drive by and don't even have to get out of the car.  That brought back some memories.  I told her my story of seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.  

Before Rob became disabled he worked in the tech industry.  There were several years when he worked as a consultant away from home full time.  Sometimes he was in California, Virginia, or Cleveland, but sometimes he worked overseas.  There was a spring and summer when he worked in London.  I was fortunate enough to be able to fly over and spend several weeks at a time with him. 

On Easter weekend that year we decided to take the train to Paris.  As we were traveling there Rob began to feel sick.  As the day progressed he felt worse and worse.  We had seen Notre Dame, walked along the river in a drizzling rain, stopped in for Hard Rock Paris shirts but we hadn't seen the Eiffel Tower yet.  

We finally decided that Rob was too sick and we needed to go back to London right away.  We took a taxi to the train station but on the way we asked him to drive by the Eiffel Tower.  I did get to see it and I even snapped a few photos.  Poor Rob had food poisoning from something he ate the day before at work. 

Yesterday, I put the new tire on the RV and stowed the spare back underneath.  It seems I'm getting good at this.  We are getting new wheels and tires.  Hopefully, I can put those skills to rest. 

Onward to Oklahoma!  Wonder what we'll find there?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Just Another Ordinary Day in The Little RV

I'm thinking of getting this for Rob.  He really misses his motorcycles and this would have such a positive impact on both of us, don't you think?

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Little RV has a Difficult Travel Day and WILD BOAR

This morning I am sitting in my chair in front of the "roaring" electric fireplace, with my favorite fuzzy throw and my latte'.  It's cold and I love it!  

We are in Natchitoches, (pron.: NAK-ə-təsh) Louisiana.  Really?  How on earth could Natchitoches be pronounced like that?  

Yesterday we left New Orleans planning a pretty long travel day, for us at least.  For the most part the drive was fairly normal until we were just outside Alexandria, LA and about 50 miles short of our destination.  The tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) alarm went off and was telling us the tire pressure had dropped from 75 lbs to 65 lbsYou may remember after our last flat tire on The Little RV we purchased a TPMS.  Once we got off the road we discovered the front driver side tire (on the RV) was badly damaged and would need to be replaced.  

We have AAA+RV for roadside assistance on the truck and RV so I called them.  It took a while but eventually after hogging a large part of a gas station parking lot for a couple of house the tire guy finally arrived. He worked fast and had the tire changed in no time.  AAA couldn't find anyone they were contracted with near us so we had to pay up front and will be reimbursed.  $182 to get a tire changed.  

The damage.  I'm told this is not normal wear and could be warranted.  I'll have to make some calls to find out.  In the mean time, we need to get a new tire. 

We got back on the road just in time for the thunder storms to start.  I kept thinking about the last time we pulled the RV in the rain and how much water leaked in during that trip.  It took us about an hour to get to the campground and another 15 minutes to get set-up in the pouring rain.  The temperature had dropped from 84 to 57 degrees and we were soaked.  

After most of the rain has stopped I took Grant outside to take care of business.  We are in a small and very quiet campground.  There aren't many other campers here and nobody else was outside so I just let him go without his leash.  All was well until he started barking.  It was his protective bark.  I turned around and saw two wild boar (or feral hogs) strolling down the campground road.   Grant started toward them, barking away and then came back twice.  The third time he got too close and the big one started to charge him.  That's when Grant turned all chicken and yipped and ran to the RV steps. 

The larger one was about the size of a big dog and quite muscular.  He had tusks about 6 inches long and didn't look like someone we wanted to get acquainted with.  Of course I didn't have my camera with me so there are no photos of the actual boar but I found some images on the webThis looks like the big guy!  I'm pretty sure it was Hogzilla! Life is never dull around the Little RV.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Little RV Surveys the Still Visible Scars from Hurricane Katrina

Yesterday we intended to rest before leaving New Orleans.  That didn't happen.  I needed to make a grocery run so I got up early and loaded Grant into the truck for a ride and some play time outside.  Having no idea where I was going I relied on my smart phone's navigation program to guide me.  Along the way I noticed there were a lot of really rough looking houses and many that were completely boarded up.  

On the way back to the Little RV I missed a turn because I was winging it and not using my tools.  I noticed this house with the markings we kept seeing on television right after Hurricane Katrina.  They were the markings the rescue teams used to indicate whether a house had been searched and if so, what the outcome was. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Little RV Visits a Most Fascinating City

Yesterday was our day to explore New Orleans.  We were fascinated by so much of what we saw but we were also horrified by the poverty, filth and just overall sadness of parts of the city.  The place we wanted to see most was the French Quarter and Rob and I decided to have a very rare meal out while were seeing the sights.  Grant "opted" to stay home and hold down the fort.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Orleans and Commenting on Rob and Me in our Little RV Posts

Yesterday we arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana.  
It was a short drive, only about 65 miles.  We are set up in a campground that is located in the middle of a very large and rundown industrial area.  It's like an oasis in the middle of a very large and ugly desert.  The park is nice and is located on Lake Pontchartrain.  We plan to spend two nights here and if we want to stay in the area longer we may move to a state park.  I need space.  Today we'll be checking out the sights and may splurge on some Cajun food at one of the local restaurants.  Rob is itching to try alligator nuggets.  Me, not so much.  I'll go for something more traditional.  Hopefully we'll have a much more exciting blog post tomorrow.  

Several months ago a reader left a comment stating that she wouldn't comment again because of the word verification requirement.  I do love a good comment so I decided to turn off that feature and see what might happen. There was very little spam without word verification for a long time but recently it has really picked up.  Sadly, I have to turn it back on.  Please continue to leave comments.  The make me as happy as when I get to add a new state to our visited state map. 

Word verification causes the person leaving the comment to retype the word produced by the system in order to post the comment.  The reason for doing this is to block automated spam comments from being posted.  That is all it does.  It stops the people who send automated spam from posting on my blog. You can still leave an anonymous post. I just wanted to explain the change you will see when you comment.