Sunday, June 30, 2013

All Systems are Go in the Little RV

The last few days were spent getting settled in and getting our electric and waste management systems working. 
50 amp electric connection

Before we got back to town my dad came over and set up a 50 amp outlet for us.  Thank goodness he did because it's getting HOT here and we have no shade to keep the tin can cooler.  We are able to run both of our air conditioning units now. 
 Fresh water connection

We ended having to purchase a longer drinking water safe hose but we are in business.

Gray and Black tank dump

Here's where we were facing a challenge.  We did not want to have to take the Little RV out to a dump station every few days so we opted to purchase a macerator.  We purchased a portable unit rather than a permanently installed one.  I was able to find a Flojet Portable Waste Pump online for $219 and with free shipping.  We actually got it the day after we ordered.  
Having absolutely no experience with such equipment I suppose an onlooker would feel a bit like they were watching a bad comedy.  But, I was armed with a fierce need to do laundry and Rob was armed with a fierce need to stop hearing about my need to do the laundry.

We knew we had the option of pumping our waste into the nearest toilet (about 50' away) or into the clean-out for our septic system (about 100' away). For the first round we choose to use the toilet as it took much less advance preparation.  Rob and I agreed that I would be running the pump and he would be monitoring the end nearest the toilet.  I just wasn't sure I could deal. 

The pump needs a power source.  It can be run by battery or wired in to the RVs 12 volt system.  Rob purchased a battery with ample oomph to run the pump and he wired clips to connect the pump to the battery.  

Next we needed a waste hose to attach to the pump.  The manual suggested a 3/4" hose up to 100 feet.  We purchased a 50", 3/4" rubber hose which is appropriately brown in color.  Keep in mind this is our system to dump our gray and our black tanks.  

We set about hooking the whole mess up late Friday morning.  The pump was attached to the waste outlet on the RV, the discharge (brown) hose was attached to the pump and run to the nearest toilet, the rinse water hose was run into the back-flush port on the pump, the battery wiring was attached to the battery, and the push button control for the pump was connected.  

Armed with our trusty walki talkies, we crossed our fingers tuned the water supply on and I pushed the start button.  I let it run for about a minute and shut it off so I could call Rob and ask if everything was "going" ok in there.  I wasn't keen on having a nasty mess to clean up.  He said it looked like it was working fine and over the next ten minutes or so we pumped and rinsed, pumped and rinsed and cleaned out the black tank and both gray tanks.  After all that we still had to clean up and put away the equipment.  I think we spent about 3 hours in all getting the whole thing set up, cleaned up and taken down. 

All in all it went fairly smoothly but we both agreed that it was much more labor intensive than the normal way of dumping the tanks.  

But, I still had about 6 loads of laundry waiting for my attention in the Little RV.  I can do two before the gray tank for the washer and dryer gets full and has to be dumped.  Clearly this was not the best solution. I needed a way to drain the gray tanks directly into the septic system clean out.  I was hot and tired and Rob was hurting so we both showered and he went to lay down.  

Mom had some fresh strawberries for me and I wanted to talk to my dad about the best way to secure a hose to the septic clean out so I drove over for a visit.   Dad gave me a list of items we would need to make a cap with a hose fitting for the clean out and I went to the hardware store. 

 When I came back with the parts he assembled them and sent me home.  Basically he added some brass hardware to a 4" PVC end cap and it works like a charm!

I also had to purchase another hose.  The only 3/4" hose I have been able to find are 75 feet long.  I now had 150" of hose for the water to drain through.  Once the sun warmed up the hose I was able to lay it out flat with sweeping curves which has helped the water flow much better.  Our lot here is completely level so I was hopeful that for the gray water it would be fine and for the most part it has been.  I'm not using the pump for the gray water but it seems to be draining fairly well.  

We added a cap to the sewer output on the RV that has a hose fitting for the garden hose.  Notice the feet of my handsome assistant in the photo?

Next time we have to flush the black tank we'll find out if the pump can push the flow 150' to the septic clean out. 

What did this little endeavor cost us?

$220  Flojet Waste Pump
$90    Two 3/4" hoses
$13    Clean out cap and hardware
$79    Battery
$5      Battery clamps

Empty tanks and clean laundry = priceless!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Little RV Traveled 10,000 Miles in 10 Months

I spent some time today mapping our entire journey over the past 10 months. We traveled 10,000 miles towing the Little RV.  We traveled nearly twice as many miles while not towing.  Our travels took us from Olympia, WA to Tolland, CT to Jensen Beach, Florida and back to Olympia again.  

We spent a lot of time with family we haven't seen much over the years.  We enjoyed great weather and weathered several storms, including super-storm Sandy, a Nor'easter, 80 mph winds, hail, tornado warnings, blistering heat, dust storms and more. 

We have had incalculable delays and expenses due to the poor workmanship of our 5th wheel.

We have had mishaps including dropping the Little RV on our truck bed, tearing up the roof with low hanging trees, stop signs, and really big rocks.  

Will we run that 10,000 mile, 10 month marathon again?  I think not.  We would like a more leisurely pace and to camp in places other than RV parks.  We're in the process of making the changes necessary to camp without hook-ups.  We're interested in adding solar power to our bag of tricks. 

After Christmas we'll be heading to the Southwest for our next long trip.  One thing is certain, we are much better prepared now than we were 10 months ago. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Home", the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Yesterday we pulled back into our home town after 10 months of full time RV living.  Unfortunately, we still own our house.  We have finally been given approval for a short sale by the bank and the house is under contract but nothing is final so we decided to park in our driveway.  It's tough to pass up the free site, after all. 

We set up the RV in the driveway and went over to have dinner with my parents.  It was so good to see them again. 

Last September when we drove away I never expected to come back to this house.  We emptied it completely and prepared it for a new family. 

When we decided to park here I was worried that it would be unsettling but I never expected to feel such a sense of loss being here.  It is only a house, lumber and drywall, right?  

I think it's the memories and all of the hard work we put into making it a beautiful home.  My dad and I remodeled the kitchen ourselves.  I built raised garden beds a couple of years ago for a kitchen garden and it was beautiful.  It took me weeks to move all of the dirt, build the beds and finish it just the way I wanted it. 

Rob spent countless hours woodworking in his shop making beautiful things.

 Life changes though and we move on.  Perhaps it was a mistake to park here at the old house.  Maybe it's the final step in letting it all go.  I guess I'll know which it is later. 

The Little RV is our home now and that was our choice, one that we jumped into wholeheartedly. The last 10 months have given us memories and experiences we'll never forget.
Wherever it is, it is our home.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Happy Birthday Oliver; and, Has the Little RV Fallen off the Face of the Earth?

Today is our youngest grandson's second birthday.  Happy Birthday Oliver!

We haven't disappeared we've just been busy playing with our Grandson Camden and resting up from the marathon of those last few travel days. 

This is Grammie mascaraing is Sulley from Monster's Incorporated. 
Some of my favorite more recent photos of Camden
This is my daughter Christina.  We've been hanging out and crocheting a bit.  She and her husband Ryan are expecting a new little one this fall.
My beauty, Christina
These are her photos.  I snitched them to post online!

We'll be back in a couple of days.

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Father's Day Fishing Trip for the Little RV

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Montana.  We are surrounded by rivers and there are so many places to fish or just relax by the river here in Montana.  Rob loves to fish.  He especially loves fly fishing but has been have some pretty serious shoulder pain recently so yesterday fly fishing was not an option. 

After stopping at the local fishing outfitter we learned no license was necessary as Father's Day was a free fishing day in Montana.  Rob picked up a couple of lours and a fishing access guide and away we went.  

It didn't take us long to find a great spot to spend a couple of hours on the river bank.  
Upstream view
Downstream view
We set up a couple of chairs and got comfortable.  Rob fished, Grant moseyed around, sniffed, and generally did doggie stuff.  He really likes to wade in the water and never takes his eyes off Rob.
Three rafts put in just upstream from us.  One of the rafts has three tiny children on board. Hope they kept a good eye on those tots. 
Butterflies were abundant yesterday.  At one point one landed on Grant's derriere.  Ha...not very manly having a butterfly on your backside.  
No fish were caught but a good time was had by all! 

Apparently Grant is ready for his afternoon nap.  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day in the Little RV

Happy Father's Day to all the Fathers in our lives and to all the fathers out there!

This is my Dad with Camden, my grandson and his great grandson.  This little one is the apple of his eye.  Happy Father's Day Dad! 


This is Rob's dad.  We lost him several years ago but we'll always remember what a special person he was. 
Happy Father's Day to Rob as well!  You're a great dad and we all appreciate you!

Rob, Christina, Kelly and Meghan

Rob with all three of our girls.  They were out Jeepin'!
Rob and Christina

Rob dancing with Christina at her wedding.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

About Those Reservations...

There's a reason we don't normally make reservations or even plan in advance.  We are having some medication challenges again and that combined with the altitude and Rob's breathing has prompted us to cancel our reservations at the two Idaho State parks and head for my daughter's house in Spokane.  

Yesterday we made almost 300 miles and stopped for the night at a campground near Butte, Montana.  The campground is at the intersection of I-15 and I-90 and put us in a great starting point for today's drive. 

I wanted Rob to be somewhere special on Father's Day so we decided to stop in St. Regis, MT.  St. Regis is just 70 miles west of where I spent the second half of my first childhood.  Bonner, Montana.  This area feels like home to me.  It's beautiful and I feel at peace here.   

Rob loves to fish.  He especially loves fly fishing and what better place to fish than Montana.  Missoula and its surrounding areas are considered one of best fishing destinations in America. 

We are in one of the nicest campgrounds we have seen so far on our travels.  It's called Campground St. Regis and is close enough to the freeway for a stopover yet far enough away to get that real wilderness feeling.  We are also surrounded by mountains which is part of the park's appeal.  

The grounds are well kept and most of the older tree stumps have been made into chainsaw carvings.  This one practically has his nose pressed against one of our slides.

Speaking of bear, we took a wrong turn on our way to the campground and literally saw a brown bear run across the road in front of us.  He got away too fast to get a photo but it sure was exciting.  We eventually found a place to get turned around or we'd still be stuck on that uphill, dirt road.  

The park is well shaded and cared for.  I thought this stump turned planter was pretty.

Hopefully we'll have some more beautiful Montana photos for you tomorrow.  Perhaps some fly fishing photos too!  The altitude is much lower here so we are hoping for a good day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Little RV Explores Massacre Rocks State Park

Yesterday after dinner Grant and I went for a long walk around the park.  Rob was resting and we wanted to see if we could find a trail down to the river.  We didn't find river access but we did find some interesting things.  

First there was this snakeskin, a gentle reminder to watch were you step. 
Snakes give me the heebs big time.  Back home when I was mowing the lawn on the riding mower and I saw a garter snake out of the corner of my eye I would scream.  To me it might as well have been a giant anaconda.  

We found this beautiful wild flower along the trail too.  I have no idea what it is but I bet it is gorgeous in bloom.

I have been seeing these birds in in Wyoming, Utah and here in Idaho. We thought they looked like a pelican but weren't sure.  This one looks like he has been using hair gel.
Snagged for Wikipedia
While Grant and I were out walking I found this information sign.  That cleared up that mystery!
They are much larger than I thought they were.  The information says their wingspan can be as much as 9.5 feet.  That's HUGE! Second only the California Condor. 

On the way back we stopped for a photo of the Little RV in her site.  
One last look at the beautiful Snake River.  We leave in the morning for lower elevations!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lakes, Rivers and The Little RV has Some Reservations

We ended up staying at Bear Lake State Park for an extra day.  Rob was really tired yesterday and just needed a day of rest.  Around noon Grant and I went down to pay the rent for another day and dump the garbage.  Then we decided to go and check out the water temperature in the lake.  I waded in and when Grant decided I wasn't coming out he came in with me.  Grant has only been in the water a couple of times.  The first was when he fell into Rob's Sister's pool and the other times were at the beach in Florida and he wasn't too excited about the waves.  

This water was different here.  It was warm and there was no current or waves.  Once he figured that out he was romping and bucking like a colt. 

The summer camping and tourist season is coming on fast and places to park this beast of an RV are getting hard to come by.  I had to break down and plan ahead for the next couple of weeks.  So, I spent yesterday morning researching State parks and making reservations for campsites. 

This morning we moved to Massacre Rocks State Park.  We have reservations at two more State parks here in Idaho over the next couple of weeks.  One of the parks even had full hookups.  Very exciting!  

Massacre Rocks SP overlooks the Snake River and was a rest stop on the Oregon Trail.  Register Rock, where many emigrants inscribed their names as they passed through, is located in the park.  

Our site has wonderful views of the Snake River.  I took these while standing in the doorway of the RV shortly after we arrived.  Can you imagine crossing that in a covered wagon?  Pass, thanks!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Little RV Finds Sweet Seclusion in Bear Lake State Park, Idaho

Our move on Sunday brought us to Idaho.  We are in the far southeast corner of Idaho at Bear Lake State Park.  


The lake is a peculiar shade of turquoise like the ocean in the Caribbean.  They call it the "Caribbean of the Rockies".  
Photo snagged from the interwebs.
Apparently there are deposits of limestone suspended in the water and the reflection of the sun off those deposits is what causes the turquoise color.  It's gorgeous no matter what causes it.  

We are in a pull-through site with electricity.  There is a water faucet at our site and nobody is here so we are hooked into it.  

The park entrance at sunset.
We spent our first evening watching the sunset over the lake.  It was awe inspiring to say the least.  We set up our chairs to overlook the lake and took dozens of photos as the sun went down. Here are just a few.