Saturday, August 30, 2014

Casino Camping in the Little RV - Ashland, WI

Our fledgling casino camping experiment has been a success so far.  We have 50 amp electric and water hook-ups so it's quite comfortable here.  I think we'll try this again.  There are quite a few casinos that allow RV camping or even have an actual campground in the North Woods.  

It rained a lot yesterday and during the night but this morning it was just cloudy. We decided to go and check out the area.  The casino is near Ashland, Wisconsin so we headed there.  We stopped at a park to see Lake Superior again.  
In Ashland we noticed there were huge murals on the sides of many of the buildings.  We walked around a little and took some photos. 
The Oredock Mural

The Lighthouse Mural

Ashland in the 50s
The Armed Forces Mural
The Storefront Mural

The Lumberjack Mural

Three real-life bus stop waitresses from the 1940s. 
Ashland is very old and the architecture is beautiful. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No Rest for the Weary in the Little RV

We had the best thunder and lightening storm Sunday night.  I do love a good storm.  Monday morning we went to the Ford service center to pick-up our truck. It took some time but we finally managed to get the paperwork completed and drive away.  We had decided to move up the shore about 10 miles just for a change of scenery.  We want to stay in the area until we feel comfortable with the repairs before we head for the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula (UP).  

We got back to the campground, buttoned everything up and hitched the Little RV up and away we went. We had no mechanical concerns about the truck on the short trip. We checked in and paid for 5 nights. I had been having visions of drinking my morning coffee while enjoying the view. 
While we were setting up at the new campsite I heard Rob yell, " The bedroom slide won't open." Uh oh, this can't be good.  

I know there are ways to manually open slides so we finished setting up and then we started working on figuring out how to get the darn thing open.  

We tried leveling the whole RV again.  We dug out all of our manuals and tried those suggestions.  We called Lippert who makes the slide mechanisms and they walked us through several "fixes". Our campground neighbor came over to see if he could help but nothing worked.  

Finally we gave up and called for a repair. We were told to have the RV at the shop in Duluth Tuesday morning at 8:00.  I went over to the campground office and told them what was happening and they graciously gave me a refund for the 4 nights we wouldn't be able to use. 

Bedroom slide in
We had a huge problem on our hands. There is no way to get into the bedroom with the slide in. The slide almost completely covers the bedroom door opening. All of Rob's medication, his c-pap machine, oxygen machine, our clothes and bedding...everything we needed for the night was trapped in the bedroom.   

The only way in was to climb over the top of the slide and neither of us could manage that.  We needed someone tall and thin. So I did what any desperate woman would do. I went to find a tall, thin camper.  

A couple of sites down there was a family with three teens.  I went over and told the Mom what was going on and asked if we could borrow one of her kids.  The whole family of 5 came over to the RV and their son, Jake crawled over the slide and got some of the things we really needed for the night.  He was a trooper. He even got us clean underwear.  He climbed back out, we thanked them profusely and they were on their way back to their campfire with a silly story to tell.  

We had a long night on the full sized sofa bed but it could have been much worse.  
Tuesday morning's view enjoyed with a big latte'.
This morning we packed it all up again and dropped the RV off at the repair shop. They told us they would do their best to take a look this morning and would call us. 

We spent the morning puttering around Duluth and about 1 PM we went back to the shop to hang out in the waiting room. I went to the service desk for an update and they said it was all fixed and ready to go. Apparently a wiring harness connected to one of the motors that open and close the slide had come loose.  They rerouted the wires and put it all back together.  

Once we paid the bill and got all hooked up we decided to get out of Minnesota before anything else happened.  

I snapped a couple of photos in Duluth as we were coming down the hill toward Lake Superior and Wisconsin.  

I scrambled to find a campground nearby once we had crossed the border into Wisconsin.  Following the directions on my phone's navigation program we were driving down a narrow county road when we both spotted a very low railroad overpass at the same time.  When we got closer we saw the overpass height was 12' 8".  The Little RV stands a proud 13' 4" tall.  There was no way around and certainly no way under so we backed down the road a bit until we were able to back into a small turn off that had clearly been used for the same purpose.  It was tricky but Rob pulled it off without too much effort.  Crisis averted, we found an alternate route to the campground.  We are camped just East of Superior, Wisconsin where we plan to rest and collect ourselves for a couple of days before continuing our crazy trip.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Truck, Insurance and Still Waiting in the Little RV

Our auto insurance considers our mistake of putting gas in our diesel tank a "covered loss".  We are so relieved.  This is considered a comprehensive (rather than collision) incident which means our deductible is $100.  The insurance also covers our rental car and our AAA trip interruption benefit will help with the cost of the additional campground fees.  

The repairs on our truck are complete. Unfortunately we cannot pick it up until the check from the insurance company arrives at the repair shop.  I spoke to the insurance adjuster yesterday and felt absolutely no sense of urgency to get the check sent out.  He explained the paperwork was on his boss's desk and when the boss was able to get to it for final approval the check would be cut and it would be mailed via snail mail from the West coast.  That would take 3-4 additional days.  

I explained that we are in a campground that is fully booked as of tomorrow (Saturday) and they will be pushing us out into the field with only an extension cord as a hook-up.  This did not seem to make any impression on him at all so I asked to speak to his supervisor.  The supervisor was not available but the adjuster agreed to deliver a message to call me.

About 30 minutes later the adjuster called back and said the papers had been approved and signed and the check would be cut that afternoon or the following day. He agreed to call me back that afternoon and let me know whether the check had been cut or not so we could make arrangements.  He didn't call back.

We aren't comfortable hooking up the Little RV and taking off for parts unknown without driving the truck a fair amount. Replacing the entire fuel system is kind of a big deal and, as we are well aware, things can go wrong.  So, the plan is to get pushed into the field and stay at least until Monday.  

Hopefully we will get the truck back today or tomorrow and have time to make sure it is running correctly before we have to beat it through Wisconsin to our Labor Day reservation by Thursday in Manistique, Michigan.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Little RV Plays the Waiting Game - Truck Repair Update

If you're going to get stuck somewhere, this is probably one of the best places to be stuck simply because of the beautiful scenery.  We have been keeping busy puttering around the RV, sightseeing, resting and such.  It is not hot or humid here so I like the weather even when it's raining. 

We had to go to The Duluth Trading Company. We love the commercials and wanted to see if we liked their products.   

You may have seen and chuckled at their commercials on TV
Ad for Buck Naked Underwear

Ad for Long Tailed Tees - Plumbers Butt Fixed 
We did pick up a couple of things for Rob and he loves them.  Score!  They have a line of mosquito repellent clothing we plan to try before we head to Alaska. 

Speaking of mosquitoes, after suffering with their presence for three weeks we decided to purchase a bug shelter.  Rob found one that we thought would suit our needs.  It is easy to assemble and very sturdy. We timed the order to arrive at our current campground the day after we arrived.  Of course we haven't needed to use it but I'm certain we will in the near future.  We got the Clam 1660 Mag Screen Tent. You can see how it works in the video below.
I spoke to the Ford repair representative yesterday and she told me some of the parts had arrived and they are working to get the rest here as soon as possible. The repairs should take about 30 hours so any hope of departure this week is slipping away fast. We expected that because our experience with repairs has been much the same. I am expecting another parts update today. 

As for the campground, we originally had a reservation through Sunday night and were able to extend due to a cancellation. The owner was supposed to move us Sunday afternoon or Monday but we have yet to see him.  I'm wondering if another reservation was cancelled.  The weather has been pretty moist for the last few days. If prior reservations fill up the campground, we'll be moved into the field with an extension cord.  Since we cannot move the RV ourselves, it'll have to do. 

We have a prepaid reservation for Labor Day weekend about 400 miles from here in Michigan.  I sure hope we can make it there in time.  

Please enjoy a few more scenes from the North Shore. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pictorial Essay of Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior

Yesterday we spent the day along the North Shore of Lake Superior here in Minnesota.  Here is just some of what we saw.

Gooseberry Falls State Park
Lower Gooseberry Falls

Split Rock State Park 
Split Rock Lighthouse

Silver Bay Marina and picnicking area where we lunched.
Silver Bay breakwater

Silver Bay Marina
Tettegouche State Park

Rob taking photos on the bridge

Thursday, August 14, 2014

And Then There Were Two in the Little RV

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'
It's been a pretty rough week around here.  In addition to our astounding mechanical disaster we had to say goodbye to our beloved dog, Grant.  

We adopted Grant when he was just a few months old.  

Grant and Carrie

At the time we had Carrie, our 12 year old Aussie and Marley our 10 year old Newfoundland who have both passed on.  
Marley and Me

Marley and Christina (Juley's Daughter)

Sadly due to all of Grant's medical problems he was pain an awful lot of the time. His allergies to food and the environment would cause inflammation and his arthritis would flare up to the point he had difficulty walking some days. His tummy problems caused him to have painful gas and he couldn't lay still sometimes. His vet believed he had developed ulcers which caused him pain and some occasional bleeding in the digestive system.  We were giving him pain pills twice a day but that's no way to live.  Most other medications were out of the question because they contain things he is allergic to and make things even worse.  
Daddy's Boy
It had become painfully clear that it was time to let him go.  

We believe Grant is now playing with Marley and Carrie, being cared for by my best friend Judi and waiting patiently for us to come and join him so we can all play ball together again.
Grant and Judi
Yesterday we donated all of Grant's things to a no kill animal shelter here in Duluth. We don't plan to bring another pet into our lives until we are settled somewhere again.  
Run Free Bug!  We miss you

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rugged Beauty and a Costly Mistake

The weather yesterday was absolutely beautiful.  The sky was blue and the water was even deeper blue.  
Lake Superior

It is hard to imagine how big Superior is until you see it.  The waves come into the beach like small ocean waves and you can't see to the other side.  We took a short drive yesterday to check out the area.  

Public Beach at Two Harbors
We drove north to the small town of Two Harbors where they have a full hook-up municipal RV park just across the street from a public beach. Those lucky folks have great views!  

Two Harbors Lighthouse
We stumbled across this lighthouse in Two Harbors as well.  

Shortly after leaving the lighthouse we got a call from the Ford service garage telling us what is wrong with the truck.  
What they told us was really a shock. When we filled the auxiliary tank on Sunday with diesel, we actually were filling with gas.  She specifically asked if we had filled up at a BP station.  We had and I told her yes.  She said this happens fairly frequently because most stations have a green cover over the fuel handle and some have a green hose to indicate diesel.  BP has green on their regular gas. So we apparently added 43 gallons of regular gas to our diesel truck and drove 120 miles pulling the fifth wheel and another 20 miles to the Ford garage. 

The most shocking part of the conversation was when she told us the cost to repair the truck is approximately $10,000.  Yes, that is TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.  Ouch!  That's the moment when I felt all the blood drain from my face.  The entire fuel system must be replaced in order to maintain the remainder of the warranty on the truck.  

Fortunately it appears that our auto insurance will cover this costly mistake. We haven't gotten the final answer yet because they have to "inspect" the vehicle but this is generally covered the first time only.  Even better, it is considered a comprehensive loss rather than collision so our deductible is $100 and they will cover the cost of the rental car.  

The repairs should be complete in about a week (holding my breath) and we'll be on our way.  

Now back to our sightseeing trip.

These pictures were taken near sunset and just before a gully-washer of a rain storm blew in.  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Into Every Life Some Rain Must Fall....

This morning (Tuesday) I woke up to a bright, sunny, blue sky. That certainly wasn't the case yesterday.  We left Gull Lake COE Campground at about 8:30 am yesterday.  That is early for us but Rob was up before me for some reason and had packed our lunch so it didn't take long to get on the road. We weren't going to try to get into the tiny dump station again so we took off with some extra water weight, so to speak. 

It rained all day Sunday and was cloudy when we left the campground. Our drive was fairly short again, only about 110 miles. Our destination was Knife River, MN just north of Duluth.  The weather for our drive was cloudy but dry. 

We arrived at the campground at around 11 am.  I went in to check in and when Rob tried to start the truck to move to our site it wouldn't start.  Randy, the park owner, immediately went to work trying to figure out the problem. Within 15 minutes there were at least 6 men clustered around the engine of the truck. These are the friendliest people I have ever met.  

Eventually we were able to get the truck started and move to our site.  We got set up and tried to unhitch the RV and we had the same problem.  Rob was able to get it started again by turning the key slightly when the engine was trying to start. All of the males, including Rob, who were involved in the first attempt to start the truck have decided the problem is in the ignition switch.  

Next stop, the Ford dealership in Duluth. It poured rain as we drove back to Duluth. We dropped the truck off so they can work it in between appointments. They hope to take a look on Wednesday. We rented a car from the Ford dealer.  We have gone from a giant Ford F 350 Club Cab Dually truck to a tiny Ford Focus. Wow, sure makes you feel vulnerable.  I used to drive a Mini Cooper but I don't remember feeling that small.  

The silver lining; we'll be getting about 33 mpg in the little car for sightseeing.

We have full hook-ups here and I have started my laundry marathon.  Rob is pretty tired so I imagine he'll rest today.  

I wanted to take photos of Lake Superior on the way to the campground but it was reflecting the sky which was gray.  I didn't even try to take a picture.  I don't think you would have been able to tell the water from the sky.

I'm sure there will be photos for the next post. In the mean time, keep your fingers crossed for a quick and inexpensive repair of the truck.