Sunday, July 31, 2011

Twiddling time away

Here we sit in the county park near Thornton, IA, relaxing, reading and trying to surf.  (Our Internet is so slow that surfing is a pain.)   So it was time to break out a book and continue reading.  The current book is "Napoleon Bonaparte".  It is obviously written by a Frenchman and he left lots of French phrases in (with no explanations).  Needless to say, I don't speak French and I have a very difficult time following sometimes.

I have often wondered how Napoleon Bonaparte was elected, appointed or gained his power.  The book provides some interesting reading.   I'm in the middle of the book and there was one phrase that stuck with me.  I quote N.B.  "Liberty was the fruit of discipline; and the remedy for indiscipline was less liberty."  Napoleon was  really a military man and believed that orders originate from the top (the general at the top).  I'm currently in the time period where he is appointed to lead the government and so craftily (and slowly) changes the government to a dictatorship with Napoleon at the head.  I suspect that just as we've seen in some of our politicians today, Napoleon's personality was such that he got his way, the democratic process be dammed!  The people had just revolted against the monarchy and did not want a NON-representative government.  So what did they permit, but another dictator.

It is still hot and muggy here in Iowa and our air conditioner is getting a good workout.  Thank goodness for power to run the air conditioner.   Yes, we enjoy boondocking, but not in this kind of a climate.

Today we're moving to another local county park.  It is only 15 miles, but near where a cousin of Sandy's is in a care center.   We've been here 6 days and we were not conservative about our water use, so we need to dump the tanks and refill.  So why not truck on down the road a few miles.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Relaxing at Thornton, IA

We have been here since Monday PM and I'm not sure when we're leaving.  Perhaps on Saturday.  This is going to be a short blog, as the Internet service here is just a notch above none!   It is SLOW!  But we do get our email and I'm able to read the online news, so we're not totally in the dark.

Yesterday, we visited a cousin of Sandy's.   Sandy and Vivian had a running dialog on family history and I listened to Joe tell me about his WWII activities.   As he said, the Lord took good care of him.  He tried to enlist in the Army Air Force, but they wouldn't guarantee him a slot as a diesel mechanic.  So he waited a little while and was drafted.  During basic, he took the aptitude tests and they wanted to send him to electronics school.  He told them that he had been working in a garage and he really wanted to be a diesel mechanic.  So they said, you're in diesel school.

School was about to start, so there was no leave after basic.  He spent a few weeks in diesel school and  was then shipped out to the south pacific by way of Hawaii, and several  of those islands before settling in.   He was on a contested island and they told him to dig his own fox hole in case of an air raid.   (He was stationed away from the main base at the transmitter site.)  His fox hole was kind of shallow until one night there was a Jap air raid.   After that, his fox hole  became much deeper!

He was on several islands, following the forces as they took one island after another.  He ended up on Okinawa when the war was over.   After the surrender was signed, he was sent to Japan to inventory the power generation equipment at a big site. When he returned, he learned that with 42 months of service time and no  leave taken, he was nearly at the top of the list for rotation back to the states.   He made it home in good time and was married two weeks later.  Needless to say, he feels very blessed!

Now we'll see if we can post this! (Have a great day.)


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Attending a closed school auction

On Sunday before we were to leave Forest City, Sandy read an article about an auction in her old school here in northern Iowa.   So with time on our hands and nothing scheduled for 2 weeks, guess where we went.

We are now parked in the county park next to her old home town, Thornton, IA.   We came in Monday after exhausting our comp time at Winnebago.    We were a bit concerned that perhaps we'd have a problem getting a spot to park in the park.  But guess what, we had our choice of any of the 24 sites.  We were the only camper here Monday and Tuesday night.  Today we were joined by a motorhome from Wisconsin.

Back to the auction.  Sandy didn't want a bidder's number because she wasn't going to buy anything.  So we went kind of late this morning,  with only 20 minutes until the starting time.  The first thing we noticed was the smell in the old school. It was horrible.  The concrete floor was damp or wet.    Inside of the building, the stuff was piled about, mostly in the gym.   We didn't see anything that we'd give a wooden nickel for, yet when we walked into the bidding area near some copier equipment, we heard that someone had bid something up to $45.   That is about $46 more than it was worth.   In other words, it was mostly junk!

Sandy did meet a couple of friends that she knew from school.  For a few minutes they had fun reminiscing  about by gone days.  There were only about 15 bidders standing around when we were in the area.   The auctioneer was the sheriff and he needed some practice singing out the bids.   But then a sheriff's auction is not noted for getting the last dollar for an item.

I walked back to the school at 3 PM and it was all over and done.   A few people were loading stuff out.  Two fellows were carrying out some of the tubular desks and chair and just heaving them onto a pile.  I have no idea if they were being sorted, scrapped or what.

Sandy's brother told us that all of the good stuff had been sold 2 years ago and I think what was left had been sold to one fellow, who defaulted on his bill.  Thus the Sheriff's auction on "abandoned equipment".

Once the "stuff" is removed, the entire school is to be leveled.  In my opinion, the newer part of the school should have been retained as a town something.  But I  guess that city father's wanted nothing to do with it, so it is the wrecking ball shortly.  I'm sure they'll regret it years from now.


Monday, July 25, 2011

The Rally is over for another year

The Winnebago rally officially ended on Friday and we decided to hole up on the rally grounds until today.   We ran some errands and picked up our mail from the post office (we had forgotten about it on Friday.)  I guess we were still suffering some from the extreme heat that blanketed the midwest this past week.  Thank goodness the rally grounds had good power lines and everyone appeared to keep their air conditioner humming away.

On Thursday, I was blessed (if you call it that) to be elected as President of the WIT365 (fulltimers) club.  So since I had some strong opinions on what we ought to be doing differently, we spent the next three days making some arrangements for the revised program we want to lead next year.  We heard several comments that all the club has done at GNR was "eat"!  So we're planning to schedule several tours for the group during the week.  Also, they didn't particularly like the meals  as scheduled, so we're doing them our way.   (They have been in a rut for the last 4 or 5 years I think.)  Any way, we'll try something new.

We remained on the rally grounds to the bitter end, leaving at something after 12.  They actually pulled the power on us, so it was either sweat, run the generator or move to friendlier locations.  So we traveled 50 miles south to Sandy's old home town and we're parked in a county park next door to it.  Sandy saw a note that her old high school and all of the furnishings  were being sold at a sheriff's auction on Wednesday.  I'm not sure what she has in mind other than to see lots of old friends.  (We don't have room in our motorhome for any more stuff.)   Perhaps a memento or two will make it our way.

We intend to remain here for 3 to 5 days.  Then we'll move east and north towards the camp near Rochester, MN where Sandy is hosting a family reunion!  It will be fun.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The RV gods are still here

Yesterday was one of those roller coaster days that generally ended on a positive note.   For starters, we worked in the coffee tent serving coffee to rally goers, starting at 8 AM.  (I was smart enough to tell Sandy last week to not sign us up for the early shift at 7 AM.)  All went well until Sandy came to my station and said that she would replace me and that I had to get a new multi-outlet cord for the computer room, since the one servicing the projector and presenter's computer was intermittent.    So I left in a hurry and left my chocolate drink. It was gone when I returned, disposed of as "useless stuff of unknown origin".

After finishing the coffee detail later, I decided to talk to the Shurflo water pump representative about my multiple failures.  He had a real line up of unhappy folks and after a while, I decided that I needed to get my pump.   After all, describing the problem was one thing, but he had a test bench to give it a water test and see for himself.   So I returned to my motorhome, dug out my boxed old water pump and returned to the service line, about 4 unhappy folks further back.

The line seemed to move exceedingly slow, as the service fellow was "as busy as a one armed paper hanger" as we used to say years ago.  Then suddenly I was at the head of the line. He took my pump, asked for a description of the problem and hooked it up to run it dry.  It wouldn't even start!  (Same fault I had described.) Without even connecting it to the water lines, he reached into a box and handed me new pump.  That is a $200 item at most RV stores.  Needless to say, I thanked him much and left before he might change his mind.  I felt like the RV gods had really smiled on me.

We returned to the motorhome to drop the pump off and decided to skip the early morning seminars and visit the service center about a paint problem on our rig.  (At the very top where the roof meets the side, the paint is pealing off of the rounded part.   We talked to the service center folks and obtained directions where I  needed to go.  (Winnebago does not paint their own coaches but farms it out to an independent company located next door.)

We drove to IDP and found the manager I was to see. Obviously, I wasn't the first complainer and he said they could do it on Saturday and it would cost $350.  (I had been told by fellow rally goers that he had gotten his painted about a month ago for free on a coach the same age as ours.)  We told him that we'd discuss it with Sandy and see him later.  (I decided that it wasn't worth $350 to  me to have it repainted. in an area that you can hardly see unless you get on the roof.)

Back at the rally, we attended a seminar on RV refrigerators and generally I tried to keep cool.  The RV gods have definitely  smiled on the rally and it is stifling hot (as it is throughout the entire northeast.).  I'm very surprised that we don't have more folks dropping over from heat .

Tonight's entertainment was an "Elvis impersonator" and as much as I couldn't stand Elivis when he was alive, I decided to attend.  No I didn't last the whole session.  When he took his mid session break, I beat it.  No, I couldn't understand a thing he says  when he sings!

 So it was back to the motorhome to see how Sandy was doing.  She really over did herself in the afternoon and was still dragging, but doing pretty well in the cool of the air conditioning.  (She had presented a 2 hour seminar on Windows 7 in the afternoon and the room was HOT.)   We're lucky that she didn't fall over mid session.

Today is a free day for us.  We help at the coffee tent from 7 to 8 and then we have no scheduled sessions for the day.   We can make our decisions later.

One more day of stifling heat!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

It is "HOT" here in Forest City, IA

There is no doubt about it, it is hot here in Forest City.  Yesterday, the news people were talking about a Heat Index approaching 117 degrees.  I'm not sure what that is, but it was hot.   But our A/C continues to perform well.

Sandy hosted a seminar yesterday in the only room with air conditioning.  It went well for her and lots of Happy Folks.  I hosted a seminar in the PM in the tent. Needless to day, it was hot!  It was one of the rare times that sweat actually dripped from my brow!  But we finished it and no one passed out.  My next seminar is on Thursday at 9 AM, also in a tent.  At least being an early morning session, it ought not be too bad!

Attendance is down for the rally.  Only 1100 or so rigs from last years 1500.   People do not like driving with the high fuel prices.

Time to get breakfast so that we can go help serve coffee and muffins to the eager beavers!  (A service of the 365 club (full timers)).

Have a nice day and pray for a break in the heat wave.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Forest City is waking up

Here we are in Forest City Iowa with several hundred other Winnebago owners.  Attendance is down this year for what ever the reason, so at present, there are numerous holes in the parking area.  Most of them will be filled by sundown on Sunday when all of the members ought to be here for the start of the rally.

Today was a miserable day for parking and before they started, they apparently closed it.  It rained lightly most of the morning here and around noon, it came down in torrents.   Friends who were out of the grounds to the service center were told that they could not re-enter, so they are roughing it for one night.

This week is pre-rally activities and the activity we're involved in is the full timers club (called the 365 group.)  Supposedly, they are in their RV over 6 months of the year.  It is an interesting group and one characteristic is that they all seem to be an aging group.  I guess with 17 plus years of fulltiming, we ought to fit in.   Our closing activity this afternoon with the group was an ice cream social, where we had twice as much ice cream as we had a need for.  So obviously, we're well filled.

After the 365 closing, we had a break at the rig before joining the computer group for a pizza party.    Three years ago, they were short of pizza slices, but not this year.   They had four or five extra pizzas!  No one went away hungry!  It was an opportunity to visit and get acquainted with some of the other members that are scattered around the grounds.  The common subject of discussion was the computer, either with XP, Vista or Win7.

Yesterday we went to a neighboring town of Garner to visit the medical clinic there.   I needed a vitamin B-12 shot and the local clinic was out of the stuff.   Even though I had a prescription from my local Doctor, they insisted that I be seen by their doctor also.   In the end, they only thing it cost me was time, as I didn't have to pay extra for the 5 minute visit from him to see if I was alive.

With that, it is about news time here Thursday evening, so we need to wrap this up.  Have a great day.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

At the Rally

We left Rockford, IA yesterday at 10 AM and arrived at Forest City for the rally at 12:15 PM.   It wasn't that far, just typical Iowa county roads.   We could have left sooner, but  the travel management advisor said that there was no hurry since we couldn't enter the grounds until 1 PM.   So  to kill some time at Rockford in the morning, we went out to a county park called Prairie and Fossil park.  It is the only park we have seen where the sign says "NO to all of the typical things, except picking up fossils.  You may collect all the fossils you care to and we saw a fellow with his 10 year old son doing just that.

The only problem at Forest City was that there were about 200 other coaches also wanting to enter the grounds at the same time.  So we parked it at the end of the line and visited with friends, an activity that I most enjoy.

The line up finally began moving at 1:05 PM, about a hundred feet at a time, which bugs me.   I'd rather not start the engine unless we can make major strides.   Any way, we finally entered the gate and paid for our early parking at 2:30 PM and we didn't get parked until about 2:45 PM.  After getting parked and setup, we plenty of opportunity to visit with our new neighbors.

I had a whole list of things that I wanted to mention, but as per usual, my mind is blank now.  So I guess we'll cut this off and head outside to visit with our neighbors under the big awning!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

We're getting real "Itchy to get moving"

Our plan yesterday was to head north today.  But then a mail order for Sandy did not appear at the post office, so we decided (to keep peace in the house) to delay our departure a day.  Everyone is happy today, as the package arrived..

The order came in this morning and the post office called us at 8:15 AM.  So we made a quick trip to town and picked it up.  However, with package in hand, the decision was made to delay our travels by a  day.  (Sandy's sinuses are really acting up.)

So today was spent putting stuff away and a few make work projects.  We even got the tractor out to do some dirt moving and level a small hole in the lawn.  (A remnant of burning out a tree stump this last spring.)   We also watched some TV to see how the judge treated  Casey in Florida.   I think the judge got it right!  But a sad reflection on society.

Our destination tomorrow is the Rockford, IA city park for one night.   That puts us within striking distance of Forest City for Saturday morning.  Enroute, we'll stop at Marengo to do some laundry and while that is being done, I'll make a quick trip to Amana to see my mother.  We should be back on the road by noon  for about a three hour drive.  It is not that far, but it is not freeway driving either.

The thought of hitting the road and seeing many old friends is enlightening.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oh for a good water pump

Over the last week-end, I thought we were suffering from another bad water pump.  We delayed working on it until this morning (it was a holiday weekend for me to.)  Actually the pump worked if you knew how to baby it along.  Even Sandy learned how to keep it working.

Today we switched it out with my backup and said to myself, "another job well done."   However, it was not to be.  When I turned the pump on, the backup pump acted just like the one I removed.  That was not a good sign.  Our initial diagnosis was that the case was leaking air into the chamber.  But with two pumps exhibiting the same characteristics, I decided that maybe there was something else that needed a closer look.

To resolve the problem between either the case or the input filter, we connected a single tube from the input to a 3 gallon pail of water.   The pump worked exactly as we'd expect it to.  So the problem was a leaky input filter line.  That line has about 8 joints that might leak, so we just took it apart.   We changed a few things around, reassembled it and gave the filter bowel an extra twist just for good measure.

That fixed the problem.  Needless to say, I was one happy camper.  I was also very disgusted with myself for missing the problem in the first place.   We live and learn.

I know I should not complain, but we've now gone 8 days with no rain in the area, which is most unusual.  Yes, we had more than our fair share of moisture earlier, and the crops look great.   But to put it mildly, the ground here in the yard is getting very dry.  They brought in 20 loads of fill last week and while the grass took a beating in the track, the tires almost didn't leave a track.  Our trusty weather man says that there will be no rain for the rest of the week.  Okay, I guess we'll live with it.

With the water pump fixed, I dare say that we're developing a mild case of "hitch itch".  The current plan is at least by Friday and Sandy said yesterday, "perhaps we need to head north on Thursday".  We're ready.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

July 4th Weekend, and We're taking it easy

Here it is almost July 4th on the farm and the corn is growing; Also the beans and the weeds.  But we'd expect that with nearly ideal growing weather.  (I think the ideal growing temperature is right at 90 degrees, which we've been flirting with almost daily last week and again this week.)

This morning we decided that to  keep me out of the sun, I needed to help Sandy with the laundry at a neighboring town.  While there, we got a call from our custom operator that the neighbor's horses were out in our bean field.  So we finished the laundry, had lunch and then we headed to the farm field where the horses were out.   When we arrived, I could see that the horses were in the barn.   So we really didn't have to do a thing.  (The neighbor who called Larry had been unable to reach the horse owners earlier.)  But the old saying that "All is well that ends well" was certainly true in this case.  (The neighbor had returned home, saw the problem and corralled the horses.  Actually they followed his wife in when she went out to get them.)

Yes, we drove a few miles, but it was good to see that field of beans.  They were planted about a week before the beans here were planted.  Surprisingly, they are about a foot taller.  Now our goal is to get them sprayed. The weeds are coming on strong also.

 It has been a very productive week here on the farm.   The county delivered about 20 to 30 truck loads of fill removed from the local road ditches, so we have two holes filled in the old barn yard and the third hole well on the way to being filled.   It will look a lot nicer and just be more lawn to mow (if we continue to mow it.)

Later this week, we pack up and head for northern Iowa for the Winnebago "Grand National Rally" in Forest City.   Sandy has spent hours honing her computer presentations.  It  gives her a mission in life to help more seniors understand their computer!

For myself, I think there ought to be a federal law that a program can enhance a previous model, but it must not change the look or feel of the program.   (Microsoft has been a master of disguise at changing the look and feel of Windows.  Those minor changes have cost this world millions in lost time by forcing people to relearn all the things that are the same, but just a little different!}