Saturday, April 28, 2012

I'm very late posting again

Woh, here it is Saturday and I haven't posted for a week or more.   All was going fairly well until this weekend, when the bottom fell out of the temperature range  Plus we've had a few wrinkles to get worked out.

In reverse order, last night when the wind was blowing like crazy against the side of our RV ,where the water heater is, the water heater failed.  Because of the wind, I assumed that it wouldn't stay lit.  However, this morning, it was quieter and still no gas heater action.  I did some checking and found that we did have a problem.  Eventually, we found a schematic and determined that the high temperature thermostat was blowing.  So we jumpered around the failed unit and presto, we now have some hot water.  The bad part is that we have to warm the water by time verses using the thermostat.  The good news is we have a replacement part on order already.

It was then to Cedar Rapids for our weekly grocery run before returning to the farm.   We didn't waste much time outside, as the weather has changed to cold and windy!  Today, colder and windy still.

I was thrown a curve this evening when I tried to get into Blogger.  It let me read it, but didn't want me in to create another posting.   The real problem is that Google has a new face on Blogger and I don't  like it.  But we eventually got in and here we are.

Have a great day.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

It is Friday already!

FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2012

We're at the Beed's Lake State Park campground and until today, we were the only customer for about 70 sites.  Traffic is not too plentiful.  However, today we've seen a massive influx of customers, perhaps 5 or 6 other RVs.   We welcome the company and everyone seems to want their space, so no one is crowding in on us.

We came here so that Sandy could have lunch with a distant relative who finally  arrived yesterday afternoon. So today we met them at a local diner for a good meal and lots of conversation.  Marty is on her spring travels I  guess, as she was in Houston earlier and now Iowa, followed by Minnesota.   She puts on a number of miles each year, both with her car and with air travel.

While here at Beed's Lake SP, I've walked around the lake twice.   It is a two mile path and fairly level except when it crosses the outlet creek.   The outlet has a unique spillway that is about a 100 feet wide and perhaps 30 feet high.  The lake level is such that it spills over the dam across the entire 100 feet and then cascades down a stair step sandstone spillway.   Needless to say, it makes a lot of racket and today was even worse with yesterdays rain raising the lake level by an inch or more, not counting the inflow to the lake.

The trail crosses the upper end of the lake using a causeway which is really the original dam.  On this causeway, there were 3 pairs of nesting geese.  Needless to say, they let it be known that my presence was not welcome.  But they didn't attach me either.  One pair abandoned the nest for the water while a second nest was vigorously defended by a hissing mother goose who stood her ground at the nest.  I walked on the other side and I didn't waste anytime passing by.

Tomorrow we head for Williamsburg again.  I don't think they've had the rain that we've seen here in northern Iowa, so we should be able to park on the lawn in our regular spot.  And a week later, we join  Gene's mother for a celebration of her 101st birthday.  We have a while before we get even  close.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Moving again (We think)

We've been here at McIntosh Woods State Park for 3 days and already we're getting itching feet.  Actually, there are more  opportunities to visit relatives if we move.  So we're planning to move to Beed's Lake State park near Hampton this afternoon.   It would have been in the morning,  but Sandy's cousin just suggested that we go out to dinner with her in Clear Lake.  So in the PM, it will be.

There was great news on the home front yesterday.  We're not even really settled in since our winter travels yet, but it is always time to make travel plans for next year.   So yesterday, we got an email from a couple wanting to rent our lot in a park in Arizona.  So naturally we responded and before the sun went down, the lot was rented.  So I guess we won't even consider going to Arizona next winter.  That is good news as far as we're concerned.

We didn't do much yesterday.  I did go for a couple of short hikes in the woods, but nothing in the open.  the bitter cold wind from the NW was just too much.  In the late afternoon, we went to see Sandy's brother in the care center in Rockwell for a nice visit.  On the return trip, we got our Walmart fix.  Gas at Murphy's was only $3.40 yesterday.  Diesel was $3.80, a very good price.  So when we leave today, do we fill it up, or gamble that fuel prices will continue on downward?

I think it is time to get some fresh air.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

It is spring in Iowa and time for a Thunder storm or two

We left Forest City this after noon with overcast skies and a light wind from the SE.  Of course, we were headed south, so it was a head wind again.  Tonight we're safely parked in a woods near Clear Lake, IA.  It is actually a state park with developed sites and electricity.  So while I write this, we have spent the last hour watching the Lawrence Welk Saturday evening program.   Of course, we need to keep the TV on so that we get the latest weather updates. (We also have a Wx Radio.)

We took our time leaving Forest City so that we could visit a winery just out of town.  Would you know it that they were closed.   We had trouble finding it because the road signs pointing to winery were not in place.  Once we found it, it was obvious why the signs were down. They are closed during the off season!  Had I called them yesterday to discuss our plans, it would have worked out better for us.  Next Time I will call first!

Our plans are to relax here at McIntosh Woods State Park near Clear Lake for 4 or 5 days.  Or at least until Sandy's cousin blows into town so that they can have some face to face time.  Then we'll probably head south to the farm again.  Mother's birthday (101) is two weeks from tomorrow and we intend to be there to help her celebrate.  (I'm not sure how much celebrating she will do, as she can hardly stay awake to eat her meal!)


Friday, April 13, 2012

We haven't blown away yet!

Here we sit in cool, breezy, wet Forest City, waiting for some nice spring sunshine.  But it won't happen today. A front has moved through and the word is "button down the hatches!"  Our main awning is in, but there is an awning over each slide out and they are taking a beating in this wind.  Plus they create a lot of noise so it makes us think that the place is going to fall over or something.

Our reason for coming here was to get the motorhome serviced and to make firm plans for this summers' rally of a fulltimers club which we are chairman of for the year.  Sandy and I discussed our tentative plans with the current past president who also was here earlier in the week.  Then it was up to us to resolve our differences.   I think we've worked it out okay and we have three or maybe 4 tours on tap plus 4 breakfasts and 2 dinners.

This afternoon we visited an office that has been a good supporter of club activities and while talking with the receptionist, she mentioned that her children were in high school.  I then asked her what she knew about the wind generator that the school has on their property.  I was floored when she told me that she was on the school board and the wind generator was a very good investment.  In fact, at the last board meeting, they voted to install another generator as soon as they can get one.

The generator they have is a reconditioned Belgium unit purchased directly from Belgium.  They have had their name on the list for a second unit for some time and still have no idea when they can get it.  Apparently the rule is that once it is removed from service in Belgium, it can not be re-installed.  The Belgium's are no dummies,  they want the newest and best unit re-installed to generate more power.  So the old units are available for reconditioning and our applications.

I'm assuming that the school has records detailing the cost, and the return.  Obviously, since they have ordered a second one, they must like it.  It would be very interesting to hear it from a user of wind power.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Keeping Warm in Cold Northern Iowa

We sure walked into this one  this year, it is cold HERE.  We moved to Forest City yesterday to the Winnebago  Industries Visitor's center.  Thankfully, they have 30 Amp connections for us to plug into.  (So we're using an electric heater for keeping warm.)

The drive yesterday was one of the worst days we've had on the road in many months, perhaps years.  We had a strong wind out of the northwest and all of our driving was either west or north.  But we made it by slowing.  Most of the time, we were in the 45 to 50 mph range.  But we're here!

We're here at Winnebago to have the motorhome  serviced and to make plans for next summer's all Winnebago Rally.  We're committed to doing a seminar on fulltiming and a second seminar on boondocking (no hookups) with some emphasis on using solar power.  In addition, we're the current president for the fulltimer's sub-club in the group.  So with that obligation, we're lining up 3 tours and deciding on three breakfasts and two dinners for the group.  Traditionally, the group has not had any tours.  But Sandy and I agreed that we need to do something besides eat and talk!

We went to the customer service desk this morning and expressed our desired to have the coach serviced, if they could work on it  this week.  We were told to have the coach in the parking lot in one hour to be on standby for service.  At 10:15, they called to tell us they were ready.  I had also asked for them to do a few other small items (I thought) and tonight, they are only half done. I guess re-sealing the roof is a bigger job than I expected!  But it needs to be done.

They returned the coach to us at 3:30 pm so that we can use it tonight.  The bummer is that we have to return it to the service center at 7 AM tomorrow morning.  But then we're good to go for another year.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Another Water Pump down the tubes

Okay, things have been just going great as we've settled down here on  the farm.  Actually, we're quietly looking forward to heading north to Forest City to have the motorhome serviced and make plans for a summer rally that we're hosting just prior to the Winnebago Grand National Rally (GNR).   After all, we've been parked here for 2 weeks and hitch itch is beginning to set in.

So we jerked into reality this morning when I attempted to get some water out of the sink faucet. Zero, nothing, not even a drop of the wet stuff.  Our brand new Shurflo water pump wouldn't supply even a drop.  Believe it or not, I was actually hoping that the problem was an electrical connection problem.  But it was not to be.  After breakfast, we suited up (it is cold outside) and went outside to check it  out.  However, all was well with the connections, so we replaced the pump with my backup pump, and all is now working.  My only regret is that I  don't have a diary of all of the issues I've had with our water pumps in this coach.

Thinking back on it, we  have been in this coach for 6 plus years and have been averaging a pump problem about once every year.   Interestingly, in our first 12 years of fulltime living, we had two different RVs and we never had a water pump problem.    All three pumps were manufactured by Shurflo, about the only manufacturer for RV water pumps.  Did somebody say that Shurflo has value-engineered their water pump line?

Today ought to be a relaxing day.  We're getting ready to travel on Monday and Sunday we're going to Amana to see my mother in the care center.  We've then decided to go on to Cedar Rapids to the spring flower show in Knollridge Park, something we've heard about for 40 plus years.  I don't think it will hurt us to tour just a little bit.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Keeping Busy on the Farm (Doing what?)

We've been back on the farm for about a week now and loving it.  Sitting on the hilltop, we get lots of fresh air and a steady breeze (Sandy says a strong wind.)  But I love it.   We had to jumper the lawn mower to start it, but we've mowed the lawn twice already.  However, it is nice to see it green.

We had wanted to burn the old stalks and leaves off of the asparagus, but there is just too much wind.  Perhaps if we had a real water pressure system, I'd risk it.  But with the old windmill pump jack that pumps a half gallon per minute with no pressure tank, it would be a lost cause.   The reason to burn the asparagus is to blacken the soil so that it warms up faster and the new shoots sprout forth faster.  But I guess we'll wait.

Actually it is almost too late now.  We're leaving on Monday (after Easter) to go to Forest City to take care of some items at the Winnebago service center plus meet with the WIT club representatives.  We're the elected leader of the full timers subgroup and plans need to be finalized for 2012. When we finish those items, it is head south 50 miles to visit with some of Sandy's relatives.

We have a minor problem trying to  work out our schedule.  All of the county parks that we have used in that area are still closed for the winter.  It may be an early spring, but they are not encouraging residents to use the county parks. (All we really need is weekly access to the water supply and the dump station.)  Our ability to live without hookups during the winter in Florida will serve us well there also.