Odd Interlude

Fate isn’t one straight road…there are forks in it, many different routes to different ends. We have the free will to choose the path. ~ Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

Fate has presented some interesting forks lately. I read Odd Interlude by Dean Koontz during my own odd interlude last week. I don’t have enough internet umph tonight to write about Pleasant (which includes, I hope, a short video clip) so this will be an odd interlude of its own.

Life, or the joy in life, is largely a matter of perspective, don’t you think?

We’ve had an interesting couple of weeks.

  • The rig we’d been following for a year, stacked… that was sad
  • Our Company Man called and said he wanted us at his new rig … that was great
  • There was a week lag time and we spent it at Choke Canyon State Park … that was lovely

It’s was lovely and so very quiet. Although I always say I live a quiet life, I think I may mean something more like a life of very little stress, not very little noise. With the tons of trucks coming and going all day and all night and the gas station hose bell ringing and ringing, and the portable generator continually humming, it isn’t as quiet as I thought. The park was really, really quiet.

I took this picture through the window from my chair with my propped up leg but Heidi lived outside all week

  • Heidi spent almost all of her time outside bird watching
  • I spent almost all of my time inside reading with ice packs on my knee (I had fallen down the steps at the last job. I landed on my well padded seat but really wrenched my knee)
  • I did hobble down to the lake twice to go fishing
  • The glow in the dark night-crawlers the convenience store lady sold me were all mushy
  • I traded the $4 night-crawlers in on a $4.29 bag of chips which I left on the counter
  • The lady was out of minnows so she sold me frozen shrimp
  • I’ve never fished with frozen shrimp and I kept ripping their heads off with the hook
  • I didn’t catch any fish but a very big stick put up quite a fight
  • I also hooked the camp chair once

It was fun to camp for a week. I loved the cooking and you can’t beat the clean up.

Well, the clean up was easy for me. I just stuck the fork in the fire. Heidi, on the other hand, worrying about the wind that had picked up, put the fire out with hands full of sand. Sand that had hitherto been the happy home of hundreds of fire ants.

It took a lot of Epsom salts and Lanacane spray before the swelling went down. We’d been working 24 hours a day for 6 months (which isn’t s big deal – we worked 264 days straight last year) but Heidi’s hands were stinging and it seemed like a great time to visit our favorite local hot spot in Tilden,Texas which was only about 15 miles from the park.

We began our career as TSAs in Tilden so we knew that it’s hard to beat the ambiance or the Nacho’s Supreme at Max’s Cafe and Motel.

After a week of not really fishing, really reading and intense bird watching, we headed for our next gig on a rig at a new TSL.

  • We started to set up
  • The Safety Man said to wait, they were dozing a pad for us by the rig
  • We worked the not busy gate for 4 hours from the dually
  • While waiting, we discovered 2 bad tires on the truck

  • A carpet of cacti and mesquite and tangled weeds were dozed away
  • Sunday evening we moved to our new spot and settled in

  • Monday we had an entire day of Texas dust devils and 55+ mph winds

  • During the peak of the whirling-dervishes, our new pea gravel pad was spread around us
  • The winds also covered the RV and truck with little drops of oil based mud

  • Tuesday SA H made it to town to get 2 new tires for the dually
  • Wednesday was pretty regular
  • Thursday a mobile repair man came out to look at the toilet that runs on its own and the VCR that doesn’t run at all and the convection oven that cooks in 3 time zones all at once and the valves that are becoming resistant to releasing our grey and black water (all under an extended warranty)
  • Friday we moved back to the spot where we had been on Sunday
  • Saturday rig washers dropped by to power wash the oil based mud off the RV

  • The rig washers had never washed an RV and they inadvertently flooded the vent to the frig, frying the mother board.
  • When power washing the truck, that high pressured water hit the windshield and the small poc from a rock picked up on the way to our new TSL cracked a 15 inch line

Nothing is worse than being alone on the evening of the day when one’s cow has exploded. ~ Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

See, that’s what I mean about perspective. Two new tires, 3 moves, a cracked windshield and a dead refrigerator are nothing compared to an exploding cow. We did, however, take the fork that led to remedying our new dilemmas. Special ordering the tires was simple, the windshield is temporarily on hold but the frig was the real puzzle.

  • We called our dealership back in Iowa and got instructions
  • SA H set out with a hairdryer to try to dry out the soggy mother board
  • Being very tenacious, she did this for a long, long time

  • We gave it the night to repair itself  – it didn’t
  • Sunday I asked our CM if he would give away our food as we were having some frig issues (I didn’t mention the rig washers)
  • He had an extra refrigerator in his trailer so we hauled our bags and bags of food down there (the double frig and double freezer were pretty well all stocked up)
  • Saturday and Sunday we ate a lot of cereal to use up the remaining warm but not spoiled milk
  • Monday SA H called the manufacturer and got the name of a certified roving repair man
  • This great guy talked SA H through a magic magnet fix
  • Today we will retrieve our food and wait to see what new adventures await

All in all, it was an interesting week. We SA’s are grateful for a multitude of kindnesses and blessing and even for the bell that rings all day and all night. As always, Henry remains cheerful and optimistic.

Loyal companions are an unequaled grace. ~Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

After struggling with the internet for months, it looks like SA H may have found a solution. If so, I’ll get back to Gig on a Rig Tip #4 – Pleasant next time. As Odd would say:

Being polite is not only the right way to respond to people but also the easiest. Life is so filled with unavoidable conflict that I see no reason to promote more confrontations. ~ Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas

What is THE RIGHT RV?

I grew up camping. I was born in Elkhart, Indiana and lived in Middlebury until I was 11. If you’re familiar with camping back in the 50’s and 60’s, that was the Camper Capitol of the World.

I’ve camped in a sleeping bag/tent-less, in a pup tent and in a big family tent –  but most of my camping has been off the ground in something.

My Dad’s the one w/o the cowboy hat. Can’t remember him ever wearing one.

The green and yellow Cox fold down was our main summer get away for years and years. Those were the days of big hair and big curlers – even in Indiana. Except for me, my Dad cut mine as you could probably have guessed.

1965 – me, my Cousin, my Sis, Mom, my Aunt & Uncle. I don’t know why the Cox is set up. Surely they didn’t fly from CA to be relegated to the backyard?

A few years later, my folks bought a little 19 foot Phoenix Travel Trailer.

1968 – new trailer, old Chevy

I’ve gotten so many emails asking what THE RIGHT RV is for Full-Timing and for Gate Guarding. This isn’t a topic I probably would have ever addressed but I’m glad you’ve asked because this is one area where I’m strongly opinionated.

Here’s my advice: Buy what you want. 😀

Really folks, telling someone what kind of RV to get is like telling them whether to buy a Cape Cod or a Tudor or Condo – or rent an apartment!  How presumptuous to think we know what’s right for someone else. Doesn’t that just floor you?

We’re not talking about camping anymore. For some, an RV is their home at least half of the year. For many of us, it’s our only home. So I’m completely baffled when people write to me and say that a blogger has told them never buy (all of these have been mentioned): *New, *Used, * 5th wheel, *Motorhome, *Trailer, *White Paint, *Special Paint. *Too Big, *Too Small…

A fool and his advice are easily parted. (OK, that’s not exactly how the saying goes but I think it’s just as true.)

The right RV is the one that you’re comfortable with in all aspects: budget, pulling/towing, amenities etc… I received an email from someone who said a gate guarding blogger wrote: Only an idiot would buy a new RV and bring it to Texas.

Down here they’d say: He’s all broth and no beans.

For me, that would have been the end of that. I’m not likely to seek advice or even just have many conversations (or blog visits) with someone who shares his opinion by insulting others. But it bothered the person who wrote to me quite a lot, so I’ll address it.

As they say in the South: Well, slap my head and call me silly! because I’ve done that twice (bought a new one and brought it to Texas).

Well, technically, only once. Heidi bought a new 2007 32 ft Motorhome in the spring of 2008 (better price because it was last year’s model). Eventually, Henry and I hopped aboard and we headed for Oregon and ended up in Texas.

Last fall, for a variety of reasons, we decided to switch to a 5th wheel and bought a new 2012, 40 foot Brookstone. There she goes again, bless her heart. I’ve been told that, in Texas, you can get away with all insults by adding bless her heart at the end. 😉

If you’re truly in a quandary between a Class A and a 5th Wheel, I’ve written about it a couple of times: Full Timing It in an RV, What Would You Buy which includes a reader’s poll and some really interesting comments. And The Winner Is…which lists some of the pros and cons that other RVers were kind enough to share and more of their comments.

But in the end, there’s no right RV. Get what you like. Get what works for you.

We’re in the middle of a move – 16 miles down the road. By middle, I mean we were suppose to move yesterday morning at 8 and found out yesterday morning at 6:30 that we’re moving tomorrow morning at 9 as far as we know this morning at 4. 😉

Flexibility is key in this job! I’ll write about that in my next post.

Full-Timing It in an RV – What Would You Buy? Please Vote!

Growing up, almost all of our vacations were spent camping. Our first camper was a Cox fold down.

It was a lot like tent camping on stilts. When it rained you stayed away from the canvas or it would you’d wake up soaked.

I think this picture was taken at Turkey Run State Park in southern Indiana. By the time I was 16, we’d been to every state but Alaska and Hawaii. That was such a gift and grand adventure. I got the traveling bug, young.

I was born in Middlebury, Indiana (technically in Elkhart, since Middlebury didn’t have a hospital). Many of you seasoned RVers know that area as the Camper/RV capital of the world, or at least it was when I was growing up in the 60’s.

Eventually, my folks traded the fold-down in for a travel trailer. It kept us dry when it rained and had a tiny  kitchen area. My Mom was a Home Ec teacher, so the little bit of kitchen was bliss for her. I can’t remember how long it was – maybe 12 feet?

Today, I have a camper’s heart but an RVers body. I still love a campfire. Well, obviously, not here where it’s way too hot and a stray spark could ignite the whole state. But when I not working as a gate guard in southern Texas, sitting around a campfire at night is one of my favorite things.

I love to cook over the fire and sit out under the stars. Then, I like to come inside to running water and a bed that doesn’t hurt my back.

Dad, I'm the short one with no bangs, and my Sis

I remember, when I was little, passing Winnebagos and thinking how incredible it would be to be able to walk around and do whatever you wanted while rolling down the highway!

Those of you with Motorhomes are smiling now because as you know, while yes, you can get up and use the restroom or fix a sandwich, you are still walking in a moving, bumping vehicle.

When the time came to buy an RV, I did remarkably little research. Heidi had a Saturn, which was a perfect tow car. I headed straight for the Class A’s. (Heidi had Winnebago envy as a child, too!)

32 foot '07 Mirada

Right now we’re contemplating making a change. I would love to hear from all you RVers about what you bought/or would buy and why?

I began a discussion about this with Dave who is thinking of changing from a 5th wheel to a motorhome.

I’m thinking of going the other direction.

You can see Dave’s comment at: Joe Series – More Pros and Cons

I would love to know more about your experiences. What you see as the pro and cons of a motorhome vs a 5th wheel and any other thoughts on the topic. As always, thank you for reading and thanks for participating.