Friday, October 15, 2010

The Storm Hit At Midnight

Here I am on the coast of New Hampshire and it's stormy. Pouring down rains will tell me by morning whether our repair to the leaky rear window of the motorhome was successful.  I've been leak free for months now. So I was dismayed when this leak suddenly appeared.

A closer look revealed that the caulking above the window frame was shot.  Probably dirt was holding it in, and when the motorhome was washed recently, the dirt dislodged and eureka, a new leak.

Not only did we repair the new window leak, but we ripped out the ill-fitting mini-blinds that covered the rear view window. Initially this motorhome's generous windows  were built with room darkening shades that pull down and fly up again for storage underneath a window valance.

Most of the original shades are still in place, in good shape and working nicely.  Especially since we repaired some recently.  I have no idea what happened to the shade that once covered the rear window, but someone at some point replaced it with ill-fitting mini blinds.  To compound matters, they permanently installed the blinds in backwards.

Nice work. Some people need to put a lock on their toolbox, then throw the key away.

Having the mini-blinds installed backwards,  meant the strings that control the up and down movement of the shades was wedged between the window and the blinds. Not at all user-friendly. The rod that is used to adjust the blinds to tilt up or down or closed, was also wedged between the blinds and the window.

Many times I have grumbled and fussed as I tried to open or close the mini-blinds. Sometimes I said unprintable words, when the mini-blinds vexed me, as they often did.

These rear blinds were clearly a pain in my rear!

The mini-blinds were also  the wrong size, leaving large gaps at the edges of the window. Plastic holders were installed at the bottom of the mini-blinds, to lock them in place, so they didn't bang around, if the blinds were down and you were driving. These of course, were broken off and useless.

I have secretly hated these mini-blinds with a burning passion for some time now. Also, I never felt like I had complete privacy in my bedroom. It was a nightmare to adjust the blinds, up and down, due to them being installed backwards. From the outside, gaps of light could be seen around the mini blinds and anyone walking within 30 feet of the motorhome could glimpse inside my bedroom and see whatever I was doing, whether sleeping or changing clothes or whatever folks do in their bedrooms (I'll leave that to your imagination!)

I wonder how many times, I might have unintentionally entertained other campers in crowded campgrounds or RV parks. (I try NOT to think about that too much...)

Sometimes the blinds wouldn't work right, and I felt like I was changing clothes in public, rather than in private. Yes, I have hated these mini-blinds with a passion. I often growl when things are not to my liking. It's nicer than cursing a blue streak, so believe me, these mini-blinds have caused me to growl at them many times.


First thing upon awakening, I like to open all the shades in the motorhome and enjoy the view and natural light. I am not a cave person. I love windows. Actually, the large windows on this motorhome were a major attraction to me, when shopping for my old rig.

I see many motorhomes pull into campgrounds and RV parks with all the shades or blinds or curtains closed up tight.  Some seem to keep it that way 24/7.  I wonder why these folks even bother to travel, if they never want to look at the world around them. Might as well stay home with all the windows, shades, and curtains closed.

Looking at newer motorhomes, I am often dismayed at their lack of big windows. Many of the Class A motorhomes offer these huge windshields, but the rest of the motor coach often has tiny windows and multiple TV's where I think big windows should be instead, but heck, those manufacturers didn't ask me, before they designed their motorhomes. (Shame on them!)

Of course you are reading about someone who doesn't even own a TV. (Me!)  My rig has a built-in TV antenna and pre-wired for TV cable, which many RV parks do offer. But I tend to stay at the State and National park campgrounds, which thus far, I've not visited any that offer TV cable there. I also, when not in municipal parks,  mostly stay in budget oriented campgrounds that rarely have TV cable or they charge extra for you to use it, if they do have it.

But I digress, back to the hated mini-blinds.

Recently, I went shopping with my friend at Home Depot, and I noticed that shades came as wide as 73 inches, so I wrote that down in my little notebook I often have in my purse.

I came home and it appeared I needed about 63 inches wide, for my rear shade. Now that is one big window!

I began dreaming about the new shade. It would afford me a good bit of personal security. I could close up my motorhome at dark thirty, and not feel like peeping toms were innocently peeking in, as they strolled by.  Some campgrounds, have a good bit of foot traffic as people walk their dogs or kids or themselves around.

Also, I've been too shy to try out the free nightly camping spots at Walmart, Flying J's and other places. That's because often when I travel, it's just me and the puppy dog. The old mini-blinds, didn't give me the security of not broadcasting that I am alone.

Other Rv-ers claim that the crimes against campers are pretty darn low and next to nothing. But still, I wanted the security of being able to close up the motorhome at night, without anyone able to peek in and determine if one or six people were inside.

So in working and reworking my tiny budget, I decided for personal safety and security, the new window shade should move right on up the list. 

A few weeks back, I had carefully repaired all the other existing shades, so that all work beautifully. It had only reminded me of how much I wanted to get rid of the hated mini-blinds and add a shade on the rear window.

The old mini-blinds will have a chance to go to a new home. My friend hauls his own garbage and recyclables to the town dump. There they have multiple containers for the recyclable items and they have a swap-shop where you can drop off useful items, for someone else to cart home.

We thoughtfully saved all the hardware that came off the old mini-blinds, then I put all that in a Ziploc baggie, then taped it to the blinds.  The mini-blinds would do well in some one's house, or if some poor soul truly wants them in their motorhome, then by all means be my guest.

At Home Depot, I studied all the window shades, then settled back on the thick 12ml room darkening shades. I went to the service desk and asked if someone could come custom cut the shade for me.

A few minutes later, a hefty uniformed lady showed up to work the machine and cut my shade to the size we asked for, which was 63.5 inches.

Once we got home, we found out removing the old mini-blinds would not be easy. The entire window valance would have to be removed, then the mini-blind brackets removed.  One old bracket for the previous OEM shade was still installed, but the other was missing in action.

At the store, upon recommendation from the nice sales lady, we had bought heavy duty brackets to hold up the new shade. I am glad we did. Maybe the old flimsy bracket had broken off, and that's why they went with ill-fitting mini-blinds.

My friend is an almost perfectionist when it comes to this type of work. He insisted on measuring twice, marking with pencil, using a proper drill (mine!) just kidding. All I own is a hand drill. His powerful electric drill would not fit in the valance. But my simple hand drill fit nicely. So new brackets were installed inside the valance, the shade fit perfectly.

Then the valance was installed back to it's original place, attached underneath the overhead cabinets. We tried the new shade out, pulling it down, putting it back up and back down again.  What fun!

When dark thirty rolled around, I closed up the bedroom shades, turned on the lights, then went outside, to see what a peeping tom could see if he/she wanted to peep in my bedroom.

Nothing!  There is nothing to see!  Just solid blinds over the windows. I suppose too, that having nice shades pulled over the windows at night, offers some sort of minor insulation qualities, certainly superior to the flimsy mini-blinds.

Well, the storm is raging around me, the high winds expected haven't hit yet, but the rain has. It's 2am and I am wide awake and typing. But no one outside even knows I am up, they can't see through the window shade.

Yippee! Life is good.

WHOA!  Just after I wrote that, a gust of wind hit the motorhome, rocking me from side to side. WOW!

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