Monday, April 13, 2015

The Joys of Camping

Comedy On The Road or Why It Takes Me 4 hours to go 30 miles (on an 85 mile trip.) I am pleased to report that in the end it only took me less than 9 hours to go 85 miles. My average miles per hour is improving!

My little old motorhome is a constant comedian. While packing up to relocate from one campground to the next I was so pleased that in spite of my incredible slow speed these days, things were methodically getting done. The very last thing to do was to close the front door to the rolling home. The front door is actually located on the side of the motorhome, but it's my main entry door. Of course because I drive a Class C which is built on a Ford van chassis, I am lucky to have both a driver's door and a passenger door in addition to my "front door" which is really on the side.

OK, if I haven't completely confused you yet, I shall endeavor to try harder.

The last thing before sailing down highways and byways was to close the front door and lock it. I've had it pop open while bouncing down a city road (I thought I locked it but apparently I did not!)  Of course for security reasons it makes sense to drive with the door locked and the added bonus is that it won't pop open when I least expect it. Thank goodness for small favors.

So I closed the door in anticipation of locking it. I was ready to drive off my camp site. But my silly old motorhome had other ridiculous ideas.

The door refused to close.


I gave the door a cursory examination discovering that the bottom of the frame around the outside door had shifted ever so slightly, enough to prevent the door from closing at all. I could see with a hand mirror that there was an empty screw hole on the very bottom of the door itself. That screw was supposed to hold the frame in place. I believe the manufacturer 21 years ago also used glue and screws. However, I've discovered that much of the glue used has about a 20 year life. I have had to re-screw and re-glue different parts of my wheel estate and that's just the way it goes when one rolls around in a semi-vintage motorhome. My hand mirror also indicated that maybe some rain water had cause some of the wood inside the door to possibly rot.

Oh joy.

In my junk drawer is a screw I found laying around outside one day a few weeks ago. I saved it, in case it belonged to something of mine. I had no idea where this screw belonged or if it was left behind by another camper. But I've learned the hard way, don't throw these things out for at least a year or so because eventually something falls apart and there is that "Ah ha!" moment when I realize that whatchamacallit part I found 7 months ago belongs to the current broken widget and once they are remarried, all is right with the universe again.

I've also discovered that very often a new infusion of glue or adhesion or doublestick tape or duck tape or some such nonsense is also needed. If you use a motorhome it falls apart. If you don't use a motorhome it falls apart. This is much like messing about in sailboats. Something is always breaking or coming apart or leaking.

There wasn't time to repair the door right then and there. It takes me all day to get where I am going, even though I am not going far at all. So I did the next best thing. I used long hunks of ugly gray duck tape to fashion a temporary brace to hold the door frame in place so I could close and lock the dang door.

My fridge and cabinets were close to empty so my first stop was at Dollar Tree to stock up on some of their incredible food bargains before I went to a regular grocery store for the final items like a bit of fresh produce. I don't own a car and I don't get far on a bicycle so I do my provisioning while traveling to the next campground. Many of the camps I park at are far from stores anyhow because I like nature rather than big cities and most big cities don't have campgrounds unless there are tourist attractions and then in that case the camps are often cramped, crowded and over priced for my efficient budget. So I work on plan B or plan C or plan D.

Here are two pictures of my wheel estate at two different camps, but I have tried to label most things so if you aren't familiar with boats afloat, oops I mean wheel estate (old sailor in me refuses to die) this might explain it in laymen's terms. (And I am more than ready to go lay down right now too.)

It was hot. Very hot and humid. Too hot for a puppy dog to safely wait in the rolling dog house while I shopped. There was no shade to park under and even if I left every one of the windows open, the motorhome has it's own unique way of managing to heat up faster than the outside temperature. So 90F degrees outside could easily turn the inside of the motorhome into 100F degrees, even with the windows open. This is a phenomenon I don't quite understand, but I just want to keep my doggy alive and shop in peace. I never know if the checkout line is going to be a 1 minute affair or 30 minutes of waiting behind everyone else in a long line with only a solo cashier operating. I don't want to be inside the store stressing about the health of my dog in this hot humid weather. Yepper this part of the country is having record breaking heat waves and I feel sorry for you folks deep in snow, but that's the price I pay for living a gypsy life, being able to avoid snow in favor of heat waves. Well, something like that.

I fired up the generator to turn on the main air conditioning. This will keep the dog cool, when I return, the RV will be comfy while I put my groceries away. That is a huge bonus of shopping with the motorhome, I can stock my fridge and cabinets right there in the grocery store parking lot.

The generator fired up after priming the gas pump remotely with the stop button (something I wish I had known the first few years I owned the motorhome) and it sounded lovely. Prime with stop button then start with start button.

I flipped on the air conditioning and nothing happened. No fan, no air. I looked at the microwave clock which lights up 12:00 in red numerals whenever it comes to life. It was dark. No time lit up. I was in the twilight zone. Again.

I opened the breaker box, slowly flipping each and every breaker. Still no air conditioning. No power. Yet the generator was purring away nicely pretty as you please. I even checked a few of the main fuses and they looked fine. My little electric box has a about three dozen teeny tiny fuses that often need a magnifying glass to check. What fun!

I climbed forward, back over into the driver's seat to go out the driver's door. I was afraid to use the large main motorhome door since it was held together with duck tape and prayers. Outside I tried to remember how to open the generator door which reminded me, one of those latches broke off awhile back (the repair man at an RV place broke it and I thought he would fix it since he broke it, but alas I was wrong!) and well it just hasn't been repaired yet because I've had a few more critical things to deal with and it's probably lost at the bottom of my TODAY TO DO list somewhere from last year and I am 600 miles from that repair place and why go back if they break stuff they don't fix? I have to figure out the type of latch, then where to get one and whether to detour to an RV store in hopes they have it or just find a place to mail order one from. Anyhow, another minor thing that just needs to be done but hasn't.

Once I opened the bay door, I had to remove the front of the generator cover. I so rarely do this, I was squatting down trying to remember how. Due to prior injuries I can't squat very long without extreme pain, so I was standing up after a minute to count to ten, then squatting back down trying to figure out how to remove the generator door. I live with a ton of pain for various assorted reasons (long boring story) but usually I try to make it go away with mind over matter because pain drugs cause more damages (side effects) and I can't drive on pain drugs even if I did take them, so life is sweet. Smile, grin (grimace?)  and be happy. Life is goof.

Every day is an adventure. Or a misadventure, either way it's fun (or funny!).

This was providing great entertainment for shoppers in the parking lot who thought I was doing exercises on a whim and stared at me curiously, the funny lady doing exercises with the ratty little dog and the old motorhome with the duck taped front door. Oh yes, I might make a fine example, possibly a bad example, but at least I am good for something. I provide entertainment to strangers on a whim.

Finally I figured out the magic combination to removing the front panel of the generator. It was blowing hot exhaust at me and I was trying to hold my breath while reaching around trying to find the reset button. I knew there was one there somewhere, just trying to remember WHERE.

Again I was taking turns standing up to count to 10 while the pain subsided, then squatting down again to frantically find the little switch. I needed my reading glasses to read the front panel. I climbed back into the driver's seat, found my reading glasses, then back outside to mess about with the generator some more. Harley dog was fussing and whining confused by my antics and I finally just put him on a leash dangling off my wrist while I did my squats and stands trying to find that hidden switch.


I found the switch, it's hidden in a dark spot on the side of the generator. I was SURE I had fixed my problems. So Harley and I scoot back across the driver's seat which is super close to the steering wheel because of my short legs, then I wiggled out of it, to enter the main part of the motorhome to flip the Air Conditioning switch on.


I did everything two and three times while working up a massive sweat. In and out of the motorhome, scoot across the driver's seat in and out, flip the breakers inside the motorhome, flip the generator breaker on the outside back inside to flip on the air conditioning and still NOTHING.

I scratched my silly head, mopped the sweat off my brow, drank some cold water then realized there was possibly one more thing to check. Perhaps when unplugging the motorhome from the electrical post in the campground and replugging the motorhome cord into the side of the generator, something might have gone wrong. That outlet and cord are in a separate compartment next to the generator bay area.


So am I!

I opened up the electrical cord storage area, removed the entire cord, unplugged the cord from the outlet then plugged it back in again. I left  the rest of the cord heaped in the parking lot, while shoppers stared at me disassembling my RV in the store's parking lot, while seemingly doing weird exercises with a monkey of a puppy dog dangling on a leash attached to my wrist. I opened the driver's door, got in with the doggy on a leash, scooted across the seat, climbed out of the cab area (very low ceiling due to the guest loft above it) then stood up in the main area of the motorhome. I could see the microwave was lit up at 12:00 in bright red letters, I flipped on the air conditioning and cool air began blowing around the motorhome which was now recording above 90F degrees inside.

I checked to see if Harley had water and food in his dishes, then I drank a long glass of water followed by a trip to the broom closet (there's a toilet, sink and mirror in there too.) I saw in the mirror that rivers of sweat had run down my face soaking into my shirt which was plastered across my chest. Some of my sweat soaked hair was stuck to my forehead and ears. I looked like a crazed lady so I changed my shirt, brushed my hair, washed my face, drank more water, found my shopping list, my wallet, my keys. I was about ready to face the store. Finally.

Oops! I had to restore the electrical cord to it's basement bay, then put the generator cover back on, then close the outside bay door making sure the only remaining working latch caught firmly (sometimes it doesn't) all the while trying to hold my breath because the exhaust is blowing from the generator and it's 90 effing degrees in this shadeless parking lot and I can't squat for long so I am trying to hurry hurry hurry and trying to get me to move like lightning is never an easy chore, even on a good day!

So from the time I arrived at the store, to the time I finally made it inside the store after all that comedy was about an hour or more. I had to shop, wait in line, pay for my purchases, push the cart to the other end of the parking lot becasue my motorhome needs extra room for parking, in this case I had taken up two spots. Back at the motorhome, I threw caution to wind and opened up the duck taped main door to dump my groceries inside on the floor. I was exhausted and ready for a nap by now.

Harley dog is "rewarded" for waiting quietly (no barking!) while I shop by being treated to cart return. Together we take the shopping cart back to the front of the store. He loves this "chore" because it gives his skinny long legs a bit of brisk exercise and on the way back cart-less we try to find a bush or spec of grass for him to water then we re-enter the motorhome together to put away the groceries. He doesn't help with storing the food, but he loves to eagerly watch what exotic things might be coming out of the mysterious bags just in case something he loves (like cheese!) should suddenly appear he can wag his tail exuberantly in approval.

Now I was hungry, the motorhome was already cooled down, the generator was still purring, so I made a tiny bit of brunch before driving away. I had managed thus far to drive 30 miles in 4 hours and I had another 70 miles to go and I needed to stop to buy fuel, load up on produce because Dollar Tree doesn't carry that and if I saw a Radio Shack I needed a part for the computer and some of those don't carry much in parts anymore, so that might be a hit and miss, and so life goes.

Oh and my GPS... another story. It came back to life after months of insisting I was stuck in Richmond Hills, Georgia then one day out of the clear blue, when I flipped it on to see if we were still stuck, it correctly identified us as being in Melbourne Florida. It worked flawlessly for a few more trips then suddenly just went blank today and refused to give me anymore directions or mapping or help. Oh I love life! This is so much fun. What an adventure!

I got lost. But I decided I wasn't lost. I was merely sightseeing. I had friends waiting on me at the next stop and they would wonder how or why it took me 9 hours to go 85 miles and I could say "Well I was sightseeing!" That's a much shorter explanation than the comedy of my daily life such as today or how I did an extra 15 miles in "sightseeing".

I wandered into a tiny little town with parking and pulled over to see if I could figure out where I was on the atlas, then see if my internet might work so google maps could tell me how to find the campground, copy all that down by hand to paper (no printer on board anymore) then resume driving after walking the dog, utilizing the broom closet, and so on.

That's when I saw this little town had an Ace hardware store, and most Ace stores are individually owned and little towns sometimes have wonderful hardware stores stocked with parts I can use to cobble my motorhome back together, so I went shopping again.

Sure enough, they had duck tape (I used all mine fixing the door temporarily) and they had two-part epoxy for gluing the door and some spray foam insulation to help hold the now discovered rotten wood inside the door back together and they had the very last can of  OFF for the back woods with deet which the last camp has mosquitoes so I had used up 2 olds cans of rusty bug repellent and it needed replacing just in case I ran into that situation again.

Oh the joys of camping!

On a funnier note, when I was buying fuel for the beast, I went inside their little store which had colorful workers dressed up from another country and they had exactly one can of bug repellent too only it was for deep woods. Does everyone just stock one can of this stuff at a time?

So now I am stocked up with a can of bug repellent for back woods and a can for deep woods. I am just hoping that if I ever get to see the beach again, it works there too should I desire it.

OK, if you had insomnia, I just cured THAT!


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her little old motorhome and puppy dog
We Thank You VERY much!


  1. What an artist you are. The pictures you paint with words have brightened my day considerably. I have missed the real miss mermaid.

  2. i love it.

    ice cream raz

  3. Wow you both brightened my day too! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. Good job figuring out how to get things working again. Your a real trooper.


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