Saturday, August 16, 2008

It's been a busy month

It’s been a month since we last posted, so we figured we had better post before we head out to the Grand Teton’s to visit with our friends Ron and Jane. A few days ago we received an e-mail from Denver, Ron and Jane’s standard white Poodle. She was asking if there was any chance that we could pick up some Purina Pro Plan Weight Management (not for the large breed mind you) Chicken flavor 20 lb. bag. It seems that her caregivers had miscalculated how long they were going to stay in the boondocks and provisions are running short. It seems that Jackson, WY does not have anything other then what high maintenance dogs would eat. Must be the California influence. Denver said it was a 250 mile round trip to the nearest food store and she thought that might be a little too much to ask of Ron and Jane. She figured that they would put her on some sort of Moose or Snake diet, even if it does taste like chicken. So Denver thought she would give her city friernds a try so off to Pet Smart we went. Denver, the food is on the way!
On the 12th of July Dale, a friend and business partner, and I went for a motorcycle ride south along the Mississippi on the Wisconsin side to La Crosse, WI. One of the small towns in WI was having a Catfish Days celebration and a bunch of motorcycles were parked along the street so we stopped for a rest.

From La Crosse we crossed over to La Crescent, MN and picked up MN Hwy 16, which we followed across southern Minnesota to Dexter. We then took a couple of back roads west to pick up MN Hwy 56 north that we followed back to home. It was a real nice day and we put on about 350 miles, which for me, meant I was a little sore across the shoulder blades as this was my first time out on the Moto Guzzi in two years.
This year the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Association) had their annual Convention at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in Saint Paul. About 2500 coaches camped there. On Monday the 14th, Sandy and I went to a couple of seminars and visited a little with Chuck and Lorraine. Minnesota’s infamous hot and humid weather set in so it was a little uncomfortable for those people without electric hookups.
Today, 7-21, we had to move out of Lebanon Hills because our two weeks are up. Before we headed over to Mystic Lake I went to Cummins NPower to have them look at an oil leak and a coolant leak we have in the motorhome. The coolant leak turned out to be a loose clamp, so all they had to do was tighten that up. The oil leak was another matter. We could not remove the engine cover in the bedroom so it was difficult for them to see where the leak was coming from. They thought it was the valve cover but had to put some dye in the oil to make sure and that’s where the leak was. Because I could not get the engine cover off, they decided to work from the back of the motorhome. Work can be done this way, but it’s much more difficult. It turned out that the valve cover gasket had a cut so they replaced it and sent me on my way. When I got to Mystic Lake and got parked, I took a look under the engine area and guess what? There was more oil under there. I gave them a call and told them what I had found and said that I was going to clean it off and then take it for a drive tomorrow to see if it was truly a leak or if it was just residual oil from when they worked on it. What are the chances of that being the case? Your right, NONE. After I took it out for a drive this morning it still had the leak. I called and made an appointment for the next Monday, 7-28-08.
There are a few projects that I wanted to do on the motorhome, one of which was to add a shelf in one of the bays. Sandy had a dentist appointment downtown, so I drove her to her appointment and then drove up to Second Street (there are a bunch of salvage yards in the area) to look for some pallet racking shelf wire that I could use to make some extra shelves in the storage bays on the motorhome. After stopping at a couple of places I found something that would work. Then it was back to pick up Sandy and head for home. You have got to save gas when you can. In the old days when gas was “cheap”, we would have made separate trips.
I installed one of the shelves after cutting the shelves down to size and painting them,. This required that I make some brackets for the front of the shelf. The dealer had welded on a couple of angle iron brackets in the back when we picked up the motorhome. So far, we are keeping one of the inside folding chairs, 2 outside collapsible chairs and the i-pod boom box on that shelf. I may put another shelf in the next bay, but I will have to do some rearranging first.

My cousin John, had a reunion of all the cousins out to the old family homestead on Sunday the 27th. Of the 14 cousins, all were able to make it except for one of my brothers, Glen, and our cousin, Cathy, in Florida. My dad was able to come with my brother, Joe, and his wife. My dad is the patriarch of the family as he is the last of 7 aunts and uncles to the cousins.

On the 28th we took the motorhome back up to Cummins NPower to have them check out the leak again. It turned out to be the gasket again, but this time it was easier for them as I had finally figured out where the screws were that attached the engine cover in the bedroom. The only problem was that they left a mess on the carpet that Sandy had to work hard to get clean. Next time we will have to open up the slides so we can inspect the floor before we leave the shop so THEY can clean it instead of us. At least the leak is fixed now.
This morning, 7-31-08, we got a call about 7:30AM while I was in the shower. It was Sandy’s mother calling to let us know that they had been hit by a storm around 4:30AM, and that they had a lot of trees down and had a couple of broken windows. It turns out that they had straight line winds over 100 MPH. After I got out of the shower and heard what was going on, we decided to pack up and head out to help them out. Of course, when you are in a hurry nothing seems to go right. We drove Sandy’s car up to the garage, left it there and came back to the motorhome to leave. After we fueled up the motorhome, Sandy pulled the GMC truck up so I could hook it up for towing. Now here is where the problem started. We had been having some problems with the transmission transfer case in the truck. The transfer case has a switch so that you can select 2 wheel drive, auto, 4 wheel drive high, 4 wheel drive low and neutral. By putting it in neutral you can pull the pickup behind the motorhome with all four wheels on the ground. Previously, on a couple of occasions after we have gotten to our destination and disconnected the truck the transfer case would not switch from neutral to a drive gear. It would eventually go into gear if you let it sit for about an hour. So we took it in and had it “fixed”. Guess what, they did fix the problem, except now it would not go into neutral for towing. Luckily, it was still in gear so we drove it over to the dealer in Apple Valley (30 miles out of our way) and left it for them to service as we did not have time to wait. So it was 10:30AM by the time we got on the road. When we arrived at Sandy’s folk’s around 5:00PM, John, Sandy’s brother-in-law, and Dad had the front yard pretty much cleaned up. They had sawed up a 50 foot spruce tree that had fallen into a big Maple tree. When John counted the rings he said it was 34 years old. Some of the growth rings were ¼ inch thick.

They had also taken a lot of broken limbs out of the Maple tree. We got the motorhome parked and pitched in until the mosquitoes got so bad we gave up for the day.
When we got up in the morning I went out to survey the damage to the trees in the back. Sandy’s Mom and Dad have 3 acres of land and I bet there must be 300 trees in there. It ended up that there were 10 to 12 trees that were uprooted or broken off.

John came out at 8:00 AM and we began to cut and haul trees for the next two days. With this many trees on the property there was no way to get a pickup in to haul the cut up trees out to the south and east side of the property, of course, all of the downed trees were on the north side of the property, so we started to drag them out by hand. By noon we needed to come up with a better way of getting the debris out. Sandy mentioned using the her Dad’s lawn tractor with a small trailer to haul the stuff, but after a couple of loads we just laid the limbs on the ground, tied a chain around them and her Dad dragged them out as John, Sandy and I cut and stacked.

A neighbor had lent us a 4-place snowmobile trailer to load all the debris and haul it out to a landfill. However, after hauling all the debris out to the road by hand we decided we needed a better way to get rid of it. We estimated there were about 10 loads to haul. None of us wanted to pick it all up again by hand and unload it by hand so we looked at the insurance policy to see if they would pay anything on tree debris removal and it turned out they would pay up to $1,000. The vote was unanimous to have a wood chipper come in to chip it up and haul it away. I sure did not have any trouble sleeping the next few nights. Her Dad has enough fireplace wood for many years to come. We headed back to the Minneapolis on Monday the 4th of August.
On Wednesday the 8th of August, several staff members of Fure Financial came out to check out our “house on wheels”. They were Johannes, Stacy, Beatrice, Dale, Karin, Laura and her husband Jeff. Thanks for coming out. We really enjoyed the visit . We all noticed that Johannes was getting pretty comfortable in the drivers seat.
On Sunday the 10th Dale, Mary, Brenda and Bob stopped in for a cocktail before eating dinner at Mystic Lake Casino and taking in a Larry The Cable Guy show. His humor was great, but you can’t be too sensitive because he manages to insult just about everyone.
The next few days were spent on more improvement projects. One day I set up the Gen-turi Exhaust systems for the generator and the Aqua-hot (hot water and furnace).

later in the week I installed the macerator system for sewage disposal. It leaked when I tested it with the gray water. The hose that goes between the macerator and the dump valve has a real thick wire in it and I could not get it clamped tight enough to keep it from dribbling. Perhaps I should have dumped the black tank and let the solids plug up the gaps. Maybe not. Looks like I will have to find some different hose. I also installed a 6 inch PVC pipe under the motorhome to store the sewer hose. This way I should be able to keep the bay reasonably clean.
After spending the better part of a day looking for some better 3’ hose, I drove by a Car Quest auto store and it dawned on me that they might have a radiator hose that I could cut up and use. It turned out that they had 3” hose in bulk lengths. I bought enough so I could make a mistake or two when putting it together.

This morning, Wednesday the 13th, we are starting out on our trip to the Grand Teton’s in Wyoming. The first stop will be at Sandy’s folks for a couple of days. On the way out to Aberdeen we noticed that the sweet corn canneries are starting up and that the farmers were also starting to harvest the wheat. Does that mean fall is not too far away? Where did the summer go?
That’s it for now,
Dave and Sandy

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