Thursday, June 20, 2013

Remnants, Streaks & Chunks

When I went for a walkabout on Saturday morning I noticed two things while standing in front of Scoopy. When I saw the first one, I thought, man, I'm glad that wasn't me. When I saw the second, I thought, oh no, what have we done?

The first thing I saw was just to the left of the driver's side. There were red taillight remnants embedded into a scarred tree trunk and even bigger chunks scattered all over the ground. Apparently, the guy who left just before we arrived decided that tree was no big deal. He was wrong. #22 is a nice wide pull-thru, so we have to pull pretty far to the left side to get the best access to our hook-ups. Given that, even I, the newest of all newbies, understood that in order to safely get out of that wide pull through, I first had to back up and swing right so that I could easily make the left hand turn onto the exit road with Scoopy's taillights intact. This is exactly what I did last time when we were in #21. When I pointed out the red chunks on the ground, our neighbor in #23 remembered the previous occupants and said, "that's gonna be an expensive fix."

Red taillight remnants

The neighbor also took home a large chunk of this tree as a souvenir
I'm glad it wasn't me.

The second thing, well, it actually started with a phone call we got a couple of days after we celebrated our success in parking Scoopy in her tight storage spot. The gal from the facility called us to say that next time we should probably park about a foot further back so that we might avoid getting streaks on Scoopy's mirrors caused by water dripping from the overhang. We had parked her with the greatest consideration to our neighbors behind us, making sure they had all the room they were actually paying for. But if we were being given another foot, then okay! That suggestion was the reason those Altoids were so important.

Of course, when we reunited with Scoopy, the first thing we did is check out her mirrors. All seemed just fine. Unfortunately, we did not check other parts of her to make sure the falling rain had not left its mark.

So, when I saw the streaks down the front of Scoopy, my heart fell. I called out to Steven to come take a look, and he agreed that the awful, ugly streaks were as a result of her position while in storage.

Oh, no! What have we done??

We rummaged through all the bottles and cleaners left behind by Lori and Odel. Trust me when I say that Scoopy has been well cared for and these items are plentiful. We tried each and every one, but to no avail. Those streaks were embedded, just like the red taillights in that tree.

I finally brought out the one thing I knew we shouldn't use. Clorox Soft Scrub. I knew before we even applied it that we would sacrifice shine. So we applied a tiny bit in an inconspicuous spot. Yep, it got rid of the streaks. Yep, it took off the shine. Clearly, we need a Plan B.

Scoopy's tears need to be removed, but how?
Any suggestions?

I spent the afternoon organizing all the inside storage spaces. I had brought along some containers to wrangle all the cleaning supplies left in the rig and those I have added to the inventory. (Lori and I are two peas in a pod in this regard, I've never met a cleaner I didn't think was the next great thing.) Meanwhile, Steven spent some time going through stuff in the storage bays, which were in disarray from our search for something to rid Scoopy of those horrid streaks. There are plenty of things down there, we just don't know what they are or how to use them.

Giant key chain to wear on our wrist?
Divining rod? In case we get lost in the desert?
By the time happy hour rolled around, we settled in for a lovely dinner and another round of Spotify. This time, we made up our own game, "A to Z". Alternating letters, we each had to pick a band and if we could remember one, the name of a specific song that we wanted to hear. I started things off with "Abba" and
by the time I had to pick "C", I realized I was able to poach some Interwebz!!

Without telling Steven, I started Googling band names. Amazingly, there are websites out there dedicated to listing artists by letters. After the letter 'I' rolled around and I called out Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life" I started feeling guilty about my cheating. I finally decided to fess up, and I said to Steven, "I have a confession to make." He said, "Will it involve rehab?"

LOL! I think he was relieved by my rather innocent confession. Although he did say that he noticed in the mirror that my computer had seemed quite active. There is no place to hide in an RV. You really learn this when you're changing clothes. There's always some mirror or window exposing you to the outside.

Sunday morning from #22
Sunday morning we began our usual departure routine, which took quite a long time as we did have some issues with dumping our black tank. That issue we had in Oregon was still rearing its ugly head, although in a very manageable way. We just knew it hadn't been completely resolved. But as we were preparing to leave, whatever chunk of paper products that had managed to stay stuck now decided to unstick. It took Steven a while to figure it all out, but he finally did, and we were off to Puyallup to once again put our beloved Scoopy in storage.

When we arrived, we both decided we just had to try to back her into her spot. And we did it! It took only three tries and we got her right in. From the left, she looks perfect. From the right, she looks a little wonky. But she's within her lines, and one foot back from the Altoids. YAY!

Another fine parking job. It's a little off on this side but totally parallel with the lines on the other side.
We are chalking it up to ground line error.
And just in case she's not back far enough to protect her mirrors, we added a little protection of our own. It's not high tech, but we're hoping it does the job!

Our next trips to take Scoopy out for some exercise are already in the works. Stay tuned!

Scoopy and her protective shower hat.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

On the Road Again (Part Deux)

Once we were fully settled into #22, we had an enjoyable afternoon unpacking all the stuff we brought with us. We got Scoopy’s Coffee and Wine Bar all set up and immediately whipped up a couple of lattes. Steven was supposed to purchase fresh coffee pods at the store, but I forgot to add them to the list and therefore, he forgot. We did already have some Starbucks pods packed, but there was one slight issue – they expired in 2006. With a bit of trepidation, we tried them anyway. For a couple of former Starbucks baristas, I guess we’re not all that picky. They were delicious!

Our coffee (and wine) bar and a delicious Linda-made breve latte!

Eh...just a tiny bit expired.
We put the new linens on the bed, set up our two little tables, put away our dishes and generally putzed around until it was time to make dinner. Steven had purchased a roasted chicken for our dinner, but we realized we had left it sitting on the kitchen counter at home, so we had to go with Plan B.

Plan B involved using our convection oven contraption for the first time ever. I had no idea what I was doing, but happy hour was in full swing and I just kept punching buttons until it made some noise. I assumed our beautiful little Brussels sprouts were roasting away and that dinner would soon be ready. They weren’t, and it wasn’t.  Each time I checked on them, those little suckers were hard as rocks. Finally, two hours after we began preparations, dinner was served. By this time, happy hour had long been extended and we were quite happy ourselves.

Brussels sprouts, when they were finally cooked, they were spectacular!
Aside from the minor annoyances at Blue Sky, there is one thing that is downright bothersome. No WiFi. Last time we happily poached off someone close by, but this time, there was no poaching to be had. With no television or Internet, we were left to our own entertainment devices. We were not completely without technology, however, at least we had 3G and Spotify. With that, Steven took on the role of DJ and we spent the evening revisiting all the songs we knew and loved at the time we were dating. We spent three hours singing our way down memory lane and had an absolute blast!

Sorry but you are not connected to the Innerwebz

With no Internet access, we enjoyed the view of the neighbors hoses.

One of the essential additions to our beloved Scoopy!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

On the Road Again (kinda)

In anticipation of our next trip with Scoopy, we began gathering all the things we wanted to bring with us. We placed each item in a designated area in the dining room.  Some things we had been saving for years because we knew we wanted to have them in our rig - beautiful new linens, a few kitchen items, some dishes, a cappuccino machine, a couple of small tables. It wasn’t long before the dining room was chock-a-block with stuff.

Since we were leaving Ace Yukon with Zac and driving to our storage facility in D.B. (Steven’s VW Bug) transport space was somewhat limited. Still, we managed to cram it all in there, and just before noon on Friday, we headed to Puyallup to liberate Scoopy from her storage spot.

Our first task before we even got there was to scope out our exit strategy. We can only take a right hand turn onto the street from the storage facility, but we needed to go left. That required us to find a large turnaround spot where we could get ourselves headed in the right direction. As luck would have it, a couple of blocks away, we found a huge commercial truck station that provided exactly what we were looking for.

Awesome turnaround for Scoopy!
With our minds at ease, we finally reunited with Scoopy. Our hearts dropped when we saw that the storage spot behind her was now occupied. That means we’ll have to try to back her in upon our return. Oh well.

Scoopy looked exactly as we left her, all snug in her skinny storage lane. We fired her up and alarms of all kind began to shriek. The fridge was not happy. The carbon monoxide alarm was not happy. It would have been normal for us to freak out, but instead we just methodically went through all the tasks we needed to do in order to get everything under control. Eventually, everything calmed down and we unloaded D.B. and secured all the new stuff we had brought along.

It's amazing what we can fit in our little bug and we made every square inch count (of course).
I had intended to bring a piece of chalk so that I could mark the exact position of each tire, but I forgot. I wracked my brain to find an alternative, asking myself, “What would McGuyver do?”  I rooted around until I spied a solution - a tin of Altoids. Problem solved.

McGuyver would be proud. Who needs chalk??
Steven carefully guided me out and soon we were on our way to Blue Sky Campground in Preston, WA. It was good to be back in Scoopy, and I felt very at ease guiding her down the road.

Scoopy prepares for launch.
Steven in his happy place as copilot!
David and Goliath. 
When we made our reservations at Blue Sky, we asked for site #22. We were flexible on the site number if our choice wasn’t available, but we were adamant that whichever site we were assigned be a pull-thru. Suffice it to say that the office lady is generally not a happy camper, and no matter how many times we called to inquire, she would not confirm our requests. As our arrival time grew nearer, Steven called and told her that if we don’t have a pull-thru we won’t stay, so she did finally confirm that we had one. She would not tell him which one. She simply told us our reservations would be pinned to the check-in board. When we arrived, our reservations were nowhere to be found, naturally.

This was not the first time camp lady had messed with our reservation – on our last trip here she had the dates wrong and ended up cancelling us. It was just pure luck that space was available when we arrived on our maiden voyage. This time, I had had enough!  I was hoppin’ mad and fully prepared to go off on her. Then she said, “You’re in site #22.”


YAY! We love camp lady! We were thrilled to be in our beloved #22, a wide pull-thru with great mountain views. But of course, nothing is that easy.  Amirite?

The view from 22!
As we pulled into #22 and began the delicate maneuvers to get Scoopy perfectly situated, camp lawnmower guy decided he urgently needed to tend the 3’ x 50’ strip of grass that separated #22 from #23. He came roaring through with his extremely loud mower and thus ended our ability to communicate with each other during our set-up process. As Steven worked on hooking up water and power, the guy just kept pushing that mower closer and closer to him. It was just obnoxious.  We didn’t say anything because how long can it take to cover such an itty bitty strip of grass? Well, he was very, very thorough.

Lawnmower guy did not win the "Mr. Customer Service of the Year" award.
I don’t think we’ll tolerate that if there is a next time, but still, for our current situation with Scoopy in Puyallup and the kids at home, Blue Sky is necessarily the perfect spot for our weekend jaunts. I think it behooves us to be tolerant, particularly when we get #22.

Our inability to communicate really became a problem when our 30 amp power kept popping off. I’d holler out the window to Steven, and he’d reset it. Over and over, each time I turned on the hot water heater, the power would turn off. We put everything we could on LP, and it still blew. We could not figure it out.

Finally, Steven said out loud what we had both feared. We would need to move to another site. Nooooooo!!! He called camp lady and she told him to go get camp dude to come take a look. He was following camp lawn guy around on a golf cart collecting grass clippings, so he was pretty easy to locate. He came over and Steven pointed out the issue. He thought for about a nano-second and said, “Well, why don’t you just connect to this 50 amp plug right over here?”


YAY! We love camp dude!

I freaked out a little when I realized we did not bring my set-up checklist along. I eventually got it all done, but certainly not in the correct order according to my checklist.

We are now settled and ready to enjoy our evening. I think it’s time for a cappuccino.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Linda's Top 10

Damn. I probably should have gone first, because I'm not as thoughtful or philosophical as Steven. I mean, you won't read my list and deduce that I have zeroed in on the essence of full-timing. Nonetheless, to me, my list is paramount to my ability to live in an RV full time. So here goes.

1. Place items thoughtfully, so you will remember where you put them.

We haven't been in Scoopy enough to really fill her up with stuff, and according to Steven, we may never. <hahahaha...> Still, I managed to lose things. For example, I brought along a packet of Stim-u-Dent toothpicks. On the first day, I put them somewhere. I don't know where, but somewhere I could find them when I needed them. I spent the next week periodically searching for them, practically accusing Steven of moving them from the very spot I was SURE I had placed them. On our way out the door after successfully driving Scoopy into her storage spot, I found them. Right by the door. Who puts toothpicks by the damn passenger door? (I'm even more convinced Steven moved them.)

No, I didn't - SD
2. Be aware of phantom power draws.

Ah, the perils of 30 amps. I thought I had everything that sucked serious power turned off before I powered up my hairdryer. But I was wrong. Damn that hot water heater! Damn that furnace!. And damn whatever else eluded me! I seriously popped the fuse and it took us a while to figure out how to fix it. The important lesson here is to be aware of power draws, and YAY! we fixed it!

3. 10 Gallons of hot water is not as much as you think.

In the BAH, we had two 75-gallon hot water heaters. That was so excessive, we ended up turning one of them off forever, and we still never ran out of hot water. And at that time, we had five people in the house. In our new house, we have one 75 gallon hot water heater, and we have still never run out. So I figured 10 gallons would last a while, considering it is mixed with cold. I was wrong.

We are figuring out a way to bring along our 75-gallon water heater (not really).
 4. Shampoo first, condition second, and rinse while you can.

Yeah, this is kind of related to number three. The first time I showered in Scoopy, I left the conditioning part until the very end. Brrrrrrr. I did not make that mistake again. In fact, after my first shower, I got the hang of things. I learned not to turn on the shower full force. I learned to get all my "stuff" done early and fast. Then, I could linger until the hot goodness ran out. Lesson learned after one cold shower.

Say it with me: Shampoo - Condition - Rinse - Shampoo - Condition - Rinse!
5. Do not cook odiferous foods minutes before guests arrive.

I suppose this is a bit self explanatory. And I already knew it. But apparently I forgot. I whipped up a batch of cauliflower and broccoli right before Kris and Glenn arrived for their first ever visit to Scoopy. I mean, this stuff stinks. There's no way around that. Our kids remind us of this all the time. Still, when you're in an itty bitty space, it's worse. Just don't do it. Ever.

6. Always carry a First-Aid Kit. With various sized Band-Aids.

This is important. On our week-long journey, I had three -- count 'em -- three serious injuries. I sliced and diced the pads of my fingers on the foil seals of three wine bottles. Folks, we are not talking paper cuts here. Close, but worse. A band-Aid would have been very helpful.

7. Water. Water. Water. . . . . in the Potty.

Remember I commented that our potty backed up for "no immediate reason"?  By that, I meant no one did any one immediate act that caused our potty to back up. Of course, I was the only one "home" at the time of said serious back-up, so I felt kind of like the kid who says, "it wasn't me! I swear, it wasn't me!!" We eventually figured out that just because it's out of sight, doesn't mean it's really and truly gone. And I'm talking about paper products. Sure, we were using the "right" kind of paper, but no matter. If you don't put enough water down there to really move it along, it gets stuck. Just out of sight. And then just when you think everything is going down, it suddenly isn't. It's coming up.

8. The passenger seat is a part of your living room. Don't get used to it.

The idea that you're actually sitting in your living room chairs while you careen down the highway is kind of hard to wrap your head around. At least, it was for us. Putting things down on the floor next to your chair in the living room is no big deal. Putting things down next to your passenger seat can have horrible, expensive consequences. Nearly every time we took a break from driving, Steven would set his iPhone, iPad, camera, or some other expensive gadget down on the floor to the left of the passenger seat. And no sooner had he done that, I would get up out of the driver's seat and step on it. We haven't lost anything yet, but until we break that habit, it's only a matter of time.

Luckily this only happened in Photoshop.
9. Pump up (or down) the volume.

Since I am the driver, I almost always get to choose the music. If I need something to keep me awake, I need only say so and Steven will search high and low for my exact request. If I need quiet, he'll find that, too. As I've mentioned, Scoopy has an amazing sound system including six house speakers from front to back. Whether we are moving or stationary, as long as Steven can access his Spotify account, no song is out of reach. Even without Spotify, he has a decent music library stored on his iPhone. With the proper connection, Steven can connect his iPhone to said house speakers, which means Scoopy can rock AND roll down the highway. But, when we stop for a rest, it is important to remember to turn down the volume. "Ice Ice, Baby" doesn't sound as good while one is sitting on the potty at a rest stop as it does at 60 miles per hour.

10. Never, ever trust voice-command lady.

Ever. 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Steven's Top 10

RV living, whether it's full-timing, part-timing or just vacationing, means different things to different people. It's a brand new experience and a brand new way of thinking. During our maiden voyage from Sacramento to Seattle, both Linda and I learned things together but there were certain things that struck us individually. We compiled two top ten lists of the things that stood out in our minds.

These spiffy Walmart clipon shades almost made the top ten list but alas...
Okay, so here are Steven's Top Ten Observations:

1. Living in close quarters with my wife Linda is not a challenge. In fact, we thrive together when we are living in small spaces. Having had many conversations with people who dream about this lifestyle but admit that they would kill their partner, I know this life is right for us. We went from 5000 square feet to 3000, but this trip in 350 square feet felt the best of all. And with one week under our belts, we are still best friends. Now that's saying something.

2. Stripping down my possessions to their bare essence is good for me and good for the psyche. When weight is a factor and limited space abounds, there is no room for something I thought I might need sometime. I'm only allowed have what I know I'll need. Anyway, the simpler life is, the less cluttered my brain is.

3. Speaking of less clutter in my brain, little things make a big difference in my RV. When I wake up all I want to do is look outside and maybe go for a walk in my new surrounds. No grass to mow and no weeds to pull. Prepping coffee the night before brings me joy the next morning and helps me get out quickly with a cup of Joe in hand. Running water and scooping coffee seems so easy at night. When I am in a half sleep stupor in the morning, I may as well be trying to solve the Rubik's Cube. So flipping the on switch and getting out with the sweet sounds of the early birds is what I'm all about.

Early morning bird trying to figure out how to free the dude behind the mirror
4. As gross as this is, it has to be said. In my relatively tiny RV bathroom I am aware of everything that leaves my body like never before. I can tell you the precise time I did whatever yesterday if you really want to know. Sitting on such a little potty and being at the mercy of a somewhat primitive flushing system keeps one on point.

5. For me, ritual is the key to successful RVing. Let me give you a for instance. Odel told me he made it a part of his every Sunday to clean out the black tank. I have read of many people having issues with a black tank that's overflowing. How can this really occur when you are emptying it regularly? I mean, c'mon people, do it well and do it frequently... I plan to do just that.

Odel demonstrates the ins and outs of the plumbing system
6. There can be no clutter in the small footprint of an RV interior. I have to multiply everything by a factor of ten to get a sense of the equivalent in a regular home environment. One shoe strewn across a four feet wide walkway is equal to ten random shoes tossed about your common or garden living room. Same with the kitchen. Because of the small workspace, one dirty pot can cause a huge bottleneck for the next person who just wants to fill the kettle for a lovely cup of tea.

7. It's easy to take the word "camping" out the equation when I am traveling in such luxury. It was a no brainer to me when we had Alfred Hitchpop (our popup camper) to just get out in the air and eat outside or go for a walk or look up at the sky or scrape squirrel poop off my shoe. In Scoopy however, it's very comfy inside and the outside can sometimes look like a cruel world by comparison. Why go outside when it's warm here in my leather recliner with my spotty wifi? Exercise is key to staying healthy so I must avail of the myriad trails available near almost every campground. I can charge my iPad while I'm out.

8. Instead of mindlessly browsing the Web, it's sometimes important to get up and chop some of those veggies we bought at the market. Preparing meals is really important to me because the munchies will arrive and when they do and if I'm not prepared, I will march right up to the freezer in the campground store where the ice cream resides. Okay once in a while but not something to make a habit of.

9, Having a printer in our RV is also critical, preferably the wireless kind that will also work with my iPad. There is no substitute for a physical map in my hand when push comes to shove when my GPS chick decides to slip me a McGuffin.

Nothing beats a printed map and we've now got just the thing for the job!
10. Finally, keeping the rig bug-free and shite-free contributes to nice curb appeal at a campsite. It also shows that I care about my home. Scoopy is in such wonderful shape even though she is eleven years old, it's inspirational. People have asked me if it is a new rig and when they hear she's an '02 model, they almost choke on their diet supplement shakes. I plan to continue keeping her looking young and beautiful.

Odel shares the secret of keeping Scoopy  young and beautiful
Stay tuned for a list of things Linda learned, coming soon!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Final Departure

We spent our last evening in Scoopy at Blue Sky RV Park in Preston, WA with a visit from the kids and my Mom, who arrived for a potluck dinner so we could eat up all our leftover food. There wasn't much, but we managed to pull together enough for everyone.

The calm before the storm: Steven plays DJ before the little people arrived
They also brought a cake so we could celebrate Zoe's 21st birthday, though she couldn't get it together to bring all the makings for margaritas. I wanted to be a cool Mom and make my almost-21-year-old an alcoholic drink, but if she wasn't all that interested, oh well. Clearly, I have done my job well.  :)

We envisioned that upon their arrival the kids would root around, ask interesting questions and oooh and ahhh over Scoopy . And while they definitely thought she was cool, it took about two seconds before the entire brood declared their imminent starvation and the task of putting dinner on the table was underway. This was a great reminder of why we never wanted to go fulltiming with kids. They are just too darn demanding!

After a couple of hours, we kicked them out, because they were perfectly comfortable just sitting around. We had work to do to prepare Scoopy for storage. That was our excuse, anyway. The truth is that we were terribly depressed that our adventure was coming to an end and we did not want to drink heavily in front of the kids.

Steven did get a lovely family photo in Scoopy, unfortunately, something terrible happened (he deleted it) so you will have to settle for an actual reenactment.

Actual Reenactment
The next morning, we were ready to go. Mom and Zac were to arrive at 10:00 a.m. and we planned our departure a half an hour later. The plan was to wait for them so they could watch us prepare for departure (so they could see all the steps involved and the slides move inside, etc.) and then follow us out to our storage facility so we'd have a ride home. But, ours is not the most dependable brood on the planet, so we gave them a call just after 10:15 a.m. Zac was still eating his breakfast, a ritual that cannot be interrupted or rushed. We finally said, screw it, and began bringing in the slides. By the time they arrived, all we had to do was transfer our stuff from Scoopy to Ace Yukon and we were off!

We both feel that our trip turned out even better than we ever expected. Sure, we had a few challenges, but in the end, it really went perfectly. Still, from day one, there was one little thing looming over me, and this was the day to tackle it. Parking Scoopy in her itty bitty storage slot.

Scoopy's spot is number 304, fourth from the end. The slots are ten feet wide and forty feet long. A tight squeeze made even tighter by the fact that in each little section, there are four slots separated by some serious poles on each side, the bane of my RV existence. Our set of poles are on the right, and there are no poles to the left, only another rig. I have strategically pondered this scenario over and over for days.

I desperately wanted to back Scoopy into her slot. This would not only protect her diesel engine from the elements, but it would also allow her to face forward and see all the goings on around the storage facility. I know. She can't really see, but in my heart she can, and I did not want her staring at the butt of another rig. Ewww. Also in my heart, I knew it would be a miracle if I actually could back her in, so I was fully prepared to drive in front first.

When we arrived, we were overjoyed to see that the slot in front of Scoopy's was empty! All I had to do was drive around to the other side and drive right in! OMG! This was cause for much celebration, but it was short-lived. I soon found out that being forth from the end really didn't give me enough room to make a turn wide enough to drive right in. That was a pipe dream. Still, I felt this was our best approach. Steven got out and using his still iffy hand signals, he began guiding me in. About 20 feet behind him, my Mom, using her own special brand of iffy hand signals AND mouth gestures and distortions, was also guiding me in. I so wish I had stopped to get a picture of the two of them, because you would clearly be able to see the source of my confusion.

In the end, I pretty much ignored both of them. I knew exactly what was behind me, to the right of me, and to the left of me. I moved forward, then backed up to reposition, and did it all over and over in what was about a 10-point turn until I knew I had cleared the poles, and then I drove her right in. She looks amazing in her slot. Not bad, if I say so myself!

The gods were with us yet again when the slot behind us was vacant making it relatively easier to get into our space

Oh hai!

Pretty tight fit but Linda fit Scoopy in like the right foot in a glass slipper

Now Scoopy can see all the comings and goings of all her fellow RVs
Compared to the day we flew to Sacramento, we have learned more than I could ever have imagined. We had an amazing trip.

Now don't go anywhere because we have another trip coming up soon and we'll be writing more about our brilliant adventures in Scoopy!