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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another Day, another half inch!

Yup it was raining again Wednesday night.  It had stopped about 2:30 in the afternoon and that allowed us to get out for a good long walk around the campgrounds.  We really needed the exercise and it felt good getting out.

We went out to dinner at a relatively new place in Long Beach called the Lost Roo.  It has an Australian theme and fairly good food.  Not too expensive either.  And more importantly, they have free wifi!  I’m going to take a risj and post some pics.  Here is one I found of a customer using the free wifi to read blogs of other RVers.  Actually, this is Carol taking advantage of the great setup we had.    2011-03-30 18.33.08

It rained and the wind blew in the night again.  But by morning, it was only rain which lessened as the day went on.  In the afternoon it pretty much quit all together and we tried to go down to walk on the beach.  I say tried, because the paths down the 8 foot Cliffside to the beach all washed out, possibly during the tsunami.  Here are some pics of that area. 2011-03-31 14.49.56 2011-03-31 14.50.00 2011-03-31 14.50.04 2011-03-31 14.50.09 2011-03-31 14.50.16 2011-03-31 14.50.21

You can see the large pieces of driftwood that have washed up.  Most of these are really heavy and it gives you some idea of the power of the waves that pushed them up over the 8 foot cliff and onto the dunes behind the beach.

Since we could not walk down to the beach, we elected to walk along the campground entry road for awhile. 

Tomorrow we are moving out of this park and into one in Long Beach for two nights.  I will be leaving Carol there with the RV and heading home for a meeting and to help our younger son as he retrieves some of his items to be moved into his new apartment.  I’ll return Sunday afternoon after a meeting and then move the RV back here to Cape Disappointment.  Hopefully our new site will have better cell coverage.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

We are selling the RV and buying an Ark!

Yes, that’s right…..with all the rain, I’m thinking an ark might be a wise move.  Or maybe I will just by a set of large pontoons for our Bounder.  Might just work!

Today, it has been raining all day.  Carol went down by the jetty (about two miles from here) and was able to get a signal on her cell phone strong enough to check email, browse, and post her blog.  There are actually several places in the park where cell is available, just none in the actual campground portion.

We went into Long Beach for lunch at McDonald’s mainly because they have free wifi.  So we were able to get online and Carol was able to get her downloads of various podcasts too.  We tried that McDonald’s on a previous trip and the signal was really weak.  But it appears that they have done something to strengthen it because today it was very strong.

While there, I downloaded an app for my cell phone that monitors wifi signals and tells you which networks are available wherever you are.  It also tells you if they are secured and the signal strength at that exact spot.  This should be helpful when we travel too.

Hopefully, tomorrow will bring better weather.  Stay tuned!

Wet, Windy & Wild

We arrived here at Cape Disappointment at about 4pm yesterday.  Uneventful trip from home with mostly good driving conditions and we did drive through some rain showers.  Just enough to get the RV and toad nice and dirty with road grime.

Normally, when we come here, we get a site that has very marginal cell signal.  Then I can use my cell booster and get enough signal to access the net, read emails, browse, etc.  This site however has very weak signal and my booster can’t do much with it.  I have an extremely slow connection.  So I won’t be posting any pictures from the site.  If we go into town, I may be able to post pics then.

Last night was really stormy during the early hours.  Strong winds and heavy rains were the norm.  This morning the winds have abated and the rain is light, if at all.  Hope it stays that way.

We went for a walk last night and campsite #4 nearest the ocean was closed.  It looked like it had been washed out a bit.  Also there were large pieces of driftwood all about the ocean site campsites.  I wonder if they came from the tsunami?

I’ll have to ask a ranger and let you know!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hawk-ey Game

Carol and I joined our son Tim and his wife Kiersten at the Portland Winterhawks game last night.  They are season ticket holders and were able to arrange for seats right next to them up off of center ice.  It was the first game in the playoffs this year and Portland beat Everett 4-0.  Both teams played strong defense, but Portland was better on the scoring opportunities.  They actually scored a short-handed goal!

This morning I refereed 4 flag football championship games.  All games by the kids were very close and the last one went into overtime.  So that made the day long and then we had a lightning delay for 30 minutes which made it even longer.

And of course, it just had to rain!  We had some fairly heavy showers throughout the morning and into the afternoon.  So the field was a mess, everyone was slipping and sliding and getting full of mud.  Needless to say, it was fun!  Now I suspect the washing machines are working overtime!

cartoon

The above cartoon says it all!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

With power to spare!

While we have been at home, I took on a project of installing a 50am plug for the RV.  I already had a 30amp one on the side of the shop, but it required a long 30 amp extension, then a 30 to 50amp adapter and then the full 50 amp cord.  Between the length of that run and the fact that whoever did the 30amp install may not have done it correctly, I was glad to get the 50amp installed.

Our RV has an electronic load control system.  When on 50amp shore power, we can run whatever because the 50amp is really two legs of 50amp for a total of 100.  When you use a 30amp supply, the system monitors the amperage and when it gets over 30 for any length of time, it starts shedding loads like the reefer and one or both heat pump/AC units, depending on how much is needed to shed.

Well, when at home, the load system would always read very low, yet while on the road it worked fine.  That told me that whoever installed the 30amp plug may not have done it 100% correctly.  Once I opened up the power panel in the shop, I could see a problem.  The neutrals and grounds were all tied together.  This is fine for a residential installation, but since the RV senses current on the neutral line measured against ground, if they are tied together, the reading will be wrong.  Unfortunately, unless I wanted to rewire the shop and isolate the neutrals from ground, there would be no easy fix.

So by installing the 50amp, it bypasses the problem as the load control system is offline when on 50amp.

I started the project by digging a trench of about 40 feet.  I also had to tunnel under some walkways that had gravel on top.  Unfortunately, I could not go as deep as I wanted.  It is suggested that you go down 18 inches to bury the cable, but because our topsoil only goes about 8 inches down, and then you start hitting rocks of 3 to 5 inches wide, you just can’t go further.  I will be putting about 3 inches of gravel over the top, so that should help.

After getting the wire buried (you have to use a special underground #6 cable for 50amp that is really a pain to work with), I mounted the box on the pole and put in concrete to hold the post.  Then I installed a 50amp breaker on the panel and wired it all in.

After double checking the wiring with a meter (Who wants to risk burning out the electrical system in an expensive RV???), I plugged in the bounder and all is well!

Now, once it stops raining and we are home for a bit, I will put in the gravel and be done with the project.

Meanwhile, we are getting ready to hit the road on Monday.  Going to Cape Disappointment State Park in WA, then up to Bothell to visit our son for his birthday, and then home after about 2 weeks.  Should be fun!  Stay tuned.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We arrived home from our trip yesterday right at noon time.  Overall, everything worked well in the RV on this trip.  We had some very windy and wet weather which was not easy to deal with, but the RV did just fine.

We are already planning for our next trip in 10 days.  We will be going to the beach at Cape Disappointment.  Probably won’t post much until then.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ready, Set, Rain!

Yesterday (Sunday) was a rainy day.  It was one of those days where you just want to stay inside where it is nice and warm.  So that’s what we did for most of the day. 

It did stop raining for a while around 3 or so and that prompted us to go out exploring down to Chimacum and Port Ludlow.  It is not a long ride to either place from Fort Flagler, but at least it gave us an opportunity to get out and about.

Last night it really rained and the wind was howling.  My phone has the Weather Bug app on it and that showed a peak gust of 55mph.  That plus the torrential downpour about midnight really made for a loud symphony to sleep by.  More of a percussion symphony, but what it lacked in tone, it more than made up for in volume.

This morning we awoke late to a partly cloudy sky and light winds.  We had to leave a day earlier than originally planned to make the open house at the WSP academy tomorrow.

The drive was windy at the start but most of the drive was sheltered from the gusts.  However, there were random showers, just enough of course to get the car nice and dirty.

We arrived here in Olympia at the campground at about 1:30, got all setup and then had lunch.  After lunch, we went to find a car wash and then to scout out the capitol and parking for Wednesday.

Guess what?  Yep, it’s still raining!  We are on 30amp power which means we have to count amps.  Our RV will do that for us and it actually shows the current usage.  It will also shed items as needed to keep the amperage within limits which is really nice. 

For one of my future mods to the RV, I want to add the electric water heater to one of the items that can be shed.  Fortunately, there are some spare circuits on the shed device and I am going to try to set one of those up.  Then the system can manage it all for us.

Our reefer is behaving itself and functioning well.  No more crazy temperature swings and, thankfully, no more dry ice needed.  Feels really good to have that one out of the way.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sleepless, but not in Seattle

For some reason, just didn’t sleep well last night.  As a result, I’m tired today.  And since tonight starts daylight savings time, I’ll lose another hour tonight!

This morning we went to a library book sale in Port Townsend.  We used GyPSy to help us find the library only to get there and find out that the sale was at the Community Center.   So GyPSy had to find that location too.  Fortunately, she was easily up to the task.

At the sale, I found 3 books by W.E.B. Griffin.  I’m collecting his books (he has about 40 or so) and I have quite a few.  I actually carry a list of which ones I have and which I need to get so that when we go to sales, I only get the ones I need.  They had 6 of his, but I already had 3 of them.  But getting 3 more for the collection was a great find!

Then we went over to Point Hudson on the eastern most tip of Port Townsend.  Parked with a view over the water and Carol was able to connect to their wifi so she could view her blogs.

We had lunch at Bayview Restaurant in Port Townsend and got a corner table right on the water.  Tried to get pictures out the window but they didn’t turn out.  After lunch we drove all over Fort Flagler.

We finally had a day where we could get some pictures.  Here is one of the batteries at the fort.  Each battery had two 4 or 5 inch guns aimed in concert with Fort Casey and Fort Worden to completely cover the inlet to Puget Sound.  On this battery the left gun still has its blast shield in place.2011-03-12 14.22.25

This is a view across Admiralty Inlet to Whidbey Island.  2011-03-12 13.22.34

This view is back at our RV out to the west and you can see the dark clouds that are slowly coming our way.  We went for a short walk around all the sites in the park and managed to beat the rain.   2011-03-12 15.02.56

This is the view in the other direction (northeast) and you can see quite a contrast.2011-03-12 15.03.01

Here we managed to look out over some of the RV sites while the sun was out.  Sites in this park are all fairly spacious.2011-03-12 15.03.11

Here is another view more towards the south.  There aren’t too many RVs here this weekend.  For us though, the $6 camping fee is a real bargain!  (have to be a WA resident 62 years or older to get that winter rate!)2011-03-12 15.03.14 Here is a great picture of Carol as she is taking pictures of Port Townsend across the water (1.85 miles away). 2011-03-12 15.04.14 Here are two pictures of the beach right behind our RV.  We have a short 50 foot path from our site to this beach.  Lots of driftwood has washed up over the years.2011-03-12 15.04.34  2011-03-12 15.04.48

Here is a panorama of Port Townsend across the water (be sure to click on the picture to enlarge). 2011-03-12 15.05.09

After our walk, we came in to do our internet browsing and blog preparations.  Using our WiFi extender, I was able to get a clean 2-bar signal from the Port Hudson RV park, almost 2 miles away!  That has to be a record for the longest distance to get WiFi.  Carol is now using that device to do her internet work.

We also heard this morning from our son, Jonathan.  He graduates from the Washington State Patrol Academy as a Trooper on Wednesday and called to let us know there will be an open house at the academy on Tuesday.  So we are changing our plans a bit and will go to Olympia on Monday (there goes my plans for golf – which would have probably been rained out anyway).  Then we can go to the open house on Tuesday, graduation on Wednesday, and home on Thursday.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Whole Lotta Shaking Going on…

This morning as I woke up and looked at my phone to check the weather, I saw numerous news stories about the Japanese earthquakes and Tsunamis.  I quickly turned on the TV to hear that the tsunami alerts were issued for both the Washington and Oregon coasts and that major evacuations of low lying areas was announced.  Also saw that several of our favorite campgrounds were quickly evacuated.

The warning system appears to have worked just great and that is comforting.  Though since the earthquake was so close to the coast of Japan, there was no time for them to get a warning.

Fortunately, even though we are parked on the water here at Fort Flagler, the warning didn’t apply to us since we are actually on Puget Sound.

After breakfast, we went to the hardware store to get a new shower head.  The old one developed several leaks that sprayed water all over.  Fortunately, the store had one that works just great so that problem is resolved.

We decided to go have lunch at McDonalds in Port Townsend so Carol could use the Wi-Fi to download the free Nook Book from Barnes & Noble.  Every Friday, Nook owners can download a free book.  Well wouldn’t you know it, but that McDonalds does not have Wi-Fi, so We just ate and then parked next door in front of the hardware store that does have it.

Then we drove out to Fort Warden to see the campground.  It was about 30% occupied.  Then we went to Point Hudson which was similarly occupied.  Then we visited a golf course to check it out and I may play there on Monday.

Came back to the RV about 3:30.  The sky is now partly cloudy and the winds have abated.  Unfortunately, both wind and rain are still forecast for the next few days.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Raising the Flag at Flagler

We journeyed from home about 209 miles to Fort Flagler State Park.  We were a little unsure about leaving because there was a severe weather alert for wind.  The forecast was for gusts of up to 55mph which is a bit strong!  Fortunately, the wind was forecast to be right on our tail most of the way (helps with the mileage no doubt!) and I don’t think it ever got all that strong.

Between Chehalis and Hoodsport I noticed that the wind was pretty strong and it made for a bit of work.  But other than that, it really was not a factor.  We did have rain most of the way and it was often pretty heavy.

We made good time on the trip stopping in a rest area for lunch and a quickie stop later for a potty break.  We left home at 10:05 and arrived at 2:55 so even with our stops, we made good time.

When we arrived I pulled into the site head on so that we would have a good view of the water.  While my power (+ extension) and hose would reach, my sewer was about 5’ short.  So we had to put the RV in the correct way which cost us the great view from the front window.  We still have a view out the side, but won’t see as many ships.

It is too dark now to get any pictures but maybe I can get some tomorrow if it is not raining.

For those of you who remember the problems we had with our fridge, that was fixed earlier this week.  After putting the repair person through some runarounds, they agreed to cover the entire cost of the cooling unit replacement (about $2200).  The new unit is working well and will hopefully hold up!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

RV Maintenance Day

We’ve been home for almost 2 weeks now, but the weather has been mostly cold and rainy.  Today, for a change, the rains have held off and the sky is partly cloudy.  Even better, the temperature outside reached 60 at one point.

So with all the great weather, I declared today to be a “RV Maintenance Day” and started tackling a number of tasks I’ve been wanting to do.

1.  Install the IPOD capability for our RV dash radio.  I know I’ve blogged previously about all the great features our RV radio has.  (If you don’t remember, click here to reread)  I was waiting on a cable to use the built-in IPOD feature.  The cable arrived while we were on our long trip to California and today was the first time I really had a chance to install it and work with it.

I had to pull the backup camera off the dash to get at the connection.  I plugged in the cable and my IPOD and began exploring the features.  Once connected, the controls on the IPOD do not work.  Instead the radio controls the IPOD.  (very similar to how the IPOD features in cars work).  I was surprised that there was no fast forward or backward capability, but since car units don’t have that either, I guess I should not have been surprised.  Plus messing with an IPOD while driving a 23,000 lb RV is probably not too swift.  Having the radio do all the controls makes more sense plus you can actually see what is playing on the radio display.  And you don’t have to worry about dropping the IPOD while driving and the IPOD battery is being charged while it is being used.  Pretty neat features.

2.  Relocated and repaired our outdoor temperature probe.  I have had the devil of a time finding a good place to put this probe.  It is supposed to be in the shade.  On the outside of an RV, there are a limited number of places:

Engine compartment – would give false readings due to engine heat.

Refrigerator compartment – would give false readings due to heat from unit.

Any outside compartment – since our bays are heated, this would cause false readings. 

behind license plate – this is where I picked.  The fuel filler is there behind the rear license plate, so I will have to be careful when fueling, but there really is no other good place to safely put it and get valid readings.

I also had to make a slight repair to the outside probe as a wire had come off the circuit board.  A bit of soldering and it is as good as new.

3.   Fixed outside storage bay doors.  This has been an ongoing problem for me.  The doors on the outside storage bays had a nasty habit of popping open as you would drive down the road.  Usually you could not tell it had happened unless some other driver came alongside and honked their horn and pointed at it.  Then you had to hope you never lost anything out of it.  (fortunately, we never did.).

This began happening right after we got the RV.  I took it to Camping World for warranty service, but they really never fixed it. (Surprise, surprise!).  I finally decided to go after the problem and fix it once and for all.  I’m going to go into some detail here as I know one of our fellow bloggers asked Carol about this not too long ago and she attempted to describe my fix.

I realized that the problem happened because the latch in the side of the doors was locked behind a U-bar.  If the RV flexed enough, especially when on rough road, the bar would come out from behind the latch and spring the door open. 

I had already fixed three doors with my solution and today I did the remaining eight.  Here is what I did….

2011-03-05 14.11.21

Above is a picture of the latch on the side of the door.  The rod that it latched behind is shown below:

2011-03-05 16.06.52

The latch goes behind this bar and keeps the door closed and secure. Below is a picture showing a bar (silvery color)with the door open and out of the way and a second door closed and latched  (darker color) in place.

2011-03-05 16.06.55

Below is a close up of a door, but as you can see, the latch is hardly making contact with the bar.  This is a door just waiting to fly open while being driven!

2011-03-05 16.07.06

The actual fix is to put one or two washers behind the latch base and remount the mechanism into the door.  You can’t use more than two washers without getting longer screws.  This effectively moves the latch further behind the bar when closed. 

2011-03-05 14.15.56

However, there is a rod that connects the latch with the actual locking mechanism in the door.  You have to lengthen this rod to account for the longer distance caused by the washers you added.  Fortunately, the rod is easily adjustable by rotating it counter-clockwise to lengthen.  Do 1-2 revolutions per washer, remount the lock, lube the mechanism while you are in there, replace the cover plate and screws and you are all done.

2011-03-05 14.11.16

This fix has worked perfectly for the doors I had already done last summer.  Hopefully now all will stay closed.  (though I did have 1 or 2 that could use 3 washers, I’ll wait and see how two works before getting longer screws.

4.  Problems with my water “manifold” and regulator.  I have an adjustable water regulator that allows you to change the water pressure by adjusting the regulator and yet still protect the RV water system.  Our RV seems to need a higher pressure than the usual 40lbs the fixed valves allow.  We need more like 70 or even 80.

When we discovered this on our big trip to the Grand Circle in Utah last year, we found an adjustable regulator with a  pressure gauge on it that told you the adjusted pressure.  Recently, out gauge gave weird readings like below….

2011-03-05 15.55.36

As you can see, the old gauge is giving a reading of 46lbs of pressure when hooked up to thin air!  Not exactly usable…..

So I took the regulator apart and replaced the old gauge with a new one, carefully reconnected everything tightly, checked for leaks and all is well now…

2011-03-05 15.54.16

As you can see, the new gauge is working just great.

So as you can see, today was a rather busy day which included 2 trips to the hardware store for parts.  Now I only have 12 more things on my RV list to do!!!!

Carol thinks I have a new career as an RV repairman.  Actually, I think my new career as a Social Security recipient is working out just fine!