Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday's Musings

Strange title! I know it. Not sure what else would have worked for a blog title.

 My latest shipment from Camping World arrived today. It contained another FanTastic Vent fan for our bathroom and our first LED light replacement. We have enjoyed our first FanTastic Vent fan in the living room so much that we decided to get a second.

We have 3 double bulb pancake fixtures in the RV. The one in the bedroom is used quite a bit. These fixtures take incandescent bulbs (RG921 - 12V/18W T5 base). That also translates to 1.5A per bulb. We do not boondocks nor do we plan to. However, if we lose shore power we want the assurance that we can have lights when it is dark and not be too concerned about draining our batteries. Reducing power consumption in an RV is a good thing.

For the light, we selected the Dayight White LED over the Warm White LED because the Daylight White was about $20 cheaper. I am not a fan of the yellowish tint coming off most incandescent bulbs. I prefer a cooler white over a warmer white. Do the LED fixtures make a difference?

The incandescent bulbs can get pretty hot. It would not be unusual for the temperature of an incandescent bulb to hit 200 degrees F. A comparable LED fixture's bulb  (with 36 LEDs) would produce less than 100 degrees of heat. Notice this photo of the old fixture. See the brown area on the white holder near the bulb? The discoloration is caused by heat. Heat is one of the three components needed to sustain fire.
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I will admit it is very expensive to change out all incandescent bulbs/fixtures in the RV. Until a vendor will offer discounts for quantity purchasing (buy 2, get one free). I'll replace the fixtures as I can.

My friend Susan and Bob (aka Travel Bug) mentioned a 3-2-1 cake in one of her blog entry the other day. She got the tip from another blogger. Susan and Bob are currently gate guarding in Texas. Tonight it was my turn to make this simple desert. The bag has the mix (one box angel food cake mix + one box yellow cake mix)
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Place 3 tablespoons of mix in microwave safe dish (or cup). Add 2 tablespoons water. I then stired with a fork. Microwave on high for 1 minute. The cup on the right is done the one on the left is about to go into microwave. (NOTE TO SELF: use smaller cup)
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Here is the final product I iced the cakes with cream cheese icing.
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Comfort food for RVers. And it did not generate any heat in the RV. I like that.

We are continuing our search for a place to spend the winter in Texas. We have talked with several folks and are hoping we can make a final decision soon. As soon as we know where we are going, I'll fill you in. In the meanwhile, we continue to enjoy the llama farm.

Thanks for stooping by.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Smaller Honey Do List

I now have a smaller Honey Do List. After completing my weekly Monday outdoor task (drain and back flush black tank), I decided it would be a good thing to reduce the size of my Honey Do List.

Carol has wanted a swing arm mirror in the bathroom so she can see her face in the AM. Even though we are retired and do not have to "go to work" with other people and dress in casual business attire, she likes to look nice, especially for me. In the morning on our days off or after our morning chores with the llamas, she likes to put on some basic make-up.  The swing arm mirror makes that task much easier for her.

Today's blog demonstrates the process of mounting a swing arm mirror on the bathroom wall. Before we start, be sure to read and follow all safety instructions that come with the tools involved. Most importantly, make sure you wear appropriate OSHA approved PPE.  (Norm Abram from New Yankee Workshop would be proud of me for that safety note).

Tools I used.
Arrow RHT300 Twister Rivet Tool
Medium Rivets (1/8" x 1/4")
Black&Decker LDX112C 12V Lithium Drill (Note: this is good light-weight cordless drill to have in the RV)
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Step 1.
When working in the bathroom sink area, make sure you plug the hole in the bottom of the sink so any small part that may be dropped is not lost or trapped in a grey tank. In my case, a single sheet of facial tissue works just fine.

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Step 2.
Determine and mark the location of mounting holes. Note the 2 red dots in the photo.
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Step 3.
Drill two 3/16" holes where marked (see note in Step 4). NOTE: Be sure there is nothing behind the wall into which you are about do drill. In my case, I closed the sliding pocket door so I would not drill into the door.

Step 4.
Insert rivets into the base and through the holes drilled in the wall. (Note. For best accuracy, drill one hole in the wall, insert the rivet into the bracket and the hole just drilled. Using the bracket as a guide, drill the second hole then insert the second rivet.)
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Step 5.
Using the Arrow Rivet Tool and rivets, secure the bracket to the wall. I found using rivets to be the easiest way to secure items to the thin walls found in RVs.
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Step 6.
Verify the two rivets secure the bracket to the wall.
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Step 7.
Secure Swing Arm Mirror to bracket. Make sure to check tightness of all hardware.
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After all that hard work, it is time for a nap. Tomorrow is our Monday.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What a Week

We have been back from vacation for a week now and have not updated the blog. Of course you know that if you regularly read the blog.

We took Sunday off but resumed our work schedule on Monday (6/18). It just did not make sense to take two days off after being gone for a week. So what did we do this past week? Well, silly, we worked.

 As Carol and I were driving back on Saturday 6/16, we talked about the hay situation. We had less than 10 bales of hay before we took of on our Tennessee vacation. Pam/Jerry had ordered hay but it was not going to be delivered until the end of June. That means we would be off loading a large truck filled with hay. Pam and Jerry would be on vacation when the hay came in. On Monday we found a large stack of hay (120 bales) in barn 1. Yea! The hay came early.

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Tuesday our other workamper Julie came in. She is a solo workamper who has been on wheels for 8 years. She has a 24-foot Coachman Concord motor home. She worked here at Windy Valley Llamas a couple of years ago. Since Pam/Jerry were going on vacation, they asked Julie if she could come to the farm to help us out while they are gone. We are certainly happy to have her around her. Tuesday evening, Jerry (owner - not me) cooked up some of his special blackened salmon for a get acquainted dinner.

One new thing I got to do this week was climb aboard a Kobuto B7510 tractor. This is the farm's lawnmower. It has a 20 hp diesel engine, 4 wheel drive, power steering, 60" mid-mounted mower deck and liquid filled tires. This baby has power and extremely low center of gravity making it very stable on the hills at the farm. Also comes equipped with seat belt and roll bar for safety. I managed to get all the grass cut and did not turn the tractor over.

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Cody, has been doing pretty well being off lead since we've been back. He finally realized that Tom the cat is a friend and not something to chase.

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Ricky, one of our rescued male llamas has also befriended Tom.

This weekend, a local feed store was hosting a Dock Dog competition. I've seen this event on TV but never live. It was pretty amazing to see these dogs sit/stay then wait for a signal from their handler. The dog would then race down the dock and leap into the air to catch their target a finally land in a pool of water.
Some dogs where big.
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Some dogs where small.
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Some dogs leaped high.
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Some dogs leaped far.
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Some owners got excited when 
their dog finally made it off the dock.
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Some dogs appeared to be walking on water.
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Some dogs made a big splash.
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Some dogs are just not dogs - they are pigs.
No, the pigs did not make the leap from the dock. 
They just got attention.
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Our youngest daughter and her son will be visiting us the first week in July. We are thrilled to have company. We are gonna love showing off the Blue Ridge Mountains. I also have a big project that my grandson Gage can help me complete. 

Tomorrow is the second day in our weekend. Time to clean inside and dump tanks. life goes on the our RV world. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's Good To Be Home

Saturday, our vacation came to an end. As we turned off Curtis Switch Road to Ada Road, the dogs got excited and knew they were almost home. We agreed and felt it was good to get home. Now for our kids, we are a long way from home. For us, home is where we park it - and that means Windy Valley Llama Farm in Blue Ridge, Gerogia.

Our day started with an outdoor breakfast. It was really cool to cook breakfast in the RV, then take the plates outside to enjoy the sounds of nature while we munched on breakfast. We said good by to our neighbors and told them a bit about our lifestyle.

Saturday was the day of a trout fishing tournament on the Raven Fork River but the traffic was light as we pulled out of Yogi in the Smokies. I am not sure where the fisher people where. Once we got closer to US-74, our cell phones let us know we had cell service. Our messages and missed call notifications started coming in. We turned south on US-74 and headed home.

Once again, we enjoyed the drive adjacent to the Nanthala River. There where lots of folks enjoying white water rafting down the river.
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We pulled over to take the photos and watch. At one point a rafter was dumped into the cold water when his raft hit a protruding rock. All ended well as his raft mates were able to pull him back into the raft. We will probably take a rafting adventure before we leave the area. There are several options for us that do not include Class III or Class IV rapids. We may just tube the Toccoa River and visit the Occoee River to see the folks on the Class III and IV rapids.

We pulled out of the gorge and headed to Murphy, NC where we stopped for a break and lunch. From there, we had less then 30 minutes before we got back home. It took us about an hour to get set up. As Dorothy said, "It's good to be home."
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Trip Statistics  - We drove 657 miles in 8 days and averaged 13.86 mpg. That was pretty good considering about 500 miles of the 657 was towing and half of that was mountain towing.
  • Fuel cost: $178.47 (avg of $3.68/gal)
  • Camping fees: $221.32 for 7 nights.
      Walden Creek, Pigeon Forge, TN - 2 nights - $39.00
      Lakeview RV in Bluff City, TN - 3 nights - $72.92
      Yogi in the Smokies, Cherokee, NC - 2 nights - $109.40
  • Meals: $198.35
On Camping fees, Walden Creek and Lakeview parks gave us 50% discount with Passport America. Yogi gave us 10% discount. We paid a premium at Yogi for a river site.

Today was R & R day.  I completed a few minor things around the RV and gave the truck a serious bath. I also grilled pork chops in a foil pack. Carol spent most of the day working on her quilt project.
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Then she got busy and made a Peach Cobbler of us to enjoy for desert. YUM!
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We had a nice conversation with our daughter and grandson from Corpus Christi via Face Time (Skype for Mac). We are looking at plans to fly them out here some time in July.

Naping in her nesting spot, Patches also says it is good to be home.
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Tomorrow we go back to work. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 7 - Mingo Falls

Friday was chill day. With slow Wi-Fi and no cell service, we just chilled at Yogi. Saturday we head back to Blue Ridge to resume our work tending the llamas. OK, we did not chill the entire day. 

We went to Peter's Pancakes and Waffles in Cherokee for breakfast. The place was pretty busy so our order was a bit slow coming out. The staff was apologetic about that. Next we went into a couple of the local shops that sold Indian items. Said to say that pretty much all of it was made in China or India. I am sure there may be some stores that sell authentic Indian crafts.

Cherokee is somewhat touristy just like Pigeon Forge. I could not help but think of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Shows. I can understand having historical and cultural events that are educational. When these events turn commercial, then I want to stay away.

After breakfast, we went to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials for tonight's grilling activity. (More on that later.) Then on the way back, we stopped at Mingo Falls for a photo shot. Carol stayed in the truck while I trekked on. First there was a climb of about 150 steps.
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Then at the top, there is a short hike to a bridge that allows a full view of the falls.
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At 120 feet, Mingo Falls is the largest falls on the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The flow in these photos is not the best but it give you an idea of the fall.
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I experimented with a technique that give the water flow a soft cotton look. The next two photos are of the same spot on the falls. First one is shot in auto mode, second is shot with an extended shutter time.

 Mingo Falls 4     Mingo Falls 3 

Here are another pair showing the effect.

Mingo Falls 5      Mingo Falls 6 

Our new friends Marilyn and Alan McMillan (BlessOurVoyage-Travels of the McMillan's Travels) came over Friday evening to join us for grilled chicken. Actually it was foil pouch chicken placed on the grill. We had beautiful weather this evening for the fellowship meal. It was so cool to enjoy a meal out doors with our friends.

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The day is drawing to a close and we are soon to say, "See ya down the road" to our new friends. We pray for their safety as they continue their work at Yogi in the Smokies and pray for their safety when they depart from here at the end of summer.
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Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 6 - What A Drive

Today we left Piney Flats and my friend Becky. We drove to Johnson City, TN to get our Starbucks to go. It was a beautiful day for a drive over the mountains. We hit I-26 about 11:00 AM.
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We climbed up from 1600 feet in Erwin, TN to 3760 feet at Sam's Gap. On the North Carolina side of Sam's Gap we saw three run away truck ramps. We did not encounter anything greater then 6% grades going up or down.
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Asheville was a bit congested. Loop 240, and I-40 were not nearly as nice as I-26. We  arrived at Yogi in the Smokies at 2PM. We were created by Yogi Bear himself.

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After registration, we got set up, then took a short nap. Our site backs up to the Raven Fork River.We met up with Alan and Marilyn from BlessOurVoyage - Tales of the McMillian's Travels who are workamping here. We enjoyed dinner at Paul's in Cherokee.

Friday, Carol and I will rest up a bit. I may take a short hike to Mingo Falls then veg by the pool. Later in the evening I'll fire up the grill and treat Alan and Marilyn to some good Texas style chicken. We may just finish of the evening with a campfire.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 5 - Mountain Top Experience

Our friend Becky picked us up this morning around 10ish for the trip to the top of Roan Mountain (elevation 6,250 feet). First stop was Elk Falls in Elk Park, NC. Remember we are in the Northeastern tip of Tennessee which is just a few minutes away from North Carolina. This water fall can be viewed from three positions.

The top. (Don't worry kids - Mom is doing just fine.)

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The middle.

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The bottom.

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Well, I did not go down to the bottom but there is a bottom. I even got a shot at Carol back at the top.
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And then a stranger took this group shot of Carol and I with Becky.
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We had a cool time there but it was time to move on. Next stop was Roan Mountain. We stop for lunch at the top before trekking off to the world's largest natural rhododendron garden. The park had a beautiful picnic area positioned very near the garden.
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After our picnic lunch, we headed out for the garden. We found a small overlook spot that had this incredible view of the mountains and valleys below. Carol shot this short panoramic video for your enjoyment. At the end of the video, notice the tree growth. You can easily tell the direction of the prevailing winds.

The park service has a beautiful wide concrete trail that guides you through the garden. The best view was at the overlook. The view is just amazing. The rhododendron are in full bloom and the bees are busy.

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On the way out I saw people looking at the little flower. Being so small, I thought a closeup would be best. Say hello to the Roan Mountain Bluet.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has listed this plants threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
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It was time to come down off the mountain. Becky brought us back to the RV where we had a short rest. Then she and Kevin pickup us up at the RV Park's boat dock.

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We then took a scenic ride down the South Fork Holston River on our way to Boone Lake Marina for dinner.

After dinner, Becky then drove us back to our RV where we started getting ready for our trip to Cherokee, NC on Thursday. As our time closes on this leg of our vacation, I want to say Thank You to my friend and former boss Becky.

Thanks for stopping by.