Thursday, July 19, 2012

Winter Workamp and More RV Stuff

Winter Workamp

Our work commitment at Windy Valley Llama Farm in Blue Ridge is winding down. We have about 6 weeks left here. We have been looking for winter workamp spots in the San Antonio area for the last couple of months.

We are happy to say we have secured a spot for winter in Texas and Spring in Colorado. So where are we going? Glad you asked. We will leave Blue Ridge on Monday October 1st and head for Hidden Valley RV Park. They are located off Exit 144 on I-35 in Southwest San Antonio. They are not a fancy place which is OK with us - we are not the fancy type. There will be plenty of work for us as well as plenty of time off. We will be there during the rodeo season in Feb 2013 - YAY!

We are working on our route back to Texas and hoping to spend time in Nashville and Memphis, TN; Hot Springs, AR; Longview, TX; Copperas Cove, TX; then on to Hidden Valley RV Park.

We will be at Hidden Valley from October 15th until the end of March, 2013. By then we will be ready to head north. We have a confirmed commitment from April 15th through the end of July 2013 at a private Alpaca farm in Wellington, Colorado. We will be about 17 miles north of Fort Collins, CO and 30 miles south of Cheyenne, WY.

We have a couple of options after that. One is to take on a work commitment with Amazon either in Kansas or Kentucky or move back into Texas for a work commitment at Cherokee Acres Ranch in Willis, TX. We were discussing this option for this year but just could not make it happen.

We have several other places that we contacted but just could not make the dates work for us. These locations are in our pending list for a future winter gig.

We love what we do! We have met several new life long friends. And we have a place in Blue Ridge where we can always come back for a short or long stay. God has been good to us.

Now on to the RV Stuff.

The other day I needed to dump tanks. Our black tank electronic valve was acting strange on us. The tank sensors in an RV are at best real lousy. I think I got the tank empty but during the back flush, it appeared I filled the tank and could not get the valve to open again. So for three days now, we have shifted some of our bathroom activities to the basement of the farm house. That is OK but it is a little awkward when you have to use the bathroom at 3AM.

Today, I began the dreaded task of checking out the problem. Rick from Rick's RV in Murphy, NC (15 miles away) was the recommend "go to" person. He said he would be out this afternoon around 5:30. He called about 4:30 to confirm directions and time. I crawled under the RV to see what it would take to remove the belly panel that covers the bottom of RV.
   IMG 0421 This panel is held in place by 4 screws across the front and 4 across the back. The sides of the panel rest on the main frame of the trailer. With the panel removed and insulation moved away, Rick could easily determine which of the valves was connected to the black tank. He verified the black tank was in fact empty and not full as the sensors indicated. The valve has a manual override which allows a person to open or close the valve manually by using an allen wrench. In this photo, Rick is working on get the valve to move.
   IMG 0422
We made sure the valve was open and left it like that. I know it is not a good idea to leave a black tank open but in this case, it will be OK since I will be back flushing the tank daily. I can order a replacement valve for $80 from DrainMaster on line and have it here in a couple of days. Then Rick will come back out to help me install it. When I took the photo of the valve, I was please to see Made in U.S.A stamped on it. Forrest River/Cedar Creek made a good choice with this valve. Other than bad tires from China, this is the first part failure I've encountered on the RV since we purchased it in May 2011.
   IMG 0423
Pam and Jerry take off again for a few weeks with their toy hauler. They are taking their toys out for some play time. In the meanwhile, the farm is being entrusted to us and another helper once again.

Life is good and we are blessed beyond our wildest dreams. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Doggie Door / RV Stuff

Doggie Door

One of the projects on our TO DO list was to cut a doggie door between Barn 1 pasture and Barn 2 pasture. There are two Great American Pyrenees who guard the llamas on the farm. They run from pasture to pasture chasing off any potential predator. They should be able to easily move between all pastures even if pasture gates are closed. If the dogs are in Barn 2, and need to get to the top of Barn 1 or the house pasture, they have to go to the bottom of Barn 2 pasture, find the access gate at the bottom of Barn 2 or house pasture, then come back up the hill. Sofie can make the trip pretty quickly. Bear is a lot slower because of joint issues. Having a doggie door at the top of Barn 1 pasture makes the trip a piece of cake. Since I fix the busted gate post, it only made since to get the doggie door done also. The wire fence to the loft of the gate is the spot for the goggle door.
  IMG 1021
It did not take Sofie or Bear long to figure out where the new door was.
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RV Fixes

The owner has a toy hauler RV. They are taking off for a few weeks to ride their motorcycles. Jerry asked me to look a few things that needed fixing.

Fix #1 Ice Maker

The RV has an ice maker that sprung a leak the last time they had the RV out. It appears the hose fitting was cross threaded on the solenoid valve which is where the leak was. I was able to get it threaded correctly but still had no water flow. Apparently the water shutoff was turned off. To make matters worse, the T-handle on that shutoff valve was busted off.

I could not find a suitable replacement valve at HomeDepot so plan "B" was to add a second shutoff valve in line with the 1/4" poly flow tubing. To get the busted shutoff valve opened, I had to pull the ice maker out of the cabinet. That required removing a stair step that was in the way.

There are two types of in line shutoff valves. One is brass and one is plastic. The brass valve is a sleeve inserts that are inserted into the 1/4" poly flow tubing. This won't work with this water line because for some crazy reason the RV manufacturer decided it was important to use a "special" thick wall 1/4" poly flow tube, not the standard 1/4" poly flow found in 99% of home use today.
Brass Valve        Plastic Valve
That means the plastic shutoff valve is the only other option left. This valve is also unique. The 1/4" poly flow tube is inserted into the end of the valve. Nothing to tighten, nothing to twist. Just insert the tube. The valve is designed such that it provides a seal and grips the tubing. Sure enough, that works. Turned water on to RV - no leaks! That is a good sign. Put ice maker back in its resting spot, replace the stair step. Still no leaks and ice maker is cranking out ice.

Here you can see the tight access door that less to the space behind ice maker. Then you can see the original shutoff valve with the t-handle missing and finally you can see the new shutoff valve.

IMG 0415 IMG 0412 IMG 0414

Fix #2 Light Bulb

There is a reason why light bulbs are called light bulbs. The one on top produces light and is called a light bulb. The one on the bottom does not and is called a dark bulb. How a light bulb morphs into a dark bulb is beyond my simple mind. With a new light bulb in place under the range hood vent, Pam/Jerry will be able to see well enough to cook. They also have a spare just in case the light bulb morphs again. IMG 0246

Fix #3 Satellite Dish

Jerry purchased a Winegard Carryout portable dish so they could stay connected while traveling with their RV. My task was to figure out where to connect the dish on the outside, and where to connect their Direct TV receiver inside. In our RV, these connectors are labeled. On his RV, nothing is labeled. I will be adding labels so they will know where things go. While up in the old TV cabinet, I also tied back loose wires. That's it for today.

Tomorrow's blog post could end up a bit messy. Let's hope not. Ya'll come back!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Unaccompanied Bag and a Fence Post

Unaccompanied Bag

Gage traveled to Houston as an unaccompanied minor. This means he had to have an escort all the way through the airport to the gate. We were given escort passes so we could escort him through the maze at the Atlanta airport. Since Gage was flying in the middle of the week and early in the afternoon, airport traffic (people) was light. We got through security at the terminal building, then on the tram to concourse "C" and arrived with plenty of time to spare. We were all hungry so it was time for a relaxing meal. Gage gets a bit cranky when he is tired or hungry. I am sure he was both as well as a little anxious. I fussed at him for having an attitude. His response was typical - Papa, I wasn't doing anything. Of course not. Who can argue with an 8 y.o.
   IMG 0391
His plan arrived at the gate and unloaded, then the pre-boarding announcement came. Gage was handed off to the gate attendant and we waited for the plane to leave the gate. We noticed another small child and his mom who were waiting to board. Cool, Gage wold have a travel buddy. After this child boarded, Carol and the lady began to chat. This helped pass the time as we waited for the plan to leave the gate. Finally everyone was loaded and the plane pulled off.

IMG 0396
Carol and I headed back to the terminal building, out to the garage, paid for our parking then drove into Atlanta to make a stop at Sam Flax South. Carol is learning water color so she wanted to stop for a few special supplies that are hard to find in a small town like Blue Ridge. As we got out of the truck, she ask me where her purse was. Now as any guy would say, I said, I have no idea, where did you put it. We looked all over the truck and discovered it was nowhere to be found. Can you sense the anxiety setting in?

OK, we go into the store and think through the process of what we need to do first. I called the airport and spoke to a wonderfully helpful person who said she would see what could be done to check the gate area for the purse. While I was on hold, I kept thinking, how are we going to get back to Gate C-20 in concourse C. I am the only person with a photo ID. Carol's DL is in her purse which, we hope, is at the gate. The lady from the air port came back on line a couple of times to let me know she is still working on a solution for us.

After about 15 minutes, Carol's phone rang. A lady named Glorianna called to let Carol know she had Carol's purse. (BIG SIGH OF RELIEF!) However, there is a slight problem. Glorianna was about to board a plane headed for Las Vegas. She was boarding at gate C-20 and noticed the purse sitting on the floor where Carol had been sitting. Glorianna tried to give the purse to the folks from the airline but they said - sorry, can't help you. Then Glorianna tried giving the purse to security - sorry can't help you. What a dilemma! A lost purse with no place to go.

Meanwhile, I am still on hold with the airport lady who is trying to figure how to get me back into the airport to search for the purse. Before this nice lady came back on the line, Carol looked at me and said, Glorianna is taking the purse with her to Las Vegas and will ship it to Blue Ridge. OK we now have a plan the envolves trusting a perfect stranger - and we are at peace about this.

We finish shopping and head back to Blue Ridge. As we headed back to Blue Ridge, Glorianna called Carol again to let her know how she would arrange to get the purse back to Carol. There is nothing else we can do at this point. Do we call our bank and cancel the cards or do we trust Gloria? A Bible passage kept coming to me.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says: 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
So we did nothing - but wait. Carol called Gloria on Thursday to confirm the purse was being sent back. Las Vegas was 3 hours ahead of us and Glorianna had not made it to the Post Office yet. She had an orthodontist appointment Thursday AM so she cold not answer Carol's call. Anxiety is back. Glorianna did call from the Post Office to let Carol know it would cost about $90 to ship the purse overnight. Priority Mail would be cheaper and is still trackable. Glorianna did what she said she was going to do, Carol got her purse back. And everything was in it just as it was when it was left behind. We are thankful and relieved that we did not need to go through the process of reissuing bank card, driver license, and our Verizon MiFi. Life is back to normal. The missing purse is now back at home.
   IMG 1022

Fence Post

The fence post for the gate between Barn 1 pasture and Barn 2 pasture broke at ground level. Now if these pastures where for the girls, that may not have been problem. We have two boys in Barn 1 pasture and all the girls in Barn 2 posture. It should be apparent that it would not be OK to mix the two boys with all the girls. If I were replacing a fence, I would just move the new post over a few inches. In our situation, the new fence post needs to go in the ground where the old fence post is. The mystery of this task is how deep and how much cement is around that post. In other words, what lies beneath that dirt?
   IMG 0999
Time to start digging around the post remains.
  IMG 1002
Dig deeper.
  IMG 1003
No, I said dig deeper yet. Looks like I have a coupe of supervisors checking out my work. Say hello to Dee and baby Phoenix.
   IMG 1005
I wonder if that is deep enough.
   IMG 1006
If I wrap a chain around the cement, I can use a jack to pull the post remnant out of the ground. I am beginning to feel like a dentist.
   IMG 1012
Grunt! Grunt! Dang, the chain slipped. Or if I were a dentist, I would say, "OOPS!" Time for more digging.
   IMG 1008
Extra support under the jack and that sucker should come out of there.
   IMG 1013
Yeah! That's what I'm talking about.
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The post is out!
   IMG 1016
The best part about pulling a post remnant is you don't have to dig a new hole for the new post.
   IMG 1017
New post is in the ground, cement is poured. Post is plumb both ways. The gate is a wee bit high but that is OK.
   IMG 0401
There is the old post and the framing material to cut a doggie door next to the new post.
  IMG 0402
Next project is cut open the doggie door. Then I have work to do on the owners RV. That story will be tomorrow. It's been a busy day.

Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Catching Up Is Hard To Do

I got behind the blog writing when Laura and Gage where here. Catching up is hard to do. This blog may be a bit longer but it catches up.

Sunday, 7/8 Laura, Gage and I took a drive to the Ocooe Whitewater Center in Tennessee about 20 miles west of here. The Toccoa river in Georgia changes names to the Ocooe River in Tennessee. If you recall, we had a picnic supper by the Toccoa River and enjoyed a Blue Grass Jam when Laura and Gage first arrived. The Tennessee Valley Authority manages the water flow that gives the rafters their white water. This river sports class III and class IV rapids.

There where blue rafts.
And green rafts
And red rafts
  Red Blk
Plus there were cool views of kayakers

Rocket Kayak
This is where it all begins. The view from Boyd's Gap presents a good perspective of the starting point about 3 miles up river from the Ocooe Whitewater Center.
There is a forest service road that is used to deliver the rafters to their starting point. I've been told to be there before the TVA opens the valve from the dam. The sight of the river being filled with water from the dam has to be spectacular.

If you look at the view from Google map you can see the dry river bed. There is a dam at the start and end of the route. Many rafters continue past the second dam (End at the top of the photo) as they journey closer to Lake Ocooe another 5 miles away.
   Ocooe River
After a day of watching the rafters conquer the river, Laura and Gage gave their sign of approval.

Laura's vacation was over. On Monday, 7/9, we drove to Atlanta where we dropped her off for her flight to Houston. From there she would drive back to Corpus Christi. Our grandson, Gage would remain with us until Wednesday.
   IMG 0377
Tuesday, Gage worked with me tending the boys. He did a great job handling the chores. The llamas need fresh water.
Then he prepped the feed buckets.
He fed Major Deal.
Then he fed Rudy.
After the llamas eat, they are then walked. We do not want them to forget what walking on lead is about.  First out of the barn is Major Deal.

Followed by Rudy.
Then Smudge.

Gage learned how to tie the halters to the fence.
Then we drove chuck wagon to the llama poo dumping grounds.
Then Tuesday evening, he help clean up the girls' barn. Those girls sure do make a mess!
  IMG 0373
It did not take him long to slip off to dream land.
  IMG 0390
Wednesday, we drove one more time to Atlanta. Gage flew his first unaccompanied flight. He just took off like he knew what he was doing. Of course the gate attendant was leading him off.
   IMG 0394
I can only imagine Gage telling his school mates what he did during summer vacation. So long Gage. It was a fun week.  G'mee and I were sad to see him go.
   IMG 0396
So there you have it. Next blog posting will tell the story of the missing purse and the broken fence post. Ya'll come back now.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Weekend with Laura and Gage

Day 3 of Laura and Gage's visit was Saturday. one more state park, swimming in a lake and another hike for water fall photos. We had a light breakfast because we were taking a picnic lunch to the park. Where you ask? Vogel State Park. This park is located just south of Blairsville, GA on US Highway 19/129 in the Chattahoochee National Forest at the base of Blood Mountain. Vogel State Park has lots of amenities: camp sites, cabins, swimming, hiking trails, and more. Gage had a wonderful time swimming in Lake Trahlyta. We even had a chance to share our RV lifestyle with a family there from Sarasota, Florida.
   DSC 0295
After a picnic lunch, Laura and I took off for a close-up view of Trahlyta Falls. I can hardly call the hike a hike since it is pretty flat and level for about a mile. Then at the bottom of the lake, a short trail descends to the lower falls. Once at the bottom, the view is pretty cool. Trahlyta Falls drops 110 feet so while the distance is not spectacular, the waterfall is pretty cool.
   DSC 0306
We encountered a rather large family group who showed very little respect for basic hiking rules (i.e., stay on the trail, don't leave trash behind). We waited for this group to leave the platform at the base of the falls. A park ranger was bring different group down to the falls. She called out to the adults who were way off trail and even warned the adults to coral the small kids who where all over the place. As I side note, I am amazed when I see folks who have complete disregard for park rules. Even more amazing, is the behavior that could lead to a serious accident. Walking trails in flip-flops may be 'cool' but it is certainly not safe. The teenagers in the group that followed us to the platform thought it wold be cool if they all sat on the railing. One slip and a fun weekend could turn into a disaster. OK, I'll get off my soap box.

I experimented a little more with slow shutter photography. The idea is the get the water to look like cotton.
   DSC 0314
When Laura and I returned, we packed up and headed to one final destination. We were very close to Brasstown Bald. This peak is the tallest spot in Georgia (4,784 feet). The short road up to the parking area is pretty steep with grades exceeding 12%. From the parking area, there is a hiking trail to the summit. This 1/2 mile trail goes up 500 feet. The trail is paved and there are places along the way to take breaks. Th easy way to the top is by shuttle from the parking lot. The heat provided a haze in the sky so the views were not very clear.
   DSC 0335 DSC 0336
I can only imagine what the trip up is like in the spring when the Rhododendron are in full bloom.

I thought I could get Sunday's activities in this post. That ain't gonna happen. You will just have to come back tomorrow to see what we did Sunday. We were blessed with pretty good weather. It was a bit warm but the low humidity made the heat tolerable.

Thanks for stopping by.