Gee-eeeeez, I go away for a couple of days and the world washes away!
First Mr. Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a move that drew criticism from civil rights groups and Democrats as well as both of Arizona’s Republican senators, then one of the worst flood disasters in modern U.S. history unfolded ever so slowly around Houston. Mr. Trump responded in characteristic fashion: he tweeted. He was tweeting praise for the responders, a move that drew criticism from everyone else.
Relentless rains from former Category 4 Hurricane and now Tropical Storm Harvey are still pounding Texas. Rainband after rainband swept north and then slowly east through the metro area, dropping 25″ of rain so far and that’s only half what is expected. The large-scale steering currents have collapsed with no signs of anything that will sweep the storm away from the area for the next several days. Harvey was still drifting back southeast at just 2 mph this morning; it will pick up energy and new supplies of water from the Gulf, then turn around to do it again.
Of course, everyone from Homeland Security to FEMA was working ahead of the storm but, naturally, social media says all Mr. Trump has done is “tweet a book report.” Naturally, social media lies.
Meanwhile, Orpheum Theater in Memphis will drop Gone With the Wind from its summer film series next year because 12 insensitive potential customers took offense; they complained that the film is too “insensitive” to be shown in theaters today.
The tyranny of the minority.
I forgot (meaning never put on a list) a few things like snapping the PITA towing mirrors in place on the truck. That should take a minute or so but never does. I may have to redesign them.
We left on our first trip to a bona fide campground on Thursday.
Packing up and hooking up was actually easier than loading the truck for earlier road trips. We pulled out of North Puffin right around 10, pretty much as planned, and headed on down the road.
We’re missing only a couple of things like a dish towel and hand towels which I thought I had put in the camper.
Anne noticed that something in the camper smells. Turns out that the wool blanket I used as an underpad for the mattress came out of the cedar chest and that slightly sweet smell gave her a headache.
Tale of Two Campgrounds
I reserved a site at Button Bay State Park on Lake Champlain. The Bay’s name comes from the clay concretions found on its shores which looked either like actual clay buttons or the molds used in button making. It’s been a state park since 1964. Sadly, there are no buttons to be found because they keep getting pried out of the ground and taken as souvenirs. I found some divots.
Everyone and everything there was very nice except for the hanging potted plant at the ranger station that clocked me twice when I walked right into the darned thing.
The huge, beautifully kept sites, and the friendly, knowledgeable staff at Button Bay makes it one of the nicest of the Vermont State Park campgrounds.
The ranger said check in was 2 p.m. but we could go right in because the sites were already clean and ready. Cool.
We have a nice, easy in-and-out space not too too far from the bathrooms and with a good view of the lake. The neighbors are longtime campers with grandchildren and a bubble machine but grandpa was glad to look over the rig and approve the way I set it up. We met another woman and her hubby who was in a wheelchair. They wondered if the trailer was accessible so I gave them a tour. The toy hauler ramp was easy for the chair.
No WiFi anywhere and almost no cell signal.
Our campfire was very very fresh cut pine. Hard to burn.
The genset performed perfectly.
A (gas-powered) bus rumbled in at 10:30 p.m., backed and filled twice in the road, pulled into a site and shut down. He was set up and camping in five minutes. Hmmm.
The paternal grandparents of the bride turned out to be camped practically next door to us in a bus. Not the one that rumbled in.
The Wedding Park
The “official” purpose of the trip was to attend the wedding of a young lady we have known since she was in the womb. SWMBO officiated so you know that puts an extra whammy on the vows!
They rented Kingsland State Park, about six miles north of where we camped. Kingsland has no camping.
Lila took us to the YMCA camp, not Kingsland, but we still arrived early enough to meet the staff.
Kingsland charged the Check Writer (the bride’s father) $2,500 to rent the lawn, a 1790 building, and a T-shaped, reception and dance hall building. They then charged all the bridal party $4 each to get in on Thursday for the rehearsal and charged the bridal party $4 each to get in Friday to set up the chairs and the arbor and the DJ and so on. The gate guard, from Stalag 13 on weed, was disagreeable about even telling us where the party was meeting.
“Nobody told me anything about it,” she told me.
And she didn’t quite get that our camping pass was a day-use entry to all state parks.
Then, when the party trooped into the dance hall shaped, T-shaped building to check out and plan how to use it, another officious official threw everybody out because she had “just cleaned the building and didn’t want us tracking grass in.”
They were lovely. The bride and groom had an arbor plus seven attendants each who lined up overlooking the lake. They had written their own vows and incorporated them into SWMBO’s. It was a long ceremony but perfectly framed with lake and laughter. After dinner, they completed the day with an Indian ceremony
Ashlee Fish called them “the best wedding vows I’ve ever heard. Congratulations!!!!!!!”
And in the other good news, Kingsland State Park was beautiful, perfectly groomed, and all the staff couldn’t have been nicer on Wedding Day.
It was a remarkably easy day but with a couple of little glitches.We were up before 8 so I could run the generator to charge up and to run the coffee pot. Because I prefer to use my own smart charger rather than the converter to charge the batteries, the routine is to start one generator and get it running the camper, then hit the battery disconnect switch. With the batteries free, I can then start the smart charger on AC and hit them for a couple of hours. Did that Friday morning and Saturday morning with no problem. Sunday morning, something else kicked in just as the coffee pot cycled and we went black. The generator overload had kicked us to the curb.
It seems (I’ll have to RTM) that simply removing the load doesn’t reset the genset. I had to disconnect, stop, and restart it to bring it back on line. It restarts hot with no problem.
Finished the morning charge on the converter.
The monitor panel apparently works. The battery lights seem pretty accurate. The black tank registered one light. The gray tank registered two lights.
And I spilled only a little getting the slinky hooked up.
Our next door neighbors had given us their firewood when they pulled out. I gave what we had left to the people with a very friendly standard poodle.
We got packed up, hooked up, dumped, and out in about half an hour. Easy drive back and it was dry enough that I was able to back right up the driveway with no drama.
In the end, everything worked except the TV. It was a superb maiden voyage for us and for the bride and groom.
I built a boat from scratch. I still want to build a camper the same way.
But good sense got the better of me (temporarily) and I bought one instead.
Yeah, yeah, it’s a lousy photo. I’ll take some better ones eventually.
This is a “Fun Finder XT245” man cave. It has a ramp in the back, a door on the side, a galley with a stove and nuke, Dometic frig, head, shower, and a queen size bed. The good news is that it is just 9-feet tall and will weigh around 6,000 pounds fully loaded. The bad news is that it was necessary to make a few minor changes.
It has too many beds. Boats and campers should drink 8, eat 4, and sleep 2.
The master bed mattress sucks.
The folding couches (known as “gauchos” in the RV biz) get in the way of real furniture when they are down and the windows when they’re up.
I hit my head on the happy jack bed in the back.
It needs a desk for my computer monitors in the back.
It doesn’t have enough house batteries to run my freezer.
Real mattresses are a PITA to move around. I dragged/pulled/carried/humped the original mattress out of the camper and onto the wheelbarrow where it was not very well balanced. Carting it to the barn was easy peasy in comparison.
Three of the four bolts in the right-side gaucho zipped right out. The fourth, buried at the bottom of folding frame, did nothing but spin. I worked on that on and off for a few days.
I finally did get the bolt out of the gaucho and it fell off the wall just like it was supposed to. The retainer is indeed a plastic part about an inch long with a rusty tapped rod embedded in it. The rust part is not a good thing. I put the bolts back in with anti-seize.
The gaucho was a lot easier to handle out of the camper and carry up to the barn than the mattress.
I’m a tool guy, right? In the last 50 years, I’ve collected every possible tool I would need and inherited even more from my tool guy father and tool guy grandfather.
I bought a weight distributing hitch and discovered I didn’t have a big enough wrench.
These things come with locomotive hardware. The trailer ball has a 1-7/8″ nut that requires torquing to 450 ft-lbs. My torque wrench goes to 160 ft-lbs. Uh oh. The mechanic up the street’s torque wrench goes to 200 ft-lbs. Bigger uh oh.
Wait. I have weight!
I applied the 450 ft-lbs to the ball and 250 lb-ft to my nuts with no problem whatsoever. 450 ft-lbs is about 200 lbs standing at the end of a 30-inch pipe on my 16-inch breaker bar. 250 ft-lbs is that self same 200 lbs standing at the end of that same 16-inch breaker bar and bouncing. It may not be exactly right but it’s close enough.
The trailer sits flat and level now.
We borrowed a queen-sized air mattress from a friend and forced our son to test drive it the other night. He reported it was fine so we tried it.
SWMBO was still awake when I came to bed. It was about 55°F outdoors by then but we had a blanket and should have been alright. The mattress seemed OK but it wasn’t. It was cold because it stayed at ambient so I suspect on a hot day it would be hot. The “tube” shaped surface didn’t seem uncomfortable but both of us felt as if we were angled pretty steeply to the side. I don’t know if it was SWMBO being awake or the discomfort that kept me awake but 45 minutes later it was obvious we weren’t getting to sleep so we moved inside to a real bed.
I bought, picked up, set up, and ran the generators. The manuals are in remarkably good English with professional diagrams. I stacked them and ran them in both “economy” and regular mode. They are indeed quiet enough to talk over even in regular mode while standing right beside them. I plugged in the trailer and ran the lights and radio and the microwave with no noticeable issues.
I am sorely disappointed though. It took three pulls to start one of them.
My black and gray tanks don’t seem too too full but I will take full advantage of having a dump station at the campground next weekend.
In the middle of all this, I’ve been buying slinkies and jack plates and chocks and dogbones and totes and all manner of goodies.
And, of course, adapting the battery box I built for the road trip last year to work in the camper.
I realized yesterday that I have one shopping day^H^H working day left before we leave for our first three-day trip at a state campground and I have to work today. Work on the camper tomorrow. Load the camper tomorrow. Get the camper inspected Wednesday and relevel the weight distribution hitch.
The big task I have left is to install the battery box and wire it up. I’m presuming, of course, that it will work. We also need to put the replacement mattress in. I’ve never run the water heater or the furnace. I’ve also not run out the awning. And we need to figure out what food and clothes and sundries we’ll take.
We pull out Thursday morning, rain or shine. Check-in time at the campground is 2 p.m. but “If the site you reserved was not used the night before your arrival, it may be possible to occupy the site sooner, however that would need to be arranged with the park staff, contact the park to inquire” so I’ll need to do that, too. I want to get in around noon since we have a wedding rehearsal to attend at 3.