Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5/31 Trinidad Lake State Park, CO

I have been here before and like this state park.  It is in eastern Colorado, just off I-25, almost into New Mexico.  Trinidad is a small-to-medium town, with a couple of big chain grocery stores and a historic downtown.  It was a long drive to get here, but I do love long, straight roads like this one. 

When you see snow-capped mountains like these, you KNOW you are in Colorado!  This is the view as you approach the state park. 


The campground in on a high plateau overlooking the lake, but you cannot get down to the lake unless you drive around to the other side.  I had reserved one of the nicer campsites along the lake where spaces are a little longer and sites are paved. 

This is the view from the back of my campsite.

And some early wildflowers.  Is this copper globe mallow?

Drummond Milkvetch
I think this is lupine, Colorado's state flower.
Another view of the mountains from the road to the dam on the other side of the lake.  

 California could have used this overflow channel!

 One of the many bunnies coming out at dusk. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

5/25 Really Big Storm!!

I am running behind a bit on my blog because I have been busy with some work things.  Anyway, I have been thinking about this event that happened last Thursday and have some lessons-learned from this experience.

First, Thursday, May 25, was a beautiful sunny day.  I was parked at Minooka Park campground on Wilson Lake in Kansas.  Check my post a couple of days ago, but I had a fantastically beautiful camping spot at the end of a peninsula, about 20 feet above the lake:

Just before sunset, I noticed dark clouds gathering to the northwest.  I have an app on my phone for weather and radar.  Weather showed a 30% chance of rain that evening and radar showed the storm path to our north.  I kept checking because those clouds over the lake really looked nasty. 

Around 9:45 pm, I could hear thunder, so checked the weather and radar again.  Now, the chance of rain had changed to 100% and the radar showed the storm practically upon us.  There was also a severe storm warning with winds of 40 mph, gusting to 60-70 mph, except now the storm was practically on top of us. 

I had nothing outside, and my bike was lashed down because I was leaving in the morning.  I wondered about my neighbors who had been having a campfire with a lot of stuff spread around.  However, there was no tornado warning, and no siren or the usual knocking on doors by camp hosts asking us all to go to the restroom shelter.  There really was no time for anything. 

Anyway, the wind hit us almost immediately.  I have been in storms where my motorhome rocks and rolls, but this time my whole motorhome started shaking and I could hear things outside banging and my slide awnings flapping loudly.  I grabbed my keys and started the engine and headed quickly back to hit the buttons to put the slides in.  My motorhome was rocking so badly, I could hardly walk.  Putting the slides in helped, but I should have done it much earlier.  

Of course, at this inopportune time I had to make a quick bathroom trip!  When I got to the back of my motorhome, I noticed that rain was blowing under the slide and flooding the hall rug, bathroom rug, and the carpeting in my bedroom.  I grabbed a handful of towels and threw them down.  As I headed back to my living area, I noticed that rain was also coming in through my closed and locked window on the side the wind was coming from.  My mobile hotspot jetpack that was sitting on a bookcase near the window was getting wet, as was my cell phone.  I grabbed the jetpack and put it on a lower shelf.   

Next, I grabbed my cell phone and purse, put my jacket on, and buckled myself into my driver's seat.  I figured that was the safest place in case my RV rolled over.  (Luckily a C-Class motorhome has an automotive-type cab that is surrounded by metal on top and sides.)  I could not see anything outside, even with the lightning.  

Here are two captures I took of the screen of my cell phone radar app.  The blue dot is where I was located.  Note the purple in the center of the red in the enlargement. (Ignore the purple pin.)

It only took maybe 10 minutes for the storm noise to lessen a little.  The campground power was now off, but I had battery power so all my lights were still on.  When the rain was mostly stopped, I put on a raincoat, grabbed my best flashlight and went outside to check the damage.  Incredibly, everything looked OK.  One compartment door was open which was probably the cause of the banging sound, so I closed and locked it.  I came inside and put the slides back out for the rest of the evening.  Went to bed and power came back on about 1:00 am. 

The next morning, I did notice a 6" tear in one slide awning, but it is rolled up when the slide is closed, so it will be fine driving until I can get it repaired.  The bike was still covered.  The weather news reported that there were 60-70 mph "straight line" winds over Wilson Lake and that we had had 1.9" of rain in that one hour, which is amazing!  One of my neighbors stopped by as I was getting ready to leave to see if I had survived.  Funny thing was that he was camping with his 14-year-old daughter who had slept through the whole thing, even when he put the slide in that she was sleeping on!

I did not take time to drive around looking for damage, but the camp host stopped by the dump station to chat and told me one trailer rotated 90 degrees and several 5th wheel trailers got pushed off their jacks.  Someone else had lost an awning and a lot of chairs and belongings were blown around.  (He had not checked on any people in tents, other than he noticed they had all packed up and left--duh!)  He also told me that his big 5th wheel was chained to eye-bolts in the concrete of the pad he was camped on!   

Anyway, I do not want that exciting of an evening again soon! 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

5/23 Storage in an RV

One of the positive things about a motorhome over a trailer is that you tend to have more storage space.  The manufacturers stuff storage cabinets into every bit of space they can.  Not only do I have a lot of inside cabinets in places such as over the couch, over my recliner, under my bed, over the end of my bed, and in the hallway, but I also have outside storage.  Outside storage consists of spaces behind lockable doors and in pass-throughs which I use for long things like ladders for the bunks and brooms, brushes, and a small step ladder, plus my outdoor folding chairs.

I posted a few days ago about how stuff moved around as you drove and went over hills and bumps.  Inside my motor home, things move around.  In the outside storage areas, things tend to get wet and mildew after truck washes or driving rain, in spite of the storage areas supposedly being sealed with rubber strips.  

So here is a small sampling of photos showing how I store things so they don't fall out or fall over and spill.  First, here are some photos of inside storage. (Please, no comments on my food!)  

My refrigerator looks bigger than it is, but it is only about 7 cubic feet.  The freezer is another 1.5 cubic feet.  Note that everything is in a container with a lid or screw top or in a plastic zipper bag.  The shelves are turned so that the ridge around them sticks up a tiny bit and helps to keep things from sliding off shelves.  In addition, I have adjustable curtain rods to help corral food.  Regardless, when you open the door, you never know what will fall out. 

The fins in the back are typical of propane adsorption refrigerators. I have to defrost them with a hair dryer every couple of months. The water drains down a shelf and outside.  What is neat about RV refrigerators is that most work on both propane and electricity, and they change over automatically if you set them on automatic.  So, wherever I am, parked or driving, my refrigerator and its separate freezer is keeping everything cold! 

In my hallway, I have two 6" deep cabinets that are called "pantries."  Each has one shelf halfway up. When I first got my motorhome, I was constantly picking up stuff from the floor because the doors would open as I drove.  I got some shelf railing from the hardware, stained it to match and glued and had my son screw it to the shelves to keep stuff in.  The two taller containers on the left of the lower shelf are my sugar and flour canisters.  I do a lot of baking and cooking, so I keep the standard baking stuff you have in your own home.  I did not take photos of the matching lower cabinet because it was messier! 

This is one of two long cabinets over my couch.  The one on the left (not shown) keeps my dish towels and dishcloths, plus my electronic cords and chargers in two plastic boxes.  This one on the right has all of my maps and some travel and bird books I use periodically. It is hard to see, but everything is in three clear plastic, open-front bins.  Makes it easy to see stuff and reach it.  I keep extra pens and my stapler here, also.

This is one of my kitchen cabinets over my sink.  I have added a wire rack to make another shelf.  Note the clever use on a spatula to keep my paper plates and paper bowls from sliding out!  Also, I keep my sugar dispenser in a plastic container ever since it fell on the floor and made a mess.  Hidden on the lower shelf in the back is the set of Corelle dishes I got for my motorhome and almost never use!  

This side of the cabinet over my sink also has a wire rack to make a second shelf.  I use another clear plastic bin to hold my water bottles and lids.  I like these better than glasses because they do not spill.  I wish there was a better solution for storing them, however, because they are hard to reach and the lids get all mixed up.  It would also be easier, I suppose, if I were about 4" taller.

This is a cabinet on the other side of my main living area next to the entrance door. I have more of the clear plastic open-front bins here and keep everything needed for going outdoors--wipes, bug spray, folding water bottles, mosquito net hats, sun screen, nylon carry bags, etc.  

Even cleaning stuff under my kitchen sink has to be contained in plastic bins. Otherwise, it would fall over and possibly spill.  The floor of this cabinet has non-skid shelf plastic.  The empty spot is where my small wastebasket goes. 

Fits just perfectly!  

Now for the outside!  This storage area has a pass-through to the opposite side. On the right, you can see my water filter with the water pump behind it.  The water filter drips water, so I keep an old bread tin under it and have to empty it about once a week.  The rest of the stuff in boxes is receipts and warranties, original software packages and some electronics, and my sand collection in small bottles from beaches I have been on.  The white thing on the left wrapped in several layers of plastic is the extra foam for the big bunk to make the bed more comfortable when I have guests. 

This storage area is not connected to anything else, so I keep extra clothing and winter things, plus my old, broken laptop I want to get fixed someday.  Unfortunately, this is the one bin that leaks during rain and truck washes, so everything is carefully wrapped up, including my carry-on suitcase, which is on the right and wrapped in thick garbage bags. 

I tried to add rubber weather stripping to this area, but it did no good.  Last week i pulled things out and found 3/4 of an inch of water!  Got it all out with some rags, but I am goiing to at least drill some holes in the bottom so when water gets in, it can drain out.   

The next two photos show the area where I store chemicals and cleaning stuff, plus my clean water hoses. I keep Chlorox wipes for washing my hands after dumping my tanks.  The white box is touch-up paint.  The sewer hoses on the right are brand new, so OK to store it here in this "clean" area. (The compartment next door is where my sewer hookups are located, so it is "dirty" because I store the sewer hose here when not in use.)  I have a couple of extra quarts of oil in this compartment also. 

This is the other side of that same storage area.  The big plastic box has a blue and grey collapsible bucket.  The white and blue hoses are used only for hooking up to city drinking water connections or filling my water tanks.  The green hose is for flushing my black water tank, but it is clean so kept here.  Under all the hoses is an extra 25' long 30 amp electrical cord and some connections for attaching my 30 amps to 20 amps and to 50 amps, if I need to.  The blue canister in the front is an external water filter for places where the water is really bad and the whole-house inside filter might need help filtering water.  There are two new rolls of shop towels on the far right. 

Opposite the storage area where I keep water hoses and electrical cords are two plastic bins.  One contains camping things like table cloths, charcoal, grill covers, and fire starter.  The other contains repair stuff like rolls of rubber sealant tape, extra velcro, and a tiny, cheap battery-operated drill and a few bits.  I keep a collection of old screwdrivers, pliers, and a hammer in my canvas tool bag.  

The boards in the back are for driving on to raise one or two wheels slightly since I don't have automatic levelers. I have two others which are under my right rear wheels right now.  They will go on top of the left plastic container when I am done using them.  The whisk broom is for brushing the dirt off of them.
I have another storage area where I keep a small vacuum cleaner and my bike bag and helmet.  I also carry a small air compressor for my bike tires in another storage area, along with a small carpet cleaner.  In a third area, I toss extra paper towel and things like chlorox bottles and bags of recycling I don't want to store inside.  

I haven't shown you where I keep my clothes, towels, bedding, and all the other junk you have to take with you when you full-time, but you can see that especially is a motorhome as large as mine (32'), you have a lot of storage.  About every six months, I try to go through each area and sort stuff out, tossing what I no longer need or use. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

5/21 Drive to Minooka Park, Wilson Lake, KS

Minooka Recreation Area is a Corps of Engineering campground along Wilson Lake in central Kansas.  When I can, I nearly always choose Corps of Engineering campgrounds because they nearly always are well-maintained and have paved roads and camp sites with electric and often water.  They are also mostly on reservoirs because building reservoirs is what the Corps does!

I had spent six days at Bloomington East, near Lawrence, KS, but took hardly any photos because the weather was lousy and because I got involved with other stuff.  Anyway, this morning I took off for my next stop, Minooka Park in central Kansas.  Along the drive, the landscape changed from farmland to prairie, although everything was still green. Overall, it was a pretty drive.

One interesting thing I noticed along the freeway was groups of people waving flags from overpasses.  Except, strangely, they were only only on the eastbound side so I could not read their signs.  Then at least a mile or more of motorcycles can roaring by--this is just a small sample.  Mostly, they were riding two abreast and waving as they went past.  (It did not seem very safe to be riding at 60+ MPH and driving with one hand.)  It turned out that they were part of "Run for the Wall" and headed to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC.  They will arrive in DC on Memorial Day.  Check them out here:

It was nice to get off the freeway and head to the campground. 

Isn't this a pretty little valley?

There is a small part of Wilson Lake in the distance.  The campground is over to the right, against the lake. 

When I first saw these "fence posts" I thought they were freshly cut logs. 

In reality, they are chunks of logs!  I am driving over to the visitor center near the dam in a couple of days and will ask someone why they are using rock instead of wood for fences.  Can you see the barbed wire they are holding up?

Ah, what a gorgeous campsite.  Not only is it huge, but nicely kept gravel with a fantastic view over the lake. 

I like open campgrounds.  Not only can I get better satellite, but I enjoy the distant views. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

5/14 Arrow Rock Historic State Park, MO

I had made reservations for two nights at this state park because it was supposed to have a lot of little shops and demonstrations going on.  It is a small town founded in the early 1800s when the Missouri River ran past the area.  That made it an important port city for people heading up or down the Missouri River.  The entire small village is now a National Historic Landmark because it was also the place on the river where travelers crossed to begin their journeys on the Santa Fe Trail.  Two fires, the changing path of the Missouri River, and the advent of railroads caused the town to decline economically.   

It sounded like an interesting place, but I discovered when I arrived that their season did not really begin until Memorial Day, so most of the buildings were closed.  It was a beautiful day and was able to take a tram tour--as the only passenger--so I learned a lot of the history anyway, but it was disappointing to find the place so deserted. 

In any case, here are some photos I took while there.  I parked at the visitor center parking lot and walked across the walkway to the town.   

 I found this small turtle trying to find his way across the path.  I looked him up and he/she is an ornate box turtle.

Here are some signs describing the town:

One of the interesting things about this town were the sidewalks and the original rock draining ditches along the street.

Some of the buildings that were reconstructed in the mid-1800s after the second fire.  Notice that little walkway bridges over the stone gutters. 

I could not resist taking a photo of this almost-two-year-old Great Dane puppy who was still trying to be a lapdog!  The humans gave me permission to take this photo. 

Some of the buildings in the town.   Most have had substantial renovations to replace roofs and things like windows. 

This sign describes the grey home in the next photo. Note that it is a private residence.  In fact, many of the stores on the main street have living space above and there are some more modern (early 1900s) in the town that existed before it was made into a state park, so 56 people live in town. 


This used to be an old church, but now it has summer musicals which attract a lot of people. 

Since it was only 1:00 pm when I was done and the campsite I had was in the woods, meaning no satellite TV, I decided to abandon it and head farther west to my next stop near Lawrence, KS.  I had reservations for the next six days and knew the campground would be empty on a Sunday, so off I went!  Sunday night is one of my favorite nights for TV!