Drilling Crew Out and Frack Crew In

As I have mentioned before, different teams of subcontractors complete different phases of an oilfield project, and when those teams switch out it can be a bit chaotic.  We have heard lots of people talk about the frack phase in particular but up until this point we have not experienced a full switch, having been brought in or left mid phase on both of the other gates we’ve worked. All I can say is it is crazy busy.  The volume has jumped astronomically and we are both busy on our shifts. What can be particularly challenging is when big equipment is leaving and coming in at the same time, and although this was somewhat staggered we did have a couple of instances where we had big rig traffic coming in and out at the same time, which can be tricky.  I kind of enjoy the challenge to be honest because I get to be bossy to my heart’s content, but if it’s busy (I had one 30 minute period where 15 trucks came in and 10 left for example) I do get a little harried.

Here’s an example of big traffic coming in and going out. These drivers are REALLY good though

Thankfully the drivers are all really good about following directions and the rule that incoming traffic always has the right of way does seem to be universally understood.  Our main goal is to keep people off the road, which requires some quick thinking when there is a line of trucks.  First and foremost all we do in those situations is get the plate number and if possible the company.  We wave them through and write really fast so we can mainly keep traffic in continuous flow.  One thing that suffers is the paperwork.  I have a teeny bit of dyslexia and on occasion my numbers get jumbled, but the company man was very clear.  The priority is always safety, and trucks sitting still on the main road is not safe.

The scope of these moves is hard to explain, although one anecdote may help.  At 1am I talked to some guys who went to Mcdonald’s and the 40 cheeseburgers they ordered really ticked off the night crew.  There are tons of people coming and going all day and night and for Lee in particular it’s been super busy.  I’ll just share some more pictures with you so you can get a feel for things, but the main point is sometimes there is no downtime in this job.  That’s important to know if you are thinking about trying it.

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Even with the pavement we get some dust from these big guys

You can see me for scale. These things are huge

 

 

Here’s me being bossy lol. I thought I looked more intimidating than this 🙂

You can see the incoming truck for scale . This one was crazy big

 

Lee looking official

I have no idea what most of these things do, Lee think most of it was designed from Dr. Seuss drawings.

 

 

I will on occasion get out in the middle of the road but for obvious reasons try to keep that to a minimum.  If you are wondering why I don’t have my vest on, it’s a bee magnet.  We have set out bee traps but in the meantime any bright colors and they land right on you. So Deb no gate guarding for you.





The biggest bummer of the whole thing for me was they actually took the drill tower down after dark.  I really wanted to see that and take some pictures, but it all happened late with just floodlights on the area, which honestly surprised me.  I guess I thought they would have waited until daylight. Here’s the last picture I got of the drill towards dusk.

 

We did have a beautiful full moon though that was orange when it was close to the horizon but got white as it got higher in the sky.  There was also a lunar eclipse but we missed it since it was cloudy in the morning.

And last pic is one of the hawks in the field.  They have been around less with all the hoopla…or maybe I just don’t have time to notice them, but I got this cool picture of a red-shouldered hawk, which was a first for that bird for me.

 

 

So it was a crazy few days, but I am thankful to say that things have calmed down quite a bit.  We haven’t started the frack process yet, and expect some steady traffic through that, but for now the major big equipment moves all seem to be done.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

It’s All About the Layout

When I look back on all the decisions we have made as full timers, I definitely believe our decision to buy our particular RV was the best one.  Fours years after our purchase we are still really happy with our choice, and I thought I would write a little bit about that for those folks who are in the planning stage, or maybe thinking about purchasing a new rig.  I want to preface this post by saying that I am not promoting any particular type.  The discussions about what is “best” are numerous on the internet, and I personally I think most of those dialogues miss the point.  You won’t find an answer to “Class A versus fifth wheel?” in this post.  (The answer is: 5th wheel. – Lee) And I won’t be delving into new versus used.  (New. – Lee) My take on it is: buy what you can afford and like, and everything else is secondary.  So in that spirit, here are some things I believe you should keep in mind when making your selection.

Layout, Layout, Layout

More than any other factor I believe the layout of the livable space should drive your choice.  You might have the fanciest RV on the planet, or the most structurally sound, but if you can’t walk around in the interior space and feel comfortable, what’s the point? If your RV is someplace you hang out in part-time this may be less of an issue, but for those of us who live in these spaces full time, it’s a very big deal.  Especially because as much as you might think you will be outside most of the time (and we definitely thought that), for most people I know that is really not the case.  For one thing, no matter how much you like to chase the beautiful weather there are still cold/rainy days, and for another you still need a space to take care of life stuff, and you should think about those types of activities when looking at your floor plan. Where will I pay my bills, cook my meals, get dressed in the morning, or take a shower?  (My recommendations, in that order, are: At a desk, in the kitchen, someplace we can’t see, in the bathroom. This really isn’t as complicated as she’s making it sound. – Lee) These are all activities that will happen most days (Most days? I prefer you take a shower every day, even if I don’t. Otherwise you smell funky. – Lee)  and if you are fighting the space it will make them less pleasant.

Along those lines I would also think about the types of indoor activities you like to do for fun and what that looks like in the space.  If you spend a ton of time on the computer, think about desk space.  Like to watch TV? Where will you be sitting, and how big is the screen? Love to craft? Will you have enough space to work in? You get my point.  You should also think about how much you want to entertain, or have people come and stay with you.  What does the space look like with four people in it, or six or ten?  Trust me it is MUCH different than with two, and you should think that through before buying, unless you aren’t planning on having many people inside, in which case don’t worry about it.

Finally, please keep in mind that as nice as our “luxury condos on wheels” are, under the wrong circumstances it can be a very small space.  We are currently living in 400 square feet, and although most of the time that works just fine, there are days where we are just getting on each other’s nerves, and everything feels tight and cramped. Being able to sit outside absolutely helps in those cases and also using the bedroom as a separate place to hang out during the day.  Thankfully those days aren’t the norm, but they do happen, and that was absolutely a major factor when we bought our rig.

Storage

Everything is a trade off in an RV, and as much as many of us strive for a minimalist lifestyle we all still have stuff.  And you really need to think about where that stuff will go.  Clothes, dry goods (including spices), pots and pans, etc are all items that have to go somewhere, and there are limits to what people are willing to go without.  The same goes for the items that can fit in your basement, so try to be realistic about what you can bring with you.  Cabinet space is key here, because although you can get creative with capturing unused space or adding new cabinets, to a large extent you are stuck with what you buy.  Think about where specific things will go, and take that into account when making your purchase.

When it comes to this topic you also have to think about weight.  Most full timers are really good at fitting a ton of stuff into a pretty small space, but almost all of us (in fifth wheels at least) struggle with being slightly overweight.  Each RV has specific ratings and just because you can find the space for an item you can’t necessarily take on the additional weight. In all fairness this one is really tough during the buying process, because folks generally don’t know how much their stuff weighs.  My take on this was to get as much storage space as I could without giving up the layout I wanted.  Speaking of which, I wanted to specifically mention outside TVs/kitchens here.  I know some people love them, which of course is fine, but many people have them in their RV and never use them.  That space has to come from somewhere, and giving up that much room for features that you might rarely use is something to think about. Most RV’s are designed for the weekend user/tailgater and some really cool features have limited appeal for a full timer.  Again, some folks love their outside TV’s and use them frequently, but we intentionally chose a model that didn’t have that feature because we knew we would never use it. Just something to think about.

Driveable vs Towable

I think most people make this decision first (we certainly did) and then move on from there, but in retrospect I don’t recommend that.  We know people who live happily in all kinds of RV’s and many who have live in multiple kinds.  There are offsetting pluses and minuses to each kind, and unless you have a very specific reason to prefer one over the other I would look at layout and storage first and then decide. During our original search I completely rejected Class A’s early on because they felt claustrophobic to me but have since been in several that I think I could definitely live in. Given our budget it is unlikely that we would have chosen something different, but I wish we had spent more time looking at them because who knows. (On the flip side, I desperately wanted a Class A when we started talking about this, but as soon as I started looking at them I completely changed my mind. I haven’t been inside one yet that I personally would be willing to live in. – Lee)

What I am cautioning against here is saying in your mind I absolutely have to have one or the other, especially if you are making that decision because you like someone else’s rig.  That’s human nature of course to see something someone else has and want it, but wanting something and living with it are two different things.  As much as possible, go into your choice with a blank slate, which I know can be tough, especially if you have lots of RVing experience. And I am not saying ignore what you know about yourself from previous camping, but recognize that casual use and living full time are two different things.  This was the one area where I actually think our lack of knowledge was a huge benefit.  But even with minimal experience, I closed my mind off to certain options early on and in retrospect that changed things.

Manufacturer

Lee might put this as the number one thing to look at, and in all fairness the two items above don’t mean anything if you don’t have a solid foundation, but I am not 100% sure a truly solid foundation exists.  All RV’s have issues and few of them hold up to the amount of use full timers put them through.  Whether you bought a used RV for $10K or a $250K version sooner or later you are going to have a mechanical failure.  If you are a handy person, you should definitely think about whether or not you can work on your own RV and what that looks like, but if you can’t then you should think about the manufacturer.  The problem is the RV industry is in constant flux and companies frequently go out of business or are bought out.  We personally know someone who was having a new rig built and during the build the company was bought out and a whole new crew came in and that had an actual impact on the build of their rig, and we know another person who owned a rig and the company went out of business two years later. Our original manufacturer, Open Range is now owned by Heartland Ridge and we have seen a difference in customer service since that happened.

Even if the company stays under the same ownership they won’t necessarily be helpful after the two year manufacturer’s warranty expires.  We had a suspension problem issue 10 days after ours expired and were flat out told we were out of luck.  This is where an extended warranty can be very beneficial, and I highly recommend one, but then of course you are trying to find good service centers while traveling, which for us at least has been a challenge.  My point here is many people seem to care about the name brand on the rig and that’s fine, but I wouldn’t give up layout or storage to get a specific manufacturer.  That’s just me though, as there are folks who swear by specific brands and if that really matters to you, fair enough.  Just please don’t think that will solve everything.

I would also add here to not be afraid of used.  We decided pretty early that we wanted something new and if we had to do it again I am not sure I would go that route.  We have met several people who bought wonderful “gently used” rigs and I think it would be fun to remodel one to my own specifications.  Yes, you run the risk of buying someone else’s problems, but since we stipulated all RV’s have issues, at least you theoretically have all the money you saved to address them when they occur. (I do not agree with this. While it’s possible to go over a used rig with a fine toothed comb to suss out any potential issues, for me I would never be comfortable with something used, no matter how gently. I would always be waiting for something to go wrong.  Also, other’s people cooties will be all over everything. – Lee)

Colors/Wood Tone

I know this is largely cosmetic, but it also the first thing you notice when you walk into someone else’s rig.  The wood tone/colors do matter, especially in a living space.  Darker tones can make the small space feel oppressive (at least to me) and lighter tones may not hold up well to extended use.  To this day one of my favorite parts of my rig is the color of the wood and that more than anything else makes the space feel warm and homey.

Along these lines accent colors and wallpaper are also a factor.  If you are talented you can change those things with time and money, but most of us live with what we originally purchased with perhaps some minor changes.  Keeping that in mind be very careful about bold colors.  Short term it might be fun, but can you live with it over the long haul? I would also add the color of the furniture to this category because in this small space the furniture really stands out. You might have a really cute couch that completely matches for example, but is it comfortable?  Going back to layout, if it looks great but you never want to sit on it, at some point you will probably want to change the furniture out.  When/if that happens will you be able to match the colors or will the color scheme continue to work without those accents.  Again, things to think about, and although in a perfect world we would have both, I would pick function over style every time.

Bells and Whistles

The last category are all the cute little features that we all love.  It’s tough because when you are looking for an RV these little touches really matter, but I would never pick a rig just for one little feature.  You may love that walk-in closet, pantry,  dishwasher, washer/dryer, bathtub, etc, but if the rest of the rig doesn’t work overall you aren’t likely to be happy.  As exciting as the whole process is, try to think about the mundane and practical.  It’s not as fun, but you will be happier for it in the long run. (My approach to things like this is ignore the “shiny”, you can appreciate it later, and besides shiny wears off eventually. Look for what sucks. If you can live with what sucks, you’ll be fine. This goes for rigs, cars, dogs, houses, spouses. It covers everything. – Lee) 

So these are my thoughts on the subject.  Despite everything I just said, buy what you want.  It’s your life and you have the right to live it however you want.  (If you screw it up and make a bad decision, we will all laugh and point. – Lee) But these are a few things to think about during the process, and if it helps in the long term it was worth taking some time to write it all up. I’ve been hesitant to even come close to this issue because folks do have pretty strong feelings about it, but new year and new rules, so I thought I would give it a shot.  As always, your mileage will definitely vary, and this is all just one person’s opinion..well two people’s if Lee chimes in! (As always, I feel I have brought a certain level of somber thoughtfulness and gravitas to the discussion. – Lee)


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time Calling 911 on the Road

I hate “click-bait” titles, but it truly was the first time I have called 911 since we have been on the road.  Everyone is fine, and I am happy to report my phone sent me to the right dispatcher, but I am going to get into the details at the end of the post.  In order to keep events in chronological order (which is not surprisingly important to me), first  I need to catch you up on how we are settling in at our new gate.  This gate is by far our favorite location.    The best feature is that the ranch road in front of our rig is paved, which has made a tremendous impact on keeping the dust down, and we are less than ten minutes away from a very nice Super Wal-Mart and HEB grocery. Actually the town of Kenedy is very nice in general, and I’ll be doing a post on that in a few days.  What else?  Well, the people have been great, and I am really enjoying working with the folks from Encana, the oil company that is overseeing the site.  One of the things I am most impressed by is how many young women they have working for them.  Not surprisingly women are somewhat scarce in these jobs, which is a shame because these jobs pay well.  I have met several young women working on this rig however, and am impressed by a company that would hire them, and foster an atmosphere where they seem pretty happy.  You can tell quite a bit about how well things are going by the attitude of the people who you check them in, and despite the fact that there have been some issues most of the people have a smile and a positive attitude, which I certainly appreciate.

We also like the fact that it is close to our friends Cori and Greg and although I can’t just jump in the car and drive up there , I was able to make the 1-1/2 hour trip for Championship Sunday. (SPORTSBALL! -Lee)  Cori and I both love football, and for the first time our teams, the Patriots and the Eagles,  were both playing in championship games.  Lee was kind enough to say he would cover for me while I made the trip as long as I brought back some a lot of the brisket they made for game day.  Actually what he said was “Don’t bother coming home without the brisket” which I dutifully reported to Cori 🙂  She in turn loaded me up with not only brisket but leftover pork and shredded pork and he had food to last for several days.  Cori is great that way.

Lee eating his brisket! He’s a little tired because he had to stay up late the night before covering for me.

 

Look at this pretty brisket Greg made. It tasted as good as it looked. Super moist.

I enjoyed both games but ended up leaving at half time on the Eagles game because I was a little concerned about driving back in the dark.  The route is largely country roads and of course there are tons of deer in this part of Texas.  Everything turned out just fine and I was even able to listen to the end of the game on AM radio.  It’s been years since I listened to a game in my car, and it took some mental adjustment, but I was happy that the Eagles won because now we get to face each other in the Superbowl!!!  This is the first time these teams have met in the big game since Cori and I have been friends, and how special that we can be together for that.  It won’t just be us either because Kelly and Bill and Linda and Steve are driving in in time for the game so we are going to have a big party!  Very exciting. (I will happily stay here and do the actual work, because I don’t care about Sportsball. I’m very excited to find out what everyone eats though. I hope it’s more brisket. Or Bill’s Legendary Wings™. That would be awesome. I would cheerfully listen to a brief recap of the game while eating some of Bill’s Legendary Wings™. – Lee)

The one downside is Lee won’t be able to come, well, he could if we asked for relief, but he’s not a huge fan of sportsball as he calls it.  I think he actually likes the time he is alone in the rig so that’s probably the best anniversary present I could give him.  Oh, I didn’t mention that?  Yep, it’s our 29th wedding anniversary and only the 2nd time the Superbowl has fallen on that particular day.  True love though is letting the people you love do what makes them happy, and Lee didn’t even blink about what day it was.  I did feel guilty for a few minutes, but since this the year of getting rid of useless emotion I squelched it and we are both totally fine with how it turned out.  As much as our paths cross when we travel, these special occasion opportunities are rare, and we always need to make the best of them. (For what it’s worth, while I will certainly take the credit for being an awesome husband by letting her go to watch the Sportsbowl with friends and leaving me here to fend for myself all alone and tragic on our anniversary, the truth is I am just not one of those people that gets stuck on special dates. I get that an anniversary is a big deal, but I tend to think about those milestones all the time, as opposed to just once a year. I feel the same way about birthdays and other holidays. I appreciate things when they occur to me. This has led to some hurt feelings in my life, and sometimes people don’t get it, but I celebrate people and things more frequently that way. Also, the alone time will be nice. I can and will dance around in my underwear, which would be unwelcome behavior at a Sportsbowl gathering. So now you’ve got that image in your head. You’re welcome.- Lee)

OK, back to the gate.  As I said, things are going well and I was very pleased by how easily I have settled back into night shift.  The weather has been really good, which helps quite a bit, and since the Frack hasn’t started yet it’s been relatively slow.  We are both taking advantage of the free time to work on some projects.  Lee as you have seen has been doing upgrades and writing blog posts about them, and he has also done several minor maintenance tasks like replacing the dryer vent hose on our Splendide washer and dryer.  And in case you were wondering, we did take a moment and talk about how much all these repairs were costing us, but Lee had a great point about that.  We have an annual maintenance budget, but he rarely has the time or energy to make these repairs when we are traveling or working full time, so although the budget might be over in the beginning of the year it should even out over the long haul. And speaking of the washer, we use ours all of the time.  It takes some creativity to dry items once in awhile, but we really like it.

Because the Splendide doesn’t push air as hard as a regular dryer and there’s no lint trap, the hose gets full  of lint pretty quick. They really should be replaced twice a year, but Lee is currently doing it annually.

 

Lee’s drying the sheets using a fan which I thought was super smart. Plus the bedroom smelled great when it was done.

(You can also see in the picture above some light coming in the windows. I had used two layers of heavy duty black lawn and leaf bags to completely cover and black out the windows so Trace can sleep during the day, but today was a pretty humid day and we both noticed it was really stuffy in there and needed some fresh air. So I took down the plastic on the smaller windows on either side of the bed  and cut them to fit the glass instead of just covering the entire window and frame, so now we can open those windows when nobody is sleeping and let some air in. We’ll see tomorrow if any light leaks around the edges. And do you know what sticks really well to everything in the world and peels right off with no trouble and leaves no residue and is also black and blocks light and can be easily torn with just your fingers? Gaff tape – Lee)

I’m spending my time with a variety of things.  Every night I am spending an hour watching a presentation on a project management topic to earn professional development units for my PMI certification.  I have 11 hours left of training to do before May and should have no trouble getting that done while we are here.  I have also been putting all the recipes I have been collecting into my recipe template.  I use a program called Bookwright for my publishing and although I have been collecting recipes and pictures all year, I haven’t had the time to get them in the program. I’ve also starting trying some new recipes. The first one was a major hit and is definitely going in the new recipe book.  It was rice noodles with a peanut oil scallion sauce and pork marinated in fish sauce, onions, and pepper.  Lee absolutely loved it and said I could make it any time and I was thrilled by how easy it was.  Usually Asian food is a bit of a challenge but this was simple and flavorful which definitely is a win. (Normally I try to stop eating when I’m comfortably full, but this stuff was so good I ate way more of it than I should have, to the point where I was uncomfortably full, but it was worth it. I don’t know it’s called, but it should be called Tracy’s Vietnamese Pork and Noodle Crack.® – Lee) 

 

 

Speaking of cooking, I have been watching some TV during the wee hours, and enjoying old episodes of Top Chef for both the inspiration and entertainment value.  On the recommendation of my daughter Kyrston, I also started a new show called Travelers. The premise of the show is people from the future come into the bodies of modern day people at the moment of their death and then use those bodies to try an avert the catastrophe that almost wiped out the human race.  The premise is great and the show is really, really good and I am completely absorbed by it, which is cool because it helps the 2am -4am time slot pass by quickly.

What I haven’t found the energy to do is work on my book.  I completed an edit on the first three chapters at the other gate, but am having a hard time getting motivated here.  Part of the problem is I seem to have less mental energy late at night and I really do need uninterrupted time to work on that so Lee needs to be asleep or out of the rig.  When I am writing the blog he is pretty good at giving me space, but even if he doesn’t it generally isn’t a huge deal.  Working on the book requires a higher level of focus and I am struggling with it a bit.  I’m committed to finishing , so no worries there, but if you are wondering what my progress is,  that’s where I am. They say writing is really rewriting, and it turns out I am not such a fan.  These “stream of consciousness” blogs are largely fun to write and since Lee does the proofreading I rarely feel I need to re-read them.  Before having him look at the book however I need to at least do a second pass and that is not as much fun.  I find myself second-guessing myself frequently and rewriting huge sections, and I am not sure if that will create a better or worse end product.  It’s important for me to figure this out, because if I want to write a fictional book in the future (a dream of mine), I need to figure out what process works for me.

We’ve also been playing around with what our new Amazon Echo Dot can do. We know there is a ton of functionality, but you have to dig a little on the internet to figure out what it can do.  Luckily we bought one for each of our daughters for Christmas, so we have lots of people researching and we are trying to incorporate using her into our lives.  Certainly it is an easy way to check the weather, “Alexa what is the weather forecast?” and I really like getting quick answers when cooking “Alexa how many sticks of butter are in a quarter cup?” but we wanted more.  One of our struggles is always maintaining an ongoing  grocery list, but Lee discovered an app called “Our Groceries” which works with Alexa. Either one of us can say “Alexa, Ask Our Groceries to add…”  then the item and it goes to a categorizeable list on Lee’s phone.  The coolest part is once you set a category (ie: produce, meat etc) for an item it remembers it going forward and this way when one of us goes to the grocery store the list is already groups by area of the store rather than being a hodge podge.  Very cool, and highly recommend using this feature.

Couple more random things.  I hope you guys don’t find these catch up posts annoying, but I take pictures as things happen and want to get them in.  Since I am not writing daily about work this one is a bit of a hodge podge.  When Lee cleaned out our storage unit he found this little wooden sign that we have had for around 20 years.  I am not sure why we didn’t bring it, but it’s perfect for the camper, and in spite of it’s age is in great shape.  He did take it apart and polyurethane all the pieces and I found a spot for it upfront on the hitch so it will get some protection from the elements.

This makes me happy. Old life and new life merge.

And the cows come around every couple of days or so. We do try to shoo them away from getting to close to the rig, but they hang out right in the road when they feel like it

And finally, onto the 911 call.  Kat and Bert came down to visit us, which was incredibly sweet, since it was an hour and a half drive each way.  I had gotten their permission to be my guinea pigs for a new recipe I wanted to try and we were really looking forward to seeing them.  The only downside was the gate traffic, which had been slow to this point, had really ramped up, so Lee and I took turns running outside to check log in and out.  We were actually in a slow period when we all heard a loud crunch through our closed double paned windows and ran outside.

A car was flipped over in a ditch and Lee, Kat, and Bert ran towards the accident.  I hung back and called 911, completely unsure as to what would happen.  I had heard that sometimes the calls weren’t routed properly, but the call was immediately answered by a dispatcher who said, “911 Kenedy, Texas”.  Since that is the town just three miles away I confirmed that information and then struggled to tell them where we are.  There is no address here, but thankfully the maps feature on my GPS had a “close to” address and I gave that to them which allowed them to find us.

While I was calling, Lee, Kat,and Bert were talking to a young woman who was bleeding from scratches on her legs and laying on the ground.  She was obviously confused, kept asking people to not tell her Mom what happened, and it wasn’t clear how she got out of the car.  The sunroof glass was gone and since the car rolled over at least twice she could have been thrown out, but the miracle  of her being barely injured is hard to believe.  Lee said there was no sign the car door was open though and his focus was on getting her to stay still and lie on the ground when several other trucks stopped to see what happened.  In no time he had 5 people there, two of whom had first aid training, and Lee stepped back and let them take over.  I walked up, with the 911 dispatcher on the phone, because she wanted more information on the nature of the injuries.

At this point I realized there was someone else still in the vehicle and there were several men talking to him through the car.  The dispatcher had me relay to the people helping that EMT’s were on the way, and to not try to move anyone.  Lee did see the young man in the passenger seat and he was curled up and unconscious for awhile.  Ultimately he actually walked out of the car on his own, again a minor miracle considering the damage, and as far as we know both kids have only minor injuries.  Let me show you the car so you can see what we were all dealing with.

EMT’s on scene

 

Thank God for airbags because that is what protected the kid on the passenger side

 

Photos courtesy of Kat

 

At this point I continued to direct traffic, making sure trucks exited away from the accident and once Lee spoke to the Sheriff the three of them came back to the RV.  The Sheriff also came over to talk to us and ask who the land owner was because part of the fence was damaged.  We don’t actually know the name of the landowner at this location, but I did leave a voice mail for the saleswoman for our gate guard company.  I let the Sheriff know that no gate traffic in or out was happening at the time of the accident, and made that notation on our logs along with the time.  The Sheriff didn’t seem concerned about that though because it was clear she had been going very fast and blew a tire when she hit the culvert.  The skid marks (and grooves in the payment from her rims) told a pretty clear picture, and again everyone seemed surprised they were OK.

Update:  The father of the young woman stopped by to thank Lee for what he had done and we got an update.  Both of the young people were halo flown to San Antonio. The young man has a fracture in his neck, but because of where it is positioned it looks like long-term it will be ok.  The young woman has bruised ribs and some blood in her lungs, but she was released from the hospital today as well. It appears she did come out of the sun roof and it is an absolute miracle that she is alright.  The Dad was partially just grateful, but he was also trying to recreate the events, I am sure in case there is a lawsuit.  It’s a shame that’s the world we are living in, but I get his concern.  Especially because it’s not clear who was actually driving.  

Didn’t take long at all for the tow vehicle to take the car away

Despite the excitement, everyone was still hungry so I went ahead and started dinner.  I have tried to make chicken Marsala several times and it never turned out quite right, but when we were in Charlotte my son-in-law Jeremy made it for me and walked me through it.  My instructions were pretty detailed, but it was a ton of steps, but it turned out pretty good.  Not as good as his of course, but everyone seemed pretty happy and the greatest compliment was when Kat used her bread to sop up the sauce.

It didn’t look that refined but tasted yummy

 

Kat, Bert, and Lee.  Everyone had a clean plate!!

 

Have I mentioned I am a bit of a whirling dervish in the kitchen? The more complicated the recipe the worse the mess, so it’s pretty easy to see how hard this one was.

 

Oh, and one more thing. Bert made these mini apples pies which were really yummy. Don’t take my word for it though….

 

Check out Lee’s first bite lol

It was absolutely wonderful seeing them, but it was a little sad because they are heading back home to come off the road for a while in April.  Kat and Bert always knew they were going to try this for a year or two and then go on to their next “mini-life”.  They enjoy adventures, and are looking to see what’s on the next horizon for them.  I am just really happy that I got to know them and I’ll miss seeing them regularly on the road.  Yes, we absolutely plan to get together in Raleigh when we head back East, but I really have loved seeing them so much over the last couple of years.  They are great people and I feel really blessed to know them.  Love you guys, and thank you for your friendship and the laughter.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Fresh Water Tank Siphoning

Another guest post by Lee!

 

One of the odd little problems we have experienced with our rig is that when we fill the fresh water tank, water pours out of the overflow pex lines that stick out of the underbelly when it is full. Then when we turn off the fill water, the fresh water continues to flow from those pex lines and will continue until it stops, or until the fresh water tank is empty. Keep in mind this is not related to a full tank splashing water out while driving, it’s ONLY when filling the tank. Neat feature, huh? I poked around on the internet, and after getting distracted for hours by other unrelated but equally cool stuff, I have determined that it’s one of several problems. So let’s take a look at a typical fresh water tank so we know what we’re talking about! Here’s a picture.

As you can see, there is an inlet for filling with water, an outlet to the pump, a low point drain, and a vent. The vent allows air into the system when in use, otherwise a vacuum would exist, and the tank would collapse. When you fill the tank, and water reaches the vent level, it runs out the pex line at the vent.  Because the line opening is below the water level, it creates a siphoning effect which will continue until something breaks that effect, or prevents water from flowing out. This seems to be a common problem and there are lots of forum discussions about this issue, with various recommended solutions.  We first experienced it back in Quartzsite in 2015 and I installed a couple of push-on type quarter turn valves, similar to what you would see behind a toilet in a stick and bricks home. That allowed me to manually stop the water flow until the water level was low enough to break the siphon effect and I could reopen the valves.

UPDATE: A couple of folks have indicated they’d like a better explanation on how this phenomenon happens, so I am going to try it from a different angle. To begin with, in my attempt to locate a decent picture of a fresh water tank with labels for the various inlets and outlets, I chose one that doesn’t look like most fresh water tanks, and also doesn’t show the fact that the overflow line isn’t just attached to the tank, but actually goes inside the tank, and are often improperly installed or poorly designed so that they extend below the level of the fitting, sometimes by several inches. So there’s a more accurate representation of the tank itself, below this paragraph. In this picture, the 100 gallon tank is 81″ x 26″, and only 11″ tall. This is a crucial factor, because the vent hose goes in on the side, so it’s already BELOW the top of the water level if the tank is completely full. That’s how the siphoning gets started. Then, if the hose is improperly installed or poorly designed, and extends 3″ down, it’s maybe 4″ below the water line, which will allow 1/3 of the capacity to be siphoned out. Add to that the vacuum effect, because it’s a closed system, and it can pull down the center of the tank, which helps keep the siphoning going. Hopefully that makes more sense. The problem with my fix was that the valves were designed to sit in a house, behind a toilet, not bounce down the road, so the little handles fell off immediately. I bought another valve just for the handle, and kept it in my convenience compartment and just pushed it on when I needed to open or close the valves, and then took it off again and stored it. The problem with that fix was I could never remember if they were opened or closed, so I took to sticking a pen in the valve, and if it didn’t go far, I knew the valve was closed. If it slid in more than an inch, the valve was open. I’ve been doing this for over three years now. It’s funny what kind of weird things you get used to, even if they make no sense. Part of that is that we don’t boondock much, so we rarely use water from that tank.

When we got our Mor-Ryde suspension back in November my solution no longer worked. The pex lines come out of the underbelly, between the two axles, and I used to be able to just get down on one knee and reach under to them.  They were just behind the forward tire.

 

Now with the Mor-Ryde, the only way to get to them is to actually crawl underneath the rig on my back or side and reach up and around the new suspension components. Not ideal. Here’s a look at the view from underneath, and as you can see, the new suspension completely blocks the valves, which are the white plastic pieces attached to the red pex lines. The large mass of black steel to the right is where I used to be able to reach through.

And here’s a closer shot so you can see what I was using. The handles were not on, and I didn’t feel like crawling out to get them just for the picture. If he was really committed to this post he would have done that…just kidding hehehe – Trace

So, what I decided to do was extend the pex lines back to where the convenience center is, behind both sets of tires, and over to the driver’s side of the rig, so I could just reach down and open and close them easily. First I cut off the valves…

 

Then I added elbows and 5′ pex lines.

 

Where the pex lines crossed anything that could rub at them while in motion, I used a scrap of thin rubber to protect them, and zipped them together so they wouldn’t rub against each other or flap around in the wind.

 


Unfortunately, they didn’t reach to exactly where I wanted, but I didn’t want to buy 10′ of pex to use 7′, so I decided to live with the almost perfect location,  near the convenience center. I cut them back a little so I didn’t have to deal with the bracket for the rear jack, and offset them so I could easily reach the one on the inside.

Then it was just a matter of pushing on the new valves….

And wrapping and anchoring them.

Now they’re easy to reach, and I can open and close them with one hand.  I can also see from the position of the valve handle if they are open or closed. The whole process took about an hour, and cost around $36.00 with the parts I was able to buy at Home Depot.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I should have pointed out that this is NOT the best solution to this problem. It started out as a quick fix, and now I have just relocated my fix so I don’t have to crawl under the rig. If the valves are CLOSED and I fill up without opening them to allow the water to overflow, then I can rupture a fitting somewhere in the system, or my tank. If I forget to open the valves while using the pump, I can collapse my tank. The BEST solution is to have the vent higher than the top of the tank. However, if the siphoning gets started, that won’t solve the problem either, because of the vacuum. Some people have solved this problem by having the vent outlet higher than the tank, but of course then you have water spilling over inside the underbelly, which is not something I want. I’m also partly responsible for this, because I am using the fact that water starts flowing out as my “full” indicator. Otherwise I would have to keep running inside to check the water level indicator on the panel, and I don’t want to do that. For one thing, my panel only tells me water level in thirds, so “FULL” isn’t necessarily “FULL”. Also, I’d have to drop the stairs down and open the door, plus there’s all that running back and forth, which sounds dangerously close to exercise. In the past I have used my inline water meter to see how many gallons I have put in, but that only helps if I know I am starting with a completely empty tank, which I’m usually not. I think the real solution is a See Level system, with a remote display at the convenience center. Because it gives an extremely accurate reading, I can see what percentage the over flow begins, and the next time stop a few percent below that. And I also don’t mind remembering to open the valves, because to me the whole point is to be able to cram as much water as possible into the tank. 

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

 

 

 

Phases of Full Timing

I don’t want to speak for anyone else here, but when I look back on the last three years of full timing, there have been distinct phases to this lifestyle for us.  We may be different from many people in that respect who have a hard line between their old life and their new life and just jump right in, but for me it definitely has been an evolutionary journey.  And since I like to look forward to a new year with a goal in mind, I thought I would take a moment and try to recap the journey so far.  I have written extensively about this in various posts throughout the year, but it never hurts to summarize things a bit, plus I have all kinds of free time right now since I am working sitting around doing nothing all night gate guarding.

It is worth noting that I believe Lee has undergone a progression as well, but because our circumstances and personalities are different it is not the same as mine.  I hope he decides to jump in here and share a little  (I may actually learn something) but he gets to decide how much he wants to share.  So this is my distinct journey and before I start I do think it’s worth saying that I seem to be a little unusual in this respect.  Most of the people we meet have been older and closer to retirement and they seem a bit perplexed by why I don’t just settle in.  My common response is I am only 50 (well actually 51 now but you know what I mean) and I have at least 15 years left before full retirement. So to me it’s very much a journey of personal growth and for me the only way to achieve that is through some reflection.

Year 1

Looking back, the first year was all about Overcoming Fear.  I was so out of my comfort zone that issues that seem relatively small now caused a significant emotional impact.  More than anything else Lee and I learning how to live together in a small space was challenging.  Add to that moving frequently, the basic mechanics of camping (we were relatively inexperienced),  staying with friends for weeks at a time, and figuring out how to maintain my professional career as we traveled, and it was a lot.  Consequently the first 6 months were a whirlwind of new experiences and at times I felt assaulted by all the new. Don’t get me wrong, there were some amazing moments in there, but it definitely took me that long to “settle in” and thank heavens I wrote this blog, because when I look back on that time it is all a bit of a blur.

I characterized that first year as having more personal change than I had ever experienced in my life, except for when I became a first time parent, and I still think that is absolutely true.  Some people thrive on change and enjoy the rush, but that’s rarely been me, and instead I often felt like I was flailing wildly in the deep end of the pool.  Finally things did settle down and I really started to feel the constraints of working a full time job within the lifestyle.  Lee left his job before we went on the road and since he settled into the lifestyle so quickly I thought the job might be the reason I was struggling so much.  As my friend Linda put it, I had a foot in both worlds, and  I found myself having a hard time emotionally committing myself to the life. To be 100% clear I know several people who have kept their jobs and acclimated just fine to the full-time lifestyle but for me it was a crutch, and was actually holding me back.

This became very clear when we spent some time in Glacier National Park with friends and I took 10 full days off, away from the stress and requirements of my job.  For the first time in years I was completely disconnected from my old life and the combination of good friends and gorgeous surroundings finally flipped a switch in me.  And to prove God has a plan, the day we left that park I received an email with an offer for a professional buyout.  There was no pressure behind the offer, I simply had enough years of service to receive it, but to me it seemed like a sign.  So after some thought I took the offer and within 6 weeks I was unemployed for the first time in my adult life.

It’s worth saying here that for anyone that is a ton of change in one year.   Let’s recap: Youngest daughter left the home (empty nest), sold our home, moved into an RV, and quit my job.  In all fairness most people (like Lee) experience all of that change all at one time, but I spread it out over that first year.  It might have been easier to do it all at once, I can’t really say, but I personally wouldn’t change anything because although it may have lengthened the transition time for me, it also allowed me to some extent to deal with each change as a separate thing, which I think was good for me in the long run.

Year 2

The second year was all about dealing with no longer being a professional, and Alaska.  The first was a very difficult transition for me.  My identity was very much wrapped up in what I did for a living and I truly mourned that loss.  Unlike people who go through this change in retirement, I knew I had many working years left so I needed to figure out what that looked like for me.  Alaska though was a great distraction.  Our trip to Alaska wasn’t just checking a box on a bucket list, it became a symbol of the new freedom we were experiencing in our life.  I never could have spent an entire summer there working my old job, and the experience of living there for several months really gave us an idea of what our future life could be.

None of this was a surprise for Lee, he had a clear vision of what he wanted his life to be like, but I truly lacked the imagination to understand the possibilities.  The sheer size and beauty of Alaska was beyond anything I had ever experienced, but the summer also included the realities of making money in a “low level” position.  Again, except for parenting, I don’t think I have ever experienced so many extreme highs and lows in such a short time period, but on balance we felt very lucky to be able to have the experience.

One thing I firmly realized that summer was our life was not going to be like many other full timers that we knew.  The phrase “that is not our reality” became a common one for me, as we watched (with some envy) many people who didn’t have to work spend the summer exploring. I think at that point Lee was still hanging on to the idea that we could “work a little, play a little” to maintain the lifestyle, but I knew from the numbers that it was more likely we would “work a bunch, play not so much”.  We had some conflict about that concept in Year 2, which was heightened by taking on two difficult jobs at the end of the year when we worked the sugar beet harvest and Christmas trees.  By the end of the year I was rethinking everything, but Lee was dug in on the idea that our financial situation was due to the special circumstances of Alaska, and things would level out and look more like other people we knew.

Year 3

Thankfully year three started out with gate guarding, which was a much better fit for both of us, and I made a mental commitment to try one year working Lee’s way. My only caveat was that I wanted to make sure we tried all the different major types of work, so I scheduled us for Amazon at the end of the year well in advance.  I gave quite a bit of thought to finding a consulting job, and even spent a significant amount of time looking for a position, but the timing never quite worked out and we ended up spending the entire year supporting ourselves solely with work kamping revenue.  Overall I felt that was a very good thing, and proved to me once and for all that the lifestyle was actually financially viable.  We both agreed that we didn’t have the money to deficit spend year after year, and year three was all about seeing what it actually looked like to earn as we went.

Ironically, I am pretty contrary that way, once I decided to just “go with it” in year three, things became much easier for me.  I largely stopped twisting myself in knots, well at least as much as I am capable of, and just went with it.  I was more surprised than anyone when it turned out we largely broke even.  Yes, we chose to spend money on some extra things, but as far as day to day living, we did pretty well.  Lee, on the other hand, I believe had a larger transition.  He realized that his work a little play a little life probably wasn’t going to happen and instead focused on finding ways to earn money that were the most palatable.

It also became crystal clear that we were very different when it comes to what matters in living this life.  Lee is one of those people that flipped the mental switch when he left his career, and as long as our bosses don’t micromanage him, he is generally fine with pretty much any kind of work.  I, on the other hand, really solidified the fact that I need a work purpose.  I discovered I don’t need to make a ton of money, but I do want to feel like the work I do has some sort of meaning.  Working for two large companies in year three, albeit in the lowest level positions, had a big impact on me, and helped me come to terms with what I wanted long term, and really start to explore how to make that happen.

More than any year prior it was about revenue and budgets, but what was interesting was even though we made less than we have made since we were “kids”, we actually felt more successful. And I finally felt comfortable.  By the end of the year I was owning who I was, and what I wanted, in a way that had been missing since we went on the road.   Since I didn’t have a clear vision of what this life looked like when I started, I fell victim to taking other people’s experiences and superimposing them on my own life.  Not surprisingly my life often fell short using that criteria, and it took until year three for me to truly define my goals based on my unique reality.  Letting go of the fantasy was a major breakthrough for both of us and the Amazon experience went a long way for both of us towards finally making that happen.

Year 4

So knowing all that, what does year 4 look like?  First and foremost we finally have a travel plan that involves jobs and a “route” that hopefully will work for both of us.  I stretched myself  and applied for a position where I can use more of my professional skills and feel very hopeful about what that looks like long-term.  We also are being completely realistic about what free time we will have, and this year is all about using part of that time to explore Utah between gigs.  In the past three years I judged my life based on how many firsts we experienced, and the beautiful pictures I took, but I have made my peace with the fact that the quality of our life is based on more than those two factors.  For those of you who jumped right in and got there quickly, you are probably nodding your head, smiling, and wondering what took me so long, and that’s completely fair.  I will say that if I had to go back and do it all over again, I wouldn’t choose to do it any differently.

For me it is definitely about the journey and not the destination, and one of the beautiful things about this lifestyle is we all travel differently.  Some of us take a little longer, but that’s totally OK, because we see extra things along the way.  And along those lines, my feelings about this blog definitely need to change in year four.  Over the last couple of years to some extent this blog has written me rather than the other way around.  Sometimes that is a good thing, because it forces me to get off the couch and go out and experience things, but overall I think it hasn’t been healthy to feel compelled to have experiences so I can have something to write about.

Interestingly, Lee went from finding the blog a bit of a nuisance to being concerned about what will become of it when I talk about my feelings regarding what and when I write going forward. He likes providing regular content and has promised to write more to help to help with the workload going forward.  I know you guys are probably excited about that, and I feel less pressure.  It’s a win-win.  Speaking of that, I did use the term workload on purpose.  When people ask how I manage to post so much, I always say I have treated it like a job, but as much as the blog has helped me over the last few years, sometimes that additional pressure hasn’t been good for me.

Talking about my feelings and the positive impact that has on people matters very much to me, and whenever someone reaches out and tells me I made a difference it truly makes it worth it.  But it is important to note that I am not making my living from this blog, and I need to get back to writing about what I want to talk about, rather than writing about what I feel I “owe” the readers.  Especially when I feel like I owe it on a schedule.  I think this has become especially clear to me over the last couple of months as I have experienced several negative comments. I’ve been pretty lucky in that this blog feels like a conversation, and I truly enjoy hearing from people, even when they are thoughtfully critical.  But I have zero interest in trolls.  Simply put, I’m not being paid  to take a bunch of shit from people, and since this blog isn’t paying my bills, I don’t have to.

Actually, I am trying to let go of feeling like I “owe” people in a larger context, and this blog is a good place to start.  I would like year four to be about living a life that makes me personally happy and fulfilled, and I really want to focus on that.  In the past,  I have spent an awful lot of time and energy worrying about other people’s well being instead of focusing on myself. It’s a difficult balance, because I do believe that a good person puts others in front of themselves, but I also realize that ultimately I only have one life to live and I should definitely make the most of it.  Hopefully I can maintain a balance this year by letting go of unproductive emotions and focusing on the positive ones.  That’s a tall order, I know, but definitely worth spending a year on. How that looks from a blog perspective I have no idea.  I guess we will all find out together.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time Replacing a Toilet

For those of you who don’t like reading about bodily functions you probably want to skip this one, but for those who acknowledge that everybody poops, this is a detailed explanation of how Lee replaced our RV toilet. I mentioned in our last blog post that we were having some trouble with the valve in our toilet and that we had gone to Camping World to look at a possible replacement, but what I didn’t know during that trip was as soon as we arrived at our gate guarding position the valve would break and be stuck in the open position.  This meant that we couldn’t turn the water on in the rig at all, so it went from a future upgrade to an immediate need, which happens more often than I would like living in an RV.

Original toilet

 

Flush valve stuck in the open position, so you can see why we couldn’t turn the water on.

 

Add to that neither one of us had ever actually replaced a toilet, although Lee learned how to do it in RV Tech school and felt pretty confident that he could make the switch.  Thankfully we were only an hour away from a Camping World that had one in stock, so as soon as we got settled in Lee left and went to pick up the Revolution 320 that I had picked out the day before.  That was a bummer for me, because that meant I needed to stay awake until the job was done, but as I said, it was an immediate need so I just drank some coffee and watched the gate which was thankfully pretty slow.

The reason we didn’t buy the toilet initially was because we needed to make absolutely sure the measurements would work.  Lee had measured the height and width of the existing toilet, but since this one was 2″ deeper (from the drain hole to the wall behind) we needed to make sure we had the space.  I was pretty excited about the new model because it was made of porcelain instead of plastic, and feels much mor like a residential toilet.  I’ll admit it, I am not a fan of these plastic toilets, and after three years that feeling has gotten worse, not better.  Plus, they are pretty difficult to clean and the lack of a lip on the outside edge does lend itself to spattering. This toilet not only feels better, but also automatically puts a small amount of water in the bottom of the bowel after flushing which helps keep the seals from drying out, and cuts down on spatters.  I’ll let Lee explain the details of how he made the switch, but the whole thing went beautifully, and I am VERY happy.  What can I say, some things in life just matter, and if I knew the switch would have been this easy and would have made such a difference I would have done it a long time ago. It ended up costing $250 but I think it was worth every cent, and for those of you who know how cheap I can be about stuff like this, that is saying something!  Alright onto Lee’s description…

 

There’s actually not much to describe. It was probably the easiest RV related thing I’ve ever done. The most important thing if you’re going to do this is to make absolutely sure that the new toilet will fit in the space, and not interfere with anything else. In our particular case the big concern was the distance from the center of the drain hole to the wall behind. We were told that most toilets are 9″ on this dimension, but the one we wanted requires 11″.

Removing the old one was incredibly easy. I just turned off the water and disconnected the spin-on water fitting. Then took off the bolt covers and removed the two nuts that secure the toilet to the floor. Lift up and away, and it’s gone. Be careful how you tip it when you lift, whatever water is in the valve and inner hoses/pipe will leak out onto you. But it’s just clean water.

Have a towel handy to set it on.

I took advantage of having it out and thoroughly cleaned the floor and wall around it, which can be hard to get to with a toilet in the way. I really appreciated this.  That’s my guy, he always does the complete job. – Trace

 

 

I cleaned the mounting flange, which is the large black disc in the photo above, and checked to make sure all the screws were solid and tight. This is a flat round disc that is attached to the floor,  and the toilet attaches to it, so it’s good to be sure it’s well secured. Technically there should be eight screws in it, but four are also OK.

Next I put in the new T bolts that came with the new toilet, and carefully lowered the toilet onto them. I checked to make sure it was lined up properly and put on the included washers and the nuts, and tightened them down. A ratcheting wrench works really well for this, because there’s not enough clearance to get a socket over the nut. You have to be careful not to over tighten, because while the bowl is ceramic, the base is plastic, and you don’t want to crack it. You also want to alternate sides as you tighten them to keep everything even.

 

 

Then I covered the tops of the T-bolts with the covers, and reattached the water line. I turned on the water and did a seal test, and everything was just fine, no leaks inside or out. The original toilet had a center water fitting, and this one has an offset, but there was enough slack in the pex line to pull it up a few inches to make the angle. One of the problem we had that caused us to do all of this was that when the valve failed it would just run and run. The first time it happened I was sitting outside while Trace slept and I heard water hitting the ground. The valve had stuck open and filled the bowl, and then overflowed. Luckily I was there and able to turn off the water, and the valve “unstuck”. The second time it happened I was standing in the bathroom and couldn’t get the valve to close, so I was able to just turn off the water. But that meant that we had no water unless we popped the Johnny Chock in so the water could run down the drain. So the next thing I will be doing is putting an inline shutoff valve between the floor and the toilet fitting, so if I ever need to I can turn off the water to just the toilet. I will probably go ahead and do the same thing to the hot and cold on the sinks and shower while I’m at it, which will give me peace of mind and the ability to continue to use water in the rig if we have another failure and we aren’t close enough to get a replacement part right away.I would have done it at the same time, but I couldn’t lay my hands on a 1/2″ to 1/2″ inline valve. Apparently, they’re uncommon.

 

 

I also double checked the seat, and it was a little loose, so I tightened that up with a large screwdriver while holding the plastic nut underneath.

It’s Tracy again.  Once that was done we tested it.  We decided to use the internal water supply so I stood at the panel while Lee stayed with the toilet.  We ran water and everything worked fine and we were both pleased to see that after every flush a small amount of water comes into the bowl which helps keep the seals from drying out and to keep the bowl clean.

 

So here it is, in all it’s glory and again we couldn’t be more pleased.  I love the extra height, how it feels, and no more splatter because it has a lip!  We may seem a little too excited, but if you think about it, a toilet is something you use every day.  Why shouldn’t that be something to care about?  Plus I used the new toilet as an excuse to get some new bathroom accessories.  I kept the toilet paper holder, but the rug, toilet brush, and trashcan are new!

Fits perfectly and allows the door to open fully which was important since we do use those cabinets

Larger seat!

New toilet brush.  I made sure it was heavy and had a wide base so it wouldn’t just flip over when we travel.

New trash can although I really liked the old one so replaced it with the same thing

And the rug, which I obsessed over. Ended up getting a 100% cotton one because I was concerned the memory foam ones wouldn’t wash in our Splendide.

So if you are not feeling your old toilet…pun intended…don’t be afraid to put in a new one.  Just make sure you take good measurements prior to making your purchase, because once the toilet is removed from the packaging you cannot return it according to Camping World.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

And Just That Quickly, Things Change

One of the great things about being on a gate is that you have time to do all the little tasks that sometimes get lost in the day to day when you are traveling alot.  Right before we left the last gate I was finally able to update the pictures hanging in the rig of my two oldest girls, from their high school senior pictures to their wedding photos.  Since I haven’t had a chance to share these in the blog before I wanted to take a moment and show you the pictures we chose.  We even printed them ourselves (a first for me) and they turned out beautifully and now hang in a place of pride.

My middle daughter Kat and her husband Micah. It only took me 2-1/2 years to print the photo 🙂

 

My oldest daughter Kyrston and her husband Jeremy. They just got married this summer so I did a little better on the turnaround time on this one!

 

No matter what else happens in my life, I am truly blessed to have three amazing girls, and with these husbands I am going to have some beautiful grand babies!

OK, so back to our travels.  We had to wait at our gate until the service tech came out to take the equipment away, but he rearranged some things to get there a little earlier and we were on the road by around 11:30am.  It was a long drive from west Texas to New Braunfels, but we were motivated since our friends were there and made it in less than 7 hours with only two quick stops for food and fuel.  We arrived at the Lazy L&L Campground after dark and the office was closed, but our friends Kat and Bert went up to the office for us and secured a spot two doors down from them.  And when we arrived Cori and Greg were driving in themselves, and they led us right to the site.  Rock star service!!

It was really great seeing everyone and the campground was really nice, with extra large sites and a nice view.  After we got set up, Kat and Bert fed us some late night Bolognese (I know, fancy right?) and the we called it an early night.  One of the tough parts of changing gates like this is adjusting your sleep schedule, and I in particular had a hard time going to sleep earlier.

Our campsite was really cool

 

With a nice view. We couldn’t see the water but it was right in front of the house across the way

 

Really nice fire pits too, which unfortunately we didn’t get to use because it was raining

 

Our buddies Bert and Kat! So great seeing them.

 

The next day Lee walked down and paid for four days because we had been told we definitely, wouldn’t get a gate before Monday, and I ended up sleeping in until 10:30am.  I had planned on doing some exploring with Kat and Bert, but since it was overcast and rainy we decided to push it to another day.  I had just woken up when we got a call from our gate guarding company.  They had an immediate need for gate guards at a gate 60 miles south of San Antonio, and could we be there tomorrow?  Since the rate was $175 and it was in a much nicer part of Texas it was hard to turn down.  We did ask if we could wait an extra day, but they said they needed us right away so we said we would be there.  We hated to tell everyone we had to turn around and leave, but really felt like we needed to jump at the chance.  Plus, being so close to San Antonio makes it possible to still see people, and since this gate may only last for a few weeks there is a good chance we can get back.  The good news was the campground refunded us for the extra days, which was incredibly nice of them. By the way they have an outstanding monthly rate if you are ever looking for a place to hang out in Texas.  It’s $40 a night but only $14 a day if you stay for a month!

Once we found out we were leaving, Lee and I ran to Camping World because we wanted to take a look at toilets.  I know, my life is incredibly exotic.  Our valve had been acting up a bit and since it was three years old I wanted to see about getting a new one.  Lee could have just replaced the valve, but I really miss having a porcelain toilet and wanted to see what my options were.  Turns out they had one model I liked, the Revolution 320, but we weren’t 100% sure it would fit because it was 2″ longer.  Lee had measured the existing toilet height and width, but he didn’t measure from the hole to the wall, which is an important measurement when replacing toilets I guess. Anyway, it was fine, because we didn’t have an immediate need, and I was happy that we were able to take advantage of our time off to see it together. That is one thing that is a drawback of gate guarding; you have to do things separately, which normally we can make work, but this particular task really required us both to be together.

Afterwards he dropped me off at a nail place while he went to Home Depot and Office Depot.  I really wanted a pedicure since my feet have been pretty beat up since Amazon. I went to this really great place as a walk-in and got a pedicure and eyebrow wax for $43.  Awesome deal, and they were super nice.  The timing worked out perfectly too because Lee got done 5 minutes after I did, so we went back to the campground to get ready for happy hour.  Cori and Greg had made plans to have us over at their place for drinks and dinner and we were really looking forward to it. As always, we had a wonderful time, and we got to meet John and Cathy who met Cori and Greg when Greg installed their solar. It was really fun getting to know them and their two puppies Phoebe and Leila!

Cori, me, Kat, and Bert being goofy

 

Cori showing Cathy her springform pan for the InstantPot. I have to get one of those for baking cakes

 

Cathy showed us this cool pen she bought to mark her wine glass

 

She even premarked Kat and Bert’s for them which was super nice

 

And no surprise the puppies wanted to hang out with Greg and Lee. They know who is a soft touch.

We had a wonderful time, but had to leave kind of early because we needed to head out by 7:30am so we could get to our next gate by 9:30am.  Thankfully we hitched up with no issues and although I didn’t get much sleep were on our way in no time.  We met our service contact at a small yard and then followed him to our new gate.  In case you are wondering how the switch works, it’s a little tricky.  The pad only holds one, so they have to pull out before you can pull in.  Simultaneously you always get at least one truck and you are doing the pass over while traffic keeps happening.  This was our smoothest transition so far though because the road is actually paved!  And there is plenty of space for us to park while they finished disconnecting.

Waiting for their rig to pull out

 

Then we pulled in

Lee hooked up us lickety split and I watched the gate while he finished talking to our service guy.  It’s really nice here, with MUCH less dust with the pavement and the site was very level.  There is cow poop in the area, because apparently the cows like to come down this way to do their business, but it doesn’t really smell and the views are very nice.

I was a bit surprised when around 3:30pm I looked out the door and saw this

 

The trucks have to honk to get them to move. So funny, and beats the heck out of coyotes lol

We even can see the rig for the first time, although I am happy we are not right on top of it, but it’s cool to be able to see what is going on. We also really like our service tech and we met the company man who is extremely nice, which is great since those two people really can impact the experience.

You can see the rig in the middle of the picture, it;’s still pretty far away.

 

Here’s a closeup I took with my zoom lens

Cellular is strong, we can see the tower from our front door. We’re only 6 mile from town, and there is a Walmart, an HEB, a UPS store and Chinese and Pizza Hut right in town. The TV signal is strong and stable, which is awesome, because great football is on tomorrow.  So far we really like it here and are glad we accepted the job,  Not sure how long it will be until frack, but we will enjoy it while it lasts.  Plus, if we get another break we can pop back up to New Braunfels and stay with friends again.  Make a little money and be close to friends, it’s the best of both worlds! Plus there are at least 12 raptors in the field behind us.  Watching them swoop and dive is pretty awesome.

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.