Water Pump 101

Today (Monday June 26th, 2017) we did not wake up planning to spend all morning installing a fuel pump.  Well, I did not anyway.

The fuel pump went out at the start of our stay at Stayton Acres and we had flooding twice in the bathroom.

That sounds so dramatic.  Our bathroom is super small and technically you could consider a cup of water spilled on the floor “flooded”.

This flooding was because the pump was malfunctioning and wouldn’t stop water from filling the tank for fresh water. Some small part of the system was broken.

It made awful sounds and we woke to puddles of water.  Not good.  I think the number one killer of RV’s has to be water.  Luckily ours was about 1/3 cup spread over the 2′ x 3′ space.

I’ve noticed Randy has said, “Oh shit” a lot lately.  It’s for both bad and good situations.  Since it was 3:45am I knew it wasn’t a good one.  He quietly mopped up the water not even swearing once.

Later in the morning after camp classes Randy called the manufacturer and was shocked to have next to instant help resolving the issue.

They shipped out, at their cost, a brand new pump!  What!?  Yes.  That’s right.  Shurflow gets an A+.

It arrived about a week later (we were cool because it worked but just had to be jerry-rigged not to flood).  We had a great set up at Stayton Acres’ South 40 aka  the edge of their avocado grove.  We were dry camping with full use of the pool house with a blasting awesome shower (full bath).  We feel SPOILED!

The day had come.  We are leaving this Friday and need that water pump working.

We got home from teaching classes at 8:30am and scrambled to eat breakfast.  I began my daily cleaning routine and Randy began the pump repair.

Three hours later (and many trips in and out of the bathroom) Randy informed me that we would have to take the trailer to Conejo RV so Mike could repair the pump.  There was a freaky screw that had embedded itself deep into the rubber seal at the base of the pump.  The space was microscopicly small and he could not get leverage to remove it.

“Oh shit.” was all I could think.  I replied, “OK.”

Meanwhile my mind was racing on how in the world this was going to workout.  Getting into Conejo RV is NOT simple.  He is a very good mechanic and his time is always booked.  It was generous he was taking us on Thursday.

We did not know how long it would take which brings a big problem into our lives: where would we live while he held and worked on our RV?

I messaged Missy letting her know we were likely going to have to leave earlier than planned to get the pump fixed.  Ugh.

Joe arrived a little later to look over the situation and lend a hand with advice.  From his years working for the city of Los Angeles he had dealt with plenty of “impossible” mechanical tasks.  He first said to WALK AWAY FROM IT for a while rather than trying to push it through.  Take a break and do something else.  You will drive yourself nuts otherwise.

Randy gave him the details and showed him the screw and its lodged in spot.  Joe told him he could handle this – he gave him a push in the right direction.

It was 100 degrees out (ok, maybe 86…but HOT in the trailer even with the AC running) and Randy went at it one last time.  Suddenly there was the sound of success from the floor of the bathroom!!!  He did it!!


He got that dang screw OUT and he easily replaced the part.  WE HAD A WORKING PUMP!


The proof is in the pudding.  It was time to turn on the water spigots and let’er rip.

I carefully turned the knob in the kitchen and after a few sputters and spits the water poured out and the pump began humming.

I love that my husband got back in the saddle and HANDLED the problem!  I love that Joe came in and gave him that push which I think had to help a bit.

We’re over a small bump in the road and avoided a completely awful situation.

Good Job Husband Unit!

Water Pump: 0

Randy Shoemaker: 1



Stayton Acres Bean and Lentil Chili

Stayton Acres Spicy Bean and Lentil Chili12 minutes InstantPot
Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Servings: 8 
I’m inspired to make a chili that will need a Stayton Acre avocado on top to offset the heat. Today is Day 22 for me living in my travel trailer. I’m excited that I’m doing this with little stress really. We are eating healthy meals and having a salad everyday. 
This recipe was created with plenty of hearty protein and vegetables in mind.  
Serve with sourdough, crunched up tortillas on top or corn bread.  
Don’t forget to chop sliced avocado on top.
1 yellow onion, chopped


5 garlic cloves, chopped

1 16oz can black beans

1 16oz can garbanzo beans 

1 16oz can red kidney beans
1 cup orange lentils

1 yellow bell pepper chopped

1 red bell pepper chopped

1 corn on the cob fresh kernels removed

3 celery stalks, chopped

1 14.5oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes


1T cumin powder

1 ½ t chili powder (hot)

2T smoked paprika

1/2t coriander

1t black pepper

3/4t salt

1/2t cayenne pepper powder
Avocado (depending on how many people love avocado…I like ¼ large avocado per person chopped on top).


Good People Should Not Die Young (ESPECIALLY)

Open Letter To The Entity Taking My Friends And Family From My Life:

Too young.

Too young.

Too young.

I am still sitting in the reality of losing one of the most kind, loving, friendly, funny and GOOD friend just days ago.

Collapsed at work.  Autopsy has not confirmed (to his family’s satisfaction) what exactly happened.

I’m sad to a point that I want to boil.  No, I’m not sad, I’m mad.  I’m pissed and angry and wish I could change what has happened.  I also feel helpless.

Today (or was it last night…life blurs when you have three camps every day and see the same 100+ people every day at different times of the day) I was jaw jacking with a person I have opened my deepest feelings to.  WHY is this happening?  I can barely handle losing so many people.  WHY!?  

I find myself staring out the window while my husband drives wondering WHAT IS THE POINT.  Why are we here wandering this earth?  What is the reason we drag ourselves through muck and pain? Why are there people that are total evil mother fluckers that should die but the GOOD ONES go first?

A lot of people have a faith in their lives.  That is not how I was raised and maybe it is why I feel so much ANGER with no one to point it at when someone good passes away.  

Take the asshole mother fluckers to the next place!!  


I believe that my friend Dave is still near me, near his family as a spirit floating around wishing he could change what has happened.  Things happened in perfect order with Dave.  He was a planner and do’er.  He ran 100 mile races AS A HOBBY.  His diet was healthy.  He gave to so many that needed.  He took care of more (and I’m sure we’ll find out who else and what else as the days roll by).

My dear friend Mary passed away way too young.  I wrote a post about her.  I think of her every single day and the stern advice she gave me.  It is partly why I feel so willing to get rid of everything I own to leap into our new life. 

My step-daughter Amanda passed away at 17 years old.  17.  It is unexplainable how this could possibly be OK.  It’s unfair and I will not change my mind.

My mom.  I NEED MY MOM!!!!!!!  Mom’s need to be around until their kids are old farts.  They need to experience the love and life their kids will work hard to give them.  They deserve it.  There is NO WAY anyone could change my mind on this.

I’m not going to continue.  

Just know:  I think it is completely UNFAIR and CRUEL to everyone to take the good people in my life.  

There are plenty of awful people that don’t care a hoot about anyone but themselves that should go to a new place.

Rest in PEACE Dave Liston.   June 15th, 2017.

I don’t know where you are but my wish is that you are in a good place where you are being cared for and doted on.  Where there are all of the dogs that have passed on.  Where there are plenty of trails for you to run on.  Where there are a few spreadsheets too (because I think you actually loved working and doing what you did because you were damn good at it).
Rest In PEACE Katie Jenks.  July 5th, 2017. 

How Many Pairs Of Underwear?

I had no idea how much to pack on our new adventure.  

In a forum about RV Travel and Working I posted that question (explicitly for clothing) and the replies didn’t really help at all.  A few people work FULL TIME JOBS and need business suits, there was one gal that mentioned she prioritized bikinis and then there were the people that had just two of everything.

This advice, in our circumstances, was useless!

First off we had to plan for Mammoth Lakes which has been under snow, 9,000 feet elevation and outdoor work that would require a uniform plus appropriate foot gear (BOOTS).  Our jobs, as we anticipate, will require 3 hours of outdoor work every day.  We are 5 miles from a laundry mat and I bought a minimalist washing machine just to make sure I had fresh underwear at all times!  I’ve got my priorities.

Going to Mammoth Lakes is not immediate (our start date continues to move around because it is still snowing there and our site isn’t ready to go yet with the full hook up we are going to have at Lake George).  We have one month of boot camp to deliver which require an entirely different type of apparel!

And what if I get asked out on a date?!  I have to have “pretty clothes” right?!

Can’t forget about a girl’s morning and evening routine.  Hair, skin, make-up…blah blah blah.  I knew this would be a difficult area going from a full vanity spread to “who knows what”.   A year ago I began paring down that part of my life.  Now I use nearly zero make-up (mascara, blush and one eye shadow).   I plan on zero make up when we get rolling across the planet.

Lastly, the subject of shoes (or foot ware in general) is a huge part of this too.  We need so many different types of shoes and that’s frustrating.

I took three closets, three open bins and nine actual dresser drawers down to two giant bins.


What I currently own and what I started with.

40 short sleeve t-shirts for work to 10.

15 short sleeve t-shirts not for work to 10.

24 work trousers (pants, skorts, shorts) to 8.

12 sports bras to 6.

40 pairs of underwear (all sorts for all sports and activities) to 20.

20 regular bras to 6.

12 jeans down to 2 (sadly I donated my FAVORITE pair…I’m sick to my stomach about that because we all know how hard it is to find that one pair you want to wear everywhere).

10 sweaters down to 3.

8 sweatshirts down to 2.

50 pair of shoes to 10 (including new boots I had to get for “work” at Lake George).

20 dresses (all occasions) to 3…back up to 4 because I need one for a funeral.

4,000 pairs of socks to 12, including boot socks.

On one hand I feel fantastic about giving away so much.  The other side is the fact of not knowing what is on he horizon. I know I can solve my problems with a quick stop at a mall or even better a thrift store.

So much of my apparel sat untouched for months in the closets, drawers and bins.  I even had dresses that were over 20 years old with the tags on them still. Crazy.

Stuff is too easy to collect! 

The start to my process was not coming home with anything new!  I realized every single day we leave our homes and return WITH MORE STUFF.  The worst are the “just in case” items.  They oftentimes never leave their packaging OR how about the bulk purchases?  We had, no kidding, 8 Windex bottles and 6 (I’m not exaggerating) bottles of H.E. laundry detergent.  I wish I’d taken a photo.

That’s all for today!

Shitter’s Broken

Randy “under the hood”.

Living at Stayton Acres has been a dream for us. Not only have I learned how to wash a horse, we have had a slow and much needed education in RV life and how things can go wrong.
After a very rocky start to our “RV Career” we grew to expect that we would be fixing problems every single trip and that pushed us to plan ahead on our time and finances. It has been TRUE. Something has gone awry every single trip! Now we anticipate it and it isn’t painful or frustrating.

This is our 5th day here in Santa Rosa California.  

It’s a farm along with a citrus and avocado grove. Missy asked us today, “Have you gone out to pick your breakfast yet?” It’s nuts and awesome and we are so grateful. Last night I felt like we were in a dream.

A little hiccup happened on Day 2.  

We are hooked up (dry camping) to power and water. We have access to a full bathroom and shower just a few yards away.

 Shower’s in the Lorax are completely cool but full blast plumbing and long hair are just dreamy.

The water hose is hooked up well. We turned off the pump because it isn’t needed. We discovered today that our pump regulator plug is defective. 

At 3:45am (we wake up early enough to get the pets all handled and have some coffee) Randy walked into our 2 x 2 foot restroom only to find it had flooded!

“Shit! I think Zoey peed in the bathroom!”

This woke me up to “Paying Attention” sleepy level. “Do you need me to help you?”

“No, just tell me where the junk towels are.”

“The top linen closet, on the right side at the bottom of the stack of towels.” We saved ONE large junk towel to wash the dogs with and donated the other twenty we had collected over the decade at Monticello House.  

I hear rummaging around and held my breath to listen for the sound of the towel being pulled out. It never came.

“Do you mind if I use the white towel? Can’t find the junk towel.”

SIDEBAR: Over the last decade we have had a bit of a crisis with me caring too much about what a towel is used for. I do not dig cross contaminated towels. The face towels must not EVER be used for bodies and never EVER use a cleaning rag to wash dishes. If I find you used my dish drying towel for anything OTHER THAN drying a clean freshly washed dish I will lose my mind. I just cannot get full buy off by my husband to stop doing it. When I am drying a dish and a brown hair appears I now show him immediately. It’s useless though.

“Go ahead” I say and wait for him to ask me to help do something to remedy the situation.

He doesn’t so I snuggle deeper into my covers and pillow.  

10 minutes later (and I am supposed to be up by now but I’m not) he tells me the pump is leaking, again.

This is the second time it has happened and we have to figure it out.

He turns off the pump, the water is swabbed up and he turns off the water at the main house then takes off to camp. I stay home to write (which was the plan) and now keep an eye on the water situation. That was 4:40am.

At 8:30am he returns with a plan to drive to Conejo RV and talk to Mike.    

Mike is, by far, one of the greatest RV repair men ever. His advice is direct and there is a line out the door of people getting his help, repairs and/or modifications to their rigs.  

Shurflo gave us excellent service.
After a quick breakfast and attempts to contact CoachNet, the manufacturer of the Water Pump as well as Forest River (our RV manufacturer) he sets off into town.

Not even an hour later he returns with the conclusion that our pump is defective!

We have two options: tow it to Upland to the RV Spa where we purchased it to have it serviced or buy a pump for about $150 and replace it.  

Our experience at The RV Spa was not that great and we’re pretty darn sure they could care less that we’re having any difficulties. For the record: I would not recommend a new RV’er use them for ANYTHING. They are all about getting the rig off the lot and you assuming the responsibilities. No friendly check up, no inquiring about how things are going…NOTHING. They also try to sell you things you really, honestly, sincerely do not need (like warranties). We got a different shower head and toilet based off of their scare tactics. We did NOT buy their warranty after taking the time to fully read every single word out loud to each other.

He chose to buy a new pump and replace it. It was critical that he record how to take it apart and put it back together and he set the space up fully to work.  

The pump manufacturer was awesome too. They are sending us a brand new pump, no charge!

We’ll post the video of the process just in case you happen to need help on this topic.

So, the shitter technically wasn’t broken directly and everything is going to be OK.

We are SO thankful to be at Stayton Acres and learning a lot about how to survive in this beautiful bread box we call HOME now.