Deer, Ducks, Deer, Door Knobs and More Deer

Tonight is “date night”.

We are at The Tiger Bar smack dab in the middle of June Lake’s little town…to watch the USC game. I have my back to the TVs and hubbub and Randy is engrossed in the game. I also have my headphones in but I can hear Eye Of The Tiger and Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” (love that tune!) and Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher blasting over the pool tables into the old old cracks and crevices of this bar.

SIDEBAR: Randy was almost killed in this bar in 1986, 31 years ago. I really don’t believe he could have pissed off the Locals – but the party he was with DID and they surrounded them like a pack of wolves (there were 8 of them and 15 Locals). SOMEONE got mouthy and didn’t follow protocol for playing on the ONLY pool table in the joint. Obviously this required a beat down to “make sure this don’t happen again.”

They got out alive, no broken bones. I am gonna guess it was just ONE drunk friend that caused all of the problems.

You know, if you are someone that drinks (alcohol) would you agree that pretty much EVERY stupid thing you’ve ever done was preceded with alcohol? Think about that before you reply.

TODAY WAS INCREDIBLE

It’s Saturday. One of THE BUSIEST days in Camp Hosting. I’m learning so much! I’m also realizing how happy I am. My life is seriously SIMPLE. Not perfect…just SIMPLE.

Our days are PACKED now. We are working pretty much full time to help keep this campground humming with happy. Friday is the most busy day with people arriving to have a weekend of relaxation and “happy”.

I’m not sleeping that great these days. Every single night my arms go numb. I think this is because I am trying to NOT disturb Randy or Piper (who seems to plant herself…kneading into a nice warm cozy spot so keeping to the very edge of the bed trying to keep my limbs under the covers).

We wake up at about 6:00am. Randy gets the coffee rolling and all of the animals (me too) stay warm under our covers until he announces it is ready. I have no idea what he does for that period of time. I am trying to un-numb my arms most mornings. I think my pillow is too soft.

After coffee we get our uniforms on and head out the door (pets still in bed!) to clean rest rooms, pick up bits of trash and watch out for the deer that have been migrating.

MENTAL NOTE: I think it sucks that the MIGRATING OF DEER coincides with the HUNTING SEASON. I call BULLSHIT on the need to hunt deer. Seriously. If there is one animal that is overpopulating it is HUMANS and we don’t have a hunting season for them. Deer (and any other animal) are not hurting humans. It is always HUMANS screwing things up. Why is this so difficult to admit? They eat SAGE. When have you been concerned about your SAGE INTAKE?

Back to my work… we have to zip around in a golf cart and make sure camp sites are ready for arriving people looking for “happy”. Oh let me tell you how I sparkle a camp site. I am an expert at this now and can spot trash a half a mile away.

Today is when I realized how lucky I am. I would NEVER have felt this way 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Picking up trash!?!? As a JOB? Yes. I am doing that and I LOVE how little stress there is connected to this.

I do have a beef with the family that left a complete doorknob in the fire pit. WHY? Who brings doorknobs with them camping?

There are a few families of deer we have been bumping into on a regular basis. Today we met them THREE times. I feel so lucky when this happens. They are simply eating to live/survive. They are eating the plants and berries. There is a mommy and two fawns.

We take care of four different camp grounds (Bear, Duck, Squirrel, Rabbit, Coyote and Gull). Within those grounds are close to 100 campsites (maybe more, I’ll count another time).

Again, like Lake George, everyone is SO HAPPY to be there and enjoy themselves. We had 4 (maybe 5) wieners at Lake George. So far we have had zero here. On the flip size I think I met a distant relative! Like from the 1800’s. My Martz Family Line.

For lunch we had to zip to Silverlake to get our propane tanks filled up. That’s when I got to meet a bunch of duck. I tried to network.

We headed back after lunch to handle a final run through the rest rooms (cleaning) and any miscellaneous tasks our co-workers needed. Working with these new camp hosts has been super enlightening. They have been FULL TIME for over 9 years!! WHAT!?? Talk about experience and know how. I’m like a sponge when they have anything to say.

Our new boss (Karen) is off the charts AMAZING and we are happy to work to keep her happy.

Our new Camp Host friends are Dick and Sherrie (couple) and Loretta and Steve.

I also got to work in the kiosk and meet some pretty cool people – like these tourists from Germany rolling in on their motorcycles.

Those Germans know how to have a fun time!

That’s it on my update for today.

I hope everyone is having a great life. I will always hope you are working for your own dreams and not the ego of someone else as well.

Keep moving across the planet my friends!

🙂 Sarita

Video of me trying to give the family of deer some water… Video by Randy

Advertisements

North By Northwest Vs K2

Guess who picked which movie?

Have you seen both?

In my opinion, NBNW was hands down so much better than K2 plus watching it while eating pizza and drinking a glass of wine didn’t hurt. I expected Randy to be asleep within the first 30 minutes as well. This movie has suspense, action, romance… and plenty of confusing elements (like HOW can Roger O. Thornhill wear the same exact suit and tie in every scene…except the end…and also have a never ending pocket of cash?). Some scenes were shot in broad daylight noon’ish then the same scene (different point of view) shot nearer to the evening. I liked catching these things…without taking my mind off of the actual mystery that was unfolding!

The story was very interesting, the actors were all beautiful (even bad guys), the green screen work was HARDLY noticeable and the period of time (the 50’s) was before I was alive making it even more intriguing. I’ve never been to New York and some of the scenes were shot right in the middle of iconic locations. If you rent this movie be sure to listen to the commentary by Ernest Lehman as he takes you through the scenes. It’s actually very entertaining and as though he is sitting right there with you.

Randy did NOT fall asleep, I did! It was the wine!!! Not the movie!!

TIME FOR BED

We had the ENTIRE Lake George Campground to ourselves last night…and a bear.

FINALLY we had a bear visit us. I assume it is because there were no campers with all of their goodies to choose from. From the first day here Randy has repeated that we are safe from bears BECAUSE OF KONA AND ZOEY – they would alert us (at least) and scare the bear away.

I argued this point after reading BEAR AWARE plus knowing of all of the guests that had bear visits despite having dogs.

Technically he (Randy) had to eat a little crow when he discovered the mangled mess and evidence of a bear visiting WHILE THE DOGS SNOOZED.

We said GOODBYE to my favorite giant thermal zippable grocery bag. It held all off my reusable grocery bags (Kristi, need you to go to Hawaii asap for a new bag!) but no food at all. Just the essence of what had been inside all of those bags.

For the first time we had coyotes screaming in the Day-Use parking lot at 2:00am. Piper was up and active on that one standing at the window (ON RANDY) growling. She really believes she is something fierce, all 8 lbs of her.

Then there was some sort of “hum” like a car engine running for hours off and on. I felt like I was being deprogrammed and tortured at the same time. I woke Randy up (not knowing he’d been waking up over and over) to ask him if he heard that low droning sound. No. He turned and began snoring within 5 minutes. I decided that was better than the humming.

And we made a HUGE mistake switching sides of the bed so Randy could be closer to the window for fresh air.

THE FIRST PHOTO IS NOT MINE, IT IS FROM A GUEST NAMED LARRY “THE BEAR GUY”. He has been visiting Lake George for decades and has become a go-to guy for anything “bear” related. The SECOND photo shows the aftermath of a bear visit and I did take this photo. The guests DID NOT HEAR A THING.

THE LAST NIGHT, FOR REAL

Tonight is our LAST NIGHT at Lake George. We, again, will be the only inhabitants of the campground.

Randy spent today scrubbing and cleaning and preparing the outside of the The Lorax and I’m inside making sure every surface is dusted, vacuumed and ready to roll. Nothing like sparkling your house with your own hands (something I enjoy).

We plan to burn the remaining fire wood and I’m cooking a chili feast, cornbread included.

We have a bottle of wine ready, 1000 Tales. It was the most expensive bottle of wine we have purchased in over 3 months. I hope it tastes good!

First thing in the morning we close our slide-out, hook up the truck and trailer then do THREE walk-around laps to make sure we didn’t forget anything…and we’re off to June Lake. Not sure about the hours yet but we do have a Full Hook Up place to live just above the actual June Lake. Yesterday we took a few bulky items to our site and realized how HOT it was compared to Lake George. The view of this lake is right out our dining window and the emerald green and deep blue hues were exploding. We have ONE tree to work with for shade. Our fire pit is 4x as large (so I think Randy will be having some giant bonfire levels evenings).

IT WAS AMAZING

We did not expect much on this journey. I think that is why everything that happens can be looked at in a positive way.

Having the pets has put limitations on our adventures but that is really the only downside. Seeing the dogs bouncing around excited about everything makes it all OK.

I began writing Chapter 4 of my book – but it is sincerely impossible with any sort of job responsibilities (plus we lived in the middle of a lot of activity which was very distracting).

Our new digs and work camping gig is much different. We believe we will be needed to work double the hours.

If you are stuck in a rut of life please realize you don’t have to sit there stewing in it. Make a zig or a zag out of it! You can count on yourself to make sure you will be OK.

Look into work/camping! Www.workamper.com (if you sign up be sure you mention this number 215013 so we get 2 months added to ours) or just google “Camp Hosting”. There is also a forum we bumped into a year ago called “Make Money And RV” on facebook.

Even if you just did something like this for a short amount of time I think you would LOVE it.

Three Months Of Wanderlusting

We just made it to Labor Day 2017.

The last time we had a solid internet signal was June 1st 2017.

That day was the last day in our beautiful 5 bedroom house in Simi Valley California.

Our plan was segmented and we slowly got rid of our stuff. Now we own NOTHING of value to anyone (really) and saved our treasures in a small 10 x 10 square foot storage locker.

We have a few changes of clothing (which would explain seeing the same shirt in a lot of photos), a good kitchen set up and our pets. That’s about it!

The plan to leave the comfortable (as we define it) life over a year ago and it was all theory.

Now the rubber meets the road and we are “wanderlust” status since then.

June 1st to day is…hang on let me get my calendar out…92 days.

BOY have I made some adjustments to my life.

I’m no minimalist (those folks are way way way better at this). I’m getting closer though.

We have accumulated a few new needs: Andilou Moisturizer (thank you JoAnn), a two-seater kayak, Trader Joe’s Coconut Creamer (thanks Meg), a Burley (to take Zoey further) AND THREE BOTTLES OF PATRON (I’ll talk about that another time).

Our schedule used to be wake up at 4:00am and go to bed at 8:00pm on work days. Now we are going to bed at 8:00pm (when it gets dark…unless Randy lights the fire pit up) and wake up at 6:00am. The extra sleep has felt so good. I didn’t think I could sleep that long and I know that the absolute SILENCE we have is part of it.

WHAT HAVE WE DONE FOR INCOME?

Camp Hosting at Lake George in Mammoth Lakes. 3 hours every day, 5 days per week and a forced 2 days “off duty”. In exchange we make enough money to get groceries, dine out a couple of days a week, put fuel in the truck, wash the pets and a few “this and that” needs. We do not pay rent and our water, power and waste services are included in our compensation.

Lake George is an incredible place. The Forest Service seems to be working hard to make it the “last place you can actually tent camp without an RV within a mile”. Here is their official description of our place.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/inyo/recarea/?recid=20470

In our last two weeks “open” at Lake George we’ve had a flutter of folks arriving in smaller RVs (Lazy Daze seems to be a popular one). A lot of them have been coming here for decades (which I am super jealous of). This visit one man noticed they removed all of the faucet solutions to put water into your RV/Trailer. I’ll try to get a pic of what people have to use as “potable” water. The roads have not been kept up at all, the camp parking spaces (and you get ONE per camp site) are uneven. They are not putting any further effort into accommodating RV life up here. I called the US Forest Service to clarify and they referred me to their web page. It was updated to correct the price (which in 2016 was $23 a night… today it is $24 a night and $26 on holiday weekend periods). Firewood is $7.00 per bundle today.

In recollection of our guests we have had 3 “sketchy” groups/families stay with us compared to 525 (not official number) that were there to love, respect and be good stewards and good neighbors.

I reflect on my city-brain and the danger of criminals, drunk idiots and riff-raff I expected to deal with. To make myself feel better I attended Women’s Self Defense classes at Martial Motion Academy (highly recommend) and got some private training there “just in case”. We talked about the many scenarios I may encounter…including the fact that I would need to run 5 miles to civilization (that’s all I knew). Boy was I prepared!! Right now I could kick someone’s ass to protect myself or someone else. Guru Rene gave me instinctual practices that I’m confident will be part of me for the rest of my life. Just talk to Deresa… SHE is a beast in this area. Love that lady (miss her a lot!).

WORKAMPING…OUR NEXT ADVENTURE

There is a whole world of people that work and camp. A smart husband and wife began organizing those people and the camp sites that NEED HELP. Pretty smart, eh?

Ya, I thought so too. I signed us up for a membership at www.Workamper.com and every day we are emailed 4-10 new opportunities for work across the United States. Each have different needs and methods of exchange (from a Full Hook Up in exchange for 16 hours of work every week to Full Hook Up plus access to all of the amenities they offer at their resort at no charge to partial hook up and a paycheck). Some give you housing, some expect that you B.Y.O.H.

For us it is a list of adventures! Imagine Maine! Imagine North Carolina! Imagine Florida, Maryland, New Mexico,Texas, North Dakota (I am still waiting for Ohio). You just need to be willing to actually WORK a little bit of the day.

We are very thankful for the responsibilities we have as “work” here at Lake George. I guess I needed this or I would flounder around without purpose or direction. Being a Camp Host has been one of my favorite jobs ever, mostly because I have met some really cool people along the way.

Shout Out to any of you that we gave our business card to by the way! 🙂 Keep in touch!

Since there are so many opportunities out there we are taking our time researching what we think we can do to earn some income but still take care of our own health and our pets. Nothing is concrete.

NEXT YEAR – 2018 AT MAMMOTH LAKES

We are going to apply for the Lake George job again for 2018. No guarantee that we will land the job but we are hopeful. The season is supposed to begin on June 1st and finish on September 10th (or 11th).

TIME TO MOVE = TIME TO PURGE, AGAIN

Since we planted here we have, as expected, accumulated too much STUFF. I purposely replaced the plastic and paper kitchenware with real glass or ceramic ware. The idea of eating off of a paper plate is very temporary, we are on this journey permanently. That means we will be donating a lot of this before we hit the road again. I love second hand stores even more now!

We are eating everything out of our pantry to reduce the load, we will be going through our apparel and rearranging for colder days and nights, the pets haven’t touched most of the “toys” we carted up so we are donating them and lastly our book stash has got to go!

KNEE UPDATE

August 2017 marks my One Year Anniversary of NEW KNEES from my stem cell surgery.

Every single day I marvel at the LACK of pain I am in as well as the adventures I’ve been able to participate in. I still hesitate on certain positions because my brain remembers the pain when my knees would “go out”.

The friend that recommended (FOR YEARS) I try stem cell treatment (Ann Archinal) forwarded me a news article found in the Washington Post August 2017 reporting that the FDA was beginning to crack down on stem-cell clinics. BUMMER. That could be the start of the end of this technology to help people. I know it helped me and if I had $400 to spare I would get another MRI done on the knee to see what the cells did. All I know is that I had a torn meniscus and ruptured bone spur in my left knee and I was reduced to HOBBLING in pain 24/7, climbing stairs was bad but descending even worse and I would regularly have my knee pop out of its joint forcing an unexpected scream out of me followed by Randy rushing over to help me push it back in. TORTURE. Those problems are gone and now I’m climbing, running, hiking, doing yoga, bending, jumping…dang I’m even crashing on my bike and both of my knees were jacked up on the surface but healing nicely now.

If you are struggling with a tissue problem, you should check into stem cell as a solution. It is NOT guaranteed and also, just to be clear you will need to get yourself seen by a professional doctor on this procedure before you are even accepted. My procedure is covered in this story I wrote last year.

Cheers everyone and thanks for tuning in.

SO FAR, SO GOOD

A recap on where we have been calling “home” with the pets and our travel trailer, The Lorax 2.

NO PHOTO AVAILABLE (which is technically unbelievable) at Tapo Canyon RV Park.

South 40 at Stayton Acres in So Cal

North 40 at Stayton Acres in So Cal

J-Diamond RV Resort in Bishop Ca

Lake George Campground, Mammoth Lakes CA

J-Diamond RV Resort, Bishop CA

Hangin’ out with The Winterburns!
Most people wouldn’t know this place was here, pretty sure. If they do know then it would come with a stigma, raised eyebrow and immediate judgmental opinion when you mention it is where you are “staying”.

The J-Diamond RV Resort is nestled behind the infamous (since 1938 a billboard boasts along Highway 395) Erick Schat’s Bakkery.
The Host we met (Rachel) was super nice. Our spot was designated and I got a little excited when she told us to go to #99. (Like I said in my last post, I just like that number a lot and it felt “lucky”.)

Distracted by the baking heat, we did not notice much of our surroundings immediately. We were eager to park the thing and get our space organized so we could go to dinner with Rob and Jennie in Paradise.

PARKING/BACKING THE TRAILER IN

There is a GIANT TREE (I’m gonna guess 20 foot circumference) tree between our spot and the family on the north side.  
We have a big concrete slab to call our “porch” which is nice.

On the south side is a trailer that is being picked apart by birds thread by thread. I’m gonna guess the last time it moved was a year ago, maybe more.  

To the west of us is a row of RV’s and a CREEK that is flowing madly and a family of ducks enjoy. 

On the east side is a row of permanent type trailers and their yards are packed with their belongings. Directly behind us is a garden! In it is a mysterious bottle-like contraption.

The people have been really cool and wander through our backyard to and from each other’s rigs. One guy came buzzing up during our arrival in a monster rail offering help.  

Two tries to get safely past the giant tree then PRECISION. Dang!

Randy parked the Lorax LIKE A BOSS. He is definitely getting better and better at this task!! So cool.  

My job was to help get the “arrival” checklist done helping Randy stabilize and make sure we were as even as possible. We did that quickly leaving the pets in the truck with the AC blasting and shade.

Next I had to confront the absolute MESS of the interior. I have a great system now in my kitchen to make sure nothing is broken or destroyed. It worked.  

Uhhh…things seem to have shifted.

Having to re-arrange all of the over-weight area ruined my plan so I began to dig out the items one by one. Once that was done and the power turned on (listening for that popping sound indicating our surge protector was humming) we cranked the AC, opened up the slide-out and brought the pets in.  

We were both drenched in sweat and hurrying to be ready to go to our dinner date at the Winterburn’s house (which we did not know how far away we would be driving).

I was next assigned to getting the water set up. Rachel (our Camp Host) mentioned we would have cable but I discovered we did not bring a wire to go from the cable box to our trailer – oh well.
The last day we watched cable TV was July 27th, 2014! I would not miss having cable really so no biggie.

I had to “plug us in”. That tall structure in the center was PACKED with spider webs and I had to go upside down to find the 30 amp plug. IN THE SUN.
The backside of the TT. My work area IN THE BLAZING HOT SUN.
Our neighbor on the east. We met him and he is a really cool man.
What a disaster! Until you realize IT IS ALL WE OWN so it isn’t THAT much to clean up!
Piper actually seems to enjoy when it’s a complete mess.

Got the water rolling and then we took showers to cool off and prepare the pet’s dinners.  

We began our drive to Jennie and Rob’s place noticing the mountains on our left. It was dry as a bone (something we were getting used to in Simi Valley, California) and definitely “high desert” terrain.

The neighborhood they live in is called Paradise. When we walked through the front door and out on to the deck we could see why. There was a slight haze from the Diaz Fire lingering but through it we could see The Buttermilk’s and Mt Tom. AH-MAZE-ING.  

Jennie is a yoga professional (she has studios in Simi Valley!) and hosts a retreat in Bishop for yoga teachers. The house is zenfully calm, peaceful and serene. The views just add to it. I imagined having a cup of coffee in the morning then working on yoga all day. Ahhhhh….

There were three treats at the house: their pets!  

Willy
 

Juno
 
Their neighborhood survived a terrible 500 acre fire in late 2016 (Owens River Fire) but from the deck we only saw a little haze from the Diaz Fire currently still happening. 

A sublime view from Paradise.
Time flew by too quickly as we dined on Jennie’s home made vegan fare and it was scrumptious! She should open a diner. Yes! A Yoga Diner. Is there one in existence? 

 
We talked about so much and learned a lot about each other – we have a lot more in common which I thought was neat.
After dessert we headed back home to find the pets happy to see us (when aren’t they!?).
The drive home was so peaceful.  Rob and Jennie were our first visit on our journey away from all that we have known and relied on as a home base.  We are grateful and thankful for that time together.

Arriving at The J-Diamond in the darkness was a bit spooky.  The number of trailers (which range in age and aesthetics) lined up around us was awkward and not comfortable.  The heat was still pouring off the ground and buildings.

Randy did his usual “security walk around”. We agreed to sleep with the AC on all night. This is something we both really don’t like at all.

By 9pm we had climbed into bed for our first night in a strange new place and were fast asleep with full happy bellies.
It was a decent Day 1 on our official Wanderlust Journey.

Maiden Voyage #3

Randy on the 3rd lap through the CAT scales. Embarrassing!!

LEAVING SANTA ROSA 

This is our ACTUAL lift off into our 71717 Plan: full wanderlust.

We spent all of June “living” in our travel trailer. We had our house on the market and needed to have a place to go during showings so we just booked a few weeks at the nearby RV Park (which I loved). Tapo Canyon RV Park was excellent and the hosts there are super cool. Tammy and Ed gave us a lot of instruction and guidance answering any and all questions we had.   
I’ll get a post up on that experience later. I’m catching up on my blogging with extremely slow internet speeds plus it is so hot I can barely think.

Destination: Bishop California as a temporary pit-stop on the way to Mammoth Lakes.

Plan: Swing by the CAT Scales then head to Bishop straight (no stopping for food). Maybe one pit stop for gas and pet time to go potty. Arrive at 2pm and get settled in. See if there is any room at Brown’s Campground (they come highly recommended).  Dinner date with The Winterburn’s at 5:30pm.
.

What actually happened aka REALITY

Did you know that a truck towing a travel trailer has three axels. Steer Axel, Drive Axel and Trailer Axel. Joe Stayton and Randy went through the ideal weight on each of these axels. 3900, 4050 and 8800 respectively. In March 2017 we weighed the Lorax 2 and Tundra.

The weight limits are for safety purposes and if you know me, I’m safety minded as a natural instinct. We weighed in OVER on the truck/trailer connection – by 400 lbs! Yikes.  

We are officially hanging with THE TRUCKERS. Yeah!!
The scales do not lie!
 
Starting approximately 6 months ago we began reading blogs about towing to make sure we could actually do it. Our truck (Toyota Tundra can haul 9,000). We have kept it maintained by a very professional mechanic (Mark’s Independent Service in Chatsworth) named Mark Goldsmith. We got our tires from Ralph and Steve at Firestone on LA Ave. Both of these businesses can be trusted completely (if you are looking).

The biggest issue Randy was grappling with was the weight going DOWNHILL. We have a braking system on the trailer (which is good) and our truck breaks. The plan to head up to Mammoth should be fine. Elevation changes from 4100 to 9000 at Lake George. That is a lot of climbing and eventual descending.

We got the green light from a lot of professional and experienced RV friends. On the flip side, 100% of the fellow RV’ers we spoke to (meeting for the first time) had no idea what their weight was and universally “didn’t want to know…it’s probably over the limit” was the response. Are you kidding me? That’s crazy talk in my opinion. I’m a very safety-motivated person.

Luckily it was Sunday and no one was around. We were in Sun Valley California where it appears the local government does NOT care how shabby the streets are – it was awful. Smelly, dirty and unsafe feeling.

We screwed up getting the correct weight twice and definitely pissed the operator off. *gulp… sorry!*

That took us an hour and we were already sort of on each other’s nerves. 

FINALLY, ON THE ROAD
Kona and Zoey are seasoned to ride and get the entire backseat of our truck. It’s like a couch it is so large.

Piper, on the other hand, doesn’t always dig it at first and is a bit nervous clinging onto things and meowing. It took about an hour after leaving the scales for her to chill out and find her “happy place” in between us on the arm rest. She got up and wandered around investigating off and on but for the most part just slept.

​​We had to stop to get gas and let the dogs go pee. The first rest stop we drove into had a giant grassy field with an enormous sign that said KEEP DOGS OFF GRASS. Where are the dogs supposed to go? Oh, the baking heat dirt area. What a crock of BS. I have my eyes opened up more and more with the ignorance humans have toward animals in general but this one is ridiculous. A dog needs to be on cool grass compared to boiling hot dirt. Who MAKES these sites?! I’d guess a really crappy dog owner or person that does not own a dog or any other pet. I made a pact / wish to myself that I’d help create SAFE PLACES for dogs to visit at Rest Stops.

I will say that the CRAPPY DOG OWNERS (the ones that do not pay attention to their pets because they are on their phone so they don’t see them pooping, that do not carry dog waste bags to pick up after their pet, that let their pets walk across boiling hot surfaces, that leave their dog in the car so they can run into the store ‘for a sec’, that use their dog for entertainment of others) make life difficult for pets. Personally I’d lobby for stiffer penalties on any abuse of animals.

ARRIVAL TIME! HELLO BISHOP CALIFORNIA!



It was over 100 degrees when we spotted J-Diamond RV Ranch and Mobile Home Park.  

The entry is right next to Schat’s Bakkery down a long driveway. At the stop sign is a small office and where we checked in meeting Rachel the Camp Host (one of 3).

She assigned us to Site 99 and I admit I got a little happy about it because I just like that number.

We were all anxious to get OUT of the truck after the 5 hours of driving.

We left the AC cranking in the truck with the pets while I held my breath at the challenge that faced Randy in backing our trailer into its new space.


We had 25 feet between a tree (VERY LARGE) and the next door neighbor’s rig. The neighbors were home which meant we were the latest hot entertainment item on the agenda to watch.  

Wife “helps” husband navigate into trailer space.

What could possibly go wrong?

This is the TREE we had to maneuver around to park.

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

 

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.