Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stone Hill Winery Tour...

I am catching up a bit here and in looking through my photos I found the ones from Stone Hill Winery in Hermann, MO.

"It is commonly believed that the Hermann area’s resemblance to the Rhine Valley prompted scouts from the German Settlement Society of Philadelphia to choose the site for a colony on the American frontier. - See more"

Hermann is well known in the area along the Missouri River wine country.  It has many wineries in and around the town as well as breweries.  I LOVE going to Hermann.  The views are breathtaking and so beautiful.

In July of 2012, we got together with our friends Marshell and Janet and headed to wine country.  We weren't really sure what we would do once there, but in Hermann, you can always find something.  

It was a hot hot HOT day, so what do you do on a hot day in wine country?  

Head to the winery and take a tour of the wine caves of course! cool and refreshing!

Gman and Me

Marshell and Janet--Yeah--Marshell doesn't do photos!  LOL
At the outset, we met our tour guide who gave us a mini lecture on the valley, it's origins and the winery itself.  According to him, this is the oldest winery in the valley.  Another winery also claims that distinction.  Let's just say they have both been there for a long time.  :)

Our Tour guide.  Look at the beautiful rolling hills behind him...
So, down into the caves we go...

Marshell (front) and Gman (behind) in the cask room.
The first area you enter is this room.  It is so cool--a nice constant 70 degrees-ish throughout the year.  According to the guide, back in the 1800's and early 1900's the workers and families would actually sleep in the cellars in the hot summer.  Wouldn't that have been super????  Nature's a/c.

See the arches in the walls behind the barrels?  Those used to be where the fronts of the huge barrels would be in the earlier times before prohibition.  The barrels were as large as those arches and according to the guide the fronts of the barrels were intricately carved with saints.

During prohibition, the winery was allowed to continue to produce wines for use by the Catholic Church in their services for many years.

Alas, along the way, even the Catholic Church couldn't keep the government from demolishing the barrels and the wine.

According to the guide, the fronts of the huge barrels disappeared one night--thought to have spirited away by the priests or parishioners to preserve the carvings of the saints--but they have never been found again, so they were hidden quite well it would seem.

Here are a couple of the barrels.  The first from 2011 and the second from 2012.  You can see they are from different manufacturers and according to the guide, they are chosen for the specific year to enhance the flavors for that year's crop.

Next we headed to the white wine room.  White wine is kept in these tall stainless steel tanks which are so cold there is ice on the outsides...
Ice on the outsides of the tanks

32.1 degrees.  Yep, pretty cold.  :)

When it is triple digits outside, it is sure interesting to see a frozen bubble at the end of a pipe.
The next area is the area where there are a lot of barrels of wine aging deeper into the cellar...
Wine barrels--the ones in the rear are so big a man looks dwarfed standing next to them!

Okay, I confess...

Somewhere during the white wine ice tanks and this area I met a couple who were on their honeymoon.  They were SO CUTE!  I mean REALLY!  

I offered to take their pictures in the cellar and they readily agreed, handing me their Iphone.  We laughed and snapped photos and had a grand time--even losing the tour at times.  

This is why I have no pix of me or gman or our friends in front of those huge barrels.  

But the honeymooners have some great shots, let me tell you!  And we had a wonderful time!  Ahhhhh...young love...

Go figure!  LOL

Now, back to the tour...

More wine aging as we climbed up into the finishing room that you can see through that door at the end....

This is our guide showing us how they rack the wine.  He said this is sparkling wine at the moment.
Janet, Gman and Marshell listening to the guide
So, that cute couple and I caught up to the tour in the finishing room just before we headed up to the tasting room conveniently located just through the wooden doors that you can see behind the ladies in pink shirts.

This is a beautiful bar upstairs.  I have not seen it in use but look at how rich and beautiful it is!

Here is a barrel as it looks when the staves are attached at the bottom but have not yet been brought in to the top.

And here is a finished barrel ready to receive and protect it's delicious nectar...

And this is a panoramic shot of the valley and winery from around 1900.  You can see the rows of grapes in the foreground of the picture with the town in the rear...

I have the cutest picture of all of us posing in cutouts by the wine tasting room but haven't found the shot yet.  Hmmmm...

Oh well, another time for that.

Hope you liked the tour.  We ended up sharing a bottle of wine, some cheese and crackers and a great view with friends.

Great day!  Great day indeed!  :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mother Gets A New Fridge...

The Mother Ship came with a pretty side by side refrigerator with wooden panels that match the cabinets.  We loved the fact that it was side by side and had an ice maker.

As time went by, we found that we never used the ice maker because most of the campgrounds that we stayed at were on well water or water that we didn't want to drink--even using a whole camper filter so the ice maker turned out to be a waste of space for us.
The original RV fridge

We were sitting in the camper one day when my eyes began to burn.

Just as I began to ask Gman if his eyes were burning, the propane detector began blaring!

We vacated the camper and then opened everything that could be opened to air it out.

As it turns out, according to the internet, RV propane/electric fridges use Ammonia, hydrogen and an anti-corrosive agent.  No wonder my eyes were burning when that leaked out!

We checked around and found that to replace that 12 cu ft side by side would cost somewhere north of $4,000.  Yep!  For that, we could get a Sub Zero!  Are you kidding???!!!

We needed to get the fridge replaced as it was JUNE!  Yes JUNE!

Thankfully we were staying not far from my parent's home and were able to tote everything to the extra fridge in their garage and our little chest freezer that we had in their garage.

We did some noodling and measuring and found that in a camper of the size of ours, we didn't really use it unless it was parked in a campground so we didn't need the option of running on propane.

Out came the fridge.
The fridge and shelf that the fridge sat on removed from the camper.

We could not believe how BIG that thing looked once it was out!  And HEAVY!!!!  Wowzers!

Next, we sawed out the supports and took out the drawer that was underneath the old fridge which left us with a nice opening.

Space after removal of drawer and old fridge.

The gas line was crimped and soldered and cut off and the hard wiring was capped off.  I was totally surprised that there was an electrical plug in there already!  Nice!

Arrow points to old vent which is now insulated and covered.
Next we insulated the fridge vent as we would no longer be needing it since we would not be using a propane fridge.  We covered the insulation (which used to be around the old fridge) with a panel of 1/4" steel--a leftover that our friend had from one of his projects.  It was caulked and voila!  Done!

Grooves in new ceiling of opening to let out heat from new fridge.
The area above the fridge was covered with another piece of that 1/4" steel plate into which a couple of vents were cut so that the heat from the new fridge could go up and out of the camper.  You can see the two little grooves toward the back if you look closely in the picture.

It was now time to do some shopping.

The final opening was measured again and then I checked all around on the internet.  We could pretty much get any size household fridge--even the cute french door fridges (which totally make me weak in the knees!  I LOVE those!)

There was one big consideration though.  We had to be sure it would fit through the doorway into the camper.

After looking around for quite a while, I decided on a regular black 18 cu ft fridge.  No ice maker, thanks!

We headed to Sears Outlet and bought the new fridge.  According to the internet, the 18 cu ft model we were getting actually weighed 50 lbs less than the 12 cu ft model that was originally there because it didn't need the extra propane part of the fridge.  The new fridge was more efficient as well.


We had to wait 6 long days for the new fridge to be delivered, but the day finally arrived!

The guys had never delivered to an RV before.  This was a first!

They were not sure they could get it into the camper.  Yep, you can.  Measured.  Double Measured and visited the store to measure in person.  It will fit guys.

And it did--without removing the doors.

Installing the new fridge!
The guys got it into the camper and slid it right into place.  

It looked like the opening was made for that puppy!  Perfect!

I could have gotten a cabinet depth model but this one just sticks out about the same amount that the doors are thick which allows the fridge doors to fully open but doesn't stick out so much that it gets in the way at all.

They leveled, left and carted the old fridge off.  Their first RV fridge cart off.  :)

And now, we have a nice residential fridge that weighs less than the original fridge but has 50% more space and is much more energy efficient.  We love it!
New Fridge.  Perfect!
When we move the camper, I just put some duct tape on the doors to secure them and off we go!  No big deal and the food stays cold a LOT longer than with the old fridge!

You know what else I love about the new fridge?

With the addition of some fluorescent dry erase markers, it is also a great dry erase board!
Fluorescent dry erase markers make the fridge a GREAT dry erase board!
I use it all the time to keep my grocery list and mark down appointments or recipes that I don't want to forget!  (I use the front of my microwave for that too and it works great!)

Funny.  I was so worried about putting a residential fridge into our camper and lately Gman and I have been touring the new campers.  The big ones all come with the residential fridges now!  

We were ahead of the game.

Go figure!  :)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mother Gets A Bath...

I was telling you about getting ready to move from Missouri in this post.

Part of what I mentioned was that the Mother Ship (our 5th wheel) was all cleaned, closed up and ready to go.  Today I am going to tell you about how I cleaned our 5th wheel--the easier way...

A gentleman in Missouri and I were talking about my poor camper one day while he was working on her refrigerator which had failed.  That's another story.  Oye!

This gentleman used to work for a camper dealer doing the detailing and was kind enough to share one of his tricks with me.

So, here we go!

First, get your supplies together...
Supplies you will need...
A Power Washer
Ladder  (you can just see mine in the background)
Clorox Bleach (he was very specific that you use Clorox and don't get the generic brands)
Bug Sprayer
Original Blue Dawn Dish Soap

Now, in the bug sprayer mix the Clorox 1:1 with water.
Add a couple of nice squeezes of Dawn.
Put the top on, tighten and pump it up.

Hook up the Power washer to the hose and be sure that the water is turned on and it is ready.
Get your ladder in place and ready to go.

NOW...and this is the IMPORTANT THING THAT HE STRESSED...Once you begin, do NOT stop.  You MUST always work with a wet edge.  Do NOT let it dry before you are finished!

This would be most easily accomplished with two people--one to use the power washer and one to spray the cleaner.  I did it alone and it worked okay though.

I decided that as long as I did a whole side, I would be okay--just don't stop in the middle of a flat surface until you get to the corner.

Here is Mother...
Mother Ship is very dirty!

Poor girl!
As you can see, the Mother Ship is very dirty from sitting under the trees for a few years while parked in Missouri and was in desperate need of attention!

So, spray with the power washer to wet the surface.

Work on small spaces, working from the bottom to the top, never allowing it to dry until you are completely finished.  

Using the bug sprayer, spray a small area with cleaner, then spray off with power washer, never letting the cleaning solution dry before spraying off with power washer.  Always keep a wet edge.

Hard to see here, but I have sprayed the cleaning solution on the bottom of the camper here.
Now, repeat in the next section, working your way from top to bottom.
Look at the difference where it is washed and where it has not been cleaned yet!
See the bottom is washed and the top is not...

Can you believe the difference????  

No scrubbing...just wet, spray cleaner, power wash!

Our camper is 40 ft long and has two large slides.  

It took me about 5-6 hours working alone.  And be prepared to climb up and down the ladder--a LOT!

I actually forgot to take a picture of the fully cleaned camper because, well, I was tired, hot and covered with cleaner (bleach and dawn) and just wanted to hit the shower!  Sorry!

Suffice it to say if I can do the whole thing by myself in one day and have a nice clean camper, YOU can too!

I LOVE the no scrubbing part too!  :)

Happy camping!