Tuesday, December 7, 2010

There's No Place Like Home For The Holidays...

For those of you who don't know where we are--since I haven't kept up with my blog of late--we are in Missouri at Kan-Do Kampground in Danville, MO. We have been here since late June of 2010.
We came through on our way to Kansas from Florida, NY for Dr appointments and to see the family over the Memorial Day weekend in May.
Dad had an accident on Memorial Day about 9 miles from home. As it turned out, he had fallen asleep twice and on the third time (in just 9 miles!) he went off of highway 70 crossing an entrance ramp in the process. It was not the first of the incidents he had in the past few years in his vehicle, but it was the last. It was time to take care of dad and mom and all the other drivers on the road and be thankful that he was not seriously injured and neither was anyone else.
Tom and Nina live next door to mom and dad and had been helping them as they needed it, but now, with Dr appointments and other needs and no car, their needs were more than Tom and Nina could handle.
In the big picture of life, some things become clear over time and this was one of those times. Having sold our house and living in our 5th wheel, it allowed Jim and myself to make the decision to move the camper to Missouri so mom and dad would have someone to drive them where they needed to go. If we weren't living in the camper, we would not have been free to move to MO so quickly.
So, arrangements made, we pulled in and here we are--back where we started from in 2009 at Kan-Do Kampground!
During the summer, Kathy was working on updates around the campground. They have worked on infrastructure since purchasing the campground and 2010 was the year to concentrate on the "pretty" stuff. Among that was frogs--everywhere! Kathy loves the frogs--"it's all about the frog" is her mantra. It started in her gardens, was added to the entrance sign, appeared on the Site of the Month sign, morphed into a birthday frog who shows up at sites of birthday folks for a party, became numbers for all of the sites and even came to the doors of the bathrooms! This frog really gets around! (more on the frogs later--really!)
So, in mid summer, the campground sign got a facelift to Kiwi (frog green) with black lettering. Man can you see the sign now! GREAT JOB Kathy and Drew! Wait! Where is Drew? THERE he is--on the other side of the sign talking to Dane and Dave (two of the long-term campers!) Don't you just LOVE the color????
So, why all this background talk of frogs, you ask? Well, as with last year, Jim and I decided that we would get an ornament that speaks to where we are each Christmas.
Not wanting to be "normal", we wanted to find things that meant something to us.
Last year (in New York) was the Dunkin Donuts Snowman because there is a Dunkin Donuts on every block in New York! (and I found I really LOVE their coffee!!!!) It was a close race between the Swaravsky crystal ornament that looks like the one on the top of the tree in Rockefeller Center and the snowman. The snowman won because he was a part of our daily lives.
THIS YEAR, being near St. Louis, you might think I would choose the Arch--but, the frog is a part of our daily lives here, so I went in search of a frog ornament. I looked high and low. I even checked out the Bass Pro Shops website for a frog fishing lure!
I watched the campground for Drew and Kathy while they visited their kids and grandkids in Minnesota for Thanksgiving and when they returned, Kathy had my birthday present!
Yep--a frog ornament!
She found it in Minnesota while shopping with her daughter! Isn't he a cutie???? So happy and ready for a Christmas party!
He is front and center on the Christmas tree this year--and to his right is the snowman.
You can barely see on the right side of the picture behind the bone with Frank the Pug's picture is our TSO ornament. We went to TransSyberian Orchestra concert in 2006 in Wichita, KS with Tom, Nina and their kids. It was an awesome show and if you get the chance--definitely worth the price of admission!
Each and every one of the ornaments on the tree have special meaning to us, from the snowflake crocheted by my mom to the red bird from Jim's mom to the NASCAR #88 ornaments and the dog bones with the pictures of our 3 dogs.
Above the tree are some snowmen. I sure hope that these are the only snowmen we see or have the "snow" for this year!
On the other side of the coach is the slide. I used the opening for a wooden cranberry string along with rusted metal star garland.
In the middle is a larger rusted metal star ornament and a woodland sign that welcomes and invites all to rest their Christmas Hearts here!
Anchoring the left side of the garland are the dog's Christmas stockings.
We have our black lab (originally for Bo, but now Tank claims it) and the Fawn Pug for Frank. I have not found a black pug stocking for Tango, so he has to share with his pug brother. He says he doesn't care as along as Santa Paws knows to leave two of everything in that stocking!
At the top of the stockings is a tiny #88 stocking. It isn't really for anyone, but just our love of NASCAR. :) Love us, love our driver!
On the right side is a Christmas stocking that I made years ago. It is made from some of the ribbons taken from the floral arrangements of my Grandpa Long. Pop Pop (As he was called) used to give me Kennedy half dollars for Christmas. I still have them!
My Grandma Long (Dad's mom) saved the ribbons from the arrangements in a shoebox with a label stating where the ribbon originated. It seemed a shame to keep the beautiful satin hidden, so I asked for and received some gold and red ribbon which I made into a patchwork pattern, stitched with green thread. Green Crochet stitching holds the stocking together and makes the little loop to hang it. Yes, I did the Crochet as well. Some of you have seen and even own some of my crochet projects--some of you will find this surprising. Well, SURPRISE! hehe!
So at this time of Christ's birth, I wish you a warm Christmas with many happy times that you can look back on and smile! Merry Christmas from our home to yours!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hot Time In The Summer!

Hey! Long time, no posts! I know--I am BAD!!!
How do you like the new background for the posts? I chose this one because the colors remind me of the hot, humid days of summer--which we have definitely had here!!!
Where is here you might ask? Well--it is Missouri! Yep--the last blog was the trip from Missouri to New York. And now, surprise! We are back in Missouri.
A lot happened between and I am gonna start to tell you about the between right now!
When last we gathered, I left you with stranded Tom having just arrived at Black Bear Campground in Florida, NY and angry wife, Nina! Well...
Jim flew to KS to pick up Junior. No, not our son--the car. All of you who know us, know who Junior is and why we would name a car Junior--for those of you who don't know us, THIS is Junior....
Tom and I fixed up the camper. Tom gave me a nice tutorial about the propane tanks and how to hook them up. The campground delivered a 100 lb propane cylinder to the camper and we went to connect the hose to it. We found that the propane hoses on the camper were stiff and one was leaking, so we replaced them with longer hoses that would be easier to hook up to the big cylinder that sits outside of the camper.
Tom explained that the threads for the propane are counter clockwise, so instead of righty tighty, lefty loosey--they are righty loosey lefty tighty and use a 7/8" wrench (which was put on my to do list--Tom had one in his tool bag--of course--but I didn't have anything that large).
He also explained that when the tank is empty, it will automatically switch to the other tank and red appears in a little window on the valves indicating that it is time to switch out tanks.
With the camper set up, hooked up and propane attached, we headed to Sam's Club where I bought new tires for my Durango (I was planning to buy new ones before winter anyway and just had not done so). While those were being mounted we walked to Olive Garden and got dinner and talked NASCAR (seriously--what ELSE would one talk about????)
New tires on, I stocked up on groceries and Tom headed to Missouri in my Durango the next morning--though he felt bad leaving me with no vehicle. Seriously--I had food, water and the dogs and Jim would be passing him on the highway on his way to NY with Junior--so it wouldn't be for long.
Tom and Nina had a trip to Kansas planned for the weekend to see Trans Syberian Orchestra in Wichita with their kids. It's a yearly event (we enjoyed it with them one year as well and TSO is definitely worth the ticket!). They took the Durango to Wichita and back to MO and when Tom's truck was ready, Tom brought the Durango back, picked up his truck and drove his truck with new heavy duty tranny back to MO. James at Duro Transmission really did a great job and to this day, it is in great shape!
I decided to use the time after Tom left and before Jim arrived to put all of the "stuff" together in the camper. When moving the camper, all items have to be cleared from the counters (I put a bath towel in the bathtub and the clothes basket and pack most of the heavier items in there--the rest go in the kitchen sink wrapped in a towel) and the cabinets have to be secured (I like to use the baby locks to hold the doors closed. Originally I used zip ties, but they have to be cut when you need to access the cabinets and then you have to find the zips to tie it shut again, so the baby locks are better for my use). All of the packing has to be reversed and set up into a "home" again, so I nested.
After I was done with the nesting, I pulled out the computer and went about learing to "winterize" a camper. Here are some of the sites that I found to be most helpful: http://www.rvliving.net/winter.htm , http://www.marxrv.com/skp/survive.htm , http://www.rverscorner.com/articles/winter.html .
After reading, I made a list of items that I thought would be helpful for winterizing the camper and set about making a plan to hunker down for the cold, dark days ahead (remember this is Halloween and we are now in the mountains!)
By the time Jim and Junior arrived, I had a plan of attack for winterizing the camper, had everything set up and was nesting in for the beautiful fall in the mountains.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Missed It By THAT MUCH...

Okay. All of you Get Smart fans will truly "get" that title! If you are too young for that, go check out Nik at Night...It's a really fun show! When we left the last blog, the repairs to our new home were complete and we hitched up to Tom's truck and were ready to take off. Tom has a Dodge Ram 3/4 ton pickup with tow package and heavy suspension, a cummins diesel engine--and 220,000 miles. He is the best driver that I know and I wouldn't want anyone else to drive my 5th wheel if I have a choice. So, off we went. We parked at the rest area on the state line of IL and IN just on the Indiana border. It is a really nice rest area and even has designated RV parking! I figured we would be parked between the semi trucks, which is just fine for the night, but this was great! Tom parked in the first RV space and I parked in the "car" space right next to it. This gave us the opportunity to try out the onboard pump--which worked great! We didn't put out the slides, we just hit the couch and bed--Tom got the couch with Tank to keep him company and I hit the bed with the flat screen TV and two pugs to keep me company. Next morning, we were up early and heading on down the road. Everything was going well. We stopped often to let the engines cool and let the dogs "walk". Somewhere around noonish, we started hitting the mountains--those would be the Appilachians of which the Poconos are a part. When we made it over Snowshoe Mountain, it was a fine day! We knew the worst was behind us and all was well. Tom's truck was trucking right along, the camper was following it (which is GOOD!) and I was following both in my Durango. We stopped at the Wal-Mart at Bloomsburg, PA along I-80 with only a couple of hours of driving the next day. We would be at Black Bear Campground in Florida, NY by noonish. This is good because it does take quite a while to level, set the 5th wheel up and unpack all of the stuff that was stowed for the trip. Getting there with as much daylight as possible was great! We parked in the Wal-Mart lot and I proceeded to let the dogs out. Apparently, Tank really wanted to "go" because he came over the back of the front seat like he had wings. The pugs were sitting on all of the bed pillows which I had stacked in the passenger seat so that they could look out of the window and be comfortable. Well, when Tank came flying over and out, the pillows came out too. Frank jumped for his life and landed fine. Tango (our black pug) didn't fare as well. He landed in a heap of pillows and pug with a yelp. Now, Tango NEVER yelps! He lived the first 5 years of his life in a puppy mill as a stud and vocalizing didn't help. We were so happy to get him and he had lived with us for about 2 years. You never saw Jim without his little shadow. If Tango could, he would be touching Jim--even when Jim was walking. So, I knew Tango was hurt. He got up and couldn't put weight on his front paw. I thought "Oh great! I just broke Jim's baby's leg! I am dead meat!" Tom took Tank (the two of them were really bonding!) and I carried Tango over to potty along with Frank. Now, a male dog on only 3 legs trying to mark territory is just, well, funny--if he wasn't hurt! I checked him over and no big bones seemed to be broken and he could pull away from me, so his joints were okay. I decided to see how he slept for the night and see if it was just a sprain. Tom and I headed into Wal-Mart to get a couple of things and then hit the hay like the night before. By this time Tank didn't even come up to the bedroom--he just went straight to the couch with Tom. We woke up the next morning between a semi and the biggest horse trailer I think I have ever seen--that wasn't a semi. Tango still didn't care to use his leg when he went out in the morning. I was still hopeful though. So, we headed off to the east with the big mountains behind us. Or so we thought... Turned out that when we got to Hwy 84 and headed east we were certainly NOT out of the mountains! All was going well. We were getting close. There was a light rain which was keeping all of the tires nice and cool. And then we met Pocono Mountain! Oye! It was 4 miles straight up! Tom's truck was only able to pull the camper doing 20-25 mph! We got to the top. All was well. We started down the other side. Then... Boom! A puff of bluish smoke! I called Tom and said that there was a big cloud of smoke coming out. He pulled to the shoulder of the road. It was leaking something black all over the ground. No, not oil--transmission fluid! Now, we all know that transmission fluid should be cherry red. Black is NOT good! I looked at the exit and it said "Middletown". Halleluhia! Middletown was only about 18 miles from the campground! I knew there was a Wal-Mart in Middletown. We drove in and got a bunch of transmission fluid and some of that really thick stuff that is supposed to stop a leak. Got back to the truck and Tom dumped it in. It seemed okay. Not leaking too badly. Tom started the truck and began to pull off of the highway to the exit. By the time he got to the exit, the truck was leaking again. He pulled off onto the shoulder of the exit. Transmission fluid was leaking out like it was a hose attached to a faucet. We went to a major store in town that has tires and all. Tom asked the guy if he knew of a transmission shop. The guy directed him to AAMCO. As Tom was leaving, another guy asked if Tom wanted AAMCO or a GOOD shop. Well, let's see... So, we headed to Duro Transmission on Rt 211 in Middletown and talked to James who owns the shop. It is a one man shop and James seemed to know what he was about. He actually builds the transmissions himself. This is something that you just don't find! You could tell he really takes pride in his work. So, Tom arranged for James to tow the truck to his shop and I started calling around to find someone to pull the camper on to the campground. Boy! Was it a good thing we had plenty of daylight! I called a guy who gave me the name of a guy who had a guy named Martine (pronounced Martini--like the drink--he told me) call me. Martine sounded like "The Godfather" on the phone. He was really nice and gave me another name. What in the world was going on???? NO one had a truck to pull a 40 ft camper??? Really??? So, I called the number that Martine gave me. This was Hockenberry's. I was really tired, wet from the rain, and feeling just a bit cranky by this time, but trying not to let my frustration show as I went through all of the calls. After all, all of these guys were really trying to help us--they just couldn't help us themselves. They certainly didn't HAVE to network on my behalf, but they were going out of their way to help a stranded stranger. I might take this opportunity to say--there really ARE great people everywhere! So, I asked Hockenberry if he could pull the camper--expecting him to say he couldn't and to give me yet another name to call. But, much to my extreme surprise, he said, "Sure. No problem. We can get you there! Be right over." He was so chipper and friendly that I just wanted to whoop and holler! I had a ride! In a while. He was over the Greenville Mountain in the tri-state area and it would take a while to get to us. I had no idea where Greenville Mountain and the tri-state area were, but hey! He was happy to come and I was ecstatic to have him on the way! We headed over to Duro Transmission and got Tom's clothes and tools out of his poor truck. The transmission would take about 10 days. Then, we headed back to the camper. The guy arrived in a huge wrecker. Not those wreckers that we see all of the time--this is a wrecker like you see on Wrecked on SPEED TV! Kind of like this one... Yep--That should do the job! Well, turns out it was Charles Hockenberry, who owns the company. He told us that everyone was busy because of the rain and the mountains and people were wrecking, so all of the wreckers were out. He is about my age and has several trucks. His sons and daughter work for him as well. He just happened to have just finished a job and was ready to hop in and help us! Nicest guy you would ever want to meet! He was nice and told us about the area as he attached the hitch to the back of the truck and then hooked us up. Then, of course, our light connection was not the same as his, so he put his portable lights on the camper and ran the wires to his truck. He asked where we were going and we told him. He looked at our written directions and asked if it was by Suresky's. Not a clue! Don't even know what a Suresky is (turns out it is a large Chrysler car dealership in this area) but he seemed to know where he was going. We followed him up and around the hills and ridges and twisting roads. Not hard to follow him--He had what seemed like a million amber spotlights on top of the truck--all flashing! We got to Florida, NY and went down the center of town following the flashing lights with my camper attached. People definitely knew we had arrived! :-D Once you get to Florida, there are signs all through town pointing to "Campground". You will NOT get lost! We pulled into the campground (I had called ahead to let them know that we had vehicle trouble and would be later than we planned, but were on the way). I was headed into the office when the guy came out. He definitely knew we had arrived! It was quite a site that greeted him--huge wrecker pulling huge camper followed by bright red Durango. What a convoy! I had my wallet out, but he just waved us on, gave us directions to the pull through sites and said to take care of the camper and then head back down tomorrow to take care of the site cost. He looked a little shaken actually. So, off went our little caravan--up the hill. I looked at the 5th wheel in the pull through closest to the road. The front was so far off the ground that the guy could park his giant pickup under the gooseneck! Really? Uh, no! We got out--as did the drive of the wrecker. We asked if he could give us a minute to look at the spaces to find one that was a little more level. Sure! He jumped out and helped us find a good spot. He seemed like he was actually enjoying this looking around, picking out the perfect spot. He found a great one! Then, he pulls out his cell and calls the office to ask if we can use this back in spot instead of a pull-through. Nope. This spot didn't have water and electric, but the one next to it did. Can you believe the tow truck driver actually used HIS cell to call the office for US???? I mean, this guy takes customer service to a new level! He backed the camper in and then with the winch? (Hydraulic lift thingy that picks up a car) on the back of his truck, lifted the camper until it was level to make the process much easier because it was beginning to get darker outside. It was sure a snap to level the camper with the help of him and his truck! He gave me the bill--I gave him a LOT of bills--and we were ready to begin the rest of the setting up process. What a day! But, we were here and ready to set up our home in it's new location. Jim would be up the next day after work. All was well--well kind of--Tom still didn't have his truck. But he did have a new buddy! Uh, and an unhappy wife...in Missouri... Who is gonna KILL me if she ever sees this picture! ;-D