This was our 2013 Jayco Flight Swift 198 RD


Monday, 6 May 2019

Another Trip

Hi everyone! Thanks for not giving up on my blog writing. I know you must be wondering if there is nothing to write about in my life. There is plenty, but all I can say at this point is that my Mom is not doing so good coping by herself in Germany. My sister went to see her in April but only three weeks after her return to Canada there seems to be another crisis with Mom.  So I am flying out tomorrow to see what I can accomplish.

In the meantime Benno has been very busy with projects around the house.  I had said to him that it would be great if I had an electrical outlet in my shed.  When we assembled it several years ago it didn’t seem necessary to have power in there. After all we have an electrical outlet just about everywhere outside the house, outside and inside the garage, outside and inside Benno’s shed and a full hookup for the camper. This spring Benno thought he would do me the favor and grant me my wish. It never even occurred to me to take pictures of the trench he dug from my garden shed to underneath the deck where the conduit with cable runs to disappear underneath the house into the crawlspace where the cable is connected. Inside my garden shed the conduit comes up neatly at the wall and the outlet is just above the table. It is wonderful that I can now plug in the weed trimmer batteries to charge and to use my new toy, the rock tumbler, in the shed as well. Thanks to my hubby I got it now.

You can hardly see where the conduit is buried as the grass is nicely growing on top of it. I did help with the dirty earthwork, yep, but the rest is Benno’s doing.

Another item on our to do list that got pushed off again and again were the front steps into our house. When we rebuilt, i.e. fixed up the house and the area in front was redone with a concrete pad, there was a gap up to the door that needed a proper step. We temporarily put concrete blocks with a wooden board on top to help the situation and then went on to other things. Over time we got so used to this temporary fix, that we just ignored it. 

I think Benno outdid himself with this project. Look at this beauty of an entrance step. It is so solid and heavy built with the best materials including composite Trex Decking and aluminum powder coated railing, which will last hopefully for many years to come.  

It looks like the weather has finally turned for the better and although the ground is still pretty saturated from all that rain we have had, the sunshine is trying its best to dry out the ground and today I gave it a try by cutting a good section of the grass with my lawn tractor.  Lets hope for many warm and dry days this spring and summer.

I’ll be in Germany close to the Hanseatic City of Stade for the next little while and hope to have better news when I come back. My garden has to wait for my return and maybe the flowers in the garden centers will be all on sale by then. If I can I will pop into the blogs from time to time, otherwise I have to catch up later.

Thanks everyone for checking in. Please do so again, I appreciate it.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

My New Hobby

You must have thought I disappeared with no postings coming forth. As is the case every springtime, there are lots of things to do and clean up outside in our yard. Especially with this new acquired property of ours there will be much more time spent there. However, I got everything under control including inside our house and all is fine and in good shape. Got our income tax returns done, did lots of loads of laundry and have the travel trailer spick and span ready for more trips. Benno replaced the trailer’s two rear tires with new Goodyear Endurance pneus. The curbside tire was toast, but the roadside tire with only little wear (2000 miles) found a new place on the spare tire rim. And while I had Benno working on the trailer, he put a bigger heating duct into the bathroom, which is now toasty warm when we take our showers. He also relocated the sofa mounting in the slide 4 inches closer to the wall so we can now access the rear much better when the slide is in. Hey, every inch helps!

These are some of the quartz, minerals and igneous rocks I collected
I like when they show glittery mica

So now that I got a breather and start to relax more I will tell you about a new hobby of mine. While in the southwest this winter I became interested in rocks. I mean there were colorful and unusual looking stones and rocks all over the place wherever you looked. Every time when I walked with our dogs I would spot some interesting rocks on the ground that intrigued me and I started to pick them up if they weren’t too big for my pockets.

An assortment of Agate rocks some with cryptocrystalline silica

Many of the touristy shops in Arizona have barrels full of polished Agates in just about every color for sale. You just pick the ones you like into provided little cloth sacks until full and pay the price for the size of bag. Now these beautiful little stones or Agates as they are called, are not found that way. The rough stone doesn’t look like it at all and you would probably not even recognize one if you saw it. Only after a polishing process do those Agates become so beautiful.

Just a pretty conversation piece on the table

We met a Geologist in the RV Park in Arizona where we stayed who had a rock tumbler under his trailer. That little machine rotated or tumbled nonstop a pile of rocks he had found. We got talking and I was shown his little treasures. Not only did he use the tumbler to polish rocks, he also extracted in this method gold flakes that were hidden in some quartz.  He had me hooked!

The Geologist who experimented with the rock tumbler

For my birthday Benno got me a Rock Tumbler from the Harbor Freight store. They carry a variety of tumblers and also kits of polishing grit. Since this is all new to me, I started with a couple of kits that contain four varieties of grit and a polishing wheel. For sure I will find other sources where I can purchase grit for this tumbler and it is a learning curve that I am going through. 

My rock tumber

The kit of various polish compounds

I thought this will get me introduced to the process

Some bags of rocks I collected just because I liked them

The rocks I found and collected in Arizona are not Agates. They are for the most part Metamorphic and Sedimentary rocks, which are not suitable to polishing or will not change much after tumbling. I have tested some, using the coarsest grit and tumbled them for 48 hours. You can see the slush when I opened the drum afterwards. After rinsing the rocks and drying them this is what they look like now. Interesting and good enough for the garden but not for display indoors.

The rock tumbler in motion and not very loud

After opening the tumbler this is what it looked like

The rocks that came out after a couple of days tumbling
Their hardness is pretty high on the "Mohs scale", so they do not polish well

Apparently on the beaches of Lake Superior one can find many Agates. However, we live close to Lake Erie and I will have a look if any rocks will meet the criteria for tumbling. So stay tuned for my discoveries.

Rocks typical for Arizona

Wishing everyone a nice springtime and thank you for stopping by again.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Where have we been since my last update?

Where are we now?
At Home, Leamington, Ontario, Canada

I’ve seen a wolf, a bear and a herd of deer among other interesting things since leaving Amarillo. Besides some live ducks and fish however, the rest of the menagerie was not real, which I encountered at the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, Missouri. This particular store was the original and first of the chain of outdoor equipment and it is the largest and most interesting Bass Pro Shop I have ever visited. In addition to the fantastic decorations inside and its mammoth square footage, it also houses a Museum and Restaurant. We were there early in the morning and the Museum was not open yet so unfortunately we did not get to visit it. Next-door is the famous Aquarium, which we also had to forego because of our timing.  However, should we ever drive though town again, this will be a must see destination for us. Out on the parking lot we noticed an RV that seemed to have parked there overnight. Maybe this is an option as I can see to spend a whole day there.

All the above pictures I took with my iPad

Our goal had been to visit the Grizzly Industrial's huge showroom in Springfield, where Benno’s first lathe was purchased. It is a large store with all kinds of equipment that Benno found most interesting and useful for his little shop at home. I only admired the wooden vases on display.

The Grizzly Store

So to backtrack, after leaving Amarillo, TX, we drove to Joplin, Missouri where we overnighted at a Walmart. Not a great stop as it was a Sunday and the cleaning equipment working overnight on the parking lot turned out to be noisy. 
Next day we took the Rt. 66 to Lincoln, Illinois and this Walmart parking lot was a nice stopover and very quiet. Not much to say about the drives as they were uneventful and the scenery through the Plaines becomes a bit monotonous after a while. Next morning, after a good breakfast we packed up and left Lincoln, IL, following the I-55 or Route 66 to Chicago and then turned into the I-80/90, which is a toll road. On our plate was a visit to the Jayco RV factory’s service center in Middlebury, Indiana.

In front of the Jayco Service Centre parked for the night

Why were we going there? Well, in Amarillo, TX, Benno noticed we had an extreme tire-edging problem on our rear axle travel trailer tires. If you recall, in January on our way south we had a tire blowout on our curbside rear axle tire. Benno suspected it was caused by a slight bend or bow in the rear axle, forcing the tire to run on an edge wearing the rubber down to the ply and causing as well extreme wear on the rear roadside tire. I had posted in January that we had purchased and changed all the trailer tires in Yuma, Arizona.

Experiencing a tire blowout on an extreme busy Interstate is very dangerous, including changing the tire on the Interstate shoulder. Knowing that our trailer is not overloaded, we had the urge to talk to someone at the Jayco Service Center to discuss our spring and axle problem and for them to decide how to solve this axle problem.  Jayco’s plant is slightly south of the I-80/90 in Middlebury, IN and not a real detour for us on our trip home to Canada. At the service center we explained our problem and Jayco decided that this is a problem of the trailer’s frame and axle manufacturer, Lippert Components in Goshen, IN, actually only a few miles down the road from Jayco. 

We were given a contact number at Lippert and Jayco let use me one of their phones from were I made some phone calls to Lippert to find the right person to speak to but it was getting close to their closing time and we could not get much progress accomplished. Jayco offered us to stay overnight in front of their office for the night that we gratefully accepted. They had electricity and water for our trailer and a dump station at the parking lot in addition to free wifi for our use. This gesture was very nice and we appreciated it.

Our travel trailer inside Lippert's Shop

Next morning we decided to drive to the Lippert Axle Customer Centre instead of making more phone calls. Right away the expert was crawling under our trailer. When he came back up he shook his head and consulted with the manager. We were told to unhook the trailer so they could take the trailer into the shop for further inspection. In the shop the trailer was moved onto the weight scale sensors for the tongue jack and each tire. The sensors are hooked to a special portable computer with printer, which printed out the weight values on each tire and the tongue jack.

The waiting room at Lippert, complete with TV, fireplace,
Magazines, comfy recliners, Coffee bar and dog treats
and a friendly staff!

Our Jayco 24ft White Hawk trailer has two 3,000 lbs. axles and the Lippert Axle Service Centre discovered that our trailer’s weight on the axles and jack was below the limit. Therefore the manager decided to change our two axles at no cost to us, right there and then in the shop. But, they had no new 3,000 lbs. axles in stock, so it was decided to fit two new 4,400 lbs. axles, including new springs, brakes, new style pins with grease nipples and associated hardware under our trailer free of charge. WOW! We didn’t expect that but we were on cloud nine and are so relieved.

A couple of new tires are on order to replace the new, but already worn rear axle tires out so we are ready to go when we get the hitch itch again.

Although no immediate travels are planned, stay tuned what we might be into here at home. Thanks for visiting and we hope everyone underway home has a safe trip home.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

My Birthday Celebration at the Big Texan Steak House

Where are we now?
AOK Camping RV, Amarillo TX

Today is my birthday and we started out with a champagne brunch, which were followed with a dinner at the World Famous Texan Steakhouse here in Amarillo. It is voted “top ten” steak houses in America by Maxim Magazine. Also it offers a FREE 72oz (that’s 2014 grams) steak dinner with baked potato, vegetables, dinner roll and an appetizer if all eaten within one hour. Not only is this huge dinner for free if you manage to wolf that down, but the restaurant also has a FREE Limo service that will pick you up from “Motels/Hotels/and RV Parks” and bring you back regardless of what you are going to eat.  But there is ample parking around this restaurant in addition for RV parking in the back, so you don’t have to unhook and even an overnight equestrian accommodation should you decide to ride on in. I noticed an enclosed dog walking area between the parking lot and their own Motel that is next to the restaurant. The “Big Texan” is right next to the I-40 at Exit #74.

We were there in the morning (it's open from 7:30 - 10:30) to inquire if we needed a reservation for dinner, hence the almost empty parking lot

The bar still empty and longhorns for sale

You can do some shooting or try your luck at the slots

How about a bear hug?

You can cuddle up to this fella on the bench
or order some in-house made ice cream

Benno entertaining the sales lady at the HUGE Souvenir store

Some of the items for sale & far too much stuff to take pictures of

Their own Motel strip

We arrived for our dinner

Starting with the appetizers

Our dinner arrived

Halfway through my Prime Rib dinner
Ohh did I tell you if its your birthday your dinner is FREE!

Three guys attempting to eat each a 72oz (4.5 lbs) steak dinner
within one hour. Note the wastebaskets beside each seat!

Note the guy on the right is almost done with his steak after half an hour
and now is working on his baked potato.
 I asked him if he would eat another steak and he almost fainted!

And this is what a 72oz steak looks like.

Travelling just past the Steak House on I-40, at Exit 72A, you cannot miss the impressive building of the Quarter Horse Hall of Fame to be seen next to the overpass. While I am not into horses per se or know how to ride one, I do appreciate a good horse show and have enjoyed watching horse races. The sculptures outside the building are impressive and a peek inside told me that if interested, a visit would be worth your while to view the many memorabilia. 

Another landmark often written about in this area is the Cadillac Ranch. Located next to the I-40, on a cow pasture are 10 graffiti-covered Cadillac’s standing upright in a row, buried nose-first in the ground. It started way back in 1974 where the Cadillac’s were buried in a wheat field but relocated to its present location in 1997. The purpose behind this innovative artwork was to be an interactive monument so people could express themselves.

We went to see the Cadillac’s among a throng of other onlookers. Some were equipped with a bag full of spray paint cans so they could leave their mark. However, most creations, regardless of how carefully applied, only lived as long as the next likeminded visitor arrived.

Hopefully you didn't get tired of the many pictures in todays posting. We will be off tomorrow morning and heading north-east. Thanks for visiting and see you again soon.