This was our 2013 Jayco Flight Swift 198 RD


Friday 29 January 2016

This doesn’t look like Robertsdale, where is this?

A whole month in Robertsdale, Alabama went by and Benno and I get the urge for wanderlust again.  Our stay in the Hilltop RV Park had been a pleasant experience made especially enjoyable by the nice folks we met there.  Across from our camper Don and Nancy from Great Valley, NY with their little adopted dog were great people we had lively conversations with.  Also Jim and Nanne from Sioux Fall, SD who parked their motorhome next to our trailer were super nice neighbors.  I might have mentioned sometime ago that I usually don’t care much for planned activities, but Nancy had asked me if I wanted to accompany her to one of the craft activity afternoons in the clubhouse and so I went.  There a bunch of ladies got together to create cones from a Styrofoam egg, decorated with small pieces of ribbon which were fastened with pins.  I had come empty handed but Nancy was gracious and handed me an egg, a roll of green ribbon, the use of her scissors and I think I used up half of a box of pins the brought.  Thank you Nancy!

This is my finished project.  At the end of two hours we arranged all the completed cones in a pile for a picture.  Maybe my granddaughters might like to make some cones with me once they are a little older, now that I know how to make these.

So to explain the above pictures of our location, we are now parked at Cliftwood Mobile Home and RV Park in Ocala, Florida and yes, it is quite a bit warmer here than Alabama, because we are much farther south.  We just arrived yesterday so aside from a shopping trip into town this morning which revealed more reasonable grocery prices than in Pensacola, two very close by Winn Dixie Supermarkets, Aldi stores, huge Walmart stores and so on, I have nothing negative to report. Had to tie down Benno to the pickup, when he spotted a Northern Tool store, a TSC store and a Harbor Freight store in town. For sure there will be another time for that, I could not handle this thrill today. My overall impression is that I think this is a good place to stay for a while.

And now here is a little account of our last week in Robertsdale.  While Benno and I were out for a stroll at the shopping plaza in Spanish Fort, close to Mobile, AL, we popped into the Pet Smart store.  For one reason, we like to look at cute pets, for another reason because for quite some time we had been toying with the idea of getting a dog again and all the necessary paraphernalia needed was of interest to us.  We are Dachshund lovers.  You might have guessed as much since we included in our sidebar at the header ‘Blogs we follow’ “5C’s Que Pasa”, and “Where are the Dixons Today”, who both own a couple of adorable Dachshunds that look just like the ones we had. Over the timespan of 40 years we had four Dachshunds (wiener dogs many people call them).  As it happened, while we were in the Pet Smart store a Pet Adoption program was underway.  “Shana”, the owner of the Animal Rescue organization had brought in 5 crates with Pit-Bull dogs, which were ready for adoption. Pitt-Bull is not our kind of dog, but Benno talked to the lady in charge and told her that we considered getting another Dachshund. “Oh,” She said, “A woman asked me yesterday if I had space for a Dachshund but my crates were all taken, so I couldn’t take it.  If you want, I will text her to send me a picture of the dog and I’ll forward it to you.”  She went on to explain that the dog was 18 months old and not properly house trained and a retired couple with lots of time would be a good fit for it.  Were we interested?  Of course we were. 
Later in the afternoon I called Shana if she had received the picture, but she hadn’t. No picture the next day either.  Then the following evening we got an email with a picture of a cute black and brown Dachshund held by a young, sad looking girl.  My immediate reaction was, you wouldn’t take away the girls pet, now would you?  Of course the Dachshund looked adorable and we liked her so I emailed Shana right back that we were interested and would like to meet the dog. 
However, we got no reply and two more phone calls to Shana with the offer to give our contact numbers to the owner of the Dachshund to contact us directly brought no reply.  Well, we guess they must have had a change of heart.  Maybe this outcome was for the better, as we sure don’t want any broken hearts. 

Here is the picture of the girl with the dog  

And here is a picture of three of our previous four dogs.

Thursday 21 January 2016

How much juice is in your 12 Volt Battery?

Have you ever guessed how much power is still left in your 12 volt RV battery bank, after you had cloudy and windless days? No sun for the solar panels and no wind for the wind generator. You are wondering if you should fire up the gas or diesel generator because you are not plugged into a power outlet somewhere. The scenery is fantastic you are boondocking and like to stay where you are, had numerous lights burning and watched a movie on the TV last night. Life is good.
A three or four digit 12 V digital voltmeter gauge could tell you easy the state of charge in your battery bank and when it is time to charge your battery.  Running the voltage of your battery bank too low will decrease the lifespan of your batteries. Replacing the batteries cost plenty dollars but buying and installing a decent digital voltmeter gauge is dramatically cheaper. The meter I liked and going to install was only $17.99 for the blue, or $19.97 for the red one incl. free shipping at Amazon. That meter handles voltage between 0-15 VDC

Why a digital voltmeter and not the older fashion analog voltmeter, the one with the moving needle? Analog meters are prone to error; reading from an angle makes it hard to get an accurate reading. A 12 volt analog meter can be off by up to 30% of the actual reading vice versa a digital 12 voltmeter with only a 0.5 - 3% error margin of the actual voltage!

Here is a good table for the state of charge for AGM Batteries, like the one we have on our Jayco travel trailer.

12.8 v - 100%
12.7 v -    90%
12.6 v -    80%
12.5 v -    70%
12.3 v -    60%
12.2 v -    50%
12.0 v -    40%
11.8 v -    30%
11.7 v -    20%
11.5 v -    10%
11.4 v -       0%

Look at the 24. November 2015 write up about AGM Batteries on this blog!
Depleting the charge of deep cycle or starter batteries below of the 50% state of charge, will cut down the lifespan of the batteries. When you read 12.2 volt on your digital voltmeter gauge, it is definitely time to do some good and charge up your house bank.

Following are some pictures about the easy installation of a digital voltmeter gauge on our Jayco travel trailer!

Voltmeter purchase from Amazon

Voltmeter with packing and instructions

Me (Benno) drilling 2" hole into cabinet with hole saw

RV carbon monoxide/propan gas alarm hanging out
and new hole for meter

Hanging meter wired to carbon monoxide/propane gas alarm
12 volt supply wire

Installed meter

After the installation I thought we deserved a nice meal!

Friday 15 January 2016

When one thing leads to another

Everyone must be thinking we are lazing around down here in the sunshine doing nothing. That is partially true for me as we had three consecutive days last week of nice weather that allowed me to sit outside reading my book, but I had to keep my jacket on, as I felt cold without it. Meanwhile Benno was into a new project that kept him busy. 

You see it all started with a new gadget.  Some years ago back on the boat “Diesel Duck”, Benno bought me a Kindle Fire for Christmas so I could read the books of my choice while we were traveling in foreign countries where book exchanges were very meager. Later on at another Christmas he surprised me with an iPad, which basically replaced the Kindle Fire since it also supports the same Apps and I handed down the Kindle to Benno who discarded his Sony Reader in favour for the Kindle Fire, which he really liked. Recently a new generation of Kindle Fire came out with an 8” display, lighter, thinner and more versatile that really appealed to Benno.  He is an avid reader who sometimes goes through several books a week, so I thought he deserves his very own Kindle.

Now we are certainly oversupplied with Internet dependent devices and you need a good Wi-Fi signal to operate them.  At home it is no problem, but when we are underway or in an RV park, it is a different matter.  If the park has not enough repeaters to distribute the signal or, if there are tall rigs parked next to you blocking the signal or, perhaps you are parked somewhere where a free Wi-Fi is available but you are too far away to receive it, then you get nothing. Our travel trailer is made out of aluminum, which prohibits any signal to go through unless we sit by the windows with our devices.  In order to rectify this problem we ordered a Wi-Fi booster antenna to install on the roof of the camper, but more about this subject in one of my next blogs, which Benno will mostly write, because he did the installation.

So now we were faced with not only the installation of this new antenna, but also how to raise the antenna to its upright position on the roof and how to lay it back down when travelling?  At home we have several ladders but we didn’t want to take one with us and don’t want to have another item stored in the locker of the trailer.  And that brings us to the next thing, the installation of a permanent ladder on the backside of the trailer, purchased from a local Camping World store.  Which brings us to taking trips to local hardware stores, buying the right screws and tools we didn’t bring with us. Somehow Benno didn’t seem to be too dismayed about that.

As usual, my husband does great work when it comes to technical things. The ladder is mounted; I’ve been up there to test it out. The antenna with mount is installed and now it is time to see if we can get it to work.  The moral of all of this is, don’t start anything or it leads to something else.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Planes (no Trains) and Automobile

This should be classified :-)
Does this look to you I stepped out of "Navy One"
at the White House lawn after a weekend at Camp David?

A week flew by and I hadn’t posted at all.  Sorry guys, but trips to the mall, various grocery stores and walks around the campground didn’t seem worth writing about, it would tire you out. While the weather had been a bit on the cooler side this past week here close to the Gulf Shores, the bright sunshine during the day makes up for the chilling nights. Today was another beautiful day and we felt like visiting the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL. More than 150 planes are displayed including the Apollo space exhibit and four of the former Blue Angel A-4 Skyhawks can be viewed on the floor and suspended from the ceiling of the hangar. All in all there is lots to see including an IMAX theater for which we didn’t have time today but might return to another time.

Benno standing in front of the F-14A Tomcat which is parked in front of the entrance to the museum.

My hero!

One of the retired Blue Angels
On sunny days we see and hear above our RV park and surrounding area the Blue Angels in the sky training on turboprops and not with the blue jets. 

Before we drove out to the museum we stopped at a Chrysler dealer located in Foley, which is on the way to Pensacola, to make an appointment for an oil change for our truck.  They were not busy and took us in immediately saving us a trip.  While the truck was in the bay I spotted this neat looking jeep in the parking lot and thought it looked interesting enough to include in my blog.