Monday, March 30, 2009

2009-03-30 The Road Less Graveled

Dateline, Mt. Sterling, KY
Longitude: -83.94502
Latitude: 38.06882

Shortly after posting my last update, ten tons of gravel Kevin had ordered showed up in a dump truck.

In three quick sweeps, the driver spread the load out as flat as a tabletop exactly where Kevin asked him to. Got to love people who really know their job.

Yet even more impressive than the driver's skill at his load was his bravery for crossing the dilapidated bridge to get here.

The entire series of the gravel delivery is posted here in my Mt. Sterling gallery on Picasa.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009-03-26 Terri's Garden Ver 1.0

Dateline, Mt. Sterling, KY
Longitude: -83.94502
Latitude: 38.06882

Been a surprisingly busy week here. I've been to the gym/doggy rescue every day, taking in a handful of cookies and bacon treats to Dusty, Ginger and the irrepressible Hobo, who tries to take gentle Ginger's away but I skillfully prevent with a little extra for him.

My cousin Terri is back from Chicago awaiting results of her tests and not losing a moment's time. On a trip to the garden center she appears to have bought at least one of everything.

Some of those stacks are pretty deep, with loads of wild flowers and a full complement of tasty herbs.

On the first day Kevin has had off in a few weeks, it's very rainy but not so cold here today, preventing him from his detritus removal project. The gulch on his property apparently has been used as a dump since the beginning of time, but he has beavered away at cleaning it up, each week getting a bunch of bags together and hauled out. He loves doing this.

Still undecided is where to put the garden. The flat area behind the house affords the most level ground, but Terri has it in mind to put in the beautiful, sloping front side of the house.

On the camper front, the seal I put around the outside fixture seems to have worked. It has been raining steadily for the past day or so, sometimes fairly hard, and yet the GFI has not kicked in. But it has lead to another leak discovery above the doorway on the inside. There is a nicely positioned padded bar above the doorway, which I would estimate is about five and a half feet from the deck. Being six feet tall, I have to duck going in and out, yet I have never paid much attention to it as I keenly focus on not missing the single step down. It's tight and narrow, and also Shelby proof. She won't jump out on her own, necessitating the use of the Shelevator for egress.

So between the life on the farm and adding three new clients in the past week after a long dry spell things are great here. Spring has Sprung and the gentle rains are most welcome to a thirsty region. The trees are springing into bloom, the hillsides overnight go from grey to green and the rich brown mud is a reminder to get a little Earth on you. Shelby loves it and is incredibly easy to clean.

When people ask how I keep her so shiny, I explain that I simply toss one of those dryer sheets with her in the dryer after a bath. That works for the shiny part, but she is no less clingy afterwards.

Monday, March 23, 2009

2009-03-23 Hobo, Ginger & Dusty

Dateline, Mt. Sterling, KY
Longitude: -83.94502
Latitude: 38.06882

As promised, I went back to the Downtown Athletic Club (and doggy rescue center) yesterday, this time with a camera. Over night, one of Mike's rescue dogs had found a home.

I had more time to hear the stories about the other two dogs and to grab a few more pics of the whole pack.

The top picture today is Hobo, a pup of unknown age. Hobo was abandoned in ten degree weather at a campground with two of his other litter mates. Apparently he was also used for target practice with a BB gun as when they were cleaning him up they found large scabs that when removed had BB's embedded in them. This could also account for why he is missing an eye, tragically. But his spirit is not broken. He's very sweet and outgoing, fat and sassy and probably just several months old.

Ginger is a Beagle mix found walking the streets of Mt. Sterling. Also of unknown age, she is docile and calm and also very sweet and loving. She and Hobo are patiently waiting for good homes, with a steady stream of well-wishers passing by each day to admire and play with them.

I also had the chance to catch a few more shots of Dusty, the sweet three-legged coonhound. It seems that the only thing Dusty likes better than peppermints is his friend and handler Diana, who looks after the whole menagerie with her son JJ. Diana is also a softie when it comes to cats. She told me she would likely take home the whole gaggle of cats currently in residence.

Mike and I also had more time to talk. He's a very open, friendly guy who explained that his whole life savings is invested into the club. He also goes into his own pocket to look after these rescues with no assistance from any formal agencies.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

2009-03-21 Dusty

Dateline, Mt. Sterling, KY
Longitude: -83.94502
Latitude: 38.06882

Today, Shelby and I went out exploring. And forgot the camera, darnit.

We drove around the small town of Mt. Sterling, KY, studying the people, businesses and surprising number of burned-out homes within city limits.

I'll be back with a camera for a pictorial essay, but the day had an interesting turn when I popped into the Downtown Athletic Center and met the owner Mike, an affable, friendly guy I would put around my age.

Mike gave me a tour of the facilities and in the back corner was a large glassed-in room with several rescue dogs patiently hoping for someone to take them home. I mentioned to Mike that I had a three-legged Lab out in the car and he said "I got one here, too".

So he took me around to an area with two nice leather couches, one of which, he explained, was Dusty's.

Dusty is a 7 year old coonhound (not sure if that is one or two words). Very friendly and very popular with the staff and members of the club. Dusty lost the same leg as Shelby to a car.

Now that I know of the gym I will be heading back there with both Shelby, a camera and my gym stuff.

I will see if Mike will allow me to take Dusty out for walks.

What has eight legs, six eyes and smells?

Me and the dogs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

2009-03-16 Shelby's Resume'

Dateline, Mt. Sterling, KY
Longitude: -83.94502
Latitude: 38.06882

Synopsis: A real go-getter and team player. Particularly adept at working with and training people. A natural diplomat. Not a work dog but can work a room.

Education: Happy Camper Dog Training, Santa Ana, CA

Degrees Earned: MS - Master of Sitting, Minor in Staying

Work experience

1996-1997 Spent my first year in Newport Beach, CA, learning how to bend my master's will to my own.

1997-1999 Refined training in Laguna Beach, CA in capacity as emergency backup dog to my Senior Associate Milo. On the job training included teaching my master to pick up after me on walks and also persuading him to leave a bowl of cookies out and available to us at all times. We never abused the privilege and appreciated the show of trust and good faith.

1999-2000 Duties escalated as we moved to a 10-acre property in the mountains near Durango, CO. Still served as emergency backup dog and took over comic relief position full-time. Also learned how to stand on one leg.

2000-2007 My master transferred back to Dana Point, CA during the acquisition of a company and merging his company in with the new one. Served as backup watchdog and companion to Milo. Also persuaded master to bring the Dog Van back from the ranch in Colorado, so the three of us could all ride shotgun again.

From 2004 to 2006 provided assistance to Senior Associate Milo as he progressed through an illness I can't spell and will leave to my master to describe. In 2006, upon the passing of Milo, stepped into main dog position, taking over all duties.

2008 Helped my master with travel planning and companionship. He voluntarily shed most of his stuff and buried the rest of it in storage, freeing us up to travel, and that we have. Principal role as travel companion is reminding my master to stop regularly so we can check P-mail.

2009 Changed to full-time traveler with my master, aboard his road ship with the comfy couch. Duties mainly companionship and keeping furniture warm. Also to make sure he gets a workout in the form of lifting me in and out of the car.

Special Skills

Mail-handling. I employ a unique skill of dealing with third-class mail and mail-order catalogs.

Party Consultant / Fashion Advisor

I excel in being a party person and helping others with their wardrobe and fashion decisions.

Super Power

Ability to stretch my body to ten times it's normal length. Okay, it's not a great Super Power but it is funny.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

2009-03-15 The Son Also Rises

Dateline, Mt. Sterling, KY
Longitude: -83.94502
Latitude: 38.06882

I apologize for the scarcity of updates and assure those who have asked that everything is fine here, despite my making daily posts here.

It's been an interesting week, weather-wise. We had a few inches of snow overnight several days ago that was gone by the time we got up so no pictures exist. Shelby likes to spend as much time as possible outside and there's a little spot next to the house with grass, some mulch and Terri's Eris statue.

We have to keep an eye on her (Shelby, not Terri) that she doesn't stay out too long, as she gets cold and requires extra blankets and time to warm up.

The snow was less of a problem than the rain of the past few days, and that was only a problem in as much as my GFI keeps kicking out. I spent the better part of a day working on it, trying to isolate the cause of the problem, which I strongly suspect is the single outside electrical plug. I mentioned in the first week of the blog that we had an outage during the time the snow was melting from the roof.

This outside plug is mounted directly under a seam in the roof gutter, and a steady bead of water travels down from there, jumps off the ski lift of the stove air vent. Some of the water does the Wide World of Sports Skier Wipeout Thing where it travels off the side of the jump and beelines for the socket.

It's only a hunch and I have to wait until it dries out, then I will attack the socket with some clear Silicon I purchased yesterday for the purpose. In the meantime, the good news is that the furnace is not on the GFI circuit so it and the fridge work just fine. I am being very cautious with the lights inside the camper on the supposition that they are running off the battery (I might be wrong on this) and using some portable LED's and getting used to doing things in the dark.

This has been an excellent lesson in appreciating the things we tend to take for granted. Running water. Heat. Electricity. Luckily, Terri's art studio is a mere 30 feet from my camper and has a great bathroom with shower and even a mini kitchenette.

Speaking of Terri, I can now reveal the principal reason I came to see her when I did.

She has posted on her FaceBook page a link to a video entitled What Matters To You: Scleroderma, and for the first time to my knowledge has publicly revealed that she has Scleroderma.

Her family and I have known for a while and she is now of the mind that she wants to raise awareness of this disease, which allows me to now mention it here.

This is a particularly nasty illness, described as follows on Wikipedia:

"Scleroderma is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by a hardening[1] or sclerosis[2] in the skin or other organs. The localized type of the disease, known as "morphea",[3] while disabling, tends not to be fatal. The systemic type or systemic sclerosis, the generalized type of the disease, can be fatal, as a result of heart, kidney, lung or intestinal damage.[4] It is currently not fully understood what exactly causes this disease, although there are various theories."

I wanted to get here to spend time with her before she begins treatment. Tomorrow, she and Kevin are driving up to Northwestern University in Chicago to be evaluated for a radical treatment program being offered there. They will be gone several days while Shelby and I keep a couple pairs of brown eyes on the farm.

Despite the terrifying prospects of what she may have in store, she is a force of nature and good karma. We're having lots of laughs and fun, and are making plans for a vegetable garden, bee hives, and a vineyard. They have plenty of room for all of these and I hope to help at least as long as it takes to get the crops in. Whatever that means.

So for those of you who were concerned about my lack of posting, it has to do with a number of factors, including bandwidth and time, but trust that everything is fine, except my cell phone coverage. The only bars my cell phone can find are Honky Tonks, so I have forwarded my cell phone to my Skype-in number. While I am at the computer I can get calls immediately. Otherwise it will take a voice mail and I will get those the next time I am on the computer or near a cell phone tower.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and thanks for the help and support. Special thanks in this post goes to Wild Bill Morrison, who spent quite a lot of time explaining the intricacies of electricity and GFI's.

The only thing better than being smart is having smarter friends.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2008-03-15 Shelby's Story

Dateline, Mt. Sterling, KY
Longitude: -83.94502
Latitude: 38.06882

While I am ensconced in the country and not technically traveling, I plan to fill in some background information. There's no better place to begin than telling the story of how Shelby came to be with me.

It was around the end of April of 1996, while I was living in Newport Beach, CA.

While I have told this story a thousand times, in this permanent version I will clarify an important point: I was not actually present when the crisis began, but the details to follow emerged over the next few days and have ridden for the past thirteen years in my memory.

Those who were there relayed to me that someone apparently threw Shelby out of a car or truck, then ran over her, severing her right foreleg. My neighbor Jim, a commercial airline pilot, was the who found her in the street bleeding and in shock.

He bundled her up in a clean towel and took her to the same Vet we used for Milo just a few blocks from the house.

I had been out of town when this all happened but I returned later that night and heard the tragic story.

The next day I went over to the Vet to meet this little puppy, who had instantly become the darling of the pet hospital. When she was brought out, it was love at first site. She squirmed from Vet assistant's arms and made for mine. I practically heard her say "Can I come home with you, Mister?"

The next thing you know, I am the proud owner of one and 3/4 dogs.

My main dog Milo, who was about a year old at the time, immediately took her in and made her welcome. He never stopped that in his whole life. Milo will get his own background story here later.

Shelby was probably about six weeks old when she came to us. The photos in this post were taken with a Canon digital camera I had just bought (and later returned) and are the first images captured of Shelby, but far from the last.

Right from the onset, Shelby was a good puppy. She quickly learned her lessons, and soon after pretty much had us wrapped around her paw.

Milo shared everything: toys, food, water, cookies and especially nap time, never once in his whole life ever snapping at her. He loved his job of being big brother, protector and doggy mentor, and did it with his gentle stoicism and patience.

Within a year or so I made the decision to send them both out to a 6-week training camp. It was rough. I desperately missed them and could not visit.

When they were returned, the trainer demonstrated how well they had learned their lessons. They stayed. They sat on command. They healed. They came when called. And they forgot just about everything the instant the trainer drove off.

Milo continued to remember his lessons but Shelby, not so much. To this day she still doesn't come when called and she will only sit or lay down if bacon is involved. Some have said I never broke her spirit. I never even dented it.

Neither dog was ever struck in anger or for discipline. Shelby has zero flinching instinct. She is as unaware of being hit as she is driving a car. And while I gave her the opportunity to forget her formal lessons, I never stopped doing the thinking for her. This accounts for why she is on-leash in nearly every photo in her collection. I think she actually likes it. Even when she stops suddenly and the collar slips off her neck, she comes to a dead stop and waits for me to put it back on.

I think we both feel more comfortable leashed together and I try to let her have some dog time every day.

Mr. Steinbeck wrote in Travels With Charley that Charley was the only dog he ever knew who could talk. Due to a slight misalignment of his teeth, Charley could say "Ftt". Mr. Steinbeck took that to mean that Charley was ready to do his business.

Well, Shelby can't talk, but she sure talks back. The nearest she gets to talking is this pattern that sort of sounds like she is saying "no, you". Shelby, sit. No, you.

I have worked with her on this in hopes of getting on the Stupid Pet Tricks segment of the David Letterman show but she doesn't want to go to New York City, even on a TV network's expense account. Can't blame her for that.

Shelby tends to come to life around 11pm local time pretty much every day. This is the time she likes to play, and she will bark at me until I relent. This usually doesn't take long, as there is no shutting her up. She may be part Labrador but she may have not inherited the Retriever bit. She will fetch what is thrown and only gives it up if it looks to her like play time is over.

Shelby's missing leg has been the source of thousands of comments and questions throughout the years as she has traveled all across the country, coming into contact with people of all shapes, sizes and ages.

Depending on my mood, the person asking, and various other circumstances, my response to "what happened to her leg?" comes from the following repertoire:

  • "It was part of a bitter divorce settlement." I only use this on adults and older kids when I think they can appreciate the humor. Saying this with a completely straight face really throws people off, and only about 2 out of 5 laugh right off the bat.

  • "She didn't eat her vegetables." Reserved exclusively for the under 5 year old set. This always cracks up the parent units and leaves Grandparents laughing and thanking me.

  • "Beach/River/Creek Shark bit her." Used when near a body of water and gullible people.

More often than not, however, I just give the condensed version of the story told above. Everyone always says how sad it is and I usually point out that "their bad Karma is my good Dogma", and we all agree that she gets along just fine. I almost always observe that she does everything any other dog can do, just does not corner well at high speeds.

And she really does. Digs. Climbs. Jumps. Runs. She's not fond of swimming and I don't force the issue, but she loves getting wet like most Labs.

As to her actual heritage, well we don't know. There are black spots on her tongue which I am told is characteristic of Labs. She is clearly a mix, but the other ingredients are debatable.

But the best part of Shelby is her heart. She is simply the most gentle, loving, friendly dog I have ever known. I warn people she is a trained kisser when they put their face within striking distance and she rarely disappoints. Like a Cobra she strikes, tongue-first. Anyone within a 24 inch radius is going to get licked.

She loves babies. Old people. People of every color and income bracket. And she treats them all the same, expecting that everyone likes her as much as she immediately likes them. This is only problematic with people who are deathly afraid of dogs in general and Shelby gets it in her mind that she wants to meet them. So I am forced to restrain her in respect of their fears.

As near as we can figure, and not without irony, she was born on this day in 1996. I didn't realize that it was her birthday until just now. She's Thirteen today.

Since every day she is treated like it's her birthday, this will likely go unmarked. But I am very happy to have had her this long and to report that she is in excellent health and even better spirits.

Reaching the end of our shared attention span, if I still have you at all, the final point I will make here is that Shelby was named by my daughter Brynne. I'm pretty sure she's named (Shelby, not Brynne) after some character in a schmaltzy chick-flick from that time, possibly even Julia Roberts, who will help this blog show up in more Google searches now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2009-03-11 Moonrise over Mt. Sterling

Dateline, Mt. Sterling, KY
Longitude: -83.94502
Latitude: 38.06882

I arrived at the home of my cousin Terri and her husband Kevin a few days ago and have been quite busy getting settled in, setup and connected during that time.

We're about 40 miles East of Lexington, Kentucky in an area of gently rolling hills, farmland, horses and a big, warm slice of Americana.

You know you're out in the country here, as cell phone coverage is very spotty. This has posed a small problem in using my cell phone as a tethered modem, with transmission throughput down to the old days of dial-up speeds.

I'm working on improving this. Yesterday we went into town and bought a Wireless-N WiFi router and installed it last night, solving another problem in the process. Terri is moving into a new computer so now both her old and new computers can be on the same LAN visible to each other for moving stuff over.

Naturally, the MacBookPro saw the WiFi network and efficiently connected, while I was within a few feet of the router. Unfortunately, the camper is not upstairs in her office. Rather, it is about 100 feet from the back of her house. The Mac sees the network from inside the camper but the signal is not strong enough to connect, so I am researching alternative methods for improving my reception a la Arthur, who is the King of WiFi, often picking up Access Points from upwards of a mile away.

The Hawking Hi-Gain™ USB Wireless-G Dish Adapter I found online looks like it might fit the bill. Plus, it's kind of retro. and both carry it and include a bunch of good comments from happy users.

Shelby has taken to the camper very well and I am now able to leave her there for longer periods of time without her going into a panic. After a few days of nice warm weather, it got a little colder today so here's a picture of her warming up after spending a while outside in her favorite spot.

We're going to decamp here for at least ten days in hopes of helping Terri get her garden planted after returning from a brief visit to Chicago early next week.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

2009-03-08 In Transit

Dateline, Dunbar, WV
Longitude: -81.7477
Latitude: 38.376

One of my favorites movies, The Return of the King is notable for having about nine separate endings. This trip has had nearly as many beginnings, and Frodo could have probably walked to Mordor in less time than it took me to pull out, but today we did.

On a gorgeous, sunny Sunday we headed out I-64 across the Western part of Virginia, taking a few snaps along the way. That first picture from today doesn't actually reflect how sunny and warm it was, but shows that the trees are still sleeping for the Winter.

Compare that with the second photo from the drive out I-64 in October, when the leaves were about to finish their colorful show and drop.

I carefully steered the rig out on the Interstate and within a little while started getting comfortable with its handling. The empty weight on the camper is 4400 pounds, and I probably have added a few hundred pounds to that, even with the tanks empty. So you notice it back there. Plus, it's 25 feet long which comes up again later in the blog. After passing Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson, we stopped in a rest area for a stretch.

Wandering over to the passenger car side, I spotted a service truck and guy talking to some citizens and waited until he was done with them before asking if had a compressor on board, to which he replied "yep". I asked if he might add some air to the rear tire on the Suburban, which I had neglected to do before pulling out. He said sure and pulled his rig around and alongside mine.

I asked if this was a free service and he politely told me yes it was. The markings on his truck didn't make it clear if it was State or not so I asked who he worked for. He explained that he was a actually part of a company that contracts with the Department of Homeland Security, but works closely with the State. I asked if business was good and he said yes but he mostly spent time involved in drug searches. He explained that the State Police are short-handed and bring him in on drug stops as backup. "Plus", he added as he pointed to his rig, "I have that big push blade". Interesting. It was a very big push blade and I didn't have the nerve to ask how that helped in drug searches.

He quickly brought my tire pressure up to 50psi on all four tires and I thanked him.

One thing I can say about Virginians is that they are uniformly polite. In almost all my dealings with them, they tend towards courtesy more often than adversity.

We had a brief rest, Shelby checked and left her P-mail, then headed on down the road.

I plan to provide much more back story on Shelby as time and energy permit, but I am hear to tell you she is just a great traveler. Always has been. Never once got carsick, always ready to go, always looking out the Window or hanging over the seat so she feels like she's up front with me.

With no particular destination in mind, I got it in my head that Charleston, WV would be a good goal for the day.

A Chevrolet Suburban holds 42 gallons of gas. Really. The 2500 model, which I have, has a towing package and 4 wheel drive. It can go places I would not even watch on TV, much less go to. On a good day, with the wind with me, and without the Thule carrier on top, it gets about 12mpg on the highway. Today, it got 7.5 on a pure highway test. I filled up twice today and the second time took 28 gallons for going 210 miles. Holy Jumpin' Jesus, that is embarrassing.

We also had our first little incident. Pulling off in Nitro, WV, where fittingly there was a Nuclear Reactor. I pulled into a Pilot station and carefully swung the rig into position so I could fuel and egress without backing up. While I was filling up I spotted moderately old and road-worn traveler going from driver to driver at the islands filling their cars asking them something then moving on. Being on the end, I was his last stop. And being the friendly guy I am, I listened as he asked if I was heading to Knoxville by any chance. Explaining I wasn't, he must have sensed something as he sort of started moving in on me, eventually putting his hand on the open window ledge as I started to pull out. I judged the front part of the turn correctly, but not the camper. As the rig pivoted, the tail end swung around and caught the concrete pillar protecting the gas pumps. I felt a good thump up front and quickly stopped, hoping I had not hit the hobo. I hadn't, but the left rear end of the camper was scraped about 18" and the bumper was tweckled a bit. My first ding. Great. It was already dark so I couldn't get a picture of it but will upload one.

I pulled out my Verizon cellphone which also has the terrific built-in GPS service and punched in campgrounds. Finding a KOA on the list, I let it guide me the final 16 miles to the Fox Fire (as I compose this in FireFox) campground where we are hunkered down for the night just in time for what sounds and feels like a big storm coming. The wind is already picking up pretty good, shaking the whole camper.

So overall it was a pretty good day, short of the minor ding on the camper, but all of it gets chalked up to experience and gratitude that no one was hurt.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

2009-03-07 The Fix is in

Dateline, Ashland, VA
Longitude: -77.8881
Latitude: 37.7338

Here's what's happened since the last update. That picture I posted of the water tank in its pregnant pose was kind of prescient. It should not have looked like that, and was probably a consequence of my filling the freshwater tank the day before the Mega Storm of 2009. Dumb.

So I spent Thursday in snow-related duties, while Shelby also had a few snow-related dooties. I borrowed a ladder to clear the snow from the top of the unit and slideout. I kept the space heater under the tank all day until it was shut down by the GFI. Probably got some water in the plug where the heater was attached, as it was under a fairly prolific drip. Everything dried up pretty quickly once the snow was off the roof and the Sun did its job all afternoon. But it took until the next morning for the GFI to reset. By Thursday night I was able to drain the fresh tank using the water pump.

Another shakedown surprise occurred Thursday night when the four screws holding the closet hanger bar gave way under the load of clothes. Apparently, the lowest bidder who installed it never thought anyone would hang more than, say, a couple Hawaiian shirts and a pair of jeans.

On Friday, I dropped the camper at RV Services to fix it while we hit the stores and did some chores.

Mac did a super job on both the closet and securing the tank, shown in this post.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

2009-03-04 Tanks Where It's Due

Dateline, Ashland, VA
Longitude: -77.8881
Latitude: 37.7338

Well, we survived the Mega Storm of '09. The fresh water tank, however, appears to be pregnant. I put Mary Lou's little space heater on duty to help thaw the tank out and the weather is already starting to cooperate. Today it's supposed to get all the way up to 40 and by Friday it should be in the 70's.

I paid for a couple more nights so we can wait out the thaw. Friday, I will take the camper to RV Service and have them install a stick-on heater and insulate the fresh water tank.

Now that I am caught up on details I can start backfilling this blog with background and history.

I should start this by thanking two people who really helped out a bunch during the months of preparation.

First off would be Arthur Tyde who is not only one of the smartest guys I know, but who also has a vast knowledge of RV's he graciously shared with me. Arthur has an RV he uses for Burning Man and it is rigged out as a Nerd haven, with all sorts of cool things to support life on wheels.

Secondly I would thank "Wild" Bill Morrison, another Burner bud, who has provided many good tips and ideas, not to mention doing an extraordinary amount of detailed research into the various systems an RV contains.

Make no mistake, an RV is a house on wheels. As such, it has all the maintenance issues a regular house has, and then some. For a novice, this can be overwhelming.

I should also thank the guys at RV Service of VA for all that they did in making this trip possible. I could not have done it without their help and diligence.

So we're just waiting out the thaw, enjoying the snow before it turns into mud.

Monday, March 2, 2009

2009-03-02 Five Tracks in the Snow

Dateline, Ashland, VA
Longitude: -77.8881
Latitude: 37.7338

What an interesting couple of days. On the morning of our second day, I solved the sewage hookup problem by purchasing a hose and the connectors at the cg office.

Next, I hooked up the TV to the cable but having only one long coaxial with me I had to borrow one from the cg, which Brian cheerfully gave me.

After getting that hooked up, the second channel I found was TNT, playing Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. Nerdtastic. We had something on we could actually watch and enjoy, so I set about getting things squared away.

Around 4pm - 24 hours into the trip - the snow began. In what was to be later called a "Mega Storm", the entire Eastern Seaboard was blanketed with a layer of fat, wet snow.

Thanks to having supplies laid in, fuel, water & Shelby, we enjoyed the change of scenery to stunning white as we spent the day ensconced in hot chocolate and Orcs.

Shelby loves the snow. It brings out the Labrador in her. She just can't get enough of it and it doesn't seem to make her the least bit cold, despite having a very thin coat comparatively to most Labs.

To avoid freezing under the snow, I disconnected the sewage and water hookups. Curiously, the level gauge inside said that the fresh water tank was empty and I have come to the conclusion that it is possibly frozen, having filled it on the first day.

Randy at RV Service of VA suggested leaving the cabinet doors open to allow the heat to get to the pipes, which I did. Sonny, the husband of Mary Lou, who runs the cg, suggested hooking up the water feed. I did this and soon had running water, a luxury.

Mary Lou even suggested putting an electric space heater on the water pump and offered me the very one she was using behind the front desk. I put it on overnight and today the tank still says it's empty and no water is flowing.

Then again, it has not gotten above freezing since Sunday and it's now Tuesday. But the Sun is out and the temps are supposed to get up to the 60's in a couple days so we will just dig in and wait it out.

We're enjoying this, and it's made all the better by having WiFi so we can remain in touch and see what's going on outside the campground.