The RV Road Trip Fulltimer's Blog for October 2011

We managed to get quite a few pages migrated to the new layout but there are still some that are left. So if you run across one, don't worry... we just haven't gotten to that one yet. So far all the emails we have received have been positive and we're glad. We like to format the site so our readers will enjoy using it. While we do post this information online for ourselves and our family, we also do it for all of our fellow RVers out there. We had no idea the site would become as popular as it has, but we are glad that it has.

A cool front eased through yesterday and dropped the temperatures about 10 degrees. It was a very welcome relief from the heat. 93° is significantly cooler than 103°. Last night it even dipped into the upper 60s which was quite nice. Cynthia got up around 3AM to let Scooter out to pee and she commented on how nice it felt. I was still counting Zzzzzzzzs.

The expense summary has been updated to show September's expenses. Be sure to read the footnotes for explanations of some of the expenditures. If you ever have any questions or comments, feel free to email us or use the comment form found at the bottom of most pages. We also added some new workamper ads over on WorkampingJobs.com. If you are still looking for a winter position, there are some still left in a variety of states. There's even an office position open in the park we are in!
Cynthia and Nancy from the park participated in the 5K walk for cancer awareness this weekend. They finished in 50 minutes which is about midway between the top and bottom finishers. Yes, we know it is not a race but they were proud of their pace. The promoters said about 1,900 people participated. Here is a shot of the ladies back at the park after the event.

5K Walk for Cancer

Life changes are slowly but surely forcing me to do things I'd rather not do just yet, like use that dang wheelchair all the time. But I know if I don't, it will be worse on me later on. With that being said, today we sold the scooter. So after all these years of riding, all the adventures Cynthia and I shared... our scootering days are over. Cynthia is flying to Dallas tomorrow to meet Robby, our son, and buy his 4x4 Jeep Cherokee. She will then drive it straight back down here to the RGV. The Jeep is towable 4 down behind the motorhome and we can install a wheelchair carrier on the hitch at the back of the Jeep. This may not be as fun as scootering but it opens up more doors for us so it is the right thing to do.
Cynthia made the flight to Dallas just fine, as well as the subsequent 535 mile drive back. The Jeep did great except that the radio would not play on FM for her. It seems our son had removed the factory head unit and used an aftermarket radio while he had the Jeep. He removed that and put the original head unit back in the day before she arrived, and we think there is a short somewhere. We pulled the head unit out and everything looks fine so whatever is wrong is wrong on the inside and not at the connections.

We took the Jeep to the local car wash and power washed the exterior and vacuumed out the interior. It took a lot of quarters to get all that done because the Jeep was very dirty, but we did find about $11 in change in and under the seats. We replaced the rear lift gate shocks and bought a new heater core for it. We knew this advance so it is not a big deal... other than knowing that removing the old heater core and installing the new one is an 8 hour job! It costs over $1100 for a shop to do it because it is so time consuming, requiring that the entire dash be removed from the vehicle. The part only costs $65... the rest is labor charges. We'll set aside a cool day to get that done.

Once we have given the Jeep a good hand washing and waxing, we'll take some pictures and post them online. For now, here is a photo of one that looks identical to ours.

1999 Jeep Cherokee Sport 4x4

We've been enjoying the cooler weather so much we have let the time get by! Sorry about taking 5 days to make a new blog entry. It is 11am right now and it is not even 80°, that's amazing! It is usually 95° by now. We must admit that it is overcast this morning and a front may be passing through, so that is what is providing the comfortable temperatures. In any case, we'll take it.

We got the wheelchair lift mounted on the back of the Jeep and it works great. The total weight of the lift and the chair is 275 pounds and that causes the rear to sag a little. I have an appointment tomorrow morning at the local 4x4 shop to have a 3 inch lift installed on the rear to level it out. Here is a picture of it right now, before the lift has been installed. I'll post a picture tomorrow after it has been lifted in the rear.

Sag caused by the wheelchair.

We installed a new radio in the Jeep since the factory head unit bit the dust. Best Buy had a JVC unit on sale for $79 and it is AM/FM/CD/MP3/WMA compatible. It also has a USB port on the front so we can load music onto a jump drive and just plug it in to listen to it. That is so much easier than burning CDs. We considered getting new speakers since the factory ones are 12 years old but they still sound very good, so we'll leave them in.

We finally decided on how we will set the Jeep up to be used a toad. After much research and deliberation regarding how to best set it up, we have decided on the following equipment:
  • ReadyBrute Elite self locking motorhome mounted tow bar with integrated Ready Brake
  • ReadyBrake Safety Cables
  • ReadyBrake In-Dash Light Monitor
  • ReadyStop Brake Away Kit
  • Tow Bar Cover
  • Blue Ox Base Plate
  • Blue Ox Bulb and Socket Wiring Kit
  • Blue Ox 6 Wire Coiled Cable

All of this for only *cough* $1484.75 delivered. But with a lifetime guarantee, we'll never have to buy it again. And all because I have to use that stupid wheelchair...
I took the Jeep to the local 4x4 shop this morning and they lifted the rear end 3" using a Rough Country Add-A-Leaf system. It took them about 2 hours to completely install it but they only charged me an hour labor. I guess that is what it should take since it is not an overly complicated job. They picked up the rear of the Jeep, dropped the rear axle and springs, added the new leaf packs and put it all back together. The Jeep now sits higher in the rear and doesn't sag like it did before. Total cost was $167 out the door. A very fair price...

Jeep is now lifted in the rear.

We took the pups to the big dog park in McAllen. It is divided in half, large dogs on one side and small dogs on the other. This was the first time Scooter has been off of his leash in an open area... we found out he can run really fast! Here is a shot of Scooter at a full run towards me.

Scooter at the dog park.

Scooter would go fetch a tennis ball over and over until he was too tired to run anymore. He'd trot over to the shade and plop down. CJ spent most of his time sniffing around the whole park and hiking his leg on everything. He hiked so much that after about the 4th hike, just little puffs of air would come out. CJ also did a little runnning of his own and to be fair, here is a shot of him running. The shot after that is them all tuckered out, tongues a wagging.

CJ at the dog park.

Tired pups.

After a hard 45 minutes of playing at the park, it was time to head home. Of course, we had to stop by the doggie water fountain by the exit and let them get a drink.

Pups drinking at the fountain.

We enjoyed the day out with the dogs and they enjoyed the Jeep ride there and back, and of course the time spent at the park. Little do they know that today is also haircut and bath day!
Will there be trick-or-treating at the park where you will be on Halloween? There will be in our park! Those that wish to participate will setup on the main entrance road and the kids from the area can come through for a little fun. We bought 3 big bags of candy totaling 400 pieces and I have 300 $1 million dollar bills to give out as well. They look like money on the front but the back side is a gospel tract. People love them and they do more good than just a piece of candy. Cynthia plans to dress up for Halloween as a bull fighter and I am going to dress up like a full-time RVer.

I snapped a pic of Cynthia while we were at the dog park the other day and it turned out really good. You can see it below. She took one of me but she says I look mean. I don't look mean, do I?



I couldn't take it any more, I finally did it. I turned the heater on! It was 64° inside the camper this morning so I switched the furnace on and quickly brought it up to 72°. Ahh, toasty. There are 4 furnace vents inside the camper: 1 under the dinette, 1 in the wall facing the living area, 1 in the kitchen and 1 in the bathroom. It only took a few minutes to warm up the camper and that's a good thing! I like to be warm when it is cold and cool when it is hot. The high today is expected to be about 85° and that is about perfect.

I got an email from the place I ordered the tow bar and base plate from, Towbars Unlimited. It seems the base plate I need is out of stock but should be ready to be shipped by tomorrow. And the tow bar manufacturer that "always ships the next day"... didn't. Well, thankfully I am not in a hurry to get it and for the price I got the whole package for, I am not complaining. This is what the tow bar looks like, it will look better when it is mounted on the back of the motorhome.
Ready Brute Elite Tow Bar

I was trying to think of a good way for the dogs to be able to let us know when they needed to go outside. CJ will stare at the door and if we don't respond quickly enough, he will come nudge us with his nose. Scooter will go to the door but if we don't notice him, he will look for a place to pee in the camper. That's not good. While at the Dollar Store, I saw some Christmas Jingle Bells (yes, they have Christmas decorations out already). I bought the bells, cut off the excess decorations and hung the bells by the door. It took just 3 days, but now when the dogs want to go outside, they ring the bells with their nose and we let them outside. Pretty cool!
All the workampers for this winter season have arrived so the park managers had a little get-together for us. They provided the burgers and we all brought something else or a side dish of some sort. We brought chili since we saw this really good recipe on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives! Oh boy, was it good, too! Anyway, there were about 30 people there and we had a really good time eating and socializing.

Cynthia organized a pumpkin carving contest where the participants were to be blindfolded. Well, that sneaky wife of mine made it so only one participant would be blindfolded! It was fun to watch and we all had a really good time. Here is a video I shot of the pumpkin carving contest. At 1:04 you can hear me comment on how sharp the knives are... and dang, I sound like a hillbilly.

Sue asked in the comments section how I trained the pups to ring a bell when they wanted to go outside. They already understood the word "outside" so I would say that word then ring the bell myself. After 2 days I would just ring the bell and not say the word. They quickly realized what they were supposed to do to alert us to their desire to go do their business.
Looking back, the summer flew by. It didn't seem so when the sun was doing its best to melt us, but I can hardly believe October is almost over. The park has people coming in almost daily with a whole pack coming in on the 1st. Golf cart riders, bicycle riders, shuffleboard players, card players, workampers... everywhere you turn, there they are. The dogs are enjoying the attention they get from people passing by, but Scooter still thinks it is necessary to growl and/or bark at everyone. He is slowly learning that doing that is not acceptable behavior.

A nice weather front rolled through last night and the temperature got down to 67°. The high for today was 77°. The temperature in the morning is supposed to be in the low 50s! We just might need to turn the electric heater on before going to bed. It was nice to sit outside today with a nice breeze blowing and the warmth of the sun on your face. The dogs were all stretched out soaking up a few rays themselves.

FoursquareIf any of you folks out there use the Foursquare app on your Android or iPhone, feel free to add us as your friend. It is a game where you "check in" wherever you are. It allows you to keep track of the places you have been and you can earn virtual badges, mayorships, etc. You can follow this link to see our page and all the badges and whatnot we have earned. It's a simple and fun game and playing is free. Some business even offer discounts if you check in with them. Take a look...
UPDATE: We no longer use Foursquare as it morphed into something we do not enjoy.
We had a really fun weekend! We took the Jeep to Brownsville to visit the Gladys Porter Zoo. This isn't a large zoo but for what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for it in quality. It took us about 3 and a half hours to see all the exhibits at the zoo and we took almost 300 pictures! I was using the phone to take pictures and Cynthia had the Panasonic Lumix camera. The Lumix does much better than the phone for distance shots, especially since it has such a strong zoom. All of the pictures can be seen in the Picture Gallery under Texas, but here is a quick link for you. We also added a handful of pictures to the Mission Bell picture gallery if you want to take a look. As always, any time new pictures are added to a gallery, they show up at the bottom of the page below any pictures that were already there.

Gladys Porter Zoo

At the zoo.

The wheelchair claims to be able to go 25 miles on a single charge but I think it fell short of that by about 10 miles. 10 miles may not seem like much but it is quite a distance in a wheelchair. I was able to do the complete zoo circuit and about 3 miles at Bentsen State Park. By that time, it was at about 10-15% charge so we headed home.

We will be passing out candy tonight for the trick or treaters and we'll have the details and pictures of that up tomorrow. Oh yeah, not sure if y'all remember or not, but back when we went to South Padre Island, we stopped at a place called Bobz World. We didn't know what all it was so we missed the vast majority of what was there. Well, we plan to go back in November and see the whole thing... so stay tuned for that blog and picture update!


RV Blog Archives

2017   JAN, FEB, MAR         Please visit TabernacleFarm.com
2014   We did our massive 22 state and 15 national park road trip.
2013   We dealt with Jerry's wreck and thyroid cancer treatment.
2012   JAN, FEB, MAR, APR         We stopped full-timing in April 2012.
2008   The Beginning

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