The RV Road Trip Fulltimer's Blog for January 2012

Happy New Year!

We did not go to the New year's Eve party last night here at the park. During the day yesterday, I twisted my already bad ankle on the steps of the motorhome, so I didn't really feel like going. My loving, caring, wonderful, special, adorable, amazing, thoughtful and magnificent wife wouldn't go without me so we stayed home and watched the Big Bang Theory marathon on TBS. That's a funny show.

We went to bed around 10:00, but of course the revelers woke us up at midnight with their fireworks. That lasted about 10 minutes and then it was back to sleep. One thing we learned quite a few years ago, is to turn off the phone before going to bed on New Year's Eve. We've had folks in the past that thought it was good idea to call and wish us Happy New Year at midnight. Sorry, but we like our sleep. :)
Anyone who has a Class C motorhome with that front window in the cab-over area, knows that it is not a matter of will it leak... but WHEN will it leak. When we first got the motorhome, we noticed in the very first rain that it was leaking. Thankfully, there was absolutely no indication of water damage inside from previous leaking due to the fact the owners kept the unit covered. We cleaned the edges of the window and put some sealant on it and thought we had it fixed. As you may know, it went about 13 months without raining on us. Well, it rained the other day and we still had a little seepage.

We went and bought a tube of clear ProFlex RV Sealant from Camping World. Normally, we would have ordered it off the internet because CW is double the price, but we needed it right away so we paid their outrageous price. We completely removed the trim seal around the glass and it had moisture and debris behind it. We cleaned all this out really well and dried out the inner part of the frame. We found why it was leaking during this process. Whoever put the glass in didn't do a good job of applying the adhesive that holds the glass in. There were small gaps here and there that allowed water to get in.

We ran a healthy bead of ProFlex all around the inside of the frame at the edge of the glass, making sure to fill those gaps along the way. We used enough sealant to close up the normal gap between the glass and the outer frame then replaced the rubber trim. We pressed the trim piece into the sealant insuring a good seal all around the back of it. We then ran a bead of sealant all around the edge of the outer frame. We then ran another bead where the rubber trim met the frame and yet another bead where the glass met the rubber trim. With ProFlex sealant and before it dries, you can wet your finger and press the sealant into any shape or corner you want and it won't stick to your finger. Everywhere we ran a bead, we pressed it smooth to insure full coverage.

Yesterday it rained for the first time since we did the repair and we are glad to be able to say that there was absolutely no leakage whatsoever! Yay!
Our little grand daughter, Gracie, got her Nana a very thoughtful gift last year. Well, thoughtful from the mind of a 6 year old little girl. It was a troll that attaches to the eraser end of a pencil. Or in Cynthia's case, it sits on her laptop's WiFi antenna. We were looking to get a bobblehead or something similar to be a sort of a mascot during our travels, something silly to have in random pictures. Well, it looks like we have decided to use this little troll.

What gave us the idea was a chance picture Cynthia took yesterday. While sitting at her laptop, she picked up the phone and snapped a pic of me holding Scooter. In the bottom corner was that troll (remember it is on her laptop WiFi antenna) peeking into the picture. Here is that image... sorry about the watermark URL in the corner but Picasa puts that there automatically.

A spoiled puppy.

We're sure Gracie will be thrilled to have her little troll become famous as we travel the country this summer.
Yesterday, I received my annual Social Security Disability Income statement. It comes in January of each year and tells me what I will be receiving each month. Anyone who draws SS of any type knows we did not get a cost of living raise for 2011, but we did get one for 2012, 3.6%. That equates to a $50 per month raise to me. I know a lot of folks who get SS also pay for Medicare Part B, and the price increase for that ate up a very large portion of any raise they got. Fortunately, I dropped Medicare Part B years ago since I do not need it, I get my health care through the VA. Anyway, it was nice to get a $50 per month raise. For the working folks out there, that translates to a raise of about .31¢ an hour. That may not sound like much to many people, but it makes a difference to us.

We rode over to the grocery store night before last and encountered the birds that roost in that area. Every night at the same time, they fly in by the thousands, probably tens of thousands. As far as you can see in all directions, there they are. They roost in the Walmart and HEB parking lots in the trees and on the anything they can land on. I pity the people or cars under them. Here is a shot we took while sitting at the red light.

Birds roosting.

I took the Jeep to a local muffler shop yesterday and had them replace the exhaust pipe that runs from the exhaust manifold to the catalytic converter. I also had them install a flex coupling and new bung for the O2 sensor. It ended up costing $100 and they did what I asked them to do, but their welding skill leaves a lot to be desired. There are no leaks but it is ugly under there. At least it is under the Jeep and no one would ever be able to see it unless they were under it. The new header is supposed to arrive today, the new hardware to install it arrived yesterday. Here's a shot of the flex coupling near the exhaust manifold connector.

Flex Coupling

The new header arrived today at 12:30pm. It took me 4 hours to get the old one out and get the new one in. It then took 30 seconds to realize it doesn't fit right. The header contacts the intake manifold preventing it from seating properly. This allows air in and that results a very high idle, about 4000 RPM. Grumble, grumble, grumble. I will be returning this one and getting a different model from Autozone in the morning at 9am. So 4 more hours to get the one in there out and get the even newer one in. It better fit. LOL.
I went to Autozone at 9am and picked up the new exhaust manifold. Four hours later it is installed and everything works as it should. The Jeep runs good with no high idle and no ticking sound from an exhaust leak. The new O2 sensors should be in today and once they are on, our fuel mileage should be back up to about 18 MPG. I called the place where we got the first exhaust manifold and they agreed to take it back in its current condition and give me a full refund. Now that's good business and I will recommend them if anyone asks. It was Automotive Parts Network. Here are some pictures of the manifolds and the 2 cracks in the OEM piece.

Old part, new part.

Side of the engine stripped down.

Crack Number 1

Crack Number 2

Now I am tired and need a nap.
OK, everything we needed to do to the Jeep is done now... thank goodness! We installed the new O2 sensors and a new PCV valve today and the Jeep runs good. We'll dig into our receipts and see when the last tune up was and if it is time for one, we'll do that before we leave here. If not, we're all set except for an oil change in late March. We'll also change the oil in the motorhome at the same time.

Today we bought the fabric to have our dinette cushions recovered. The original fabric has some stains from the previous owners and it has started to tear in a couple of places. The fabric we got today is soft but also very heavy duty and should last many, many years of daily use. It is sort of a cream color with no real pattern to it, unlike the original fabric which has that typical "What were they smoking?" RV pattern. We'll try to remember to take some before and after pictures to post here.

Tonight, it was very nice out... about 77° with clear skies and a full moon. We decided this would be a good night to spend some time in the hot tub, so we did. It was just the 2 of us and it was very romantic. We talked about the memories we have made, the places we have been, how we have enjoyed our time here in the RGV and that we are looking forward to visiting new places in the future. We sure are blessed.
We made yet another trip to the grocery store yesterday. Since we have been in the RGV, we have been shopping at HEB... but when it is time to get meat, we head over to Walmart and look for mark downs. This is meat that must be eaten or frozen by the next day so they mark it down to facilitate a quick sale. We lucked out and got several pounds of 93/7 ground sirloin, a good sized porterhouse steak, a top sirloin steak and a big pack of thin sliced, boneless pork chops. We saved a good chunk of change on these cuts and it is enough meat to last us for a while.

The upholsterer called today to let us know that our dinette cushions were ready. We rode into McAllen and picked them up... and they look better than we imagined. We put them in place and they look so, so much better than what was there before. We didn't bolt them down yet because we will apply ScotchGard to them in the morning. Two light coats and after they are dry, we'll bolt them in and take some pictures for the blog. We are extremely pleased with how they turned out. We also have some fabric left over so we may recover the frame if it doesn't clean up like we want it to. The cost was $98 for 7 yards of fabric and $140 to have the cushions reinforced and covered.
We sprayed the new dinette cushions with Scotch Gard this morning and since it is sunny and 87° outside, they dried quickly. We brought them in and secured them and snapped a picture. As promised, here is a picture of the dinette.

The dinette after...

Today we took a ride out to Mercedes, TX to attend the valley RV show. It is a fairly small show but that's all we have this far south. We were not impressed by anything in particular but we did enjoy looking in the Airstream units and we loved the floor plan on a SunSeeker Class C. The price was $78,000.00 on the SunSeeker but that was way too much. Our Class C is paid for and we like the floor plan on it just fine.

After we got home today, we disassembled the sleeper sofa and took it outside, where we reassembled it. That's the only way we could get it out as our entry door is a whopping 22 inches wide. We are going to put 2 swivel chairs where the couch was and sell the couch at the park yard sale this coming week. Cynthia wanted a basic recliner with an ottoman and we found one at Walmart! It is black "leather" and only $99. The one I want is a glider and it costs $199. We'll go pick it up tomorrow at Don-Wes flea market. We'll post a picture once we have them both in place. UPDATE: We ended up getting 2 gliders from the flea market. See below.

While at the flea market, we asked the friendly folks at RV Shade Shack to come out and replace our slide topper fabric for us. The one on there is 7 or 8 years old and is starting to fall apart. The cost for new 13oz. white fabric with installation is $150. Not a bad price! When they get here, we'll ask them how much it would be to add a window awning over the slide out window. If it isn't too much, we'll have them do that as well.

That's one thing we really like about the RGV... you can get a lot of things done down here for significantly less than other places in the country. For example, the work we had done on the Jeep was $322 down here and would have been $600-$700 back in Alabama. And for the slide out topper, it would have cost me $135 plus shipping just to buy the fabric with us having to put it on. We do love good deals!
Today, the fine folks from RV Shade Shack came and replaced our worn slide topper fabric. One guy did it by himself in about 15 minutes and it looks so good! After he finished the installation, I commented about a few wrinkles after I had pulled the slide in. He hopped up there and made a little adjustment and it was good to go. So I go back in to let the slide back out and... it wouldn't go! Argh!!!!

Our slide is hydraulic and has always worked extremely well so my first thought was excess tension on the slide topper roller. The guy released the tension but the slide would still not do anything. I paid the man for the slide topper and set about troubleshooting the slide. Using a volt meter and the display from our solar, I made sure the batteries were up to snuff. I check the connections in all the usual places and everything was in good shape. At a loss on my own, I called Gulf Stream service and get this... a human answered the phone! Kudos to Gulf Stream!!

Anyway, I explained the problem and he said it would either be the slide relay or solenoid and that they were readily available at any major auto parts store. I ran down to Autozone and picked up both parts and came back to the RV. Before I began replacing those parts, I thought I might ought to check for connection issues in places you wouldn't expect there to be any. After all, the solenoid was clicking away which indicates it is working but at insufficient power. I found a bad connection under the motorhome behind the battery compartment. I fixed it and went inside to test the slide... it went out and in as smooth as butter. Autozone gave me my money back on the parts I didn't need and my total expense was about 4 hours of my time and the trips to Autozone. I'll take that over a $900 slide repair bill any day.

As promised, here is a picture of the new chairs we put where the sofa bed used to be. Both of them swivel, recline and glide. I love to rock, just ask anyone who knows me personally. I have been without a rocking chair ever since we started full-timing. When I would start having withdrawals, I would go sit in the chairs in front of Cracker Barrel. :)

New chairs in the motorhome.

To answer the question from the comment section below, we have not yet pulled the Jeep but it is all set up to be towed. Many people tow Jeeps, so we know there won't be any issues with it. The only thing we have to do when we head out is adjust the ReadyBrake but that only takes a few minutes. Once it has been adjusted, it doesn't have to be done again.
We finally got the Jack TV antenna we've been wanting. We hoped it would go on sale at one point or another but it never did, so we trekked on down to Camping World and picked one up. Camping World is normally a lot higher priced than other places but this is one item they had a fair price on. We picked the white version since black would look out of place on the roof.

The install was fairly straightforward and took about 2 hours. We took pictures during the process and did a write-up on it so others contemplating this antenna will have more info on it. We are very pleased with the reception, it is a significant improvement over the Antenna Tek brand bat wing we used to have. The picture on our HD TV is stunning, we had no idea it could look this good. Below is a picture of it on the roof and here is the Jack Digital TV Antenna Installation Guide.

Jack Digital TV Antenna

It's a girl!

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Our daughter, Sara, gave birth to our newest grand daughter, Kendellyn at 9:11pm. Woohoo!!!1! That is grandbaby number 4 for us and one more is on the way in about 5 more months. We have Gabby, Gracie, Joshua and now Kendellyn. We are a very proud Papa Jerry and Nana! Unfortunately, we could not be there with Sara during the delivery but we will see her in April when our current workamping obligation is over.

Here is Kendellyn, born at 9:11pm, 7.2 pounds and 20 inches long. She looks a little like her Papa Jerry. :)


Well, Cynthia has been sitting in MY chair and developed a severe case of "chair envy". So, we took her black chair back to Walmart and picked up another one just like mine. It is made by Coaster and comes in several fabrics and colors. The tan "leather like" best matches our camper interior so that is what we have. It does look better with 2 matching chairs instead of one black and one tan.

Yesterday, we did the maintenance on our generator. Camping World wanted $140 to do it and that just seems like too much money for the task. It only took 30 minutes and that included stopping to take pictures during the process. We used the pictures to do a write-up so that our readers can benefit from what we learned during the process. Here is a link to the Onan Generator Maintenance Guide we made. Feel free to share the link with your friends and on any of the RV forums.

We've been asked to share more about our everyday life but to us it just seems so... ordinary. We talk about the RV related things as well as what we do for fun, but we're not real sure what else anyone wants to read about. So please give us some examples of what you would like to see on our site and we will do our very best to add it if we feel it is a good idea.

And we just had to post another picture of our new grandbaby!


My (Jerry) grandmother, who is in her late 80s, had a bad fall a couple of months ago, severely breaking her shoulder and banging her body up in general. She had surgery and was sent to a rehab facility but she is not recovering very well. I talked to her and my dad this morning and we are all concerned with her overall well being. Dad and his brother, Uncle Ronnie, are there with her as they live the closest to her... so she is not alone. She isn't able to care for herself and being highly independent, this makes matters worse.

Grandnana (as I have always called her) was a very important part of my life growing up and it is hard to hear about her like this. She is also my last living grandparent. It has been 5 years since I have seen her, although we do talk on the phone at fairly regular intervals. We're waiting to hear back from Dad this coming week regarding a doctor's report to determine what we need to do. She lives in central Florida, a little over 1,500 miles from where we are now. Please pray for my grandmother and for our family, and the decisions we all have to make.
We are steadily working on getting everything ready for our departure from the RGV on April 1st. Yesterday, we disconnected all the hookups and packed up the inside so we could take the motorhome to the Ford dealer for an oil change and lube. Oddly enough, the local Ford dealer was $30 less than any other place that could accommodate an RV. The mileage on the RV is 21,020 and I'm guessing the previous owner didn't do regular maintenance as he claimed. The oil was a little low but not by much, but the air filter was horribly dirty. It baffles me that some people think repair bills are cheaper than maintenance costs. Anyway, here's a shot of the RV at Spike's Ford in Mission, Texas.

Oil change day!

We have a list of little things to do before we hit the road again. They are kind of mundane things but we'll share them with you anyway. The big things have already been done so not much is left.
  •     Install Samlex 300W PSW Inverter
  •     Paint the Rambler roof vent
  •     Repair the plastic clips on the front bumper
  •     Cut some 2x10 leveling boards
  •     Install the ReadyBrake Indicator Light
  •     Clean the A/C fins and coils
  •     Add a little hinged door to access the empty space under the oven
  •     Replace the Jeep tow lights with LEDs
  •     Wash and wax the RV
  •     Wash and wax the Jeep
Aside from the washing and waxing of the vehicles, all of this can be done in one afternoon. We were going to do some of it today but it rained last night and the ground is a mess now. We'd rather not track any of that into the RV.

On our most recent trip to the grocery store (HEB), we bought some vanilla ice cream and a package of brownie mix. The end result is shown below. Jealous yet? We also made a trip to Burgesa Burger for dinner the other night. When we checked in on FourSquare we earned the Flame Broiled badge! At Burgesa Burger, they give you a fortune cookie with your meal but since it is a Mexican place, you get a fortune taco.

Brownies and ice cream.

Fortune Taco

We got a few things done on our "to do" list today. We installed a pair of 17" LED stop/turn/tail lights on the roof rack at the back of the Jeep. These will light up when the Jeep is connected to the motorhome. We also installed a light on the roof rack facing forward so we can see with the rear view camera when the Jeep's brakes are being applied by the ReadyBrake system. It would be bad news for the brakes to be applied and us not know it and keep driving!

LED Tail Lights for Towing

We also inspected and drained the water heater yesterday and replaced the anode rod in it. Our unit is a Suburban 6 gallon gas only water heater, so doing the maintenance on it is very simple. Even if your water heater is gas and electric, maintenance is still quite easy. We took pictures and did a little write-up on it, here is a link to the RV Water Heater Maintenance Guide. Here is a picture of the new and old anode rods.

Anode rods.

Today Cynthia told the park managers that we were not planning on returning here next winter. Our reasons are really quite simple, Cynthia doesn't want to workamp as much and we want to see somewhere new. We're still considering Florida or Arizona and we don't really have a preference between the two locations. Florida would be nice because we have family there and Arizona would be nice since we want to see the wild West.
Today is starting off a little dreary. It is overcast, about 62° and it actually sprinkled for 12 seconds this morning. I took Scooter out for a walk but he was more interested in getting back to the camper for his morning nap. I had plans to do a few things outside today but I think I will wait until tomorrow.

This past weekend we did our Spring cleaning. We bought a Hoover Nano vacuum and we cleaned every inch of the floor, walls, window coverings and every little ledge where dust could possibly settle. The wind blows all the time down here so it brings in the dust... lots of dust. After several hours of detailed straightening and cleaning, we got the camper looking great inside. We used this opportunity to make a video, giving our viewers a tour of the interior. Here it is, we hope you like it and feel free to share it with all your friends.

And so, January comes to an end. Only 60 more days until we leave the RGV and start our summer traveling. We are so excited!! The camper is clean, nearly all the maintenance has been completed and we are beginning to ponder the routes we will take when we depart. We are very anxious for a change of scenery and to get back to camping instead of being in an RV park.

In response to some comments below:
  • Our front seats do not swivel around. Normally, a curtain hangs right behind the seats to block off the cab from the living area, but we had it off so we could show the cab in the video.
  • We did a write-up on the digital thermostat installations, a link to them is in the left hand menu. To install a switch to select between high and low fan, you will need to place the switch between the wires that control fan speed. The switch is simply a SPST (single pole, single throw) and Radio Shack carries a wide variety. Be sure to check your thermostat documentation to determine which wires to use on the switch or consult a professional if you are unsure.
  • We have a whole house water filter that we use. The campground water supplies contain too many chemicals and too many minerals and we'd rather not bathe in that or drink it. We use a 5 micron filter that filters out everything including that chlorine taste, odors, sediment and more. The filters are readily available at Amazon, Lowe's, Home Depot and even Walmart. Average cost for the filters is about $5-$10 each and they are normally sold in 2 packs.
  • Not real sure what Tyler meant about keeping the outside "outside". If you are referring to him doing his business, we trained Scooter to ring a bell when he needs to go outside. Start off by teaching him the word "outside". Every time you are about to take him out, start saying "outside" in an excited voice, then take him outside. It won't take him long before he learns that when he hears the word "outside", he is about to go out. Now hang a small bell where he can reach it by the door. We used a Christmas sleigh bell, the round bells with a small ball inside it that rattles. Now when you say "outside", you jingle the bell then take your dog out. The dog will very quickly associate the bell with going outside and will start ringing it on his own when he wants to go out. And when you give him a haircut (or have it done), keep the hair very short around his anus and penis (or other area if it is a female).
    If you are referring to mud and debris being tracked in by the dog, keep a dog brush by the door and use it before bringing him in. Always walk him on a leash and keep him out of the mud. And to keep your camper from smelling like a dog, give your pup a bath every 4 days with a good smelling dog shampoo such as Fresh and Clean. Make bath time fun for the dog and he won't mind it at all.
  • If you have trouble controlling your dog on a leash, use this collar. It doesn't hurt him a bit but he also doesn't like it when you give it a reprimanding tug.


RV Blog Archives

2017   JAN, FEB, MAR         Please visit
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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