Our Covid Thanksgiving

With having had so much question and anxiety this year over what the future would bring, Kathy and I now have so much to be thankful for.

Although this will certainly be a different sort of Thanksgiving than any we’ve ever seen before, we will celebrate the fact that there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Things WILL get better for all of us as we move forward.

As I’ve shared with you in previous posts, we remain in Ohio until early spring 2021.

Kathy and I are blessed to have a safe place to hang our hats since March of 2020. Our daughter and son-in-law welcomed us back “home” where we can live on our own in the bunkhouse, just a hundred feet or so from the main house.

Panoramic view of the bunkhouse

Although we had been sharing the dinner table with them on a daily basis, recently our son-in-law’s work location has had a half dozen or so positive Covid cases. He works in the physical therapy department at a local nursing home.

So as a result, the last week or so has found them eating dinner on their own. So it’s been a more lonely time for Kathy and me. We miss the daily interaction.

We just took a small turkey breast out of the freezer, Kathy will make her yummy Greeny-Beanie Casserole and of course we’ll have the usual mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy along with my homemade apple pie for desert.

Hopefully Stu and Sara will feel comfortable enough to come on up to the bunkhouse and join us in our celebration of all that we have to be thankful for. Thankfully, Stu has tested negative several times over the last 10 days or so. But nonetheless we’ll keep our distance as best we can.

Speaking of being thankful – we’re blessed to be retired and not have to go to a workplace where we might have to be in close contact with others on a daily basis. Kathy is able to stay home and I am working part-time driving a county bus delivering local folks to medical appointments and such.

Herb at work

We give thanks that the election is finally over. The count is done and we have a President-Elect who will take office on January 20th. A lot of changes are forthcoming for which we are very thankful.

We’re thankful for our (mostly) good health. Sure, at this age we do have some aches and pains that we didn’t have just a few years ago, but we’re really in pretty good shape for the shape we’re in. Nothing medically major in the foreseeable future and we’ll try to keep it that way.

We’re thankful that a vaccine is nearly here, and we look forward to being able to get back on the road, seeing more of this beautiful country, renewing old friendships along the way, and making more new friends as we travel.

We hope for you, that although your Thanksgiving will very likely be different from years past, you will be safe in your celebration so that you and your loved ones can celebrate for years to come.

We’d love to hear from you. What are your plans for Thanksgiving? Where are you? How will you celebrate? You can leave your comments in the comments section below or if you’re reading this from the Facebook link, feel free to respond there if you like.

As always, we appreciate your reading and leaving comments and we wish only the best to you and yours.

Until next time,

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Off The Road During Covid

Well, it’s November 2020 and we continue to lay low in Ohio during this Covid 19 pandemic.

You might remember that we sold the house in Ohio and hit the road full-time in September of 2016 and up until a few months ago, we had no thoughts of stopping our travel and volunteering lifestyle anytime soon.

In early 2020 we had just finished our 2 week February trip to Mexico with the Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 and then made it back to our RV lot in Casa Grande, Arizona. We stayed there at the park for just a few days before rolling out and heading east through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and on into central Florida for a couple weeks where we enjoyed hooking up with our good friends from our school days along with a stop to visit my sister in Jacksonville.

Our intention was to head north out of Florida by the end of March to fulfill our commitment to serve as campground hosts at a beautiful little campground nestled in the forest near Waynesville, North Carolina. We were scheduled to be there for April, May, and June through the July 4th weekend. Then we would come back to Ohio for July and August to spend time with family and in September we would head up into Michigan (including the U.P.) and take all of late September and all of October to travel down through Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and on to our RV lot in Arizona by November 1st. We would be visiting friends along the way. It was a good plan. But it was just a plan ….

And then the Covid pandemic seemed to really “hit” and become a reality to us while we were in Florida. Frankly, we got a little nervous about what the future was to bring. There was talk of closures to include restaurants, gas stations, campgrounds, state borders, and even highway rest areas! Little was really KNOWN about what was to come and it seemed that every state was making up its own rules as the days passed. It seemed we couldn’t count on anything anymore.

Would we be able to make it to North Carolina? SHOULD we proceed to fulfill our commitment to serve as hosts at all? What about the dangers of coming in contact with so many strangers traveling from all over the country? How safe would Kathy be working in the office? How safe would I be cleaning the bathrooms? Or should we just hunker down and stay in Florida until this all “blows over”? But how long might that be? And would we even be able to find a spot to rent given that there were so many state parks and campgrounds that were closing?

There was so much unknown … we decided the best thing to do was cancel out on our 3 month working stint in North Carolina and just head right on up to Ohio while keeping our heads down. Along the way we spent evenings either in highway rest areas, local village Elks Lodge parking lots, or anywhere we might find a parking lot where we could park and spend the night without having to be in a situation where we would have to interact with others. We are fully self-contained with plenty of onboard water and ample solar-powered electricity so a night or even a couple weeks without hookups was not a problem for us.

You might remember that when we started our new lifestyle that we had sold our Ohio home to our daughter and son-in-law. But years before we had finished off what had been a 2nd floor workshop above the garage. Our intent was to provide a private apartment for a guest visit, to add value to the property, or possibly provide for rental income. We never had any idea that WE would be the guests!

But we’re blessed that Sara and Stu welcomed us back to the area and it’s great that although we are “close” physically, we’re not TOO close. As it’s turned out, we prepare and share dinner over here in the bunkhouse for the four of us and then we have the rest of the evening to ourselves!

Panoramic view of the inside of the bunkhouse

Well, here it is November. We’ve been here seven months now. The beauty of fall in Ohio is pretty much gone. The red and gold leaves that drenched the roadsides with glorious bright color have fallen and winter is starting to settle in. Since the Covid situation hasn’t improved any (we’re now in the 3rd wave), our earlier logic used to get us to stay low still commands that we not travel and come in contact with a lot of other people.

The coach is in heated storage for the winter – and it’s just a 1/4 mile away!

I’ve taken a part-time job (about 30 hours/week) driving a small bus for the local Morrow County Transit Service. We transport folks to local shopping and medical appointments. All drivers and riders are required to wear masks and the vehicles are disinfected daily to protect us all.

Kathy’s been keeping busy preparing dinners for the four of us along with helping out Sara by keeping her home as well as ours clean and all the laundry done.

I have to admit, we have had some level of “hitch-itch” while here and we’ve taken just a handful of short camping trips with only our closest friends that we feel comfortable being around. And even at that we’ve avoided any hand shakes, hugging, or even sitting in close proximity to each other in an effort to do our part in keeping the spread of Covid at bay.

We’ve also had the opportunity to visit my sister Betsy and Brother-In-Law Bob at their new home in Owosso Michigan.

Another real pleasant surprise was the opportunity to meet up with one of my old bosses. Ken and his wife Jan were traveling through Ohio from Michigan and stopped to spend a couple days in our area! I worked for Ken from about 1980 to 1990 (I think). We by chance connected on Facebook and Kathy and I ran over to the KOA just a few minutes from our home and spent the afternoon with them and their Great Dane “Magnum”. It was great to see them again after so many years.

We’ve decided that we’ll stay the winter. Although we miss all our friends at Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, Arizona this year, we will look forward to seeing them next winter – when hopefully things will be much better. Just today on the news Pfizer has announced that one of their vaccine products is showing a 90% success rate in 45,000 study participants.

Along with Eli Lilly and other manufacturers working on a vaccine, and new leadership in Washington making the fight against Covid a priority, maybe we will be able to resume in spring of ’21 our life of RV travel and volunteering. We certainly hope so.

Speaking of 2021, here’s our tentative plan and more details will follow in future posts as the date gets closer.

We are going to be campground hosts at Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park in Burkesville, KY for April, May, and June through the July 4th weekend.

Then we’ll head on up to Baldwin, Michigan to spend a couple days at Pere Marquette Oaks Resort so we can spend some time visiting with great friends we made when we worked there as host couple during the summers of 2017 and 2018.

By mid-July we will hook up with Matt and Sherry who are fellow full-time RV’ers that we first met in Livingston Texas. We’ve since worked with them in South Dakota and met up with them in other areas of the country. This time we are planning our own little caravan (of two rigs) to motor across the Mackinac Bridge and over into Canada via Sault St. Marie.

Matt and Sherry

Assuming the Canadian border is open by then, we’ll all head SLOWLY west through the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and on into British Columbia with arrival in Vancouver BC by September 1st. Matt and Sherry will “peel off” at Creston BC (just north of Idaho) so they can zip on down to visit their son at Missoula, Montana.

Kathy and I hope to take a couple ferries across from Vancouver area to Port Angeles Washington where we’ll get on Route 101 down the Pacific coast on through Oregon and into northern California.

At some point, we’ll work our way over toward Reno, Nevada and then on down (and around) Las Vegas and back to Rover’s Roost by November 1st, 2021.

That’s it for now .. we wanted to bring you up to date on what little is going on in our lives and our plans for the future.

We wish you well and happiness – we’re doin’ fine and still enjoying life – even as it is.

What about you? How are you handling the situation we find ourselves in? What are you doing to occupy your time if you’re quarantined? Are you still able to work either from home or at your work location? If you’re working away from home what are you doing to stay safe?

That’s the main thing – stay safe by staying home if you can. Use a mask if you go out in public while maintaining the 6′ distance from others and then wash your hands as soon as you get home. Use hand sanitizer as soon as you get back in the car so you are not transferring anything from your hands to your steering wheel and ultimately back to your face.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Day 43 of Isolation for Full Time RV’ers

It’s another day living with the Covid-19 Corona virus issue and we’re dealing with it although missing our previously taken-for-granted freedoms.

But we’re finding that working to stay as safe as we reasonably can, it’s not as bad as it first sounded a couple months ago.

As of early May Ohio is now starting to “open up” as Governor Mike Dewine has modified his previous “Stay At Home” order to “Stay Safe Ohio” still encouraging all of us to maintain social distancing and to use face coverings whenever we are out in public. Kathy and I plan on continuing to basically shelter in place and only travel out for the necessary and always take the appropriate precautions. Our hope is that we will all be able to get out more freely by the end of summer – but that remains to be seen.

We consider ourselves fortunate that we have a place to stay safe that allows us to still have the freedom to go outside and enjoy our surroundings. There are so many others that live in a small apartment or condo and really have nowhere to go out and stretch a bit. If we had stayed at our RV park in Arizona – or any other park for that matter, we would be confined to our motorhome or our patio area.

As it is, we are “parked” in the Bunkhouse above the garage at the home of our daughter Sara and husband Stu. We sold them our home when we hit the road in 2016. We had finished off the storage room on top of the garage making it into a small apartment a few years ago as a guest room since the main house was an open floor plan with just one bedroom. Little did we know at the time that WE might end up being the guests!

The “Indian Mound Lodge” – our previous home built in the early ’60’s sits on 6+ acres of woods
Inside the lodge looking through the kitchen into the living room

During the time the governors stay at home order was in place, we only made a trip to the grocery about once a week … and I have to admit that I also made a few trips to Menards or Lowes to get supplies for the projects I’ve been working on here at the bunkhouse. I’ve always kept my distance from other shoppers and used the mask during my visit and hand sanitizer when I got back in the car.

The Bunkhouse above the garage. The big silver tarp covers Sara’s therapy pool

The projects around the house here have been my savior – they’ve allowed me to keep from going crazy with boredom.

The “Bunkhouse” apartment above the garage (panoramic image)

I’ve done some painting (yellow) of a couple walls in the living area along with the bathroom and spent considerable time (I’m not a carpenter) installing new kitchen cupboards/counter top/sink and shelving for the kitchenette. And of course hung some things on the walls to make it feel a little more “homey”.

The newly completed kitchenette awaits the arrival of an electric range

And Kathy has been wonderful at keeping busy helping Sara with spring cleaning of the house and they also worked together helping a friend of Sara’s to make masks for others.

Sara and Kathy working on cutting material for masks in the porch
Sara at work

Sara just went back to work yesterday. She had taken a layoff from her job driving a mini-bus for the local county transportation service. Once the stay at home order was in place the bus runs to doctors appointments and shopping trips dropped off drastically and so the bus service reduced their driver pool from 18 drivers down to only five. But that’s ok – it gave Sara the long awaited opportunity to spend time outside working on the beds planting and transplanting .. something she really enjoys doing.

In addition to working on the bunkhouse, I had asked Stu to make a list of things I could be doing while he is at work. Stu works in Physical Therapy at a nearby nursing/rehab facility. He came up with a list (on a yellow legal pad) of about 15+ items! Since it’s early spring a lot of what I/we have been up to has been outside as long as the weather is above 40 degrees or so.

Kathy, Sara and I trimming, collecting and burning brush
Bringing another load of firewood to the splitter

Our son David, his wife Lisa and son Garret live just about a mile down the road. David works from home and hasn’t had to do any traveling since this whole thing started. They’ve dealt with the stay-at-home order fine as they live on 8+ acres, have a few animals to take care of and Lisa always keeps a very well stocked pantry and freezer so they’ve not had to go out hardly at all. Garret doing his 6th grade school work at home via computer. He’s also been working on some life skill lessons. Papa worked with him on making some Squirrel Picnic Tables that he’s selling on Facebook and he’ll be working with David and me next week learning how to wire lights and switches in their barn.

Garret at the radial arm saw cutting material for the squirrel picnic tables

The other day I decided to show Sara that I trust her explicitly and allowed her to cut my “hair”.

Although we miss the opportunity to eat out at some of our favorite restaurants, we’re also learning some new recipes and enjoying dinners together with Stu and Sara.

Jumbo pasta shells stuffed with Ricotta/Mozzarella cheese and spinach – Yummy!

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day – I know it’ll be another great day.

Stay safe.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day 4 – More Zoo & Wine

This might be getting a bit repetitive, but it’s not getting old for us! This is so wonderful being able to get such a close-up interaction with the zoo animals and their caregivers.

Today we spent time with the Yellow Parrots, Pumas, Spider Monkeys, and Macaws. We helped to feed them and helped to clean their habitat — things that the keepers do every day. We also gave them enrichment toys – things that help to keep them curious and stimulated – not just bored & locked in a cage.

See the cart that Arturo (picture above) is pulling along the trail as we walk from exhibit to exhibit? They use carts (usually pulled by bicycles) to move tools and supplies around the zoo as they need them. In the states we would have the luxury of being supplied with motorized carts/trucks of some sort.

One of the groundskeepers emptying the trash receptacles in the morning

Arturo got one of the staff here at the zoo to take our wheel off and get the flat tire fixed and reinstalled. Service on-the-spot and only $300 pesos ($15 US) – Hooray!

Our flat tire got fixed by one of the staff

Later in the day we got to share some time with a new (3 month old) lion cub “Carlotta”. She’s very playful so she had to be watched very closely by both Stephanie and Antonio (keepers) because the wooden fence isn’t that tall and she can jump easily and quickly.

Keeper Carlos talked to us about the 4 different types of reptiles and introduced us to a few of the residents of the habitat he manages. Some were so uncomfortable they left the room or refused to come in to begin with, but most of us stayed and enjoyed Carlos’ informative presentation.

Late afternoon we all carpooled to L.A. Cetto Winery. We got a great tour of the operation led by our tour guide Adrian. He shared with us that this winery was started in 1928 here in Guadalupe Valley and it is the largest winery in all of Mexico. They manage and harvest about 3000 acres, having about 250 seasonal employees in the fields. The grapes are all hand picked and they produce over 1 million cases of wine annually. The (2) rooms of stainless steel fermenting tanks hold over 3 million liters of wine at a time. After fermentation the wine is transferred to the oak barrels where it stays for just a few and up to 65 years!

After the tour we all went up to the outdoor patio for the wine tasting and Tapas made by our own crew. Our caravan leader Ed Dennis graduated in culinary art from a Paris school years ago so he asked for volunteers from our group that could help him prepare our afternoon feast – It was fabulous!

There’s more to come …. we’re all heading out to a local Mexican restaurant tonight and tomorrow morning we will all say goodbye to our new friends at Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe Valley and head further south on the Baja Penninsula to La Jolla Beach Campground.

C’Mon Along!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day Three

Day three (Saturday February 15th) started out another beautiful sunny wonderful day in paradise. After breakfast in the coach – Kathy with her oatmeal and me with my scrambled eggs with mushrooms, onion, and a little potato mixed in – we headed on over with the others to the pavilion in the center of the zoo. Here we met with zoo biologists and keepers where we divided into four groups of 12 and then headed out for our “up close and personal” tours of the Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe.

Our tour group leaders (biologists, keepers, veterinarian, director)

This zoo was started dozens of years ago by the owner of the Jersey Dairy Company. He and his family created, managed, and funded the zoo. In recent times, this man passed away and as a result just this year the zoo no longer gets any funding from him or his family. The zoo is now a not-for-profit organization and relies on admission prices and donations to stay afloat. It became very clear to us during our tours that the employees of the zoo (11 employees total) are working here because of their love for the animals. This .. in many ways is their family.

The Escapees RV Club Chapter 8 “Mexican Connection” came here last year and again this year to not only be entertained but also to help out both physically and financially through our admission fees and our auction that will be held here later this week.

Antonio – Our tour guide for the day – 32 year old Zoo Biologist

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger image.

Antonio led us on a very informative tour and it became clear very quickly that he and his co-workers care very much for the animals. Nearly all of the animals here arrived from the government. Many have been confiscated at ports of entry or have owned by individuals as family pets and then have been abandoned or given up when they became too big and no longer manageable (or affordable) to keep as pets.

The government has no means to care for them so they come here to Zoologico Parque del Nino Guadalupe. Although the government gives them to the zoo to take care of for an undetermined time (during investigation and litigation) they do not give the zoo any funds to care for the animals. In some cases, the zoo may take care of these animals for years but the government can always come back and take them away.

Other animals are given to the zoo as gifts – which was the case with the 40+ peacocks that they have. These were a gift from a priest.

One of three swimming pools

The “Zoo” is much more than a place to see animals. The Guadalupe Valley is generally an area of very poor families. When the zoo was started, the owners wanted it to be a place where local families could come and learn, play, eat, and enjoy family time together.

In fact, up until very recently all it cost for admission for a whole family was a Jersey Dairy Milk bottle cap. The children could provide a day of fun for the whole family just by saving their bottle cap from their milk at school and presenting it at the front gate to the zoo.

There are three swimming pools, a pond with paddle boats and lots of shaded picnic tables. Families are encouraged to bring their picnic baskets and enjoy the day together.

After our tour of the zoo we had the rest of the day to ourselves. Some went into town right away while others took care of chores at home. We evidently picked up a nail or screw as we got close to the zoo on Friday because by the time we pulled in to our parking spot our “toad” had a flat tire.

Bummer

But not to worry – I’m sure there’s a tire shop in town somewhere and we don’t need to drive anywhere anytime soon – there are others here that we can carpool with to any of the local attractions.

Although Guadalupe Valley is very poor, it is rich with vineyards and wineries. But these vineyards and wineries are not owned by local people nor do they employ local people. You’d think that the local economy would be lifted by these wineries, but they are owned and operated by companies from Tijuana or Mexico City and they bring in their employees from out of the area. Go figure.

We finished off the day with a visit to Baron Balche’ Winery where we had a tour, a wine tasting, and dinner. What a wonderful cap to a fantastic day!

Be sure to click on the thumbnail pictures above so you can see more of the detail. You can see in one of the pictures the rough rock walls encompassing the cellars.

Each of the large stainless steel tanks hold 7500 liters of wine – there were about 40 of these huge tanks. There were HUNDREDS of White Oak barrels. The barrels come from French Oak or American White Oak and there are two sizes of barrels – either 300 or 600 liters.

There is NO heat or A/C in the cellars – they are literally dug out of a whole in the ground. It’s a constant 55 degrees and very humid – water drips down the walls so they have fans blowing to keep the air moving so mildew doesn’t form.

It’s been another busy educational, fun, and rewarding day. Now off to bed because “Tomorrow’s Another Day”

Thanks for riding along – we hope you can make it with us to Day 4!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day Two

We (Group 1) left Potrero Park at 7:30 a.m. Our group is the Parking Group so we need to head out before any of the other groups so we can be in place at the next location far enough ahead so we can be set up and ready to Park all the other rigs coming in behind us. There are 3 other groups consisting of 5 or 6 rigs each.

Since we all have our FMM cards already, we COULD have been swept right through the border crossing. But Kathy and I weren’t so lucky.

The official stopped us, checked our registrations, looked in a couple cabinets, and then greeted us with “Happy Valentine’s Day”

We moved on through the gates and all 6 rigs in Group One stayed in touch on our CB radios as we traveled the next 50 or so miles down to Zoologico Parque del Nino in Guadalupe Baja California Mexico.

Once we arrived, our fearless Group One (parking group) leaders Jim and Connie gave us our instructions along with our bright orange safety vests and flags. We we’re now official parking team members!

Our official uniforms

We then spent the next couple hours greeting and parking rigs as each subsequent group rolled in.

We we’re the first rig in so we got the prime spot in the corner closest to the wolves and the lion!

Right up front closest to the action

After we got all the rigs parked, we all wandered over to Ed & Kassandra’s (Our Trip Leaders) rig to pick up our new Baja jackets and get an update on the schedule for the coming days. Ed talked a little about the history of the Baja Jacket and his design for the logo embroidered onto the front.

Right after the afternoon meeting we moved on into the zoo where we were gifted with a beautiful Valentines Dinner prepared by the park owners daughter who is also a recently graduated chef! The meal was a delicious dish of Mexican Lasagna with green salad and refried beans served with fresh sangria or a unique cucumber/lemon drink and topped off with Red Velvet cupcakes.

And another special treat of the night was a gift from Malcolm Russ – one of our own who, as it turns out is a retired professional musician and vocalist who has played in national orchestras as well as smaller venues all over the country. He took requests, while also giving us some great love songs to bring the evening to a close.

Day three brings us a personal guided tour of the zoo with a close-up look at the animals with led by one of the two zoo biologists.

Stand by for more!

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Mexico Day One

Our first day in Mexico was without our RV’s. Our caravan of 27 rigs has been divided into four smaller groups to make the trip(s) more manageable.

Kathy and I are the second rig in Group 2. Today the mission for each group is to drive our cars 20 minutes to the border crossing of Tecate. We carpooled and parked our cars in a public lot ($5 U.S.) and walked across. We stayed in our smaller groups of 8-10 people as we toured the town.

Our walk across the border after getting our FMM cards

Each group’s mission was to check in with Mexican authorities and get our FMM cards, exchange our dollars for pesos, enjoy breakfast at an open air cafe, visit Tecate Brewery (free beer), visit a Wonderful bakery, and anything else we wanted as long as we were back to Potrero Bark by 3pm or so.

I needed to buy a cheap cell phone for Mexico as my service provider does not include Mexico coverage. A couple of folks in our group found a pharmacy to get some much needed aids (drugs) to help with their ailments.

Along the way some of us felt the need to get some ice cream too! I should’ve got a picture of that .. sorry.

The Mexican people are very friendly and smile and wave. A smile back with a “Hola” or “Buenos Dias” goes a long way way toward making new friends in a strange country.

One funny experience we had was our interaction with the border crossing official. After he reviews and processes your passport and FMM card (and collects your $31), he then graciously offers to sell you either honey or hot sauce and he’s sure to tell you the hot sauce is “good on your eggs in the morning!”

Back to Potrero Park for an afternoon info meeting, Happy Hour, dump our tanks in preparation for tomorrow mornings trip across the border, and finish off the night with a nice campfire.

More tomorrow as we drive south and enter the “Zoologico Parque del Nino Jersey” (zoo) at Guadalupe which will be our home for the next few days.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Readying for our trip to Q

Q? For the benefit of those of you who are not RV’ers, Q stands for Quartzite, a small town in western Arizona. The town explodes in the winter with hundreds of thousands of RV’ers who choose to live in the desert for the winter. More on that later because I plan on writing to you while we are there so I can share the experience with you. In the meantime, follow this link to learn a little more about where we’re going.

Since we’ve been here at Rovers Roost since about mid October, we’ve been having fun with our neighbors, and doing a few little projects around here.

We thought that maybe we were having a temperature control problem with our fridge. We had an Indoor/Outdoor thermometer in there for years. This unit showed us the refrigerator temperature and the room temperature. One day I noticed it was up to 49 degrees – Yikes!

Problem was, we never knew if the fridge was ever actually in cooling mode or not. If the thermometer indicated 40 degrees, was the control circuit calling for cooling? These RV fridges don’t have a compressor, they rely on heated ammonia gas to provide the cooling and that process is nearly silent.

I wanted to know what the control board was saying … was it firing the gas solenoid or the electric heating element? Was it trying to cool at all?

Off to Amazon to order a couple little lights that I could install into the wall next to the fridge to tell me when it’s calling for “cool”.

These little guys work great for the 12 volt gas solenoid. I just drilled a hole in the wall next to the fridge, connected one wire to pin 2 of J4 on the control board and the other wire to ground. I chose to use the blue colored light for gas since the gas flame is mostly blue.

I used this green 120 volt panel light for the 120 volt electric heating element. I hooked the two wires in parallel to the existing wires on J7 and J8 of the fridge control board. These wires go to the electric heating element in the boiler.

Then (also on Amazon) I bought a ” New and Improved” Indoor/Outdoor thermometer. This new one comes with one sensor inside the display (for the room temperature) and 3 additional sensors for remote locations. We put one in the freezer, the second in the fridge, and the third one outside. So now we can see at a glance all four temperatures (and humidity). The outside sensor is currently hanging on the rear grill of the coach because it’s in the shade. I don’t want to permanently install it on the coach, because then it’s apt to be in the direct sunlight more often than not. I wonder how long it will take for me to forget it’s hanging on the back by a paper clip and lose it as we zip down the freeway at 60+ mph!?

Indoor temp is 74.8, freezer is -1.7, fridge is 34.7 and outside is 39.8
Will I remember to take this off before we head down the road?

If you think you’d like one of these little gadgets for your rig/home, you can order it direct from our Amazon store by clicking on the link below.

Turns out after installing the new 4-station thermometer and installed the indicator lights, we now realize that the fridge controller is working just as it is supposed to. When the temp rises, the control turns on and a few hours later, the temp is back down to where it’s supposed to be.

These RV fridges don’t cool as quickly as a residential fridge with a compressor full of Freon, so we just have to be patient after loading it up with groceries from the store or putting in a new gallon of lemonade or freshly made liter of hot tea!

Although our storage shed on our lot was new a couple years ago (just before we got the lot) the original paint from Tuff-Sheds was pretty lame. It was spray painted before being assembled and the paint is “flat” and a thin coat. This front (with the window) wall faces south and gets super-heated sun rays all year long, especially in the 100+ degree summers.

I knew if we were to protect the wood siding from deteriorating, we need to put a good heavy coat of exterior paint on it (and probably re-paint regularly)

Kathy decided she wanted different colors so a few weeks ago I bought some Sherwin-Williams Weathershield Semi-Gloss Exterior paint and painted the trim the green color (per her instructions of course!)

Our shed trim painted – but still the original siding color

This week we went back to Lowes and bought the lighter color for the siding so I could at least get the southern facing wall painted before we leave for the season.

The shed south wall painted with the new lighter color

I’ll do the other three walls next winter when I have more time.

Today is Sunday and we’ll be heading to Q on Thursday so I still have some small remaining tasks left to do. Need to mount and secure the bikes on the bike rack, regenerate the water softener and fill our fresh water tank (54 gallon) with fresh softened water, take down my ham radio antennas, clean the windshield on the coach, put the chairs and tables in the basement, get our on-board propane tank filled before we leave the park, and bring the WAVE 6 Catalytic heater up from the basement for use when we are boondocking at Q.

This heater will keep us warm as the sun goes down and we won’t need to use any electricity to operate it. It just gives off a cozy warm radiant heat.

I’ve already got the CB antenna mounted on the car – did that last week. I’ve got things set up so I can move the CB radio from the coach to the car. I don’t normally use the CB, but it’s one of the requirements from the caravan leader for our trip to Mexico in February. I’ll install it back in the coach before heading to Q so we can monitor any freeway problems along the way.

And I found a small wooden shelf on our “trade table” at the clubhouse last week. People put their unwanted items on the table, others pick them up and put a few bucks in the bucket to help pay for some of the activities in the park.

I’m not sure what the previous owner used it for, but we want a wall mounted spice rack. I found some leftover oak, ripped it down to the right size on the table saw in the shop, and attached two strips to the front of the shelf. Primed it with exterior latex, spray painted it dark brown and am planning on installing it on the wall today. This will clean up our kitchen table.

I added 2 bars on the front to keep items “in” while we drive & sprayed it a dark brown
With the rack now on the wall, we have a lot more room on our dining table

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Working With Historicorps (National Elk Refuge)

When we were at our RV lot in Casa Grande AZ last winter, we took the time to attend our Escapees RV Club annual rally (Escapade) that was being held at Pima County Fairgrounds at Tucson, AZ.

Kathy enjoying an ice cream treat at the Escapade with new friends Connie and Dennis

This was the 59th annual Escapade and was, as usual, full of educational seminars, live entertainment, food, impromptu happy hours and a large vendor fair selling all things RV related. You can check out the 60th Escapade information to be held in July 2020 at Rock Springs Wyoming by following this link.

One of the “all in” evening gatherings at Escapade

One of the seminars that Kathy and I attended was put on by Liz Rice of Historicorps. Historicorps is a 10 year old organization that works with (typically) government agencies to restore and preserve historic buildings on federal or state lands like; national forests, state parks, and more. They solicit volunteers to do the work and some of those volunteers, like us, are RV’ers. Here’s a link to their completed projects over the last few years. As of this writing, there is only one project scheduled for 2020 (in Puerto Rico) but I know there will be many more published as we work through the winter into spring.

Kathy and I decided that there was one of their projects that would fit right into our travel schedule in late summer/fall 2019. We realized that after D.C. Booth in Spearfish SD we would then be visiting Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park along with some other spots of interest on our way back to Arizona for the winter.

The project we decided to volunteer for was the rehab of the historic Miller Barn on the National Elk Refuge in Jackson (Hole) Wyoming. (just south of Yellowstone). The project work would be mostly painting, with some replacement of wood siding and restoration of window sills and frames.

The Miller Barn at the beginning of the project
The Miller House and barn were built in 1898

Kathy, feeling a little hesitant about working with hand tools, decided that she would be happy to work in the mess tent and kitchen, but ultimately she got involved in some painting too!

Bacon and eggs for 10
Kathy and Doug painting some of the new replacement siding before installation
Kathy priming the replacement siding before installation

If you know me at all, then you know I’m not comfortable with heights over about 6-8 feet yet there was at least one time that I got up into the bucket for a few hours to paint the gable end of the barn.

No, that’s NOT me in the bucket – I’m taking the picture this time

There were 10 volunteers – two couples and the other volunteers were single folks. 3 or 4 of the crew had worked with Historicorps on other projects in the past while 5 or 6 of us were new to working with this organization. The two couples lived in their RV’s and the Elk Refuge provided us with full hook-up sites. The others slept in tents or in their cars.

Brian and Jeanette showing off their painting expertise!

We had two crew leaders … Ruthie and Daniel. Ruthie was the Chief and has worked with Historicorps many times over the years while Daniel was new to the organization. Daniel, in addition to being the new guy on the block running a crew (and the youngest in our group) was responsible for helping to give training and direction to the volunteers and he was also responsible for planning our meals, buying all the food, and cooking our meals.

Crew Chief Ruthie using the electric plane on a piece of siding (to make it fit)
Daniel, our Assistant Crew Chief (and camp cook)
Elk Refuge Volunteer Camp along with the Historicorps Cook Tent
Pancakes and sausage … YUM!
Our crew enjoying a night out after a long day’s work

In addition to providing us with an opportunity to serve as volunteers, we were also provided with all the tools necessary to do the job, training, 3 meals a day, a full hook-up RV site …. and best of all … outstanding beauty in all directions!