6 Months on the Road

Before we start on this post we wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  We are fortunate enough that we are able to spend this holiday with family and are looking forward to good food, company and maybe a drink. :).  Wishing the same for all our Blogger friends and fellow full timers.

Wow, it seems like we were just writing about being on the road for 5 months and now we are approaching our half year anniversary.  So much has happened in that time (and before).  We made our Sunday video a recap of the last 6 months and you can see it below.  For our fellow RV’rs with spotty WIFI here is a quick summary:

  1. Planning
  2. Repairs
  3. Seeing amazing sites
  4. Loving each other and our pups.

Advertisements

Fire and Water

You know when you smell something stinky, but you can’t figure out where it is coming from??  Yeah, so do we.  There has been a growing sour smell in the RV for a while.  Yes, we have two dogs, but they both said they “didn’t do it”.  We thought it was the heat because it is in the 90s here in Nevada and our rig is sitting in the sun.  We thought that it was heating up the pipes and holding tanks and causing the sour smell and we noticed it most when running water… Hmmm, our first clue.  We bought new chemicals for the tanks, emptied them,  added chemicals, filled with water, and thought the smell had dissipated.  It did not.  We thought it was food particles stuck in the drains, or food particles coating the grey water tank and fermenting in the heat.  We dumped and refilled the tanks multiple times.  The smell continued; it got worse.  It was like sour milk and old feet – absolutely awful.  Sean is amazing about doing research and looking up solutions for the problems we encounter (if you have kept up with our blog, you know that we have encountered several issues – like clogged loos and slide out issues).  He saw an article about how hot weather can cause the water in holding tanks and hot water heater tanks to sour and start to smell.  This made sense to us because the worst times of the smell were when we did dishes in the kitchen sink with hot water and when we took showers.  We also realized that we had used our hot water very infrequently over the last month as the tap water on cold was fairly warm, and we even used it that way in the shower.  The smell was not coming UP from drains, but OUT through the taps.  It was the water itself that was stinky.  Even though we drained the water, the tank and lines still had bacteria in them and the smell was coating the water as it passed through and also as it sat in the hot water tank and our fresh water tank.  The solution was to turn off the water heater, drain all tanks, and put a mix of fresh water and bleach into the fresh water holding tank.  After adding the fresh water and bleach, we were to turn on the pumps and run hot water (with the heater turned OFF) through the lines until the water coming out of the faucet started smelling bleachy (bleachy is a highly technical term).  We did all those things and had bleach water coming through the lines.  We probably used more bleach than necessary because the bleach smell was overwhelming, but we felt that at least it was sanitizing the lines.  We left the faucets on one by one to allow for a lot of bleach water to pass through the lines, especially the hot water lines.  Let sit for 24 hours then completely flush the system with fresh water.  We did this process two days ago, and for now the sour smell is completely gone.  The bleach sanitizing method seems like it has worked!  The joys of owning a home on wheels.  Lol.  OH, as a side note, we had ready mixed sanitizer coming out of the faucet to clean floors, counters, etc.

Now, about the FIRE….

No, we didn’t have a fire in the RV.  We visited the Nevada State Park, Valley of Firelow res-2896It was wonderful!  We wrote earlier about Zion and how beautiful it was, but how packed it was with tourists and how hard it was to get in.  We’ve realized we much prefer the parks and areas that are less popular.  Valley of Fire was pleasantly unoccupied.  There were tourists, but very few on the trails, and we had ample parking opportunities at each hiking location.  Interestingly, the Valley of Fire is apparently a popular location for many movie sets.  Sean was especially excited to see that Capt. James T. Kirk of the Star Trek Enterprise had his death scene somewhere in the park.  (Side note: Sean is a geek.)  He may have also mentioned 1 or a thousand times how the landscape looked so ‘alien’.  low res-2909

We really did love this park.  It had canyons, red rock, variations in rock colors, animals, and great trails.  The park was still primitive which is something we really enjoy.  The trails weren’t paved and we could choose from several paths on each hike.  Don’t get us wrong, we enjoy when trails are paved because we love that all people can have access to nature and beauty that way, but we personally enjoy unpaved, primitive hiking trails with more options to explore.  The Valley of Fire state park was that kind of park.

We hiked through canyons with ancient petroglyphs and sandstones of many colors.

low res-2926

Take plenty of water – don’t let the heat get to you!

low res-3074

Some sort of desert sheep…

It was a wonderful (but HOT) day in the desert.  We would recommend getting there in the morning if the forecast calls for a hot day.  There isn’t much shade, and it can get sweltering quickly in the red sand.  We drank two bottles of water each, one bottle of Gatorade each, and Sean had a can of soda.  We were only there for about 4 hours.  Moral of the story:  take lots and lots of fluids!  We still felt dehydrated for the rest of the day.  The dry air and sand sucked out any moisture.  The park has two visitor centers, one at each entrance.  They have small gift shops with some food and drinks, and they have displays that explain how the valley was created and creatures in glass tanks to look at before you go out into the park itself.  We didn’t see any scaled, slimy, or slitering critters, but we did see a horned sheep while driving through the main road.  We were able to stop and snap a quick pic.  The park brochure did not list the sheep on the park animal list, so we’re not sure what they really are or how they came to be in the park.

Red sand from our hikes.  Sean had a bunch in both shoes.

Red sand from our hikes. Sean had a bunch in both shoes.

All in all, it was a lovely park and we were glad were heard of it!  If you’re in Vegas for any reason, take a trip less than an hour east and visit the park – it is well worth it!

If you would like to see MANY more pics, visit the gallery of photos on our website:

Valley of Fire Photo Gallery

Back to Salt Lake City

We feel as if we have been running up and down HWY 15 forever.  LOL.  While in Vegas Sean’s best friend, Craig, contacted him and said he would be in Salt Lake City for a few days on business – did we want to come for a visit?  Well, we hadn’t seen Craig in months AND he was using points to get us into a nice hotel so we said, sure.

However, before we traveled to Salt Lake City, we wanted to do some exploring and clean the rig.  We had contacted an RV wash company to come and clean the exterior and wax the nose.  We were hoping to keep the bugs off when we hit the road again.  Well, best laid plans…  The heat in Nevada has been near or above record highs and our fridge was not able to keep up with the load.  The temps have been well into the 100’s where we are staying and our kitchen slide is in the sun most of the day.  After a little research, we learned that the fridges in most RVs will have issues when the temperatures rise into the 90’s.  Sean was fascinated by the science of the fridge – no compressor or moving parts.  Anyway, we saw that one solution was to get a fan mounted behind the fridge to help circulate air around the condenser coils.  We had a small desk fan that Sean was able to place under the coils inside the exterior vent.  He was able to get that in place the day before we left.  If it worked, we were going to stop at the Camping World store in St. George to get a ‘real’ fridge fan.  Well, it worked like a charm!  We noticed a huge difference the next morning.  We were also fortunate on our Camping World stop as they only had one fan in stock and it was the one Sean wanted.  It can be wired into the system and has a heat sensor, so it will automatically run when needed.  We also had to purchase a new vent for the stove as the interior flapper thingy (technical term) had broken.  Ahhh, life on the road.

FridgeCool Vent Fan

Our drive to SLC was uneventful.  A nice drive with our pups sleeping the whole way.  While in the city we explored a bit.  low res-2259Both of us have been curious about LDS (Mormon Church) since hitting the HWY 15 corridor.  As a former history teacher, Sean was fascinated by the church and people.  Craig had suggested we tour the LDS Temple Square while he was working, so we took him up on it and walked from our hotel.  Sherry has been doing research on her family tree for years and also wanted to visit the genealogy center across from the square.  We actually did that first as there was a large funeral taking place and the square was shut down  (one of the 12 Apostles had passed away and the funeral service was a large event with state and local police escorts).  As a consequence, we ended up spending a long time in the genealogy center.  It was fascinating to plug in the name of a relative and see birth and census records from nearly a century past.  We each traced back several generations before leaving to see if we could wander the square.  We could, but the crowds and our growing hunger kept us to a short walk through the square then out to find some food.  The day was fun and interesting… Of course, Sean never mentioned the possibility of converting and finding ‘sister wives’ once.

Walking the city, we both enjoyed the unique architecture and art to be found.  low res-2252 low res-2253Sean especially loved the geeky space based art work.  Sherry, being a tree hugger, loved the public access bikes scattered throughout the city and the bike lanes being built into the existing roadways.

We had dinner that evening with Craig at a local brewery, Red Rock Brewing and made plans for the next day to go into the mountains and see if we could catch some autumn colors and see some of the ski resorts and where the 2012 Olympics took place and now where winter Olympic hopefuls train.

low res-2266The next day found the three of us heading up a narrow road through a canyon and into the Wasatch National Forest to Brighton.  The views were spectacular and we were able to capture some amazing pictures of trees in their fall best.  We continued our drive over the mountains and to Park City.  The high point of the drive was about 9,000′.  Park City is a beautiful former mining town that is now devoted to skiing.  Starting as a mining town, it burned nearly to the ground in the late 1800’s.  Sean read some of the historical papers framed in the restaurant where we had lunch, the Blue Iguana (delicious).  It was interesting to learn that as mining was dying out, some of the companies decided to take advantage of the ‘white gold’ and built ski resorts to cater to the growing number of skiers in the mid 1900’s.

Modeling what Sherry calls the "guy smile" at the Blue Iguana.

Modeling what Sherry calls the “guy smile” at the Blue Iguana.

We wandered through the streets looking at the shops with the goal of ending up at High West Distillery.

 

On arrival, we had a flight of whiskeys and bourbons and found most to be very enjoyable.  Sherry liked several, but not the ‘burny’ ones.  Her favorite was the High West SILVER Whiskey.  Very mellow with fruity undertones. 🙂  Sean enjoyed several but one of his favorites was the American Prairie Whiskey.

The flight

The flight

Sampling whiskey

Sampling whiskey

On a side note, we may need to have several friends visit sometime soon to help us clear out our, now well stocked, liquor cabinet.  😉  Especially if we continue the bucket list item of visiting local watering establishments whenever possible.  After lunch we made a quick stop at the local ski resort but found nothing running but the Alpine Slide. There were already getting ready for the switch from summer fun to winter snows.

 

 

Leaving Park City, we hit HWY 80 and stopped at the Alf Engen ski museum.  Despite the fact that neither of us are snow and winter people, the museum was very interesting with several interactive exhibits.  In one, we learned how the fall and winter weather patterns work to create lake effect snow from the Great Salt Lake.  All the factors combine to create an amazing powder, excellent for skiing and those other cold activities.  This is about the only moisture this desert receives.  The museum sits on the site of many of the 2012 winter Olympic sports fields.  Many of the Olympic sites have been converted into training facilities for future Olympians.  We were lucky to be there on a day when the aerial freestyle ski jumpers (or whatever they’re called…lol) were practicing.  They ski down a special ramp into a pool of bubbly water.  It was very fascinating (and scary) to watch.

We ended our evening by taking Craig to the Salt Lake airport.  We stayed one additional night in the hotel since we didn’t want to tack on a 5 hour drive to our already packed day.  The drive back was as uneventful as the drive there.  We planned to stay in this area to see Zion National Park and other beautiful views, but we seem to keep traveling away while our RV stays put.  We will let you know when we get into to see some sights.  We did make it to a local state park called Snow Canyon….more about that in the next post.  🙂

If you would like to see more photos from our Salt Lake trip, click the link below:

Salt Lake City Photo Gallery

 

Three Months on the Road

Since starting our journey, we have done a monthly update on the things we have learned about living in an RV.  We are a little late on our third month installment, but better late than never, right?

Our summer workamping kept us jacks down for two months, but we did a lot of planning and preparation before leaving and then a few things since hitting the road again.  Here are a few of those things:

  1. Hitch Height.IMG_23582 Ideally, you want your rig to have an even ride.  That is, it should be level when hitched up to your tow vehicle.  Sean had noticed that our RV had a decidedly nose down appearance when hitched up.  There are two ways to adjust how the 5th wheel will ride when hitched.  On our rig, we can take out four bolts on the kingpin and raise or lower it OR take out four bolts on the hitch to raise or lower that setting.  Sean removed the bolts from the hitch and raised it one setting (about an inch or so).  That gave us a level look and ride (we checked with our levels).  Since the adjustment we have gone about 600 miles and all seems great.  Sean thinks it tows easier but….
  2. Cleaning the RV:  7992AF34-9025-4709-9F52-F11A82DD76C1We have gotten in the habit of doing a weekly deep clean inside the RV.  We do daily maintenance but once a week we scrub down the inside.  This probably isn’t ‘big news’ to anyone but it is an important point.  We both hate clutter and in a large house it is easy for even a small amount of clutter to spread out and not be noticeable.  In an RV, even a small amount is quickly noticeable.   The only issue with the weekly cleans is Sherry has to work to keep Sean from shoving everything into the ‘shit’ drawer or cabinet.  You know, the place where all the little odds and ends go that don’t have a permanent home.  Sean swears the cabinet makes a perfect ‘new’ home. 🙂  We also took the opportunity to scrub down the outside of the RV and apply wax to the front.  We had collected a bug lovers dream on the front of the Big Horn and had to spend a few days scrubbing and applying bug and tar remover.  Sean felt a layer of wax would at least help after our next encounter with the bugs.  We will let you know.
  3. Staying fit and healthy:  Despite all the hiking, we quickly realized that we were using some muscles and not others.  At home we stuck to a fairly regular routine of running, yoga and some weight training.  We didn’t want to bring weights with us in the RV so we got a set of weight bands instead.  This last month we have been especially conscious of doing some cardio work as well as stretching and Yoga.  We have a set of workout DVD’s we like to use for workouts -P90X.  Good stuff, especially the 30 minute workouts.  Sticking to a routine has been the toughest, but we have balanced ‘cardio’ hike days with yoga days.  Sherry has also done more healthy cooking.  The first two months of our trip we fell off the vegan and healthy food wagon (many times).   Since getting back into a healthier routine, we have both noticed a difference in how we feel.  OH, but there is always room for Huckleberry Pie!  (If you’re interested in any recipes, let us know and Sherry will give you details!)
  4. General RV maintenance:  We are very conscious of little things around the RV that could go wrong.  Sean will periodically walk the RV inside and out to check for loose fittings or other potential problems.  It is amazing the number of bolts and screws that loosen up after a day or two on the road.  Before leaving Montana, Sherry went through and checked caulk around seams, it had been months since we had the seams caulked and some areas were showing minor splits.
  5. IMG_23592Heating the RV and Propane use:  Amazing how fast we have gone from summer weather to mid fall… Well, we are also usually in areas 5,000 feet or higher now too.  Anyway, we thought about ways to conserve our propane long before we started traveling.  Both of us enjoy sleeping in a cool to cold room but it isn’t fun typing while trying to wear gloves.  To warm the inside we brought along a radiator we have had for several years.  It is a Honeywell electric/oil radiator.  Relatively economical to run and what we used at home to keep our bedroom at a comfortable temperature.  We have used it several times when the temps have dropped into the low 40’s and upper 30’s and have found it does a nice job maintaining a comfortable temp in both rooms of the RV.  We did fill our propane tanks up once, about a month ago, but that is the first time we have done that since October of last year.  Admittedly, we only had the RV out a few times before starting our adventure.  For the last two months we have used our shower (hot water) and have done a lot of cooking and some baking.  That said, it does seem like we have done well in propane use.  Any comments from fellow RV’rs?  What is normal propane use?
  6. Driving in windy conditions: A few months ago we did drive through some crazy storms in Western Missouri and again in South Dakota.  Maybe we didn’t notice the wind as much because of the rain and other issues.  We did notice it a lot when we hit Idaho and were driving down HWY 15.  Steady winds at 20 MPH and gusting over 30 MPH.  Question for everyone: When do you decide the winds are too high and call it a day?  In these conditions, we noticed very minor trailer sway.  Sean could see (in the rear view mirror) the bubble on the trailer level move from side to side.  We just kept our speed down and drove through.  Sean did say it was a bit unnerving from time to time. 🙂

IMG_2357In a previous post we had mentioned our slideout ‘preventative’ repair work.  So far all has been great.  We completed adding the fiberglass panels to the slides and after multiple uses everything is looking good.  Since that post, we have met one couple working through similar issues with their RV slideouts.  They stopped by our site a few weeks ago to compare notes and look at what we had done.  Their RV slideouts use small sleds and they were noticing wear on the wood the sleds slid on.  Their plan for a fix was to place a thin sheet of metal on the area the sled would use to help distribute the weight.  Since then, we have heard from several others with similar problems.  Which brings us to the next topic, the RV community.

Over the summer we met many full-time RV couples or those who were on the verge of going full time. In our last week at Timber Wolf, we also met several full-time RV families.  We have truly enjoyed sharing experiences with the people we have met.  One family (three children) shared several RV groups with us and were the encouragement we need to jump onto Instagram with our blog and photos.  Our screen name is Sean_and_Sherry

Final thought – Have fun:  Not a lesson we needed to learn but one to share.  We continue to love our time together as a family and the opportunity to explore together.  Now that we are back on the road, we are re-energized, if that is even possible, and excited to see the next stop. 🙂

In our next post – Yellowstone!!

Slides and Slidouts

We haven’t been doing too much adventuring the past couple of weeks.  The fire on the east side of Glacier Park closed the main road and caused a lot of smoke cover (the Going-to-the-Sun road is currently open and people are allowed to travel sparingly through the east side of the park).  We avoided the area the last several weeks due to the congestion of tourists and low visibility.  Even though we haven’t ventured into the park, other than to jog the bike trail at Apgar a few times, we still have projects around the R.V. to keep us busy.

-Side note – Before we left on this adventure we had some work done on the R.V. to get it in tip-top shape.  One upgrade was our roof, and the other was the bedroom slideout.  We won’t get into the whole problem we’ve had with the dealership where we bought the R.V. and the “repairs” they said they made before we drove it off the lot.  There is still a bitter taste from that whole experience, so we won’t discuss what was SUPPOSED to be done and what were items we “didn’t need to worry about” when we got the R.V.

IMG_2302

Sean hanging out under the living room slide.

We periodically check the outside of the R.V. for any signs of wear and tear or damage, and we noticed recently that underneath the kitchen slide the material was wearing off where the rollers touched the surface.  This is the same problem we had on the bedroom slide we had repaired before we left.  The outer slide floor is particle board with a thin coating.  We’ve noticed many of the newer RV’s have a sheet of fiberglass over this to protect it from any moisture.  If we left it the way it is, the roller would eventually chew up the particle board under the slide and give us even more trouble.  The bedroom slide was fixed by applying a layer of fiberglass sheeting and reinforcing the edges with corner pieces.  Sean did some research and we decided we could take the project on as a DIY.  After all, he brought along most of his tools, they have to get some use.  We found sheets of fiberglass at Home Depot and Sean made a list of all the materials we would need.  http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-4-ft-x-8-ft-White-090-FRP-Wall-Board-MFTF12IXA480009600/100389836

We decided to do both the kitchen slide and the living room slide.  After we got all the material, we had to trim the pieces to fit (Sherry’s job).  We wanted the fiberglass to fit under the rubber weather striping, but not too close to where the floor lifted to slide.  That slide lifts up on a long plastic or pvc material.  The wood floor literally slides along the material until it is full in.  So, we wanted to make sure that the mechanism wouldn’t be obstructed when it started its sliding and checked several times to see where the lift actually occurred.  Sean wasn’t too worried as the fiberglass board is very thin and shouldn’t cause an obstruction.  The piece fit perfectly and all we had to do was screw it into the bottom of the slide.  THAT was a lot of work.  The sheet is 8 ft. long, so it wanted to bend and fold.  Sherry did her best using both arms and her head to keep it from dipping and holding it in place, while Sean held the other end with his head and put in screws with a drill attachment.  It was a sight to see!  Nevertheless, we got it all secured!  We were very careful to make sure the piece was even and secured along the edges with self tapping wood screws.  We had to use two pieces of fiberglass to fit the width of the entire slide.  The second piece was cut to 4 ft. and was much easier to hold in place.  We still have to caulk and add trim, but the slide moves beautifully in and out over the rollers.  In fact, it seems to slide easier, with much less friction than before.

Speaking of slides…

IMG_0616

Alpine Slide Whitefish, MT

We also had some fun the last week.  Sherry’s friend from high school came to Glacier to hike with her girlfriend, and we were all able to get together.  We have been wanting to go to Whitefish, MT to the ski resort and do the Alpine Slide they have there.  It is like a giant water slide with sleds and no water.  We had a fun time riding the sleds down the hill and then riding the ski lifts up the hill!

IMG_0640

Wheeee!!!

FullSizeRender

Here we go!

We also took them to Glacier Distilling Company to have some refreshments.  IMG_2308

IMG_2305We are in love with some of the whiskeys at this particular distillery.  They are not big enough to ship or market nationwide, but when they do, the products will no doubt be popular!  We were incredibly disappointed that our favorite bourbon, Cabin Fever, was completely sold out.  It will be another year or TWO before they have another batch ready to bottle.  We had made up our minds to get several bottles for Christmas presents this year!  Needless to say, we were bummed and some people on our list are not getting presents.  Lol.  (Luckily for us, we have a little left of our own personal bottle that we will cherish.)

We are looking forward to our final weeks here in the Glacier area.  We have several more hikes planned now that the park has reopened the main road.  Our most exciting hike is going to be the Highline trail near Logan Pass.  It is highly rated, so we are excited to try it out.  We have our next several stops after here planned and are looking forward to moving on to what else this country has to offer.  To adventure!

P.S.  We realized that our post about togetherness and tattoos was missing a shout out to the tattoo artist and owner of Dancing Bones Ink in Columbia Falls, MT.  She was so wonderful to us and made us feel so comfortable.  We meant to give a shout out and realized after re-reading the post that we didn’t mention WHO did the tattoos!  So, Barb, thank you so much for your wonderful spirit and artistry!       http://www.dancingbonesinkinc.com/Home.html