Thursday May 8
your roving reporter Terry
We're back for the summer,
and getting settled in for a bit. Lucky for me the deck is semi permanent
and there is no need to set it up each spring, just get the trailer backed
into place and leveled up for the season. All the amenities of a
fine campground, water, sewer and good dependable 30 amp electrical
service, and no other campers drawing on the power source to mess things
up for us. The Geranium plant is now in its second spring, but s
showing a lot of off color leaves. Guess it did not travel to well,
now its got all summer to recover.
Planted garden to other
day. We have 6 tomato plants, 3 egg plant, 3 broccoli, a row
of lettuce, spinach, radishes, parsley, basil and green beans.
Will plant cucumbers, zucchini and another row of green beans next week.
Planted on a very nice warm day, since then it has cooled off a bit.
With the threat of cool weather it is necessary to cover all of the plants
with milk jugs to keep a little extra heat around the plants. When
the Tomato plants out grow the milk jugs I will wrap the tomato cages in
plastic, trying to force the plants a bit faster.
A few of my pictures in
the Tonka Tractor series. We have had tractors running on all sides
of us, moving up and down the road in front of us and putting in very long
hours. The farmers can cover a lot of ground when they plant 12 and
16 rows at a time. A very big change from my childhood. ONe
of my earliest memories of Dad farming is a early may day when he is planting
corn with a John Deere B and a two row planter. I remember the check
wire strung across the field. The check wire had preset stops every
40" and dropped the seed in hills 40" on center so the corn could be cultivated
in two directions. The next year dad went to power checking and hill
spacing got closer. The planters in use now are set for 30" rows,
and the seed corn drops in the row every few inches. Things have
changed a great deal since I was a little child. From a two cylinder
popping johnny to the Modern 4 wheel drive and front wheel assist tractors
we see today.
I see Terry has posted his
Tonka Tractor pictures.
It feels kind of strange
to see all this green, after the desert of Arizona and the southwest. It
does renew our feeling of the past as we both grew up in Iowa on farms.
Not that I ever wanted to be a farmer. I knew right away that was not for
I'm following others blogs
as they head out doing their thing, some as campground hosts and others
just wondering to see what they can see. We are staying right here for
the most part. Have to get over to South Dakota to renew my drivers lic.
Will go back and forth to eastern Iowa to visit Terry's family. But mostly
siting still to watch the world go by. Or should I say the fuel prices
fly by. We have doctor visits to get past and this is a big year
for labor contract renewal (mid August) of my union (CWA) and company (Qwest)
I retired from. I do the union web site www.cwa7102.org
and health benefits will be on the table. Need to be able to keep the benefits
until we have a change of national leaders who can implement national health
Anyway if things go well
I am trying to talk Terry into a new fifth wheel. Ours is now 5 years old
and in good shape I know just the replacement unit.
HitchHiker 348SB. With our trade in, a good deal could be had. If sales
are down even a better deal. Now might be the time to go for it. One official
NuWa dealer right on their web site offers 23% off MRSP. And NuWa
is one of the few manufactures that post the MRSP on each unit from the
factory and on their web site along with the prices of the options. No
funny business allowed from local dealers with prices.
They sure have some nice
features in the new units I would love to tinker with. It would mean we
would have to move our DataStorm satellite unit, big inverter/converter,
and solar power/battery bank to the new unit which would be a pain to do,
but worth it. Oh I can hear ya now... buying a new 5er with the economy
such as it is, and price of fuel going through the roof? My thought is
we have to live somewhere, so it might as well be in a nice 5er, as compared
to a sticks and bricks with all the expense that goes with that.
So we don't travel as much. Fulltimers have come to the fact they need
to slow down and spend more time enjoying each area instead of rushing
around in vacation mode. You just can't travel every day at these
prices. So if I have to spend more time in the 5er might as well be a new
one. Terry is on the board of the Quartzsite Gem and Mineral Club and has
to be there early and stay later for the next three seasons so we are pretty
much set on our travels. Quartzsite in the winter and Iowa in the summer.
Sure glad we got to tour the northwest last year with fuel at only $3 for
Like most fulltimers who
sold their home and got rid of the stuff, we agonized over if it was the
right decision and if we were financed well enough to do it. We have done
better than expected money wise. Have not touched savings or investments
and next summer I start getting SS to supplement my pension. Boondocking
in the BLM Quartzsite has taught us a little bit on how to live off the
grid and do it well without sacrificing the good life.
Doesn't look like we are
roughing it much when in the BLM in Q.
Much more room than bunched
up in a RV park.
Tuesday May 13
you believe it is still cold and rainy and lots of wind in Iowa and this
is early May. Terry got the garden in but it's not doing anything as it
is cold. 40s at night. But the grass is growing like crazy. Made
a few trips to town for house door parts as Terry is doing more work on
his sisters house. And I have been sending off quotes for offers from RV
dealers for a new NuWa 5er. Just found out the price on the 2009s went
up over $5K. Ouch. The local dealer has called and wants to come
out and appraise our current HitchHiker. I still want to wash and
wax it and clean carpets before he looks at it. It is in great shape just
needs normal cleaning. It was a long winter in AZ. Also need to retrieve
the orig. chairs for the dining room and the two recliners. We never used
them and had them stored. Getting it ready reminds me of selling a house
and all the trauma that goes with that.
Wednesday May 14
your roving reporter Terry
has been late arriving in Iowa this year, and we are enjoying the below
normal temperatures (not). The last few days have all been more like
early April then mid May.
found us doing a quick job of the lawn mowing in time for the weekend,
and to get ahead of the forecast rain that we got on Saturday. Sunday
was clear and bright for most of the day, but still ten degrees below normal,
Monday was the same, and yesterday it looked like it wanted to rain all
day but did not. Today is looking very similar. Have to work
on Kathy's front door one of these days, but do not want to tear a door
out if it might rain.
been doing maintenance on the truck and trailer while we are here for the
summer. The big project is to wash, polish and wax the trailer
in the next few days. We are also going to need to get a new
rocker plate for our fifth wheel hitch. The metal around the back
bushing has fatigued and has cracked, now we will have to order a new plate
before we can go anywhere.
the factory (RBW) to identify the part needed and now have to order
and install. Its one of those things that you have to watch out for
when you are Rv-ing it. Often times a little bit of early maintenance
can save a lot of grief later on.
I know that some of you might think that a little bit of welding would
be just the thing, but as you can see from the photos there is not much
metal surrounding the hole for the bushing, and if one was to reinforce
the hitch with additional metal the bushing would no longer fit.
Best option is to get a new part, and add this one to the scrap heap.
Never know when it might be recycled into a pc of art work or a new invention
garden last week (perhaps a bit early) and have had to keep all of the
tender plants under cover ever since. I did see a bit of Lettuce
coming up last night, nothing else has sprouted. Still need to add
a second rod of green beans, a hill of cucumbers and a hill of zucchini
squash. I am already planning for a home grown meal of ratatouille
this summer, basil, parsley, tomato, eggplant and zucchini all fresh
from the garden.
Thursday May 15
your roving reporter Terry and corrections and added pics by Ron
had a family outing today, running errands and playing tourists.
I had to be in West Des Moines this morning so we packed the propane tank
and our grocery list and were on the road by 9:00 this morning. After
a quick and expensive visit to the insurance agent we went to the Wood
Smith store in Urbandale to look at all the pretty wood working toys,
(lots of gadgets for people with no talent. let the machine do all the
work) While there I looked over the nursery stock they had trying
to find a Mothers Day and Birthday gift for my mother, ( I know mothers
day was last Sunday, but we are going to eastern IA next Sunday to celebrate
Mother's birthday, so there!) The nursery had lots of shrubs and
overpriced bedding plants but nothing that would make a nice gift.
the Wood Smith store we went to Flying J for propane, a 30# fill
cost $23.70. Can't find cheap propane any more. Will be interesting
to see what propane will run next winter in Quartzsite.
putzing around running our errands Ron decided to head east on Interstate
235 through downtown Des Moines. Ron had read about a NEW (free)
trolley system that runs in a downtown loop from the State Capitol bldg.
west through the downtown area.
stopped at the capitol, looked around a bit, then went inside for a quick
look around. Of course there was the security screening and metal
dector to go through. I carry a small pocket knife out of habit and
had to leave it at the door, and while we were leaving things at the door
Ron left the car keys in the plastic bin that is passed around the metal
dector. Only in Iowa would the guards remember you and make sure
you get your keys when you leave the building.
course since its spring and the end of the school year there were a number
of school field trips to the capitol bldg. The grounds surrounding
the capitol were in full spring bloom, and it was quite a nice day
for a visit.
The entire capital building
has just gone under a total renovation. Visit the the Iowa
Capital Web site and take a tour. Even new gold leaf on the outside
In 1917, friends of Senator William B. Allison, citizens and school children
of Iowa, and the state legislature raised this memorial. A pivotal figure
in Iowa's Republican party, Allison (1829-1908) represented Iowa in Congress
for 43 years. He was twice a candidate for the presidential nomination
of his party and was a close associate of every United States president
from Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt.
Evelyn B. Longman
of New York designed the monument. A central plaque picturing Allison is
flanked by symbols of "Knowledge," "Legislature," and "Financial Prosperity"
on the left, and "Peace," "Humanity," and "Agricultural Prosperity" on
the right. The topmost figure, symbolizes "The Republic."
Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument
The State of Iowa erected this monument, funded partially by refunded war
taxes, to commemorate Iowans who fought during the Civil War. The monument
was approved in 1888, the cornerstone was laid in 1894, and the structure
was completed two years later. Because a controversy developed over the
location and artistic details of the monument, nearly 50 years passed before
its dedication in 1945.
Harriet A. Ketcham's design for the memorial was chosen over 47 others,
although she died before the monument was completed. Both real and symbolic
figures are portrayed. "Victory" is the most prominent figure, topping
the 135-foot structure. Four equestrians -- all Iowa Civil War generals
-- are depicted: Marcellus M. Crocker, who joined Grant at the siege of
Vicksburg; Grenville M. Dodge, who built railroads to support Grant's army
and accompanied Sherman on the "March to the Sea;" Samuel R. Curtis, commander
of the Union Army at Pea Ridge; and John M. Corse, who was promoted to
brigadier general in 1863, and assigned to the command of the Fourth Division
of the Fifteenth Army Corps.
The four soldiers
depicted on the upper base represent Iowans who served in different branches
of the military during the Civil War: Infantryman Shelby Norman, who, at
the age of 18, was the first Iowan killed in battle; Ensign William H.C.
Michael, a school teacher turned sailor; Artilleryman Captain Henry H.
Griffiths, whose battery never lost a gun throughout the war; and Calvaryman
Lt. James Horton, killed while leading a saber charge at the battle of
Civil War military men were from Iowa, the largest number of soldiers per
capita of any state participating during the war. Noted Iowa generals and
battle scenes are pictured along the base.
All have been refureished
The capitol towers over
the east side of Des Moines. It is a very impressive state capitol
building and grounds.
West towards downtown Des Moines from the terrace of the Capitol
Bldg. Ya that is Ron is the picture. How did that happen? Notice the cannon
in the center of the pic.
picture of some of the public art on display in downtown Des Moines as
viewed from the loop trolley
bit of scenery. I think its is supposed to be some kind of a tribute
to the "butler" style grain bins so common in the small towns of Iowa.
It serves as a warming house, snack shop for the ice skating rink that
is set up in the winter right along the river front. The grill inside
the building is open for the lunch trade.
splurged for lunch going to a Chinese buffet and eating far more then we
should have. (I [Ron] had to correct that. Terry ate and I watched him
wolf). One of my favorite dishes at the buffet is the hot and sour soup.
Of course there are also the egg rolls, BBQ chicken, stuffed mushrooms
and of course the crab rangoons. Supper tonight will be very light,
not much more then a salad.
will have to get back to work on the various maintenance projects I have
Friday May 23
PM by Ron
works to clean and polish the 5er. We had a small 6 inch buffer and it
just didn't hold up so we took it back and got a new 10 inch heavy duty
one that works much better. It makes him more efficient if that's
possible. And you can get the correct pads to work with it that are recommended
by the fiberglass cleaner. This is a lot of work and the 5er is going
to shing like new when done. And who thought a gel coat fiberglass 5er
was maintenace free. Not hardly and more so if you don't keep it waxed
and clean. Our was not that bad but you could tell it just didn't
have that like new shine. Now it will. Might just want to keep it after
all the work is done. We have the orig. chairs and recliners a to put back
in, so it will be like it's been on the dealers lot.
It's Memorial weekend and
we have been busy getting the lawn mowed and trimmed for the holiday. Terry's
family is having a small family reunion on Saturday here. It has been raining
the last two days so we have had to do it in between the downpours. Now
to warm up and not rain on Sat. but storms are perdicted for late Sat.
night and on into Sunday. It is never any fun to have to worry about storms
that are perdicted. In this part of the country it is important to stay
up on these things. We have the 5er secured with tie down chains connected
deep in the earth to keep it from blowing away. Now I need to knock on
Looking at the picture I
notice the Winegard antenna is up and should post that I went out and got
one of those analog to digital converter boxes. A nice guy in the
forums is sending me a coupon for the rebate on it. I couldn't get the
government to send one as we domicile out of SD and they wouldn't recognize
the mailing address to send it to us. Since the address is used by other
fulltimers (it is a mail forwarding service after all) the automated
system told us it had already sent coupons to that address. (Each address
only gets two coupons)
Now when we get the coupon
will have to take it and our orig. reciept and redeem it at Target. They
had the latest smart digital receivers (GE model 22729 scans the available
channels) and the lowest prices. Check them out. Wal*Mart and Radio
Shack were out of any units and only carried the basic models. We
are in central Iowa and on high ground and the big TV towers are right
south of us. So close we can see the guide wires clearly. So a good signal
should be had. But with the analog it was like we we were too close and
they were shooting the signal right over us at a higher level. This digital
system does work and is sharp with extra channels as they can broadcast
more on less bandwidth. Cool. With DirecTV and now digital local
broadcast TV we are in the best of worlds. Note: The new 5er we are
thinking about will have a 32" HD LCD which will be a whole new thing to
play with. The old Winegard RV antenna you have now is good to receive
the new digital signals, as you do not need a new antenna for the
digital sig. as they are broadcast in the same freg. bandwidth. Just get
the digital box and hook it up and watch VERY clear pictures. If we get
the new 5er we will not order the... get this (small digital TV
in the bedroom option for $719)
I can get a cheap one for how much less. Let alone we never
watch TV in the bedroom anyway. Don't know why just don't. Have been known
to take our current bedroom TV outside and watch it on the picnic table
with connections from the 5er basement. If need be we will leave the converter
box for the new owners. Good selling point to have a digital converter
already installed to show off the picture quality for a potential buyer.
looking to finish getting the 5er ready for a trade on a new Hitch Hiker
Discover America model 348 SB. BUT with the cost of diesel fuel now
at $4.60 and set to hit $5 in a week or two who knows. This is just
to crazy for words. There is no reason that fuel should go up so
fast. Nothing has changed in the last year that is reason enought for this
to happen. Many experts are saying oil should only be at about $60 a barrel
by now, not double that. It may just be the Enron type traders are at it
again and pushing up the price by buying futures of oil on the market.
And with our dollar at an historic low. Nowhere is it said that the price
at the pump should go up the next day (or even while you are standing filling
your tank) when speculators bid up the barrel price the night before. Did
the gas station owners pay more for it while it sat in their underground
(on site) tanks overnight. Of course not. This is just criminal. And big
oil and speculators are well on the way of taking this country down all
for their own greed. American business we are finding out, in this and
many other ways, have taken over our way of life. Big business owns
congress, and we the people may have one last chance to take this country
back. And if I have to to tell you how to vote this fall to do that, then
you might just be part of the problem, not the solution. Friends
don't let friends vote for more of the same.
You all have a great Memorial
Day holiday and spend a minute or two remembering what this day is for,
while doing your partying in the celebration of being alive with you and
yours. Remembering those who are gone who made it all possible.
I just like this cartoon...
Terry had to take the plastic
milk covers off the tomato plants as they were starting to grow out though
the top pour holes. (Check out the garden picture on the top of this page)
They were starting to lift the jugs up off the ground. I noticed
it when I mowed the so called lawn next to them. I cornered him and told
him to go save his plants. Now that they are unprotected we do not want
a hail storm to hit them. Growing things in Iowa always at the mercy
of the weather. Now I can see I have an opportunity to get out there and
take a hoe with me. One of those little gas fired small tillers would be
nice. No way. Guess we will use our money for fuel to help some poor energy
COE make a payment on his yacht instead.
You can see the leaves are
a little curled up being stuffed in a milk carton. They will unfold and
Looks like a nice broccoli
in the making on the right.
Monday May 26
seems to us Memorial day is a tad bit early this year. On Sunday afternoon
we took a drive over to the county park and Saylorville COE lake here in
the center of Iowa about 10-15 miles away. It had turned hot (close
to 90 and humid today) but yesterday it was windy and cold rain.
We wanted to see have the amateur campers were doing on this holiday weekend.
About a third of the sites were vacant. Now we don't think it was due to
the economic conditions but just due to it was cold and wet and many gave
up and went home. You could see the reserved tags still hanging from the
campsite posts. If they had just stayed they would have enjoyed it
as today Monday it was 75 an clear and nice.
boy Saturday night was not much fun as we had to put the satellite dish
down and close up the 5er sliders several times watching the storm roll
through the midwest. A big one F5 ripped up several towns in northeast
Iowa. We pay close attention to this stuff.
today (Monday) Terry worked on the the waxing of the 5er some more and
I mowed off some of the dandelions in the yard that pop right back up a
day or two after they are mowed. We have the trailer opened up with the
canopy out and may have a campfire later as it is one of the few Iowa days
that are just perfect to be alive for. Never fear Tues. prediction is for
a high of 53 and showers. Might be the day to shampoo the carpet in the
5er. If we get this unit cleaned much more, we might to buy it back ourselves.
Oh, wait a minute, we own it already, so why are we getting rid of it,
as it is like new and has all these extras we have installed to make it
boondocking friendly. But then I take a look at the slick brochure and
go, that would be nice! If we come to terms with the dealer, Yes, and if
they are not ready to make us a good deal we can stay with this one. After
all something tells me this is a buyers market.
our military heroes who have moved on to a better place rest assured that
we are grateful for their supreme sacrifice. No matter why the reason they
were sent into harms way, we do stand behind them. I have never understood
why the human race has had to go to war, when we are all on this lonely
planet together. Then I get upset with a camping neighbor, or get cut off
in traffic, and realize we are just human after all, and evolved (created,
whatever) that way, so as to be diverse and learn from each other. Getting
along is the problem we all can work at as we grow to be better people.
Iowa on a bright warm, sunny, beautiful spring day, as today was, with
the farmers plantings starting to grow from the warm earth, showing us
the future of each spring is as great as always. A time of renewal to come
together as we visit our local cemeteries and our loved ones graves, to
honor those who came before us, who made it possible for us to be here,
to stand as close as we can to them and remember, and give thanks. And
if you are far away from the resting place of your loved ones, take ease,
as you are remembering them in your own way, knowing, it is all that they
request. Your remembering them in your heart!
and let me not forget the reason I brought up the system to do a post in
the first place. It was the fact the even on Memorial Day
business does not stop. Got an email in the middle of the day from Progressive
Drive Insurance stating my insurance was coming up due and that I could
pay it online. Yes even on holidays they are sending out reminders.
What did I do? I went to their link and paid it.
Friday May 30
spent the night with the weather radio close by as it was going off every
few minuites. Went to bed with some of the 5er slides slid in to
protect the slide windows (from hale) waiting for the storms to either
hit us or just go away. Tired of tornado warnings at midnight, 1,
2, 3, and 4 AM. Watching the local digital TV station on the bedroom
TV showing us the radar close up with all the details. After we were not
blown away we slept late till 9 AM So now on Friday the weather is nicer
and one of the best days we have had for some time. Ya, Terry is waxing
the 5er again and I spent the afternoon on the lawnmower. My ass is sore,
and a good shot of Wild Turkey is some help.
a post on one of the RV forums and thought I would post it here:
The topics was [b]"Well, with the high cost of gasoline, are you still
have been fulltiming for the last 5 years. Retired in 2003, took an early
work offer, sold the house,(that was not fun, even back then. Now we spend
summers in IA (where we have a low cost FHU site) (and getting doctors
visits done twice, while we are here in the summer)(having a doctor who
is willing to see me only a couple a times in the summer and still prescribe
meds for the full year and let me also travel... without office visits
every three months, priceless)(being a campground host in some western
forest is still on my mind in the future). We slowly travel back and forth
to Quartzsite, AZ (where we boondock, because we can, not because we have
to) for the winter. So glad we did it early as we got to tour much of the
western USA while it was still affordable. Had camped on vacations for
many years all over the west before retirement so knew where we wanted
to now visit. Retired and living in a S&B would have been too expensive.
Our plan was always to do the fulltime thing and doing it early worked
for us after doing the math. (You never fully know till you do it for a
few years.) (And the cost was less than I planned, UNTIL NOW with fuel
and everything else going NUTS all of a sudden.) Next year will get SS
so that will help. This is still at a much lower cost than being a S&Bs,
and can still live in style. Bought a new PU and 5er (without payments)
when we started. So the bottom line, living in our RV 5er is fun (have
satellite internet to do our web sites) and cost effective, even with higher
fuel costs. Yes, I do hate the greed for those getting rich off us paying
the price. We are not going to head off to Alaska anytime soon. (can follow
those who can on my national site) Still this is not a lifestyle to get
into unless you have enough backup funds, so you can get off the road later
when it is time. I am a firm believer that you need a outside steady income
(pension, SS, etc.) to make this work. To think you can work your way across
America working part time (without money in the bank) is kind of nuts.
One breakdown and you are on the side of the road and not a happy camper.
are thinking this might be a good time to upgrade to a new 2009 5er. Let's
keep the NuWa production line working. If we have to spend more down time
(less road travel) why not spend it in a new 5er. If I have to live in
under 400 Sq.ft of space it should be nice.