Sunday, May 31, 2009

Striking out with my primitive places

Today we departed Creston and headed north with a planned stop near Glidden to check  out some primitive county parks.  On the way, we stopped at a Meadow Lake park  5 miles north of Greenfield, IA and determined that the north entry and the east entry will lead you to a suitable boondocking location.   The spaces are not large, but both of them are clear with no trees near by.  The sites are really extensions of the dam construction area, but there is space and level plus the road in is good gravel.
On the other hand, the sites north of Glidden in Carroll County are the pits.   For starters, all of the sites are river bottom land with no gravel or hard surface added to the road in.  Plus the road (if you call it that) has no grade above the normal level.   So if there is a heavy rain,  the roads are the first to go.  
We're currently parked in the city park at Albert City, IA.  Sadly, they have really jacked up the prices since we were here before.  The current price is $20 for one night, 30 amp, water and dump included.  We're staying one night only and moving on.   One problem is that we don't need water or dump 90 percent of the time and dislike paying for it if we're not using it.   So while  we're plugged in, we intend to use the electric heavily.
I guess we're tired, so this is going to be a short version.  More tomorrow!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It's over, we're out of there! Un-stuck!!!

How time flies when you're having fun.  Here it is Saturday night and we're just now getting ourselves adjusted to a slower pace.   In the last 48 hours, we stayed for the closing of the 2009 Escapade, waited a few more hours for the ground to dry, but finally called Coachnet for a tow and hit the road today.
Needless to say, I was a bit irritated since the Escapee's and the Fairgrounds management both said that it was not their problem if you were stuck.  Call your towing service was their simple answer!    What a friendly bunch of so and so's.   Needless to say, my opinion of the Escapees and the fairgrounds dropped several notches as a result of this rally.   On Friday, Sandy and I waited until about 3 pm before attempting to move out.  We even jacked the rear up and located some boards under the wheels to give us a better shot of making it out.   But eventually, we gave up and let the big boys do it.  An hour later, we were free of the place.  We did leave some pretty deep tracks in the ground.
A few other things somewhat upset me also.   They have always invited seminar presenters to come in early but now (oh by the way) you owe us an extra days' parking fee).  Also, seminar presenters no  longer get parking close to their seminar location.   I guess it is all take and no give for them.   No wonder fewer members are willing to go to  the effort to be a seminar presenter.   (We noticed many more commercial member presentations this year.)   I don't go to an Escapade to listen to some so called expert tell me what to do when he is selling a product that just fixes my problem.   He says  that if you'll stop in and see him at his booth, he'll give you the details.   One electrical expert referred to the lines in a 50 Amp connection as "Hot one" and "Hot two" instead of the traditional L1 and L2. 
Tonight we're at the Walmart at Creston, IA for the evening.   We were planning to stop at a city (or county) park at Afton, IA, as it had the right words in the description "free".   We stopped in town and drove the Saturn out to look the park over.   Since Sandy is the only one that does the voting, it was quickly decided that we would not be taking out rig into the park.  It really did have a dirt road in, and it had recently rained also.  Yep, the road was very spongy and soft.   I don't think that the road has ever been graveled.  So it was on to the Creston Walmart where Sandy had a prescription waiting for her.  
Yes, we need to mention one final insult to us at the rally, "Our USPS mail did not arrive!"  It was mailed from Sioux Falls on the previous Friday, so it had plenty of time to reach Sedalia.  So it will be a month or two before it finally gets back to the mail service and eventually sent to us.   But I guess life could be worse.
Perhaps after another good nights sleep, we'll have a whole new outlook on life tomorrow.  It is a very pleasant evening, and the sun is shining  brightly.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Two down, one to go!

We're past the mid-way point and Sandy has completed both of her seminars and I have one to do on Thursday after lunch.    Perhaps things can start getting back to normal in this household.  (Sandy doesn't get excited, she just lives on the computer, writing and re-writing her outlines.)   Then the printer said it was out of toner last week, which didn't help.  But when you have a second printer in standby, you'd think you're in great shape.  But it went belly up after one page and indicated to her that she needed a new driver for it.   The good news is that it did work when she finally got the driver downloaded and installed.   Printers are a big pain!

Today in Sedalia, it rained again some.  The members are beginning to wonder if we'll ever get out of where we're at.   The ground does not seem to absorb the water very fast.   We have at least gotten smart enough that we park our Saturn on the other side of the road, slightly up hill from the road.   If we park it in front of our rig, it requires backing out uphill, which is much more difficult.   But the weather man promises us "wall to wall" sunshine tomorrow after about 7 AM.  

Today, I attended two seminars, one on Geocaching and one on cooking with a Dutch Oven.    Both were interesting.  The  Geocaching requires time, which I always seem short of.   The Dutch Oven use feeds my stomach, which I'm always in favor of.  However, the presenter admitted that he carry's over 100 pounds of Dutch oven stuff, just a bit more than I'm willing to donate to such a worthy cause.   One oven is okay, a half dozen is just too much for me.

Yesterday afternoon, we took our voltmeter with us to help a neighbor solve a charging problem with his new solar system.  It turned out that his problem was operator error.   As he explained the system to me,  he suddenly realized  that he had disabled the system 3 days ago by leaving a switch in the wrong position.  We shall see tomorrow.

Time for the sack!


Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering our hero's

It is Memorial Day today and our initial thought is that it is just another day.    But it wasn't.    The evening program was by a family from Branson, MO  (The Brett Family - Mom, Dad, daughter and two sons.)    It was well done.  What really opened my tear ducts was a poem by their mom honoring our fallen veterans that never came home.   Perhaps I'm getting soft in my old age, or just learning to understand the price that so many paid for my freedom.   We owe them a lot.

What really started my day was the reading of Nick Russell's blog.   I have become a faithful reader of the blog written by Nick Russell.  His Blog is at:  .  Nick doesn't know how to use a hammer, a saw or just about any other tool we normally pick up.   But Nick knows how to write.  His Memorial Day tribute to our fallen comrades was from his own personal experience as a veteran from the jungles of Vietnam.    Its been many years since his jungle experiences, but the pain and suffering is still there underneath the friendly Nick

Getting back to our morning, I skipped the two morning seminar sessions and visited the chapter displays and visited with friends.  Then after lunch, we helped get Sandy's seminar session setup.  Her session on Visita items went very well and was wall to wall people.   One reason was that they crowed her into a very small room.     I went to a seminar in the adjoining room on Investing.  Dave Loring is a friend and he was very emotional about the whole current economic situation.  His feelings are that our newscasters have created the appearance of massive problems to keep you coming back for more news.   They want you as a listener.    All of the so called experts on the various news programs are news people, not licensed brokerage agents.   As such, they are not libel for what they say.    So take what they say with a grain of salt.

Our last item in the afternoon was a meeting of our computer group.    For the last 6 or 7 years, we have organized (in the name of the group), a Post Escapade Computer Workshop.    We didn't this year because we just felt that the cost figures were too extravagant for what the group would want or expect.   After some discussion, the group endorsed without argument our decision.   They really want a workshop, but definitely not at that price.   We'll consider it again next year.

So other than the rains today, everything went very well.   But to be fair, the rains didn't slow us down or greatly inconvienence us much.    (It was never raining hard when we had to be out.)  Tomorrow is another day and the weather forecaster predicted more rain.    So it may or may not rain, we'll just take what comes, when it comes.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Opening day, 2009 Escapade - Sedalia, MO

Today was the opening day of the 2009 Escapade.   In the morning, Sandy was at her table signing people up for her two workshops.   Gene visited with casual acquaintances and also explored the market area.  He didn't see anything he really had to have today.  He did price a 50  Amp plug that he needs to pickup.  Back at the rig, he went on eBay to price the units if ordered via eBay.  The plug was $16 at the market and about $25 delivered from an eBay seller.    So I'll get one soon.

We met numerous friends in the afternoon and enjoyed catching up on what has happened in their lives.  Also, several folks have asked me about if, when or why are we not having a ComputerBOF post Escapade workshop?  I tried to explain why Sandy and I decided to  not commit the group to the room rental.   We had/have our doubts about the group being willing to pay the rates that are asked for at the fairgrounds.    Obviously, at the Computer BOF meeting on Monday afternoon, we'll decide our groups direction.

In the evening, we attended the musical production by 3 fellows, who in the course of the evening used 30 different instruments in their program.    They were very talented fellows.

Back at the rig now, it is nice to be off of our feet and relaxing.   


Saturday, May 23, 2009

We're parked on the Fairgrounds

We'll start this blog early and probably add to it later.   We got an early start from Marshall and arrived at the grounds exactly at 8 AM.    But by the number of RVs in the holding pen, we certainly weren't the first ones.   We were finally parked an hour later.  

Gene is a bit irritated, as not only do seminar presenters have to now pay to come in a day early, we also don't get preferential parking.    In short, Gene is not impressed.  (we'll  have to carry the computer and stuff for 3 seminars to somewhere. )

Our friends that we were to  meet  here  and help them set up for the Row display are here and thanks to the help of their son in law,  they have the job done.  So we're un-employed for the afternoon.   (Of course, Sandy is hibernating on the computer again.  She is running off some newsletters on the HP inkjet and her attitude hasn't been the best the last few days.)    Sometimes I wish we had our old dot matrix tractor feed printer to use.   It was trouble free and sang to you as it printed!
Okay, Sandy finally finished her printing and took a short rest.   We then headed to the market areas, which are about as far and you can get from us and still be on the fairgrounds.   We met a few friends, made more new friends and didn't find anything that I really had to have. It can wait.

Finally, it was time to return to our base of operations, which is at least a half mile from the market area and a very long walk.   But when we were half way there, a friendly fellow on a golf cart stopped and asked if we'd like a ride to where ever we were headed.   Normally I would have said no, but I decided that it was time to accept the offer.  We greatly appreciated it.

After dinner, it was more walking in the campground area, looking for a friend.   One thing this place doesn't have is even a poor map of how the camp parking is laid out.   And no one agrees on what the colors are.   Maybe we need to start giving out our Latitude and longitude to our friends. 

It has been a long day.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Fuel prices are finally returning to the right ratio

Today we left our very quiet primitive park near Medora, IA and headed south towards Sedalia and the Escapade.  On the way, we've noticed that once we got into Missouri, diesel is actually cheaper than gas at many stations.  I only wish it remains so, but I take it that this is a quirk where the fuel companies have raised the price of gas to gouge the holiday traveling public!

Tonight it is walmart, a friendly parking lot that is always close to the highway, always has the lights on for us, all sites are pull throughs,  and the office is always open.  And yes, Sandy paid our parking fee in good measure.    It seems that when we rough it for a week, we're always in need of lots of stuff.   (Before we leave, there will be 4 receipts also, including a big one for diesel.)

I always think of so much stuff to write about until we open the blog window; then my mind goes blank.   Perhaps we'll add to it later tonight.  


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Solar is the Cat's meow

We do love our solar, there is no doubt about it.    Yesterday, Sandy needed some space filler for her latest newsletter for the Iowa Chapter, so I wrote about coming here and depending upon solar and how our AH meter worked.    So this morning, she asked "What is the AH meter for?"  Okay, my opportunity to educate her on what we have.  But before I could explain it, she cut me off, she was too busy now making breakfast to concentrate on solar.  Oh well, another day.

It is hard to get used to life here in the slow lane.   Two weeks ago, I didn't have enough hours in the day, trying to get things ready for planting on the farm.    Yesterday, we relaxed under the tree, making notes about my upcoming boondocking seminar next week.  It is done, I'm just seeing what else I  should or might say.

I thought for a little while that the park here was going to  turned into a zoo.  Two school buses came in and dropped off 60 second graders.   I was astonded to think that they were going to let the kids wander through the forest here.   Sure it is on a trail, but can you keep little ruffins on the straight and narrow for that long?    But to my relief, in about 30 minutes, the kids came running back on the road, with about a dozen adults dragging up the rear.   Supposedly, they had lunch along but we didn't go to the picnic area to check on them.   They were not in the camping area!

While reviewing my notes and watching the world go by, I noticed a turkey gobbler go wandering across the road about 100 feet away, east to west.   So we really are out in the sticks.  In a nearby site, there are two tents, but they appear to only be occupied from sundown to sun up.   Okay, what ever makes them tick.   They did have a fire last night.   


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Boondocking in Hickory Hills County Park, Medora

This boondocking thing is just the ticket to slow down and watch the world go by.   We've been here since Saturday and I love it.   We're about a quarter of a mile from any highway, high on the hill in a clearing with plenty of sunshine (almost).  We're a little too close to a tree on the south which cuts into the solar charging from about 11 to 2, the really prime time to recharge the batteries.

However, we've switched to our third inverter configuration and it works well.  Our first inverter was the built in unit, 2000 watts, which handles the microwave fine, but sure eats into the battery charge.   Our second inverter is an 800 watt unit that I wired in and is about 3 or 4 amps better than the big one.   Last night, I dug out a 400 watt unit that I had acquired last fall that is supposed to be very efficient.   At no load, it is only 30 milliamps of 12 volts.   With both computers on, it is about half of the 2000 watt unit.    The 400 watt is not wired in, but plugs into the 12 volt socket by the drivers seat and we have a drop cord to power my computer, as well as Sandy's.

So being a little careful about when we use it, we can survive with it till bed time.    By morning, we'll be down about 50 or 60 Ampere-Hours.  So far, our batteries are holding out for us.

The activity around here is to take the lawn chair out under the tree and work on my boondocking seminar presentation for next week, as well as watching lots of birds.  There seems to be a real mix of birds visiting our hilltop.    This morning, we did take a long walk (north I think) and eventually ended up on a bluff over the river.   It was a well cut trail.

We were the only one here last night.  I have a feeling that will not the case tonight, as there are 3 tents up at a couple of sites away.   Sometimes I have the feeling it is the beginning of a party.  I hope they hold the noise down.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

A quiet day in the park

Believe it or not, but we're actually doing a blog posting again today, and there is even something worthwhile to say (there always is).
I should have mentioned yesterday that when we arrived, Sandy decided to try her wings again.  They failed her again!  She landed rather hard next to the front wheel.   It seems that the step height from the motorhome step to the ground was more than she expected.    So Ker-plunk and when I turned around, there she was laying on the ground with her head and shoulders again the front wheel.    Not a good way to start out our stay here in the county park.   But after 24 hours, I think the only injury was her pride.  She doesn't even have any bruises, which is a first for her.
Today was a very slow day.  Since we're without electric power (and no heater at night), we threw on the extra blanket and snuggled up in the sack.  It was 50 degrees inside when we ventured forth this morning and it hasn't been very warm all day.  But the weather man promises to do better tomorrow.  (I can't wait until we hit the 82 he is promising on Wednesday.)
The two tents and the travel trailer have pulled out, so we have the park to ourselves.  Right now, the birds are keeping us entertained.   We have been using our time to catch up on things.  Sandy is working on a newsletter and I'm reviewing a seminar outline that I lead next week.  But we can't complain, as we volunteered for both.  (If there isn't enough sun to keep the computers running, we start the generator for a while.)   After all, you have to have a purpose in life.
Perhaps this is enough for now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hickory Hills County Park, Medora, IA

We moved today, from a 50 Amp connection to very nice primative connection.   This county park was recommended to us by a friend a few years ago.  At the time, he suggested we have a saw, as some of the trees needed trimming.    Well, no trimming necessary.    And while it is classifed as primative, it has individual fire pits, a picnic table, a trash can and they mow the grass.  It is great.  The sites are a bit rolling, but since we got here early enough today, we have a very nice site.   So we intend to make this our site for about 5 or 6 nights.    We have great Verizon service and enough solar power to run the inverter most of the day.   What more can you ask for?

This morning when we were ready to depart the fairgrounds, we had to dodge the cars that were there for an auction.    We were able to make it into the dump station, so all was well.   While there were lots of cars, I didn't think there were that many people in the building for the auction.    The auction was to dispose of the remains of 4 household estates.   The auctioneer had complained to me yesterday that auctions don't seem to go well these days.   The heirs take the good stuff and no one wants the junk left (that he is supposed to get top dollar for.)    I guess it is his problem, not mine.

It has been a busy week at Winterset and we're both looking forward to relaxing here at the park.   As usual, Sandy says she has lots of stuff to do to get ready for her seminars at the Escapade.    I have some additional stuff to do on my presentation also, but you can bet that it will be done in the easy chair relaxing.

Writing a Blog is fine, but I miss the spell checker.   I must have done alright yesterday, as I actually got an "at-ta boy" from my chief critic!  That means I really did well, almost un-real!

Have a nice day, see you tomorrow.     Gene

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's all over, including the shouting!

Hip, Hip, Harrah.   We finished another Computer Rally and I survived.   The other half threw a few missiles my way and I chose to ignore them.    (It is hard to argue with the presenter when they have the microphone.)   Long live XP!

Anyway, we joined the rest last night  for a dining out dinner at the Northside Cafe.    Frankly, I wonder how the place keeps going.   When we made the reservation a week ago on Saturday, there were only one or two people in the cafe.  Last night, I think there were  2 people in one booth.   So if it wasn't for us, it would have been a negative cash flow evening.

The rains came last night and continued for much of the morning, and they were heavy at times.   Sandy spent the morning getting the books in order and re-working my summary for the Escapade Seminar that I'm presenting  on Boondocking.    We were able to break her away from her task so that we could go to Greenfield to have lunch with a college and AFROTC classmate.   John and I had numerous classes together, farm boys, German parentage and other similar interests.    The big difference now is that I'm in great health while John has had several brushes with the end with a heart that has quit several times on him.   It certainly is a wake up call to me that "but by the Grace of our Lord, that could be me."    We may have a few aches and pains, but the only real expense is the yearly physical.

Since we paid for 5 nights and get two nights free, we're still here at the fairgrounds.  Tomorrow morning it is laundry time before we head down the road.   We are heading south to a Warren county park near Medora, IA.  Its claim to fame is that it is primative camping for free.  Supposedly, open meadow with a few trees to dodge getting to the camping area.  Our plan is to give our solar system another real test.   (We do have our generator along if need be.)

Every one, have a great day.    Gene

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We're back, amazing

We've had some problems getting back in.  We'll edit this later for more.  

We're in again.   We had a heck of a time trying to get back in to add another post.  I signed in 3 or 4 times and  it always took me to those that signed on to follow me.   But we're in, so I'll stop with that.

Our day went very well today.   We had an "out of town" guest that we had met some years ago who really also helped out.  His real reason for wanting to observe a day was that he wants to host some computer sessions at the park to goes to in Texas and was curious how it works for us.

We had some rain, but no real "thunder boomers", so other than being a bit sloppy, all was well.  

Enough!    Gene

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Day one of our Blog world

Here goes and I'm not sure where we'll be in a little while.    Today, we were introduced to Blogs and the Google Blogger.  Yes, it was easy to sit up and yes, we did it.    

Right, wrong or otherwise, here it is.

We're at the Madison County Fairgrounds in Winterset, IA for a week.  While here, we're with 10 other couples learning about computers.  Sandy is in her delight being "teacher" again.   I even listened and learned about the presentation manager in Open Office, which I intend to use next week when I finalize our presentation for the Escapee's Escapade in Sedalia.    We also learned a little bit about Twitter, Facebook and a couple of others.   I'll stick with what I have, thanks.

So much for now.   Gene