Must Have Gadget #4 Folding Table

Are Sue and I the only people who think a television in an RV is a total waste money?

Our previous RV had a TV and in 10 years we never turned it on!

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Even at home we seldom turn the TV on (commercials drive me wacky). I can’t think of many reasons I’d ever want to watch TV while on the road.

Believe it or not Shiny has two TV’s! I kid you not. One in the kitchen/dining area and, to us, a completely senseless and useless one in the bedroom. We are constantly bumping into it and the only thing its good for is to drape our wet towels over after a shower.

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Sue mentioned several times this summer that she wished she had a private little writing space in the morning. So I started looking into it. I found some folding wall tables on Amazon and brought them to Sue’s attention. We discussed it and since we had time to kill before are departure we pulled the trigger on a dainty looking little table.

The table was delivered by UPS when we were not home. It had been opened and repackaged. It turned out OK, even had extra hardware, but my first thought was why oh why didn’t I heed those ungratifying Amazon customer reviews. The bad reviews mostly were about inaccurate assembly instructions.  In the end I did not find this to be the case at all.

First we removed the bedroom digital towel rack (television).

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The hardest part was stuffing the cable back into the wall to get it out of the way.

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We assembled what we could in the warmth of our wood stove heated home. The next day we fired up the furnace in Shiny and move in with our tools. Sue measured for the proper height.

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Then we mounted the table onto the wall. Really was not that bad of a job. This is what it looks like when its folded down.

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And here is a very happy Sue sitting at the folded up table.

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Happy wife, happy life!

Waiting

Waiting for a big event is  interesting. I have been thinking a lot about waiting because, well, I am waiting to take off on our big adventure. Waiting can be a sweet anticipation, a longing, something that gets you all jazzed up. When I was a kid I used to start waiting for summer vacation around March. I could feel it like a physical ache. The days dragged until that one wild day when you cleaned out your desks and headed out of class with a feeling in your chest like it could burst.  Waiting can have it’s dark side when the future is all you think about and there are millions of little joys in each moment that you don’t even notice. It shows up as the opposite of ‘Be Here Now’.  It’s the guy (or gal) who works hard all their life, postponing all fun, only to die the day after they retire. That’s a little dramatic, but you get my point.

Then there is this idea of conjuring up the future, of calling it forth. It’s like the very nature of your thoughts create what is to come. That’s a dicey one for me because for every awesome, rich, sun drenched, rock picking moment dream accompanied by my husband’s sweet fiddle music, there’s a vision of a frightening mountain pass with a loose trailer hitch. Yikes! I’ll cancel that last thought. Heck, I’ll wash that thought out with a bar of soap. Where did that stinker come from? Oh well, welcome to my brain.

Waiting is sitting around at night with Larry as we talk about what we will pack, what we’ll leave, where we will go, do we need that other gadget. It’s weaving a new life together stepping into the big unknown.

10 more days, waiting and waiting.

I Gotta Get Outta Here

 

I gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta get outta here
I gotta, gotta get outta here
I’m gettin’ the message, it’s totally clear
Yeah, I really gotta get outta here – Alice Cooper – 

 

After listening to the weather report this morning I can’t get Alice Cooper’s chorus out of my head. Snow, ice, freezing rain, power outages, brutal cold were all mentioned by my morning weather guru Todd Gutner.

I’m not kidding!

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One more doctor appointment to get through on Jan 2.

The weather won’t stop us

Mice won’t stop us

Shiny’s door won’t stop us

Glaucoma won’t stop us

Medial Meniscus tear won’t stop us

Sing with me now! I gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta get outta here ……..

Addendum:

The Forces seem to be against us. We now have to contend with this obstacle. Geez….

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Must Have Gadget # 7 weBoost

weBoost Drive 4G-X 470510 Cell Phone Signal Booster

Shiny makes an excellent Faraday Cage. That’s not good if we want to use our cell phone for accessing the internet or making a phone call from inside our aluminium acropolis. There is only one option that I can think of to alleviate this electromagnetic impediment and that is an external antenna.

First I needed to decide what type of antenna to get. Then I got thinking if I was going to go through the trouble to mount an external antenna I might as well boast the signal while I’m at it. After hours, and I mean hours, of research I decided to go with a weBoost 4G-X system. I went with the regular car/truck model. They do make a weBoost kit for RV’s but the antenna mounts on a ladder which Shiny does not have.

I could think of some problems that I was going to have with this installation. How would I mount the magnetic antenna on Shiny’s aluminum roof? How was I going to run the cable along the roof and tie it down? The weBoost comes with a 12 volt power cord and requires a 12 volt power supply (cigarette lighter) which Shiny is without. And finally how was I going to get the antenna cable inside of Shiny without drilling a hole in the hull.

Here’s the accessories I ended up buying to accomplish these tasks:

3/4″ Adhesive Backed Mounting Bases with 4″ Cable Ties

Gorilla Heavy Duty Mounting Tape, Double-Sided, 1″ x 60″

AC to DC Power Adapter Charger

1/2 inch grommet (from the local hardware store)

1 1/2 cable management grommets

To be honest, I was really dreading this installation. In reality Sue and I performed the installation in under and hour and with ease.

The first job we tackled, and the hardest,  was the antenna. Hardest only because someone, namely poor Sue, had to get up on the roof. Being a big guy I was certain that if I tried to get up on Shiny’s roof there was going to be a hole much bigger then 1/2 inch.

In any case, after seeing how other people solved the problem on Airforums, I decided to run the antenna cable down through the refrigerator vent. One not so warm day we got to work. From the ladder I drilled a 1/2 inch hole in the side of the refrigerator vent on the roof. I then went inside and drilled a 1 1/2 hole with a hole saw in the cabinet above the refrigerator. Back up on the ladder I pushed the cable down through the 1/2 inch hole while Sue pulled the cable in through the 1 1/2 inch hole in the cabinet above the refrigerator with a bent wire. It worked slick!! Sue then got up on the roof and using the two sided Gorilla tape found a nice spot for the antenna and using the adhesive mounts and tie downs ran the cable neatly along the roof to the refrigerator vent.

Here’s what it looked like after we were done on the roof.

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The tie downs I bought worked nice. Disregard the pine needle. 🙂 We used a little Gorilla tape for added support where the cable entered the vent.

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We then drilled another 1 1/2 hole through the cabinet wall just above the TV. I ran the inside antenna and power cord. Then I mounted the inside antenna above the TV.

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Mounted the booster on the inside wall of the cabinet with Gorilla tape.IMG_2025

Guess what? It works! Before we plugged the weBoost in we had just one bar on our cell phones. After putting juice to the booster we had 4 bars. We’re happy Streamers.

Previous Gadget Expenses     $2774.00
weBoost                        480.00
AC to DC Power Adaptor          17.00

Total Gadget Expenses        $3271.00

 

Meniscus Viscous

As my old neighbor, Sam Rouleau, use to say, “well shit a God damn“. Sue does not like me using that phrase but I feel it is totally appropriate here.

The first week in November, after working in the wood pile for several days, I woke up in the middle of the night with my right knee throbbing and I was unable to bend it. My first thought was total knee replacement and then I am going to leave the first week of January in Shiny even if I’m on crutches.

On the 10th of November I limp into my primary care physician’s office. Doc Badman orders up some x-rays which I had done the same day.  His office called the next day saying no bone damage and the next step would be an MRI. Like 90 weight oil (hence the word viscous) it took nearly a stinkin’ month for Federal Blue Cross and Blue Shield to approve the MRI! I have read that opponents to a single payer healthcare system say the Canadian system is too slow. Ya right.

Meanwhile my damn knee is killing me! Out of desperation I did some knee brace research online. I found a website called betterbraces.com.  They had a little tree that you went down asking which knee, where it hurt and so on. At the end they recommend a certain brace for your problem. It happened to be Black Friday and there was 45% off  that day so the brace was only going to cost me $47. I took a chance, bought the brace and added 2nd day shipping for $5.

It was the best $52 I’ve ever spent!! Immediate relief. It didn’t cure anything but it supported my knee enough so I could go on short walks and walk around the house.

Finally I get the approval for the MRI on December 1st. The insurance company called and asked me to have it done at Huggins Hospital instead of another hospital that was closer because it was half the price. I was ok with that and it turned out to be a Godsend because everything happened so quickly at Huggins. Did I mention we’re leaving in Shiny in January?

In very quick succession, everything taking place at Huggins Hospital, MRI on the 4th, diagnosis of medial meniscus tear on the 5th, appointment with the Orthopedic surgeon on the 8th, and Arthroscopic surgery on the 15th.

Now here I am on the 16th writing this blog post with my very sore knee elevated and iced. My loving wife waiting on me hand and foot.

Maybe I won’t need crutches after all. But if I do, shit a God damn, we’re hooking up Shiny the first week in January and we are heading south.

I am a lucky guy.

Must Have Gadget #3 Honda

Honda EU2000i 

There is a lot of contention out there on just what is the best generator for an RV. Some people say forget the Micro-Air EasyStart/small generator and get a big wattage rig that will handle the air conditioning/microwave/hot water load. Some advocate buying two small generators and hooking them together for more wattage. Some like gas models, some like propane models. Some like combo generators that can use either gas or propane. All will work.

It comes down to what the individual prefers. I want a small generator that is easy to move around which means I also need the EasyStart. I don’t want to lug gas cans in the bed of my truck all over the country which means a generator that runs on propane.

I decided on a Honda EU2000i from GenConnex. I own a Honda lawn tractor, a Honda wood splitter, and a Honda water pump. Never had an issue with any of them so I went with the Honda generator. With shipping it cost us $1790, again not pocket change. But I’ve got a rig that weighs in at only 49 pounds, is very quiet, and with the EasyStart will run the air conditioner. Even more slick is that it connects right into the front of Shiny via a gas hose quick connect. Sweet!

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that almost right off the bat I had a problem. The day I got it, I hooked it up to Shiny and it ran wonderfully. I had it running for about 45 minutes checking to see what worked inside, charging the batteries, and running the air conditioner. Everything worked perfectly. About two weeks later I took it up to a remote cabin in Maine intending to run it off a 20 lb propane tank. It ran for about 5 seconds and then sputtered and stopped. I tried everything to get that rig running to no avail. When I got home I e-mailed GenConnex and they informed me about a spark plug cap issue that they had just learned about from Honda. You can read the whole story on this thread I started in Airforums.

It was a minor problem and and the local Honda dealer took care of it. I am still quite happy I went with the Honda.

Oh, and before I forget, if you do decide to go with a propane converted Honda from GenConnex, make sure you ask them to send the high altitude orifice. It’s for altitudes 5000 feet and above and it’s free!

Prior Gadget Expenses     $819.00
Honda EU2000i             1790.00

Total Gadget Expenses    $2609.00

 

 

Must Have Gadget #2 EasyStart

Micro-Air EasyStart

We’re leaving in January for warmer climates. Other than getting somewhere warm as quickly as possible so we can dewinterize the aluminum palace, we do not have an itinerary.  My crystal ball told me that there are going to be times where our Zamp solar package just isn’t going to be adequate. My fear was boondocking in the heat of a desert somewhere and no way to run the air conditioner or being in someplace like Alaska during an extended period of rain.

The answer was some sort of a generator. But here’s the thing, I don’t want to have to lug gas cans thousands of miles in the bed of my truck. I don’t want some giant monstrosity that’s too heavy to move around and sounds like a 747 taking off.

After hours of research I decided we needed a small inverter type generator that would run on propane. The problem with a small generator is that it will run an air conditioner but won’t start it. The amperage draw the air conditioner compressor needs to start up is too much for a small 2000 watt generator, like what I had in mind.

I found the answer to this problem in the Micro-Air EasyStart.  There is a whole lot of discussion about the EasyStart in Airforums. Here is a thread to start you off. Do a search for Micro Air for much more discussion. This post quickly explains how the EasyStart works and if one should elect to purchase there is a $40 coupon. $259 isn’t pocket change. But the money I don’t have to spend on a bigger generator makes it well worth it. I should mention that if anyone elects to go with the Easy Start I recommend also buying the $10 installation kit. It’s got all the tie wraps, connectors, etc you need to do the installation.

Speaking of the installation, I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive about doing this myself. I was reassured by many posts on Airforums of people saying how easy it was to install. Also Micro-Air has a manuals and resources page that includes a YouTube video and installation instructions for the Penguin II air conditioning unit on top of Shiny.

In the end I recruited the help of my good friend Jim Bohan. Took us about 1 hour and really wasn’t that bad. Getting Jim up on the roof was the hardest part. 🙂

Prior Gadget Expenses   $550.00
Micro-Air EasyStart      259.00
Installation Kit          10.00

Total Gadget Expense    $819.00