Air travel is Again safe

Tried to get through TSA screening today with Chapstick in my pocket. It’s nonmetallic, non-liquid, right? The full-body scanner picked it up, thank heavens. We then submitted to the one-on-one.

“Sir, do you have items in your pocket?”

“Yes.” Reach in and retrieve the Chapstick, and I show it to him.

“Sir, I’ll need to pat you on that side.” I guess it was good for him. Then he said, “Please open the Chapstick.”

Okay, that worked. I get to keep my Chapstick. They either didn’t detect the individually wrapped lifesaver mint in my other pocket or they know what it is. Probably the latter, eh?

I hope we’re safer now. So long as only goodness comes in Chapstick- and smaller-sized packages, I do feel safer.

Who needs TPMS?

We never thought we needed tire pressure monitoring on our truck. Until yesterday. Last summer we upgraded our trailer’s TPMS to a really nice TST system sold by friends of ours. What to do with the old system? Aha! Put it on the truck tires. We can monitor the truck’s tires with the old system instead of junking it.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 9.47.12 AM
TST with display turned off

We’ve been monitoring the truck tires pressure since last July. Everything’s been rock steady, just as we would expect. Until yesterday. An alarm sounded while we were towing the trailer north on Interstate 77. I looked immediately at the new TST system to see if a tire was flashing (while keeping the other 100% of my attention on driving.) No alarm.

I asked Debbie to read the old system for me and see what’s up. Yep, the RR tire had dropped from 73 to 50. No, it’s to 40. It’s going down fast! I was able to pull over immediately onto a wide paved shoulder. And the tire pressure monitor showed 23 pounds. The (600HP) brass and rubber valve stem’s rubber base was broken. It showed an break at the wheel rim when I flexed it. I anticipate switching to metal clamp-in stems, like the one below on the right, on the truck.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 9.56.06 AMScreen Shot 2016-03-18 at 10.11.22 AM

We’d never had a tire incident on our trucks. 162,000 miles on this truck, 115,000 towing miles on it, and this is the first time we’ve pulled the jack and rods from under the truck’s back seat. Pretty intuitive setup, so we’re able to get the truck up, tire changed, and ready to go in under 45 minutes.

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Friends have expressed concerns over their ability to get 3/4 ton truck wheels off and on in a road emergency. My tire stores are torquing the truck’s lug nuts  120 to 140 ft lbs. Using the Silverado’s lug wrench I was able to break the lug nuts loose before jacking the tire off the ground. We didn’t need to lift the flat tire or the spare, we just rocked and rolled them into place. The spare tilted onto the hub easily, and the flat tire cranked up (in a mere 40 turns of the crank) into the storage spot under the truck’s bed. The biggest effort I expended was setting the jack under the axle and cranking the jack and the spare tire crank.

We frequently torque the trailer wheels so already have the socket for those lug nuts. I hadn’t realized I lacked a socket for the truck’s wheel lug nuts (when have I needed it?) so couldn’t have used my breaker bar and pipe extension. If one of the truck’s lug nuts had been especially tight I would’ve had a problem. Today I spent $5 on a 7/8″ six-point impact socket. I can now torque the truck wheels and more importantly I can break loose the most stubborn lug nut with my 3′ extension on my breaker bar. 8558058-21

One especially bright moment in our roadside stop? A big yellow truck pulled up behind us and raised his large traffic hazard warning sign. NCDOT State Farm® Safety Patrol is a free service that provides roadway assistance to stranded motorists – regardless of their insurance provider. He asked if there was anything he could do to help? I told him I was already putting the spare on and really appreciated him blocking from the rear.  His presence comforted me  – it reduced our vulnerability while we attended to the business at hand.

Thanks to State Farm® for sponsoring this program.  In NC, simply push *HP on your cell phone to call for assistance. They’ll change your tire, provide you a little gas or diesel, boost your battery, all to help you get back on the road more quickly and safely.

Lessons learned?

  • Keep using TPMS on both the trailer and truck’s tires;
  • Carry the lug nut 7/8″socket for truck wheels in my tool box;
  • Switch to metal clamp-in valve stems on the truck;
  • In NC, call *HP before I start working at roadside.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2016 Dreamstreamr odyssey

How many years full-timing?

2-dswkayak2015 was a good year for us. It wrapped up an enjoyable eighth year of full-timing. We began the year in a wet and chilly Corpus Christi TX, and the year mostly improved from there.  Our year was full of interesting travels throughout much of the United States. We visited another FL state park (Silver Springs) for the first time before visiting Sarasota and Miami again. We added another state, Pennsylvania, to our camping list with two weeks enjoyable visits there.

5-liarWe traveled a different path westward to Farmington NM for the Airstream Club’s annual meeting and rally. It was fun to stop at the mother ship of Bass Pro stores in St Louis MO. Along the way we discovered a free city park in Elk City OK (electricity and water,) and nice RVers everywhere we went. While in Farmington at the annual meeting, Jim was elected to 2nd Vice-President of the international Airstream Club. This was an exciting event and promises to provide a lot of hard and rewarding work.

9-ChacoFarmington NM is a great part of the USA to visit. Attractions include Shiprock, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, and Aztec Ruins, and Hovenweep National Monument, and Durango, among other ancient and more recently developed attractions. Summer may not be the best time to visit the southwest but we found the weather manageable and enjoyed our stay and the attractions.

3-CWCSadly, Jim’s mother died in mid-March last year. We left Miami earlier than planned to rush home to be with Catie and family during this tough time. Thankfully the campground in southwest Miami was very accommodating about refunding our unused camping nights, and we’re glad we weren’t any further away from the family home. Our full-timing lifestyle allowed us to quickly respond to the family’s needs and care for Catie so she could stay home during her last two weeks.

4-firewoodland

One of our daughters and her family repatriated from Vancouver in Canada last month. They’re getting settled in with many adjustments after being out of the country for ten years. We’re excited to have all our children and grands living in North Carolina for the first time. We sense, on the other hand, a tug to start settling on our NC mountain acreage. Doesn’t this look really inviting? We have courtesy parking – let us know if you’d like to stop in. It’s pretty nice.

 

6-Charlotte1-SAF

Two new grandchildren joined our family last year. We’re grateful our travels and their arrivals all timed well, and they’re both in N.C.

 

We encountered our fair share of mechanical issues last year. Our fridge and water heater both failed on our rain-soaked trip from Farmington. Not until we hit some dry pavement in Tennessee did these start working again. Our batteries stopped charging from shore power. We accidentally destroyed our folding step when we ran it into a projecting concrete sidewalk. Precipitates from the water heater clogged our sink faucet completely. The solar charger quit. Debbie’s makeup mirror LED lights failed. We found ourselves needing to replace the trailer’s brakes and turn the drums. We had our worst water leaks into the cabin. One that soaked the fabric base of our sofa and one that dripped onto the floor from inside the roof air conditioner.

These are all pretty routine maintenance issues to us. To have a gaggle of mechanical issues in the same year is unusual for us and was frustrating at times. We sometimes defer maintenance when we think we can count on getting to it before long. Ideally, we catch problems before they catch us. Other times, a delay turns out to be punctuated by a repair instead of preventive or scheduled maintenance. Dry camping is easy when most things are working. Living in an RV is easy for us when most things are working. Our RV is eleven years old and is apparently becoming a little more demanding. Okay – we’re on it!

Our 2015 towing mileage was 11,740, down from 14,866 miles in 2014. This brings our total full-timing towing miles to just under 108,000 miles. Our truck has 157,000 total miles, so towing represents 70% of our total truck mileage. The truck and trailer each continue to delight us with low maintenance needs and costs. We still plan to run the truck to 200,000 miles, or another three to four years, before replacement. Get your bids in soon for future purchase of a lightly used truck!

Our full-timing travel costs continued another year to trend downward. We spent $2,966 on camping sites, down from $4,050 and $4,565 the prior two years. Our average cost of camp site rental for 2015 dropped to $8/night, down from $11 and $13 the prior two years. Our average nights stay per site returned to six nights.

One expected decrease is our towing miles per relocation. We averaged 178 miles per relocation in 2015, our second lowest number in eight years. Moving more often within southeast USA from July through December 2015 drove this and other reductions. This year we’re likely to spend more time traveling out west, so some of these may swing upward again.

10-75 degrees

Finally, we now freely admit we’re likely to build a house. We bought very nice land two years ago in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Weeks spent at various times of the year getting a feel for the sun, the weather, the wind, and the neighbors, provide us good ideas for site placement.

This attraction to building a house runs counter to our full-timing ethic of the past 8+ years. We promised we would only stay on the road full-time so long as we wanted. We’re still loving it, but are beginning to wonder how many more years. We think it’d be nice to eventually have a house again.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
©2007-2016 Dreamstreamr odyssey

A wonderful Thanksgiving message from South Africa

I didn’t write this post but really like it and thought you might. This one seems the perfect Thanksgiving message. I’m thankful for so much, and glad I found Tom’s uplifting message about thankfulness. My sister asks if it’s a chicken and egg thing. Tom seems to be saying thankfulness is the start and, perhaps the end too. See what you think.

An Attitude of Gratitude, by Tom Basson
So often when preaching on a topic I find myself having to really live it out in the weeks before… This Sunday my wife & I are both preaching on giving thanks in ALL situations, and in the last 10 days the following has happened: I have broken my foot, requiring painful surgery. I’ve had to cough […]

https://tombasson.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/an-attitude-of-gratitude/

Illuminating Discovery

Jim and Debbie rarely pass up the opportunity to browse an IKEA store. Not so much that it’s a destination for us, IKEA trips are entertaining diversions sometimes. For a full timer, the urge could hit anywhere. How better to spend a few (or more) hours than browsing the tremendous variety of fun stuff we don’t need and probably don’t have room for in our tiny tiny house?

Many stays in Vancouver BC included visits to the Coquitlam store, near Burnaby Cariboo RV resort, and to the Richmond store on the south side of Vancouver. Closer to our normal haunts is the Charlotte NC store, one we visit at least annually. They make it fun, offering good coffee free and tempting us with sweet rolls in the café. Too, they have entrees and marzipan in the “cafeteria” upstairs. Stay long enough and the body needs fuel to continue browsing.

Our clear favorite target at IKEA stores is the kitchen layouts. A close second is the arranged apartments, showing complete living quarters in under 600sf. Jim likes the display of chairs, particularly the comfortable armchairs and the lighting section. He sits in the POÄNG armchair every visit and wonders if this could be the thing most missed from having a roomier house these past eight years.

Ah, but the lighting section. Now there’s something we can sdd in our 188sf house, can’t we? Debbie’s practical and reasoning voice patiently says, “What problem does this solve?” Jim sometimes admits, “But isn’t this light (or switch, or whatever) just cool?” IKEA is the first big store to convert widely to LED lighting. Their LED product offerings are coming along gradually too.

Last year we finally succumbed to the inevitable. We bought and installed this little light. We waited till now to share it, after making sure we like it (did we delay too long? Can’t find it online now.) Would it hold up with mobile living? Do the batteries keep on or wane quickly? Is the light worth it’s cost and small weight? Probably!

Automatic LED light shines just when we need it.

Automatic LED light shines just when we need it.

A year and one set of AAA batteries later, this light is a win. It hasn’t fallen off, chipped, started any fires, or failed to light when we open the cabinet. Its biggest workout is when we show off our Airstream (and remember to open this cabinet.) Not all cabinets need this lighting. This one is the apt application for “appropriate technology.” We like it.

Hmm, what other treasures can we find at an IKEA store? So many displays, so much marzipan and coffee. . .

See you down the road,

Jim and Debbie

dreamstreamr odyssey™
visit our website
©2007-2015 Jim @ Dreamstreamr.com

Better Handling Our Screen Door

Full time life in an RV has a few dimensions different from living in a bigger home. Our RV experiences are more frequent than most RVers, since we stay in our RV every day instead of one, two, or three weekends a month. Too, we come into contact with a very wide array of RVers in a years time. We enjoy our time traveling and meeting people from all over the world.

One more benefit to hanging out with other RVers is the shared knowledge and experiences. Sometimes we commiserate and just make each other feel better. It helps to learn you’re not the only one experiencing a recalcitrant water heater or a fridge that refuses to behave as advertised.

More helpful yet is when someone shares a solution you can use. We weren’t looking for this fix but knew it would help. Several times Jim thought he was stepping out of the trailer. He was so surprised when he abruptly was jerked back by one or more of his fingers caught in the screen door pull.

New pull is easy on the eyes and the fingers

New pull is easy on the eyes and the fingers

Susanne showed us a simple fix she and Keith did on their new Airstream. They replaced the small curved pull on the screen door with a beefier Euro-style bar handle cabinet pull. The new one has three inch centers, so uses the same holes and screws. We found this pull at our local building supply store.
One inch offset allows more room for fingers to get in and out. The bar handle matches the other dozen cabinet and drawer pulls in our Airstream trailer.

You never know what you’ll learn from others. It’s a cinch we can learn a lot from each other if we pay attention. This is a practical, easy and economical solution for a sometimes painful problem in our trailer. Our screen door is easier to handle.

Thanks, Susanne!

See you down the road,

Jim and Debbie

dreamstreamr odyssey™
visit our website
©2007-2015 Jim @ Dreamstreamr.com

Well Done!

The Yadkin Well folks stopped drilling Thursday evening. They returned yesterday morning with yet two more trucks, one for water, fuel, and drilling pipe, and the other with a big bad hydraulic pump. The latter truck has a name on it, “Rock Buster.”

The two guys started their morning pulling 65 20′ joints of drilling pipe out of the ground and stacking these on their flat bed truck. We left for town, didn’t really want to risk jinxing the next operation. We’ve spent way too much time nearby while they were unsuccessfully mining for water.

on our driveway

on our driveway

We returned yesterday afternoon as the guys were stowing their gear. They successfully hit water, so we’re happy campers. A few more days and we’ll have full hookups. Amenities = quiet, cool, private, +1 mile trails, beautiful woods.

75' from our camper

75′ from our camper

The turkeys like it, so do the deer and woodchucks. Not so much the squirrel. Yep, lone squirrel, the only one we’ve seen.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie

dreamstreamr odyssey™
visit our website
©2007-2015 Jim @ Dreamstreamr.com