Friday, April 28, 2017

Another Black Tank Story...

Yikes!  I was just telling a friend a few days ago, "Everyone has a black tank story or something that went haywire...".

We have another one although thankfully it turned out a lot better than it might of.  Last post I mentioned a unique thing about our current campground at Ocean Pines - it was formerly a Mobile Home park that was converted to an RV campground.

And -- the sewer connections for each site are positioned directly between where the two rear wheels are on the RV.  That puts them in the middle of the camping spot instead of off to one side near the water and electrical.

That normally would not be an issue.  It was a little inconvenient laying flat and crawling under the motorhome to hook up the sewer.  But that's what I did.  Made the connection fine.  In fact I did that before Pam put down the jack's so I had a little more room to get under there.

I even propped up the hose along the way to make sure it was draining downhill.  It was working well.  I was feeling good about this.  Thinking of everything and such...

Two days later I decided to empty the tanks and I started with the black tank.  It seemed to be draining and then stopped.  Hmmm.   You can see where this is heading...

I looked under the wet bay followed the sewer hose back.  Hmm.  I found the problem.  It seems that I made sure the hose avoided the tires and went around them.  But it was directly under the DS rear jack.
Talk about a bullseye!

Oh boy!  This could get exciting.  The black hose was now completely fuel up to the point where it was squished.  If I removed the hose in the wet bay connection I could drain that part of the hose but really had no where to drain it.

For this effort I needed my boots, plastic tarp to lay on the puddles, and wet ground and the pads for the jacks so I could easily tell where not to reposition the hose.   Then we had to pull in the slides and raise the jacks.

Next I crawled under Roadrunner again and get the hose in a position where I could try and bend it back enough to drain.  Fortunately, the sewer hose was long enough I had a little slack in it.  This allowed me to pull it over and bend out the flattened area making the once round hose square at that point.  So far so good.  No leaks or spillage.

I tried draining the tanks again and it all worked.  The hose will likely leak at some point because when the wire shell gets bent, it eventually pokes through.  But for now it is good and this 'Black Tank Story' turned out OK.  We dodged a bullet so to speak.

But I am wondering?  Anyone out there reading this ever have a case where you set jacks down on top of the sewer hose??  

That's all for now on this edition of the Roadrunner Chronicles, thanks for joining us!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ocean Pines and more RV Friends

We are here for a few more weeks in Virginia and enjoying the nice Spring weather.  The past few weeks we have been staying at the Sea Mist RV Campground on Oceana Naval Station Annex at Dam Neck.

Sea Mist is one of the nicest military campgrounds we've stayed at and we always enjoy being at this place.  The sites are good and what really makes it stand out is the maintenance.  They have a couple of full time guys here that putter around the grounds and keep it well maintained.  It shows with all the grass being mowed, the shrubs trimmed and the pine cones picked up.

Plus, they have a crew that comes in daily to clean the laundry and restrooms.  The office staff is accommodating and have worked with us to extend our stay here.  We got here in mid December and have been here since then.

Last week we went to Fairfax and helped with Adam and Melissa's kitchen remodel.  Its been quite a project but they are in the final stages of completion.  They did a lot of the work themselves with assembling all the cabinets and some ceramic work.  We helped with all the trim and drywall patching, and caulking.


It turned out well and I think we are all pleased.  Kitchen and bathroom remodels are based on what one wants and can afford. And its always a challenge in inconvenience and schedules.  They got with five different contractors plus Adam and Melissa and Pam and me so it was a group effort to say the least. It worked out and despite the disruption it was done in three weeks.

After returning to Sea Mist, we stayed a few more days before we had to move 5 miles down the road to Ocean Pines Campground.  This is at Ocean Naval Air Station and one we have visited a few years ago. It also is quite adequate and a little more convenient.
At Ocean Pines, we use a code on a gate that moves back and forth for entry/exit.  And it is closer to Jon and Kelly so it saves us about 10 minutes each way from their house.  The park itself is maintained pretty well as is Sea Mist RV Campground.  Also, the price is right at $25 / night.

An interesting point about Ocean Pines is that it used to be the base mobile home park.  It was converted to an RV Campground years ago.  The streets and layout is the same.  The sewer connections were left where they were for the mobile homes instead of moved to the side of the site.   That means I had to crawl on my back to hook up the sewer hose which is positioned directly between the rear tires.  It was less convenient but still workable.

The site is level and we are able to get satellite TV.  Internet service here is not that great and typical of most RV parks.  All in all it is we're glad we have a spot and I'm glad we are able to stay here.  Lots of RVers are heading north as we move through Spring, so campgrounds are getting more crowded.

Recently I was on Facebook and found some friends from our Hawaii days back in the 1980's.  They posted some pictures of work on their  Airstream.  They live in Georgia and are refurbishing the entire insides of an older model they bought a few years ago.

I got in contact and found out Tim had a Navy reunion this past weekend and was going to be in town.  We had dinner and he came out to see us at the campground.
It was great to hear his stories about the Airstream and how they purchased it and how they are doing a lot of work on it.  Another great reason I love this lifestyle -- we keep running into people who are in various stages of RVing.  And I have often said there are so many ways to do this RV thing, that it is fun learning about their approach.  Hopefully there will be some camping together with Tim and Caroyl at some point in the not too distant future.

I don't think I have mentioned this before, but daughter Kelly is having surgery this Wednesday to remove a fibroid.  Thanks for your prayers for her and the family.

That's about it for now from Virginia Beach!  Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles today!  Would love to hear from you!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Helping Out

Not sure exactly what you call it but we've been helping out our kids.  Our daughter and her husband are in Virginia Beach and they recently had their second little boy.  Our son and his wife live in Fairfax and they are embarking on their biggest project to date. They are redoing their downstairs bathroom and getting a whole new kitchen.
We have been in Virginia Beach since mid December and we'll be here until mid May.  That will be our longest stay in one spot since we started full-timing in May 2009.  Its been a great time and we have helped out in a couple of ways.
First - we have spent most days at our daughter's place which is about 35-40 minutes from our campground.  We go over to her place 4-5 times a week and help baby sit.  Having one active 2 year old is busy enough, and with a new baby added to the mix - it adds to the challenge.   I would say the second one is a game-changer but upon reflection, That applies to those with a third toddler.  THAT's a game changer! Right now it is completely manageable and our being there works out in many ways.
We've helped take the pressure off during those early weeks. When we are there she can take a breath and grab a nap here and there on those afternoons when both boys are asleep.  Plus we also get to bond with the oldest who is in the midst of being a two year old!  He is a handful at times but he is also the sweetest, cutest, most lovable, smartest little boy around.
I never thought I would be a 'Papa' or that Pam would be a 'Mama'. But little kids have a way of making you comfortable with whatever label they tag you with.  We learned early on that we had to come up with our 'name'.  We picked Grandpa and Grandma but those were a little tough to pronounce so we're now Mama and Papa.  And we are fine with that.
We are happy that Spring has come with its warm weather as the little guy loves to play outside!  And he loves to have someone out with him.  There is zero resistance when that little fella grabs me by the thumb and tugs me follow him and 'pay'.  Its his version of "lets go outside and play".   No surprise, he can wear me out in a hurry.  
I bend over and follow him around as he pushes his little race car and I trail with the little boat.  He looks back every few steps to make sure I'm still there.  It's another version of Extreme Workout.  
He also has found the magic of playing cars. I like to watch him with a couple of cars in his hands as he rolls them on top of the coffee table. Sometimes he walks down the hall and 'drives' his cars on the wall.  He's in a world all his own and I wonder what goes on in that little mind.
200 miles away, outside of Washington D.C., our son and daughter-in-law are remodeling their home. They decided to redo their downstairs bathroom and their kitchen.  We've visited them a few times in the last six weeks and have helped on getting those projects done.  We are about 90 percent done and currently at their place to finish up somethings.
The kitchen and bathroom started about three weeks ago.  We cleaned out the kitchen in true 'demo' mode. We removed all the cabinets and appliances and ripping up the flooring.  Then we rented a van and carted all the waste to the city dump.  The appliances went to the contractor doing most of the mechanical work in the kitchen.  He added a new gas line for the stove and rerouted and added some electrical outlets.  The other contractor did the tile floor.
Phew!  Its been a big job but its been quite the transformation.  From this:
To this:
The marble counter tops are going in on Tuesday and they are pretty excited about it.  Then the sink and disposal get installed and the kitchen will be complete.

Our son did the downstairs bathroom with a little help from us.  
He took off the vinyl squares, removed the toilet, the sink and stand, and the medicine cabinet.
Next, he cut tile and laid them down in place. After he got all the pieces like he wanted them, he pulled up a few at a time and laid on Thinset mortar. All the pieces went back into place and he put in the spacers.
After letting it dry, he installed the toilet, sink and new light.
They also put in a nice new mirror. I didn't get a picture of it yet but will when I get pictures of the new kitchen. I'll get those after the counter top, sink and appliances are all up and running. Shouldn't be too much longer until its done!

Its fun to see our kids become handy around their homes and do all sorts of projects.  And fun to help out.
So that's some of what we've been doing the last few weeks during our long stay here in Virginia.

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Roadrunner Memories: Camping at the Repair Shop(s)

We were in Richmond VA at the Atlantic Cummins shop earlier this month to check out our 'cold start'.
We scheduled our time here to check out our starter.  At times, it is sluggish even after preheating the engine overnight.  We have new chassis batteries, so we were thinking it may be a starter or a solenoid or a charge issue with the inverter or??

Really not sure but we wanted to check it out instead of just crossing our fingers.

The set up here for staying overnight is fine.  Completely adequate but nothing fancy.  It got us to think about where and when we have parked overnight and stayed in the repair shop parking lot.  We have done that a few times.

For the fun of it (and for curiosity sake) I decide to look back over the years and note when we had actually done that:

October 2009 - Freightliner, Dallas TX 
This was our first experience getting towed outside of Waco, Texas.  Replaced a fuel pump and stayed in the coach overnight at their new facility.  It had 50 amp service and was a brand new facility.
March 2012 - Fleet Maintenance, Fort Walton Beach FL

We stayed at the Ft Benning Army Recreation Center RV Park in Destin when we saw a leak.  We were able to drive it over to Fort Walton Beach.  They had to replace gaskets and other stuff and let us stay in the coach.  We were able to plug into a 50 amp circuit and left later the next evening.

October 2012 - Freightliner Factory Service Center, Gaffney SC
We attended the Camp Freightliner course and were able to stay free at one of the campground sites at the facility.  Had full hookups and internet.
July 2013 - HWH Factory, Moscow Iowa
Broke a foot on the rear jack and had it replaced.  Also replaced the electronic keypad on the driver's console. Parked in one of their free sites (W/E, no sewer).
April 2015 - Freightliner Service Center, Gaffney SC
Had some routine yearly maintenance done.  Stayed overnight in one of the full hookup sites
August 2015 - Bay Diesel, Red Bay AL
Roadrunner was 'chugging' going up hill.  It was a tough one to diagnose.  The mechanics worked on it all day and we stayed overnight parked in front of one of their bays.  They hooked us up with 50 amp.  Finally, after they changed a fuel pump and it was still doing it, Chris Thompson got us an appointment with the Cummins folks at MHC in Tupelo.

September 2015 - MHC Kenworth, Tupelo MS
Changed out two more fuel pumps before they figured out it was the fuel line to the gas tank that was causing the issues. Was able to stay a few nights parked outside the rear bay but hooked up with 50 amp electric.
May 2016 - Custom RV, Vina AL
Stayed out front of Brannon Hutcheson's shop.  Had a sheared bolt on the front DS which he replaced plus a number of things on our list.
August 2016 - Cummins Northwest, Portland OR
Time for yearly service on our fuel filters.  Stayed overnight in one of their eight full hook up sites at their Coach Care facility.
August 2016 - HWH Factory, Moscow IA
Had a broken chain on our PS slideout which we got repair there.  Stayed overnight in one their small but adequate campsites with 50 amp/water.

December 2016, Cummins South, Ocala FL
Made an appointment to have them check out why the Roadrunner seemed to start so slow.  They determined we needed to replace a couple chassis batteries.  Stayed one night with 50 amp/water.

February 2017 Atlantic Cummins, Richmond VA
Wanted to check out if there was an issue with the starter or solenoid.  They troubleshot as best they could but determined there was no issue.  We were OK with that and liked their customer service.  We stayed overnight parked outside one of their rear service bays with 50 amp service.

Surprisingly, that is about 12 times that we have parked overnight (or for a few nights) outside of a repair facility.  Seven times the business had a parking spot/camp site with hook ups, the other five times, they had a 50 amp electrical outlet we were able to plug into.

Though it is not my favorite way to spend the night, it always has turned out OK and been part of the intrigue of this adventure!

Thanks for joining us today on the Roadrunner Chronicles!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sunday at the Virginia Beach Aquarium

A few months ago, we went to the Virginia Aquarium and got a season pass.  Last week, we returned again with Jon and Kelly and the boys.

I like the exhibits with a few tidbits and information that reflect a bit of history.
 Virginia Beach and nearby 'First Landing'.  In 1607 explorers landed near Cape Henry and First Landing.  Weeks after that they settle and form a new community up the coast in Jamestown.

The Lynnhaven is an area in Virginia Beach that has been famous for oysters which have seen a resurgence in the last few years which is nice to hear.
 The aquarium has a number of different areas and one walk way where the water flows over the top of the path and connects the glass sides of the tanks.
 Brooks liked the fish but he was also enamored with the little wall where people could sit up against the glass or walk along it as he was doing.
 I am a little mesmerized at watching all the different sizes and shapes and kinds of fish swimming around.  It was really beautiful!

It was nice to get out and walk through and see a little bit of the many galleries and displays.
Toward the end, they had a big tank of eels that had been defanged.  You could stick your hand in the water and touch them.
These outings don't have to be long to be worth it.  Every time we go we learn something else and get exposed to a new aspect of the Aquarium.   It was a great day to do it and I'm sure we'll be back again.

Thanks for joining us on the Roadrunner Chronicles!