July 3rd, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Yesterday I had decent weather (meaning dry) and worked on a few things on the trailer. I got the leaky rear window in the trailer patched. The biggest part of the issue looks to be the rubber weatherstrip around the window has shrunk, leaving a gap unsealed about a half of an inch long on one end and an inch and a half on the other end. I sealed these gaps up previously but the rubber has shrunk back even more and exposed an opening for water to get in.

The part I had earlier thought was weatherstripping up inside is basically just a plastic strip that I am not really sure of what its function is; perhaps it is a spacer. It also looks to direct water to the internal drainage channels of tghe window but it, too, has shrunk and has gaps on the end. That means the water was not being sent to where it needed to go and probably contributed to the leak as well. It could be this part is not normally a problem in a vertical wall but the rear wall is angled out a little from the top to bottom so the window is also angled. Our friend gravity then makes the water drip inside.

Anyhoo, I cleaned out the old sealant from the ever-shortening window weatherstripping and put in a temporary patch out of a new tube of Lexel. This will get me by until I get enough warm days I can pull it back apart and install a new piece around the glass. I then pulled the window apart and added a thin piece of rubber weatherstripping over the plastic strip. I know this isn’t supposed to be in there but I will see if it helps. My main goal is to keep the water out any way that I can for now.

Today I added a little more sealant to fill in a few gaps due to settling. I hope this is a good fix until I can locate the weatherstripping so I can try to replace it. I also got two new wastewater valves – one for the grey water (sink/shower) and one for the black water (toilet). I replaced the grey water valve today but I cannot do the other valve until I get the sewer tank rinsed out good (it is already empty). That means a trip to a campground or dump station.

I also did a modification to the rear dinette set-up. Several years ago the rear table broke when it was put down into the slot to make the bed. It was made of particleboard so it wasn’t going to hold up to much pressure and the way it was designed the was no support in the center. My dad cut four pieces of lumber to make slats for the bed conversion and made a separate table from an old butcher block. I took the four pieces and screwed them together with parts from the table he made to create a new table top/bed support combination. It is much sturdier, there is only one thing to haul around and I have a table for the rear dinette once again. I will probably sand it and put a good finish on it so it looks nice.

I wish I coulda gotten this stuff fixed a few days earlier but the rains have kept that from happening. It’s probably for the best since this is a holiday weekend and the forest is probably full of too many people anyway. The nice thing about the trailer is that being self-contained I can social distance constantly and still have the freedom to go places. I am trying to get another trip together soon though.

Things are calming down finally so I am looking into cataract surgery (hahaha) on my other eye. I have an appointment scheduled to see (hahaha again) if it is bad enough to finally get it done. After that I can finally get new lenses with the new prescriptions. Next week I will be scheduling an appointment to see about getting a surgical appointment to finally get the problem in my left hand fixed. It has been very painful and weak, making it difficult to do even the simplest things. Between that and my right arm issues it’s getting harder to hold on to tools to work on things like my trailer and I have been fumbling with and dropping things for a while. I need to get it done and I probably would have done it last year except for my shoulder injury.

That’s all for now.

June 23rd, 2020 – Trip Wrap-up and Takeaways

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

This was taken at the house in Kansas about 11:30 P.M. one night

I got up and made some eggs for breakfast then packed up to go. My spot had no sewer hook up so I had to hit the dump station to empty the tanks before the “flush rush” (my word) happened. It worked out as it got me out on the road quicker, but the time I saved was eaten up with being caught in road construction delays. This was the same beautiful and winding road I was on a few weeks ago when I went out exploring. Conveniently this same road took me right past my storage unit and I needed to unload a few things and grab a few other things like my Ninja blender to use at the house.

Takeaways

I have been on many roads on this adventure and on some of the more remote ones they would sometimes post the distance to the next fuel stop. Given the way things are these days I would no longer trust these signs and get a fuel stop taken in if in doubt. I learned that the places they refer to on these signs may or may NOT even be in business due to the ‘rona and/or economy. I learned to never trust these 100% or you may end up stranded and tuning up the banjo.

I would say that approximately half to two-thirds of the roads I traveled on this adventure I had never been on before that I was aware of. The more I travel I find that there are many roads I will see familiar things on that I remember seeing sometimes decades earlier. I have been a lot of places as a kid on family vacations and as an adult and working on the road doing stage lighting. Many of the towns are now dying off. I drove through towns full of empty buildings, some closed for many years and some closed more recently. There are so many places I had been to before over the years and now when I return to them while driving in an area they are just no longer there. These things can be sad but they are also a part of the experience of travel.

Some places I visited I would like to return to, others I have been there…done that and won’t return to. Of course there are some places I have no desire to go to at all. There are a lot of things to see in this world and I want to see more. Currently I will not fly or use public transit so driving all over the country and Canada (when possible) will fill the need nicely.

I would also add that, given the current ongoing pandemic and the resurgence of even more cases, I was only one of very few people wearing a mask anywhere I went the last few weeks (and I really try to avoid gong in stores any more than I have to). I even got the stinkeye in a few places when I HAD to go in for something. The lack of concern not just about themselves, but of other human beings, is just unbelievable, stupid and selfish.

I was able to find a few issues with the trailer on this trip so they have either been taken care of or on my radar to get taken care of. I hope the water heater is an easy fix but I don’t have much confidence in that; I will stay optimistic though. And there is the cracked shower pan that is needing to be pulled out and fixed. Guess I will be learning about fiberglass soon!

I did fall into my groove with trailer travel pretty nicely on this trip. I really got comfortable with the routine pretty quickly once I got a few things moved around to make my life easier. I cut back on my driving marathons on this trip but I need to work on that a little bit more still. I did notice it was much more enjoyable, but since I am not working I am no longer on a strict timetable and that frees me up. It also allows more time for stopping to smell the roses.

The trailer gets a lot of looks driving down the highway and I do get asked about it when I stop on my journeys. I had so much fun on this trip I cannot wait to go again. My daughters are all talking about getting RVs of some sort and we would have so much fun meeting up in different places and hanging out. I am trying to get some friends to give it a try, too. Perhaps one day I (or we) can do a “caravan” trip in Europe. That would be so much fun.

Wrapping up, this trip actually felt like retirement. Again, I had so much fun on this trip now that I am getting things fixed and a routine together. I added an extra day on the way to Kansas and about five extra days heading back to Montana.

It’ll be a little while before I can get back out on a long trip like that again, but it won’t be too long until the next shorter one. Living in this area there are many interesting places close by so it makes it easy to get away. I am just happy to go sit in the forest for a few days.

Stay tuned for more adventures!

June 28th, 2020

Adventure, Just things, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Great news! I think I found the problem with the carbon monoxide issueand the water heater.

After checking a few forum posts the last few days I saw people mentioning a few things that could be the potential cause – something as simple as a gap in the seal where the gas line comes in or even a screw falling out in the burner assembly could cause enough of a misalignment it could create problems with the exhaust.

I know I did not have a problem before I ended up going down that rough road in Nebraska National Forest so I anticipated this was probably the root of the problem. It made me think that something was probably shaken loose during this off-road adventure and therein was the problem.

A few days ago I thought I would see if I could try to figure out the issue myself. With labor at a shop probably running $100+ an hour and a new tank around $400 we are talking a sizable bill to fix (and you know they are going to tell me I need a new one). If I can fix it great; if not, then at least I tried and I’ll be making my wallet much thinner.

I opened the cover on the outside of the trailer to look for missing screws. I did not see anything missing but what I found was an old mud dauber wasp nest right in front of the burner tube and igniter. Apparently it was built inside the burner chamber before I put the insect screens on there a couple of years ago. I never thought to clean it out being a newbie at this trailer life. The rough road knocked it loose and it fell in the perfect spot to cause a problem.

The other part of this is the way it is put together and installed. The water heater is installed and secured, then a trim ring with the door is attached to the heater body to pull it in tight against the outside of the trailer and has a flange that goes inside the heater housing. This is supposed to seal the interior from the firebox and burner and works fine as long as everything else is okay. I think that this joint is where the fumes were leaking in when there was nowhere else for them to go. There was no positive pressure to push the fumes out through the exhaust grate on the door.

I busted the nest apart and vacuumed it out and looked around for any other potential problems. I fired up the water heater and let it run the cycle, leaving it on for hours. There was no alarm! I even tested the CO detector to make sure it was working okay and checked the memory settings and no warnings. It looks like I just saved a bunch of money.

I have emailed the manufacturer about the issue and see if this could, indeed, cause the problem. I also want to find out of there should be some sort of seal around that flange where it slides inside the heater housing. It looks like it from the diagrams I found but I want to make sure. It could be the trailer manufacturer did not install it correctly.

I don’t know much about these but I am definitely learning. I would, obviously, rather fix the things I can myself to save money and leave the things I can’t to the professionals.

June 19th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Outdoors, pictures, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Seems like an odd cause but I’m on board. What do we want to notice? Drinking Water! When do we want it noticed? Now!

It was a nice leisurely morning. I cannot sleep anymore and it really sucks. I am usually awake around 5-6 but this morning it was 5:00 A.M. Last week it was time to wake at 4:00 one morning and other mornings well before 5. It is so frustrating.

I took my time this morning shutting down. I made Spam and eggs with Gouda cheese, and even took another shot at the furnace after I got a leisurely shower in. I pulled the wall exhaust out (it is on the outside like a faceplate with round holes) and jiggled the firebox inside a little. I put it back together and tried again. Alarm didn’t go off but I am not chancing that. I’m leaving that stuff to the experts.

Today’s drive was only about 41 miles so it went fast. It was a short but pretty drive with a few more beautiful ranches along the way then hills and grassy areas with trees.

I got to Craig, CO and had a few hours to kill before I could get checked in to my spot for the next two nights. It was about lunchtime so I thought I would find a park to spend the time in and have some lunch. The park has this display of a giant mining shovel; I could honestly park my Avalanche inside the bucket.

Hard to get a perspective of how big this thing is
It was capable of moving a lot of material

This is my view to the south behind my trailer and where I happen to be sitting, typing this post, in my super-duper-reclining-bungee-antigravity chair:

Looking south of Craig, CO

It’s about 75 degrees, a breeze, and singing birds. The breeze is a bit cool with the sun hiding behind the clouds. Today is Meday. I am sitting here relaxing, enjoying the outdoors, typing this part up…and not driving. Spaghetti with fire-roasted tomato sauce. Oh…yeah…

And yes, that is a railroad track right behind me. It only runs every 3-4 days I am told. That just might scare the hell out of one in the middle of their slumbers. I am hoping it is a day run if there’s one coming up. I have always had an interest in them but not really when I am asleep 40 feet away.

Been really nice to slow the pace for a few days and not have to drive very far today. I have tomorrow night here too so I don’t have to go anyplace tomorrow if I want. I will probably go do some sightseeing early and come back for more pasta. I usually will buy a few hotdogs on a trip to grill but fire restrictions are on in some areas I have been through.

I am going to go up into Wyoming at some point soon; I am just not sure where yet. It’s the part past that I am not certain of. I will figure that out tomorrow too.

Not a horrible way to end a day…

June 18th, 2020

Adventure, food, Just things, Music, Outdoors, Scotty Hilander, Travel, Uncategorized

Gee, it’s good to be back home again…

I woke up after a pretty lousy night’s sleep, got coffee and breakfast. I woke up at 4 A.M. with a bad headache after tossing and turning all night. I should have put on my eye mask last night because the neighbors left their outdoor LED string of lights on all night and it shone right into my eyes through the back window. Pretty disrespectful to those around you. I like the peace and quiet and the light disturbs that.

The winds were supposed to be gone this morning but the trailer is shaking from the winds even more than last night. Gusts up to 45 currently on the NOAA webpage. I want to push on into Colorado since there are some thunderstorms being forecast for this area. It looks like the winds are not as intense around Limon and showers there without thunderstorms. These winds are problematic when you pull a trailer as it can knock them right over so therein lies some hesitation. But I really don’t want to sit here where I am for 2-3 more days – I am trying to have a vacation and this is not where I want to spend it!

I filled the water tank so I can boondock – I only like to stay in these parks if necessary (fill water tank, electricity for air conditioning or heat). I usually do not haul much water with me because of the weight but it may help stabilize the trailer a little with the winds. A few times I was towing after I got the trailer I had water onboard and the trailer would sway back and forth because the tank is not baffled and the water would slosh around. Pretty scary.

The electricity thing is also why I am not sure about replacing the microwave. I can get by without it pretty good (just like my forefathers did in the 1960s). I have used old-school reheating methods and it works out okay for me. I am retired and am not in a hurry so I just don’t know if I will replace it (at least for the time being). I have a propane stove to heat up food anytime I want (like the breakfast burrito I made a few days ago that is today’s breakfast) so it works fine and not needing electricity gives me freedom. The only real necessity is fuel and dump station facilities.

Once I got into Colorado the winds died down just like the forecasts predicted that I saw for a few cities along my route. The temperatures were a perfect 60-70 degrees. I was not sure which way I was going of the three or four I was considering. When I got to the E-470 north I swerved over and went for it. This partucular version was that I was going to head to Fort Collins and then head west through Poudre Canyon. It was a really beautiful drive.

Driving through Poudre Canyon in Colorado
Poudre Canyon, Colorado

The morning I woke up when I stayed the night in the Stapleton City Park it was a bit cold so I fired up the furnace to knock the chill off. After a few minutes the carbon monoxide detector went off. I mean it went crazy and kept getting crazier. I had to turn it off – it was a very elevated reading. I was standing there making my coffee and that’s when it went off. Scared the bejeezus outta me. And of course I turned off the thermostat and left the premises immediately and ventilated the trailer thoroughly.

I tell this tale as it appears it is still a problem. I couldn’t boondock in some dispersed camping areas of the forest tonight since it was already down in the low 50s in the afternoon (and that is when I found the very few spots open. I stopped for a leg-stretching and thought I would test it. I took it apart to have a look at it a few days ago and found nothing. This test failed as well. A night without heat would be a bad night. I just really don’t enjoy that nonsense these days.

I decided to go on to Steamboat Springs after not really seeing anywhere in Walden. I called the KOA (it seems to be working out okay but it has been out of necessity too – the air conditioner because of the heat, and luckily I have my little electric space heater for the cool nights). I do think I am really going to need to think about a generator.

I got to the KOA and got all set up, went for a quick walk and fixed some food. It hit the spot after eating snack stuff all day (mostly healthy). Frozen (well, mostly…) garlic chicken with veggies. Fried it up like stir-fry in some olive oil and a little Parm on top. I think you hear me.

Tomorrow I will be off to Craig, CO for two nights at the KOA there (their Rewards Kard has actually almost paid for itself in a very short time – no plug intended or implied). I want to take a two-day stop and try to enjoy something other than driving all the live long day. I also want to get the furnace looked at in hopes that I can boondock in the forest for a night or two. I will make something work. Still got a full water tank and a cylinder and a half of propane so I have the means if I can get that figured out.

And plenty of toilet paper.