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 20th, 2020

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

I decided to do more reorganization today. Okay, I really just wanted another Meday. I’m finding a few things not very practical the way I had it packed, though, so I decided to revisit it once again after coffee and breakfast.

No I don’t have OCD. With limited space you have to really think about convenience – just like spending two weeks in Europe with nothing more than what’s on your back. You can constantly shuffle stuff around or you can look at your workflow and simplify it to move as few things as possible.

After living with the organization I did the last time for this trip I knew I needed to remove/relocate more stuff. I took a few more things out of the trailer (like all the plates and bowls except what I can get by with) and packed them into a rolling tub in the truck bed (it’s just me right now). More space in the trailer for what I actually need but still available if needed. I think I am going to need to go back to a suitcase for keeping clothes organized. It will stay in the truck. I was able to pack things in the bed of the truck more efficiently and it will be more useful as well.

I found the chlorine bleach I had stashed away so I finally got the water tank sanitized again, rinsed, and refilled. This place must be on a well – it is some great-tasting water. Good place for a water fill up!

Changing to the other bed has helped quite a bit, and the packing changes I made earlier will work out best for either bed being set up as a bed or seating area with a table. I think I will set up and take down the front bed/dinette each day for even more space and see how that goes (it’s actually fast and easy compared to the rear dinette). The dog won’t know what to think when he sees it. There’s a lot more room for him to stretch out and it’s less cluttered.

After getting things wrapped back up for what will hopefully be the final time reorganizing. I am now sitting outside in the shade again. I just finished up a bowl of pasta and am rather enjoying doing nothing in particular. Wish I woulda grabbed a couple of beers.

During my breakfast I got a plan figured out for tomorrow to at least get into Wyoming. I just don’t know yet where I’ll end up. I want to boondock away from people so bad but with the furnace acting up I cannot risk it. It has been nice having utilities (“hook ups” really doesn’t sound very good – hahaha) while getting things like organizing and some minor mechanical things worked out without having to worry about how to stay warm/cool. Soon after I get back I will be looking into getting the furnace inspected so I am back to staying dry and warm with clean-burning Strickland propane.

As I was sitting here enjoying just sitting here I was looking up a bird on my birding app and discovered it was a Bullock’s Oriole. I started playing the calls and songs on my app and they all came over to the tree above me to see who the new kid in town was. It was fun and I got to see them closer but they have a chatter that is annoying. I was very careful when looking up!

Everyone in this RV park seems pretty nice. One guy stopped by asking about the trailer then came back over to ask more questions. Unless I have someone traveling with me I am pretty much a loner on the road so when people “pop by” it’s weird if it is more than a hello and a short conversation. I have gotten several questions about the trailer while out on my adventure.

The conversation went on too long – I could tell what his political leanings were when he started spouting out bullshit. Then the questions about being retired – “…you must be doing well”. “You got something going on you’re not telling.”. You get the drift. I wasn’t having it. When this stuff came up I decided I had enough and went to have supper and finish the water system. He said he’d be back later so I avoided that situation.

As far as politics and religion, mind your own damn business and keep it to yourself. Quit forcing your beliefs and dictator on others, and just like my financial situation, none of it is any of your concern. I could see through this guy’s BS from the start and hoped he would cut it short. He didn’t so I did. I don’t want to be an a-hole but I am not putting up with it.

Mysteriously the carbon monoxide detector went off again but neither furnace nor fridge were running on propane. However the propane water heat was on and the widow above it was open since I had just flushed the system and was heating water for a shower. I am thinking it may have sucked the fumes in through the window, at least perhaps this time. I cannot remember if the window was closed or anything was running that first time but I think the first time it went off it may have been the same as today. The second time I am not sure. I will still get everything checked thoroughly when I get back.

Last bit of housekeeping was, well, housekeeping. Sweeping out the floor and shaking the rugs. The Scotty is clean and ready to go to the next spot tomorrow.

I have been able to sit out in my little courtyard the past couple of days, safe in knowing that just two spaces east of my spot is an honest-to-goodness member of the Zombie Outbreak Tactical Response Team.

No, Seriously.

I. Don’t. Know. I. Just. Don’t Know. This country is truly going insane

I don’t really know what else to say right now…

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.

June 17th, 2020

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

Westward ho!

As I am starting this post I have just stopped for gas and am letting the fridge run for a bit on propane to cool off some.

I left late this morning after coffee with Chelsea so I could start to make my way back toward Montana via Colorado. I’m ready to get my Rocky Mountain High on and find some cooler weather. Hell, pretty much any weather would be cooler. It’s like I’m driving on the surface of the sun.

Wasn’t gonna happen without a fight apparently. I-70 across Kansas and eastern Colorado is always notorious for its winds and boring scenery. This stop for gas finds it 101 goddamn degrees. Add to that a horrendous crosswind of about 40 mph. There is absolutely no need for this uninhabitable nonsense and I hate this shit. On top of it this hot weather expanded and loosened that damned weatherstripping again, but this time on the entire top on one side of the trailer. The winds are whipping it around too.

I had to stop to fix it and get gas (currently getting 6 mpg). I could not climb on top but did the next best thing – pulled into the trucker fuel lane and stood on the concrete barrier protecting the pumps. Problem solved. May have to pack a ladder though.

This weatherstripping has been a pain before (when I was moving to Washington in 2012) but there is no fix as far as I know – it expands and contracts with the weather. This piece is now cracked so it looks like I’ll be replacing it when I get back. The other side I replaced around 2014.

I had to pull over in the shade at a rest area near past Hays to fire up the fridge again. I think I’m gonna sit here a bit and let it run longer so I don’t have to stop so frequently. My frozen stuff is thawing out. I might think about a late lunch to take advantage of the time. Last stop had no sshade so I’m taking advantage of this stop.

I have driven this road many many many times and I have never seen it this windy except for once in the early 80s when a really severe thunderstorm was blowing through. I was in my old CJ-5 and had to stop under a bridge for an hour or two late at night (2:00 A.M.) until it blew over. The temperature now says 103 on my truck sitting in the shade. I don’t really remember ever having weather this hot either.

I decided to go ahead and push on. I was just east of the KOA at Wakeeny but it was still fairly early in the day – around 3:45. I still had plenty of daylight to go plus I’m going to gain an hour at Brewster, Kansas. I want to get as far as I can so I can get into the mountains tomorrow at a decent time. It’s getting close to the weekend and I need to get someplace.

I made it to the KOA in Goodland, just shy of the Colorado border. The next one is in Limon and I would have went in if this one in Goodland was full.

I got everything hooked up and did some reorganization in the truck to take stuff from the trailer and put into the truck. I converted the front dinette into my bed and put the rear dinette back into its seating configuration. It is so much more roomy to sit comfortably and feels less cluttered inside. This also means I need to get rid of some things out of the trailer when I get back. Since I am currently traveling solo I don’t need a big bed (and no, I don’t mean the dog).

I cooked some Chinese food for dinner and a shower is the other reward of the day. The winds are still howling but with the other RVs around and some trees and a few buildings it breaks it up a little. It still shakes the trailer though!

Tomorrow the winds should die out and it will be cooler in the morning. I know the afternoon will b e cooler since I plan on getting in the mountains by then!

Time for a few thoughts…

Like I said earlier I have been down this interstate too many times to count. I remember coming out to Colorado as a small kid on family vacations, and many times over the years as an adult. Some years I was driving out this highway three or four times a year. Needless to say the place is in my blood. And my heart.

As a youngster we would pack up the old 1962 Chevy II station wagon with a pallet to stretch out on between the camping gear. Seat belts? Didn’t have them. I was always really excited to go and we would stop at one of the first rest areas and I would pick up a free map that they used to have in a dispenser on a post.

I would get out my trusty magic marker and anxiously follow our route the entire time, using my black highlighter to keep track of our progress.

I remember seeing many of the tourist sight signs even into my adult years. Some of the attractions we stopped to see, such as the World Famous Rock City (now re-opened it looks like), the Walther P. Chrysler boyhood home, The Eisenhower Museum and even the now long gone Indian Burial Pit that, if I remember right, was around Salina.

We saw the signs for hundreds of miles but we never did stop at the worlds largest prairie dog. I did stop there as an adult. It’s a giant concrete statue of a prairie dog located amongst an animal freakshow that was a poster child for animal abuse. It is shutdown as well but you can still sneak a peek at the statue through the deterioration of the plywood barrier.

The thing is, I see these things advertised and wonder how long they will remain relevant – or even open for business. Classic restaurants will always be there, like The Cozy Inn in Salina, but how many people these days visit these attractions? Younger generations did not grow up with this stuff so do they or WILL they care? Seems rather sad in a way, but it is just the way it is.

I may have written about this stuff before, but I didn’t go back to check. I thought about it a few days ago as I showed my granddaughter Emery what I did when I was younger and showed her my trip in 2012 to move to Washington that I had highlighted as well. I gave her her very own atlas and highlighter so she could do the same with her trips.

Only this was a yellow one.