Thursday, June 20, 2013

Father & Sons and McCall

I got the camper loaded up with soda and candy and it's got 2 adventures under its belt already. We had a Father and Sons 2 weeks ago and I made Alex and Logan come. Spencer and Logan are thick as thieves and really have a good time playing together. It was an okay trip- kind of a lame place; Montour Campground just outside of Sweet, ID. but it was a good time. We went swimming the next day up at Terrace Lakes in Garden Valley, so that was really fun. Benett is a total drown hazard- the kid has no fear and was out kicking in the deep end like it was no big deal. The water was perfect too.

This weekend for Father's Day we went up to McCall. We made a reservation at Ponderosa State Park and had invited a friend from our ward who bailed last minute, so we knew Alex could get ready in like 5 minutes and got him to go. We both headed up Friday night, but we didn't leave our house until 9:00 and got in at midnight, but it was okay. The kids didn't do so well the first night- mostly Benett. He gets riled-up and will make himself throw-up; which he did twice, but it ended up okay (if you call getting to sleep at 3:00 and waking up at 7:00 okay....pointless details).

Saturday was really fun. We threw everyone in my motorhome and went into town to get a few things we forgot. Then we all loaded up and went to a fun beach and finally we loaded up again and went to pizza and ice cream for dinner. It was really fun zipping around with everyone together in the motorhome. The kids had a blast.

We also had a good time teaching Brigitte and Spencer how to fish. Brigitte actually figured out how to cast, but Spencer mostly pretended his pole was a sword the whole time, so that got a little crazy. The bike rides were also great!

Well, I have to admit, I sort of fell in love with this campground! The trees are so big and tall- there is literally shade everywhere! The lake was chilly but not too bad for June and the bathrooms all have showers with hot water and get this- they're free! It was so nice showering before dinner and after I broke camp. It's going to turn into a frequent place for us. Also, it was so fun to be camping and then go eat at a restaurant. We of course saved room for a mid-nite snack over the fire- buffalo wings! They were so good- we'll have to bring them to Redfish and you all can watch me eat them and imagine how good they taste!
Well, some things never change. It was 95 degrees on our way home and the motorhome got really hot on the way up Horseshoe Bend hill, so we found ourselves parked at a Scenic Overlook for 15 minutes eating ice cream sandwiches from the RV freezer- slightly improved from the run-away truck ramp that we endured 105 degrees for over an hour last year, but that's only noticeable if you’re really paying attention, ha, ha!

More Work

I have had a few good projects get wrapped up recently. I have basically finished my interior cab. I removed the dash, the jockey-box, misc. panels and got them all painted black. It turned out looking great!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

2012 Trips

 Redfish- Place of Dreams, Trip from a Nightmare!

It’s time to come clean… Redfish did happen, but it is not spoken of very kindly within the walls of my home. There may have been a few poor decisions made based on the anticipation of having the greatest time ever with my family. In hind-sight, taking a step back and not being rushed to get on the road may have proven to make the maiden voyage a whole different story. Well, here’s the story- yes any encouragement is appreciated to keep this dream alive.

I’m pretty sure we pulled out of our driveway around 3:00 PM on Sunday afternoon and it was over 100 degrees outside. I had driven the camper around town a few times leading up to this voyage, but had never loaded it and had never had any passengers. Well, we had to drop something off on our way and as we did, I looked at the new cargo hitch and it had totally bent over- going from a parallel position to about 30 degrees angled towards the ground. That meant swing back home and dump off the camping stove- I left the raft on the rack and we took off. It was sure to be a sign of the things to come. I still haven’t figured out how to fix that hitch, but it will happen.

So we got through town- Eagle Road is bad enough in the summer, but in the camper it was unbearable. The kids were all so hot (no AC in the camper or cab), so we opened up all the windows and poor Christy was standing over Benett trying to feed him a bottle. I should have just pulled over, turned around, and left at 8:00 after it had cooled off, but instead we pressed on. Horseshoe bend hill soon approached and the camper was doing pretty well except the temp gauge was at ¾ hot and getting hotter, this meant heater on- awesome! Well, that helped keep the temp just under the red line, right up to the last mile of the climb and then it jumped into the red and the engine light was on! Bad deal! There was no shoulder to pull over and the summit was so close! So, I continued upwards- please note, we’re climbing in the right lane, hazard lights on, and screaming at a rate of 18 mph! We finally get to the top and I’m thinking that we’ll be just fine to slowly cruise down the hill and then enjoy an easy stroll along the Payette- oh no! Not a chance! As soon as I lifted my foot off the accelerator, the engine died. I quickly put the tranny in neutral and fire her back up- success, very brief success, and it quit again. Neutral again, start, die…panic. This repeated a few time, but I don’t remember how many and the encouragement from Christy was what I remember the most- lots and lots of verbal encouragement. The problem with the engine failure was that has a direct relationship with the functionality of the brakes. Luckily there was a truck ramp about a mile after this all started and we were able to pull over and even get her stopped before the gravel bed. This may have required both feet on the brakes with all of my might- I don’t really remember as I try to pretend this never happened! Again- it’s blurry…. I just remember lots of verbal encouragement.

Benett suffering in a pool of sweat.
At Horseshoe Bend Hill

As you may have guessed, phone calls were placed. In-laws were summoned. I have traveled alone in the camper from that time on. 

We (I mean “I”) continued on to the in-laws (following them as they had come to the rescue) and called it a day. I jumped back in the camper the next day and got back to the task of getting to the lake. I was going along quite well, but some of the climbs between Garden Valley and Lowman were challenging. There were a few 10 minute breaks at the road pull-outs to let the motor cool off. That seems to be the biggest problem with the camper- keeping the motor from overheating. I really need to get this figured out. 
Grand-Jean in the background. Notice the sagging cargo rack.

Anyway, we all got there (Christy and the Kids came in a separate car), and the camper was awesome! The kids didn’t sleep too well if I recall- pretty sure there were a few long nights, but everyone was comfortable- I think.
Asleep on the fold down couch
My Sweetheart
Benett couldn't believe that we fit the pack and play in the aisle.

On the second to last day, Chase and I took the camper up and down the Salmon River and fished all day long. We didn’t catch any fish to show for our day, but we fished and relaxed and it the camper was so awesome to have moving from hole to hole, to take naps, eat lunch, change clothes to go swimming- you name it. It was awesome!
Sawtooth Range

Another huge perk was taking the camper down to the docks every night for our traditional Polar Bear Club jumping into the lake around 9:00 or 10:00 to end each day. I love how easy it is to get in and out of small parking lots and basically drive it like it’s any other car with all the benefits of a living room in the back seat. I really like this camper!
Little Clothing...Lots of Dirt
Loving the Sand!
Lil' Princess
Big Beef Loving the Lake

The trip back was basically the same as the trip in- just not any verbal encouragement, or brake failures, but many cool-off breaks. It wasn’t too bad- my feet were on fire from the heater blowing 200 degree air on me, but I lived. I even made it up and down Horseshoe Bend hill without any issues. I had graduated from the driving school crash course!

Labor Day & Kelsey’s Wedding
The last trip of 2012 was to Arco for my sister Kelsey’s wedding. She got married over Labor Day weekend and so I drove the camper and Christy came in our car. It was a great little trip over- I went 55 mph the whole time on the freeway without any issues- it was awesome. I don’t even think anyone gave me the 1 finger salute- success!

We camped behind the shop at my parent’s house with my other 2 brothers that brought their trailers. It was every bit as convenient as any RV Park. There was water and electrical hook-ups (I still have a dry camper- I need to figure out a few small leaks at the toilet and bathroom sink) and there is also grass back there- it’s awesome. I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back to Arco in the summer without the camper. I have 8 brothers and sisters, so family gatherings call for people to sleep on couches, floors, tents- or beautifully renovated RV’s!

That wraps up 2012. I’m so excited for 2013 that I can’t hardly stand it. I’m hopeful that a generator and rooftop AC are in my future….hopeful, not confident.



I need to catch up on some of the projects I finished last summer before we went to Redfish Lake. Leading up to the last few days before Redfish I had most of the painting done and the cushions had all been recovered and the chairs and sofa re-installed, so anything after that was just an added comfort. So I had about 2 days to get in the flooring, the microwave, and fix the ladder. It all came together really well. The flooring went fast- just a simple glue down. The microwave got secured down using plumbing tape, and the ladder was secured up with a simple bracket that I added in place of the old posts. The ladder works great!

I already shared the re-paneling and re-insulating that I did at the over-cab sleeper area, but here’s a little more detail. There was some existing water damage at the corners and by the roof escape hatch, so that meant I had to rip out all of the old paneling and insulation. I also had removed the front window, so this all needed put back together. I could have run batt insulation again, but knew that the 2 component insulation would be much better for R-value as well as add some rigid support to the walls and ceiling. The 2 component insulation was kind of expensive and I ended up buying 3 kits- I should have just got the next size available, but didn’t realize how much of it I’d end up using. The panel work followed the insulation and I love how it turned out. The trim work was by far the hardest to get right. The inside corners that wrap up the wall were pretty tricky, but they eventually got done.
The cabinets really needed some help. All I did was caulk all the seams, cracks, etc. on the cabinet drawers and doors and simply painted over the wood panel. The new satin hardware that I bought at IKEA really just make it pop. I love how they look.

So this weekend I got to jump back into camper mode- it was so fun! I started with the headlight that had burned out. I thought it would be simple, but it turned out that in order to get the lamp removed, you had to remove the entire front grill to gain access to the trim that holds in the lamp. Well, I started to remove the grill and quickly realized that I was probably going to break the grill in the process, so I ended up forcing the old light out of the trim and then forcing the new light through the same trim- not recommended, but nonetheless it was a success. I’ll have to do the same thing with the other light- I just as well get a new one now because the old one is so clouded over it barely works.

I also was able to install my newly updated door panels. My door panels needed some work- I just couldn’t find a way to love the brown woven fabric. I had rebuilt door panels before for my ’70 Chevelle, but I had bought a replacement kit for my Chevelle, so I wasn’t 100% sure how this would turn out. I took the panels apart and there were 3 parts- top piece that hold the window molding, the middle woven fabric part, and the bottom panel. I studied the top piece for quite a while trying to see if I dare take off the window weather strip and finally decided that instead of replacing the brown vinyl- I’d just paint it. Well, it turned out great! I’m not sure if it will last, so I’m hoping the paint won’t wear and that this project is done for good. I also decided there was no reason to replace the bottom piece, so I just painted it as well. I used a vinyl and fabric paint that I found at O’Reily’s.
The woven fabric had been stapled to the backside of the panel, so I cut a new piece of vinyl and just overlaid it on top of the woven fabric. I used a staple gun with ¼” staples and it worked great! I figured as long as I could still get the window crank and door latch to work with the extra padding that this was the way to go. The added thickness may help for sound and heat I hope.
I decided to also wrap the door with foil/foam wrap. I got it at Home Depot and it made a big difference to eliminate noise. I was really surprised. I sprayed the door with 3M headliner glue and it held in place nicely. 

The first panel to go back was the top weather-strip piece. This piece was kind of tricky because there are small tabs that grab the door to keep the panel in place. I also taped the bottom down with reinforced duct tape that I “borrowed” from my favorite HVAC subcontractor- thanks Carl. The middle panel went on quite easily. The only problem is some of the tab inserts aren’t holding, so I may have to add a few screws from the finished face into the door to pin it down. It will look okay- similar to the screws that hold the bottom piece, so that’s probably what I’ll do. The window crank and door latch went on last and I had also painted them, so again I’m hoping this paint holds up, but if it doesn’t- I’ll probably just try to paint it again.


I also did a little make-over on my circle table. I went to O'Reilly's and bought a cup holder set, cut it down into 2 separate cups, cut holes in my table and JB welded them to the table. I then coated the table with a 2 part epoxy coating. I was able to do this on a Saturday when I had to work at my construction project- that’s also when I recovered my door panels and painted them up. My trailer was so full of fumes that I was high as a kite- it was a good time. I had “The Killers” blasting from my laptop and I was singing at the top of my lungs! Here’s a little known secret- anytime I get going on a project, and I’m pretty sure no one is listening- I usually am in my personal recording studio creating Gabe’s Greatest Hits. Christy has caught me a few times and has gotten quite the good laugh out of it!

 Well, these projects all turned out okay and of course Spencer was my right-hand-man grabbing all of my tools and making sure it was all done right. He even took a drive with me around the cul-de-sac before we parked it back by the side of the house.

Benett and Brigitte were out helping me as well, but were mostly interested in their wagon. Brigitte did get inside the camper and re-established with her brothers which seat belongs to whom and all the other rules of her camper.