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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Tribute to the retiring
Dodge Lodge II.

I found you sitting in a Roanoke back yard, and you said welcome home. That was what - 6 years ago? Henry and I took you to his place and for many many weekends we worked on your soggy cabover.
I drew your picture on the whiteboard at work and counted the days 'til you'd be on the road - and so would I. I'd sing of "taillights shining" and anticipate our travels. The heat of summer turned to the cold of winter and finally we took the tarp off. Some mechanical work, then a tow truck ride and a bunch more, and I brought you back to Lynchburg. You were the napmobile in the Timken parking lot as I worked the midnight shift, enabling me to get much needed rest during the last exhausting bit of employment there. You and I went to meetings in Lynchburg, and had campfires at the Moose campground. Danny visited us there, and together we took Danny to Myrtle Beach, where I reunited with an old dear friend.

We visited friends, and we went to work, even at 7 miles per gallon.

You carried my 18th century gear inside, jam packed around the chairs and cabinets. You took the wild mudslide through Belle Grove after the rain and missed all the killer trees. You toted the gear in the utility trailer after I bought that, and we were both relieved that it was no longer stuffed inside. But you wished the trailer had auxilliary brakes, I'm sure. We went to Eastern Rendezvous in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, in West Virginia. After the West Virginia one, you got new rotors. Sorry about that mountain!

We went to OVPR many times, and to the girls' house for Christmas, and to Roger & Mitch's for party.

We went to the Coffee Cup Campers campouts. We visited Marsha in Tennessee and went to the bluegrass mexican restaurant in Cosby. Sometimes we'd take a week and just go, like the penny walk I read of as a child, wherever the wind blew us. We went to the Indian convention in Cherokee, and the campout in the spring - twice! How you struggled to get over the Eastern divide with your coil wire burnt! And to the garage in Swannanoa where we'd been before and knew we could get help.

In between, you waited patiently beneath the maple tree in Danny's yard. You took me up to the Izaak Walton campground when the housey thing was too much for me, and we hung out together in the campground and made music.

And then, you made it possible for me to do the work I do now. You and I went all over North Carolina, Virginia, and even into Maryland, to do resets. Remember when you needed a new ignition module on the way home from New Market - we sat by the side of the road for so long waiting for the tow truck, but it was OK - you're a motorhome so I had all I needed for the hours. It was the only time you ever broke down on a work trip. You've been my home, my friend, my comfort, and we've had lots of adventures together. So it is with wistful sadness that I clear out my things. I drag my feet on the chores of cleaning out, hanging for sale signs, etc. Truly, the new motorhome is very nice, and I'm excited to move in - but we don't yet have history together.

I fully expected to be driving you 'til you were all wore out and used up. Since Grandfather put the next one in my life sooner, I can only figure that there is someone waiting for you. It is my hope that person will be as fond of you as I have been and that you will get to travel all of your remaining days. Thank you, Dodge Lodge, for sharing my road for a while.

With love,

Gypsy Jane

Friday, July 28, 2006

This week I was in Richmond, with very little interesting to blog about. This is because I started the week with a cold/flu/sinus infection - something undiagnosed and yucky that made me feel like bat crap. So I worked, then I dozed, then I slept. No cool pics, no explorations of parts unknown, no hikes through beautiful woodlands, no workouts at the Curves which was a mere 5? miles from the store. I was SO glad to be in my comfy motorhome with the fridge that kept me supplied with cold salad fixin's and clementines. I went through an entire flat of clementines.
By Thursday, I felt much better. My daughter and I went to Ichiban for sushi after work. Ichiban is our all-time favorite Japanese restaurant. They're listed way up in State of the Plate, both for restaurants and dishes. tells about some of that.
Next week I'm headed to North Carolina and, being more healthy, will perhaps have something to blog about :)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

All Work And No Play? NOT!

This weekend I turned 56. So my elder daughter and grandson, and my daughter's boyfriend, came out to help me celebrate. We took the Escaper up to Izaak Walton Park, where I'm a member, and spent the day enjoying the facilities there. We swam in the lake, ate lunch, shot archery. When Danny got off work, he joined us and we shot pistols. My grandson couldn't quite manage my longbow but he did manage to hit the target quite nicely with the .22. It was his first time shooting, so he got the first of many safety lessons. All knives are sharp, all guns are loaded, never point a gun at anything you don't want to kill permanently dead.
We had a great time, and when we were ready to leave we made a stop at the dump station to dump and fill the motorhome. It started to rain just as we finished. Perfect timing.
A very fun day, topped off with a wonderful dinner at Outback.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I've often referred to the cabover bed in Class C motorhomes as the "cat perch". When the chaos died down and Scamper came into the Escaper for the first time, she looked around and then hopped right up there, confirming my opinion. She should know.

The Escaper
went with me on it's first full work trip, to Suffolk VA, as I wrote last time.

I rearrange supermarkets. When you go in and the cat food's always been on Aisle 3 and now it's on Aisle 8 - we did that. Usually I work in Food Lions.

Two things I always look for when I go somewhere for work are pleasant places to walk, and the location of the nearest Curves. I check with the store's Zip Code and when I get to the work site, I know where to work out.
There were Curves near all four of the stores in Suffolk area that week. The fountain was part of the development behind the Carrolton store. They had a pool and miniature golf, too. Looked like a nice - but expensive - community.

This week I took the Escaper up to Walkerville, MD. We did a night set, with long hours, so I didn't have time or energy for much exploring. The challenge is to sleep in the daytime heat. Fortunately, this store's parking lot actually had a shady spot - a line of parking places sheltered by the relatively large trees along the street. Shade in a supermarket parking lot is highly unusual, so I was VERY happy to park in it.

Walkersville has a Curves, and a library with internet access so I was able to get my email. Walkerville also has an RV store, Endless Summer RV's,, where I found the torsion spring my awning needs which my local RV repair shop didn't have in stock. Nice folks, and good coffee, too.

They sell Holiday Ramblers there, and I had to look. I just looked at a few that were near where I had parked. They were very large and beautiful. Closet space is often at a premium in an RV, but some models had a full-width closet in back! And then there was one - what were they thinking?!? Beautiful, large, expensive, slide-out, 2 bathrooms but I only found one closet - a foot wide, outfitted with shelves you could remove if you wanted to put clothing in there. Obviously designed for wealthy nudists, I thought.

Now, I've just returned from looking at floor plans on their website for new Holiday Ramblers and I can't find that. Perhaps I missed a closet in the second bathroom? In which case I stand corrected.

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings both, we had thunderstorms. I'm happy to report the leaks are gone. I could not find any sign of unwanted water entry anywhere.

I also have found that the Escaper does not get any better mileage than the DodgeLodge did. I was hoping. On the bright side, it's no worse either. Same 6-7 mpg.

I have an appointment to have the torsion spring replaced in 2 weeks, so I should have an awning in time for the bike rally. Not that I've decided whether I'm taking the motorhome or a tent, but if I do take the motorhome it will be nice to have the awning working right.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Escaper and I have had our first full work week together. We did supermarkets a couple hundred miles east of home, in the Suffolk VA area. The motorhome drives well, handles well, and is so comfy to live in. The stores had relatively level parking lots; I only had to get out a leveling block once.

We (me and the rig) drove home through helacious thunder storms and the only leaking apparent was a minimal amount from the satellite antenna situation. Good. No water in the cabover, none in the bedroom. Our efforts were successful.

We spent this hot Friday morning at the RV service place here. The satellite antenna is now off my roof! The place where it had been has been neatly patched with rubber roof and Eternabond. I'd seen this stuff discussed on the internet. Now I've seen it applied (I went up on the roof to watch the RV guy apply the patches). It's really really expensive, but it's good. With my older, water-damaged roof, I think I need to own a roll of it.

Besides removing the antenna, I had a steno-page list of things to have done. Some of them got done: I now have a DC outlet in the living area, my shower works, my shoreline plug is repaired correctly, all my lights work, my propane tank's full... I wanted my awning fixed but the spring is broken and they don't carry parts for that brand. They'll see about getting the spring; then I'll have it fixed.

This week, we get to go to Maryland.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Ok, Road, here we come, ready or not!

The urgent to do list is done.
We solved the roof leak mystery. We found a major tear in the rubber roof where the satellite dish is installed. It had been patched, but the patch hadn't lasted. What it really needed was to have the satellite out and new rubber, then reinstall the satellite. But since I don't watch TV, we put a temporary patch until next Friday, when the satellite dish will be carefully removed by the RV tech, to be installed on Danny's RV, where I'm sure it will be much happier. Then we'll do a permanent patch where it had been.
Last fall we installed 3 new coach batteries in the DodgeLodge. Yesterday we took them out and put them in the Escaper, putting the single coach battery that came with it in the DodgeLodge. The Escaper's coach battery is in the engine compartment, so we (Danny, really) fished the cables down through and along the frame and into the cargo compartment where the other 2 batteries live. Power to go!

I spent the evening cleaning house and I'm ready to drive! A place for everything and everything in its place. It better be: I have good brakes. You can't be sloppy in an RV 'cause you have to clean house before you drive. Each time. Make sure cabinets are shut. Use the checklist.

The dreamcatcher is hung.

Beadwork and music are neatly stashed in the back bedroom. Now maybe I'll get some done! There's a fan there and one up front. They run on DC so they'll keep me cool when the a/c, which requires AC, won't. (sorry, couldn't resist.)

The galley is ready for use. Those baskets won't go anywhere. They're held in place by non-slip stuff and the ridge of the stove cover. Did I mention that's a full size sink in this rig! Like in a house. Not the tiny micro-sink I've had in previous rigs. My dishpans can go in the compartment with the "picnic table stuff" now.

Dollar Tree had the right color non-slip stuff. I don't know what it's technically called but it's great at holding things in place as you drive down the road, and I've been using it for years. Blue cups in the cupholders: one gives me a place to dump loose change, and the other will be a vase.

The basket on the dinette holds salt & pepper and all the little things that would otherwise be clutter. Books and tools and blankets and the good china all found places to hide in the seat storage. Hoses and leveling blocks have a place in an exterior compartment. Likewise the "picnic table stuff".

It's always a challenge to find a place for long things: umbrellas, fishing rods, awning tools, boom mic stands, brooms. (Especially brooms. Any RV that doesn't have a central vac ought to have a broom closet! RV Manufacturers, take note.)

So - while like any house (or vehicle ;) ) there's always a to-do list - I'm ready.
Tomorrow, we drive!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Waiting while it rains.

Tuesday evening we reassembled the inside part of the air conditioner and made sure we had properly caulked the front cabover corners. The next thing on the agenda is rubber roof patch - but it's pouring down rain. I'm hoping it will clear off by this evening so we can get that done.

Monday, July 03, 2006


I spent yesterday and today moving things in and putting them away. It's pretty much done! The cabover bed is made. The rear bed is made. The crafts and music stuff is in place. I still have a couple of empty cabinets! There is also stuff I have no place to put. Like the desk box I had made to fit in the travel trailer 2 RVs ago. Oh, well. In the house, I guess. That blob of blue under the keyboard is a 1/2 finished afghan. Soon! Or maybe not - it's WAY too hot to crochet right now.

Anyway - stuff came out of the Dodge Lodge and got put away in the Escaper, the foam mattress that was originally in the Escaper went in the cabover of the Dodge Lodge, stuff went to storage, stuff came out of storage. We cut brush that was interfering with work and parking, and took all the demolition results to the dump. I put up the black-out curtain in the Escaper - new velcro on the cab side. Although I'd made it for the Dodge Lodge cab, it fit better in the Escaper than it had in the Dodge Lodge. Go figure. I'm glad.
All I REALLY want to do right now is go to Izaak Walton and soak in the lake!

No can do. There's still a matter of a ceiling leak and I have to take the Escaper on a work trip Sunday!
During the torrential rain, it dripped from the a/c, and it followed the a/c electric cord into the kitchen cabinet. We took apart the roof air conditioner to see where the leak might be coming from. Couldn't find any water damage in there!

We went up on the roof and took the cover off. While that was most uninformative, we did find roof damage between the a/c and the satellite receiver. Now I would be wishing I'd walked around on the roof further when I first looked at it, except it is repairable and I really like this motorhome. So I won't kick myself in the rear too much. I am, however, continually grateful that Danny is Danny - willing and able to fix things - and enjoys it - and does it with such a calm, matter-of-fact attitude. No flaring ego, no temper tantrums. He's pretty darn wonderful.
This is ironically aggravating: I rarely run the a/c because I usually boondock, and I sure as heck don't watch TV! I'd be quite happy with a roof with neither of these leak sources on it.
Suffice it to say, we'll be patching and caulking and smearing goop up on the roof tomorrow night. And, since tomorrow's the Fourth of July and we can't buy supplies, Wednesday night also. For tonight, though, we're done. The tarp is back in place and it's time to knock off for the night.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Order Out Of Chaos!

Finally the insulation is in, the plywood is cut to fit. And to fit through the motorhome door and turn with all the kitchen etc. in the way. To do that, we had to cut about a foot off one end and piece it.

I bought headliner vinyl for the underside of the platform, and was pleased to find a perfect match to what was in the cab already. It's more brown than it looks in the picture but the flash changed things. I glued it to the plywood and stapled it in place and we put the plywood platform into the cabover and screwed it down. A metal channel trims the edge and adds stability.

It's a lovely, roomy cabover. Right now, without the mattress, I can sit up in there! I wish my futon were not so thick: it will eat up space. Anyway, the inside work on the cabover is complete. All that remains is to put the futon up there. Outside, there's more waterproofing to do. That will wait for another day.
I got to clean up the tools (they're sitting on the platform instead of all over the living area!), vaccuum, wash, and generally return the coach to livability.

Aaaaah! Now I can resume moving my Stuff in.