Biodiesel update

I’m rooting for this technology. Wish it were here.

TX weather

For the second time in a week, we are having a lightening storm with rain (still to come). The in between days are quite warm. I think we’re using Direcway satellite access, but I’ve got quite a nice connection tonight inspite of the weather. hmmm.

National Do Not Call list

Looks like cellphones will be hit with spam soon, so register the number with the Gov’t’s Do Not Call List.

Debit cards no longer safe

My debit card was declined at the grocery store today so I decided to check my account online. Voila! someone had withdrawn $500 3 times today! At an ATM machine that should only allow $200 withdraws. Yikes! That’s $1500.

My bank says that someone is grabbing debit card numbers and pins electronically and making duplicate cards. Eeek! At least 4 other Washington Mutual customers had been hit this way today, according to the banker I talked with online.

I will have to wait here until my new card comes in the mail. The bank will reimburse me the amount I lost once I sign some paperwork.

I get annoyed when my card is declined because the bank won’t allow so many high cost transations in one day, but I’m appreciating it now–keeps the whole account from being drained.

Sticky Situations

I spy Maya in the California FBesides the numerous red lights I have run in San Fransisco and being towed from Yosemite to Fresno, there have been some interesting situations on this trip that you might enjoy reading about (and that I do not want to forget) (Maya would like to forget):

Some Town near Pismo Beach.
We were looking for Chinese food and pulled up to a curb. Neither one of us noticed the sign post so close to the curb. As I was pulling away (having decided there was no Chinese food here), the bike’s back wheel caught the sign post and began to yank the bike off the rack with a loud scraping noise. I finally stopped (it took awhile as my brain was dull from hunger), stopped traffic, and got out to investigate. The bike seemed unharmed, though we have not ridden it yet; hopefully the frame is not bent. I secured it and decided to pull out. Maya, in her brilliance (hunger or not) decided she should watch the back, so she stood on the curb to direct me. Because I get befuddled with the steering and directions, I locked myself in with the post. I really wanted to take a picture, but the hood was sticking out into traffic; no time for photo ops. The back of the rig was 2 inches from the post nestled beside the bike tire. I had to inch up and back many times to get free of the post. Up the road two blocks was a wonderful Chinese Buffet! No harm done.

I-5, somewhere in LA
I had forgotten to lock the compartment that holds the 30-amp electrical cord, so naturally, the constant jiggling from the worn out freeway shook the door open and the cable loose into thin air. I knew that within a matter of minutes the whole 50 feet of cable could be out gashing car windshields. I had to stop. So I did on a 9-ft-wide shoulder. The traffic was slowed to about 20 MPH so no worries! Of course Maya was petrified and I wasn’t (I had taken my happy pill and did not worry). She was not sure I would stay alive once I left our haven. The door on her side would just allow me out (I haven’t gained too much weight on the trip), so I squeezed out, over the railing, and to the back of the rig. All the drivers (you know who you are) would not stop to let me into the lane to lock the door, except one angel (an RV driver, of course). I cussed a great deal while fighting with the little-lock-that-is-almost-good-for-nothing, and managed to complete the task without causing a wreck, suicide, or infraction.

Escondido, Wild Animal Park
We had just 3 hours in the park, but managed to keep the car lights brightly lit the entire time! Funny how the motor won’t turn over, when you do that. So two sets of angels came by after closing time in the dark to jump the rig. The first one did the trick and we safely traveled to another place to stay for the night.

It’s the transmission all right!

We’ve been in Fresno for 7 days now. On Tuesday we learned that something inside the transmission in the RV broke loose, making a whole in the case and causing the fluid to leak out.

This leads me to these questions…Am I overtaxing the engine/gears? Does the cruise control overtax the transmission? Is this a factory defect (previous versions of this engine have had problems, according to forums I’ve read)? Or did that wacko guy at Candlestick RV Park shoot a hole in it (did I tell you that story)?

In any event, we have found a much nicer motel that takes pets. Apparenlty there is also wireless, though it refused to work for me. I’m in the office writing now, and checking in with students, hooked up via ethernet. And apparently they turn the heat on the hot tub at 5pm. I’m hoping they really will turn it up today. We expect to be here until Wednesday.

OK Back to work…

Tow Truck Technology

Nested hitchGear nobs
Towing a 31-foot motorhome takes skill and heavy-duty equipment, which Above All towing from Mariposa has. They are the only tow company that Coach Net will allow to tow RVs out of Yosemite. The roads are windy and steep, with several overhanging bolders on Hwy 140.

Wireless remote lights
I learned a bit about towing rigs while watching my rig get hooked up for a 90-mile ride down the mountain. The tow truck has a hydrolic extension (the blue thing in the picture at the right) that is nested; two inside of one to make three sections. The wheels of the motorhome are secured onto an additional extention that forms a rectangle for the wheels to sit in. At least 2 sets of heavy straps are wrapped around the wheels and hooked to the extention. Duck tape adds a bit more protection where they are clamped.

Gears on the side of the tow raise and lower the RV to the heights needed to strap wheels and remove the drive shaft. The backup, break, and turn lights are operated by remote control via a strap-on set of lights. Cool–wireless goes tow. The driver has 10 gears and at least two sets of breaks to operate during the drive.

Internet access while traveling (OR, CA)

I’ve been on the road now since Labor Day 2005. Internet access is sometimes more prevelent than I expect, and often quite slow when I’ve paid $$ for it. I’ve been computing for 3 days in San Francisco. Many hours of the day I have extremely slow service, even though I’ve paid $8 per day! Apparently the weather effects service.

I also discovered that satellite connections are quite slow, regardless whether you paid the higher price for “business” access levels. Direcway in SW Oregon and NW California seems to be common. The speed is not worth the cost, however, if you must do a lot of work online.

I find that many RV parks use a third party for the service, which works for me, as it allows me to register, pay, and login from the comfort of my home, rather than go into the rec room at the office/building. However, the companies that run these services often have terrible sites and no way to get support. One exception is WiFiRV. Their service was excellent. Too bad the contracting RV Park was using Direcway to connect. Satellite hardware seems to defeat the purpose of high speed access via the third (or forth party, in this case–though at Richardson Grove in the Redwoods, you have little choice).

I’m at at Best Western in Fresno, while the transmission is being replaced. This chain works with SpeedLinks, which has excllelnt support out of Pheonix (I was on the phone with them for an hour). When hooked up in the motel office with ethernet the connection is very fast and reliable. However, the motel boasts their wireless access. No amount of fiddling has allowed me to access the internet wirelessly, however. I’m using an Apple iBook, which receives a very strong signal, but will not connect to the interent. Repeated attemps to reconfigure my system to fit theirs has not worked. And apparently they’ve reset their equipment twice for me, with no change. Does their system ignore Macs?

The cost of technology

Geez! I just signed up with TMobile so I could connect at Starbucks, Borders, and Kinkos/FedEx around the country.

Now I’ve had to sign up for a local S2S account because none of those three options are available at this park. Ughhh.

Time to cancel Comcast in Corvallis and save some money. I’m checking into the Mobile Kit from Verizon to go with my phone. I’ll see how that works.

More leaky slide out

That storm we weathered while at Chinook Bend put a lot of water on the slide out and consequently leaked into the celing. It’s now got an ugly water stain. Hope the warranty will fix it!

What not to drive over

I drove over the water meter box today and broke the pipe. So, I get to pay a plumber to fix it! What else not to drive over…people, dogs, boards with nails, etc. Also, check your RV regularly for damage; you’d be surprised about the damage the corner of the roof of a house can do when you bump into it, or the branches of a tree. Check gutters, window casings, and the roof. Use touch up paint where you see bare metal.

Slide-out maintenence

Apparently it’s normal to have water pour into the house when moving the slide in after a heavy rain. Hmmm. I’m not too thrilled with this, especially if the carpet doesn’t dry quickly.

I’ll have to remember to squeegy off the top before moving.

I also see that spiders are comingin from the gaps between rubber and metal on the slide. Not sure I can fix that. Perhaps I need to apply baby oil more often to soften the rubber. I haven’t done this yet, but it may be time. We’ve had some hot days, which seems to effect all the plastics, glues, and rubbers outside.

Repel bugs

I’ve read in forums that applying spay kitchen oil, such as Pam, or wiping dryer sheets onto the front of the rig can help make removing bugs much easier.

Hot water!

Just wanted to report that I had my first hot shower in my little house!

I like it mainly because I got all clean, even my hair, and I stayed warm because the space is so small; it holds in the heat.

Just don’t turn on the water heater button when the microwave is on! It’ll break the circuit.

What needs fixin’

Here’s my list for the Service Dept at Johnson RV:

Most important:———————————————

1. Why does the gas line hang down so low under the chassi? Not sure why but it’s been fixed.

2. How do I get hot water for dishes and a shower? I think it goes like this… 15 minutes before I want a shower, turn on the LP Water Heater. This heats faster than the Electric Water heater. DO NOT RUN THE MICROWAVE WHILE THE WH IS ON or the circuit breaker will flip. Supposedly, I could take a shower after 15 minutes of heating up. But, if something comes up and I don’t get to take the shower then, I believe the temp goes down. Or will it stay warm if I switch to electric? Can I leave it on all the time?

3. The locks and keys for every cargo space. The troublesome locks have been adjusted.

4. How do I fill the fresh water tank? Nothing got labeled while in service. So I drew my own diagram. Valves are ON when parallel to the line they are on. So, if I want to fill the fresh water tank, leave the top valve pointing up. Now, if I overfill it, I guess the line leaks. At least now I can pump water, since I can’t use the shore water hose without losing gallons of water. When the tank is empty, I’ll try the hose again. If the Service tech forgot to fix it, then they can buy my gas and rental car to get it fixed!!!

5. Why is the water pump so loud? The new one still sounds like a jackhammer. Is this normal?

6. Why doesn’t the black water tank guage say full when I can see the stuff 8 inches from the toilet bowl? Must be clogged. I’ve switched to disinigrating paper and use lots more water.

7. Can we move the fuse box? Nope, but it can get strengthened and used as a step.

8. Fix the hole in the bedroom floor. Sealed now with wood and calk.

9. Fix three drawers and prepare all drawers for future driving. Tabs were adjusted and stronger brackets were added to all drawers. I vow not to use heavy glass dishes for traveling now and will resort to very unhealthy plastic baking dishes.

10. Replace the dropdown speakers above the cab bed with flat speakers.This cost me way too much and we now have very ugly black speakers that stick out just an inch rather than 5 inches. Too bad they didn’t have any to match the flat white speakers.

Maintence questions————————
1. What’s the best cleaner for the sidewalls and roof?
2. At what pressure do the tires need to be?
3. Do I really have to check the lug nuts before every trip?
4. Can I move the spare tire over to the left? Yes.
5. Why does the sock drawer stick? Tabs need adjusting.
6. What do I do to the slide to maintain it? Baby POWDER (not oil).

New things to do————————–
1. Can we remove the big speaker under the dining seat? Nah; leave it.
2. Can we drill a hole in the side of the panels under the dining seat? Yes. Thank you.
4. Replace some light bulbs with lower wattage for reading. Order them from Jayco. Steve what’s the number?
5. Add cupboard shelf and doors beside refridgerator. What will this cost?
6. Hook up the iPod to the house speakers. Stereo King added a receiver and new CD player that handles an auxilary device. It’s working great.
8. Add mud flap on back from Camping World.
9. Add bug sheild on front from Camping World.
10. What instahot system can I install on the shower if I am unable to get enough hot water for a shower?

Whoa is me

Dumping the tanks was no fun today. I got water all over the bathroom and runnig down into the living room. I think it’s all dried out now.

None of the valves are labeled so I am still trying to remember what’s what. The design of the water system is, imo, lousy! The pump sounds like a jackhammer, the hose to help flush the toilet is a bit too short, and unless you leave the bathroom to look at the control center, you have no idea if you’ve filled the tank.

When I was all done, I decided to fill the tank. Well, then I realized I’d filled it with “dangerous” water. Hope we don’t get sick. Not sure where the the water filter is on our rig; I see a loose one rolling around in the bathroom cabinet; am I supposed to install it or is it an extra?

I’ve been waiting for the service tech to call back for 2 days now. I’ll have to be more aggressive.

Security

Try this when it’s time to set up security for the RV:
http://www.phpkitchen.com/article.php?story=20030706063603763

Electricity

So after 3 days parked with no hookup, I finally ran the battery down; though I don’t know which one. An alarm sounded and the lights dimmed, so I turned everything off and tried the generator, which didn’t work. So I ran the car engine for a few minutes, and voila! The generator started up and so the lights came on.

The extension cord I have would work if I had the muscle to plug it in. Oh well; I bought a new one at Searing Electric and the salesman put the adaptor in for me, which I will not take out (since I can’t get it back in). The cord has a light which helps to see where it is.

I’m starting to get the hang of things. . . the steps can stay out so we don’t use up electricity every time we open the door. One light switch will control 3 in the living room.

Oder Eater

I found some stuff at the pet store that eats oders. The sales staff assured me that it would help eat away fumes from the vinyl in the RV. We’ll see how it does. The pet store uses them to eliminate animal and cat litter smells (it works).

I want to try the kind sold in Art Supply stores that supposedly rids the air of harmful fumes from oil painting.

Articles about WiFi

Why You’ll Really Want WiMax
Frank Rose. Wired Magazine. Forget broadband as you know it – 802.16 is faster, wireless, and works for miles.
Trailer Parks Convert to Wi-Fi
Joanna Glasner, Wired Magazine
Wireless Caravan: Geeks on Parade
Michelle Dilio, Wired Magazine
WiFi Caravan
Viarena

Fun Roads
Many articles

VOIP

Check into voice over IP Broadvoice internet phone and xten.com’s xlite free online phone software. We already have a headset; does it sound good?

First Driving Lesson

Pat Brody, the Johnson RV Sales person I worked with this weekend to purchase my motorhome, gave me my first real driving lesson. He left the lot going South on 82 and stopped on a residential street to switch drivers. We proceeded through lots of traffic and up a hill to test out the overdrive.

Overdrive allows you to easily move up a steep hill when pulling a full load. Then it helps keep you “geared down” and breaked while descending.

I practiced viewing corners and stop sign poles while turning left and right, to see how close I am to curbs. Don’t want to snatch any poles or run over pedestians at corners. I have to turn wide, watch the mirrors, and remember the height of the rig so I don’t scrape the roof with low-haning branches.

I will have to practice judging 11’6″ so I don’t knock off hardware on top, or scratch so badly that I have to premeturely replace the roof.

Maintenance

I’ll be consulting with a local RV Repair shop about how to maintain the RV. There is a lot to be learned from the experts not just the manual.

Driving Schools

To make my trips safer, I want to take an RV driving class. I’ll need to practice turning, backing up, getting out of trouble, etc.

Albany RV Driving School

New and Improved

Moving forward with my dream at a rapid pace now, so decided to learn a bit of xml and rss to help me get my blog for i-journey started in a more serious way. This is the third location for it, and it’s resting place, since I have the domain.

Installing WordPress was a breeze and I finally found a way to add someone else’s news to it. I added Wired Magazine using What are RSS: and Feed: Links? soderlind.no Simple Aggregator.

Later, I’ll see what I want to do to the theme for this site.

Still want to incorporate a moving RV at the top.