Off of the Grid

Posts tagged “fulltiming with kids

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

This is always the hardest part of any remodel I think. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is traditional home based or a home on wheels. At some point in the process, there is a period of time where you are just waiting. You fill your hands with busy work that needs to be done but honestly you are pretty much just waiting.

We cannot move forward until the chassis repairs are made. We have had trouble finding a welder. Turns out, this area is a bit old fashioned about welding and no-one would respond to my calls all last week. Over the weekend, I told Daniel that he would need to call since I wasn’t getting anywhere. It was probably a combination of luck and timing that he made one call and was able to immediately speak to a mobile welder (I sent him the number) who will be coming out later this week. Arg. I am very glad we finally have someone coming out to take a look at the job but so very frustrated that it took Daniel to get someone out here. Regardless, the important fact is we will be able to move forward.

During this slow period Daniel has been treating the steel with rust reformer. We didn’t have any terrible rust but a significant enough amount that we wanted to treat it. With the entire undercarriage protected against water, salt, and grime, our home will last that much longer. Xander and I have been spending time scraping off the old butylated rubber from around the windows. Talk about a thankless task! We don’t want to use a chemical solvent since Xander is helping with this task, so we are doing it the old fashioned way. A flathead screw driver and patience. First you scrape with the screwdriver and get the sticky black stuff to release. Then you just grab it. Turns out, once you get a nice sized ball in your fingers, you use that to ‘grab’ the rest. Lifts right out and leaves the metal as clean as can be. Your fingers are stickier than all get out, but it does the trick and no chemicals needed. Thank heavens for goop hand cleaner!

Next week I should have more news for you but for now, we are just keeping busy. Thanks for stopping by!


Teardown Complete!

YAY! We finally got the last of the old flooring out. Now there is just the frame and the chassis of the trailer. We have some wood cobbled together in-case we need to make the RV street safe but that is off to the side.

WOW! Just had to get that off my chest. OK. Here is what we found.

  • We found both steel beams bent by the passenger side rear dullies. Not sure what would have caused this kind of damage in this spot. Massive over burden? Improperly placed jacks? Accident? These will need to be removed and replaced.
  • Rust – a bunch of rust but fortunately less than we were expecting. You can tell this rig was not an East Coast vehicle. I was terrified we would get everything off only to discover that road salt had eaten away the very base of our home. At that point, we would be game over and homeless. There is a reason I haven’t been sleeping very well at night. The rust that we did find is treatable. PHEW!
  • The back steel beam going across the rear of the RV is slightly bowed up. You can see from the pictures. Again, not sure what would have caused this damage. We know from the people we bought the RV from there was extensive back end damage from them backing into something. I can’t remember what. This damage could have been caused by that. It looks like something we can hammer back into place but I will defer that to the hubby and a body shop.
  • We still have that one steel beam that is broken off the ‘C’ bracket extension. I showed that image previously but will edit the photo to make it a bit more obvious.

Otherwise, things look good! Everything from this point forward is a step towards putting Winnie back together. Stronger, and Better than before. When we are done, we will have a custom brand new 2017 RV.  🙂


Deconstruction almost complete

We have the walls completely off. We disassembled the cab-over yesterday and got all the rotted wood out and exposed the frame. Now we are working on the roof. Yesterday Daniel spent time on the ladder trying to get the roof off from the center out. Sounds weird until you remember that we had a piece of filon tacked up there to patch a leak. So, instead of trying to pull the roof off from one of the sides, we just went to the place in the center where we had already ripped and cut the worst parts of the damage out. Daniel just pulled off that filon strip and got to work on the rest of the roof. Xander and I spent some time picking up the small pieces of insulation off the ground. Our friends are being so incredibly awesome to let us work here, I am certainly not going to pollute their property! We have enough debris for another dump run so we will get that done today or tomorrow. Then we will remove the floor, and check the aluminum sheet on the bottom of the bed and replace the wood that we see that is rotted down there. Bit worried we will have to replace that sheet since aluminum is pricey!

You have to keep a sense of humor in all this, so Daniel has been having some fun with Gimp and editing our progress photos. Check ’em out!

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Here are in-progress photos of the rig, the frame and where are at with this project.

Here are our ‘To-Do’ tasks for the day:

  1. Go talk to more service shops about the frame and our ideas. We don’t think we will need to do any additional extending to the frame with out 3′ addition based on our discovery of the ‘C’ bracket extension already there but we want to ask as many shops as we can before building.
  2. Start calling welding shops and metal supply shops
  3. Do the drafting to get the placement of the changes to the frame we need, and finalize the floor plan with the measurements.
  4. Get to dump (maybe – if we have time)
  5. Remove more of roof this evening and get that back section that is hanging removed.

There ya go! We will keep you posted. Would love to hear your comments – other than ‘You’re Crazy!’ – we already know that. LOL!


And so it begins…

Ok. We have made it to our construction destination – now it’s time to break everything down. These are our goals in breakdown:

  1. Take a good look at the metal frame that is supposed to exist and make sure it is in good condition. We plan to stabilize/repair/or replace what we need to.
  2. Start from scratch so we can build what we want. Ripping the walls and ceiling off will give us a better idea of the space we have to work with.
  3. Finalize our floorplan based on what we find and what we want.

Our needs for living in Winnie long-term are as follows:

  • Have space to live and not feel like we are living in 176sqft of space.
  • Have room for Daniel to work.
  • Have homeschool room.
  • Have a usable, workable kitchen that will support our love of baking and visiting.
  • Have room for Xan to play and mom to craft.

BIG goals considering our space! However, we think we can do it. It took us about two days to get the RV empty.  I have a large tent that I purchased last Fall. We set that up and discovered in the manual that the tent has an interior that is 200sqft. That is more space than our RV has! Needless to say, everything we had to move easily fit into the tent. I posted pictures of that earlier.

We started breakdown about four days ago and it’s going well. The frame is MUCH less substantial than we were expecting. Kinda scary when you REALLY see what is between you and the rest of the world. Not much. However, I am supremely impressed by Winnebago’s wallpaper. What is that stuff? While the luan wood broke easily, that wallpaper held on so tightly I am convinced it was part of the construction design to keep everything held together. Thus far we have one whole wall removed and the back is unattached. The filon on the back wall extends onto the roof so although the back is unattached, it’s still dangling there until we disconnect the roof. We have been doing this as a family affair and I am so proud of Xan. He knows how to use a power screwdriver like a pro, uses his own hammer (it’s real) to help break down the walls and is our pro screw picker-upper (we are using this cool long magnet thing on a pole). I tell him often, we couldn’t do this without his help and input.

We each stated what we really wanted in the rig.

  • Xan wants a gypsy pull down bed, and he wants Internet antennae on the roof. He says they will make us look like a robot transformer.
  • Daniel wants some private office space so he can close himself off if he needs to and he wants a real kitchen where he has the counterspace needed to really cook!
  • Paula (me) really wants to add tile to our design in the bathroom and a bathtub, no matter how small. (I think this has more to do with the fact that Xander has some cool Playmobile and Octonaut bath toys that I just can’t bear to give away.)

For Xan’s bed, we have found the space and can reinforce the wall to make sure his gypsy pull down bunk bed is as he wants. I mapped out the painted interior of the bed and gave him a few designs on how we can paint it (gypsy beds are always very decorated) so he is pretty stoked.

We decided to add an additional 3′ onto the back of our RV. Our Minnie is a rare, diesel 28′. We have heard so many people say that it can’t possibly be a diesel and that Winnebago didn’t make a 28′ rig. Well, they did and we have one. But – it gave us the idea. Since most of the longer Minnie Winnie’s are 31′ – why not just extend ours? Voila! Daniel will have a hidden room at the back of the RV 3’L x 7 3/4″ W where we have extended the rig. In the back, there will be a floor to ceiling cabinet to help stabilize the RV. There will be two other floor to ceiling items that will form a triangle in the RV to provide equal support to the frame as a whole. His desk will be behind the wall of the shower. We will add a small opening window to the space so he has some airflow and natural light. This fulfills his major need to be able to work separate from the family. We have designed our kitchen to have a nice work space by the stove and convection over, with the refrigerator near-by and a place for his spices. It will be an ‘L’ shape with an extendable counter on one side and he wants a double sink where before we had a single. We will use the traditional RV design where we have a cover for the sinks to turn the space into workable counter space.

The bathroom and my vision. In a small space, every opportunity to be alone is a treasure. The bathroom is one of those places where you can satisfy a bodily function AND get some alone time. In our old bathroom, it was so small, it was hard to use, impossible to relax in and dark. YUCK! In our remodel, we will have a real bathroom. How are we planning to do this? We are rotating the toilet so it sits at an angle on a raised platform (think squatty potty). We have to have the platform to get over the wheel well. Before, only the toilet was raised so high your legs would dangle cutting off circulation to your feet and was very uncomfortable. You were not encouraged to linger. The solution, a nice rounded platform to support the height of the angled toilet and our knees will no longer be hitting the door as we sit, and our legs won’t be dangling anymore. Our knees will be at the appropriate height for comfort. There will be a nice sized small vanity where I can put bathroom things. Our hand hammered copper sink will go there. This was something from the original time we remodeled. Then, the shower/tub. Originally I was thinking a walk in shower where we tile the floor and a wee bit up the wall. They frown on tile in a rig because they don’t think the tile will adhere to the wall with all the driving vibrations and bumps. However, I am seeing tile on counter-tops on newer models so we are going for it! We will tile the floor of the walk in shower and treat the heck out of the walls to ensure they remain waterproof in as many ways as we can find.

I have been brainstorming different ways to get a tub of any shape in there until I did the math. Originally I was thinking we could extend the height of the shower rim to something a bit bigger. Maybe 8″ to 12″ high? This wouldn’t be a soaking tub but would be enough for a kid to play, to wash a dog or rinse something out. Weight is always a concern. The volume of our walk in shower if we go to the full foot in height for a rim would be 12 cubic feet which works out to about 89 gallons of water. That’s 742 lbs. And that’s just the water. Not the weight of the tile, person, supports, etc., etc., etc..   Hummm… Nope!  No tub for us! I HAVE found another person who tiled their shower and kept the weight down by using alternative materials. I was very excited to find that! So I can have my tiled shower, just no tub.

Here is a rough – not perfectly to scale floorplan. We need to go out and measure everything again so I can start the different view plans and we can put in the electrical and plumping details. Under the master bed we are building a lazy susan dresser thing where our clothes will go. The cabinet you see in the back is a floor to ceiling as is the pantry you see by the door and there will be a cabinet thing on top of the bookcases.

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Looks like we will be able to get almost all of our ‘WANTS’ in this remodel. We have started breaking her down. We have the back wall disconnected and dangling by the skin. One whole side is off and we are almost ready to pull off the other. We have discovered how little of a frame there is which is a bit disconcerting and have plans to beef it up a bit. Check out the pictures and let us know your thoughts.

Here is a quick video of Daniel driving Winnie to bed. She has a nice covered shelter that she goes into. Night Winnie! More pictures to come and everything is down. Woo-Hoo!

Goodnight Winnie!


Playing on the CA Coast :-)

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We had a wonderful time visiting my mother in Monterey. Lots of time at the beach of course and lots of wonderful time visiting. My sister also lives in Monterey and Xan worships her! Just mention that we are going to see Auntie Janie and he will start to squeal, hop around with a big smile on his face and say, “When? Really?! When?” A day with Auntie Janie means kayaking in the bay, or fishing on the wharf just like the real fisherman. No wonder he gets so excited. LOL!

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We had a great week in Monterey. For our journey to Spokane, WA we are taking the 101/1. Going over the Golden Gate bridge is always fun. It’s so pretty all lit up at night! We decided to boondock for most of the trip up to Washington. There are many places to stop by the side of the road, especially on Hwy 1/101. The trip itself went really well. We allotted four days to get to Spokane. Highlights of our trip include stopping for several hours at Seaglass Beach. We had a lot of fun playing in tide pools.

Going through the Redwoods are always a must when heading up the California Coast. We stopped and explored a bit. As always, the Redwoods are awesome, impressive, humbling, otherworldly and so much more than can ever be captured by word or film.

Going up the coast is like driving down memory lane. I spent 20+ years in Washington State raising my first two kids. I have done this trip between California and Washington so many times, it’s beyond count. My daughter and I used to make speed runs from Bothell, WA to mom’s house. We would do it in a day. Did you know you can get from WA to the Central Coast in about 21 hours as long as you only stop for gas? I wouldn’t advise it, but it can be done and I used to do it often. I love taking Highway 199 between Grant’s Pass & Crescent City. It takes forever, and the road is super windy but I love driving into the Redwoods this way. We found some fellow RVers at a rest stop stranded right on the Oregon border. They had a flat tire and there was zero signal for them to use to call for help. Fortunately they were Good Sam members and after taking down their information, I was able to call for help. They are new to fulltiming it and I reassured them to always ask for help from a fellow RVer if they need it. We have all been there so generally we will go out of our way for each other.

We drove down the gorge between Oregon and Washington on Hwy 84. It’s a beautiful drive. The landscape goes from gorgeous and green to desert dry.  The river runs with barges, boats, parasailing, and dams – I counted at least four. We stopped to hike by Multnomah Falls and to play in the river beneath. We went to visit the Washington State version of Stonehenge; a WWI and WWII memorial for the young men of the community who served and died in the wars. It’s a special place that I used to visit at least once a year.

We arrived at our friends house in-time for dinner. Now comes the hard part. The remodel must begin. We have had a great journey thus far and we look forward to many adventures in the future. This time in our brand new remade home! Look out for updates on how the remodel is doing. I can’t wait to post!


Austin Bound!

Hi All, when last we visited, Daniel, Xan and I were frantically trying to get out of Kansas and away from the storms. We made it successfully into Texas and had stopped in exhaustion at a rest stop off the side of the road. We woke-up refreshed only to find out that we had stopped at what is most probably the most disgusting rest stop in the entire state of Texas. There was more garbage than earth visible and looked like we had parked next to a landfill. ACK! We also discovered that we had a low front tire in the rig. The Adventures-Never-Stop when you live in a moving house!

I have become very ‘Zen’ about life when such things happen. Turns out we are always OK; help is just around the corner. Sure enough, we discovered we were only 4 miles away from Canadian, Texas. It was Memorial Day Weekend and I was concerned that everything would be closed, but kept the faith that the Universe always provides. It might challenge you as it does so, but it always provides.

We rapidly discovered that the town of Canadian cut their air pressure lines for some reason a couple years ago. There is not an air hose in the entire town unless it is in a tire or an automotive shop. Weird! Every little town has its idiosyncrasies though and you just have to roll with them. Since it was Sunday of Memorial Weekend, everything was of course – closed. Having exhausted our ability to find a place where we could put air in our tire, we decided to get some breakfast and call roadside assistance when we were done. We were starving and quickly found a place to eat. Close to the entrance of town, Canadian Restaurant was selected. A nice place, right on 2nd, locally owned and operated. They were kind enough to serve us a nice home-cooked breakfast even though they were switching over to lunch. After a delicious breakfast, I was talking to the owner while we were cashing out. I explained what happened and what we were looking for. She said, “Well, let me call my brother-in-law. He has a shop here, he should be able to help you.” Sure enough, he met us at his shop which was only a block away (visible from Canadian Restaurant). Canadian Auto Repair is the name of his business. I could have sworn I got a business card but for the life of me, I can’t find it and can’t remember this wonderful gentleman’s name. Suffice it to say, he was our hero for interrupting his holiday, opening up his shop and filling our tire so we could get on the road. See?! The universe always provides.  🙂 And if you are ever in Canadian, Texas, swing by and have a meal at Canadian Restaurant. Need your vehicle worked on? Call Canadian Auto Repair and let them know we said “Hi!”.

The rest of our drive down to Austin was thankfully event free.

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Beautiful weather and smooth driving.

We ended up getting to Austin pretty late. That just seems to be the way we roll. We discovered the RV park where we had reservations only had 2 toilets/showers for 164 slots and we were about as far away from the restrooms as you could possibly be. Obviously that was not going to work so we spent our first night in the Austin area camped out at the closest rest stop with all the semi’s. There was a nice breeze blowing, so even though we didn’t have power, we had a nice night of sleep.

The next day we explored our options for staying a week. We ended up staying at the KOA Leander campground. It was just the treat we needed. They put us close to the restrooms, there was a sea-water pool and hot-tub, nice laundry rooms, restrooms, playground, outdoor meeting area, fire pit and a great dog run! We drove up, parked and relaxed. We got to visit with our adult kids, visit our niece and her family, and best of all – got to steal our granddaughter for several days!

I didn’t get a picture of Meg (our daughter) but did of Sean.

 

96bdfdd4-2064-49e2-927c-96d7dd3be5e4  Love the wild curly hair. LOL!

Turns out that tire that was low back in Canadian, needed to be replaced after all. Two new tires later (thank you Meghan!) we were on the road, this time headed to Tulsa, OK so I could attend the Usborne Books & More convention. Did I mention I am a rep? I LOVE BOOKS!  More about that on our Tulsa, OK post.


There’s no place like Kansas…

Sometimes I think my life is a book that is being written by some balding guy in a dark smokey room somewhere. Events happen and I look back and see how perhaps if I looked at things just a bit more distantly, I would see the foreshadowing. Every good book has foreshadowing.

A few days before we left Ogallala, NE we introduced the movie, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ to Xander. It took us two days to watch it – I always forget how long it is. Anyway, Xander loved it! FORESHADOWING! We decided to head South first before heading North. I am an Usborne Books & More representative and am attending the convention this year in Tulsa, OK. I had planned on flying in but we were already halfway there. Why not just drive down, camp out and then head North? I called my friend who will be hosting us while we do this crazy remodel and she was cool with the delay so we made the decision. South we go! It saved the cost of a last minute airline ticket and my hotel costs. Plus, since we had time to kill before the convention, we could visit our adult kids in Austin! SCORE!

Our day of departure was a bit soggy. The rain had come back. Nothing serious, but annoying when you are trying to pack things up. I think it is part of that rule book.

  • 1 – If you wash your car, it will rain.
  • 2 – If you go camping, you will put your tent up in the rain.
  • 3 – When you break down your tent, it will rain.

etc, etc, etc…

I was trying to do laundry before our check-out time so had gotten up at what I consider the crack of dawn (around 8) and run out to get started. We only had two loads so I wasn’t worried about it, the park has two machines. Well, the machines were much smaller than I was anticipating so my two loads became four. Of course the last load I washed were the sheets, so I was chomping at the bit for the dryer to complete so we could leave. Daniel ended up getting distracted be the extra time he had and started fidgeting. Never a good thing. Here I was, pushing for us to get on the road and Daniel hadn’t made the cab ready to move and was, in my eyes at least – fidgeting. My brain was exploding. “Let’s Go!” I kept saying. Then he got frustrated because of course what he was doing was important and necessary, it just wasn’t what I wanted him to be doing. Xander had been told to go get in his seat so many times, he was just tuning us out and playing so that drove me crazy. Needless to say, it was not a smooth departure. Finally, we waived good-bye to our new friends and got on the road. I think it was something like 1.

All was well. I had our route planned out, our reservations made and new exactly where we were going. Between puppy potty stops and kid movement stops we were making no time. I was just hoping to get to our RV park before dark at that point. We were leaving Oakley, KS when I noticed Daniel had pulled over in the rig. “I felt something ‘POP'” he said, “We need to find someplace to stop so I can check it out. Is there an open autoparts store around here?”

AAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!

Here we were, driving in rural Kansas on Memorial Weekend and it’s after 6. My response was something like, “Uuuuhhh, no.” DUH! There was a campground sign I had noticed a mile or so back and after verifying that at least there were a few auto shops in town, we limped to the RV Park I had found and paid for the night. Our friend the Internet said that some of the shops would be open the next day so we crossed our fingers and got settled.

The woman who took my call when I asked if they had space for us was a very matter-of-fact people. Didn’t sound like she took any nonsense. I was as specific as I could be in answering her questions. “Do you have RV spaces?” I asked?

“We are a campground aren’t we?” was her reply.

“Not all campgrounds accept, RV’s but I am happy to hear that you do! Do you have space for a 28′ Minnie Winnie for tonight?” I asked?

“How many toads?” she asked, RV lingo for are you towing anything.

“None.” was my reply. We don’t, we aren’t towing anything. RV’s with a tow need a longer slip or sometimes a pull-through spot. We get into more places because we are small and don’t need a pull-through. We can back in if needed.

When we got to the park, she saw the van and said dryly, “I thought you said ‘No Toads!’.”

“We don’t. I drive the van.”

“So that’s 2 vehicles then!”

“Uhhh, ya.”

She went on to explain the particulars of the park, of which there were many. This looks like a lot of fun to stay a while – no really! I am being serious! The store has over 700 DVD’s you can borrow for free and was well stocked. There is a big dog park, a great view of green grassy fields and pretty impressive sky, a hot tub, horse-shoes, a pizza place, a pub, and more features I am forgetting. One of the important things she informed me about was the following, “If at any time, we are experiencing a storm and you don’t feel safe, go to the Men’s Room. If you have dogs that you are bringing with you, you go into the Women’s Room.”

FORESHADOWING!

We went over to the pub for dinner. Jack’s Pub serves just about everything and it’s all made on-site from scratch. The prices are super reasonable and the food was great! Nice staff and Jack himself stopped by to see how things were. They import blue crap and fresh caught fish from the Atlantic. Jack prepares the fish and ships it to Denver to specific restaurants. There is escargot from a specialty farm in France, and you can have a burger that is angus, Kobe beef, elk or buffalo! Of course they also have basic stuff as well – all handmade onsite. Pretty cool! The waitress was telling us about how they had a tornado warning the night before. “It was pretty exciting!” she said. “We all had to go to the shelter.”

We had a wonderful dinner and left for the rig in high spirits. We felt like if nothing else, we had an awesome place to spend some time if the repairs to Winnie were intensive. The town looked large enough that we would be able to find the parts we needed and a service place. We got Xanman ready for bed as the storm started and went through our regular routine. The wind started really picking up and were prepped to enjoy a nice storm.

By the time the wind really started, I was in my nightgown and in bed with Xander. The RV was rocking so violently I looked at Daniel and asked him if our rig was heavy enough to stay upright. Right after I asked that, we noticed that the people in the RV next to us were heading for the bathrooms. Then the hail started. Daniel had pulled up the radar on his phone and stated flatly, “We need to get out of here.” Then the hail started.

I have NEVER heard such hail, and I’m from Colorado where hail damage is a normal part of living there. It sounded like we were being shot at. A barrage of unrelenting shots hitting the RV from all angles. Xander’s hands were covering his ears and he looked at me wondering if he should be really scared. I was getting out of bed and pulling him down to me. Daniel was getting the dogs hooked up. We were yelling at each other because there was no other way to be heard in the noise. We grabbed whatever jackets were close and opened the door. The dogs did not want to leave the rig and had to be pushed out the door. I pulled Xan as close to my body as I could and lifted a hand to protect my face, shielding his with my body and coat, pushing the dogs in front of me. Instantly we were drenched with the rain pouring down, hail battering at every exposed part of the body. We ran. We made it safely to the women’s room, the rest of the park’s patrons safely ensconced in the men’s room. We went to the deepest part of the bathroom and huddled taking a moment to gather our thoughts and wonder what was next. We were soaking wet, dripping onto the tile floor. Turns out I did a pretty good job of protecting Xander, only his pants and shoes were wet. His head and body were dry – ‘Mommy Shield to the Rescue!’ We found chairs and pulled them close. It wasn’t until we had been sitting a while that the shivers started and the processing began. Daniel was glued to his phone watching as the storm intensified. “It’s tornadic.” he said quietly. We stayed gathered together, the pups at our feet and listened to the storm. After a while, the sound seemed to calm. Daniel announced he would go ‘next-door’ to the men’s room and see what was up with the other campers. He came back shortly saying we needed to stay put. The tornado warning was still in effect. He made a quick and reckless run to the RV to fetch a blanket. The rain was not as heavy he reported. More like a normal storm would be. We stripped the little guy and turned him into boy burrito. I snuggled into my coat and tried to squeeze as much as the water out of my nightgown. Xander and I had long since taken off our shoes. They were so full of water, they squished with every movement. I got paper towels and wiped off the pups and dried them as well as I was able. Then went to work on drying the floor some. We had puddles everywhere from when we ran in. Then we waited. Daniel giving periodic updates from his phone, Xander and I telling stories and talking. Anything to keep him feeling as safe and secure as possible under the circumstances. I joked with him that he would have some major street cred with is friends after this storm, and a pretty awesome story to tell. But mostly, we snuggled. We were ready to head back to the rig when we were informed another two storm cells were headed our way so we should sit tight. OK.

At 3:00am, we finally went back out to the RV. We discovered a nice waterfall in the center dripping on our brand new floor. Daniels ceiling patch held but water was coming in from somewhere on the roof. Honestly I was not surprised. That hail was so incredible, I was expecting the entire roof to be Swiss cheese. We found buckets to put under the leaks for the rest of the morning (Well, at least where the leaks were dripping), wiped up the water off the floor, got dry clothes on and went to sleep. Check out time was at 11 after all.

The next dawned with a dramatic overcast sky. Just enough sun peeking through to give drama to the clouds. The wind was still blowing but nothing like the night before. We walked around Winnie and Princess to inspect any damage. Princess appeared to be OK but now has these weird spots where somehow the paint was lifted off. You can see the paint kinda sagging below these spots and then nothing (no paint) in the center. Winnie’s damage assessment would have to wait until we could find a ladder and get to the roof. One of the owners told Daniel that all the paint had been stripped from the back exterior wall of Jack’s Pub. Said it looked like it had been sand blasted….

We took off and got the parts we thought we needed for the engine and were directed to a mechanic that everyone raved about. We drove to his shop only to discover that the shop was closed for the weekend because of the holiday. We were told there was a shop that is always open, holiday or not but it was about 10 miles away. We had no choice – we went.

Turns out the shop was in Grainfield, KS. A nice little town that likes to keep things simple. There is one bank, appropriately named ‘Bank’, a small market, a post office, a VFW hall, a few shops (all closed of course) and Jack’s Auto Repair and Tow/NAPA Auto. Jack told us he could fit us in later that day so honestly, I napped in the van. Daniel and Xan were probably doing the same in the rig. We were exhausted. When it was time for the repair, I went into the shop to ask if they had a restroom I could use. “Nope, out here in the country, we go outside.” said the woman behind the counter dryly. Sleep exhaustion had me looking at her stupidly trying to make sense of her words.

Her co-worker seeing my face busted out laughing, “She’s only kidding, it’s back here.” He went off still chuckling and shaking his head while I stared after him not sure if I should move or not.

“Do I follow?” I asked?

She was not done teasing me, as she responded, “No.” Then seeing my face try to process this answer, started laughing herself. “Yes! Yes! Come-on back here. You go through that door and it’s on the right.” She all but pushed me towards the room, which at that point I wasn’t sure I wanted to use. I was too tired for humor and would probably burst out into tears if there was another practical joke in store for me. Turns out all was good. It was just a restroom.

We never sit around when we have time to spend in a place. You won’t see us hanging out in waiting rooms, or twiddling our thumbs on a bench. We took off to explore. We found a wonderful festival going on. The annual BBQ & Pulled Pork contest. There was music, food vendors you could vote for, a kiddie train to ride, photo ops, bag toss games set up and even horseshoes. This park also boasted one of the best equipt playgrounds I have seen. This was awesome! The train was free so once Xander found out, he happily hopped on and settled himself to ride as long as the driver would let him. This train was hysterical! The driver simply kept driving following the instructions of the kids or any parent who walked by. Kids were draped everywhere. Sitting on the edges, in-between the cars, hopping on and off as whim dictated. Dirty smiling faces from melting snow cones looked happily at one another and the world around them. It was awesome! “SPIN! SPIN!” the kids were cry – the driver would head over to the basketball court where they players would just move aside, no questions asked while the train gently spun to the squeals of delighted children. Through the park, in-between the trees, around the playground went the train stopping and starting at the direction of the kids. “Stop! I dropped my shoe!” was one cry and the driver obligingly stopped so the little girl could hop off to get her flip-flop and then hop back on. Xander was in heaven.

Daniel walking around in his kilt made quite the impression. You can imagine not many residents in this small town have seen a man wearing a Utilikilt. Of course I had to get him a t-shirt boasting this years theme for the event. “I like Pig Butts!” with of course a pig bottom filling the body of the shirt.

Jack was able to get the rig fixed-up by the end of the day. He also checked our tire inflation and installed a new tire stem for one of the duallys that was slowly loosing air. His prices were beyond reasonable and the town and people were great! He even let Daniel borrow a ladder so he could check out the hail damage on the roof. Some history: when we first bought the rig, there was a rack up there. We took it off when we remodeled the first time which left screw holes in the sections of the roof that we didn’t replace. We put flashing tape over those holes to keep the roof water safe. That tape has lasted through 6 Tucson summers and monsoons, and 2 years of storms in Colorado Springs. The hail chewed through it like cotton candy. Just shredded it. Hence the waterfall inside. Daniel went up there with more tape. Not much else we can do at this point. We are headed North to replace the roof so anything more extensive is just a waste. Hopefully we won’t run into any more tornadoes.

We got on the road late – after 5 and our sole goal was to get the heck out of Kansas and into Texas. Of course we ran into more storms. In Liberal, KS we had to stop and wait for the storms ahead of us to clear. The wind was getting strong enough that it wasn’t really safe to drive the rig. Nothing like the night before but better safe than sorry! We got some dinner and hung out until Daniel gave that all clear according to radar. We headed out of town and after a few miles noticed an emergency vehicle ahead with it’s lights flashing. Wondering what was up we approached slowly. Mind you, it’s pitch black outside. Late at night and overcast with thick storm clouds. We didn’t really have that far to go but keep having to pull over because of wind and storm activity ahead of us. This short drive was taking forever! Lightening was flashing all around us in the distance and we just wanted to be out of Kansas already and to our stop. The camp was already paid for – we just needed to get to it. Turns out the emergency vehicle was there empty. Our side of the highway was covered in water with no way to see how deep. We had to wait for clear spots in on-coming traffic to go around. Finally, about an hour from our destination for the night, we had to stop. We were so tired. Fortunately Texas has 9 million ‘rest’ stops. They don’t have any amenities but they are spaces for you to pull over and at least get some rest.

Pull over we did. We walked the dogs, and went to bed.

Needless to say Kansas was exciting. They say peak tornado season is from May to July. Of course we had to cross during peak season! Note to self, stay away from tornado alley! I am including some of the pictures from Daniel’s iphone with the storm alerts. Pretty intense! Headed to bed for now but will continue our journey later! Take care!