“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Friday, August 06, 2021

Welcome!

You might expect to see our Off-the-Grid blog site when visiting, but since we've sold the cabin property, that is no longer the default site. Temporarily, you've been redirected to Rick's old "Ramblings" blog site, which has not been updated in several years. Over the next few months, we'll figure out if and how we want to continue blogging, and this site will likely change to a new site that follows our ongoing adventures!

Stay tuned!

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Posted under: Stuff You Gotta Know! • by Rick on 08/06/2021 at 04:52 AM
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Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Dog Show

We recently took the RV, three dogs, one cat, and ourselves to a dog show in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The good news is that Destin won major points on the first two days of the three day show and finished his championship. The bad news is that it was not the easiest dog show we’ve attended.

It all started the day before we were to leave. We’d pulled the trailer to the house and parked it in front while we cleaned and provisioned it. A quick run to Walmart was necessary, and on our way home the truck sort of died with a “Powertrain Fault” warning. “Call your dealership”, it said on the dashboard control panel.

The truck was running, but very rough. And, I had no control over the truck’s speed. All I could do was pull off the road and call the dealership. 

Upon explaining the error on the dashboard display, I learned that the problem could be any one of a myriad of things including some kind of spurious error. I am under the powertrain warranty, so had the option of calling Ford Roadside Assistance for a tow to the dealer. But, they could not look into the problem for several days, and we had all three dogs with us making the logistics challenging. I hoped that some combination of a tow truck, Uber, and the Suburban parked at home would get us all where we needed to be. But, what about the dog show?

After getting off the phone, I turned off the truck. Then restarted it. And, it ran fine. Great. We drove home and convinced ourselves it was one of those spurious error things and we’d be okay to tow the trailer 250 miles to Nebraska (and back).

The next day, we hooked up to the trailer and took off for a garage in Greeley where we can get nitrogen for the trailer tires. Yeah, they have nitrogen instead of regular air in them. That is supposed to give us a smoother, safer ride with less variation in pressure due to temperature and a bunch of other advantages. Anyway, about 3 miles up the road the truck threw another powertrain fault. This time on a narrow road with no shoulder. I turned on the emergency flashers, coasted to a stop, turned the truck off and then restarted it. All was fine again. With very shaky confidence we continued on our trip.

The service tech who added nitrogen to the tires said pretty much the same thing as the dealership. Could be any of a large number of things. Could be a spurious error. Probably not catastrophic since we can recover by restarting the truck. 

What the heck. We drove to Scottsbluff.

The trip was not fun. The wind was really blowing hard. Every time we had a truck pass us in the opposite direction my side-view mirror got pushed back and I’d roll down the window to push it back into position. It was cold. We has some show flurries off and on. But, we made it to the Gearing, NE city RV park (which is actually very, very nice). We dropped the trailer and hooked up utilities then drove to the show site 12 miles away in Mitchell to set up for the dog show.

As we prepared a meal that evening, we discovered that despite parking on a concrete slab that I had assumed was level, the trailer actually tilted to the starboard side very significantly. I almost fell down a couple of times just walking through the trailer. Cooking oil pooled in the back of the pan. Doors would not stay open. But, it was too much trouble to try to hook up and level the RV now, so we lived with it.

It was cold overnight. The heater in the RV just can’t keep up with below freezing temperatures. The RV leaks a lot, it was not built for winter camping, and the heater runs continuously trying to keep up. And, the next morning we went to take showers and water hookups were frozen. No showers. But, we did have some coffee and then took off for the dog show.

Destin won Best of Winners adding 4 points and another major to his wins. 

After we got back to the trailer, I went to Home Depot and got some heat tape and duct tape to wrap around the water faucet. I also got a small electric room heater at Walmart to supplement the RV heater. And, before going to bed I disconnected the water hose and drained it.

We had a nice dinner at a steak house with dog show colleagues, and then went to bed.

Sometime overnight we ran out of propane and heater stopped working. It was chilly the next morning, but we were able to hook up the water and take a shower. (I had the hot water heater working off electricity). The small electric room heater had helped a lot overnight, but gave up and stopped working that morning. We have two propane tanks, so I switched over to a full one.

We went the show, frustrated at all the problems but still somewhat refreshed. Destin won Best of Winners adding 3 points and another major to his wins. Enough to earn him his Championship!

On the way home we returned the electric room heater and got another just like it. 

Dinner was again with our dog show colleagues at a somewhat gourmet restaurant where we drank expensive wine, ate great food, and laughed until it hurt.

Then, it started snowing.

Again, I disconnected the water hose. And with both heaters running overnight we stayed pretty comfortable. 

We were due at the show site early, so we took off after exercising the dogs. Bella just stayed in the trailer since she does not enjoy dog shows. But, we took Natalie all days in order to get her acquainted with the process.

We showed Destin as a new champion in the breed competition, but he was not on his best show behavior (after all, Dad was showing his brother right behind him in line and that was very confusing to him), and he did not do anything.

When we got back to the trailer we had to disconnect and pack up everything as well as scrape snow off the trailer. But, the sun was peaking through the clouds and temperature was slowly climbing. The roads were in good shape and at noon we took off for home. 

The trip back was mostly uneventful. No wind, no rain, no snow. And the mirror only got displaced once. But, as we approached the location where the truck had died with the powertrain fault three days earlier, it happened again! Very weird. Restarting the truck worked and we got home okay.

So, while there were many problems, including dog throw up and diarrhea, I’ve chosen not to go into in detail, we had a productive trip that was worth all the hassle since Destin came away as a Champion.

Tags:  dogstraveldestin
Posted under: Dog StuffTravel • by Rick on 04/04/2018 at 03:36 PM
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Tuesday, April 03, 2018

I’m Back

I have not posted to this blog in about 2 years as Lynne and I explored an “off the grid” life. We are now back on the grid and living in Northern Colorado. So, our daily lives have changed dramatically and I’ll get back to sharing my ramblings on this blog. Nothing to say beyond that right now. Actually, this is more of a test to see if everything is working!

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Posted under: Stuff You Gotta Know! • by Rick on 04/03/2018 at 09:16 AM
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Saturday, April 30, 2016

I am “Retired”

I've made the announcement over on Off the Grid, but thought I should record the momentous date on my personal blog, too. Yesterday was my last day at work. I formally retire on 13 May, but have taken two weeks of vacation to stay at home and take care of the final preparations for the move to the cabin in Colorado.

It is a big deal. One's day of "retirement" is up there when it comes to life events. Schedules change, priorities change, attitudes change. As one friend said, "you go from W2 to 1099". Something to think about. 

I'll miss the people at work, the products, and the many, many friends I've made over the years. Thanks to all who have supported and helped me!

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Posted under: Stuff You Gotta Know! • by Rick on 04/30/2016 at 05:48 AM
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Friday, February 19, 2016

Pileated Woodpecker

The other day, Lynne published some photos of a beautiful Pileated Woodpecker that was busy in our back yard. I was envious that I did not see him. But, a couple of days later he showed up again and I got a nice photo and a couple of short videos.

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Posted under: Stuff You Gotta Know! • by Rick on 02/19/2016 at 03:04 PM
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