Closing Up The Trailer

Earlier this month, we had to sadly close the trailer up. The trailer park where we have the camper closes for the season on the long weekend in October.  I’ve never winterized a trailer before, and the park staff will do it for a fee of about $60.00, but it seems to me that the major issue is to ensure most of the water is out of the lines.  After a discussion with an acquaintance, I decided that I would try to save the 60 bucks. Hopefully come spring, the trailer plumbing will be fine, there will be no mice nests, and everything will be ready for us to almost move back in and enjoy the camper next spring and summer.

I know that a lot of RV owners run anti-freeze through all of the water hoses in their RV’s, but I don’t really get that.  I know water freezes, and when it does, it expands and can damage plumbing. But, I don’t see how a small amount of water left in the lines will cause damage, and why anti-freeze is really required.  If there is no pressure on the lines, and the water is drained as much as it will drain, then there should be plenty of room for any expansion for any of the small amount of drops that might still be in the hoses.

So that’s what we did – we drained the water from the bottom where the water source is attached.  As well, we opened the hot water heater and let the water drain out of that. As a precaution, all of the faucets were left open too.

I did pour anti-freeze down the sink and bathroom drains as well as the toilet though. I also read that putting vegetable or peanut oil into the toilet is helpful and keeps everything lubricated.

As far as mice are concerned, we found a couple of holes where they might get in and sealed them up. Then, on the advice of another experienced RV owner, we spread bounce dryer sheets around the floor, especially in areas where mice still might find a way in. Apparently, bounce fabric softener dryer sheets repel mice. I’m not sure how they do that and don’t even really know that it’s a fact that mice will be repelled, but for the price of a small box of bounce sheets, I thought we may as well give it a try.

All the food was removed from the  trailer, and we brought back to our apartment all the linens and sleeping bags. No point in giving any mice that do enter an opportunity to chew on our sheets and sleeping bags to create a warm nest.

It took a little longer than we thought it would to get it all what we hope is ready for the winter.  Over the course of the winter, we’ll probably drive up and then walk in to inspect the trailer and make sure everything is fine.

We’re going to miss it! I’m sure there are going to be some cold days in February when we’ll have warm memories of all those evenings around the campfire. We’ll be missing it very much! But at the same time, we’ll be looking forward to more of the same come May 2011.

What do you do to winterize your RV?

We Got Into A Fight!

It’s not the normal activity around a campfire, but it was still fun! It wasn’t exactly a “fight,” more of a bit of a bonding moment. It seems women and mothers just don’t understand how men can find it “fun” to have a good wrestle every so often.

C.’s 20 year old son K. visited us for a week, and we took him up to the trailer. I enjoy K.’s company – he’s a great kid and we’ve shared a few laughs together and both of us love the Toronto Maple Leafs even though we have little hope of seeing a Stanley Cup in the next few years. It’s disheartening to watch our beloved Leafs year after year.

Anyhow, K. and I were sitting around the campfire, talking about life, music and the wonderful fact that the Irish invented whiskey. There were very few people in the park and those that were there were a long way off. None of the close neighbours were at their trailers, so we really didn’t have to worry much about noise.  We didn’t even really make all that much noise, unless you count K. learning the Scott Clan battle cry and enjoying it. A few shouts of “A Bellendean” after a wee sip of whiskey.

At some point, there were some “fighting words” (all in fun of course), and the next thing we were having a wee wrestle on the ground.  Now, I’m about 195 lbs and have 15 over K. but…  back in the day, about 15 years ago when I was in good shape, I was 180. So the weight advantage shouldn’t really go to me. Plus, my tendons and muscles are not just as flexible as they used to be. In the end, it was probably a “no decision.” Both of us had dirty clotlhes.

We brushed ourselves off, laughed, shook hands, had another sip of whiskey with a shout of “A Bellendean!” and headed to bed.

It was a good campfire!

We Survived – Will This Robin?

Yesterday, I wrote about the tornado warnings that were in effect near by.  It ended up being a fairly nice evening for the most part. We saw a dumping of rain which lasted all of 30 seconds while we were sitting around the campfire, and then it cleared up. However, lightning flashes to the north could be seen. But then they seemed to cease.

But at about 2AM, the thunder rolled and the rains came down. They sounded nice as they hit the roof of the trailer, and I fell asleep listening to the pitter patter.

When we awoke in the morning, there was no damage to anything – everything outside was just wet. I’m glad I don’t have any leaks in the roof of this trailer like some of the other trailer park people complain about with their own trailers!

When I walked outside, I spied a young robin sitting on a branch in a tree. Then I spied an adult robin with a worm in its mouth nearby.  Eventually the adult flew over to the young one and fed the young one the worm. The young robin did not seem to be in any distress – just unable to fly yet. It’s quite a chubby little thing for the rest of its size.

baby robinIt seems that maybe the young robin fell from its nest, although I cannot see any nests above where the robin is perched. It allowed me to get as close as I wanted, and managed to take the above photo. It just doesn’t seem to know how to fly yet.

I am not sure if there is anything I can do for it – even if it is injured, I have no vehicle to take it to any animal hospitals or clinics. The parents seem to be taking care of it by bring it food, but I hope nothing else gets it as it is quite close to the ground. But there aren’t any cats here and I haven’t seen any other animals that might prey on the young robin.

I’ll keep my eye on it and hope it does ok!

Uh Oh – Tornado Warnings

Cell phones are handy things – sometimes mine actually works at the trailer park.  Just got off the phone with my girlfriend, C., who thought I should know that the weather channel is declaring tornado warnings for the general area just north of where I am. One of the towns they mentioned is only about 15 minutes away by car.

It’s been an odd day, weather wise with threatening looking clouds, then some sunshine, then clouds again.  About an hour ago, there was some blue sky peeking through, but now the clouds are all back. Hopefully, the warnings will not amount to anything. It’s tough when you don’t have a vehicle! But my son is here with me, so we’ll be on the lookout and will find better shelter if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Right now, we’re enjoying the campfire and about to eat dinner. I’m as hungry as a horse!!

Camping With Two-Way Radios – We’ve Got Walkie Talkies!

For some reason, kids seem to love walkie talkies. When I was younger, and the CB Radio thing was all the rage, we had a CB in our vehicle as well as decent “walkie talkies” as we called them back then. The neighbourhood kids would run around all over the place, staying in touch and learning about the 10 code.  They didn’t have much range but that was ok.

A few years ago, I thought it would be a good idea to pick up a set of two-way radios for when I was fly fishing with friends or my sons. The brand I got was Uniden and they have about 22 different channels you can use which is handy if there are others with similar two-way radios in the neighbourhood. Sometimes when I’m fly fishing, we get separated as one of us heads up or downstream to try new spots. Without the radios, it’s difficult to let the other know if we’ve hit a great spot with some fish biting.

I decided to bring the radios to the trailer, and they’ve proved invaluable when my son is here. If I’m making dinner, he doesn’t have to sit around being bored – he can go for a walk or head to the playground and we can still keep in touch.  I can let him know when dinner is about to be served.

The nice thing about the model I have is that they also have a “call” button on it. When it is pressed, the other radio will “ring.” This is handy to get the other person’s attention especially when there might be a lot of other conversation going on and the voice over the radio is drowned out.

I’d really recommend that if you’re going camping with kids to pick up a set of two – way radios. The kids will have a ton of fun with them and they are very handy so that the kids can go for a walk and still be in touch with you.

I’m not sure of the specifications of the Uniden units I have, but the range is pretty good. The wee man can walk anywhere within the park and be within range and the transmissions are crystal clear.

Interesting Chipmunk Behavior

Today was an interesting day as far as observing a chipmunk was concerned.  Earlier in the day, I was shaking my head, wondering if I was seeing what I was seeing. What I was seeing appeared to be a chipmunk with something quite large in its mouth that at first I couldn’t make out. After a second glanbounce, I realized that the chipmunk had what appeared to be a smaller chipmunk in its mouth as it ran along the fence line of my site here at the trailer.  As it ran along the fence line, I called out to C. to take a look. We were both not sure we were seeing what we were seeing – whatever was in the Chipmunk’s mouth looked dead.

The chipmunk bounded up over the fence at the next site over, and then seemed to disappear into a tree. C. and I wondered if we were seeing things.

A couple of hours later, we saw it again! This time, we were sure that the the Chipmunk was carrying a smaller chipmunk in its mouth.  But it looked large enough to walk on its own – I’ve seen small baby chipmunks walking around before. So why was this chipmunk carrying the smaller one? And where was it going? I tried to take a picture – had my camera on – but before I could focus on it, the chipmunk carrying the chipmunk scrambled out of sight.

A few hours later, I was standing in front of the table where I was doing some cooking on the Coleman stove when I glanced movement out of the side of my eye.  I looked, and not ten feet away from my leg, the Chipmunk again was running from the west side to the east side with what seemed like a smaller chipmunk in its mouth.  It took me by surprise, and I wished I had the camera ready at that point, but the little animal was gone in seconds.

I wonder what the chipmunk was doing carrying little ones that seemed big enough to walk, and yet seemed lifeless?


Seeing His First Meteors!

“Thank you, Dad! Before this day, I’ve never seen a meteor before.”

It was about 1AM when David, who just turned 8, decided he was getting tired, and I don’t blame him as his normal bed time is around 10PM. He had spent the evening gathering up kindling that he could find on the ground, running back and forth, and then roasting hotdogs and marshmallows in anticipation of seeing shooting stars later as the night went on.

Our trailer is parked in a very shady area which is awesome on those hot, sunny days.  The shade does keep the site considerably cooler as well as the trailer than if it were under direct sun all day. But that very same shade, at night, is more than an inconvenience for gazing at stars.  There is a small window of a canopy to the sky between some of the tops of the tree branches which allows a view of a few constellations but it’s impossible to take in the entire sky.

During our campfire, I strained my neck while looking up through that canopy hoping to catch a glimpse of some Perseid meteors. There were a couple that I managed to see – in fact one was dazzling as it streaked across what I could see of the sky and left a long trail of light before disappearing. Amazing to realize that these meteors are but the size of a grain of sand and are traveling at 140,000 km/h!

From the reports I had read, the best display of the Perseid Meteor shower would take place after midnight. After the marshmallows and hotdogs were roasted, C., David and I hiked over to a very dark part of the park with a blanket in hand. The grass was dewy and damp, and the blanket didn’t help much as we lay on our backs, staring up at the sky.

It was a bit disappointing at first to C. and David I think. From how I had talked about the Perseids, I think they had been anticipating quite a show – and it was a pretty good show between midnight and 1AM  – but apparently became even more spectacular toward the morning hours and in many parts of the world. I was able to see a number of the shooting stars blazing across the heavens before C. and David were able to pick one out. But finally, one of the heavenly bits of debris streaked across from the north east to the south and David exclaimed, “I saw one!! I saw one!! Wow, was that ever cool!”

Although most reports advised to look to the north east, the fact was that if you just looked up into the heavens and allowed your peripheral vision to work, you could see the meteors anywhere in the sky.  Some were seen in the south, the north, the east and in fact, a couple of the most dazzling ones we saw were on our way back to the trailer, David being quite tired, in the western sky.

I would have liked to have stayed up longer mys elf, but I need my 7 hours sleep and David needs his attention in the morning.  All in all, between the three of us during the evening up to about 1AM, we probably saw about 30 meteors of varying brightness. But tonight is another night, and we should still be able to view some Perseids as well as just after dusk, the triple conjunction of the moon with the stars Saturn, Mars and Venus all close to the thin crescent moon.

Do You Know What This Is?

marag white pudding black pudding

It’s often part of an “Ulster Fry,” and it’s delicious! Fried up with bacon, sausages, eggs, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes if you like, and even wheaten bread slices also fried up in the bacon fat. Some say such a breakfast is a “Heart Attack On A Plate,” but me, me Da, his Da – my Granda and the Granda’s before them ate this stuff regularly. Mind you, it wasn’t usually for breakfast – perhaps their breakfast of steel cut oats – big steaming bowls of it (my Granda also laced his with copious amounts of ginger along with goat’s milk).

Being originally from Cape Breton, C. is quite familiar with white and black pudding – where it often still has the Gaelic name of ‘Marag‘.  She doesn’t like the black pudding though, but she can eat a plateful of the white along with her sausages and eggs. It’s a perfect addition to a camp meal – hearty and tasty with oatmeal, onion and suet being the primary ingredients.  The black pudding which has an almost cake like texture and a rich taste with hints of chocolate has the addition of pig’s blood (sometime lamb’s blood). I know the thought of that might turn some off, but it’s been a part of Scot/Irish cooking for generations as well as in The America’s and other parts of the world.

Neither C. or I have had Marag or white/black pudding in a long time, so when I saw some in the freezer of a British tuck shop, I grabbed it. This morning, I cooked it up band was rewarded very well by C. for serving up one of her most favorite foods in the world.  She didn’t care much for the black puddin’ but I ate mine up and have some left over for another morning.

Mmmmmm! Nothing like cooking outdoors – and an Ulster Fry is one of the best and tastiest meals to make in cast iron frying pans!

Kuuma Stainless Steel Barbecue

I love stainless steel appliances. My dream is to have a log cabin in the woods (serviced, of course!) and all stainless steel appliances.  I love the look of them, and think it would be awesome to have a stainless steel fridge and gas stove.  C. also likes stainless steel too which is a bonus. So about five weeks ago, when we saw the Kuuma Stainless Steel “Stow N’ Go” barbecue, we both knew we wanted it, even if just for its looks.

kuuma 83790 stainless steel barbecueSo, we bought it. We’ve been using a Lodge Sportsman’s Grill which is cast iron for sometime and I really like it, but a gas barbecue offers some conveniences that a charcoal grill does not.  Such as less waiting times – and on our schedule, it can be a pain at times to wait for the charcoal to be ready before cooking on it.

Often referred to as a barbecue for marine use because of its stainless steel construction, the model we purchased, 83790, has  about 160 square inches of cooking space – not huge – but enough to do a few steaks or pork chops, or enough burgers for C., David, and I. It’s design is very handy for small spaces and its legs fold away for storage.

The manufacturer also says that it will put out 13,000 BTU’s of heat.

When we picked it up and brought it back to the trailer, one of the awesome things about the Kuuma was that it needed no assembly whatsoever. All we did was pull it out of the box and hook up the propane tank. The hose from the regulator to the tank was not included with the barbecue, so you would need to have one before you can start cooking.

The stainless steel does look beautiful too! But how does it cook?

Well, there are a couple of disadvantages with this barbecue. First, there is a warning that the lid should not be closed when it is on high. Actually, you might not want to close it on the medium setting either.  In our first evening with the barbecue, we decided to cook up a couple of steaks, and C. and I both like ours done medium to medium-well done.  The heat was on medium, and I closed the lid. After a few minutes, I went to open the lid, but it had seized! I had to use a screw driver in between the lid and the base in order to apply some leverage to get the lid open. The heat had sized up the screws and nuts that the lid is attached with and turn on to be opened and closed.

I have not yet tried to loosen the screws as they seem to use a TORX type of head, which I don’t have here at the trailer. And ever since that first cooking, the lid is very stiff to open and close.

The next issue with this barbecue is that even though it seems there is flame evenly distributed from the left to the right side, the heat on the right side seems quite a bit lower than on the left.  Steaks and chops that are on the extreme right hand side of the grill need to be moved toward the center after the other steaks and chops have finished cooking.

Still, even with the above issues, it cooks food, and the food tastes great. Obviously as with any barbecue that is propane, you don’t get the flavours that charcoal can impart to cooking food.  But with its small size which makes it easy to stow and store, the Kuuma is a beautiful cooking machine when you need something small and that should last a very long time because it is 100% stainless steel.

The price we picked up the Kuuma Stow N’ Go 83790 was $119.00 Canadian.

Going Stir Crazy?

It wouldn’t be so bad I suppose if I had a vehicle and I could hop and go to town, or visit my son, or what I’d really like to do – head to C.’s place 45 minutes away.

I’ve been up here at the trailer for over a week now, and I’m feeling as if I have cabin fever.  Perhaps a week is a limit of what I can do without having mobility. Or perhaps it’s just a passing phase that a good cup of coffee will cure.  Speaking of which, I do have some on – and it’s the last of the coffee grounds. I should have picked up a new can of Maxwell House last week, but I thought I had lots here.

After my coffee, I’m seriously considering hiking out to the highway and then thumbing a ride to C.’s place.  I have to be there tomorrow anyhow, so why not tonight? But I also miss my son, and he’s in the opposite direction.

So far this week, everything has been fine with the Glendale trailer other than the very minor drip coming from the water heater.  I thought I’d try to put a wrench around the coupling to see if I could loosen it and perhaps repair it – but it’s so corroded and I’m afraid of twisting hard and perhaps just breaking something.  Maybe I’ll get to that next week, or see if I can find an expert on RV water heaters who can take a look and give me some advice.

Oh – blue jays. Beautiful birds, aren’t they? Very pretty to see five of them up in a tree. But first thing in the morning, you want to shoot them with the noise they make!  I like blue jays, but I don’t like being awoken by them.