Trailer Park Life

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 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!

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.

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.

Laundry And Cleaning Day

July 25th, 2010

After all the rain yesterday and stacking firewood, not only are my clothes filthy (“boggin’”) as they’d say in N. Ireland, the trailer needs a good sweeping out with bits of mud and grass I tracked into it all day yesterday.  So the first thing on the agenda was laundry. It’s nice that this trailer park does have a small laundromat and the price is reasonable – two loonies (2 bucks for American readers) for a wash, and a loonie for the dryer.  I’m not much of a “sort clothes out before wash” guy – so I just threw the pants, shirt, towels and sheets into the washing machine. They’re all dark anyway.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about having to remove the carpet from the bedroom due to the water leaks – the carpet was soaked.  Sadly, we discovered that some of the floor had rotted in there. Today, I found a pillow had fallen onto the floor and when I moved it back, there was a stink of mildew on it.  Yuck! Might as well fill up the washing machine with the pillow cases and sheets to make a full load. I can kind of smell mildew in there, and hoping it’s not right in the bed sheets.

And while we’re at the cleaning, the ceiling screens needed to be cleaned. There were dead flies sitting on the exterior – and it’s pretty gross.  I wonder when the last time the screens were cleaned? Thankfully I have a good brush with stiff bristles and lots of dish soap. The frames didn’t come completely white – still some yellow stains on them, but they are looking much better than they were. I didn’t get to them all, but got two of them done.

Laundry, sweeping, screen cleaning, and lawn mowing! I also tried to replace the “living room” ceiling fixture. C. and I picked up two 12 Volt RV ceiling fixtures when at Hughes RV – “reclaimed fixtures” for only 9.99 each. But I don’t have the best tool kit with me and have no crimping pliers, so I’m not sure I got a solid connection on one of the white wires. One light works, the other does not, and it’s not the bulb. Maybe some electrical tape will work for now, if only I had some…

This Water Leak Might Be The Death Of Me

July 20, 2010

As I’ve written previously, I had a leak from where I thought was from under the bathtub in the Glendale trailer. I had checked, and looked, and tried to figure out the path of the plumbing as much as I could, and after realizing it was going to be a big job to take out the tub, I finally decided, on the advice of Roger over at My RV Talk, I decided to try something different.

Instead of taking out the tub, I thought I would bypass the water leak with new plumbing tube.  So, C. and I went over to Hughes RV where I showed them a photo of the water tube and discussed my plans. The fellow there thought from the photo that the tube was 1/2″ and I bought several feet of it as well as these nifty compression fittings. When we got back to the trailer, I discovered that the tube size and fittings were too big! So, we headed back to Hughes and got the right size – 3/8″ tube and fittings.

All set! removed the bathtub faucet and that is when I discovered that there was more tubing in the back – but someone had sprayed insulation all over it so it could not be seen. Under the insulation, it was damp, and there was a T-Junction that was leaking. From the T-junction, water lines went up to the bathroom faucet (which I had already removed) and then fed the kitchen and bathroom sinks as well as toilet.

water-hose-bathtub-new-tubeSo with C. helping, I cut the water tubes (hot and cold) before they entered the T-Junction and then attached new hose, leading it through the two holes in the bathroom wall where the bathtub faucet was. We replaced the T-junction with a straight through connection as we can’t see using the bathtub or shower anytime soon. And then, two new straight through connections into the water tubes that feed the toilet and sinks.

Turned the water on and no water leak!! At least not at the new connections.  But we still had a water leak – and after further investigation, discovered that the T-Junction that split off to feed the toilet was leaking! Grrrr… that was a discouraging discovery, and we’ll have to now return to Hughes RV when we have a chance and during their hours of operation to pick up a T-Junction to fix this leak.

And we have to get it fixed. Water leaking onto the floor is going to rot the wood underneath. Quite likely with how old this leak appears to be, there is already some rot going on.

Trailer Park Living -My Weekend

July 16, 2010

Some people escape from the city and go to their cottages, trailers or head out with their tent. Me? I head to the city! A two day break from the solitude, the stars, the campfires every night, the wind rustling through the leaves, not having to change my clothes – ah, what a life!  The picnic table is my office, and I can work long hours and enjoy the campfire in the evening. But it’s tough when the carton of eggs is empty, the bacon is gone and there are no more steaks to put on the barbeque.

Plus,  I miss my sweetheart who lives and works in the city. But I don’t have wheels for the 45 minute drive.  But I have a thumb!

It did take me 2 1/2 hours and it was hot, muggy, and I was sweaty.  But it was fun to surprise C. who was not expecting me. It was also nice to be able to use a full size bathtub, washroom and shower! And along the way, some really interesting people picked me up when I had my thumb stuck out. I had my first ride in a Mercedes!

C. and I are hoping to get back up to the trailer later this evening – looking forward to a campfire visiting with one of our neighbours and getting to know him and his family better.

And believe – after a couple of days away from home, in the hot muggy city, I’m looking forward to getting back to roughin’ it!

The Squawking Female

July 16, 2010

Yesterday, I had the chance to observe a couple of grackles.  In some areas, I’ve seen grackles referred to as crows. However, they are not the terame thing. In my part of the world, the “Common Grackle” is very common and can be found just about everywhere. They are greedy birds, and will often ruin a bird feeder as it hogs the entire thing, pushing seeds it does not want to the ground, and greedily eating the seeds it does want.

Yesterday, I watched a pair of grackles in some behaviour that I found hillarious! I watched them from behind the screen doI or of my trailer. The previous day, I happened to spill some peanuts and decided that instead of sweeping them up, I’d throw them outside and let the chipmunks that come to visit have a little feast.  I didn’t see chipmunks, but I did see grackles.

A male and female grackle were walking on my site, the female walking behind the male. As soon as the male would pick up a peanut with its beak, the female would start squawking and squawking, and stand with her beak wide open. The male would turn around to her, and put his beak against hers, and drop the peanut into her beak.  She’d stop her squawking, and the male continued to look for more food – the peanuts I had put on the ground.

The same process kept on repeating for about ten minutes. The male would discover a peanut, the female would start to squawk.. the male would feed the female.  It wasn’t like the female couldn’t find the food herself!

Finally, after many times of repeating the same thing over and over, the male grackle picked up a peanut, the female did her squawking, held her beak open, but the male would have nothing more to do with giving up his food.  He walked away as the female followed him and got himself into a small space behind a fence where he appeared to swallow the peanut he had found. The female seemed to want to berate him for this, but the poor fellow ignored it, went and found another peanut and again ignored the noise of demand and open beak of his missus.

I’m not sure how it all ended up for Mr. Grackle. After watching them, I had to get going and ended up scaring both of the birds away.

Mosquitoes, Camp Soap & Shampoo

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Mosquito Repellent. At the time, I pointed out that I had not had to deal with too many mosquitoes but discussed a few different suggestions for dealing with the nasty biters.  Since then, I still haven’t had any serious problems with mosquitoes although they have increased their numbers in the past few weeks.

I’ve noticed though that others seem to have mosquitoes biting at them more than they are at me. I think I know why. It’s the soap that I use.

One thing that you can do to lessen your attraction to mosquitoes is to refrain from using scents. Although I enjoy splashing on a cologne that my girlfriend likes when we are heading out somewhere together in the city, a campsite really has no place for perfumes and colognes if you want to avoid mosquitoes and other flying critters like bees and wasps.  This also includes the use of scented soaps.  I also like using a scented soap like Irish Spring when I’m in the city, but when camping, I stick to a non-scented glycerine soap.

Less Attraction To Mosquitoes, Bees, Wasps

There are benefits to using non-scented glycerine soap. As far as mosquitoes, bees and wasps are concerned, there is no lingering scent on your skin that will be an added attraction to them.

Good For The Environment

Further, glycerine soap is biodegradable and is very good for the environment. This is of course a huge concern when camping and where sewage cannot be processed like it is in the city.

Glycerine Soap For Shampoo

Forget the expensive bottles of shampoo. I haven’t used shampoo in my hair since April of 2010. I had read some things about people cutting out the use of shampoo – and guess what? They’re hair actually improved! Shampoo is made in such a way that when you start using it, you need to keep using it until you stop and let your scalp regain its own natural balance. Shampoo strips the hair of natural oils and then applies other agents to make it seem soft or thicker. If you just let your hair adjust to not using shampoo, in a week or so you might be amazed. So what to use to clean your hair?  I’ve been using glycerine soap and my girlfriend thinks my hair is just fine. It’s not greasy, I’ve had no bouts with dandruff, it’s clean, and it’s become less expensive after giving up shampoo.

I’ve used a few different glycerine soap brands including Neutrogena® and The Soap Works. The Neutrogena® claims to be scent free and I guess it is as I can’t smell anything, but it does hurt my eyes and it does not lather as well as the glycerine soap made by The Soap Works. As well, bars from Soap Works seem to last longer even though they lather up better too.

I get my bars from a local “Bulk Food Store,” a chain here in Ontario. If you can’t find it, you can get Soap Works glycerine soap here.