We’re Not All Electricians

A drawing of what the wiring in my RV looks like to me.

I didn’t know how to install a water pump so I went to see the local RV repairman last week. In my estimation, he’s been doing this for over a hundred years and stopped caring about customer service in the seventies.

When I asked him how to hook up the wiring, he barked at me in an irritated voice while gesturing violently at the water pump “red is red and black is black”!

Well, I made this picture for him to show him what the wiring in my RV looks like to me. No, he hasn’t seen it nor will he ever. ūüôā

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What My Fifth Wheel Looks Like To Me

A translation.

No, not a turkey. I am temporarily out of my own pictures pertaining to RV repair.

I didn’t know how to install a water pump so I went to see the local RV repairman last week. He’s probably been doing this for about 100 years now and doesn’t give a rat’s ass about customer service anymore. When I asked him about the wiring he said in an extremely tired and irritated voice while gesturing violently at the water pump I had in my hand “red is red and black is black”!

Well, I made this picture for him to translate to him what I saw. No, he hasn’t seen it nor will he ever. ūüôā

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Prospecting

Our quest for gold.

I can’t figure out how to use my expensive metal detector. Steel gives off the same signal as gold, iron signals the same as gold, bottle caps signal the same as gold, nails signal the same as gold.

From what I’ve read, metal detecting is almost an art form and I have yet to create a masterpiece let alone a decent sketch. Prospecting for gold is the same – it takes patience, knowledge and experience to become successful at it.

So far, gold has totally eluded my husband and I. You could point us to a gold rich river and we would come up with only pyrite or mica no matter where we dig, how deep we dig, how much material we dig – you¬† get the idea. We’re rank amateurs.

All I ask for is a few little grains or flakes in the bottom of my pan – just a few. I would be able to finally sleep at night.

I downloaded some maps from Gold Maps Online for Google Earth. It’s on overlay of gold claims and mines along with data from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management).

You can plan ahead to find closed and open claims and check to see if they’re on private or public land (although that’s not always easy to ascertain). You can check terrain and roads beforehand. Like their website says, you really can do a lot of the footwork ahead of time virtually and save yourself gas and disappointment.

Our property has a lot of geological indicators for gold: iron rich soil and ore, quartz outcroppings and springs, not to mention an actual fault. Nothing so far though.  I even tried divining Рstill nothing.

We panned all summer near Snoqualmie Pass and around North Bend Washington to no avail. Denny Creek near the pass is supposed to bear gold but we came home empty handed.

One thing we did find recently is garnets.

I was panning and found a bunch of reddish looking sand and rocks. They were the only thing left in the bottom of the pan with “the heavies”, as prospectors say. We took them into a local jeweler who confirmed they were garnets. The jeweler said most creeks and rivers around these parts contain them.

My husband isn’t as interested in prospecting as myself but he always takes me places to hunt. He contents himself with exploring the area while I prospect. He found a wolf skull just last week.

I’ve yet to find any gold but my day will come. I’ve heard that when you see it you know it and that you will never mistake a piece of mica or fool’s gold for the real thing again.

Ticks and Sticks

A theoretical game involving ticks.

Note: Ticks carry disease. My suggestion of playing a game involving them is a joke.

Ticks and Sticks is the name of a game I came up with one spring day as my family and I were looking for something creative to do outside. I imagine the rules would have involved something like going up to a bush and whacking it with a stick. In the spring, the bushes are loaded with ticks.

We played kickball instead.

Ticks are nasty spidery looking parasites that cling to branches in underbrush while they wait for an animal (or human) to latch onto. They flourish in the spring and can infect a human with Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other dangerous diseases if they burrow into your skin to feed on your blood.

We eat garlic during tick season as it repels them according to what I’ve read but don’t take my word for it – do some research and protect yourself if they live in your part of the world. If you have animals such as dogs and cats, be sure to treat them appropriately. They will bring ticks into your house – believe me.

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Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com

I never saw one until we moved to eastern Washington and then I saw way too many.  I found several on myself the first spring we lived here. They would appear at the most inopportune times.

There is nothing like the look on someone’s face when they see a tick crawl out of your hair. Imagine this happening on a first date? Once, a guy I was talking to deftly snatched one off of my forehead as if it was nothing and crushed it. He obviously had experience with these things.

I have a theory that they don’t like fluorescent light because they would almost always come out in the library or other public building.

What purpose could such ugly, dangerous pests have in the scheme of things? I’m sure they have their place – just not on my head.

Pine Bugs

A poem.

Pine bugs here, pine bugs there

Pine bugs they are everywhere

Little smelly sticky things

Fly around on crispy wings

If you try to flick them off

They will stick like glue to cloth

Think that they’re a yellow jacket

Freak you out until you whack it

Knobbly legs with little claws

Eat them pine nuts with their jaws

Found one in my swimming suit

Found one crawling up my boot

Summer find them high and low

Never find them in the snow

Although they may seem annoying

Pine trees are what they’re destroying

 

 

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Notice the fly with the attitude. I had to follow this little pine bug/beetle around the table to get a couple of good pics of him and this fly shows up and he’s like “this¬†my piece of paper ya’ll”. Pine bug just says “ya, whatever”.

 

Hitting The Road

Picking up the trailer and we’re off.

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The evening we picked up our temporary home – our new/used travel trailer – I hadn’t pulled one in years.

We had closed on our home were headed out of town and into the foothills of the Cascade mountain range where we would live until we found a place to set down anchor.

After a final inspection to make sure everything was buttoned up tight, I climbed behind the wheel and pushed on the gas. With a gentle lurch, we pulled forward and were on our way.

I was a little nervous hauling a rig for the first time in quite a while so both me and my son kept looking out the back window to make sure the trailer was still behind us. It became a joke to say “it’s still there”.

Out and away from town and into the foothills we drove – trailer still behind us.

There was a truck stop near the entrance to the county road that led to where we were camping. It had showers for only fourteen dollars a pop, a laundry, and a gift shop with everything a trucker might want to ease their travels – or us, ours.

We stopped to fill the water tanks then pulled out for the last leg of our day’s journey. It was getting dark and we wanted to get to the campground before late.

The county happened to be paving the dirt road out and had placed a billion red cones smack in the middle for the entire length of the narrow road. I had to maneuver the trailer carefully around every single one of them. We took a couple of them out – on accident, of course.

Then we came to the bridge.

It was also under construction and had been temporarily made into one lane. I slowly rolled up to it, sizing the situation up in my head. It looked like I would have about five or six inches to spare on each side of the trailer. Some skill would be needed – or stupidity.

What if we got the rig stuck halfway over the bridge? I didn’t want to think about it and rolled forward, my son cheering me on. Gritting my teeth, my fingers practically breaking the steering wheel, we moved forward at a moderate speed. I figured a little momentum would help if things got too tight.

Yes, speed would help us in a jam.

We “narrowly” made it through the tight squeeze without losing any exterior trailer parts and continued on to our destination. One more challenge awaited: backing the trailer up into the parking pad.

I’ve never been good at that. Turning the steering wheel right makes the trailer go left, or right, or something. The next thing you know, you have completed a two-mile per-hour jackknife.

Tonight, we got lucky. I didn’t take out any trees or picnic tables and we settled in without incident for our first night on the open road.

 

 

The Beginning Of The Journey

Living as gypsies for the summer between selling our house and moving east.

pexels-photo-696680We sold our house in May 2017. We needed to close before we could make a decision on a new place to live. We didn’t know how much cash we would walk away with after everything was said and done at the old place. I cruised craigslist for a couple of weeks looking for a trailer to live for the summer. Little did I know we would end up living in it for an entire year.

I saw one that caught my eye. It was a 20′ Jayco Lite with 2 canvas fold outs. It seemed sound to me, and had a few amenities we liked so we bought it. My son and I picked it up one evening and slowly pulled it out for it’s long adventure over the mountains to a new home.

I hadn’t pulled a trailer in years. The last time was with a 1962 Shasta hitched to a tiny Ford Escort with nothing but a chain-on hitch.¬†That¬†was a nightmare. It was me and my previous husband with 2¬† friends in the back seat. At one point the car began violently wavering back and forth along with the trailer behind us. Everyone yelled “pull over, pull over!” at once and I’m at the helm trying to gently coast the contraption¬†slowly¬†over to the side of the road. No sudden turns here.

I don’t know how we got that thing home. We took it on many a camping trip up the local county road to the national forest where we were mistaken repeatedly for meth cookers.¬† One time, we had been in town and were heading back out to camp with our supplies when a bunch of Sheriffs drove by fast. We were used to the routine at that point and I think we may have turned around and gone home until the smoke blew over.

Another time, I was taking a nap in the Shasta with my 6 month old baby and 8 year old son when I heard “I know you’re in there. Come out”. I got up and went outside with my infant in my arms and my son. Robocop was there with a man who seemed really embarrassed for the cop. He stood sheepishly near the squad car. Probably a ride-a-long.

Upon seeing the obvious threat we were, the cop proceeded to reem me a new one for having a BB gun leaning up against a tree stump. Apparently, the barrel was slanting slightly too far towards an adjacent¬†abandoned¬†camp site. Ooooooh. “Breaking the law breaking the law”. He asked for my ID while I kept stealing looks at the poor guy who had accompanied the sheriff as he almost visually winced at the “fail” factor on the cop’s part.

After running my ID and finding no evidence that me and my children were cooking meth, he proceeded to chew me out for having a messy campground.

Well, I didn’t take to kindly to the robo-incident and complained loudly to the sheriff’s department the next day when I went into town. I happened to run into the robotard going the other way while heading back to camp. I waved him down and let him know I’d complained. If looks could kill, I’d be dead. What an asshole. I don’t like authority figures who abuse their positions and scare the crap out of 8 year old children.

The Shasta finally met it’s demise after we began storing it in an unofficial yard where, ironically, meth cookers moved in next to it and trashed it. We hauled it down to an RV reclamation site down south. It was a good little trailer. ūüė¶ I won’t miss the busts though.

Back to new trailer. I was a little nervous hauling a rig for the first time in quite a while so both me and my son kept looking out the back window to make sure it was still behind us. It became a joke, saying “it’s still there”.

Out away from town and into the foothills near our old home we drove. Trailer still behind us. There was a truck stop near the entrance to the county road we followed to get to where we were setting up house. It had showers for only 14.00 a pop, a laundry, and a sort of gift shop setup with everything a trucker might want to ease their travels.

We stopped and “watered” the trailer before we headed out for the last leg of our day’s journey. It was getting dark and we wanted to get this rig out to where we were going to settle for the next couple of weeks before late.

The county just happened to be paving the dirt road out and had these annoying little red cones right smack in the middle of the entire length of the narrow road. I had to maneuver the damned trailer carefully around every single one of those things. We took a couple of them out. By accident, of course.

At one point we came to an already very narrow bridge that had been turned into a one-lane. I slowly rolled up to it, sizing the situation up in my head. It looked like I would have about 5 or 6 inches to spare on each side of the trailer. Some skill would be needed. Or stupidity. What if we got the rig stuck halfway over the bridge? I didn’t want to think about it and rolled forward, my son cheering me on. Gritting my teeth with my fingers breaking the steering wheel, we moved forward at a moderate speed. I figured if we had a little momentum, if we scraped maybe we’d be less likely to get lodged in place. Yes, speed would help us in a jam. Can you imagine if we’d funneled into the far end of the bridge? Oh my God. Better not to think about it.

Somehow we did it. We made it. As I recollect, we opted to pull into a regular campground that first night just to make things easier. Backing up the rig…I’m not so good at that but it happened.

Tucked in for the first night on the road to a new life.

I’m beginning to realize that there is¬†so¬†much to write about, I’m going to have to continue this in another post. Many many many strange and unusual things seem to happen with our family. I’ve been told countless times I should write a book. Again, a blog will do.

Next in “The Beginning”

  • Camping neighbors from hell.
  • Are you sure that’s the cat?
  • The limousine.
  • The glass menagerie.
  • The bear and the guy in the pickup.
  • Teenage drivers.
  • Crystal hunting!
  • Hopping campgrounds and really grouchy hosts.
  • Bartering with the really¬†nice¬†campground hosts.
  • Panning for pyrite.
  • The rocky beach trail.
  • I realized with horror one evening that we were going to be dealing with freezing temperatures and snow with canvas pullouts.

Bridgette The Truck

She waited proudly for her turn at the mechanic. There was only one problem….

We saw her in town yesterday; tucked in among the other vehicles being serviced at the auto mechanic. Only her tail end sticking out, we could tell she was feeling fine with her nose in the oats while they fixed her innards. I swear she has a personality and that she was standing up especially tall;  her bed crammed and bulging with a huge load of stinking garbage.

My husband and I were on our way to the dump with a half year’s trash when she started acting up. We had to turn around immediately and get her back home. My husband made an appointment with a shop right away but rather than empty the carefully compacted and piled-high garbage, he decided to take her in just as she was.

It was summertime and she sat at the shop for two weeks with that garbage baking away in one-hundred degree weather, waiting for her turn. They had her on the cancellation list so she waited at the curb across the street but then they moved her closer to the shop. Every time my husband would see her in town, he would cringe and mutter something about how “I couldn’t help it, I was on my way to the dump when she got sick”. I just point and laugh.

She’s supposed to be ready today. I’m popping the popcorn and grabbing my soda. I’ll be¬† hunched in a dark corner of our car, eyes darting back and forth, watching the doings as my husband picks her up. I want to know the obvious; how bad was the stench and are they going to give him grief about it? Will we ever be able to get the smell out?

Bridgette is a 1986 Ford F-250 pickup with a 460 engine and some Edelbrock under the hood. She is my husband’s other woman. He says she is sexy. I sometimes slip up and call her Gertrude or Gidget or whatever comes to mind but I always apologize to her immediately. She’s a good girl and has done us well. I don’t want to be on her bad side.

My husband acquired her as part of a deal where we helped a guy move out of his house. The man no longer had room for her and was in a pinch so Bridgette was offered as part of payment for the job.

She was covered in green moss and her back was full of refuse when we first saw her.¬† My husband took soap and a toothbrush to her lines and hosed out her backside. A friend of ours gave her a once over with a tuneup and took her for a nice blast down the street, burning rubber. Man that engine is tough! I’m a chick and I even think she’s bad-ass.

She has also been indispensable.

She steadfastly delivered us and our trailer over the mountains from our temporary summer home near Snoqualmie Pass over the nights of September 17th and 18th, 2017 and they were memorable.

The moment we decided it was time to hit the road, it started raining. We packed her and the trailer up in a deluge. It was evening when we finally hit I-90 and headed up the fairly steep grade toward the pass. Then her headlights suddenly began to flicker on and off and panic ensued.

We had to pull over on the side of a major interstate. Thank God traffic was light. We popped the hood and messed around with the various wires, looking for something obvious that may have come lose. We found a wire coming out of the battery and tightened it and got the wagon train moving again. Everything was fine until I turned on the brights. That was the problem; the brights wouldn’t stay on.

We stopped at the pass for gas and messed around with the wires some more without any luck . I had to role up my driver’s side window which meant breaking into the door panel of the truck and manually pushing the window up.¬†The decision was made to drive the rest of the trip over the night with only the low beams. I was driving and I couldn’t see much past the short strip of light so our trip turned from about a 7 hour to an 11 hour voyage because I had to drive slowly.

I was so relieved when I saw the first rays of morning light coming from the east. We were almost to Colville at that point and tired and grouchy. We just had to find our home as we had only been there once. Long story short; we couldn’t find our place on Google maps but our son found it. We were almost there…going up a long hill when we realized a previous washout had dead ended the road.

My nerves were frayed beyond frayed at that point and I had to back up the rig on a hill into a dirt area on an incline, pray that the tires would hold going forward again (thank GOD they did), and we turned around and chugged back down the hill. Luckily we managed to find another way up the hill to our new home.

Bridgette had done it. She was the hero of the day.

I could go into to multitude of stories about Gidget, I mean, Bridgette. She also got a flat tire whilst pulling the rig up a one lane road near a place where we had been camping. It was just my son and I that day and we had to limp her up the hill to a safe spot to pull over. We unhooked the trailer and AAA came and picked her up. The tow truck driver recognized her. Apparently, she already had a reputation in the area.

Seven-hundred dollars later in new rear wheels and an extra rim, she was back but we spent two days in our rig on the side of the road just outside of town. Interesting.

So today we pick her up. Oil changed, engine purring like a kitten and reeking of garbage that has percolated for six months. We’ll probably drive straight to the dump.

The Spring

The heart of our place.

When we first saw the property, it was late August and everything in eastern Washington was very dry. Knowing this, we were trying to decide how we would get access to water. We considered a large tank and delivery. We asked our agent about a well and she said maybe a few hundred feet down we might find water.

I found water at about two feet.

The day we arrived, I explored every square inch of our newly acquired 3.7 acres and looked for likely spots for water. I had been online getting tips so I looked for green among the brown and signs of winter run off ditches. I found one spot on a hill on the property that actually had some green grass growing at that time of year. I decided to dig there.

I can’t remember how long it took; just a couple of hours I think, as there was solid rock right at the surface, but I chipped and dug away and to my disbelief, the soil turned damp and then… there was actual standing water.

I had found a spring.

It could have been runoff but all signs pointed to spring water as I continued to go a little deeper. It turned out that the whole hillside was either one massive spring with a multitude of outlets or tons of springs all over. Some sources were larger than others but you could almost dig anywhere up there and find water coming up out of clay tubes and cracks between rocks.

We dug a tiny trench down the hillside to a larger holding hole we had made. We used our pump to get the water into the trailer, adding a touch of bleach for safety. It’s been a wonderful source of water since then.

All through the winter we got a pretty good flow but it almost dried up over summer. I ended up pick axing my way down through bedrock and heavily compacted rocks and dirt to carve the spring deeper during the summer months but we had water all year long.

Come fall, we called contractor after contractor to dig a shallow well to make things official but they were all booked months ahead. Faced with another winter with an amateur setup, we added a sediment filter to run the water through before going into the trailer. We had to deal with frozen hoses too.

While I was chipping away at the bottom of the spring, I discovered something interesting.

I began to notice slightly hot spots in places at the bottom. It was coming up through a crack between the bedrock and the looser material. I felt around day after day with my fingers trying to decide if this might be geothermal activity.

Just a month or two earlier, while looking at geological maps for prospecting purposes, we discovered that not only were we situated in the middle of a series of faults but that, by the look of things, we might be sitting right on top of one! That would explain the springs – and possibly geothermal activity.

I called WSU’s (Washington State University) geology department and spoke with a geologist there. He seemed to think it might be runoff but trust me, I have a hunch something else is going on down there.

We hope to have someone take a closer look when we have an official water sourced constructed.

We watered our garden all summer by siphoning through hundreds of feet of garden hose to the holding hole, then pumping it out to the sprinkler. Pretty nifty huh? When we dug the garden, we routed the water into the area and created a temporary mud pit to soften the clay rich soil to a point where it was easier (bit still almost impossible to turn).

Our spring is the heart of our property. It represents life and hope for us and it’s the place I go when I need to think or just cry. It’s my place – and the yellow jacket’s. I had to share the hole with them all summer long.

We managed to get along, somehow, and everyone got their water.

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Looking up the hill with the hose for siphoning.

 

What Happened To Our Dishes Last Winter

It was cold and it was solid and it wasn’t letting our dishes go.

25231901698.pngIt lasted for months; the block of ice that held most of our dishes captive.

I remember the day I was able to wrest the last utensil free of the icy tomb that had encased our pans, forks, spoons, spatulas, glasses, bowls and plates – almost everything we ate off of – in one huge chunk of ice.

The Dishberg.

We had recently moved to eastern Washington and were living in a trailer on raw land when it happened. As we were settling in, we met our neighbors and stories were told of winters in eastern Washington – temperatures of minus forty-degrees with snow drifts up to the eaves of your house.

When we mentioned we were from west of the mountains, we got the all-knowing nod of someone who has just learned you are from The Coast and they must break the news to you of the impending doom that is winter in Stevens County.

Incidentally, you are from The Coast if you are from anywhere west of the Cascade mountain range. It doesn’t matter how far from the ocean you live; you are from The Coast and are referred to as a Coasty.

The stories were almost true. We weren’t prepared and me and our son went to live in an emergency shelter for three months while my husband stayed in our trailer with the cat.

Occasionally, I’d come to take a load of dishes to the shelter to wash because the trailer’s pipes were frozen. One day I piled them up in a large Tupperware container to get them¬† out of the way and put it outside.¬† For some reason, it sat there for a couple of days filling with water. Before long the whole container froze solid.

The mass was heavy and there was no breaking it up because there were plastic and glass items embedded in it. It sat for a couple of months before it finally began to thaw. I remember when it melted enough to break into smaller pieces I could bring inside and run hot water over and by the end of March, we finally had all of our dishes back.

Now if we could only find the coffee pot lid I lost in the snow in February.