Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fixes and mis-steps

Saturday, March 18, 2016

Today was not a trip, but some much needed fixes and upgrades. 

Both the sliding bathroom door and our closet doors were not in the optimal locations. 

The bath door, when closed, left a large gap between the door and the wall. Almost an inch! Which meant, when I'm in bed and someone used the restroom, I got light from the bathroom in my eyes, and they had a lot less privacy! So Tony moved the sliding door track inward toward the bathroom. The gap is very small now. :)

Our closet doors have been a challenge since we got the rig. We use metal hangers, most of them recycled from the dry cleaners. Why? Well, they hold up well over time, and hold our "larger" sized clothes well. 

The problem is that our hangers are big. 17" or so wide. And in this closet, at the point the hangers hang at their widest point, the tips hit the back of the closet, as well as the front door of the closet! So unless you can tilt the hangers to the side as you close the door, there's no easy way to slide the closet door closed. 

Well, some folks have had issues with the hangers hitting the door in other HL products, and the solution was to move the rod back inside the closet an inch or so. Since our hangers already hit at the back, that was not an option. We determined there was room to move the closet door tracks forward nearly an inch, so Tony worked on this project as well. 

We had to relocate the locking mechanisms that hold the doors closed during travel, but that fine, at least now we can easily open/close the sliding doors! 

Metal tracks of the closet doors moved (to the left) nearly an inch, giving more room for hangers to hang inside.

Locking mechanism moved over

Tony also hooked up our tire pressure monitoring system's repeater antenna today. We had it on the Mammoth, we took it out before we traded. We tried the monitor without the repeater, but it doesn't seem to be reading accurately, so we knew we needed to wire the repeater in again. He wired it into the front compartment, tapping into wiring of  a light controlled by a switch. Now we can turn the repeater off when not in use. 

We then took some things out of the basement to put in storage, and then we tackled our new steps.

We got a new set of coach steps from Torklift International. I've been wanting these for a while! The steps are much lighter than the original steps, and are made from aircraft grade aluminum. They actually "scissor" to fold up, and have feet that reach the ground to make them more secure and less bouncy. Because they scissor, they are much more adjustable to the terrain of your location -- you can make them taller or shorter as needed. They fold very easily, as well. They also have an additional long grab handle that can be added.  

Anyway, upon ordering, I gave them dimensions they requested, and along with the steps we received some shims as well. Tony and I removed our current steps (6 bolts), then went to install the base unit. The new unit was easy to hold up to install because it was lighter, but we found the shims were not enough to fill the gap between the base unit and the framed opening for the steps. The bolts were not long enough, either. So, unfortunately, we had to reinstall the original steps and I'll call Torklift on Monday. I'm sure they will be wonderful once we get them installed! 

After that, it was just time to stop for dinner. We have more projects to do... But they will have to wait for another day. Always something! 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Catch-up Post for the Week -- Rally Prep and Rally Ho!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

Today, I worked during the day, while Tony ran errands to confirm our plans with the various venues we had previously set up. I also printed out the information we needed to share with our rally-goers, including the agenda and sponsor info, plus raffle ticket info.

We visited with more folks as they came into the park. We had some rain overnight Monday, so things were mushy, but not too bad.

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

Today was more of the same, I worked off and on while Tony ran some more errands. The Quanah Chamber of Commerce brought their goody bags over to us, and they were jam-packed with stuff! Tony and I had more stuff to add to them, as well, so we assembly-lined it and got it done pretty quickly. We also worked to arrange the tables, and cover them with table cloths.

Various antiques from the gin and area were staged around the rally hall, 
as well as parts of the gin itself. This was the dryer.

Other items.

More gin inner-workings

Wednesday afternoon, A couple had a gathering at their rig for smoked jalapeno poppers. They must have had 10-15 folks! More folks arrived today than expected. After the poppers, the club president, Jim Beletti and his wife Nancy took us out to eat, along with the Region Directors, Jay and Stella. We had Italian food. It was OK, but we enjoyed the visiting more. After dinner we made a quick run to WalMart for a few items for the Rally. We decided to go ahead and get our ice cream.

Mike and Peg share smoked bacon-wrapped, stuffed jalapeƱo poppers.
Notice the nearly cleaned out pans on the table!

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

The remaining attendees arrived! Yay! We got them their goody bags and tried to make sure they all got a warm welcome. I worked most of the day to make sure I could participate tomorrow. We had a few cancellations this week, but due to health problems and house selling, so we totally understand. Tomorrow AM starts the Rally Events.

Heartlands as far as the eye could see! 16 rigs in all.

We're all here!

Beautiful West Texas sunset.

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Today was the official kickoff of events, with golf, donuts supplied by the chamber, then the Hardeman County museum tours, dinner at the Medicine Mound Depot Restaurant, and then our Meet-n-Greet ice cream social.

The donuts arrived and we had a good crowd. The only downside was the lack of heat in the rally hall. We didn't have but one propane heater, and we didn't know how to light it.

Tony and 2 others went and played a round at StonyRidge Golf Course in Childress. When they returned, Tony said it was a little windy but they had a good time. The course was in really good shape. They, however, were not, LOL!

The golfers, Lin, Dave and Tony.

After a quick lunch, we lined up at 1:40 to caravan to the Hardeman County Museum, at the Quanah Acme & Pacific Depot in Downtown Quanah. 

Lined up ready to caravan

The Quanah Acme & Pacific Railroad Depot Museum

Heartlanders arriving at the Depot Museum

Touring the Depot museum

The Hardeman County Jail Museum, half a block from the Depot.

The upstairs of the Hardeman County Jail museum is where the prisoners were kept.

Tony behind bars

One of the cells

Mike breaks out of the solitary confinement cell.

Waiting for their better halves?

We toured the Depot/Museum, then went on the other side of the city block to tour the Hardeman County Jail. The downstairs holds many antiques and unique items, but to many the real gem is the upstairs of the jail, which housed the original jail cells.

After the tour, we retuned back to the park, and I did some quick work before we lined up again to head to the Medicine Mound Depot Restaurant. Right as we were about to leave, we were flagged down by the RV Park office manager, to warn us the Restaurant had to close suddenly due to a gas line being hit by a construction crew nearby!

So, we juggled and came up with an alternative plan to go to Dutch's Restaurant, at the opposite end of Quanah. We had to give them some time to prep for us, so we left at 5:45 to arrive at 6 for dinner, an hour later than our first plan. Luckily, Dutch's had a buffet, so we could get food quickly. However, it was clear we had overwhelmed their staff, as drink service was verrrry slow.
The food was fair, not great. But, on short notice, it worked out.

Sign at Dutch's Restaurant, Quanah, TX

Trucks outnumber all others at the parking lot of Dutch's

Heartlanders enjoy fellowship at Dutch's

Also, we happened to have some HOC members from Colorado that had a slight delay in their plans and ended up joining us for the meal and ice cream social. They couldn't stay for the whole rally, but we were glad they joined us!

After dinner, we immediately headed to the Rally Hall (with heat, now!) to have our ice cream social.  It started to ran some. Folks brought lots of stuff, to go with the Bluebell ice cream we supplied, and we had a good time with introductions around the room. We had folks from Oklahoma, East Texas, South Texas, West Texas, and Colorado!

The ice cream social, as seen from the upstairs in the cotton gin/rally hall.

We stayed after most folks had left and visited with Jim B, Mary and Phil (the traveling though members).

Whew, we were beat after today! And tomorrow is just as busy!

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Today we got up early to help with the Frank Baker Breakfast Extravaganza, that was supposed to be run by Frank. However, he was one of the folks that had to back out, so we managed to pull it off without him. Jim Beletti directed folks to help with making eggs, Tony cooked bacon, and Nancy cooked sausage and flipped pancakes. Everyone else brought stuff to go with, and we had plenty of food!

Tony makin' bacon!

Jim B, Jay C, and Dave T help prep breakfast food.

After breakfast was done, we had rig touring at 10:30AM. We were the first rig, and then folks just went down the line to look at whoever wanted to show off their units. Most folks did, and we saw a variety of floorplans, modifications and decors. It was great! We had 5 Landmarks, 4 Big Countrys, 4 Bighorns, 1 Cyclone, 1 Oakmont, and one "Some Other Brand" (SOB) plus, the stopping-though rig was a Bighorn.

Rig touring

Oh, and just before lunchtime, another BigHorn pulled into the park. Turns out, it was a very new HOC member couple, that was returning from Livingston, TX and headed to Amarillo. They had heard about the rally and the club from one of our other members and decided to join! They even selected the West Texas Chapter as their own! So, we made sure they would join us for the evening.

When the rig touring was done at noon, we ate lunch then prepped to head to our next event, Wine Tasting, at 501 Winery in Childress, TX. We had about 25 attendees, sampled 8 wines, had cheese, crackers, strawberries, and sampled their chocolate wine sauces. The owner of the vineyard, Adam Bishop, gave us explanations of the wines we sampled. Everyone seemed to have a great time!

Heartlanders arrive at the 501 Winery, Childress, TX

Owner Adam Bishop tells us about the winery and the selections we are tasting.

Cheese, crackers, strawberries and more were available during the tasting.

The wine tasting was held The former headquarters of the women's club that was active
through most of the 1900s, the two-story brick structure, with its elegantly curtained stage, warm wood trim, and period touches, is ideal for events and tastings.

After we returned from the winery, Tony and I worked to finalize our raffle items. At 5:45 it was picture time for the group shot, then we had our potluck immediately following. One of our attendees, Mike B., had volunteered to bring and cook all the meat. He brought his large smoker in his toyhauler, and stayed up most of the night to manage the firebox. The meat was plentiful and amazing tasting!

Group shot of the attendees to the inaugural West Texas Chapter Rally.
Ole Towne Cotton Gin RV Park, Quanah, Tx

Group shot of the attendees to the inaugural West Texas Chapter Rally.

Potluck is served!

Look at all that meat!

After dinner, we did the raffle drawing, and there was more visiting. Folks were getting a little chilly and left for the evening by 9pm, so we shut it down a little early. It's OK, we were exhausted!

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Today, we had to get up even earlier to make sure the "Grab-and-Go" breakfast was ready. Also, it was daylight saving time, and we had to SPRING FORWARD. Talk about a short night!

Pano shot of the sunrise. Our rig on the right.

We had everything ready by 7AM, but not many showed up that early. It was still dark out! So after a bit, I went back to the rig to start the teardown, as we have to head home today.

After getting a lot ready, I went back over about 8:30 and visited with folks for a while. Tony then headed back to the rig to do some prep-work outside the rig.

At 10am, we cleaned up the breakfast items, and then went back to prepping to leave. One attendee had a problem with their slide, but with other Heartlanders around, it was finally resolved. Also Mike had about 4 guys helping him get his smoker and griddle back into his toyhauler. So glad this group likes to help!

Heartlanders help with the slide issue.

We finally said goodbyes right about noon, and pulled out.

Eileen at the Ole Towne Cotton Gin RV Park, Quanah, TX

The drive home was easy and uneventful, except when we stopped for a quick break at a truck stop near Hamilton. There were a number of trucks each hauling a blade for a wind turbine, each one 116 feet long. In comparison, our Big Country is 42 feet long! That was the first time I think I've seen them up close/not moving.

Stopped for a quick break. I still can't get used to how long this rig is!

But these guys are MUCH longer!

We got back to our park, and the owner was mowing! He was glad to see us back and that we had a good time. We got set up fairly quickly, and crashed. I think we both dozed off a bit. 

Wow, what an experience! We had a great time hosting and learned a lot about being Chapter Leaders. We look forward to planning the next Rally, probably next Spring Break.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Warranty work and outrunning the rain

Monday, March 7, 2016

Today we got up early and got ready to hit the road to the dealer, just about 40 min away. 

Eileen on the steps at Terrell RV Park, Terrell, TX

Eileen with the Big Country.

We pulled in and unhooked and went over the issues we needed addressed with them, took the cats in their carrier into the waiting room, and began the wait. 

Even though I was assured Friday that everything was squared away and ready to go, the service manager seemed a bit confused and some things were not lined up as promised. However, the techs seemed to work quickly and get things completed. Our carpet was restretched and tacked down in more places so it is no longer buckled. They replaced the loveseat with the new heated/massaging/ powered version. The cracked cooktop was replaced. The tanks were flushed with air and water to get the sensors working properly. They said there was some clogging in the black tank.

The overspray paint was determined to be below the clear coat. Sadly, this means a new front cap or repainting the cap, at lest 3 days. We will wait to hear from the dealer and Heartland on this.

While we were waiting, I worked, and Tony headed out to the storage unit with an employee to get the chair and the broken tv.

Tony then headed out to get us lunch. We are a little early, but that was because it was looking like they would get done with us fairly quickly, and we didn't want to then be having to look for food with trailer in tow.

We got the trailer back about 12, and decided to hit the road to Quanah. Strong to severe storms were predicted in North Texas starting about 4pm, and also into the next day, so we decided it was better to get out of that part of the world before they hit. 

Unfortunately, we came across a wreck where they had shut down the highway in a construction zone. They made everyone exit to the service road. I think we were delayed about an hour as we crept about 2 miles up to, and around the wreck. Hazmat was cleaning up the scene, but we could not really see what happened. 

Once we got past that, we encounter some light rain, but nothing too bad. We got to The Ole Towne Cotton Gin RV Park about 5:30, and got settled in. HOC members Dave and Kathy Tyler were already here. Whew! What a long day! And the cats did great, staying in their carrier from 8am until nearly 6pm!

Ole Towne Cotton Gin RV Park, Quanah, TX

Sun sets on the Big Country.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Running Errands and Digging for a Chair

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Today, we got up and tried to get moving quickly. We had been asked by the dealership we sold the Mammoth to if we could locate the additional recliner that went on our coach. We knew it was in the storage unit, but we'd tried unsuccessfully to find it once before. 

So we decided we'd try again. It took us about 1.5 hours to remove a bunch of items, including a large amount of furniture, just to locate the chair and then repack the storage unit with the chair at the front. The dealership will send someone to get the chair with Tony tomorrow.

After that, we checked on our second unit and brought a few items back with us. We had enough time to kill before lunch, so we went to Costco to get paper products and such for the rally. We also ended up with a new, smaller desk chair for me, and a 4-set of Cutco steak knives. (We only have 4, somehow 4 others got misplaced when we moved.)

We then met Tony's parents and sister  for lunch at Luby's in Rockwall. It was very good food and you get a lot of it. We opted not to get dessert, and we were beyond full!
A side story:
The day before the Super Bowl, the 55" TV in the Rig went out. We could hear sound, but no picture. We tried all kinds of troubleshooting, but then called Heartlamd and arranged for a replacement to be shipped directly to us. It took a few weeks, but we got it. Sadly, it wasn't a quick exchange. The new TV was a newer model, which meant the soundbar bracket no longer fit. The wall mount was in a different location, and the components hooked to the opposite side of the TV. It took Tony quite a while, and a trip to the store to get longer cables, to get it all hooked up again! But hey, we have TV again!!!!
After lunch we went to Best Buy to recycle the old tv that Heartland did not want back. Unfortunately, Best Buy would not take it since it was over 50". Oh well, I guess we can give it to the dealer to dispose of. 

After our running around we headed home, and took a nap. About 5:30 we invited Tori over since she wanted to see the new coach. She ended up taking my old office chair! Yay, glad it found a happy home. 

After she left we went into Terrell and ate at Braum's, got some fuel tank cleaner at O'Riley Auto Parts, then went to Bucee's for fuel. Since we will be driving to Quanah and then back to Cisco, we got fuel in the big tank, too. $1.87 for diesel! 

Whew! What a long day! Tomorrow we head to the dealership bright and early for our appt. 

Warranty Service and Family Time.

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Today was the first day of Tony's spring break. Since the inaugural West Texas Chapter Rally that we are hosting is coming up this week, we decide to also plan to get our warranty work done on the 5ver. The replacement recliner, cooktop and other items to be addressed had been discussed with the dealer, and supposedly, it had all been lined up for the work to be done. We scheduled it for Monday, the 7th, with the understanding that we needed it all completed that day -- we head to Quanah for the rally on Tuesday. 

We packed up and got on the road to Terrell by about noon. We stopped to eat at DQ in Santo, finally arrived in Terrell about 3:30, and got set up. This time we were at Terrell RV Park, as Bluebonnet was full for Canton weekend. 

Our site at Terrell RV Park.

After a sitting just little bit, I asked Tony what he wanted to do for supper. About that time I got a text from my folks, asking about supper! Great minds think alike. So we met them for dinner in Sunnyvale, about halfway for both of us, and enjoyed our meal and visiting for a while. After dinner we went home and collapsed for a bit, stuffed full from dinner, and then went to bed soon after. 

Tomorrow, we run errands!!