Friday, April 25, 2008

Grand Canyon Railway Pics

Brrrr.....!!!!


It's cold here in Williams this morning! I'm waiting for my coach to warm up and for the water in my hot water tank to actually become HOT! Seeing as how I have a few spare minutes on my hands before shoving off for Calli, here is a slide show of the train trip to the Grand Canyon.

Enjoy!

Until Next time,
~Barb :-)


Grand Canyon Railway:


Grand Canyon Railway Pics Part 2

More pics of the Grand Canyon train ride!


Pics of the Grand Canyon!

I'm moving on to Calli...unless I get side tracked!

I travel first thing in the morning...bright and early, before the sun wakes up. I'm pushing off from Williams, AZ and heading for Calli.

I've decided to check out the Pacific Coast south of San Fran before heading to my gig in Gualala. I'm going to try to make it to Barstow tomorrow for the night, then onto Paso Robles for a couple of days to see the Hurst Castle. A friend of mine told me about a cool campground in Hollister where I can camp in the mouth of an extinct volcano right on the San Andreas fault line...sounds like fun, so I'm going to try to make it there by Sunday or Monday. Hopefully I can get a campsite at this exciting little spot. We'll see! I also want to hit Monterrey before sliding into the San Fran area and then on up to NorCal.

In the meantime, see below for more pics from my Grand Canyon adventure!

You probably won't hear from me for a few days as I have no clue when I'll have WiFi again..so in the meantime, live your dreams!

Until next time!
~Barb :-)



Pics of my trip to the Grand Canyon:








Thursday, April 24, 2008

VIDEO: Grand Canyon Train Adventure

Greetings from the Grand Canyon!

I took the Grand Canyon Railway up to the rim of the Grand Canyon yesterday. On the way up I sat in the "bubble" coach...with a glass enclosed ceiling. Way cool! On the way back, I hung out on the rear platform of the very last car for two hours and shot video so I could put together this little movie and share my experience with you. If you want more info about the train ride to the Grand Canyon check out http://www.thetrain.com

Until Next time!
~Barb :-)


"The Train" video. Music is "Eple" by Royksopp:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My New Mexico Adventure

It might take a minute or two for this flash slide show to load...it depends on your connection speed:


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Let's all dump...our RV holding tanks!

If you’re new to the RV lifestyle, there are usually 3 tanks installed on most RVs: the fresh water tank (we'll discuss that topic in a different blog), the black water holding tank, and the gray water holding tank.

Today we’re going to tackle the sometimes messy, always gross, but very necessary dumping of gray and black water tanks. I know…yuk. I’m reminded of the movie “RV” starring Robin Williams…well, although sensationalized, his ordeal wasn’t really too far off the mark. In this case, crappy things can happen to nice people. Let’s not leave anything to chance. This blog will be your step by step guide to dumping your tanks efficiently and with minimal effort.

To accomplish this task successfully, you’ll need the following:

· A box of rubber or vinyl gloves

· A garden hose at least 25 ft. in length

· An RV sewer drain hose, usually comes in 10 ft. sections and you’ll need a clear sewer pipe adapter to twist the hose onto the drain valve coming out of the storage tanks and you’ll need a elbow fitting that you insert into the sewer hook-up in the ground.

· A “rinsing wand” – found at Wal*Mart or any RV store such as Camping World. This contraption is a long narrow PVC pipe that has an on/off valve and a threaded fitting for attaching the garden hose to one end…and at the other end there are tiny holes where the water jets out.

· Liquid sewer chemicals

· Paper towels

· Disinfectant cleaner such as Clorox Bleach Cleaner

Let’s chat about hold tank chemicals for just a moment: There are special chemicals you should use, especially in the black tank, to reduce odors and the buildup of solids in the tank, which could cause problems down the road. There are many brands and types on the market, from powder to liquid. Regardless of the type, it is usually recommended (or required by most campgrounds) not to use chemicals that contain formaldehyde, which is a chemical that is harmful to some septic systems. There’s a big debate going on about the use of formaldehyde in holding tank products…I use Thetford Campa-Chem Holding Tank Deodorant. I’ve used both non- formaldehyde and with formaldehyde and as far as I can tell they both work equally well.

Please note that use caution when using holding tank chemicals. They are used for breaking down waste…they can be hazardous if you don’t follow the directions.

Now that you’ve had your warning…generally speaking holding tank chemicals are very easy to use. Just follow the directions.

One more thing…toilet paper. I recommend you use one-ply Scott toilet paper…labeled “septic-safe” on the package. You can buy the special RV brand of toilet paper and use it, but it’s expensive and it doesn’t last very long. The Scott brand works just as well, for less money.

A couple of other pointers you should know: RVs come with “tank level indicators” so you can just press a button to find out how full your tanks are. These lights are usually mounted in the kitchen area, but are sometimes found in the bathroom.

However, if the sensors in your tank are covered with muck, the indicator lights can be deceiving…they will lie to you! That’s why it’s crucial to keep your tanks clean, especially if you’ll be RVing for more than 3 – 4 days. I can go up to 2 weeks before dumping my tanks. I’m a fanatic when it comes to clean tanks!

Keep your black and grey tanks closed and dump them when they are at least ¾ full or completely full…which is best.

Dumping a full tank provides a sufficient quantity of water to flush solids from the tank. Leaving the drain valves open allows the water to drain off without flushing out solid waste. That solid waste will collect in the tank(s) and cause problems over time. Trust me on this!

The #1 problem with the black holding tank is clogging! Do not put facial tissue, paper, sanitary napkins, ethylene glycol based products, automotive antifreeze or household toilet cleaners in the holding tanks. Do not put anything solid in any tank that could scratch or puncture the tank.

If the drain system does get clogged:

Use a hand-operated probe to loosen stubborn accumulations. Seriously clogged P-traps may require disassembly. Be careful not to over tighten when putting everything back together. Do not use harsh household drain cleaners. Do not use motorized drain augers.

It might even be best to call a pro when if you’re not feeling comfy about tacking a clog. It’s up to you!

DUMP TANKS IN ORDER FROM DIRTIEST TO CLEANEST! In other words, dump the black toilet water tank first, then dump the grey tank which is the shower, bathroom sink and kitchen sink tank. This way you’ll be flushing out the dirtiest water with cleaner water.

And now…

“THE RULE”

Never, never, never dump grey or black water on the ground….especially black water! Black water is raw sewage is a bio-hazard. I’m reminded of the time I was staying in a park and someone dumped their black tank water on the ground. When management “caught wind” of this…they called 911 because they are required to do so by law. Well, about 5 snappy minutes later a HAZMAT team arrived on the scene, all dressed up in their HAZMAT gear, they cordoned off the area and evacuated part of the park so they could clean up the “bio-spill”.

Now you see why you should NEVER dump your black water on the ground. In some places it’s against the law and sometimes result in a hefty fine and a possible stay in the local jail. Think about it for a moment…that is some vile, disgusting stuff coming out of that black tank.

Back in the old days, people would toss their sewage out of the window and onto the street…well, this is what you are doing when you dump black water on the ground. Also, don’t dump your grey water on the ground….that stuff is also gross. Don’t be a lazy “Terd”…please either dump at your site (if you have full hookup) or at a dump station!

Before we get started, look for the FHU (full hook up) at your campsite…both the water spigot and sewer hook up are usually located very close together. Remove the cap from the sewage drain (if it’s capped).

Here are your step by step instructions…let’s dump your tanks:

Step 1: put on your rubber or vinyl gloves

Step 2: find the compartment where the dump valves are located, open the compartment. You’ll see a 3 inch black “Y” pipe coming down out of the bowels of the RV with two T shaped pull handles…or if you have a really long 5th wheel, you’ll see two separate 3 inch black pipes sticking out from the bottom of your trailer…these should be connected to drain pipes and Y-ed at the sewer hook up…at any rate…(do not pull the T handles, not yet!)…you’ll see a termination cap fastened to the end of the 3 inch pipe.

Step 3: While the T handles are still CLOSED, unscrew the termination cap slowly from the end of the pipe.

Step 4: Attach the clear sewer pipe adapter to the end of the pipe.

Step 5: Attach the sewer hose to the end of the clear adapter.

Step 6: Insert the other end of the sewer hose with the elbow fitting into the sewer hook-up in the ground.

Pat yourself on the back…so far, so good!

Remember black first, gray last! This means, always dump your black tank first and save the gray tank for last. This way the grey water will flush the black water residuals down the hose and into the drain.

Step 7: slowly and carefully open the black water T handle. The liquid and waste will start to flow down and out.

Step 8: attach the “rinsing wand” to the garden hose. With the wand securely attached to the garden hose, insert the wand into your toilet…far enough down so the water will not blast out of the toilet and all over the bathroom or you. Make sure the on/off valve is set to “off”.

Step 9: slowly turn on the garden hose until flow is at 100%.

Step 10: slowly turn on the rinsing wand. Gently move the wand around to hit the walls of the holding tank and loosen material (toilet paper, solid waste, etc.) from the holding tank. Continue to do this for about 5 minutes, turn off the rinsing wand.

Step 11: turn off the water to the garden hose.

Step 12: disconnect the rinsing wand from the garden hose and insert the garden hose into your toilet…far enough down so the water will not blast out of the toilet and all over the bathroom or you.

Step 13: shut the lid to the toilet, so it closes over the hose, but does not restrict water flow.

Step 14: slowly turn on the garden hose until flow is at 100%. Check on your hose to make sure water is not flooding your bathroom. (By the way…it’s good to have a “helper” when doing this.)

Step 15: go outside and watch the water flow through the clear sewer pipe adapter. When the water flows clear and you no longer see waste debris washing through the adapter, turn off the water and close the black water T handle.

Congratulations! You have successfully drained your black water holding tank…now let’s do the gray water tank!

Step 1: slowly and carefully open the gray water T handle. The liquid and food waste will start to flow down and out.

Step 2: remove the garden hose from your toilet…drain excess water into the bowl.

Step 3: spray a paper towel with Clorox cleaner, wipe and clean the rinse wand…wipe and clean the garden hose…remove both from the bathroom. Stow the rinse wand, keep the hose handy…you’ll be using it again shortly!

Step 4: look at the clear sewer pipe adapter…when the grey water flow is at a trickle, close the grey water T handle. Let any water in the sewer hose finish draining.

Step 5: gently disconnect the clear sewer pipe adapter from the end of the 3 inch pipe.

Step 6: turn on the garden hose to a gentle flow of water…50% flow…and thoroughly rinse out the sewer pipe, the rinsing wand, and the garden hose.

Step 7: stow everything for next time.

Step 8: following the directions on the label, pour the suggested amount of blue holding tank chemical directly into your toilet and flush into the holding tank….run the water for a few minutes.

Voila! You are finished…remove your gloves, toss them in the garbage, wash up and have a great day!

You did good!

…and remember, practice, makes perfect!!

To find out more information about this subject just google “dump RV tanks” and you’ll see several links to online articles with photos, opinions and how to tips. Also, go to CampingWorld.com and click on the link “RV sanitation and sewer” where you’ll see many of the hoses and fittings we’ve discussed during the show.

And of course, everything we’ve discussed here in this blog can be downloaded via podcast so you can take your ipod with you and follow my step by step instructions. Just go to MyRVLifeRadio.com and click on the “podcast” link.

Until next time!

~Barb

Friday, April 4, 2008

My new website is online!

I've been busy! It was so windy here in New Mexico yesterday (the coach was rocking like crazy!!), I stuck around and got a few things taken care of...including building a brand new website! I decided I'm having such a blast with my new radio show, that I'd throw together a site where listeners could find all of my blog, radio, and contact info in one convenient place. It just seemed like it would take the hassle out of bookmarking several different web pages. Now you can bookmark one place...so here's the address:

http://www.myrvliferadio.com/

I uploaded podcasts to iTunes today, but they won't be available for a couple of weeks. In the meantime, when I get a spare moment I plan to experiment with putting podcasts on my website. It's a bit challenging...the directions don't make sense to me, confusing. It's kind of like programming the VCR...oops, I mean the DVD recorder!

I also recorded radio show number 3 last night...I talk about work camping and how to make money being a work camper. I know a lot of my friends are already doing this, but maybe someone will be inspired to give this RV life a try!

Can you tell I'm really enjoying my new radio show? Yep, I'm pretty psyched about it!

I think I'll take a break from the computer and head out to a really cool place called the Catwalk. Everyone keeps raving about it and I hear there's a great little place to stop for home-made pie on the way...sounds like it's gonna be a good trip!

Hope all is well in your neck of the woods!

Until next time,
~Barb

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Gila Cliff Dwelling Adventure!

Just a reminder, I'd like to invite you to check out my new radio program on Blog Talk Radio. So far, I have three shows recorded and you can listen by visiting my host page located on the web at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/MyRVLife


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I am totally enjoying my time in New Mexico! I drove up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings yesterday…boy!!!...it was a long drive up and a long drive back! But, I’ll admit it was worth it! Ever since I was a little kid I’ve wanted to go and see those dwellings. I’m a firm believer in making my dreams come true and today I did just that!

From Silver City I drove straight up Hwy 15 into the Gila National Forest. It’s a 2 to 3 hour drive depending on how many times you stop to take pictures (I stopped constantly)…to get there. I suggest you not go more than 20 mph in most places. The road is extremely twisty and there are no guard rails. If you take this little trip, drive slowly. Obey the speed limit or you may find yourself diving over a cliff, falling helplessly into a canyon far, far below. No one will be able to help you. I doubt they will even know you’ve just made a horrible blunder. I rarely saw another soul on the way up Hwy 15…maybe 5 cars at most. If a car crashes over the cliff in the forest and no one is there to hear it…well, I think you get the picture. Not pretty!

But you’ll be fine…trust me! I made it up and back, so can you! Just take your time. Oh, and by the way…DO NOT drive your RV, 5th wheel or travel trailer up Hwy 15 if it is over 20 ft. in length. They do not allow vehicles over 20 ft. long to drive on that road…too narrow, too many tight switch backs. If you want to camp up there, take Hwy 35…which by the way is still twisty, but much more manageable. The same rule applies: If an RV crashes over the cliff in the forest and no one is there to hear it…just don’t even go there!

The views are spectacular! There are several places to pull over for photos, so take plenty of batteries and a memory card with lots of storage. I shot about 500 pics on the way up and about another 500 once I finally made it to the dwellings.

Oh, I forgot to mention…you should pack a lunch and take it with you. You can picnic along the way. I stopped at the Lower Scorpion Campground and had lunch under the trees. Afterward, I explored the cave dwellings and pictographs there to wet my appetite and prepare myself for the “big” dwellings at Cliff Dweller Canyon about a mile further up the road.

I arrived in the parking lot where I found a small nature center containing artifacts and information about the people who inhabited the dwellings roughly 800 years ago. You may think the ancient cave dwellers may have been unsophisticated, but quite frankly, they were genius in many ways. For instance, they had a written language in the form of pictographs that survive to this very day….still found of the walls and faces of cliffs 800 years after they were written there. They had to survive in harsh conditions, so they developed tools and methods of survival to sustain them through good times and bad.

The trail to the dwellings is a 1 mile loop. It’s a half mile up and a half mile back. It’s a gradual climb until the very end…I had to sit down and rest. Be sure to take a bottle of water with you and a walking stick if you have one. Just carry a back pack…and stow your gear in it. It works out well!

The scenery is amazing! I felt a connection with this serene, spirit filled place and found it hard to leave…but I’m getting ahead of myself. Once you get to the top, you’ll be greeted by a very friend park ranger who will give you a little background and answer any questions you might have…and then, you ascend up the stairs into a completely distant work…far removed from the modern day world you and I inhabit. I met folks who had visited 20 and 50 years ago…long before major excavation had taken place. Most of the ruins have been rebuilt and much of the structures are new, but made to look and feel authentic. Never the less, the dwellings are magnificent and awe inspiring!

As you climb deeper into the womb of the dwellings you get a real sense of what it must have been like to live there 8 centuries ago as an inhabitant. It amazes me that people walked by foot from Mexico to live in the middle of a canyon next to a stream. Apparently the dwellings were ceremonial in nature…used as a “church” to worship the native people’s creator. It was also used as a day care center…the grown ups would leave their smaller children who were too young in one of the dwellings with no way out while they worked all day. Now that’s a concept in child care! But, the ranger told me these people were not war-like, but there were peaceful…so that made me feel better about the whole “leave the kid behind all day” train of thought! They did it out of necessity!

In one dwelling I saw corn husks that were still there…after almost 800 years! In another dwelling I saw what looked to be the remains of an oven…there were doors and windows and many interesting things to look at.

As I said before…it was very difficult to leave this sacred, holy ground. I could almost feel the spirits of the Native Americans who lived there. As I finally turned to leave, I saw the wide expanse of the wings of a gorgeous Golden Eagle soaring just over head. Perhaps the spirits are still there…reminding us of a different time and a different place where there were no worries about ever escalating gas prices, getting the kids to soccer practice on time or the constant interruptions of our hectic "modern" life.

I sighed and walked back down the path and back into the year 2008.


Until next time!


~Barb :-)


The high price of gas and diesel...Yikes!

Before I get going here, I'd like to invite you to check out my new radio program on Blog Talk Radio. So far, I have two shows recorded and you can listen by visiting my host page located on the web at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/MyRVLife


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Today's topic…one that’s on the minds of many…the extremely high cost of gas and diesel fuel. The oil companies made a $123 billion dollar profit last year. That’s sickening. The oil execs are completely out of touch with reality…of course they are. While you and I struggle to get by, they drive whatever they please, live in big fancy homes and live the lavish lifestyle. You and I are paying for it.

Gas has cost more than a gallon of milk for a very long time. Now it costs more than a happy meal at McDonald’s. How much more do they thing we can take? And our government gives the oil companies…of all things…tax breaks! Don’t these guys realize that you can’t get blood from a stone? The greedy jerks are breaking the backbone of America while they laugh all the way to the bank.

Just yesterday hundreds of truckers across the U.S. either crawled very slowly down our highways or they pulled over as an overt sign of protest against the rising cost of fuel. On average, it costs $1140.00 for a trucker to fill his tank just one time. My friends, that is absurd! It’s a crime! I did my part: I stayed home…didn’t drive the coach, the car or the motorcycle. I’m only one person, but I wanted to show my support.

The only way to stop big oil from robbing from us “regular” people is to do what folks did in the 70’s. Stop buying gas! We need to take a vacation from the pump for about a week. Just fill up on Sunday and don’t go back to the gas station until the following Sunday. Don’t buy gas!

Little Jane can miss gymnastics and little Bobby can miss soccer practice. It might even be nice to have everyone home together for a change. But, we all have to get together on this or else things will only get worse.

People, it’s just basic economics…supply and demand. If the market will bear higher prices at the pump, the oil companies will charge them. If we take a stand and stop buying gas “en-masse” for just one week…guess what? The oil companies will get the message and prices will come down. We need to stop whining and just buck up. We need to “just say no!”

I’d like to read something to you from the website http://www.boston.com about the April Fool's Day 2008 trucker strike:

Using CB radios and trucking Web sites, some truckers called for a strike Tuesday to protest the high cost of diesel fuel, hoping the action might pressure President Bush to stabilize prices by using the nation's oil reserves.

"The gas prices are too high," said Lamont Newberne, a trucker from Wilmington, N.C., who along with 200 drivers protested at a New Jersey Turnpike service area. "We don't make enough money to pay our bills and take care of our family." Newberne said a typical run carrying produce from Lakeland, Fla., to the Hunt's Point Market in The Bronx, N.Y., had cost $600 to $700 a year ago. It now runs him $1,000.

On the Turnpike, southbound rigs "as far as the eye can see" staged a short lunchtime protest by moving about 20 mph near Newark, jamming traffic on one of the nation's most heavily traveled highways, authorities said.

"We can no longer haul their stuff for what they're paying," said David Santiago, 35, a trucker for the past 17 years.

Charles Rotenbarger, 49, a trucker from Columbus, Ohio, said he felt helpless.

"The oil company is the boss, what are we going to be able to do about it?" said Rotenbarger, who was at a truck stop at Baldwin, Fla., about 20 miles west of Jacksonville. "The whole world economy is going to be controlled by the oil companies. There's nothing we can do about it."

Jimmy Lowry, 51, of St. Petersburg, Fla., and others said it costs about $1 a mile to drive one of the big rigs, although some companies are offering as little as 87 cents a mile. Diesel cost $4.03 a gallon at the truck stop.

Meanwhile in Washington, top executives of the five biggest U.S. oil companies said they know high prices are hurting consumers but deflected any blame and argued their profits -- $123 billion last year -- were in line with other industries.

The threat of nationwide $4-a-gallon gasoline, perhaps this summer, and $100-a-barrel oil is producing strong political reverberations, even as lawmakers acknowledged there is little that Congress can do to bring prices down.

Now…this business about the oil refineries being affected by Katrina…remember when gas prices shot up right after the hurricane? Well, truth be told, that gas had been sitting in the refineries for months. The gas we were being charged more money for had absolutely nothing to do with Hurricane Katrina. The oil companies are just plain greedy! No one who actually works for a living…I’m talking about the middle class here folks and also let’s not forget those living on fixed incomes can possible benefit from higher prices at the pump.

So, let’s put things into perspective. Those big juicy steaks the oil company executives eat, the cars they drive, the gas they put into their vehicles tanks, everything they consume is delivered by….you got it…truckers! And now truckers can’t afford to deliver the goods.

But here’s the kicker: the rich guys can afford to have their consumables flown in, delivered, etc. They can afford to find a way around a shutdown. You and I my friend, cannot! We don’t have that luxury. We will have to pay more for everything…from toilet paper to potatoes! …and there could be shortages of necessities. Not good!

Now let’s talk about how that affects you and I, Mr. and Ms. RVer…it’s not pretty! We won’t be able to take long trips in our rigs. No more cross-country outings, long summer trips with the kids and/or grand kids. We will become more limited in our choices of where we can travel and where we can work camp or volunteer. Our overall quality of life will be affected and diminished. I don’t know about you, but it makes me angry to think I won’t be able to come and go as I please because I won’t be able to put gas in my tank. I won’t be able to drive my coach as much. I won’t be able to see things and do things I’ve always wanted to do.

As a full timer, I relish my freedom to roam and explore. I love the call of the open road. It saddens me to think that one day…in the not so distant future I may not be able to answer its call to adventure. As a citizen of our great nation, (yes despite all the muckity-muck on Capitol Hill, I’m still a red-white-and-blue, all American girl) I believe it is my right to pursue my American dream and enjoy my personal “pursuit of happiness”…which is living in my 32 ft. Winny, traveling all over hill and dale to experience the sights, sounds, smells, flavors, textures, all the wonderful delights that our country has to offer.

So, here’s what I’m asking you to do...think about what I’ve said here tonight. Call your congressman or congresswoman. Tell them to take away the tax breaks congress is giving the oil companies. Contact the RV lobbying groups who have friends in Washington and tell them to make a lot of noise! Cut back on your consumption on gas and diesel.

We all need to be in this together…or we will find ourselves stranded on the one way street going in the wrong direction toward the point of no return.

…unless of course…we are already there!


In my next blog, I'll detail my adventure up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings just north of Silver City, NM. Incredible!


Until next time,


~Barb :-)