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Part Four: 911 Van Down! Van Down!

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I frantically dialed 911 on my Android phone

In only a few seconds the emergency operator answered and said “AAA, how may I help you?” She asked me if I was in a safe place and I said “Hell yes. I am in my front yard. It’s Rusty I am worried about!” I quickly explained with a slight tremble in my voice exactly what was wrong with “Rusty”. I answered a series of questions and made sure she had all the “vital signs”. She said she would dispatch an ambulance to our location STAT. She told me to keep Rusty in the shade and for me to remain calm and stay inside my air-conditioned home. I of course complied…

Rusty fell in love with EMT Lucas. It made him think of his favorite lubrication products.

Even though it seemed much longer, it was only sixty minutes before “Lucas” EMT (Emergency Medical Towing) rolled up. He approached Rusty slowly and cautiously muttering in a soothing voice as he drew alongside. Rusty was nervous, but in only a few minutes he seemed to relax and really like Lucas… He asked me what happened to Rusty’s bumper and grille and I explained I had removed them to make patient assessment easier…

CLEAR !!!

Lucas climbed inside Rusty and yelled “CLEARRRR!” seconds later 64,000 volts surged from Rusty’s coil, hit the spark plugs and Lucas yelled “I’ve got a pulse! Heart rate 1000 RPM, respiration normal. I think he can get onto the stretcher under his own power.” I breathed a huge sigh of relief and Rusty smiled just a little…

Rusty shuddered just a little, as Lucas guided him slowly and carefully aboard the waiting “stretcher”. He only slowed down a little when his stout, Class III hitch receiver, dragged on the asphalt driveway. I told Rusty not to be afraid and directed EMT Lucas to continue moving forward. Just another few feet and Rusty was safely on the ambulance…

Lock him down gently…

Rusty groaned a little, in mild protest, at having his wheels restrained against the uncomfortable back-board. Lucas explained that all patients must be restrained for their own safety and that his frame was just to weak to use. Rusty was pretty brave. He had a few tears, but he never really cried. It made me sad to see Rusty immobilized, but I knew in the long run it was for his own good.

While the EMT completed safely restraining Rusty, I called the Triage Team at Pam’s Motor City and told them he was on his way. They assured me the doctors, nurses and technicians would be ready…

“Please Lord…”

As Lucas rolled out I yelled “Run CODE. Lights and Sirens!” I did my best to hide my fear from Rusty. I did not want him to see me crying and make him even more nervous at going to the hospital alone. I prayed as he pulled out of sight “Please Lord, bring Rusty safely to P.M.C. and return him to us whole again. I promise I will always keep his tire pressure perfect and only burn high-octane fuel.” It will be a long night for all of us, as we wait to hear the diagnosis and treatment plan for Rusty’s rehabilitation…

” Get Well ” cards may be sent to: “Rusty Roadtrek”, c/o Pam Oakes, Owner – Pam’s Motor City, 13395 Metro Parkway, Fort Myers, Florida 33966. Please do not send balloons. It makes him “gassy”

Spokesman Dave

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Rusty Roadtrek: Part Three

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“Cheer up it could get worse” It did…

I am not posting this to “Bitch and moan”. I am very sorry that I didn’t investigate better before I paid for the van. Water over the dam. I want to document my discovery and my attempt at correcting the problem.

I took the van to one shop “Gene’s Frame Repair” and had a terrible result. I later found that this company was definitely not the best one for the work. If you are interested in what I found click here for the WINK TV “Call for action”.

Next I spoke with Doug Martin “Beach Fender Mender”. After a series of unanswered voice-mails and messages left with his wife Daniel, I decided it was time to move on. If the man doesn’t keep his word on “Call backs” I would have expected the same results on my project.

On to the reason for my huge repair problem…

Passenger side frame rail. Extensive rust damage. Crap! Looks like I shouldn’t have bought a “Pig in a poke”. Needless to say, I was heart broken when I saw it. This was supposed to be the vehicle that Lucy and I would travel in for the rest of our vehicle expedition lives. Well “cry or try”… I am not one who quits in fear or gives up without a good fight. There has to be a way to make it like new.

My first order of business was to find a suitable frame section from a donor vehicle. I made twelve phone calls with “Sorry no” results. My thirteenth call struck pay dirt. I spoke to Steve at Jim’s Auto Parts in Sebring, Florida and he said “Sure. I got what you need right here.” I asked how much and he said “Buck and a half” standard salvage yard jargon. I said “How much for freight?” Steve replied “I run my own trucks. That price includes delivery.” Amazing. A perfect donor frame deliver to my door for $150.00. Next morning I had my frame. It looked great. No rust or damage at all. I wire brushed it, painted on a coat of Ospho and then a primer coat of zinc chromate. The frame is ready for installation…

I have an appointment with Pam’s Motor City on Thursday. She has a complete body shop as well as engine and regular mechanic service. I am very optimistic that she owns the right company for the job…

I removed the grille and bumper to make it a little easier for her to get to the problem. In the process I discovered more rust damage underneath. Good thing is, the damaged parts are all in good shape on the donor frame.

I am bound and determined to complete the repairs and have this gorgeous Roadtrek back in fighting trim. While it is in the shop I will replace all front end bushings, tie-rod ends, sway bar links and front shocks. In addition; new rear main seal, timing chain, complete tune-up and replacement of passenger side exhaust header will be completed.

Lucy and I can’t wait to get “Voyageur” back on the road and back to doing what it does best. Carrying us on another great adventure creating wonderful new memories… I will keep you posted on my progress.

Party hardy,

Dave the “Spokesman”

My Secret Patio

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Serendipity…

Shortly after moving to our modest home in Olga, Florida I accidentally discovered a hidden “secret patio”, buried under six inches of leaf litter and dirt. A bit of hard work with my shovel and a long forgotten treasure was uncovered and developed into a wonderful place to relax.


I was raking the ground underneath our shady Banyan tree, thinking it would be a good lawn chair area. I was in a bored, “ho hum” mode of raking. Suddenly, the tines of my rake scraped concrete. I felt like an Archeologist who had just uncovered the “Missing Link”. The thrill of discovery filled me with a new sense of purpose and high level energy. I raked like a woman possessed until I had reached the outer edge of the hidden twelve by twelve patio. I stopped raking when I located the perimeter and excitedly ran to tell David of my discovery. It took hours to reveal the entire hidden treasure… David shared my joy and interjected “Keep digging. Maybe there is a swimming pool under there too.”

Elephant Ears

The creek that borders our property is filled with varied sizes of healthy, beautiful, naturally occurring Elephant Ears. My love for this plant probably stems from my mothers huge Elephant Ears. Hers occupied a prominent corner of our home.  As a child, I was in awe of their huge, verdant, green leaves. Their broad leaves towered above my head.

I enjoyed playing “make believe” games under their shady interior. I also feel a kindred spirit with their namesake, the Elephant – I have a compassion for the animal that fills my soul. As a focal point, I transplanted some of the wild Elephant Ears into a corner of my secret patio. They have grown magnificently into the same friendly giants I remember from my childhood.

A Blank Canvas

I continue to paint my canvas with varied colors, sizes and textures of plants. Each is given a special place to enhance it’s beauty and add to the masterpiece that is my intimate patio environment. Some were found on our property- carelessly placed by the previous dwellers; others were potted plants I brought with me. Still others come from cuttings I innocently snipped from public places. (I learned the little “freebie” plant trick from my sweet Mother.)

We continually gather cast off wood around our neighborhood and always have a fully stocked wood pile for the fire pit. Our grandchildren have joyously toasted many a marshmallow and roasted fat juicy hot dogs on a slender stick held just above the flames. It’s all for here to be enjoyed by family and friends alike. The patio garden continues to evolve. Relaxing in my “Secret Patio” truly is a ZEN experience… I hope one day you will come and sit by the fire.

The “Secret Patio” has become “ground zero” for many of our outdoor activities. In this photo David is preparing to brew a delicious cup of coffee using his Kelly Kettle and Aero-press coffee maker. It is the perfect location . Warm in winter and cool in summer…

 

Typical pile of free wood. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle.

“On our frequent walks through our neighborhood Lucy and I often discover scrap wood or yard waste that is perfect for our cozy fire-pit” mentions husband David…

Wildlife Haven
I have enjoyed watching the harmless Black Racers that inhabit our yard. I like the fact that they eat rodents. Three sides of our property are vacant and grow wild. I cannot count the numerous times I have sat in my Secret Patio, just “being in the moment” and seen one of our resident snakes chasing a lizard across the yard. If I ran to tell David, I always scared them away. At other times, I have enjoyed observing them as they hunt.  I have seen several of them extend half of their bodies, a couple of feet in the air. They attempt to stand straight up to reach a low branch on our Macadamia nut tree, They sway gently, looking exactly like a slender weed in a breeze, until they stealthily complete their hunt.

https://i1.wp.com/www.blueridgewildlife.org/images/black_racer_big.jpg
Realizing I had let the patio turn into a bit of a shambles, I began to cleanup the overgrown weeds and organize the wood pile. David had just mowed the lawn; everything else was manicured except my “secret patio”.


As I approached, with tools in hand, to clear the weeds under the Banyan tree, I saw the tell-tale color of iridescent black indigo snake in the grass. Fearing discovery, the beautiful, iridescent snake, slid deeper into the weeds. I decided to abort my “Weed Removal” mission, “Keep the weeds and let nature be.”

A fondness for snakes had never been in my nature. I have killed several in the past. Somehow, I was charmed by the harmless, innocent, reptile. Should I destroy their habitat for my selfish need to preen and manicure? Who am I, but one of Gods creatures just as they are.

Most of my friends think I have gone a bit over the edge. What are your thoughts and experiences with snakes and the environment?

Happy Memorial Day and best wishes from “Spokes-model” Lucy

Part Two: It’s gonna cost how much?

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The Voyageur saga continues…

I got safely back to O.O.C. and breathed a sigh of relief. Still knew I had a lot of work to do to put our ‘Trek in shape, but unaware of the real problems that would be revealed.

Lucy couldn’t wait to give her a bath. We had fun washing off the “Trail Dust”. Once we finished the “spit and polish” she shined like a new dime. While I finished the outside work; tires, wheels and chrome polish, Lucy grabbed her basket of cleaning stuff and started on the interior.

She fell in love with the roomy interior and remarked that she could live in the Roadtrek with no problems. It was a hot day and as you recall the air conditioner did not work. We decided to resume our interior clean-up and outfit the interior for camping, in the much cooler morning hours…

Out with the old…

The time had come to replace the old Fedders AC. First task was to find an air-conditioner with the correct dimensions to fit the existing space… I found a remote controlled “LG” unit that was just the right size and it was Energy Star Compliant

Getting the old unit out was a chore. I wound up having to use a 2X4 up against a tree to assist. I had Lucy hold the 2X4 between the tree and the rear of the air conditioner, through the hole where I had removed the rear AC vent. Just backed up a little toward the Oak tree and the unit finally slid out.

When I removed the old unit I found extensive rust damage in the AC area. The condensate had actually caused two holes through the sheet-metal of the compartment. I sanded it all down to bare metal and coated the affected area with “Ospho” rust inhibitor. It was allowed to dry overnight. Next morning I applied fiberglass resin to the entire interior of the AC compartment and used two layer of glass cloth to reinforce and close the holes. Another overnight curing time and I was ready to install the new “LG”. I fashioned new Oak trim pieces to cover the opening left by the slightly smaller new AC. Once I was done she fit like a glove…

Next day we left for our first real RV camping trip. We headed to Peace River Campground, happy as clams, still unaware of the real perils that had not been revealed. Another project complete but oh brother, we had no idea what was in store for Voyageur.

Peace River Campground – Hunkered In

Watch for Part Three: I’ve been framed!

It only gets WORSE.  ;o(

Spokesman Dave

I’m a little RUSTY

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Lucy and I decided that of all the RV’s we have owned in the past, a Roadtrek would be best for our future travel plans. Fully self-contained, good gas mileage and easy to drive and park. With that thought in mind I began my search… In the past I have had excellent results both buying and selling on EBay. This time was a little different. I bought a “Pig in a poke” and some problems ensued…

I bought the Roadtrek “Sight unseen”. The few photos on the ad looked okay. The seller said she didn’t know much about the RV. She had taken it as payment on some land. I flew from Fort Myers to Kentucky to take delivery. She had dropped off the RV at the airport so we never met. I got the key from the parking attendant and stepped aboard.

It looked good inside, but nothing worked. Generator would not turn over, no water flow from the on-board 12 volt pump, Fedders air-conditioner was in pieces and none of the interior lights would come on. No pump meant no toilet flushing. I started the engine to begin my 1200 mile trip back to Florida and it ran smooth. Smooth but VERY loud (more on the LOUD later). Ready to pull out of the airport I switched the dash-air to “MAX” and waited for the ice-cold air to begin cooling my body and the rest of the interior. You guessed it – NO COLD AIR. Oh well… The stereo sounded great, the power windows went right down and off I went. Still happy, but somewhat disappointed…

I had gotten a late start, was driving an unknown vehicle, so I  planned a short first day. I pulled into a “JIffy Lube” and had an oil change and lube. While I was there I had all tire pressure checked; rear 80 psi Front 55 psi. The wiper blades were shot, so I had them replaced as well. (As it turned out, that was a great decision) Off I went in search of a convenient campground for my first overnight stop. There were very few (none) on my route until I finally approached a motel with RV spaces next door. I rented a shady spot (no air-conditioning) plugged in my power cord and got ready to enjoy my first night in “Voyageur”. There was a nice restaurant just across the street so I splurged on a nice meal. I was wide awake from nervous energy, first-night jitters and an unfamiliar bed. Oh yes… I also missed my Lucy. I finally fell asleep lulled by the sound of the diesel trucks roaring by on the Interstate…

Up with the chickens I resumed my trip. Quick stop for some hot coffee and I prepared to enjoy the winding, narrow, undulating roads, that took me on the back roads leading to Cumberland Falls State Park – Gorgeous! I stopped in the park and enjoyed a very relaxing hour long hike along the Cumberland River. The falls were spectacular… Turned out my “peaceful”, meandering ride was about to come a little less “peaceful”…

CLANK, BANG, RRRRRROAR!

What the heck happened? I looked in my rear-view mirror, as I began slowing down and saw bits and pieces of my exhaust system, skidding and sparking, as it slid down the pavement behind me, spewing dust particles everywhere… (Never buy a pig in a poke) Well, guess that explains why she sounded a little loud, when I first started her up. A quick search on my Android phone and my GPS brought me to a nearby muffler shop. Turned ot the had an open bay and the took me right in for repairs. Brand new everything and the total was $374.00 and only an hour lost… The mechanic even welded a new bracket on my broken generator exhaust and was kind enough to show me exactly what he meant when he said “She’s rusted all to HELL under here!. You got BIG problems!” Turns out……. he was exactly right…

My propane system has been totally compromised by rust (Never buy a pig in a poke). The replacement system; storage tank, brackets, regulator, valve, hoses and fittings, will cost me around six hundred dollars.

“While yer down here, take a look at this…”  (Never buy a pig in a poke) He said “No wonder yer genny won’t crank, she’s rusted all to HELL!” Sound familiar? Looks like another grand for a new gennerator too… And…. I a STILL happy I bought this Roadtrek…

I finally resumed my trip still hot, windows open but a whole lot quieter. As I drove along I did a lot of thinking and planning about how I would complete (and pay for) each of the many repairs. I drove until I was just too tired to continue and after a light dinner in a truck stop diner, shut her down in the parking lot and spent a fitful night. I wanted to be home and back with my Lucy. As I said my evening prayers I prayed, “Please Lord no more surprises. Just get me home safe.” I kept remembering what my mom used to say “Cheer up. It could be worse.” Turned out she was right…

I cheered up- it got WORSE…

Continued in part-two “It’s gonna cost how much!!!”

Cheers, Spokesman Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow Jacket attack…

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This morning we woke to a wonderful, drizzling rain. Just right for our thirsty lawn and landscaping. Our honeybees, however, do not like working in the rain. Guess you just can’t please everyone…

Lucy and I normally take a nice “exercise” bike ride in the morning and we didn’t want the wet weather conditions to stop us. She rode her hybrid “Giant ATX 870” “Grocery Getter” and I rode my full-suspension “Jamis Dakar”, .  I wanted the benefit of the disc brakes in the inclement conditions… We had originally planned to visit nearby Franklin Lock – one of the five on the Caloosahatchee River portion of the  ICW – and enjoy a healthy snack, while we watched some of the pleasure craft lock-through… It was even more enjoyable in the cooling rain.

Lucy’s Indian pose – “Chief Rain in Face Yellow Hood”

We made a brief stop for snacks at our famous “Olga Mall”. Cheese crackers and a couple containers of fruit juice to wash it down. Turned out there were several vessels lined up to transit the lock. It fascinates me to see all the different boats that people choose as their “Floating Homes”. The Shag Bark Sycamore trees were gorgeous. There were even some huge blooms on the Magnolia trees that were so perfect they looked like porcelain china…

We left our observation post at the park and set out to do some grocery shopping. Had a bit of a problem stuffing all of our purchases into our small trunk bags. In the end, “Bob’s your Uncle”…

On our return trip we stopped at Sherry’s “Full Belly Deli” and bought a couple of her delicious, freshly made, “Veggie Delight” sandwiches. Avacado, cucumber, Alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, lettuce and mozzarella cheese. She puts on a little Italian dressing to make the perfect combo. Deeelicious! We got back to O.O.C. just a few minutes ahead of Charlie, from Hawke Enterprises, LLC. He had come by to pull the generator out of our new (pre-owned) Roadtrek.

NEW Generation…

Charlie is an exceptional Generator service Technician and a licensed electrician. They do a lot of upscale, standby power stations, as well as all types of commercial, high-voltage, design, installation and repair. I have found that the work they do is always first rate, at a fair price. I truly believe they treat all customers, large and small, with the same polite, caring, attitude.

It only took Charlie a few minutes to have all the fittings unhooked, fuel line capped and the little 2.8kW, Onan “Microlite”generator removed.

We teamed up on getting it to his tailgate for the short ride to his machine shop. The little genny will receive a complete overhaul and a facelift. The generator case – like many of the components under the RV – has been negatively impacted by a severe case of “rust-itis”. She will be reinstalled looking like new running like a Rolex. We will think of Hawke Enterprises, every time we are “boondocking” and enjoying  the cool air conditioning. The little Microlite will provide all the AC power we need…

When Charlie left I joined Lucy in our spa. A wonderful climax to another fine day at O.O.C.

Some of our readers enjoy the occasional “Rainy Day” and other say, “Crap” bring back the sun. What’s your preference?

Warm wishes, Spokesman Dave

A Good Samaritan Story

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A family member told me about the most horrible night she has ever experienced. I listened in amazement as this young warrior described the events of that dark night.  I discussed one of the events with David. He immediately said, “The Good Samaritan”.  That led me to reread the story.

It was her birthday. The beginning of this horrid night started from her willingness and  compassion to do a good deed for a young girl, away at school, who desperately wanted to spend the weekend.  The young warrior empathized. She and her fiancé scraped enough gas money to travel the few hours, knowing there was no extra money, no AAA , for anything unexpected. Just faith…

The Unexpected Did Happen

It was past midnight, after being lost for hours, due to an interstate detour, they ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. They looked around and saw a long driveway leading to a large Walmart Distribution Center. It was raining hard as they walked up the driveway, caught the attention of a very surly security guard. He addressed them in an unfriendly and threatening manner and preceded to make a bad situation worse…  When they explained their dilemma, he told them they had to leave and walk to a gas station. He explained the only gas station was miles away. Embarrassingly, they said they had no money for gas. He told them he was a Christian and gave them a Christian Pamphlet and let them go. Soon the security guard reluctantly returned with a two gallon gas can and offered to drive them to the gas station. He gave them two dollars. While helping them get the car started, after being drained from all its fuel, he used their flashlight several times, because he didn’t have one of his own. They offered it to him as the only possession they had to repay him. The security guard insultingly replied “I don’t want that. I have all kinds of those sort of toys.”

Pay it Forward

Another employee, who heard about the situation, walked down the long driveway and told them he would be off work in a few minutes. He asked them to wait until he could follow them back to the gas station. They did. The Good Samaritan, who passed no judgment, made no accusatory remarks and demonstrating only caring and love, filled their tank. They insisted on sending him repayment. He said “No. Just pay it forward.” They shared with the kind stranger that, that was their belief as well. I know the brave warrior had tears of joy and relief in her eyes, as she thanked him from the bottom of her heart.

I mentioned to the young warrior how much her experience reminded me of the Good Samaritan. She asked me to refresh her memory. She said “I want to know what happened to the robbed man.” She continued, “Almost always, when I go beyond to help someone else, it ends up hurting me.”  It made my heart ache to hear how she has been affected by her past attempts to put others needs before her own. She sacrificed her birthday evening and her Mothers Day, out of compassion for the teenager…

Here is the story she asked for. This is what Jesus said about “ Love thy neighbor as thyself ”:

Luke 10:27-37
27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.
28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?
30And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?
37And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

I will always strive to be a “Good Samaritan.” Love to all my readers, Lucy

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