Friday, January 1, 2021

2020 Year in Review

 To say that 2020 was an odd year would be an understatement for sure. We had such high hopes when January started. Little did we know that the rug would be pulled out from under us.

We started the year out in Quartzsite, Arizona camping out in the desert with many friends. We had lots of "happy hours", ATV rides and of course the big RV show.

If you are an RV'er and have not been to Quartzsite, put it on your list of things to do. In February we said our goodbyes to the group and pointed our rig westward to Anaheim, California. What's in Anaheim you ask? Disneyland! Lisa has never been there and the last time I was there I was probably 10 so we had to go and see it.

It is different than Disney World yet kind of the same. It was worth checking out. We stayed at a campground 2 blocks from the parks entrance so we were able to just walk everyday. In the news there was some talk of a new kind of virus in China. We didn't think much about it at the time. Since it was still February and too cold to head to Minnesota, we were looking for warm places to be. So we headed to Lone Pine, California and Death Valley.
Lone Pine is probably the western movie capital of the world. Hundreds of TV westerns and movies were filmed there, along with the movie Tremors, one of my all time favorites. The Alabama Hills just outside of Lone Pine offers the perfect background for westerns with the Sierra Mountains behind them. Next up, Death Valley.
We didn't know what to expect here but it was breathtaking. I never knew the immense size of the valley. It was truly amazing. Next stop, Pahrump, Nevada.

We got a great deal to stay here from the RV show. 2 weeks for half the price of one week. It was a great place to use as a base camp. We made several trips to Las Vegas, back to Death Valley and many other places we explored.

After Pahrump we headed out to Stewarts Point on Lake Mead. One of our special camping spots. If you are looking for a spot for peace and quiet, this is it.
From Lake Mead we went to Kingman, Arizona for a few days. We did a little exploring along Route 66.

We continued on to Camp Verde, Arizona next. This was a great area to visit. Lots to see and do. Our favorite had to be mining town of Jerome.
A very interesting town. We visited several national monuments in the area along with Sedona. Next up, Lone Rock on Lake Powell.
I have seen this in other blogs and have always wanted to find it. We have been here on Lake Powell before and never knew this was here. We got the Ranger out and had some fun also.Word of the virus is getting more and more news time. We are starting to see empty toilet paper shelves and don't know why. Our next state is one of our favorites. Utah!
I think we have done a pretty decent job of exploring the south east corner of the state over the past few years. It is always beautiful and breathtaking. This is Goose Neck State Park. They have a small campgound there and that was a bucket list item for me. I only wish the weather would have been better to stay longer. We also drove up the Moki Dugway. That is always a butt clencher of a drive. 

In March, we were getting nervous about what we would hear on the radio so we decided to get to a campgound with all of the amenities so we could get some TV. Things were getting worse. People were panic buying and of course the media was blowing it out of proportion. We were weighing our options now. We figured if we had to self isolate we could do it around Moab.
We made a quick visit to the OK RV Park to see the girls and their horses. It has been a few years since we were there and they have grown so much. We headed back out into the desert to wait. We got word that Moab and the state of Utah was going to shut down. So we headed east to Palisade, Colorado. We found a campground that would let us stay if it should come to that. By now the virus was running rampant in the US. 

After some talks with our kids we decided to bee line it home and help them out anyway we could. We just had one obstacle in front of us. The Rocky Mountains and it is still winter. There were a few days of better weather so we packed up and hit the road, driving hard to get to Pringle, South Dakota. We knew of a place that was warm and welcoming and it has an endless taco bar.
The infamous J bar B homestead. We dropped off some of their stuff we were hauling around for thousands of miles. It was a good night of laughs and camaraderie but in the morning we had to leave. We made it to our sons house in one piece. We watched our grandkids because they pulled them out of daycare. Too many sick kids in one place. 

The rest of the year we were out at our super secret undisclosed location building our "fortress of isolation."
From this.

To this, something we can live in. It was a very busy summer for us.

So that is our 2020. As I look back, I feel grateful that we were able to travel as much as we did last year, because we did see a lot. I am also thankful that the pandemic didn't hit our families as bad as the media led us to believe. I am not dismissing it by no means, but we will continue to be careful out there. I would have to honestly say that I would not want to repeat the year over. We made it through it mainly because of what we learned during Y2K. LOL.

We wish everyone a Happy New Year. We also hope that everyone stays healthy until we see each other down the road somewhere. Stay safe and stay happy.

I forgot to add our injury update. My injuries have been a torn rotator cuff, tennis elbow and carpal tunnel. Lisa's was just a tiny chainsaw cut and she needed my help to get that. So I win!















Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Decemberish

 


The calendar continues to turn even during these trying times, and as the calendar turns, we continue to work on our cabin. Although I will say that the progress we are making is very slow at the moment. I only have myself to blame.  Rather I should say my hand is to blame. 

I am still having issues with my hand. The numbness and the pain continue. I have had so many doctors appointment lately. Last time I went, I saw my doctor drive up in a new Mercedes with the vanity license plate that said "THNXDINO". I have been to Orthopedics and  Neurology. They have done x-rays and MRI's. Over the last 7 weeks I have had no relief in pain. 5-6 hours of sleep is a good night. Finally after all of that, I do have a date scheduled for surgery. So there is light at the end of the carpel tunnel (pun intended). I have no strength in my hand. Here is a video of me trying to make a fist. Enjoy.


But enough about me. We have been able to make some progress. I was able to make a bed platform so that we wouldn't have to sleep on the floor anymore.

The real reason though is that it was just too damn hard for me to get up off of the floor. I looked like a turtle stuck on its back, which usually makes Lisa laugh. She has been laughing a lot lately. Like when she sees me struggling to put on my socks. It is very hard to do that one handed. So she will exclaim "OMG!" and then come over to put them on for me. In this Covid world, everytime we get in our vehicle we get the hand sanitizer out. I will grab it with my left hand a try to squeeze some out into my palm. I will squeeze and squeeze until my hand starts shaking, little grunts escape my mouth and sweat starts rolling down my face, then I hear "OMG!" again as she snatches the bottle from me and gives me a squirt. All while laughing hysterically. Serious, if you thought watching me use chopsticks is funny, you should see me try and get some hand sanitizer.

I try to be self sufficient but Lisa is not with me all of the time. I was at the local building supply store one day by myself. I had to use the bathroom. I finish my business and I attempt to button my pants. Fail. Then I proceed to button them again, and again, and again. Fail, fail and fail. I just didn't have the strength in my left hand to pull my pants together to fasten them. I look around to see if anyone is watching me struggle because that would be awkward. There was no one else in there, so I gather all my strength and with a final grunt, I failed again. Well I am not going to ask for help so I zip up my pants and fasten my belt and walk out with all of the dignity I could muster. Luckily I had on a belt. I am in the market for pants with elastic waist bands now.

Back to our progress. Boy did that take a left turn. Our son and his wife came out one day to help me start to hang sheetrock in our hallway. They did most of the work while I fell naturally into a supervisory role.

That was such a big help to have them do that for us. 

We went to the big city and bought Christmas decorations. We haven't really had any for the last 6 years so we had to start from scratch. Since my tractor wouldn't fit in the barn this year I ended up getting a portable shelter for it. The directions said it would take 2 people 2 hours to assemble. So in my reality, it would take a 1 armed man all day to assemble. Which it did. Lisa did help after I heard the usual "OMG!"

There it is all tucked away. To fasten that thing to the ground they supply you with screw in type tie downs. Those don't work very well when there is frost in the ground. You might as well try to screw it into concrete. I had some rebar left over from the concrete jobs so I took some pieces and pounded them into the ground making an X over the top of the legs. Genius! I know! 

What would my blog be if I didn't include a "Dorks on Parade" moment? As fate would have it, we had a wind event that very night. I think mother nature wanted to test my ingenuity. I woke up around 2 in the morning to howling winds outside. I think to myself "crap". I can hear the tarp material flapping like crazy. So I get dressed. Lisa was sound asleep. I wake her up just so that she would know that I am outside. I didn't want her to wake up and I was nowhere to be found. So as the wind was whipping around, I was taking tie down straps and fastening them to the tractor and around the frame. Crisis averted.

We were having some condensation build up in the barn along the wall  between the cabin and barn. So we hired another foam company (that makes 3 if you are counting). They ended up putting foam along the top where the other company just threw in some fiberglass insulation.

Hopefully that does the trick. Since that wall was cleared we put up some sheetrock. The bottom layer was easy to put up and it was something I could handle. Lisa helped hold them in place while I commenced to screwing. The sheetrock, not Lisa. Get your minds out of the gutter.

The sheetrock we do have up, I started to mud and tape. That's something that can be done one handed.

That sheetrocked wall in the cabin and barn will make our fire barrier between the two areas. We also had a tree company come out and trim our Oak trees.

There was no way that Lisa was going to let me climb a ladder with a chainsaw to trim them up. She said she didn't have a good feeling about it and feared for her life because she would be the one holding the ladder for me.

The only reason I agreed to that is because it would have been challenging to do it one handed. That kind of job is easier when you have the right equipment.

We have also been looking for new appliances. Always looking for a good deal and I think we found some doorbusters. 

With the money we would save we could maybe buy a Tootsie Roll or something.

That's it for now. We hope everyone has an enjoyable Christmas. Stay safe and make good choices.















Saturday, November 7, 2020

Novemberish

November 4th


 The weather in November has turned out to be nicer than the weather in October. Highs in the upper 60's and lower 70's has melted all of the snow we had received in October. Giving us a perfect opportunity to move out of the fifthwheel and into the cabin. Moving out of the fifthwheel that has been your home for years always takes at least a day. Fifthwheels are small compared to an actual house, but it is amazing how much stuff you have in there to move. The biggest help I can give Lisa is to stay out of her way and by refilling her wine glass as often as she needs it.

Once that was done, the next day we pulled it outside to drain and winterize it. That also gave us time to develop a parking plan and sweep the barn one last time before winter really sets in. First camper to go in was my sons. It had to go back in the corner.

Once that was in there, I wanted the pickup camper to sit in front of that. Problem is, is that pickup campers don't have wheels so you can't move them around once they are on the ground. Now here is where my genius kicks in. I built a very large cart to set the pickup camper on so that we could wheel it into position once it is unloaded.
Once the camper was off of the pickup, I just lowered it down onto the cart so that it could easily be moved over and out of the middle of the floor. In theory it was to move smoothly and only take few seconds to move but in reality it didn't work that way. Did you know that our pickup camper weighs over 3300 pounds? Lisa and I pushed and grunted and grunted and pushed, but we finally got it moved to where it needed to be. (Dorks on Parade). Once that was done we picked up our spleens and got ready to move the fifthwheel back.
That went much smoother. So we have a travel trailer, a pickup camper and a fifthwheel inside there. Now we just have to get a riding lawnmower, 2 ATV's, a Ranger and my tractor inside as well.
We got everything in except the tractor. Dang! I knew we should have gone bigger. Note to self. When you plan on building something like this, figure out your size and then double it.

So we have moved into the cabin and it is so cozy for us in there. Even if the inside is unfinished. It is warm. Hell, it is actually hot in there with our floor heat system turned on. We haven't even used our wood burning stove yet.
The cats love the warmth. Plus they have so much more room to run around in compared to the campers they have been in.
Our living room.
Our kitchen.
Our bedroom. The bed is messed up because the cats where wrestling on there.
Our laundry/utility room.
Our bathroom.

Now we have all winter to work on the inside as we live in here. I think we will need all winter to do this. I told you about my tennis elbow and carpal tunnel in our last post. The tennis elbow is almost healed but the carpal tunnel hasn't. The pain is non stop. Tylenol and Ibuprofen really don't do anything. Any little movement can send shooting pains through my hand making it very difficult to work on the cabin.

November 6th.

Today I go into the hospital to have a nerve test on my hand. All that it will tell me is that my nerve is pinched which I already know. I guess they will find out where it is pinched.

We were able to hang our bathroom door. We went with a barn type door for the looks. Lisa stained it and we both hung it up. It will look great once I get the hardware and the door frame finished.
Before.
After.
Hallway view.

November 7th.

I went in yesterday for my nerve test. Not ever having one before I wasn't sure of what to expect. That was a good thing. The nurse has me lay down and start putting electrodes all over my hand and arm. Then she proceeds to start sending shocks through my muscles and nerve clusters. My arm was twitching and flopping like a fish. 
It was kind of painful getting shocks like that. I think it went on for an hour, but Lisa said it was more like 5 minutes. That wasn't the worst part. Then the Nurolegist comes in and he has a needle electrode and starts stabbing my arm with it. He would push it into different nerves and that would make different tones on the computer. Once he was done with my arm he said to roll over onto my side. He wanted to check my neck. So he stabs me a few more times there. Then the test was finished. He said I had some carpal tunnel but what concerned him is what was going on in my neck. That didn't sound good.

So Monday I see the orthopedic specialist again to find out the results.

On s happier note, we had the grandkids visit us last weekend.

They are a real joy to watch. That is our main purpose this winter while we are here. To see the kids a lot. So that's it for now. I will let you know how the neck thing turns out. Also since it is hunting season, keep your heads down.
















Thursday, October 22, 2020

Octoberish

 October 11th.


Things have moved slowly here but they are moving. Our campground closed September 30th giving us no option but to move to our property. Technically we do have our sewer, water and electric hooked up. But not the way we had planned. Our sewer is in the ground. The electricians still had to run power to the pump and the alarm so we held off as long as possible to dump our tanks into it. Finally it had to be done. We couldn't wait any longer. Those that RV know the smell and that is what greeted the electricians when they had to open the septic tank to wire it up. Sorry electricians. (He,he).

The electricians did wire a 50 amp outlet in the barn. However we were outside the barn. Luckily I had a 30 amp extension cord and ran that under the door and across the floor. Starting October 5th, the electricians were going to be here for a week to wire everything up. The first thing they did was to install our 50 amp outlet outside.

Our water is another issue. Our pump is in the ground and works. However it is 100 feet away so I just had to get a long water hose. Problem solved until it turns cold.

Our fifthwheel is parked outside of the barn. We can't move into the cabin yet because the electricians need a final inspection on their work and we need the plumbers to show up and do something, anything. The plumbers need to install the boiler for the floor heat and the electricians can't finish their work unless the boiler is in. So the electricians have completed about 90% of wiring the barn and cabin. In all it has taken 2 guys 7 days so far to wire everything. I look at that job they did and think to myself, "If I did this myself, we probably would go up in flames". Lisa would say to me. "I need an outlet on that side of the room". To which I would say, "Just run an  extension cord over there Honey". Problem solved. "Oh, and grab me another beer while you are at it. Please".


We have lights!

Tyler our tile guy came in one day and installed our hearth for our wood burning stove. We were going back and forth on what we wanted to do there. We were thinking stained concrete at one time or maybe just polished concrete. So Tyler came in and did some tile similar to what our shower looked like. It came out great.

Minnesota weather is always hard to predict. We had a late thunderstorm roll through the other day. It can never just rain nice a gentle around here. No, we have to have torrential downpours. 3/4's of an inch of rain in about 30 minutes. Too fast for the ground to soak up, so we were watching the water run from all directions straight to our storm shelter. Lisa and I were out there frantically trying to divert the water away from the shelter with our shovels, getting soaked. (Dorks on parade) A little bit of water was high enough to get into the vent and inside the shelter. It could have been worse.
I got out there with the tractor and started trenching around it so that doesn't happen again, we hope. (Fingers crossed)

October 16th.

We have been watching the temperatures for quite awhile now. They keep getting lower and lower. RV's are not made for winter camping. We have iced up several times while we were on the road. We made the decision to move the fifthwheel into the barn hoping that it will be warmer for us in there. We have never had this in there before so Lisa rode on top to make sure it was going to fit through the door.
Once the fifthwheel was going in there the barn all of a sudden it looked small. That door is 16 feet wide by 13 1/2 feet tall.
Inches to spare. If we could have used 16 foot sidewalls it would have been no problem but that would have put us over the 20 foot height restriction on our building then. So we had to use 14 foot sidewalls.
We are so glad that it fit. That would have been a giant "dorks on parade" moment if it didn't.
Snug as a bug in a rug. Good thing we decided to put it in there. The next  morning we awoke to this.
It melted when the sun came up. Mid October is way too early for snow here. It must be due to global warming. It snowed another night after that also. We are having highs now in the 30's and lows in the teens and 20's.

We can't wait for the plumbers. So I have started to put up some walls so that we can move in there soon. We have no heat in the cabin and we have our water line running in there so I hope it stays warm in there and the water line doesn't freeze.


October 21st.

As we sit inside the barn watching the weather go to hell in a handbasket, we have decided that a thin sheet of steel with a fabric layer next to it, isn't really enough insulation to keep the cold out and the warmth in. Normally this time of year, the temps are still in the 50's which would have been so much easier to deal with. Instead, the temps are in the 30/s and we have 6 inches of snow on the ground already with another 6-8 inches on the way.

On the brighter side, our plumbers showed up and started hooking things up. They said it would be a several day project.
The kitchen.
The bathroom.
The utility room.
They came in on Tuesday to work. When they left their tools at the end of the day we knew that the were coming back. Yay! But after 2 days we still don't have a boiler hooked up yet so they won't completely hook things up until then. Darn. As I was secretly sobbing to myself, I looked up and saw this little fellow walking by.
October 22. 

Today is a storm day. Our first winter storm of the season. Boy is it going to be a long season. Since it is going to be a long season I think maybe I should get one of these.
I could easily see myself getting hurt on one of these but it would be fun until then. 

Which brings me to a this. Those that know me, know how athletic I am. One look at me and you can tell by my physique that I have a body of a Greek God. A Greek Sumo wrestling god. I have had blown out knees from being so overactive. Here is another example of my athletic prowess. I hurt my arm a couple of weeks ago. I just outstretched my arm and it felt like the muscles were tearing away from the bone. Plus I have 2 fingers on my left hand that are completely numb. So I tell my chiropractor about it and he looks at my arm. He does some movements that send shooting pains through my arm and a tear rolling down my face. He then tells me I have tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome.


Tennis elbow? I am such an athlete that I can get tennis elbow without even playing tennis. WOW! I am awesome! Carpal tunnel syndrome? Just one step closer to the grave is what I say. Another possibility is that someone has made a voodoo doll of me. So who ever has that, knock it off.

That's it for now. In my next post I will tell you how to thaw out a frozen camper. Stay warm everybody.