Tag Archives: Camping

How-to day

How to clean the air conditioning unit on your 1983 Pace Arrow RV:

  1. Weigh yourself. RV roofs aren’t load bearing, and unless you’re interested in a sun roof, thinner service technicians are preferred.
  2. Pull a picnic table over to the ladder on your RV. Climb up.
  3. While your husband makes small talk with the RV owner next door, remove the screws attaching the cover of air conditioning unit to the roof. Avoid sudden motions that may scare you into losing your balance.
  4. Spray an ungodly amount of Formula 409 into the evaporator coils.
  5. Interrupt husband long enough to throw water hose on to roof. Have him do it again when you miss it the first time. Spray off evaporator coils, carefully avoiding the mud puddles that develop in the area of your knees (and butt).
  6. Replace cover, taking care to tighten screws enough so cover doesn’t fly off into oncoming traffic the next time you take the RV on the road.
  7. Throw empty bottle of Formula 409 and hose off the roof. Carefully climb down.

How to reward yourself after cleaning air conditioning unit on 1983 Pace Arrow RV:

  1. Visit friend with good taste. When she offers you fruity margaritas, accept offer.
  2. Watch carefully as she combines the following in a high-powered blender: 1 can of frozen limeade, 1 pint of raspberries, 1 can of triple sec and tequila, a whole bunch of ice cubes. Blend.
  3. Admire the pretty glasses into which she pours drinks.
  4. Enjoy pretty pink margarita and friend’s good company.

Do not reverse order of air conditioner reconditioning and happy hour.

Without rain, there would be no rainbow

A camping trip can imbue motor home owners with God-like control of the weather.

Plan a camping trip, and the heavens open up. Down comes the rain.

Such were our powers this weekend. Freshly cleaned, wallpapered and generator-repaired, the 1983 Pace Arrow went on its maiden voyage of the season this weekend.

And the landscape was well-hydrated everywhere we went.

Perhaps it’s an inherited trait. When I was growing up, it seemed like it always rained when I went camping with my parents, too.

The old beast performed well despite the soggy conditions. The only exception was the mushy pillows, snagged from the linen closet. Instead of stored, they should have been tossed. We picked up a new, better performing set at Bed, Bath & Beyond.

I must confess, drippy conditions aside, we drive down the road with smug looks on our faces. Our 29-year-old motor home looks like a throwback to the ’80s, but it sleeps well and everything works. As we passed a slick-looking contemporary version, we mused about how much gas we could buy for $200,000.

Gas is nothing at which to scoff, however. We pumped 25.9 gallons into her auxiliary tank and 25.1 gallons into her main tank to the tune of $196.95. As Skipper from “Gilligan’s Island” might say: “Oof!”

When we arrived home, I made several trips in and out of the house, emptying the motor home of dirty laundry, luggage and dog accessories. The hot tub beckoned, so I changed into my swimsuit and made my way to the backyard patio for a soaking.

As I sat in the bubbles and leaned back, I felt a few drops on my face.

It was raining again.

Spring (RV) cleaning

It’s amazing how dirty a 1983 RV can get while in winter storage.

My Beloved tackled the outside of the Pace Arrow today while assigning me the inside.

Here’s my report:

  • Murphy Oil Soap works better than Spic and Span. I used two buckets of each, and I was amazed at how dirty my water got. But the really amazing part was how clean my dirty rag got in the Murphy water.
  • Don’t miss cleaning the gasket on the refrigerator. Gross!
  • Disturbed three huge moths in various levels of hibernation. Triple gross! They’re all dead now.
  • Highly recommend storing all your drawers in sealed Rubbermaid containers. This step prevented mouse turds in the silverware.
  • Vacuuming is easier with the music turned up. And don’t forget the attachments.

Time commitment: Four hours. I earned that glass of red wine with my grilled rib eye.

The motor home is now ready for use.

If we can afford the gas.

Rock Cut State Park is a breath of fresh air

Rock Cut State Park is still as beautiful as ever.

My Beloved and I brought the 1983 Pace Arrow to the park just outside of Rockford, Ill., today for my mother-in-law who plans a camping adventure there this week.

I was last at that park 19 years ago when my first husband and I camped there in a pup tent. We lived in Oxford, Ohio, at the time, so our trip home was 850 long miles; Rockford was the halfway point, and a pup tent was a lot cheaper than a hotel room for a couple of newlyweds.

A raccoon came within 15 feet of our campfire back then, but I think it’s still an uncivilized enough place that one might see wildlife.

The park is less than two miles from the city limits of Rockford, which I always viewed as a city best to drive by back in those years of traveling between Oxford, Ohio, and Wadena, Minn.  (sorry, Rockford friends). Back in 1992, Rockford was ranked as No. 299 in a list of the country’s 300 most livable cities. It was listed as having a shrinking economy but on the upside, “Rockford is enjoying an influx of newcomers fleeing high housing prices in the Chicago suburbs,” according to Money magazine.

I live in one of those suburbs now, and yes, I probably would have paid less for a house in Rockford.

Things haven’t changed much. In 2010, Forbes listed Rockford as among the 20th most miserable cities in the United States (high crime and unemployment continue to hurt the city’s reputation).

However, Rock Cut State Park is quite lovely. Just off Interstate 90, it’s a breath of fresh air and lush greenery where nearby asphalt is all but forgotten. I’m sure my mother-in-law will enjoy her time there, and if you need a nature-loving break on a trip through, I definitely recommend you don’t drive by.

Bike ride was an odyssey (but the pay off was delicious!)

The paved asphalt of the bike path along the road looked so inviting. I knew it led back into the little town we just passed, and I knew there was a pretty little park along the river there. The sun was shining, and the breeze was light.

So when my Beloved suggested we indulge in a barbecue lunch in town, I suggested we ride our bikes. “It’s only 7 miles,” I wheedled. “It’ll be so much better than driving into town and letting a greasy lunch sit in our stomachs.”

So we set out about 10:50 a.m. I figured we be in town by 11:20.

Our route was smooth and flat, just as you’d expect an old railroad made into a bike path to be. After a couple of miles, we even had trees overhanging our way with shade. We passed a dairy farm and a cement factory. Though it was the middle of February in the heart of Florida far from any coast, we could have been riding our bikes down the Lake Wobegon trail in Central Minnesota in June, given our surroundings.

At 11:15 a.m., we came to a gas station. I remembered passing this gas station on our way to the campground, and I remembered it was a looooong way outside of town. “Do you want to stop for water?”

“Nope,” he said, and then he saw the sign: “Branford … 5 miles.”

Uh-oh. We still had five miles ahead of us, and we’d already been riding 25 minutes. This was not a 7-mile jaunt.

“Do you want to turn around?”


We continued on our merry way, thankful for the shade as the sun reached its peak, bringing 80-degree temperatures. We were both sweating it out.

Then the bike path veered from the road, and I prayed it actually came to the pretty little park in town rather than detoured around the city.

Eventually, the bike path spit us out right in the middle of town next to the flashing yellow light where we were told to turn to find the barbecue restaurant.

Turns out, the barbecue place was another mile down the road. We arrived at our destination at 11:55 a.m., taking more than twice as long as I originally estimated.

After the physical exertion, our greasy lunch was anything but. Rather, the country ribs at Cuzin’s Cafe were smoked on premises with homemade sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. The baked beans perfectly complemented the meaty ribs. The sweet potato fries were divine, and the cole slaw was crunchy and creamy. And don’t forget the Texas toast and sweet tea.

And about three glasses of ice water each.

After we devoured the 2,000 calories contained in that fabulous meal, we were still up for dessert. So we peddled our way back down the street to Sprinkles Ice Cream Cafe where we enjoyed hand-dipped ice cream cones at the old-fashioned counter. We were carbing up for journey back.

This time, we knew exactly how far we had to go, and we knew that final two miles were unshaded. My legs could take it, and I certainly had the fuel, but, oh, my butt was hurting! This 14-mile trek was actually a 19-mile sojourn.

At 2:30 p.m., we finally arrived back at our camper.

Where I promptly laid down and took a nap.

That’s the way I’m going, due south

Winter is a verb in Texas.

In Minnesota or Illinois, winter is decidedly a noun defined as “a cold, damn cold and snowy period of up to six months, depending on your latitude and proximity to Great Lakes or the Canadian border.”

But people don’t experience winter, per se, in Texas; they winter in Texas.

At least, some people do. The ones who like it when their dashboards melt live in Texas all the time, but some northerners sample the best time of year by living in Texas in January, sometimes February and sometimes more, depending on the proximity of their permanent address to the Great Lakes or the Canadian border.

I’m among the fortunate northerners using winter as a verb this year, and I like this new addition to my vocabulary. As the palm trees are waving in the breeze against a baby blue sky, I write this while wearing a T-shirt and a pair of shorts with the temperature at 72 degrees.

To whom can I attribute this miracle transposition? Alexander Graham Bell, Al Gore and an old man in Wisconsin. That is, the inventor of the telephone, the inventor of the internet (just kidding about the inventor, OK, so maybe Bill Gates) and the old man who sold a 1983 Pace Arrow with 40,000 miles on it to my clever Beloved, that’s who.

(Bonus points if you can describe the ’90s television show belonging to the Jay Semko lyrics in the title of today’s post.)

A work in progress

Where's Chloe?

Thanks to a week’s worth of the Beloved’s elbow grease, the 1983 Pace Arrow has been outfitted with 2010 carpeting.

View to the back. Where's Chloe now?

The improvement in appearance and smell is immeasurable. The dark taupe floor covering complements the 1980s harvest gold decor. At one point last week, Tyler had all the old carpeting laid out on the driveway like puzzle pieces, and in the light of day, that 27-year-old shag looked so disgusting! It was so matted and dirty! The RV had been home to the previous owner for several years in California, so you can imagine how much dirt and sand was tracked in over the years. Tyler thinks he removed several pounds of silt that had been trapped for years underneath the practically nonexistent carpet padding.

We invested $368 in a 288-square-foot carpet remnant and padding, and Tyler invested about 25 hours in sweat equity (he called a couple of pros, who refused to take the job). He can’t even count how many corners and cut-outs exist in a 36-foot camper! Plus, he tightened every loose screw, hid every inch of wiring and tightened every bit of loose trim as he worked his way from front to back.

A year ago, Tyler bought this gem of a vehicle for just $3,200. A few repairs and improvements have made it shine, a comfortable place to hang out. Nice work, Honey.