Leigh's 2011 Adventure travel blog

All done, and didn't Gnorman do a fabulous job?!!!

I spent a lot of time in the pool, swimming three or...

Gnorman can get back to Adele and Katy Perry, now that he...

Gnorman thought the whole outfit was getting a little grubby, so it...

Scrubbed bugless on your left, mementos of the Prairies on your right.

Oro Campground sponsored Christmas in July for the kids, complete with tree,...


I woke up at Oro Family Campground with a week ahead of me to fix, clean, read, relax, cook, and regroup. I discovered that the pool was deep enough to swim in, if not to dive, and very clean. The rest of the campground was a bit sketchy, with broken laundry equipment, a missing lock on one bathroom stall and a missing paper dispenser in another, and a general feeling of long neglect. But it had one working washer and a dryer, so I could get my laundry done, a shower for a long-overdue scrub, and power and water for my rig.

The first project I tackled was the new lock for the trunk. It was larger than the old one, so I knew I would have to do some fitting. I unscrewed the hasp of the old one, and had to drill out the rivets that held the lock part. The screws provided needed something to go into, because the fiberglas shell of the trunk was too thin and weak, so I went hunting. I found a piece of firewood that I am told was ash, and fashioned a piece to back up the screws. The one tool I didn't bring was a saw, so I had to use the tiny saw in a Leatherman tool, along with my hatchet, to make the wood the right size and shape. It tested my patience, but in the end, it worked. The hasp needed to be bent to match the contour of the trunk, so I discovered that the slots in my picnic table made a perfect vise for a controlled bend. The new lock will work well, and I can quit being nervous about having only one key.

The next day, I got up and turned the radio on, and it wouldn't play. Unfortunately, the starting battery was dead. I am still pretty much mystified by the electrical system of Wandering Spirit, and had been under the impression that the batteries got charged when it is plugged into 120V power. Not so much, it seems. So it was time for me to learn.

There is a starting battery, which is a standard car battery, with big cranking amps that are made available quickly to turn the engine, and an RV battery, which works quite differently to provide a long, shallow stream of electricity to run lights and appliances. It does get charged by the 120V hookup, but the starting battery gets charged only by the alternator on the engine when it is running. Unfortunately, my radio is connected to the standard vehicle wiring, so it takes power from the starting battery. With the wiring problems in the radio, it had sucked the battery dry overnight.

I wasn't sure if I could jump start the engine from the RV battery, so I put a question out on Facebook, and also dug around on the Internet. Impatient, I then phoned my brother Lyle, who knows about these things. He assured me that I could use my jumper cables between the two batteries, so I did. The engine started reluctantly, and I ran it for a while to charge back up.

So by then I was inspired to do deep surgery on my stereo. I had tried to preserve as much of the original installers' work as possible, but now I determined to cut it all out of there. I began by replacing the antenna. The old cable was clamped into a channel in the sheet metal, which I couldn't find a way to access, so I cut it off and grafted it to the new antenna. I don't know if it helped or not, but it certainly didn't cure the hum.

More Internet research indicated that the hum was caused by a "ground loop", where electricity is going where it shouldn't. I was puzzled as to how the original installers had it grounded, and finally gave up and just started ripping stuff out. One thing I got rid of was a preamplifier that drove the back speakers. I think that's where the ground loop was, because it went away at that point. I had to do a lot of splicing from the old Ford wiring to the new wires on the stereo, and also reworked the speaker wires. I

discovered that the back speaker wires were reversed, even though they were labelled correctly. When I corrected that, the left rear speaker started working for the first time. Ever! Just terrible workmanship, and it was never caught. Anyway, when I was done, everything worked perfectly at last.

The rest of the week was a lot of scrubbing, cooking, reading books on my Kindle, catching up on my Travel Log and photos, and swimming. I cleaned the bug guts off the truck, up where Jono hadn't been able to reach them when he cleaned it in June. That led to a few little fixes and squirts of touch-up paint. I also cleaned it inside, washed the bedding, mucked out the fridge, and generally spruced it up.

Wednesday night I drove into town and had dinner with Tim at Applebee's. Saturday, the camp management had a Christmas in July celebration, with Santa, little gifts for the kids, and a potluck supper. Debbie had made a turkey with dressing, gravy, and the whole works, and everyone else brought salads and casseroles and buns and I don't know what all. I was at a loss as to what to bring, so I decided to slice up a big stick of pepperoni sausage. I arranged it nicely on a plate in a big spiral, and it was very popular. It was mostly the "seasonal" campers who came, as opposed to transients like myself. They all know each other from years of summers together, so I felt a bit left out. I wandered back to my lonely motor home after a while.

On Thursday evening, I got a worried phone call from my mother in Alberta. A document from my disability insurance in the US had arrived, delayed by the postal labor dispute. it needed to be completed, signed, and sent back to them. We decided that she would send it to me at my kids' house with Purolator Courier, and I would take it from there. As it happened, the quickest it could get to me was Tuesday, which was when I had planned to depart, so it all worked out.

I wrapped up my week at Oro Campground by watching live sumo from Japan during the last night. In this time zone, the top rankers perform from 3 to 5 a.m. Unfortunately, this is during my precious sleeping time, but I woke up early and turned on the computer to catch the last five matches of the day. In the final one, Hakuho, highest-ranked of all at Yokozuna, spun Kakuryu around twice and forced him out of the circle to get a yori-kiri win. He was going for a record eighth consecutive championship, but his plans were thwarted by fellow Mongolian Harumafuji, who went on to win this tournament.

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