Monday, October 17, 2016

2 weeks of work gone!!!! And then another week gone, Sorry for the delay:-(

As I write this
, 2 days of pure frustration drift off to a distant shore, as we drive away from the Discount Tire in San Antonio.... More about this adventure later.

Thus we arrived in San Antonio, 35 minutes from Government Canyon State Natural Area, our Sept. and Oct. assignment.  Settled in at Greentree RV Village

for a few days of the aforementioned R and R, we look forward to time with Tim and Jane, their son (Ben) and DIL (Jen). as well as, their 3 kids Jacob (8 yrs), Olivia (6 yrs) and William (18 mo.- named after a grandpa and Uncle Bill) who's brown eyes could melt away your worst cares.  Jane and William were our first visitors:
William and Tessa have a meeting of the minds
Jacob and Olivia

Prince William says "goodbye"

We made the decision to "domicile" in Texas (make Texas our "home" state) so some of our R and R time was dedicated to that process.  It took only 1/2 day to obtain Texas registrations, Drivers Licenses and plates.  Tessa wondered what was going on:

She seemed to approve, especially when we got to go to Olivia's 6th birthday party:

The crown and sash were a BIG hit!
Grandma Jane reads Olivia her card
I got to take Jacob and Olivia to the "shooting gallery"

Jacob and Olivia (great nephew and great niece) have been hanging together longer with each other than they have with William:

But I think William will soon handle his own!

It was an honor to be invited to this celebration.

But, what of the previous 2 months?  Let's take a look:

We enjoyed a strenuous summer at Camp Zion.  Upon our arrival, Dale (Camp Director),  provided us his "wish list", and we did our best to knock it out, coming pretty close.  Here are a few of the projects that occupied our time and filled our days in June and July:

Power wash dining hall, outdoor refrigerator and freezer-

Smoothing sharp nubs off the handrails throughout camp-

Loading aluminum and hauling it to Green Bay (picked up a whopping $19 recycle fee)-

Sanding and re-staining some cabin walls-

Installing new TP holders-

Build new concrete (Bill loves adding Portland Cement) handicap ramp-look for Tessa's signature:-)

New anchors in dock (no pix)
Install new bath fan in Annex (no pix)
Exhaust said fan thru roof (no pix)
Cleaning anything that needed it (no pix)
Restoration of an old ladder for display use (no pix)

Re-landscape around new holding tank- the path and the slope to the main road had to remain.  

The tank is going in, and a real mess is made.  The area in the background is where the new stone path will go in.
 We had several "challenges" which needed to be addressed:
Terrace in progress

1st up....the slope to the ball court was conducive 
to mulch from the path, and screenings from the 
slope to the main road, spilling onto it.

Requirements: the existing path alongside the 
basketball court going over to the Annex 
had to remain,
Almost done.

Stone path in progress

BTW:  this job took MANY stones

 Our stone requirements were very particular:  

they had to be flat and about 2-4 inches thick. 
                                                                                      Laying the final stone
Handrails for safety.

 The "fence" of stones, that were our best source, was down a hill and across a field, quite a distance away.  Many of our supplies were provided by the campers, who carried them up and over 1 at a time ( after Blake, Austin, Luke and Maddie, our lifeguard and general help team,  made a game of it).  The kids had been watching us work hard for days, and pitched in willingly.  When the "Curvy Kids Stone Path" was complete, the kids took great pride in having contributed to this beautiful and functional work of art.

Finished product, with the exception of the landscaping, which was not complete when Bill and I had to leave.

Bill left Austin and Blake with instructions to complete this and two other projects, after our departure.

This is how the guys finished the landscaping, 

and added a pathway to the water fountain!

And, last but (in Bill's book anyway) not least, Blake and Austin watered the new plantings.  Thanks guys!
Problem #2 (for Bill):  Improve the view from Dale's office.  Bill didn't want Dale to have to look at the holding tank, but Dale still needed to be able to see the approach to camp.  Initially, we planted a Blue Spruce in line with the tank and Dale's office window, but decided it would become too big and block his view of the road, so it was replaced with an Arbor Vitea.  Jan chose a new location for the Blue Spruce (more on that to follow).
The landscaping began in earnest.

The lower left corner is where the evergreen to block Dale's view of the tank will go.

The "Kids" jumped in to help me the Blue Spruce
The spot decided on had just had a large tree felled, thus the stump had to come out.  As Bill had just been loaned and trained in operating a backhoe, removal was no problem, right?

Things were going well...

Right up until he "popped a wheelie"!  He was having fun, I had to go change my pants!

In the end Bill won!
Sand and re-touch woodwork in dining hall sleeping quarters (no pix)
Sand and refinish bunks (no pix)
Test all smoke detectors (no pix)Test and repair emergency lights (no pix)
Assemble new fire pit (no pix)

                                                                                                                    Replace bad railings (no pix)

Clean up the bluff:  

Repair leaky toilet (no pix)
Repair ceiling fan in cabin #5 (no pix)
Clean lower level bathrooms of lodge (no pix)
Replace kitchen faucet fixtures (no pix)

Install heat shield on oven in kitchen-

Modify and install floor vent in kitchen (no pix)
Planting of flowers at main entrance (no pix)
Replace 2 toilet seats (no pix)

Bill taught 2 classes: 

                      Bill received this sweet note for his efforts.
 #2-campfire building:
This was a popular class

Haul away some old mattresses for Becky:      

 Becky who?  Becky Deming is the woman who let us plant ourselves on her property (a mile from camp) for the month July, after we had exceeded our time limit at Camp Zion  (according to some obscure, Door County, ruling, which seems to be applied to Camp Zion, while the rest of the county appears to be oblivious to this law).  Without Becky a LOT less work would have been accomplished!  Thanks Becky!

July 4th, after another successful, annual, Camp Zion Open House,
We're ready!

As are Andrew, Carole, Bill, Blake and Austin
Arnie (arguably Camp Zion's oldest and most loyal volunteer at the age of ??) and Bill

Bill and I were going to Don and Lisa's in New Lisbon, and hang with our besties, originally from Lake Zurich.  That is where my



While at Camp Zion we rely heavily on an antique golf cart to do our work.

Anna (or Sara) Richards and Bill on the old golf cart
 Just before the 4th of July, the muffler of this rickety old machine gave out, and the cart went from "loud" to "park this thing", "it's too loud to drive".  I had already been praying about a new golf cart, so now I redoubled my efforts.  I had a feeling, thru prayers, on a dollar figure we could muster, one that would be a real sacrifice for us, but doable.  Unfortunately, I would find nothing on the internet that was even close to the dollar figure I had in mind.

Then came the the 4th of July trip to Don and Lisa's.  Upon arriving there, we shared with them some of our successes at camp, as well as, unresolved challeges.  The next day, Lisa returned from her morning volunteer assignment, as a shelter vet, with a picture of a Golf Cart dealer, just down at the end of their road.  Bill and I decided to give it a try. 

The place looked like a 75 year old mechanics shed (which it was) with a half dozen crummy looking electric golf carts, from new to 20 years old, hanging around outside.  While Bill was inside talking to "Dean", I was outside viewing the inventory and falling for a newer model, gold color machine.  Eventually, Bill and Dean joined me outside.  Dean pointed at a filthy, older model, white cart and says "I think that will meet your needs".  Bill jumps in to take a ride, motions for me to join him.  Gazing back longingly at the gold cart, I reluctantly join him and we take a spin around the yard.  Had to admit the cart drove nicely.  Pulling up in front of Dean, Bill inquired about the price.  The price turned out to be the EXACT figure I had been praying about.  Bill says "we'll take it".  Still wanting to assert my will, I asked the price of the "gold cart".....almost twice the price of the white one.  So, OK, God said He would take care of our needs, He never said anything about our "wants".

That evening, Bill called an old friend from Christ Community Church.  A long conversation ensued, during which time Bill shared with him his concern about the golf cart situation, and our plans to resolve it.  At the end of the call, just prior to hanging up, this saint on the other end of the phone said,  "I'll have a check in the mail tomorrow".  The check represented half the cost of the cart!  Praise The Lord!

The next morning, pulling a rented trailer behind us, Bill picked the new cart up, and brought it home.  Time for me to spring into action:

With a high pressure sprayer and a bottle of Clorox Cleanup, this was the end result:

Ready to haul from New Lisbon, WI to Ellison Bay, WI
At Camp our grandaughter Kate was the one camper who got to drive 
At  Camp Zion, the cart ran great for a week before it began to run low on "juice".  A quick check on the internet and Amazon comes through again.  A new battery charger for the cart arrived the next day.

The cart was tested on the hills of Camp Zion, both empty and loaded with stone.  It performed every task we asked it to do, well.  Like I said, "God takes care of our needs"!

Being so close to home we had many short summer breaks and 1 long one. We were staying in Northern Illinois at Tami and Brett's (Daughter and Son-In-Law),

when the RV was being repaired, Tam and Brett put up with us for 2.5 weeks.  Thanks guys!!!!

At the start of that long visit, my right knee blew up and put me on crutches for a week.
Thus the trips to Viroqua

At the end of that visit, Bill was diagnosed with possible Lyme disease (those symptoms cleared up, thank God) and pneumonia.  But, in between those events we sure had fun:

  Every visit home must include a dinner with Kathy (Bill's kid sister).  This time we were celebrating her 60th birthday.  Going to the Olive Garden near Kathy's house (close to Woodfield Mall), we were blessed with a waitress that was very good with her.

The stuffed critter, a gift from Tami, was given the name AMBER ROSE, by our waitress.  Kathy loved it!

We all left there on a sugar high thanks to that waitress!

It was bonus time at home this summer, with the two youngest grands:

                                             Moira and Teagan learning how to use a REAL camera

And dinner with friends in Northern Illinois is always a treat.  

Becky Bill Me Melanie

We had not seen Melanie and Becky in 2 years and a lot had happened in all of our lives, but the passing of Becky's Mom, Lois, left the biggest hole in our time together.

My cousin Lee is a favorite dinner partner...

And if we don't get to see Vince, Ang and Adrian at least one time each visit, we fall apart.

The "Case of the Purple Pants" occurred near the end of the summer .  

The 1st "mother of the bride" dress I had ordered for Kelly's wedding did not fit well (my fault), and I had returned it for credit.  The website, in China, sells many products.  So, in an effort to use up my $100.00 dollar credit, I perused the website, looking for anything I actually needed.  You see, I wanted to use the credit up before I forgot I had it.  So, picking out a bunch of small stuff (Chip clips, picnic table clips, Canon camera look alike coffee mug)  I was having a hard time reaching that limit.  Then I saw them:  purple hiking pants!  Purple pants are a longtime favorite of 1st pair of purple pants (I was 14) were bell bottoms I wore with a 2 inch wide, white belt with large decorative holes the length of it ("borrowed" from Rory :-).  When I stepped out in those pants, I was really styling,  worn mostly to impress a boy I was madly, head over heals for.  
Anyway, back to the pants.....The pants were priced just right to complete my $100 goal, and without looking at THEIR sizing chart, I ordered a pair of extra large.  The package arrived at Audies house, while I was there visiting her.  I took one look at those pants and handed them to Audie (5'2", 105 LBS soaking wet).  They fit her perfectly.  Apparently an XL in China is somewhat different than an XL in America.  My 80 year old BFF is now sporting my purple pants.

Tami and Brett's house is always fun and entertaining...

Elsa, the most doglike cat you will ever see, loves to "stalk" Tessa:

And rare wildlife out on the patio (partial Albino Robin).....

Getting to see Brett's latest project (he flips houses as a sideline)...

 And the Piece De Resistance of our time there occurred on my birthday (August 2nd):
Bill took me to Tacos el Norte (our longtime fav Mexican restaurant) for dinner on that Tuesday night.  Imagine my surprise when we were led to a table that seated 12 and our besties, Kevin and Beth, were waiting.  Before the 1st pitcher of margaritas was consumed, a table full of family and friends had arrived.  These folks, many of whom are still working a day job, ventured from their home this midweek night to celebrate me!  I was quite honored:

Thanks Kev and Beth (friends), Tam and Nat (daughter and granddaughter), Christy and Jim (daughter and SIL), Cyndy (daughter) and Michael (Cyndy's bestie) and Kathy (friend)...YOU ALL MADE THE DAY FOR ME!

Now, swinging back into WI, we had the chance to catch up with Bill's BFF Bradford and his wife Lynne (an award winning quilter)...

They took us on a cool tour of Geneva Lake, my 1st time on that Lake.

And sometimes the fun came to us:

We always look forward to seeing The Padulas wherever we are

During our final days in Door County, we had an enjoyable time with Teagan and Moira (our youngest grandies), as the Anderson family visits Door County for a week every summer. With an invite to join them for dinner, we drove the 5 minutes over to Rowley's Bay.  Seeing the kids was wonderful, but it was also great to see Meghan (Katie's sister) and Kim, (you may remember when they visited us at Joshua Tree last Fall), Pat (Katie's Mom) and Molly (Katie's sister) Katie (DIL) and Bil (step-son).  

The scavenger hunt was a blast .  

My team was made up of Katie's sister (Molly), Addie and me.  We took 2nd place thanks to that little girl!  Can't remember when we had such fun as that night.

This reminds me of....
While the winners of the scavenger hunt were announced and prizes awarded, my two youngest granddaughters were being recorded for eternity.  You can see Teagan (the older) proudly holding the team trophy, while Moira looks on longingly.

In the very next frame, Moira stands proudly with the trophy she has, in the blink of the lens, swiped from her sister. 

It is also Moira, who is known as the family "storyteller".  Already, at the age of 4 she takes after her Daddy, with a keen attention to detail 
Moira entertained us later that evening, at the campfire, upon request.  She took the "stage" and regaled us with a rousing story, straight from her imagination.  The story was accented with gestures and facial expressions that made the story, as told by this 4 year old, highly entertaining . 

And THAT reminds me of:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      KID MOMENT OF THE MONTH

Our 1st day in San Antonio, and William was visiting with his Nana, Jane.  Bill and I had the electronic photo frame going, as we always do, with our fav photos.  Bill had removed it from it's high place under the cabinet, and placed it on the couch so William could see, and be entertained, while us 3 adults conversed.   Suddenly, this little 18 month old points at a picture of Bill and Jane's Dad and CLEARLY says "Papa".

 Now, yes, this is William's Great-Grandpa, but he has never been told this or shown pictures of Bill and Jane's Dad.  And Dad, BTW, looks nothing like William's Grandpa Tim (whom he also calls "Papa"), but bears a striking resemblance to Ben, Williams father.                        

Makes you wonder

Sorry, I digress....back to New Lisbon, spending time with Don and Lisa, 

On the water

And on land

We were enjoying ourselves!
And look at this pleasant event (coincidentally) also in New Lisbon, Wisconsin... my sister Rory (shout out) and her 2 girls, Heather and Shawna.

Me, Rory, Shawna and Heather 
(it is also a pleasant situation, that Rory's best friend lives just a few minutes down the road from our besties)

Rory and the girls were in town from Kentucky/Missouri to attend our nephew, Paul's, wedding to Jenny.  Paul is a widower who found Jenny after moving back to WI (where his parents live(d)) from Virginia.  Paul's dad, my big brother Tim,

He was my "bro"!

 lost his battle with lymphoma early this year, soon after the "kids" had announced their engagement.  He was sorely missed at the wedding.  His absence was softened by Paul's tribute to our family history during the ceremony.  In recognition of our roots/heritage and family members of the past who served in the military and paid the ultimate sacrifice, Paul and his groomsmen wore "The Black Watch" kilts.

 Paul with his kids, Ali and Alex

Paul and Jenny looked so happy!

My beautiful sister-in-law Laura

The Back Watch kilt is known as a "warrior" kilt, and are considered to be acceptable to wear at all family gatherings.

The wedding was lovely, and fun, despite the tinge of emptiness left by Tim's absence.

Back in New Lisbon at Don and Lisa's, where Lisa was "batching it".  Bill and I were helping Lisa pack for a move to Scottsdale, where Don was already working at his new job.  The moving truck was arriving the next day, and Don was due in at 11 pm at the airport in Madison (1 1/2 hrs away).  You can imagine how worn out Lisa was, so Bill and I offered to go pick him up.  We were all glad to see each other:

Don and Lisa have been kind enough to allow us to park our rig in their driveway when we are betwixt and between:  

During this visit at the end of the summer, some time was spent about an hour west, in Viroqua, WI, while I began preparation for my R knee replacement next fall, with a well known doctor there.

The town is very quaint

With lots of unique little shops

There you will find...MY RESTAURANT OF THE MONTH


 Its high rating on Trip Advisor convinced us to check it out.  If you ever get anywhere near Viroqua, you should too.  The restaurant boasts dishes made from locally sourced farmers, thus the food is fresh, fresh, fresh, as well as, new every day.  They do have a few staple dishes on their menu (can you say "killer" Mac and Cheese), but everything we had, over 2 visits, was SPECTA CULAR!

The day to leave for Texas arrived.  This journey promised to be an interesting drive as we were heading to Viroqua for one final check up, that would then would take us Southwest on a route previously unknown to us.  

In addition to the Viroqua detour, we had a need to stop over in Madison, SD (for 2 days).  SD has been our domicile state for the last 4 years.  Now, you ask, why would you go all the way to Madison, SD when your destination, in Texas, is almost straight south of Viroqua, stay there 2 days, wasting all that mileage and time? 

Good question, the answer being slightly complicated.  One of us, that would be me, Jan, has lost her SD drivers license and health insurance card.  I had been searching for them, unsuccessfully, for 2 months.  The state of SD requires "full-timers" to report to the licensing station in person to replace a lost DL, and show proof that they have been present in the state for 24 hours within the last year.  A hassle, I know, but it had to be done, thus our travel plans were New Lisbon to Viroqua to Madison, SD to SA, TX.  You must know that I was very upset by this time consuming and expensive detour my inattention had caused.  Now, 


So, at the last minute, as we climbed into the truck in Viroqua, ready to head west to Madison, I fell back on my ole tried and true, and said a prayer.  INSTANTLY, INSTANTLY a picture of my old red planner crossed my mind. My initial thought was "could it be?"  With confidence in my prayer life, I grabbed that planner and popped it open.  Lo and behold, there was my missing SD DL and  Insurance card.  

Now we could head straight to San Antonio.  Good thing too, considering all that was going to happen along the way.  Heading south thru western WI, on a 2 lane highway (always our fav way to go) we saw some beautiful farmland countryside, complete with Amish (?) in their horse and buggies, before arriving at the river, near Prairie du Chien. 


We pulled off the road into the closest parking lot.


Am I the only one who sees the humor in this?

Good Sam Roadside Assistance took forever, so after 1 1/2 hours, we called a local tire dealer on our own.  He was halfway thru putting our spare on 

when the Good Sam guy showed up. 

 Oh Well!  You snooze, you lose!

Spare installed, and we were back on the road in under two hours and settling in at Lake Thunderbird 

S.P.  near Norman, OK.    Another wonderful campsite.

Tommorrow is the day we reach San Antonio!!!  

Getting excited as we roll down the highway towards our destination the next morning.  Then IT happened.....ANOTHER BLOWOUT!!!!!!

 I'll spare you the gory details of our 5 hour wait for Good Sam Roadside Assistance, but during that time we met a Texas rancher who drove over from the other side of the highway (we were stopped right by an overpass) to offer us a place to park, in his corral, while we wait.  Good Sam RA finally showed up and saved us sleeping with the horses.  But, now with 250 miles to go, we had a decision to make:  risk the final 250 miles to SA without a spare, or attempt to find the uncommon 14ply, "G" rated tires and steel wheels we now wanted in a small Texas town (Denton). 

With confidence in the Lord, we hunkered down for the night near Denton, at the Ray Roberts Lake SP, Joe Johnson Branch

and planned to make the 250 mile run in the AM, sans spare tire.

The next morning we headed down the road, while I made phone calls all along the way, attempting to locate the tires and wheels anywhere in San Antonio. We had decided on the "G" rated tires and steel wheels, after my research revealed that the "G" rated tires would bear our load (17,000 LBS) and the steel wheels, unlike the Alloy wheels, would not flex or crack, exposing us to more potential blowouts.  

Searching for those tire/wheels in San Antonio all day, and we find what we are looking for at a Discount Tire 1 mile from Tim and Jane's house.  What are the chances?????

We stopped off there to confirm the work that would be done the next day, and we where off to Greentree Village RV Park,

 just 20 minutes away.   With 3 days of scheduled R and R ahead of us, we spent the days thus:

Day #1- have new tires and wheels installed 


Day #2- become residents of Texas (as previously mentioned)

Day #3-  time in Tim and Jane's pool

 ....Tessa is used to going into the water on terra firma

and was real sketchy about this pool thing.  We finally got her in, but it was pretty funny!

Not only family, but friends live in San Antonio....
Annie and Tessa: friends for life
So wonderful to see Annie (we worked together at LZPD where she was a dispatcher).  We have other friends in this area whom we hope to see before heading south for the winter.

But first, I must finally the risk of losing you, my reader:  As I said earlier, we had the RV in for service at Camping World, Saukville, WI for almost a month, having warranty work, body work and new carpet installed.  Almost all of the work was completed prior to us picking the unit back up.  Only 1 item on the list remained (as it was on backorder).  We finally decided we could pick this item up on our next return to WI.  (hindsight is 20-20)

                                            That item was the "steel wheel well liners" .....

MY Cool RV Stuff of the Month

Designed to prevent body damage in case of a blowout,  I believe they will pay for themselves in short order, whenever we finally get them.  What the heck, it just gives us a reason to revisit our new Camping World friends in Saukville.

Which is now the ONLY Camping World who will EVER work on our RV again.  Why Saukville???  Thought you'd never ask!

Back in March 2016 I hinted at a problem with Camping World, Valencia, CA.  I am now ready to tell that painful story without fear of retribution.   Retribution?  Yes, that's how our Valencia experience left us feeling, scared.

Here is how it goes down....... Arriving at Joshua Tree NP, Bill scraped the side of the RV against a steel dumpster.  Now, in addition to several warranty items (7), we needed a body shop to bring our unit back to the new, fully operational condition, a 6 month old RV should be in.

We knew we needed a Camping World, but now we needed one with a "body shop".  The closest one we could find was in Valencia, CA, about 3 hours away...not too bad.  So, in the 1st week of October Bill called for an appt.,  told them we were "full timers", exactly what we needed to have done, that we would bring the RV to them for evaluation, and take it back home that day.  They knew we were coming for warranty (7 items) and body work. The plan was to drive there on Sunday night, December 7th (their request), that we would let them go over the unit on Monday morning, and then take the unit home, pending arrival of the necessary parts.  When the parts came in, we would bring the unit back for a few days and they could finish the work.  Camping World Valencia, CA was in complete agreement with this plan.

So, 2 months later, on the scheduled Sunday night (Dec.7th), we ran the 160 mile gauntlet that is LA traffic, arrived at Camping World, Valencia just in time to catch the night security guard, who was able to hook us up to electricity, and we settled in to wait for the Monday morning opening.

As we whiled away the night, I happen to call YELP up on Camping World's WiFi.  And, just for fun, I looked at CW, Valencia's reviews.  Imagine my horror when I find 350 reviews (only 2 positive ones) saying "don't let them touch your unit", "they don't return phone calls"( a big deal breaker for us), "they did more damage than I left it there to have done", "crooks" etc etc etc.
I told Bill about it, and he said... "should we leave now?"   But, with the time and money spent getting there, I said "no, lets give it a shot, maybe our experience will be different".  Early the next morning we talked to "Mark", their service writer.  In Mark's office he began to take a list of the warranty work.  (1st indicator  When we got to #4, Mark said "you can only have 3 warranty items per visit". "So, what are your top 3?"  When we challenged him on this, he reiterated "3 items".  Standing in the alley between the cubicles, I was about to blow.  I managed to keep my cool, but my tone of voice came across loud and clear "we bought from Camping World because we travel full time and needed the protection and accessibility Camping World, all across the country, would give us".  Right then, the service manager Kathy, pops her head up from her cube and says "No, Mark, I checked with corporate, if they bought at a Camping World, they are a customer of ours and they are not restricted to 3 warranty claims."  Mark, now embarrassed in front of us says "OK, what else did you have?"
We provided the balance of the warranty list and came to the body work. (2nd indicator) Mark says "our body shop doesn't open until Tuesday".  Bill and I thinking "well, why did you have us come on a Sunday night?" but saying "OK, we will stay another night."  So stay another night we did.

But, during the day on Monday, we sat in our truck, in the parking lot and watched mechanics come and go from our unit, that they had pulled up next to their building, which took about 30 minutes.   Bill even saw a mechanic go up on the roof to evaluate the AC unit and noted, he did not seem to take an amp probe meter or any gauges with him.  Shortly after that, we left the area to catch lunch.  Upon our return we observed the RV slides pulled in and she was tucked away.(indicator #3)  Camping World, Valencia said they had everything they needed and so began the wait for the body guys, due in the next morning.  On Tuesday AM the body shop manager did a complete walkabout with Bill, said he had everything he needed and back to Joshua Tree we went.

We arrived late in the evening and hit the hay.  The next morning I was up and going to get something from the cabinet behind our bedroom door.  You might ask....OK, so what does this have to do with your warranty work????  Well, when I went to shut the bedroom door to access this cabinet, the bedroom door would not close.  I called to Bill "something's wrong with the bedroom door" and he came upstairs immediately.  Upon checking the door, Bill found it out of square, with the entire bathroom wall "pushed" over 3/4's of an inch.  Now, the mystery is easily solved.  In our model, when the slides are brought in, the bedroom door better be in the latched open position, or the door swings closed and at some point the closed door begins pushing the bathroom wall or punches a door shaped hole in it.  THAT couldn't happen, because Bill and I always keep the door latched open.   So, how did the wall end up out of square overnight?  When we had returned from lunch and set up for the night, we put the slides back out, the door was still latched (the way we left it).  Obviously one of Camping World, Valencia's techs, not being familiar with the Montana units (per their own admission), had unlatched the door, left it unlatched and began to bring the slides in.  He would have realized the mistake when he heard the crunching noises.  But, by then the damage was done.

But now, with no warranty work which had to be done BEHIND the bedroom door, what reason would the tech have had for being back there?  I don't like to presume anything, but I will tell you this.....the only thing behind that bedroom door is our medicine cabinet.  You make up your own mind.

(indicator #4)  We immediately called Mark about it.  His response "how do we know you didn't do it?"  And so the tap dance began.

Two days later  Mark called "we didn't get the serial number off your AC unit,you're going to have to bring it back".  Well, there's not a snowball's chance in....well, you know where.

Several weeks goes by, many phone calls, most about us bringing back the unit for something THEY forgot to get...each time a new excuse.

Then we had an idea.....write Marcus Lemonis (CEO of Camping World) an e-mail, and we did. The "Emergency Response Team" at Camping World did just what they promised, contacted us within 24 hours of the e-mail.  That quick response came in the form of a phone call from Mark who's first words out of this mouth are "what are you doing turning me in to corporate"?  So, Yes, the "Emergency Response Team" did it's job, of a fashion.  But, we now had a really angry Mark on the phone using some very colorful language.

In the end we got the name and number of a Camping World in Denver, as we weren't EVER going back to Valencia again. (as it turns out, after making an appt. with Denver, they ascertained our needs and said, "we can't give you a timeline as to when we can have you back on the road").  Back to square one.

Now I am just cruising the internet, and I happen upon Camping World's Facebook page. HHMMMM, I  notice something interesting....a guy has posted something on their wall, about a situation he is unhappy with.  And guess what?  Within a minute or two the administrator of the page has responded "Mike, call me at________ so I can help you out with this.  Camping World does not like "unhappy" customers."

Well, it's worth a try, so I post a negative comment (not like me).  WhaaaLaaaa, Sharon is right there with the same message to me.  (I can only assume that she monitors the wall constantly-poor thing).  I respond and eventually Sharon gives us the name and phone of the Keystone corporate customer service representative.   WE are not her usual job, but she takes us under her wing.  After listening to our situation, she extends our, by now expired warranty, and sets us up with Saukville, WI (it was our choice as the most convenient) Camping World.

When the time came to make our "assessment appointment" in Saukville, we hooked up and in the pouring rain drove thru Milwaukee and north.

Parking outside of the maintenance bay we spoke to Kathy (service manager) briefly.  She already knew our painful story.  We disconnected our unit and ran into the store, thinking we had quite a bit of time before they would be looking at it (past experience).

In about 6 minutes, we both, independent of each other, headed back where our unit had been, to retrieve something from it.  But, where was the unit???  Gone!  OH, there it is, in the service bay ALREADY......with Kathy and Josh ( head mechanic) going thru it together!

Very nice, in more ways than one:
#1:  the response time was phenomenal !!!
#2:  knowing how we had been treated in a less than ethical and professional ways by Valencia, there were 2 people in our unit.

In a nutshell, ALL and EVERY step of the way for the next 2 months, until all of the work was done, Camping World, Saukville, met and exceeded our highest hopes and loftiest expectations!

First indicator:=)  when I was returning to the RV in the service bay, I saw a humongo tear/hole ripped into the drivers rear corner of the RV.  This had not been there when we headed north.  I found Bill, who said he had already spoken to Josh about it.  With everything he had to do for us that day, Josh added that repair to his to do list, and in only 3 hours, with all of the information Josh needed to complete the warranty work AND a beautiful repair job of that rear corner, we were back on the road, no charge.

2ND indicator:  Kathy called and/or e-mailed us, at least, twice a week, every week, until the work was done.

3RD indicator:  The wall Valencia had damaged, was repaired at no charge to us.

And the BEST part???  The new carpeting.  You have to understand that ALL RV's, no matter how much you pay for them, come with crummy carpeting.  Don and Lisa had gifted us with a large remnant of the new carpeting they had just put in their basement.  Josh did a beautiful job of installing it, right down to the (very difficult) stairs.  I must say though, the road to new carpeting was not easy or as smooth as it sounds (but no fault of Camping World, Saukville).

I harken back to my birthday, August 2nd.  The remnant has been delivered to Saukville by yours truly, the installation is (apparently) taking place, when Bill comes to me, on this of all days, and says "there isn't enough carpeting for the whole house, they won't be able to do the bedroom".  Being my birthday, knowing I had extra leverage, I respond "This is our home, our only home, and I want it nice, ALL of it"...."can we get some more?" (my Dad didn't call me THE BRAT for nothing)  Bill responded with "I'll try and see".  After a full day on the phone, the carpeting was making it's way to Grafton, WI, where, 5 days later we would pick it up and deliver it to Saukville.  A week later we were picking the RV up and I soon discovered WHY there "wasn't enough do the whole house)......Bill had asked Josh to make my rugs (desperately needed beautiful and high quality area rugs) out of the remnant as a surprise!  BEST birthday present EVER!!!

Besides the hallway, there is a rug in the bedroom too!

For once we have a living room rug that is both the correct size AND perfectly square!

Josh even made a rug for the door!  Note the cutout for the for the fire extinguisher! 

Josh's work on the stairs was nothing short of artistic!

Government Canyon State Natural Area is our new, favorite place to be volunteering.  
Great campsite: even though our campsite seems like it is in a
very remote location,
At the end of our driveway
Home Sweet Home
Coming in to our driveway
Beautiful laundry room

we are only 10-20 minutes from all the shopping you could ever need, including:  Bass Pro, Gander Mountain and Camping World AWA Tim/Jane's house.

people to work with, who are quite flexible and really laid back.  We work 4, 5 hour days

   (2 in the fee booth) collecting fees and meeting/greeting.
Our thermometer ran 2-3 degrees low:-)
 and 2 in the field-doing whatever we feel like doing).  We can set our own time schedule on "field" days and rearrange our days off to meet our needs.  On one of those field days we helped John clear brush away from the "Z" house (give Bill his chainsaw and he's happy).  

Note the rattlesnake cuffs John is wearing,  They also come in leggings, which I sometimes wear.
John and I hauled Bill's trimmings away.
This looks like fun, unless you had to drive a mile up and a half down the Joe Johnson Trail.  Then it is only semi-fun:-)
Taking a chainsaw'll never guess where this firewood is going?

On the way to the"Z" house, John gave us a treat, by stopping at the "dinosaur" tracks.  Yup, REAL dino tracks,
Sauropod and Theropod,

just off the Joe Johnson Trail.  Left there when this riverbed was the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico about a half million years ago.  Today the Gulf is a 4 hour drive away from the site of these tracks.

We are REALLY beginning to like Texas, almost as much as the American Snout butterfly,

This one made it inside the RV and was escorted

who has been greeting us in swarms, not unlike the movie "The Birds", in their migration seeing the Hackberry Trees, which are plentiful in these parts.  You just have to be careful to not inhale deeply with your mouth open during the month of September.  It is a beautiful thing to watch thousands of these billow up in front of you as you walk down a trail.

That is why this guy is:

I leave you with some of my favorite random photos from the last 3 months:

Camp Zion 2016 Staff
Tessa watching out for me on my night swim
Sunsets at Camp Zion

Selfies with Tam and Brett  

I heard some chatter and looked up to see this Seagull chasing the Bald Eagle.

Man that gull was mad.....
Chased that Eagle the entire length of the bluff until I could no longer see them.

Then came the fisher gull
 He has spotted dinner
 Takes aim at what he wants
 He's goin in....
 And coming out...
 But did he grab dinner???
Looks like it
Tessa watching the Great Lakes Pelicans

Hanging with my bestie, Audie
The T and M series

 THIS  is her all over

 Sisters...there were never such.....

The simple joys of childhood

The simple joys  of parenthood


Psalm 24: a Psalm of David
The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell within.

What are you doing to care for His property?

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