Friday, December 28, 2012

We are so DONE With Winter

Peculiar MO (Low 16 Mostly Cloudy and Cold High 33)

Once we moved the sensor for the heated water hose outside of the heated compartment the hose did not freeze. But we made a huge mistake, both Jo and I commented to people how good it was working on the same day. Well you know what happened, of course it froze that very night. We took showers in the morning and it was fine. We ran some errands and got home and washed our hands, did dishes, etc., and it was fine. About 9:30 p.m. it was froze.

Luckily we still had enough water in the freshwater tank so Bob could take a shower early the next morning before his second surgery. Why do these things always happen at the most inopportune time? After Jo got Bob home our good friend Jimmy came over and helped Jo troubleshoot the problem, pull up our gigantic trash can over the water faucet and disconnect the frozen hose. They then put heat tape around one of our water hoses and then pipe insulation around that and then the trash can back over the faucet. It was 16 overnight so we dripped the faucet and we had running water this morning, it felt so good.

Bob called Camping World and they are sending us a return label and once we can unthaw the hose and get it in a box we will send it back and get our money back. They must have heard this before because there was no questioning the return. While they were working on the hose yesterday our neighbor stopped by and told us his hose of the same brand also froze so he did the same thing a couple days ago. This makes it the third or fourth hose of the same brand in this park alone that has had this problem. 

We are so DONE but we still have a long way to go!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yet Another Lesson Learned

Peculiar MO (Sunny Low 33 High 55)

Another winterizing lesson learned - this time on a frozen sewer hose. In addition to the tall water faucet at this park the sewer location is just barely downhill from our drain. Another complicating factor is that we are a greater distance from drain to sewer that would serve us best in the winter. We had to use two 10' sections of sewer hose. By taking off the clear adapter and the twist on waste valve blade assembly we got the drain as high as we could. Then by propping up the sewer hose support system with cement blocks and wood we were able to get the best drainage we could for this setup.

Turns out it was not good enough, there was still more than usual water left in the sewer hose. With those cold nights around 20 it froze. Luckily we did not have to dump at that time and could wait for it to thaw out. Bob researched what to do in this situation and found a great article on rv-forum on winter camping. The solution was to buy heat tape and wrap the sewer hose and then wrap with a water heater blanket cut to fit. The water heater blanket was selected since it had a vinyl backing which should prevent moisture problems. We just got some rain and the job held up real well.

Here is the entire length of the finished assembly (click on the link above for a better description and an in-progress version):

Here is a smaller view to show the finished assembly with lots of duct tape.

Our new winter checklist:
- sensor for heated water hose out in the elements; CHECK
- water faucet wrapped with heat tape and covered with pipe insulation and then an inverted trash can sprayed with foam insulation; CHECK
- sewer hose wrapped with heat tape and then wrapped with insulation; CHECK

We are hoping to NEVER need this checklist again! We are also hoping that this concludes all of our winterizing lessons learned. If it gets this cold after this winter wherever we are we are heading SOUTH!!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Saturday, December 15, 2012

More Winterization - Overkill on a Big Trash Can

Peculiar MO (Mostly Cloudy Low 45 High 54)

After wrapping the water faucet with heat tape and then covering with pipe insulation and gorilla tape we took another step to make sure our water supply did not freeze. After consultation with the park owner and checking the internet we decided on an inverted trash can with the inside sprayed with foam insulation that would sit over the faucet.

This park has tall water faucets so we needed a big trash can. Wanting to go all the way to the ground we ended up with a huge trash can with wheels that took an awful lot of spray foam cans.

Here is what it looks like, it is almost as tall as the power box :-)

Told you it was overkill!!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Friday, December 14, 2012

When All Else Fails

Peculiar  MO (Sunny with increasing clouds High 52 Low 33)

You have heard the old saying, "when all else fails - read the directions", well for the most part that is how Bob lives his life. Recently we got a heated water hose for our winter stay in the Kansas City area. He connected it to both ends and plugged it in. Seeing the black tape by the end that hooked up to the water supply he thought the temperature sensor was there. Once the outside temperature got to 45 the heating begins until the water is 50. Bob also wrapped the water faucet with heat tape and pipe insulation. Here is what it looks like.

It was not below freezing for awhile but when it got into the low 20s the water hose froze. With help from the Carriage Yahoo Group members Bob came to know that the sensor was right next to the end of the hose that connects to the Cameo. We have a four season unit with heat for our tanks and water lines. With the outside temperature at 20 the compartment where the hose connects was a balmy 50 degrees which means the hose heating was never turned on. 

The solution was to cut off a 4' section of a water hose and cover it with pipe insulation which put the temperature sensor out in the elements. Since then it has gotten down to 18 (the night the furnace died) and so far the heated hose is working.

Just another lesson learned on this incredible journey that we are on!

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What an Adventure

Peculiar MO (Sunshine High 48 Low 30)

What an adventure, or words to that effect :-), were spoken by Jo at 3:30 a.m. a couple of nights ago when it was 18 degrees outside and our furnace quit working in the middle of the night, it was 55 degrees inside which woke Bob up. We have had some intermittent problems with the furnace ever since we bought the Cameo in 2009. But it never failed while the service man was here, until now. We got out our electric heaters and survived the night.

Have to give props to A-Z Mobile RV Service, called them at 8a and by 11a they were knocking on our door. We have used them before while the Kansas City area and highly recommend them. Within a few minutes they diagnosed the problem as a bad control board and put on a new one. The control board was probably the cause of all our intermittent problems before but it would always start working once the service guy got here.

We are sure we will laugh about this sometime in the future, but for now :-(

Till next time,

Bob and Jo

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Low Sodium Diet

Peculiar MO (High 62 Mostly Clear Low 40)

Since we normally regale about food in our blog we thought we would share our experiences with a low sodium diet and eating out.

Bob was given instructions after his open heart surgery for his aortic valve replacement to go on a low sodium diet of less than 1500mg per day, with no more than 2000mg occasionally. Let's just say that has not been easy. The amount of sodium that is in prepared foods and served at restaurants is incredible, sometimes many times over your daily allotment. This is a brief summary of our low sodium diet adventures.

We first begin by recommending an android app that we have on Jo's Kindle Fire, Fast Food Nutrition, available on the Google Play Store here. We usually don't recommend apps that you have to pay for but for $2.99 you get detailed nutrition info for over 350 restaurants, not all of whom are fast food. It is easy to use and we could not have survived the low sodium diet without it.

As much as we like to eat out we at first had some trouble finding places that would accommodate a low sodium diet. With the help of the app we did find some surprising winners. First of all is the steakburger places like Freddy's, Steak and Shake and Winsteads, for those in the know you realize that a steakburger is much thinner than a regular hamburger. It is made from USDA Choice Steak a cut or two above your average hamburger. You can eat a double California steakburger with no cheese and sauce and split a small order of fries at Freddy's for just a little over 600mg of sodium. The key is to ask for no seasoning while the burger is made and no salt on the fries. This kind of advice is good at any restaurant to be honest.

Other winners include the lunch portion of the linguine marinara at Olive Garden, salmon or the small sirloin at Longhorns Steakhouse. You have to be careful with your side dishes as they can contain a lot of sodium too. Some winners at Longhorns include sweet potato at 0mg of sodium, loaded baked potato at 150mg. Bob had a meal with salmon and baked potato and sweet potato and it was 450mg of sodium. The mushroom and swiss single at Culvers and small fries was also surprising at just under 600mg of sodium. A build you own omelet at IHOP with egg substitute and just veggies and swiss cheese is also a good low sodium choice as is the Tri-Athlete egg white omelet at First Watch.

If you are wondering why the list includes only chain restaurants it is because it is easier to find sodium content than at your local mom and pop restaurant.

We also found a wide variety of sodium content on cheese, american cheese is one of the worst you can have for sodium content, cheddar is better but swiss is best, at least for the places we frequented.

Condiments are also high in sodium but we found a 0mg mustard (Westbrae Natural Stoneground No Salt Added) that is very good and a 0mg ketchup (Heinz No Salt Added) that is ok in sandwiches but leaves a little to be desired if by itself. We plan on using the mustard for a long time but will probably try to find a better ketchup alternative.

While cooking at home we have used a lot of Mrs. Dash, the table blend is a good variety, so good in fact that we carry one in Jo's purse to use in restaurants.

When we first started on the low sodium diet we were a little depressed. But once we had a lunch at Culvers and a breakfast at First Watch we really felt like we were eating a full meal and still watching Bob's sodium. We started eating more fish at home using Mrs. Dash and we found some Heart Healthy Pasta Sauce and Mixed Nuts.

Bob just got cleared by the Cardiologist to not go so crazy on sodium, but to still watch it, if that makes any sense. His blood pressure problems were not due to sodium. What that means is that KC barbeque is now an option, but not every day. We hope to take what we learned while cutting back on sodium to help us live a little healthier.

Till next time,

Bob and Jo